Sunday, July 27, 2014

Exploring Career Possibilities

Mike has a bunch of old LEGO sets from the late 1970s through the late 1980s, and he has brought a bunch of them out for the kids to play with. Now that they’re out, both kids have taken to building. Landon in particular totally understands the spirit of LEGO, which is that you don’t have to follow the directions. He makes all sorts of wild builds that combine elements from whatever bricks happen to be lying around. You want a police-space-knight flying a spaceship with castle walls and a TV antenna? You got it! Eliza gets right into it too. She really enjoys making buildings. So, at this point we have budding engineers and architects in our midst. Of course, they could just as likely go into agriculture or public safety based on the other experiences they had this week. 

Monday, July 21 – The kids had another week of swimming practice. After swimming we worked with Landon on what we term “school work.” He doesn’t complain much, and we throw in some technology games to keep him really interested. The rest of the day was pretty plain when we look back at it, but it was all topped off by a great uplifting call from Diamond and how much she loved her new job. Heavenly Father really has answered her prayers as well as ours.

For Family Home Evening we took a bike ride around our subdivision. Landon gets so excited when Hallie rides her bike as she does not go very often. It was a beautiful evening, and we saw many other families outside with their children.

Tuesday, July 22 – Before swim practice, Mike and Landon got out a LEGO game (HEROICA Castle Fortaan) Landon has wanted to play ever since Grandpa O. bought it for us over a year ago. Last night, Mike and Landon had spent some time putting the board together, but they didn’t get to play.

This morning they got a couple of games in before the kids and Mom left Dad to his work.

After swimming, we went to Underwood Family Farms and met up with Grandma and Grandpa O. and cousins Haydn and Mariah. The farm has it all, from a train to a petting zoo to pony rides, playgrounds, and exotic animals. Haydn is a great sport and will play with Landon without a complaint. Mariah was so happy to be running around, and Eliza was even happier to be holding her hand and playing the big girl for a change. This is not the last time we will be to these farms.

Eliza finds Landon’s room an endless source of fascination. She likes to lie on the floor and “take a nap,” steal his treasure box, and even suddenly have “my money” which we later found came from Landon’s bank.

Wednesday, July 23 – We ran several errands together in the afternoon. Arby’s had offered a free shake for its 50th anniversary, so we just had to go find the closest one. We ended up getting all turned around in our attempt to get there, going miles out of our way (all the way out to Ventura Harbor and back to Oxnard) before we finally made it back. The shakes were worth the effort, although we would have just gone home if we didn’t have items to buy at WinCo. Close to a year ago Hallie found out about a company called Zaycon Foods where you order ahead of time whatever meat they are selling at the time and then pick it up from a central location. So by cutting out the retail store, they pass the savings on to the customer. Before our Arby’s craziness we picked up 40 pounds of ground beef. After sharing some with the neighbor, we are now cutting it down into smaller packages for the freezer.

Thursday, July 24 – Happy Pioneer Day! Hallie headed out for a walk at 6:30 AM with Liz. Later in the day Hallie checked how far they went, and it was nearly two miles. Hallie’s sciatic nerve was not very happy with her the rest of the day, but oh well.

Today was the last day of the two weeks of swimming. Both kids will repeat their levels. They did really well, and we are proud of them. Before the end of class Landon went off the diving board for the first time by himself and had a great time.

He has asked if he can keep taking swim classes, and we have said sure. Eliza is still a bit tentative, so we keep practicing. We know she will get the hang of it. After swimming Hallie headed to Thousand Oaks to do some shopping and have lunch with her mom. They both had a lovely time and Hallie enjoyed seeing Pat McDonald, her leader from Young Women whom she had not seen in a long time. Living in California can have those perks. The ladies are grateful to Mike for watching the kids all afternoon.

Of course, Mike and the kids made the most of their time, hitting the pool and playing outside. We even got started on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy. Imagine our surprise to see that one of Almonzo Wilder’s older sisters was named Eliza Jane. Little House fans probably remember her as the spinster schoolteacher
The book character and the real woman upon whom the character was based was not like that, and our Eliza Jane is far more fiery.

Friday, July 25 – In the morning Hallie picked up her visiting teaching companion and headed to their first visit as a companionship. They had a great time visiting because before they knew it they had been there for two hours. Oooppps! How much fun Hallie had getting to be with other ladies from church! We often think of and miss our church friends in Michigan, so small acts such as visiting teaching help ease some of the transition.

