Sunday, January 26, 2014

Winter is Prison

Hallie made the observation that “winter is prison” this week. We make the effort to go out, but this stuff is unusual even for the Midwest. Oh, well. Could be (has been and, judging by the forecast, will be) worse. No one out here better complain about summer heat six months from now.

Monday, January 20 – The kids and Mike had the day off from school for MLK Day. Landon taught us a song he learned about Dr. King. While we love having the kids at home, all these days of cold weather have tried our patience. Mike found Landon’s sled in the garage and encouraged the kids to go play in the backyard for a bit. It seemed to help. 

We had a lesson on the creation and the fall as described in the Old Testament for family home evening. We have a family goal to read through the OT, and so far we are off to a good start.

Tuesday, January 21 – Back to school again. In the cold. Same old story. Eliza had her first Pipsqueak PE class with Ms. Suzanne at the park’s rec center today. She did a great job at following directions and participating and only came over to visit Mom once.
Mike looks at Eliza dressed up like this and dreads the day boys will start to notice her. 

Sporting her full list of activities accomplished today

Wednesday, January 22 – We had a busy morning, but by the afternoon things had settled down.
Mani-pedi time with Mama

This activity is getting to be more common. He knows several sight words and has great phonetic awareness. 

Thursday, January 23 – Hallie and Mike celebrated 15 years of marriage today, which day is a far cry from that sunny Saturday those years ago. We had all our normal errands and events today. We adjusted the kids’ speech and occupational therapy times to Thursday afternoons, which allows them to go to school in the mornings but has at least one negative side effect:
Sleeping Beauty. Usually if she goes to speech after falling asleep, it's a big waste. Today, however, she was able to get some work done. 

Friday, January 24 – The kids had another day off from school today, this time for their teachers’ professional development. We made the best of being cooped up. Landon had a doctor’s appointment in the morning, and Hallie had one in the afternoon. Dad and the kids built a blanket fort and otherwise spent time bounding around in the family room before we got things cleaned up for movie and pizza night.
Not many blanket forts can boast their own fireplace. 
 What better use for a pile of pillows, bean bags, and blankets than a place to pile into?

Saturday, January 25 – Mike took Landon to gymnastics and then to Donut Express for a manager’s special donut before going to the local Barnes and Noble for what they thought was the right time for The LEGO Movie promotion. Turns out our bookstore’s promo would not be held until the afternoon. Snow started falling, and temperatures dropped through the day. Landon came home with a bit of a crummy attitude, but that changed once we went back out and picked up the missionaries to go help our friend Jayne pull up and remove the carpet from her basement, which had flooded a little bit ago. Landon really enjoyed using the utility knife and carrying the carpet rolls up and out of the house. He does a great job with tasks that require him to use his body, so this was the perfect outlet for him. We returned to the bookstore for the promotion, and apparently everyone else in town had gotten the memo. 
Some pretty geeked-out kids (and grown-ups) in attendance

Activity time. "All you have to do is believe in yourself."
Sunday, January 26 – The children have learned a new trick for keeping warm:
Thanks, Karen, for the new tea set! It and the rest of the kitchen are Eliza's new favorite toys. 

We had one of the sets of elders over for dinner and made snow ice cream for them from the fresh stuff that fell today. Then we Skyped with Uncle Riley, Aunt Breanne, and Cousin Porter. We got a walking tour of their new home. Very posh! 

We anticipate that school will be canceled at least one day next week for "Arctic Vortex, Part 2." Winter is indeed prison, at least this year. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Projects and Puzzles

We involved ourselves in lots of indoor activities this week that coincidentally involved putting things together. Better that than tearing things apart, eh?

Monday, January 13 – Monday started off very early for Hallie. As part of her process to receive bariatric surgery, she has to have has psychological evaluation. She passed with flying colors. With such a good visit, the doctor told her to contact the surgeon and see if there was any way to get her first surgical consult moved forward. Mike got both kids off to school.

Hallie received a bike for Christmas to replace one stolen by unscrupulous tree trimmers several months back. The kids and Mike put it together today so we could ride around together once the weather improves (probably months from now, but hope springs eternal).

