Sunday, August 31, 2014

School Days

The kids and Mike officially started school again, and with that start Hallie hopes to settle into some routines of her own.

Leading into the week, we took advantage of the pool and the outdoors. On Monday, Mike took Landon on a practice walk to school to see how much longer it would take to get there than his previous school. We’re not a whole lot further away from his new school than Defer. Yay for walking and biking!

Mike had new faculty orientation at CLU on Tuesday. He’s excited to get started, but he’s experiencing sticker shock as he contemplates the cost of the health care plan options. Wayne had amazing benefits for quite a bit less. Hallie took the kids on several errands and to Barnes and Noble, where they had a story time.

We had a wienie roast and s'mores in the evening as a last hurrah before summer comes to an end. 

Wednesday was the first day for both of the kids at school. Along with a huge crowd of people, we filed into drop their kids off at Landon’s school, where we were able to walk him to his classroom. The classroom looks exciting, and his teacher is experienced and receives good reviews. This should be a great year for him. 

Hallie then took Mike to another day of conferences, this time his annual all-faculty retreat in Ventura. After dropping Mike off, Hallie took Eliza to Marina Park for some girl time by the water. 

At noon Hallie took Eliza over to her new school, and on their way up to the school Eliza was already saying good bye. Hallie told her that she was breaking her heart, bur Eliza told her it would be okay because Hallie would be back to pick her up. These kids grow up way too fast. 

Both kids needed more school supplies, so while they were learning Hallie had to run errands. Four stores later we hope we have everything. Both kids seemed to have a great day at school, and we are happy that it has been a smooth transition for the two of them. In the evening Grandma Liz our neighbor called to see if we wanted to go to the Farmers Market. Hallie and the kids and Liz headed over to the market and enjoyed some fresh produce and yummy grilled cheese sandwiches from a food truck appropriately called The Grilled Cheese Truck.

Mike stayed overnight at the hotel where they held the retreat, so Hallie took Landon to school on Thursday. Hallie was going to pick Mike up from the hotel, but he got a ride home. He tried contacting Hallie without success. He got home late enough that he missed Hallie, so, phone in hand and on redial, he high-tailed it up to the school. Hallie had gone up to get materials to collate for Landon’s teacher, so Mike caught up with her before she got to her phone or hit the road. Speaking of hitting the road, Mike almost got hit by a car making a left turn as he walked to the school. Be careful out there, people!  

With Landon’s school getting out so early there is time to still have fun in the late afternoon. Mike took the kids swimming again, but by then there were more people in the pool. The kids love having a pool so close and the warm weather here has made it an ideal place to take the kids. Mike had a meeting with the bishop in the evening and Liz invited Hallie and the kids over to eat with their family and the missionaries. With all of the swimming the kids went to bed quite well at the end of the day.

On Friday, Mike took Landon to school by bike. There is a bit of an incline getting there which provides a nice workout. Hallie and Eliza spent sometime in the morning at the pool where they were the only ones there. Mike drove up to CLU, planning to come back in time to get Landon from school. However, due to a bit of traffic coming from work back, Mike was delayed and  Hallie and Eliza had to quickly jump on their bikes and pedal like mad to get the school in time. Eliza did amazingly well for having to hurry.

Saturday we cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. When we walk our housing community Hallie has seen some very manicured garages and wants to try to get ours to look more similar to others. After some good organizing, rearranging, and assessing we made a great improvement. In the late afternoon we spent time in the kids room putting Landon’s bed frame together and Eliza thinks wearing multiple outfits a day and not putting them away is a good idea, putting away clothes was on Eliza’s agenda.

Mike spoke again at church on Sunday, this time on missionary work as it related to his new calling. After church, we went to Grandma and Grandpa M’s for dinner. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

This Summer’s Last Hurrah

We have enjoyed an unusually long break from school with the move, but events of the week reminded us that summer’s lazy long days are nearly done and soon it will be time to get back into the regular routines of school and work. We sent the season out with celebratory outings.