Mike has developed allergies to something in the air. Only within the last year did he realize that he had allergies, which he first started getting as a missionary in Argentina, apparently. Some allergy meds would have worked wonders down there. Why it never occurred to him that the stuffy nose and aches he got with the change in seasons were something besides colds, flu, or sinusitis is anyone’s guess, but there it is. Even so, he was a little surprised to see that his allergies had followed him from Michigan to Camarillo, and with a vengeance. After finally finding and trying some of the meds that worked in Michigan with no success, he was at a loss for what to do. Benedryl? Nope. Allegra? Nada. Claritin? No way. And so he suffered through the day (such is the way with First World problems). To complicate matters, he had class to teach, which he did, sniffling and sneezing throughout.

Before class, he went to his folks’ to look at some plants to bring back to our house or to his office. Now we need to get some larger pots to transplant, and we’ll be set! When Grandma answered the door, Mariah in hand, Mariah gave Mike the happiest smile. They spent some time getting a bite to eat and visiting while Mike chatted some with Grandma and Grandpa.

After class, he dropped off an anniversary card for Grandma and Grandpa M. and spent some time visiting. Sawyer was wide awake and fascinated to see a new face. She and Mike had a nice little babbling chat. Today was a good day to be an uncle.

When he got home, Mike was hashed. Then he happened to look at one of the baskets of meds and saw a nasal spray bottle. Earlier, Dwight had asked if Mike had tried Flonase, and Mike thought we didn’t have any. He was wrong, mercifully wrong! So, it turned out that the bottle had Flonase, and a couple of sprays later, things started to clear up!

While Mike suffered that afternoon and evening Hallie and the kids had a bit of fun. Landon calls it Mom, Son, and Daughter Time. He will ask on occasion if we can have Daddy/Mommy and Son Time, quite cute. They had pizza for dinner and even spent a few hours in the pool, most of it just the three of them. A perfect evening in their books. Eliza fell asleep earlier in the day when the three of them went to get gas in the car. Needless to say, it was pretty late before Eliza finally shut her eyes.

Saturday, July 26 – The nasal spray had the intended effect, but Mike must have really needed the sleep because he lost all sense of time until after 8:00 AM. At about that time, he got up and wandered from Eliza’s room back to ours (yes, Eliza still routinely gets him up in the middle of the night). Not long afterwards, Landon came in asking if Dad would build LEGOs with him. One LEGO set in particular has grabbed Landon’s attention: a freighter ship that really floats. Mike showed the hull and ballast pieces to him last week. So Mike traipsed out to the garage and found (most of) the other pieces to the ship, and along with instructions he found online and pieces we had in the front room, he and the kids put it together.

Around 11:00 the family headed to something called Coppers and Choppers hosted by the Ventura County Sheriff's Foundation. It was free and only a few miles from our house and so we thought we would give it a try. As Hallie talked about it with Landon tonight he said it was good and he had fun! There were bounce houses, a rock wall, police cars, search and rescue vehicles, and even horses to check out. Everything was very hands-on, and the kids had a lot of fun. This will be an event we go to again next year.

The expressions coupled with the characters' actions: Perfect

Eliza picked out the drinks for us and gave this can to Hallie. It reads, "Share a Diet Coke with Mom."

This is the helmet members of the bomb squad wear. This suit behind Landon weighs 90 pounds.  

Eliza was expecting a gymnastics class today, but it was canceled and no one called us. Eliza is still a bit confused about why she can’t go to her class, so we will have to try to find something else for her to do that she will be equally excited about.

Sunday, July 27 – Hallie let it slip that she had been Primary Chorister before, so she was asked to sub today. For the last three weeks either Mike or Hallie had subbed for Landon’s class. Now that Hallie has a calling as Relief Society instructor, her subbing days will be over for a while. It was nice to be put to a bit of work after having so much time off. Mike is still in a holding pattern. Before church Bro. Nielsen from the bishopric asked to talk to him after sacrament meeting, but after church he said that they had other plans. The suspense mounts. Hallie's rooting for him to become a ward missionary. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lazy Days of Summer

We did nothing this week but watch Once Upon a Time. The End.

