Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hike the Y!

Among the week’s many outings, we hiked up to the giant block letter painted way up on Y Mountain.

The kids had a full week of school with a couple of unique elements thrown in for Eliza. On Monday, she attended her first after school enrichment program: music creation. We look forward to learning from her what she discovers! After the first class she brought homemade maracas, and said she had a lot of fun.

Fergus is getting on well in his new digs. We managed to keep him in all week.

Hallie had a doctor’s appointment and ran some errands in Orem after her appointment, and Landon had gymnastics. While Landon was at gymnastics Eliza and Hallie went to the Happy Valley Farmers Market here in Springville. There is a theme most weeks at the market, and this week it was Kid Entrepreneurs. Kids were invited to set up a booth and sell their wares. Eliza was excited to buy things from the kids with her own money. She bought slime made just for her and a magnetic wand from a family selling all things Harry Potter. The girls also bought some homemade salsa, macarons, and some yummy brisket from a food truck.

Monday also brought Mike’s first class of the semester. He taught at a high school in Orem, something he has yet to do in all his years as a professor. He enjoyed getting to know his new cohort and introducing elements of inspiring learning into his teaching.

Speaking of inspiring learning, Hallie completed her application for enrollment at BYU as a transfer student. She plans to major in exercise and wellness. It’s kind of daunting to consider, but coincidentally this week we saw an article about why college matters for women in particular. We look forward to whatever the future may bring in this regard, and Hallie has a happy and willing tutor in Mike.

Speaking of exercise and wellness, Mike and Hallie have both enrolled in BYU’s Y Be Fit program. Mike’s intending to drop a few (read several) pounds, and Hallie wants to at least maintain what she has worked so hard to accomplish over the past year and a half.

Prior to the appointment, Mike listened to the devotional while installing a vinyl mural in his office. The lack of windows gives him plenty of wall space to use creatively. One of his colleagues who will retire soon noted that he could get an office with a window in the next few years, but Mike won’t count his chickens quite yet.

Oh, he does have a window. It's the wee transom up in the corner there by the pirate ship.

After our Y Be Fit appointment, we took advantage of being together to have a quick lunch date at Noodles and Company! This is one of Hallie’s favorite places, and she orders the same thing – Pasta Cavatappi – every time we go. Yumm!

Both kids had gymnastics in the afternoon. Mike had a bit of free time as it got closer to pick up the kids, so he came to watch the kids. The kids love it when he comes and can’t wait to show him all of their new skills.

On Wednesday Hallie had another doctor appointment to get an iron transfusion. Hopefully once it kicks in she’ll feel some pep she’s been missing since her surgery. Two hours relaxing in a recliner left her wanting to take a nap. The appointment lasted a bit longer than they said, so Hallie had to hurry home and get Landon’s stuff ready for gymnastics and meet the kids at the school.

Mike attended a meeting of the education interim committee of the Utah State Senate at Salt Lake Community College as part of his efforts to relearn about education policy in the state and, as it turns out, to represent the department. He also had a couple of meetings back on campus in the afternoon, so he did a lot of sitting. He learned a bunch, though, and he’s looking forward to using information he learned to help build his research.

In the afternoon after dropping Landon off at gymnastics, Hallie noticed a double rainbow in the east.

She called Mike to let him know, and he and Eliza ran out to take a look for themselves. Sure enough, we also could see a rainbow!

Eliza had a walking field trip to the Springville Library on Thursday. Mom got to come along as one of the adults. We were a little concerned that the weather would be wet, but instead it was just cool – perfect for walking. The kids did a great job walking just about 1.5 miles round trip and were very well behaved in our beautiful library.

At the library, the kids discovered a bunch of features and activities designed just for them. Eliza loved seeing the art and all the picture books. Two ladies at the library even put on some skits and sang some cute songs.

While the kids had gymnastics in the afternoon, Hallie babysat. Mike came and rescued Hallie by helping get one of the littles to sleep. At 6:45 when Eliza was done, Mike and Eliza headed home and Hallie and a cutie hung out until her mom was done about an hour later. Landon came up for a visit after practice and to entertain Lily for a little bit.

On Friday, Hallie helped out at Westside’s book fair. It is interesting to see how different schools put on essentially the same book fair. The ladies helping with preview day were super nice, and time went by quickly.

Quite soon after helping at the book fair Hallie had her very first mammogram. It was a good experience. If you or your loved one has not had your mammogram this year, make your appointment!

