Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Baby for Valentine’s Day??!!

We wrote a little about this on Facebook, but we wanted to make sure everything was squared away before we sent the word out here. Anyway, we’ve been matched to a birth mom!

We know this much about the baby: she’s a little girl (we're thinking of naming her Eliza Jane), she’s due on Valentine’s Day, she’ll be born in Utah. We’re so excited to add a new member to our family, and just a little timid to get too worked up (you never can tell before placement actually happens, and that puts us on pins and needles a little bit), but we’re now scrambling to get the last-minute details together for our new arrival. Landon can’t wait to be a big brother!

We'll keep posting as more details come in. . . .

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Anniversary at the Gym

This weekend we celebrated our anniversary family-style (I know—how romantic!). We went out for breakfast at the aptly named Breakfast Club Restaurant, a local place we have tried once before and really liked. We shared some yummy Santa Fe breakfast lasagna and oven baked French toast before heading down to Mills Gymnastics with a group of local families who have adopted children. Landon got a real workout in!
On the swings

Among the foam blocks

Climbing the rock wall

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He did this move over and over again.

Landon had the time of his life. Everyone we met for the first time was extremely friendly and welcoming. We definitely will be going to another event in the future. We finished off our weekend with a close to Mom M Lemon Meringue Pie from Achatz Pies , their homemade Chicken Noodle Soup and freshly made Garlic Sourdough. We were three happy campers. On to another happy year.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Landon Takes to the NBA Hardwood

Back in October, Hallie bought tickets through Groupon for a Pistons basketball game on MLK, Jr. Day for the boys. Part of the ticket package included a post-game shot from the free throw line. And then suddenly, the day arrived! Coincidentally, Mike received a call from one of the missionaries Saturday night and found out the missionary (who will play college ball at Utah State in the fall) and a colleague had gotten permission to go to the game. We arranged for the four guys to head up to the Palace of Auburn Hills to go to the big game.
 The boys at the Palace

On game day Landon got his little face tattoos on and got psyched as the boys took to the road. The missionaries had seats in a separate section of the arena, so Mike and Landon parted ways with the elders and headed up to their nose-bleed seats. The Pistons played the Dallas Mavericks, so it wasn’t a major game (only about 15,000 people attended), but the crowd still brought the excitement. Landon scrambled down the halls and up the stairs into his seat, a huge smile plastered firmly on his little face. He didn’t even let tripping over Mike’s feet and falling on his face get him down.
That is one big shoe—even bigger than the elders!

Is this kid jazzed up, or what? 

Pre-game floor action from Section 202

Landon's attention is on the court

Game time!

The opening fireworks as the players were introduced startled him a bit, but he soaked in the energy of the fans that sat around us. He entertained himself scrambling up and down the stairs and aisles and watching the crowd react to the players on the court. After a little while, Landon started asking when he was going to get to go down and play. He knew we were going to go down eventually, but there was just the matter of getting that pesky game over with!
Hoopla for the Pistons starting five.

The Pistons' cheerleaders, Automotion (parental discretion advised on the link)

Landon was more interested in Hooper, the mascot.

By the 3rd quarter, the Piston had locked up the game, going on to win it by a pretty big margin. Toward the end of the 4th quarter, we headed down to the area where we needed to be to gather to be part of the group of kids who would take the post game free throw shot. We knew it was near where the missionaries were seated, but when we saw where they got to watch the game—surprise! They managed to get seats pretty close to the floor behind the hoop.
The view from Section 120

Hey! It's the elders (bottom right corner)! How'd they score those seats?

The elders just waited for us to pass them in the huge line of kids that formed to take the free throw shot. Landon took his shot, and the rest of us took in the experience of being down there on the hardwood of an NBA arena. The actual shot was pretty anticlimactic, and Landon wanted to play more, but the officials ushered us down, through, and out like so much cattle. We did take just a little more time on the court, but then we hit the road back home. What a big day for our little man! 
"Turn to the left!"

He shoots! He . . . well, he is 3 after all.

That was it?! Yeah! That was it! AWESOME!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Return Trip to Michigan

All too soon, our California adventure has come to an end. We did not get to see everything and everyone we wanted to (sorry!), but we’ll try again next year. On the last day of 2010, we set back home for Michigan. In theory, we should have been able to make it by Wednesday, but the cold weather affected our progress on the roads. We made it up to Cedar City, Utah, on our first night, celebrating the New Year on a day where we started off with sunny skies and 40 degrees and ended with icy roads and temperatures in the negative teens.
Charlie Brown Farms: A must-see along the Pearblossom Highway in California

January 1, 2011, started off bright, sunny, and COLD. We made our way to Salt Lake City, looking forward to spending time with Hallie’s brother Riley, his wife Breanne, and their new son Porter. We enjoyed seeing many old haunts on our way up to their house and especially enjoyed meeting Porter and seeing his happy smiling face. He was feeling a bit under the weather, but his mom and dad were real troopers as they both played host and looked after him.
 The shell of the Provo Tabernacle

Landon and Porter. Wave to the camera! 

