Sunday, January 29, 2012

We Just Keep Rolling Along

Hallie and the kids started the week by getting out of the house and heading with Sara over to the Eastland Mall’s playscape.

Later, we celebrated our 13th anniversary with the kids at Landon’s gymnastics class. This was not a romantic activity at all, but Hallie did get some beautiful flowers and a fun tablet, and there is still some time before Valentine’s Day, right?

These kids of ours are a crack-up. Eliza has discovered the bathroom and every little thing in it. Every time we forget to close the door, she reminds us.

Landon discovered the wax lips we bought at the Woodward Avenue Candy Shop:
He wears them well, it would appear.
Apparently we’re way too much in parent mode of late. Anyway, here’s something cute we hear on the Kids Place Live radio station as we drive the kiddos around town:

The Mom Song

. . . and here’s the Dad version.

Mike had a particularly busy work week. He has started a new project that had him traveling this week down nearly to Toledo and up past Pontiac. In addition, he was involved with his division’s interviews for a potential new faculty member. All this traveling has meant that Hallie has had to fend for herself more at home. It’s a lot easier to double team or play one-on-one than have to resort to a zone defense, especially with our active little ones. Mike was able to take Landon with him to work for part of the day on Wednesday, and he passed the boy back to Hallie at the Somerset Collection. Mike even got a LEGO set out of the deal (late anniversary gift??):

Fortunately, on Thursday night, Hallie did get to put Mike in charge and have a girls’ night out with Sara (late anniversary gift??). After the kids went to bed, Mike set to work on the LEGO street scene.

On Friday the kids and Hallie had a play date at Janel’s with other kids from the branch while Mike worked on campus. Hallie has found some new ways to keep Landon’s active mind and body stimulated, and she heard about using a box filled with rice or beans or sand. Landon really seems to enjoy digging through the rice box, drawing his letters, and making believe that it’s raining or that he’s doing construction projects.

Bright and early on Saturday, Landon and Mike helped a group of church members to tidy up our meetinghouse. As our friend Derek noted (quoting John Heywood), “Many hands make light work.” True that. After cleaning, we hammered together a wooden build-a-saurus at Lowe’s before joining Hallie and Eliza at the kids’ new music class at the MSU Extension Center in Detroit’s Brush Park neighborhood. Mike does not know where Hallie finds all these fun things for the kids to do, but these rolling stones gather no moss thanks to her efforts.

It snowed today. That’s it. And Bryan got baptized. Congratulations, Bryan!

Cutie pie dressed in her Sunday best

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Extreme Gyms, Parties, Pajamas, and Sweat Treats

Landon started gymnastics (Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa!) on Monday at Extreme Gymnastics USA.

Quianna, a young lady from our branch, came over and helped Hallie out around the house while Mike was at work on Tuesday and Wednesday. We got some snow on Thursday that continued off and on with accompanying cold weather through the weekend. Looks like winter has finally arrived. Let’s hope it just plans to stay for a short visit!  

On Friday afternoon, we went to the Woodward Avenue Candy Shop. We had read on the store’s website that each day has a theme, so we took the kids in their fuzzy footed PJ’s. Landon got a kick out of being out of the house and dressed for bed, which added to the fun of our visit. Right as we entered, we were warmly greeted by Janie, the owner. She explained how she wants every guest who comes into the store to feel right at home. She was very attentive and positive, and we had a great experience.

(Photos from the store's Facebook page)

Saturday dawned in a blanket of snow. Mike and Landon shoveled and played in it until it got too cold.

Our friend Bryan celebrated his 8th birthday with a party at Continental Lanes in Roseville, a perfect venue for a family of avid bowlers.

While the rest of the crew partied, Mike attended an all-day meeting. Katelyn looked after the kids that night while we went out to dinner for our anniversary. Hard to believe we’ve already been married 13 years! 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Routines for a New Year

The new year has brought with it a few new activities for family members. Mike started teaching classes Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and Hallie and the kids settled into a few routines of their own.

Hallie and the kids went with Sara and Chase to Macy’s 2nd Monday at the Henry Ford, where they explored the world of airplanes and took in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz exhibit a second time.  

Landon started pipsqueak PE with Ms. Suzanne again on Tuesday. He'll start gymnastics next Monday to put even more of that boundless energy to work! So far, Eliza is content to use the home as her gym.
Landon takes to daredevil tricks on his trampoline like a bird takes to flight.
Fortunately, he is very patient as he teaches Eliza how to use it.