Tuesday, January 14 – School and work. School and work. Mike got a new monitor set-up for his makeshift stand-up desk arrangement.

Wednesday, January 15 – The kids went to speech and OT, and afterward Eliza had Storytime. We had a lesson with the sister missionaries and a lady named Sue. In the evening, Mike went to our branch temple night. After he got home, the grown-ups finished the Peggys Cove puzzle. Now to glue it together and hang it in one of the kids’ rooms.  

Waiting to pounce and gnaw up yummy puzzle pieces. Bad Kitty!

Thursday, January 16 – Hallie got Eliza ready for school and they got there and realized there was no school. Bummer. Total mix up in communication. Hallie had promised a lady in the branch she would help her with her resume, so they worked on that in the morning. Mike volunteered at Landon’s school during recess before going to work for the day.
Hallie's slip-and-slide road out to Gina's. Yes!! No.

Friday, January 17 – The kids did their normal school routine. Hallie came home for a brief clean the house before she had to go back and get Eliza. The two of them ran home to eat lunch and then turned around to go pick up Max who we were babysitting for several hours. After picking up Max the three went to Sam’s Club for a major grocery trip. A couple of weeks ago we found a link on Facebook showing how to make 20 meals for $150 at Costco. So, Hallie decided to give it a whirl. The great thing is pretty much all of the meals can be frozen and cooked later. It was a great killing two birds with one stone by cooking cheap and having meals for later. The kids were not impressed with being there so long but were overall quite well behaved. Once home, Hallie earned her exercise by unloading all of the groceries up the front porch's flight of stairs.  

In the meantime, Mike volunteered at Landon’s school again. During the winter, parents help out at lunchtime by giving the students enrichment classes during lunch recess time so the kids don’t have to go out into the cold weather if they don’t want to. For the next few weeks he and the students will do different paper crafts. This week they made paper snowflakes. Mike left a few of his old ones hanging in the library windows. We’ll see whether they get noticed and how long they last before they get taken down.

View up to the third floor library and flakes. Landon's class is directly below.

Before pizza and movie night, Mike and the kids put together a grappling hook launcher based on some instructions for office supply weapons from a link to the Instructables website Grandpa had sent to Dad by email. The gun is now Landon’s New Favorite Toy, and with good reason too! After all, he helped put it together.

Fergus has taken to sitting on the floor in front of Mike and just staring at him. Just looking expectantly at Mike and not moving when called. What could be going on inside his feline mind? 
"Feed me. Let me sit in your warm lap." 


Saturday, January 18 – The cold has come back! This morning started with Landon and his gymnastics class. Earlier in the week Hallie found out that Barnes and Noble does story time. Landon also needed a haircut, and both places were next door to each other. The storyteller wasn’t so impressive, but Landon looks handsome with his new hairdo.
Mike knows what he wants for his birthday. 

The kids have seemed interested in “helping” us with our puzzle. In order to not lose any pieces we found a glow in the dark puzzle for them to work on. Just as the puzzle was getting started it was time for Hallie to head off to go babysitting. 

It's a puzzle and an astronomy lesson all in one!
While Mom was away, Dad and the kids made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and even froze the excess dough in little cookie balls for the future.
Mike broke out another Dowdle puzzle (Washington, DC) that we have had sitting in the basement, getting the edges mostly done between the time he put the kids to bed and Hallie got home.

Sunday, January 19 – This morning Hallie received a new calling to teach the 10 and 11 year olds in Primary. These kids happen to be the same ones that are in Activity Days with her. After church Mike kept working on the new puzzle we started. For lunch we ate Pierogies. Yumm-O! Landon said they are his favorite. Landon doesn’t realize pierogies are made with potatoes, but he doesn’t like potatoes. Ha, ha, ha! We love that the kids enjoy watching Veggie Tales. Makes Sunday afternoons a little easier.