On Sunday we attended church at our old ward and caught up with some old friends. Salt Lake Eleventh Ward continues to hold a special place in our hearts. We stopped by Mike’s grandparents’ former house and family cemetery plots before heading back to Riley and Breanne’s. After a yummy ravioli dinner Breanne prepared for us, we visited with our friend Christine and her little boy Christian. The way she sees the hand of the Lord in her and her family’s lives as they have gone through the adoption process inspires us to keep our hopes up. Thanks, Christine!
Ready for his close-up?

Monday morning we got off to a bit of a late start, which meant we didn’t get as far as we would have liked to go. We ended the day in Cheyenne, Wyoming, having traveled along mostly clear but occasionally icy roads. Not a whole lot to see along the way (not to knock southern Wyoming—we just weren’t on the hunt for roadside attractions). The area around Medicine Bow was quite picturesque, and we came across a herd of pronghorn antelope grazing along the side of the freeway. In Cheyenne we met up with the son of our friends the Doreys from Nova Scotia. He had a box for us to take over to Windsor for him to send back to his family. We have gradually accumulated more than we came out with, and the new box has topped us off. No more space! J
We're not kidding 

On Tuesday we drove from Cheyenne to Council Bluffs, Iowa, dipping into Colorado along our way through Nebraska. The last time we came this way in August 2007, we followed the Lincoln Highway. This time we went the quick way, passing mowed down fields of corn. As with Wyoming, we did not stop to see the sights but pressed on to make time. We were still a ways out from Detroit by nightfall, but the end of the road was in sight. Landon, ever the patient traveler, is starting to show some road fatigue. We have traveled through 15 states on this trip, and Landon has shown remarkable stamina. A little hotel room craziness after all those hours on the road is a small price to pay.
He did this in reward for being allowed to watch Cars each afternoon on the road. 

We drove Wednesday from Council Bluffs to Benton Harbor, Michigan, getting sidetracked in Aurora, Illinois, and caught in some Chicago rush hour traffic. The day started sunny and bright; however, by the time we got to the Michigan state line, a light dusting of snow began to appear on the roads. Uncanny—it was almost as if the snow waited until we crossed into Michigan. As we drove through Iowa earlier in the day, Hallie remarked about how beautiful she found the rolling hills along our way. It seems that every state we have been to on this trip has its own beautiful places; it just depends on what you’re into. I guess we’re into water, rolling hills or mountains, color-changing trees, and brilliant sunsets.

Less snow had fallen than we thought might by the time we left for home Thursday morning. While snow showers did fall, driving conditions actually felt better going through the light snow than through the heavy rain that greeted us on our last road trip day to California. Once home, we found everything as we had left it, except for lots of extra mail. Once we emptied out the car, it looked as though the entry way and living room had thrown up boxes and bags and clothes and other assorted souvenirs of our trip. 
Welcome back to winter roads 

All told, we put nearly 6100 miles on the Buick between December 15 and today. Yikes. Yikes! As with any trip, we wish we could have seen and done more or had the time to visit with our friends both in California and along our route home, but we feel very grateful for what we did have on this trip, and we’re glad we took to the road to go home for Christmas!
Suddenly the road trips from our youth don't seem so long. . . . 

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year/Holidays in the Homeland

Despite the fact that we probably had more rainy than sunny days, we really enjoyed spending time with our families this Christmas. Landon had so much fun playing with his cousins, and we took advantage of the sunny days to go for walks and take road trips along the winding back roads of Ventura County. We look forward to getting back sooner rather than later! 

 Boys on bikes

 Landon enjoying neighborhood Christmas lights and displays

 Landon and Cru: cousins on Christmas morning. Santa came! And he brought us presents!!!

 Biking with Uncle Shad 

 Beautiful SoCal sunset

 Landon and cousin Haydn riding horses in Griffith Park

 "Why are these lines so long?!"

 Riding the train at Griffith Park

 Hanging around

At the beach after a storm. Look at how much has been washed away!

 Boys playing in the sand.

 Celebrating Grandpa's birthday

This is what winter in Ventura County looks like as seen from the Reagan Library

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Landon singing a tune on his new ukulele

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Shad took Landon and Cru on some gnarly bike rides.