Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter and Springtime Greetings

OK, so we went another two weeks before updating. Hallie had filled in details from last week, but she lost her edits. Anyway, we’ll start with the highlights:

March 18-24

Eliza finished her swimming class on Monday. 

Prior to the class, Landon helped Mike a little in the yard. We got a bunch of old dried out dead plants removed in time for the new blossoms to take their place.

Landon finished his swim class on Wednesday, the first day of spring. Hallie and her friend Jen went out for a bit while Mike put the kids to bed.

Thursday was our basketball-themed day. Hallie took the kids over to Renee’s for an NCAA March Madness party with the Moms’ Club and the moms’ kids. Later on, Landon ended his basketball season with a celebration at the church where the kids play.

When Mike took Eliza to her group speech class on Friday, he and the other grown-ups made their little ones books to help reinforce concepts they are learning in class. Mike made Eliza a “where” book with pictures from the cruise. She may not remember the cruise as she gets older, but we’re going to make sure she is at least familiar with photos of her experiences.

On Saturday we ran a few errands in the morning, then Eliza had to take a nap. Meanwhile, Hallie went to a Drums Alive exercise class. We had breakfast for dinner with Dan and Dorene and their kids. 

Mike got made elders quorum president on Sunday. Never a dull moment in church, that’s for sure. Some of his best leadership opportunities have come at church, so maybe he’ll find good material for his academic work, hmm?

March 25-31

We woke Monday to light snowfall. It covered all the early spring shoots. But we knew that winter was on its way out.

Landon discovered that his Hot Wheels bulldozer was the perfect size to plow the snow.

Eliza dressed up to go see Miss Christina on Tuesday. Mike took her between a doctoral oral examination defense in the morning and his evening class so Hallie could get a little rest after her early work shift. Sometimes the crazy hours are a drag, but we really appreciate the flexibility of Mike’s work schedule on days like this.  

Hallie retrieved the book Mike made last week at Eliza’s speech session at Barnes on Wednesday. He made a flap book. The flaps will need some reinforcing, but it’s a cute idea:

Landon’s preschool class had an Easter party (because they were having Good Friday off).

Eliza's not quite clear what she should be doing. 

The boy knows the right answer.

Here are a few more work samples from both kids: 

Eliza's muddy pig. Not sure why the pig is more red than brown. Kinda morbid.
Ben and Megan's little boy Henry came over to visit in the afternoon. We also had the annual Easter Egg Hunt at Windmill Pointe Park. Landon’s friend from school Elisabeth and her parents joined us for the fun.  

Henry and his mom even joined us. Eliza likes knowing there's someone even smaller than her to help. 

Landon chose not to bring a coat, so he started to get cold and sad.

No coat like this camel!

Dee thought to bring a blanket. Good thing for Landon. 

Dee's blanket plus some running around warmed the boy right back up!

On Thursday, Mike had a dentist appointment before spending the rest of the day writing at his college dean’s house, a grand old home in Indian Village and then teaching his other evening class on campus.

On Good Friday, Dad and the kids slept in a bit (7-ish) and hung out in pajamas while Mom worked at the Neighborhood Club. Good Friday starts a long Easter weekend here. A lot more people here take the day off than we remember them doing in California growing up. Once Hallie got home, Mike got back to writing, but he did take a little time beforehand to show the kids the wonders of the garden. We had beautiful purple and white crocuses blooming in the backyard, and the daffodils, tulips, and irises (and so on) will follow soon.

Saturday felt like the first real day of spring. We had no formal plans (for once) and enjoyed a tranquil day at home. Hallie did run a few errands in the afternoon with Eliza, and Mike and Landon went outside to play. Pretend restaurant morphed into stunt bike riding. 

What’s wrong with this picture? The correct answer is that he put his brakes on too soon and only got a gnarly rather than an epic skid to his credit. Lack of helmet, pajamas in the afternoon, and snow boots (while interesting) are all incorrect.

Mike noticed the new sister missionaries were tracting, so he moved the bike riding out front. Then Dan and the kids came home from their errands and Hallie and Eliza got back from Sara’s in time for the sister missionaries to stop by. Eventually, someone decided we should really take advantage of the sunny weather. We were feeling maybe a bit too optimistic, as we opted to eat outside on the front porch with Dan and Dorene and the kids. We got out some candy and plastic eggs and had an impromptu Easter egg hunt in the front yard. Once the clouds came in and the sun started to set, it got chilly again. Still, warmer days are at hand!

Earlier in the day, we gave the kids a little pre-Easter love from Grandma and Grandpa O: Candy bricks and Wreck-It Ralph.  