(Yeah, right.)

Monday, July 14 –  Diamond interviewed for an internship doing forensic psychology. She also recently got a job with campus technology at BYU-I. She has continued to do well in school is making great progress toward her degree. We're proud of you, Diamond!  

The younger kids started swimming lessons this week.

Tuesday, July 15 – We had a busy day right from the morning onward. After taking the kids to swimming lesson, we drove out to Ventura to a children’s hair stylist Hallie found on Yelp named Jack N’ Jill’s Cuts for Kids.
Dawn had a great "bedside" manner. She kept Eliza entertained and focused throughout the cut.  

While Eliza got her hair cut, Mike taught Landon how to play foosball and air hockey. The kid’s a quick study.

After the haircut, we had lunch at the Habit. Such yummy burgers, plus onion rings and sweet potato fries (cue drooling Homer Simpson). Perfection!
With the new, shorter 'do

In the afternoon, Mike took the kids back to the neighborhood pool so they could practice their new swimming skills. In the evening, we went to the library for family story time in pajamas.

Wednesday, July 16 – After Hallie took the kids to the pool while Mike worked, Mike returned the favor by taking Hallie to work, where she started her job at Hobby Lobby. Mike then took the kids over to Marina Park in Ventura, where they spent a full morning and early afternoon enjoying the playground, waves, and lunch.
Landon, right at home on the zip line

Eliza showing the other three-year-olds how it's done. After she went, a bunch of little kids who were too scared to try finally did go. 

They only got knocked over by the waves once, and once was enough.

Finding mussels . . . 

and crabs

Ideal conditions for kite flying!

She successfully chased off the pesky seagulls . . .

only to have the ground squirrels make off with her goldfish. 


Hallie called in pain from the pinched nerve in her back about halfway into her shift, so we drove back to rescue her. She decided by the end of the day that she would have to quit and find a less physically taxing line of work.

Later in the day as Hallie and Eliza were reading, Eliza let Hallie know about how she received a scratch on her arm from a tiger.

Thursday, July 17 – After swimming lessons, Landon begged, “Please don’t let this be the last one!” Nope. We’ll go back on Monday. 
Learning the fundamentals of diving at the community pool

He showed off his skills later on at our neighborhood pool. Now that he can confidently swim in the deep water, the whole pool is his domain. So exciting!

We brought the games out of the garage and into the front room so they could get used. This month must seem like Christmas every day in some ways as the kids rediscover the playthings they haven't used in a while. 

Friday, July 18 – In the morning, Mom and Landon went to the movies to see Planes: Fire and Rescue while Mike and Eliza hit the pool. Mike had a class to teach in the late afternoon/evening, so Hallie and the kids took him up and then they ran errands.

Saturday, July 19 – We have experimented over the week with homeschooling, with Landon spending time reading, reviewing his writing skills, and money math.  This morning, Landon came into Mom and Dad’s room asking all sorts of questions about the value of the coins he has collected and added to his new wallet (which he is using to keep his incentive “dollars” along with real cash). So far, the doing school at home routine has been anything but, and yet we’ve had fun while making progress.

Mike took the kids down to the park to practice baseball and go swinging (not swimming, this time at least).

Then we all went to the farmers’ market for produce and kettle corn (which Landon purchased with his money).

We spent the afternoon organizing the front room and trying to get it more finished. We still need to hang pictures, but it’s getting there.

We celebrated all the kids’ hard work with dessert for dinner! For the first time since we moved here, the skies clouded up and we got rain. Or rather, a few drops fell from the sky. For some peculiar reason, the kids went berserk and decided they needed to hide in the boxes in the back yard.

This from kids who routinely used to run around in full-blown Midwestern thunderstorms

Before going to bed, they got baths. After hers, Eliza put on her Wonder Woman cape and started flying around yelling, “Super Hero Man, to the rescue!” Would have helped for her to put on some clothes too. She is pretty super though: She can save money (see the wallet in her hand?) and style her hair, all on the fly (so to speak). 

Sunday, July 20 – The children spent a (mostly) quiet morning playing games and building with Legos. 
The fan makes the propeller go! 

Creating a new house for the village, complete with a trap door
Sawyer was blessed today by Shad, so we attended their ward. And so ends another lazy summer week. Do we know where that Roku remote went?