Sunday, August 25, 2013

Peachy Keen

We have enjoyed the bounties of summer, but we now sense its impending close. School days are coming, so we are getting our last full measure of summer sun and summer fruits in before we send the little ones off and start hunkering back down to the old grind.

Monday, August 19 – Hallie went to work in the morning a little later than normal since she slept through her alarm, woops! Once she got home, she took Mike up to work. We’re experimenting with ways to save money. Mike’s commute keeps rising in price. Once upon a time, he could go round trip to school for under $3 on the bus, but the bus stopped running at the time he needed to come home on teaching nights (after 8 PM), so then he had to drive and that meant a second car, insurance, gas etc. Parking has steadily risen from a reasonable $3.25 per day in 2007 to $6.50 this semester. We don’t necessarily object to the amount in itself. Rather, it’s the increases that add up over days and weeks. Anyway, Hallie took Mike to school on her way out to Westview Orchards, and he took the bus home. The kids like to wait outside for the bus to bring Mike home, and they are so excited to see him.
One good turn . . .

. . . deserves another (sort of). 

At Westview Orchards, Hallie and the kids played at the activity area and bought peaches. Lots of peaches. They would not let her pick a bushel, but they would let her buy one. They even had some with a bit of hail damage for more than 50% off. Great deal! We have spent the rest of the week freezing, cooking, eating, and otherwise putting them to use.

Full moons in the middle of the day

Tuesday, August 20 – We stayed home doing chores. Laundry. Lots of laundry.

Wednesday, August 21 – Hallie worked in the morning. Mike wrote and otherwise worked. Hallie took Eliza to speech. Here’s what she typically does when she gets tired and angry during the long trip home. Joy!

In the afternoon the kids and Hallie met Sara and Chase at our splash pad, and they had so much fun for nearly 2 hours. It was good for Hallie to visit with Sara. It has been a while.

Mike had Elders Quorum presidency meeting in the evening, which meant he left Hallie at home to put the minions to bed. She successfully got Eliza to sleep and got to spend some mother-son time with Landon.

Thursday, August 22 – In the morning on our way to gymnastics, we ran over to Landon’s school to get him registered for kindergarten. His teacher is Mrs. Humphrey, and his classroom is a picturesque room that used to be the school’s library (Defer Elementary was built in 1924 and has undergone several internal changes while maintaining its beautiful exterior). There is a fireplace in the room with Pewabic tiles laid in, and there’s even a playhouse. We thought it was going to be busier when we got there, but it wasn’t and Ms. Sullivan the principal was nice enough to show Landon where his class was. We are excited for Landon, and we know that he will enjoy having Mrs. Humphrey for a teacher and going to elementary school. We’re the ones going through the trauma.  

After registration and gymnastics, we took care of a few more things around the house. Mike took the missionaries and a couple of other members of the branch to the monthly missionary fireside. The kids did not want to go down that night and they were still awake at nearly 10:00 PM when he got home.

Friday, August 23 – After work, Hallie was going to have Brittany come over, but Brittany was feeling under the weather. Unfortunately, Hallie left her phone at home and did not get the message. When she arrived at Brittany’s, they visited for a little bit and then she saw the yard that Brittany’s mom has been fixing up. One thing we admire about Detroiters is their tenacious ability to create beauty from neglected spaces. Every day we see the best and the worst human beings can be in this town. Mike went over to the Smith’s house in the afternoon to help them pack for their departure to Texas. Another aspect of the city is the harsh reality that even tenacity sometimes isn’t enough, and you have to grab opportunities where you find them. We hope the best of everything for the Smiths and that they find their new ward ready to greet them with open arms.
Our little brunette Merida. Or Rapunzel. Take your pick. Every day we get to brush out these gorgeous locks. 

A shot by Landon of the girl with pigtails and personality to spare! 

Saturday, August 24 – Hallie had the chance to take a shift this morning, so Mike took the kids down to Eastern Market to get our CSA. We have received some veggies that we have rarely, if ever, bought for ourselves along with standbys and favorites. This week’s rare food: Chinese cabbage. The standbys: Carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, and corn. Time to cook!

Landon offered to carry Eliza while Mike lugged the produce bags back to the car. Such a strong and helpful big brother! 

Eliza has decided that grabbing the window sill at the bottom of the stairs is something worthwhile to do. Today she grabbed hold and expected Daddy to come rescue her, which he did, but not before getting a picture to remember it by:
She is more than a match for Landon as far as physical daring is concerned. Good thing they're both budding gymnasts!

Mike took peaches that we have not frozen or eaten and made a peach crisp with maple cream sauce tonight. We liked it pretty well, but Mike wants to make a cobbler now too. We can use the crisp topping with apples when they come into season.  
Image courtesy Food Network. Ours looked pretty much the same!