She learned how to bounce by watching him. 
Hanging upside down she learned all on her own. 
Hallie, the kids, Sara, and Chase went to Play Central at Barnes Elementary on Wednesday. Play Central is a nice blend of activities and academic centers for preschoolers, so this activity looks like it will be fun to continue! 

Our nephew Haydn celebrated his 12th birthday and Eliza celebrated 11 months this week. How the time has flown by! We still remember when he was as small as she is now (and she's getting bigger by the day! She had two more teeth break through this week). 
Palling around as Eliza shows off her waving skills

(Her curly locks really show after a bath.)
On Friday, the 13th, we got our first snow that stayed. Dad had bought some conversation hearts at the local bulk foods store, and Mom and Landon used them to decorate the gingerbread house we did not get put together after the New Year. Now we have a cozy romantic cottage (that is rapidly being dismantled). 

In the evening, we went down to El Barzón in southwest Detroit for some authentic Mexican cuisine with a bit of an Italian influence.

On Saturday, the kids and Mike built a castle at Lowe’s while Hallie returned for her second chiropractic visit this week (this is not a welcome routine, but it does make her back feel better). We spent a chunk of time getting the upstairs spiffied up and the kids' rooms organized. We'll get to work on the downstairs tomorrow!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

(Slowly) Getting Back into the New Year’s Groove

After our fireworks extravaganza, we caught a few Zzz’s before going to church and visiting one more time with friends in Bridgewater. We had hoped to make it to the Kentville Ward, but we weren’t able to this trip. Next time, then.

With misty eyes, we hit the road again on Monday to return home. It was as if the weather itself reflected our mood as we drove through driving rain through the morning. We reached St. John, New Brunswick, by the afternoon. After a dip in the pool with the kids and some dinner, Mike ventured out to Freak Lunchbox. We ran out of time to go inside the one in Halifax when we went to the Discovery Centre with Janelle, so Mike was happy to get the chance to see what the buzz was all about. This candy store has a wide variety of common and uncommon loose and pre-packaged candies and other treats. Lots of fun! Mike bought a few treats for the family to try on the road.

We woke up Tuesday to a cold blast and a return to real winter. Our journey brought us down from St. John through to the LL Bean flagship store (among others) in Freeport, Maine, and on to Rochester, New Hampshire.

Yes, those are real fish (trout) swimming in a special tank that makes them feel like they are swimming in a river. 
This clock chimes a tune every hour that you can see play in this large clockwork display. 
The cold continued Wednesday as we drove from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York before ending our time on the road in Warners, New York.

We ended up passing up several interesting sites, including Palmyra and Niagara Falls, as we jetted through New York and Ontario on our way home on Thursday. We were definitely ready to be done with traveling by the time we got home in the afternoon. Hallie pinched a nerve in her back or something and was in a bit of pain, and the kids (troopers through it all) had finally gotten road weary (we’ve put 7,500 miles on the van since October—the van might be a bit weary too). Diamond and Miles helped ensure that everything was clean and in good working order when we got there (thanks so much!). Mike unpacked the car, and we crashed for the night in our own beds for the first time in three weeks.

Mike has been working while we have been traveling, doing some writing and getting classes ready for next semester. Friday he was able to get some work done in earnest in addition to getting things unpacked and put away. The kids played with their new presents. Hallie ran a bunch of errands and visited with friends in the evening.
Landon drew this picture of the four of us.
You can see full faces, and everyone has their arms and legs. Quite the artiste!
Eliza got a big kick out of her new Superstar Stage.
Dancing to the music
Then again, climbing seems fun too!
Diamond headed off to college at BYU-Idaho while we were away (Yay, Diamond! You rock!). As a result, Eliza now has a room of her own again. On Saturday, we spent some more time settling back in and moving Eliza back into her nursery/Mike’s office/Diamond’s old room. Mike and Landon also put together a new dresser for the boy that we had purchased before the trip. His old one, which has seen its share of wear (including being dropped from a moving pickup truck), finally appears to have given up the ghost. Mike’s convinced that the old dresser still has some life to it, but he could just be feeling sentimental because he put the old one together and painted it, so maybe he’ll repurpose it in the basement for a bit.

Hallie’s back pain has continued to persist through today, and after church she holed herself up in the bedroom with some pain killers and muscle relaxers in the hope that something would help. Poor Hallie!