After Hallie took Landon to gymnastics and Mike came home, Mike, Hallie, and Eliza ran a few errands. Carly and Shad have a storage unit in Provo, and now that they are living in their own place, it is time to come get the items they kept here in storage. It’s been seven years, so items may have gathered dust, shifted, become home for vermin, or otherwise suffered with the passing time. Upon viewing the items, Mike thinks might have cut his losses long ago. Of course, we have carried around items for years that are sitting in boxes in the garage as we speak. Oh, the struggle of stuff and not knowing what you might use someday.

Afterwards, we went to the Macey’s in Provo, where KSL had a BYU-themed promotion going on. We hoped maybe to get tickets to the BYU-Wisconsin game, but we got hot dogs instead.

We also got some soft serve ice cream and a few groceries in the store. Eliza tried sushi for the first time. We’re not sure if it’s really her cup of tea.

On Saturday after a leisurely breakfast at home of yummy pancakes, we met our friends Elizabeth and Daniel and their kids for a not-so-leisurely hike up to the Y. We had rain yesterday, and last night it actually snowed on Mt. Timpanogos, so even late into the morning we had ideal hiking weather. The climb to the Y is relatively short (about a mile from the trail head to the bottom of the Y and a tad further to the top), but it’s a fairly significant change in elevation considering we’re climbing up the side of a mountain. Mike and the kids did all 13 switchbacks to the top, and Hallie, Elizabeth, Daniel, Claire, and Elise made it to switchback 10 and the bottom. Actually, Eliza didn’t do the final switchbacks, opting instead to follow another hiker along the right side of the giant letter straight up the mountain to where Mike and Landon met her.

We enjoyed a small sense of accomplishment at having successfully done something hard today. Of course, we saw how some of the hikers make this little jaunt a routine part of their exercise regimen. Some of these folks lapped us while hardly breaking a sweat. Hallie thought she was going to pass out but made it too. 

What those hares failed to catch that we tortoises did capture were the details (right?). Two things we caught of interest were the sweeping views and a tarantula (yup, they live here!) who moseyed across our path on the way down. Eliza in particular gaped in fascination at the massive arachnid.

She was also a bit of a pill and a daredevil, insisting on climbing where she shouldn’t for safety’s sake. Grr. It didn’t help that some bigger college-aged “kids” on the trail were getting in some danger time of their own.    

After coming home from the hike, Mike watched BYU try to play a superior Wisconsin squad, Hallie got her hair colored (great to have a neighbor who is a hair dresser), and the kids played with their neighbor friends. We have the ideal setup for pre-teen play. The boys all got out their custom LEGO spaceships and had an impromptu battle out by the playground.

In the evening we drove up to the east bench of Salt Lake to attend a get-together of old FSA friends and to honor the life of Brian Anderson, one of our FSA friends who passed away unexpectedly earlier this year. While the reason for the reunion was borne of tragedy, we appreciated seeing old friends and acquaintances who all share the common bond of adoption. We particularly noted how ordinary it was to have all these parents and kids who, while sharing no biological ties, were just families having fun together. Many thanks to the Sharp family for hosting!

Toward the end of the evening, we saw what looked like fire coming out of an airplane, but it turned out to be stunt divers for the U of U-San Jose State football game down at Rice-Eccles. The U won its game handily. Mike is happy on days like these to have multiple fan loyalties. . . .

On Sunday, Hallie received a new calling: Primary worker. We don’t know details about the age group yet. Hallie has decided (and should have realized this a long time ago) it doesn’t pay to be friendly.

To date, Mike has flown under the radar (so to speak). He attributes this to his natural lack of friendly charms and general surliness.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Return of the Prodigal Kitty

Hallie and the kids spent the last half of the week in Utah while Mike went out to California for work and to bring our prodigal kitty to his new home.

We spent a low key day at home on Labor Day Monday. Landon had gymnastics practice in the morning (this is his life now) and ended up injuring his knee. While watching the boys at the end of practice Coach Isaac and Hallie both saw Landon land and didn’t notice anything different. Isaac went and checked on him and helped him off the floor. We iced the knee when we got home and gave him pain reliever hoping whatever happened would not turn into something serious. We opted to stay home for the rest of the day.

Tuesday marked the official start of fall semester at BYU with the attendant flood of people and their vehicles to campus. Mike, who in each of his last two times living near BYU did not generally use a car to get to campus, found the new commuter situation to be a bit annoying. He found parking way out in a lot west of the Richards Building, about a 10-minute walk from his office. He’s not complaining too much though. The combined drive and walk are still shorter than other commutes he’s had. Now for the smoky haze to clear so he can enjoy his stroll (and stair climb—huff, puff!) to his office.