Easter Sunday started a bit gray and cool. The Easter Bunny left baskets for the kids. Landon especially enjoyed his helicopter “gun” (launcher). Sometimes those Dollar Tree finds become the biggest hits! Hallie had gotten up really early to make the baked French toast recipe and egg soufflé we had for breakfast. 
The formal shot

The informal shot

The typical interaction shot

After church, we chatted with grandparents and other family. The kids’ sugar rush/spring fever really began to kick in later in the afternoon, so Mike took them outside to play in the front yard. Coincidently, the next-door neighbors were attempting to get their kids to burn off steam too, so the kids had another play date in the warm afternoon sun while Mom finished dinner preparations. Then it was off to bed. The kids have spring break next week, so we’re sure to have many hours spent playing outside, as long as the weather holds. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

If You Believe in Luck, Life is Easy Enough

OK, so there's no clever theme running through this post about how we all had the luck o' the Irish this week. We just happen to like the song Luck by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, and we did celebrate St. Patty's Day in our traditional fashion. Sláinte!

Mike had spring break at his university starting Monday, which basically meant he got to spend more time working from home. He did get to see a few more of the kids’ activities though. The day turned out to be pretty gloomy, so Landon didn’t get to play outdoors. Instead, he entertained himself with Jenga block dominoes.

He decided he’d rather help Mom run errands than do karate, so we’re going to drop that activity from his schedule for a little while. When asked several times which sport he liked better out of the four he has been doing, he would never say. But when it came down to it he said karate was “boring” and “hard.” Does he really know what those words mean? Probably not, but we will take a break.

On Monday we also finished our car transactions. We sold our minivan and bought a small crossover SUV, and so far we love it. We finished the day with Mike and Eliza going to her swim class. The water is her friend in every way—except putting her face in it. We think that’s pretty normal, and we will definitely keep working on it.

Tuesday we all went up to West Bloomfield to see Eliza’s speech therapy class. Hallie found us a great coupon to Smashburger, where we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day early by indulging in mint Oreo milkshakes. The kids and adults alike were all happy with the yummy.

Eliza is making such strides at therapy, and it is great fun to bring Mike on the rare occasions he can join us so he can see her in a therapy setting. This week she has started saying, “Noise!” and trying to grab our attention whenever she hears church bells or police and fire sirens. Eliza definitely has a mind of her own and knows what she wants. Watch out world! She is going to take over!

Mike and a young man from the branch went and helped a man and his son prepare their house to move. It is an interesting home: a 70,000 square foot warehouse that started out as a WWI munitions factory out by the Detroit City Airport. The four of them did so much work that they were able to cancel the next night’s helpers (two missionaries and a man from the branch). Way to go, Mike!!!!

Wednesday Hallie dropped Landon off at school and came straight home with Eliza. They did their thing and life went on. Then that evening she remembered they had forgot speech for the second time in three weeks. Oh, boy!!!! Hallie wrote an apologetic e-mail to the teacher and is going to try to make sure that it never happens again.

Landon went to gymnastics and continues to show us his amazing skills. It is fun to watch him grow and change and get ever stronger. Mike watched the kid do a standing overhead flip and land on his feet. In the evening Landon had swimming. It is the second to last of the four week sessions, and the teacher said he would like for Landon to repeat at the same level, which is fine by us. The instructor wants Landon to see if he can get some more focus. Ha!!!! He doesn’t know Landon, and that may not happen for a while yet. Still, he’s having fun and has definitely overcome his fear of getting his face wet (Thanks, Disney cruise!).

Hallie worked Thursday morning. She doesn’t normally do her 5:00 am shift on Thursdays, but someone needed to switch with her. Hallie liked working two early days in a row. After work she headed to the Grosse Pointe Moms Club Business Social, where they elected a new board. It is always a fun event as there is yummy food, fun moms to chat with, and FREE babysitting.

Later, they painted finger and toenails:

In the evening our family ended up at BD’s Mongolian Grill for a fundraiser for Landon’s preschool. We will call our time there interesting and leave it at that.

At least dessert was good: Apple pie a la mode in a goblet 

On Friday, Landon had a St. Patrick’s Day celebration at school. The celebration consisted of all things green (We brought some tiny cute cucumbers Landon had picked out at Costco). Hallie showed up about 20 minutes early so she could watch him. The teachers saw her come up the stairs and invited her in. Hallie got to see the end of their party and hear the cute songs that they had practiced. Landon really liked having Hallie there. Mike is usually the parent helper, so it was fun having Mom there.

In the evening Landon had his last basketball practice. He has really enjoyed playing basketball. He says he does not like the practices, but he loves the games. We really saw him grow over the eight-week season. We stopped by Costco to grab a pizza to top off the night.

On Saturday, Hallie took Landon to his last game. The kids all got together afterwards to have a pizza and ice cream party. The kids on the team have gotten along so well. As parents we are really pleased with the Upward basketball program. Mike could not attend because the son of a woman in the branch died, so Mike took Eliza to the funeral. He dressed Eliza up for the occasion, and Hallie is very proud of his hair styling skills.