Sunday, August 25 – We had a full house at church this morning! In fact, lately our branch has more people attending than some wards in our stake. We have relatively few Melchizedek Priesthood holders, though, so it still feels like we’re flying by the seats of our pants. Such is branch life! Brittany came over after church to continue working on her BYU-I application. We had yummy cappellini pomodoro and maple peach crisp for lunch, and then we had crock pot fajitas for dinner.  The family likes it when people come over because Hallie gets in the cooking mood and nearly always makes something delicious. Landon doesn’t like onions, so he had lots to say about the fajitas. Oh, well! There is always breakfast tomorrow.
Building bridges over the backyard mud pit is much more fun than eating onions. 

Hallie has this next week off of work, and we have some fun things planned since the week leads into Labor Day. There will be also time for rest and getting the house and the family ready for school to start on September 3rd. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hanging Around at Home

Some days just seemed to melt into others this week. The weather was cooler as the week started, but by Sunday summer had come back to visit—just in time for the pool to close on Labor Day. We soaked up the sun and hung out. Literally.

Monday, August 12 – Hallie headed off to work. Shortly after check-out time, Hallie shuttled Eliza to the dentist. This was a follow-up visit to make sure a dark looking tooth was doing okay. Now that she has two set of x-rays to compare, the dentist thinks the tooth is just bruised and may lighten up in time. Eliza’s next appointment is not until her 6 month checkup in October.  

Landon started his last week of Safety Town and seems to have had fun while learning. All the kids in his class get along great, and after each session they would play forever on the playground if they could. We had rain this afternoon and a bit of a scare when the fir trucks roared down the block only to stop on the next block over. Turns out a neighbor's house had a garage fire. 
Landon giving the play-by-play

In the evening the sister missionaries, and four young ladies from the branch attended a single adult family home evening we put on at home. Brittany was Hallie’s helper, and they made a great blueberry cake that was devoured by all.

Tuesday, August 13 – Today was International Left-Handers Day for that segment of the population like Mike who are in their right minds. This morning Landon and Hallie picked up Brittany and we headed to see the movie Planes. We got free popcorn and a pretty cheap ticket, which made the road trip out to the theater worth it. Plus the movie wasn’t half bad either. Landon went straight to Safety Town and then Hallie took Brittany home. 

The organizers of Safety Town suggested that parents could accompany their children for the fire safety information the public safety officers presented the kids today, so Mike went up to see what there was to see. 

By 4:00 PM it was time for Hallie to take Landon to gymnastics. Landon did well at gymnastics until it came to the conditioning part. He cried while doing the splits. His mom cried too, and then Landon said after it was all over, “Mom I just had to work through the pain.” We suspect that there was a little more than having to “work through the pain” going on.

Wednesday, August 14 – After work, Hallie took Eliza and Landon to Eliza’s speech class and Landon’s Safety Town class. 
Mike worked from home and then went up to the temple for branch temple night, where he got to see the updated presentation, which is slower paced (and thus longer) due to pauses required for foreign language translation from English to other languages.

Thursday, August 15 – Mike had pondered shaving his goatee for the last few weeks, and today he went through with it. Judging by the children’s reactions (Landon said, “Dad, you look weird,” and Eliza just keeps staring), this was a mistake. 

He took the kids to gymnastics and Landon to Safety Town before continuing to get things ready for his fall courses. 

We debated taking Landon to his afternoon gymnastics class before finally deciding that maybe it was a little too early for him to be moving from gymnastics as something fun to gymnastics as athletic training. The boys in his class at American Gymnastics were all at least a couple of years older than him, and while he seems to have similar skills, it also seems like he would benefit from more opportunities to just enjoy playing before he gets into competing, which will come soon enough, knowing our boy as we do.   

Friday, August 16 – While Hallie worked, Mike and the kids also got out the door early to take Princess to Wayne State so she could take her TOEFL exam as part of her application to BYU. Princess is originally from Liberia, and we have enjoyed getting to know her and learning some more about her culture. Landon had Safety Town graduation today, and now he can teach the rest of us all about various issues relating to safety (e.g., the yellow light means “wait,” NOT “go faster”!). 

Hallie and Brittany went visiting teaching, and Mike took the kids on a bike ride. Hallie took a second shift while Mike and the kids had movie night at home.  

Saturday, August 17 – Today was a perfect summer day built for sitting out on the porch and watching the world go by. Hallie took the kids to their last session of this round of swimming lessons while Mike did some work around the house. 
Look closely: There's a rabbit in the bushes.

Later, Brittany came over and helped Hallie organize Eliza’s room. The sister missionaries came by in the afternoon to make YSA flyers. Sister Decker had a fit about Mike’s missing goatee. This reaction only confirmed Mike’s opinion on the goatee: it must return. Hallie and Brittany went visiting teaching a little later. We really appreciate Brittany’s enthusiasm and hard work. Speaking of hard work, in her weekly letter from her mission, Diamond shared some of the adjustments she has had to make with her new mission assignment and new mission president. Hallie and Sister Decker chatted about what we might do to support Diamond as she struggles through this. Ultimately, it’s an issue of letting time do its work while she focuses on doing hers too. We know she can do it! The children spent most of the day outside either tumbling or digging in the yard or riding around, while Fergus pined away from behind the screen door.

Even the spiders know how to chill out on the porch chairs.