While Mike worked and the kids attended school, Hallie got her nails done at a new place called Lacquered Loft that she really likes compared to the first place she went that was not so good. With much excitement Hallie had lunch with her former mission companion, Amanda. The two have no known each other for 21 years. Wow! The one hour that they had to spend together went so fast. Now that we live closer together there will be lots of opportunities to see each other.

Both kids had gymnastics in the evening.

On Wednesday Mike had some meetings on campus to get oriented to his work there. Originally he thought today would be his first day of fall semester classes, but no. He will teach off campus on Mondays this fall with a cohort housed at Mountain View High School in Orem. That will be interesting and a new experience for him.

Gavin, a boy who attends Landon and Eliza’s school also is on Landon’s gymnastics team at Airtime, so Hallie made an arrangement with Gavin’s dad to trade off driving duties. As Eliza goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, this meant that today Hallie only had to worry about picking Landon up from the gym. Hallie has really come to find out that if she doesn’t put herself out there and notice what is happening in her surroundings then she will just keep sitting in a corner not meeting people and will continue to feel alone in a familiar place. This is a good insight for us all!

While Landon worked out, the girls went to SOS Drug Co. down on Main Street. It's a throwback to those old timey soda fountains of yore. The local Fox affiliate did a story on them a few years back. Someone at gymnastics recommended it, and the ladies were not disappointed. 

Mike flew out to California on Thursday. He arrived in Salt Lake in good time and had A-list numbers for his two flight legs. But the fates had other plans in the form of a flock of birds that crashed into and dented the nose of the plane as it flew into SLC from Denver. Soooo his flight to Phoenix got canceled, and he and all the other people on his flight had to scramble to get new reservations. Fortunately, he only got into Burbank an hour or so later than planned.

Grandma, Grandpa, and Alie were there to pick him up. On the way from the airport, the van started losing power, so they had to pull over on the freeway and then get towed to an auto shop. Fortunately everything worked out, and Alie was a trooper through it all.

After stopping by the Owens (and seeing an owl in the tree in the back yard!), he went over and spent the night at the Maygrens housesitting.

Meanwhile at home, Hallie and the kids had a remarkably low-key start to their morning. After school, both kids had gymnastics and Hallie babysat Max. Max was feeling ill, and his dad picked him up a little early today. This turned out to be a blessing because Hallie was able to run to Costa Vida to grab dinner then back to pick up Landon. Late night babysitting is not ideal for this little family with early bed times.

Mike spent the day Friday working remotely. After visiting with the Owens in the afternoon, in the evening, he had dinner with Carly, Shad, and their kids at their new house. Cozy! Lots of nice architectural touches, plus they have a pool! Mike enjoyed his time with the California branches of the family and is glad to have an excuse to come back out.

Hallie and Eliza ran all kinds of errands while Landon was at gymnastics. It is fun to get to know our new-to-us town.

When picking up Landon Isaac said Landon’s knee was still bothering him during practice and it would be good to take him to the doctor the next day. OK. After practice we went to the Food Truck Roundup at the Springville Library. With an impending storm there were only two trucks, so we chose from The Next Step Up (an Italian truck), and the food was quite good.

On Saturday Hallie took Landon to the local urgent care to check on his knee. Fortunately it appears that the injury is minor; however, the painful area is near the growth plate, so he’ll need to keep from playing too hard for the next week or so. Landon made a favorable impression on the x-ray technician when he offered her a piece of taffy. The tech said in her 26 years of doing this job this is the first person to have ever offered her a treat. Good job, dude!!!

We ate ice cream with tons of sprinkles for lunch. Why not?! Hallie tried getting the kids to clean their room without a lot of success, but we keep trying. Later the kids went outside and played for a long time with all kinds of kids from the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Mike taught his data analysis course to his CLU doctoral cohort and then spent some more time visiting with his family and having a birthday dinner of sorts for Grandpa at Red's.

He also watched a hard-fought but ultimately futile attempt by BYU to overcome the U of U in the Holy War Game. So sad.

Sunday morning Mike visited a bit with Shad and then spent some more time with his folks before flying home with Fergus. That was a prolonged ordeal he and the cat are happy to have behind them. Fergus seemed quite happy to be out of his carrier after five hours by car, plane, bus, and car again.

Hallie and the kids attended a regional conference satellite broadcast at church and then went up to the Healing Field in Sandy that commemorates the fallen on 9/11. It is interesting and challenging to try to explain to the kids about 9/11.

In the afternoon Hallie was glued to the coverage of Hurricane Irma. We have friends who live in the path of the storm. We keep all of Texas and Florida in our prayers.