Right after basketball, Landon had baseball team photos. We can’t believe that it is not even April and we are getting ready baseball. Landon is in what they call the Rookie League. This is the first time that he knows other kids on his team, which will be good for him. Landon’s team name is the Scrappers, and he LOVES his baseball hat and asks often when he will get to practice. We have to try and convince him you don’t play baseball in the snow.  

As Mike corralled the kids into the new car on Sunday, he discovered that it had a flat tire. Hallie was at work, so Mike made a call to AAA (quite handy in these instances). They were only late for church by about a half hour. After Sacrament Meeting, Mike got to meet the family with whom Sister Evans is living currently. How fun is that? They just happened to be here on business, and she sent them with our phone numbers. Mike subbed in Primary as chorister. He seems to be a big hit every time he is in there. The day was finished off with a yummy St. Patrick’s Day meal as a finish to the green chocolate chip waffles Hallie had prepared before she headed off to work. We love that Landon has a wee bit of Irish blood running through his veins. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Playing Catch-up

We missed last week, so we’re going to play a little catch up in two parts.

Last week (February 25-March 3)
On Monday, Eliza had her first swimming class. Dad took her, and the swim coach kept using her as the example. You go, girl! Hallie took Landon to karate practice. Landon had his own swimming lesson on Wednesday. Perhaps we should consider scheduling the kids for fewer events, but we’d all go stir crazy if we didn’t get out.

Friday was St. David’s Day (Welsh National Holiday). We forgot to make it a day for celebration, but we did have our Kinder Surprise eggs. Both kids got working gliders.

On Saturday, Mike had the kids while Hallie worked in the morning, so he took them to Landon’s basketball game. Afterwards, the three of them went to Jungle Java for a Dad’s Day Out with the kids from Landon’s preschool. 
Blurry game shot (why bother?)
We had too much fun at Jungle Java to think about pictures. 

Landon woke up sick (sort of) on Sunday, so he went with Hallie to work. After the experience, he said, "Every time you work on a Sunday, I want to come." He was well behaved (thanks to Hallie's tablet), and he enjoyed watching young kids in the batting cage. Everyone who came in commented on Hallie's little helper. Hallie liked having him along since she had worked three mornings in a row. Landon has become quite the mama's boy as of late. It is so fun to hear him say, "I love you more than you will ever know," and "I don't want to take one step away from you." 

Mike took Eliza to church, but he probably should have kept her at home too. Ever since we have put her in a toddler bed, sleep has been tricky for our little one. This last week she will say, "Sleeping," when she is ready for a nap. She fell asleep in Mike's arms right before it was time to head out the door to church. Eliza is so beautiful when she is asleep.

On to this week (March 4-10):
On Monday, Hallie and Landon started a project for our niece Mariah.

They finished it on Saturday.

Landon had hives this week (who knows what from), but they seem to have gone away. After driving 45 minutes to speech, Eliza threw up about two miles before we got there. The ladies at Kaufman were great as they got Hallie trash bags and towels to help out with our crazy mess. We turned around and headed home with no more surprises, thank heavens!

Landon has continued improving his writing. He has also made some interesting drawings. This is a map he drew of where we and his grandparents live.  
(Mom helped with the spelling.)
He's getting good practice in for drawing pirate treasure maps. Grandma and Grandpa O. sent him a treasure box, complete with secret compartment, gold coins, and a Jolly Roger. 

We have really enjoyed our minivan, but it was costing us too much. We decided to sell it and replace it with another vehicle. On Friday, we sold the van back to the dealership. Tears were shed. Landon couldn't quite wrap his mind around the idea that we were choosing to give up the van. Then again, neither could we, to be honest. On a brighter note, we’re finally feeling the first signs of spring, and that means it’s time to get the bikes out! 

Hallie has done a lot of research on potential new cars. We drove down to a used car agency before Landon’s game on Saturday to look at one car but decided against it. After Landon’s basketball game, we went to another dealership, where we found our new car (a Kia Sorento).
Someone's excited! 

How do you keep kids entertained after two hours when they've already climbed around the cars, walked the showroom, and circled the building? Technology. 
One of the employees chatted with Eliza on the phone. It was so cute that she kept saying, "Hello! Hello!"

Eliza showed off her independent spirit in other ways this week too. Here are a few more examples:
 This is what Eliza wore to Landon's swim class and yes, she made us be the sideshow that we usually are whenever we bring her somewhere.
Mike offered to peel her banana. She replied, "NO! My peel!" And then she did it all by herself while singing us a sweet little nonsense song.

Can you tell she got dressed all by herself?  She had to change after she got her dress from church wet. Eliza does not let some things go. In a way, it is good. She has become so independent because of it.

Dancing and singing her A-B-Cs (with just a little help)