On Monday, Hallie helped Candace, a member of our ward, pack up her kitchen in preparation for her family’s move out of state. Like Belle Isle, while there are some families that have stayed in the area for years, many younger families spend a couple of years in the ward before jobs or other circumstances draw them away. A few families such as our own have moved in this summer, and several have left, so things should be stable again for the rest of the year. 

Here’s Eliza making progress as an emerging reader. Dr. Seuss is always an inspiration.

On Tuesday, Mike joined the missionaries as they taught an investigator family. At home, Hallie taught Landon how to tie his shoes using a method she found online for teaching efficient life skills.

Wednesday found us at the Camarillo Airport. We went with Grandma and Grandpa O. and Alie to the Waypoint Cafe. The airplanes parked and getting ready to taxi out to the hangers or runways fascinated the kids.

Thursday started early for Hallie and Eliza. Having found out from the school district that Eliza is missing an immunization booster shot, Hallie took her to the clinic. They had to wait a long time even though they were fourth in line. Eliza chose to sit in her own chair and did not even flinch when the shot happened. Everyone was impressed with her big girl attitude and Barbie band-aid. The two of them then ran to Costco, and the school to get everything in order for Wednesday.

On Friday morning, Landon’s new elementary school, Las Posas, had a new family orientation meeting. We had our eyes opened wide to the stark differences between schools in Pleasant Valley and those in Grosse Pointe. Las Posas is not Defer, and we’re going to have to let that sink in for a bit. Not to completely knock the school or district, which both seem great, but we recognized that we had better facilities and resources at the kids’ former schools. In the afternoon, we went back to see Landon’s classroom assignment. His new teacher is Ms. Bendinelli, and he has 26 students in his class. That’s a far cry from the 15 in his kindergarten class, but his teacher receives good marks.

In between our jaunts over to Las Posas, the kids had a Primary activity at church, and end-of-summer Splash Party. They played a bunch of different water sports and got thoroughly wet. The grown-ups got a chance to get to know the other moms and get their opinions about what to do about school in order to support and extend the kids’ learning.

On Saturday, Hallie attended a baby shower for an expecting mom in the ward, and then we headed out for a family fun day to mark the last Saturday before the new school year.

We started off with some bike riding out front.
Ridiculous. As our friend Monika wrote, these kids have "worn all your panic out."
 We then headed out to Chuck E. Cheese's.

Then we went to Seaward Fish ‘n’ Chips for some lunch before going for a short stroll along the beach. We could not have timed our arrival better: We found a parking spot close to the restaurant (in the shade no less), and got to the restaurant to find an open table inside. Shortly after we received our order, everyone else seemed to decide they wanted lunch too.

Checking out one of the many by-the-wind sailors that had washed up on shore 

By the time we got home, the Wings Over Camarillo airshow was well under way. We saw a giant orange flying wing and several vintage aircraft buzz right overhead. What a sight! Talk about loud, though.
(Obviously it's better in person.)

Here's some insight into how the acrobats do their work:

We have spent the last few weeks watching a show on Netflix called Cedar Cove. One of the story lines has to do with a character who is considering placing her baby for adoption. Another character, who was adopted himself, gave some great insights about adoption from the perspective of an adopted child: He tells the expectant mother that he has heard that we pick out parents before we are born and he likes to think that he picked out one woman to carry him and another to raise him.

Sunday brought new callings at church for the parents. Hallie was sustained as the 2nd counselor in Primary, and Mike was sustained as the ward mission leader. Both of us are working in familiar territory. Now it's off to the races, once again! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014


At some point, you might think we begin to take for granted the hair-raising things these kids can do, but no. It never gets old, and they keep finding ways to surprise us with new-found skills. 

Monday, August 11 – Daredevil acts came in a set of three today. Part 1: As Hallie helped Landon and Eliza unpack items in their rooms, she found the box that held the plastic bracket for the kids’ indoor swing. Hooray! We thought maybe they’d gotten left behind or thrown out. Mike installed the swing, and the kids set about defying gravity again.

Part 2: Eliza decided to follow Landon's lead again and take on the horizontal ladder on the community park's jungle gym.

Part 3: After showing her new pool skills at the end of last week, Eliza decided to learn how to ride her big girl bike today. She asked Dad to take the last training wheel off her bike, and she took to the street.