Landon made his first "all-by-himself" peanut butter sandwich. Good on you, boy!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Deep Freeze and Slow Thaw

We spent the beginning of the week coping with the weather and accompanying cabin fever and the end of the week slowly thawing out.
Hell (Michigan) has frozen over. Keep your eyes open for flying pigs. 

Monday, January 6 – With church canceled for the weather yesterday, we were not surprised when we received word that school was canceled today. We got lots of snow over the weekend and a little more today on top of that. Mike was somewhat surprised when Wayne State canceled classes too. We basically stayed home indoors and warm, taking advantage of the indoor swing and the small trampolines. In addition, we found new activities to keep the kids from burning the place down. Some of those new activities are riding a hippity hop through the house and learning how to roller skate. Yes, you read that right: roller skating indoors. 
No school tomorrow means late night tonight!

Today we also made snow ice cream. It was easy and oh so yummy!

Tuesday, January 7 – Another day dawned frigid with the arctic vortex, and school was canceled again. We had to find ways to keep the kids and ourselves from going stir crazy, so we ventured out and down to the church to give the kids some running around space. We are so blessed to have a church building close and even more blessed to have a dad with keys to the building. Shooting baskets and running lots of laps used up a bit of energy, but we’re not sure if it is ever enough. 

Mike discovered a couple of new snowflake apps: The artist's original work is pretty amazing.

And of course, Make-a-Flake

Landon is well on his way to snowflake mastery!

Wednesday, January 8 – To our surprise, the local schools were canceled yet again. We found out later that the news had reported we were closed before any decision had been made by the district itself. So to stave off any confusion they just called it canceled. Landon, who has been out of school since December 20, actually commented how he missed school. Those are amazing words since back in September and October he wanted nothing to do with school. The kids still had therapy, so Hallie took them out to Kaufman and then to the Henry Ford. With so many schools being closed, Hallie thought for sure the museum would be full of crazy kids all needing to get their energy out. But to Hallie’s surprise it was almost empty. The three took different routes than they normally do and met many nice friendly families along the way.
Every day, the museum staff and visitors build a real working Model T. 

Thursday, January 9 – Everyone returned to their normal schedules as temperatures finally began to warm back to normal winter numbers. Hallie had the opportunity to spend a bit of time with the Grosse Pointe Moms Club and even received a chair massage for going. Sweet!!! Mike taught his first class of the semester. Hallie and the kids love the beginning and the end of the semesters because that means early nights home for Dad.

Friday, January 10 – The weather had warmed up enough to make the snow just right for snowballs and snowmen. On Wednesday night Mike and Hallie ended up spending a lot of time trying to get Eliza to sleep. So Hallie promised Landon we would have a slumber party on Friday. So tonight we started with ye old pizza and a movie. Hallie and Landon made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and then headed to bed. Sharing a twin bed is not the hottest for the whole night, but she did last until after 1:00 AM.


Dad's frozen 3D portrait, complete with glasses and goatee  
Even Fergus needed to get out of the house (much to our frustration).

Saturday, January 11 – Rain overnight washed away a lot of the snow and trickled its normal bit into the basement. Landon started his first advanced boys’ gymnastics class this morning. After our brief stint in competitive gymnastics this last summer Hallie wished that there was something more for Landon at Extreme. After talking with another mom the two ladies started dropping hints with the staff that there were families who currently attended who wanted their sons to go to an advanced class. In November there was word that the facility was working on a class for the boys. Late December Hallie was told that the class was going to start hopefully by the next session and so it did. On their way home from practice Landon said the new class was “hard, but I loved it!” Gymnastics is definitely a winner for this kid. Hallie and Landon went to babysit Laurel’s two boys. They all play together great, so not much sitting needed to be done.  

Sunday, January 12 – Hallie had a fun time subbing as Primary Chorister today. So many new families that have moved in recently with kids that there many unfamiliar faces. Landon moved into the CTR class and got his token CTR ring. We can hear him now in the backyard showing it to the neighbors. We had lots of sun today and above freezing temperatures, but Mother Nature is sure to change things up in no time.
Taking core samples, or as Landon put it, making popsicles