Sunday, August 18 – After church in the morning, we spent most of the day hanging out in the house, but not before Landon showed off a new skill he acquired: tree climbing. 

Hallie has missed having time to just be with the rest of us. Of course, in our family, the kids take hanging around literally, which meant that they spent time on the indoor swing, which Landon has now learned (as part of his door-frame climbing skills) to hang by himself.

In the evening, Mike went to an open house for The Smith family, who is leaving the branch to go to Texas. We constantly have new faces coming and going in the branch between med students, new converts, and other families in transition. The Smiths recently got baptized and almost simultaneously found new opportunities down south. They’ll be missed!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Safety Third About Sums Things Up Around Here

We had a few experiences relating to being safe. As fans of Mike Rowe, we are definitely a "Safety Third" (i.e., common sense and personal responsibility) household, but we have a few things yet to learn.

Monday, August 5 –
Hallie is happy to not be working Tuesdays this month. Off to work she went with a new yummy breakfast thanks to the granola she bought from Great Harvest last Saturday. Landon attended the first week of our local school district’s Safety Town program. We have all benefitted from learning the new awareness and skills highlighted in the program. Having him attend Safety Town has also really brought home the fact that when summer ends, our baby boy will be going to kindergarten. Ready or not, here we come! Every day after Safety Town the kids and their parents hang out at the playground for about 30 minutes. It sure is a nice release for Landon after sitting for a few hours. In the evening we had family home evening and baked Monster cupcakes.

Tuesday, August 6 –
In the morning Hallie invited Vanessa to the Cardio Drumming class she likes, but the Y would not watch baby Layla. Mike was kind enough to take a walk with Eliza and Layla so that Vanessa could stay for the class with Hallie. As we left for the Y in the morning, a fledgling robin parked himself on our car and squawked at us as we got in: 

Later on, he came up to the door. We don't know whether he was injured or crazy or something else, but it was a peculiar experience for sure. 

In the early afternoon Hallie was asked to pick up a sister from the branch from her job interview in a town 30 minutes away. After Safety Town, Hallie took Landon to American Gymnastics. On the way home from gymnastics Landon told Hallie he was crying. Hallie was alarmed thinking, “What have I done to sign him up for this?” He then said, “He was crying happy tears because he did a back flip.” What an amazing boys! Landon seems to be enjoying the new challenges and conditioning he is receiving there.

Wednesday, August 7 –
Hallie did her time at work. The missionaries taught Otto at our house. The sister missionaries were on exchanges and we met a new sister that was really great! Today Mom had her own Safety Town experience when she attended the parent orientation. It’s a little harrowing to hear some of the war stories from the public safety officers. Landon has made quick friends with a little boy named Isaiah, and it is fun to see them play together. Mike conducted some business up on campus in the afternoon. During the time he was out, Landon discovered that dry baby wipes are flammable, much to Hallie’s horror. Mike came home from work to the smell of burned kitchen rug, teary-eyed Hallie, and subdued Landon. Coincidentally, the Safety Town parents had learned about fire safety at their meeting. Too bad the kids have not covered fire safety yet.

As a random aside, Fergus seems to enjoy his big furry bed. 

Thursday, August 8 –
Hallie took the kids to Extreme Gymnastics in the morning and Landon to American Gymnastics in the afternoon after Safety Town. Coach Joey said he has already seen an improvement in Landon from Tuesday to Thursday. Landon is working hard and seems to be liking it. 

Mike had a meeting with the local school district superintendent about a research project (exciting!) and afterwards tried to corral the girl while Mom and Landon were out.

Friday, August 9 –
Hallie worked in the morning. We had hoped to be able to watch the new Planes movie that came out today, but Landon needed some cooling down time after his time at Safety Town. We anticipate that he will earn his way to the movies next week.

Saturday, August 10 –
Hallie had Activity Days with the 8- to 11-year-olds at church this morning, and Mike took our beasties to their swim lesson and to Lowe’s Build and Grow, where they built replicas of Dusty from the movie Planes. This had to be one of the more difficult projects we have attempted, and some of the parents helping their kids started getting a bit testy. Fortunately, Mike was not one of them, having been well worn down by many projects that failed to go as expected. Nowadays, if we build something that vaguely resembles the intended outcome and have a few laughs along the way, it’s a win. 

The rest of the day consisted of putting laundry away, making a run to Costco, and then Hallie sitting in on a missionary lesson with our neighbor named Jeff. He likes their company and asks for them to come back, and he even said he would take them to dinner. So we will see where this will go. During the time Hallie was with the missionaries Mike took the kids to the last “After 6 on Kercheval” activity where they enjoyed some yummy treats, both of the food kind and of the music kind.

Sunday, August 11 –

Church was nice and saw a few folks that we haven’t seen in a while along with the kids' familiar favorites. 

Brittany came over after church to complete work on her college application, as did ZoĆ« from next door to visit and play with our kids. We made a potato leek soup recipe in the crock pot with our CSA veggies. As of this writing the soup is not done so we are hoping it will taste yummy.