Tuesday, August 12 – Mike took the kids to see Mr. Peabody and Sherman at the dollar movie theater while Hallie and her mom did some shopping and ran errands. After the movie, Landon wanted to show off some of his own new bike skills. 

Pray no one comes careening around the corner. 

Later on, we all went down to the pool. Some other kids were there with toys to share, including water pistols. What a cool idea! Mike got into the fun with the kids while the other grown-ups lounged and chatted in the water.

Wednesday, August 13 – Happy International Left Handers Day! We met Grandma M., Aunt Carly, Cru, and Sawyer at Marina Park in Ventura for a beach day.

In the afternoon, Hallie and Landon ran some errands and brought home some water guns of our own. They worked really well to help us cool down after the heat of the day. Both kids seem to have avoided sunburns (they both have genes that let them tan to shades of beautiful bronze), but Mom and Dad got burned where they didn’t cover with clothes or ample amounts of sunscreen, so the cool water felt quite refreshing.

Thursday, August 14 – Mike had meetings on campus, so Hallie and the kids took him up, ran some errands, and went over to visit with family in TO. The kids were playing in the backyard, and then Landon came in to say Eliza had climbed onto the roof of the shed. 
Yup. Pretty much.
Later in the day, Cameron Mortensen (who had served as a missionary in Belle Isle) and his girlfriend came over. They were out to visit his birthmom, who is from the area. While they were visiting, the missionaries came over for dinner, and then Hallie had to hit the road for a luau-themed Relief Society dinner. Busy times!

Friday, August 15 – Grandma and Grandpa O. and Alie came over for a hearty late breakfast. Hallie had found an orange roll recipe, and Mike made it. He got a little overzealous on the amount of juice required for the glaze, misreading two tablespoons of fresh orange juice for the juice of one whole orange. Grandpa suggested boiling down the liquid into a syrup (almost a marmalade) that we poured over the rolls, so they came out amazingly well.

Fergus found a perch above the cabinets to watch the men at work.

The kids played together and showed off their skills.

Dancing to Alie's favorite song, Pharell's "Happy"

In the afternoon, we went down to the pool. Some kids who a couple of weeks earlier had caused hundreds of dollars in damage to the pool area tried to get in again, asking people in the pool area to let them in. The last time, Mike had been the adult foolish enough to let them in, assuming that the kids wouldn’t cause problems. This time, he was “that guy”: the crotchety old guy running off the rabble. He didn’t want to be that guy, but he had to set things right after the last time.

Once the rabble had been run off, Mike and Landon had a battle royale with some other kids who had brought their own water guns to the pool. Being able to refill right in the water makes for some pretty intense fighting that just would not let up (even when Mike wanted it to). 

Saturday, August 16 – Mike and the kids made paper airplanes and then raced them.  At first, Landon got frustrated that he couldn't fold straight lines, but after some practice, he had several planes of different shapes and was teaching Mom the finer points. 

Surprisingly, while it looks cool, it doesn't fly well. 

Having a balcony has its advantages.

Mike found a website that takes photos and tilt shifts them so they look like miniature scenes. He tried his hand with some shots from trips we’ve made to Atlantic Canada, and they didn’t turn out too badly (click on the pictures for a closer look). They remind Hallie of the opening scenes of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.
The Battery, St. John's, NL
Town of Trinity, Newfoundland
House on the Nuddick, Trinity, Newfoundland

Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

It took him a while, but Fergus has finally got back to being his old cuddly self (at least with Mike) this week.
Happiness is a warm lap. 
Mike took the kids on a bike ride while Hallie visited with Hillary from next door. The kids saw that no one was at the pool, so they went over for a relaxing end of the day swim.

Sunday, August 17 – Landon and Mike got into a gnarly dog fight with the dozen or so paper airplanes he folded yesterday. Casualties were light, although all noses required extensive repairs and retrofitting to ensure continued airworthiness. 

Mike took both kids on their big kid bikes to and from church. The days of the kangaroo seat and balance bikes may finally be over (sniff).

Hallie subbed as Primary Chorister again, and it seemed that tic-tac-toe was not such a big hit this time. They both have received new callings. Details to follow next week!