Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tanjoubi Omedetou, Ninja Boy!

Our little big man turned seven this week, one year older and wiser too. And really, really ready for Halloween. Eliza has joined in the enthusiasm. Ah, childhood!

But first, some of Eliza's continuing antics. She has taken to climbing up whatever obstacle that gets in her way.

She has also taken to writing notes and drawing pictures.

On Thursday, Landon celebrated his seventh birthday. Landon had gone on and on about wanting a ninja-themed day for the past month, and with the move, we have not been able to find his black ninja costume. But just this morning Mike found it, so the boy got to be a ninja all day.
One contemplative moment in an otherwise manic day

Landon's latest ninja obsession began when he discovered Ninjago on Netflix during the summer. 

The girls next door and Eliza decorated the front of the house while Mike took care of the back. Hallie enjoyed the time she spent with Hilary brainstorming for the party. It is good for both of them to be getting out and about.

Hallie had taken Landon to the store to pick up a fun cake with a picture on it we had taken of him in his ninja costume last year.

The grandparents and other family members got together to celebrate Landon’s birthday in the evening. All in all he had a busy, busy day!

On Saturday, The kids dressed in their Halloween costumes, and we went to the Las Posas Plaza for trick or treating and activities. 
Mike's struggles trying to get these two to pose for a halfway decent picture sent Hallie into fits of laughter. 

Landon went out to lunch at the Habit with Grandma and Grandpa M., and Eliza played dress-up in her recently repaired (thanks, Carrie!) dress she got on our Panama Canal cruise.  
Again, getting this child to stand still for a pretty pose is next to impossible, Always with the faces!

After Landon got back home, we carved pumpkins. First we planned.
Done! Or as Landon spells it, "Dune!"

Then we carved.

The jar to the right contains the haul the two kids took in this morning. 

And finally, when it got dark, we set them out.
The silhouette of Fergus the spooky cat in the window completes the effect. Booooo!

In the afternoon, the kids rode around outside with the neighbor kids. There are lots of kids in the neighborhood, and it is so fun seeing the kids play for hours on end. While the joy is being had, the moms and other adults in the neighborhood hang out together. We are grateful for other families that have similar values.

We spent a sunny Sunday morning eating Italian flavored roasted pumpkin seeds, watching Anastasia (it's both family friendly and spooky--check out the scenes with Rasputin), and reading about pirates. Arr! (Thanks, Grandma B., for letting us borrow the book.) 

Landon is also perfecting his piloting skills.
A video posted by Michael Owens (@moman13) on

Cross your fingers Landon's Halloween Class Party goes off without a hitch. We are first time room parents for his class. So far the sign ups are going well.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Many Faces of Eliza

For some reason, we didn’t get a lot of pics of Landon this week and extra pics of Eliza. Enjoy her many faces!

On Monday, Hallie started a substitute job in Oxnard for a few days. We all got up early, and Mike first took Hallie to work and then the kids to school. We went to Landon’s first parent-teacher conference for the year. He’s making progress and learning a lot. He had half-days at school this week, which meant Landon got out at the same time as Eliza was supposed to start, Eliza got to school late this week. Now she attends preschool as a “typical” student.

On Tuesday after Mike and Eliza took Landon to school on their bikes, Dad and the girl stopped off at the park to play on the swing set. Suddenly Eliza had to go potty. Fortunately, the pool has a restroom. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it in time. After Mike got her cleaned up, we went right back to swinging, if a little damper than before.

Mike started tutoring last week and had a few more clients this week. It’s no tutoring empire, but it’s real money. Plus he enjoys working with the kids. On Wednesday after picking Eliza up from school, we all drove over to Westlake Village, where Mike worked with a couple of clients at the local Barnes and Noble. While he worked, the rest of the crew window shopped at Cost Plus, had an ice cream at Rite-Aid, and read at the bookstore.
There's part of Landon there too. 

The modern bookstore: Where kids go to buy toys. 

Eliza showed off her Little Miss Detroit shirt on Thursday.

On Friday, Hallie, Hillary, and Eliza went shopping for Landon’s upcoming birthday and Hallie stopped by another place to put in an application. The girls seemed to enjoy their time together. 

When they arrived home, Hallie and Eliza picked up Mike and Landon to take the boys to get a haircut, and (while we don’t have the pictures to prove it) they look sharp!

Mike ended his 99 days of freedom from Facebook. Woo hoo.

A Happy Halloween goblin dropped cookies by for the kids to munch on along with their pizza in the evening.
Here's Landon post-haircut. No product though. 

On Saturday, Mike taught and Hallie had the kids for the day. The morning was spent with Grandma M., Cru, and Sawyer. The three amigos then came home and tidied up the house and watched a movie. Soon it was time to go back and get Mike and then to see Grandpa M. to help him set up his new computer. Landon and Eliza had another chance to play with Cru. They sure do love being around a cousin their age!
Random lunchbox-on-head photo taken on the road there

Sunday ended our week with Mike attending church meetings and the rest of the family meeting him at church for a typical Sunday. The talks in sacrament were quite good and we are glad we were able to hear them. Landon actually said he wished he could have been at church longer to keep learning. Those words are music to these parents’ ears.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Cat Came Back

You may be familiar with the old campfire song or the weird cartoon of the same name. We had a similar experience this last week. While Fergus took about a week to get back to us, he did come back.
(Funny Canadians)

It started Sunday night when Eliza opened the screen door and Fergus shot right out into the backyard and became the subject of a parable of sorts Mike wrote a few days later when it seemed like maybe the cat would not come back.

Ever since he was a kitten, Fergus has hated being trapped indoors when he could see the amazing world outside. He resented that his owners kept him penned in when all he wanted to do was chase the birds, roll around in the dirt, and explore what lie on the other side of the neighbors’ fences. Patiently, he waited for one of his people to leave a door unattended so he could jet out into the yard. His people had taken to locking the big slider and going into the back yard by way of the garage. He especially resented seeing them dining in the back yard while he remained cooped inside, and he would push and claw at the screens, testing for some weakness in the protective cage.

He had escaped several times already when someone’s attention had lapsed just enough. Sometimes his escapes lasted for only a minute or two before one of the family trapped him or shooed him back inside, but more often lately, he had learned exactly where to run to when he got out of the house so that he could escape capture. The last few times he had escaped, he managed to spend hours exploring the yards of the surrounding neighbors. He ended up bringing some uninvited passengers that bit both him and his family once they did succeed in luring him back home when he finally got tired or hungry or wanted their company.

One fateful night, a family member opened the slider screen, and before anyone could react, he was out the door, around the side yard, and over the fence. Try as they might, his family would not stop him from making his rounds. This time, he decided to explore new territory across the street, where he had only ventured once or twice before. His family searched for him in vain, because Fergus never came back home that night. His family searched the neighborhood, contacted animal control, and prayed for his safe return, but they could not prevent Fergus from his escape efforts and experiencing whatever natural consequence came from him leaving the safe place they had given him.

And so ends the parable. Make of it what you will.

Fortunately for us, Saturday morning Landon heard Fergus meowing outside in the front yard, and the cat did come back. He seemed none the worse for wear, but he has developed a few different behaviors. He clings to Mike like white on rice and generally wants to be around us a lot more, although he still wants to get out if he can. We treated him with flea killer as part of our efforts to get rid of fleas generally in the home (more on that later) and put his collar on him. Try as we might, we know that this tale will be continued. 

While that was the big story of the week, we did have other goings-on.

Mike had frequent meetings and classes at school this week, he sent in a revised paper to be considered for publication, and he has also started a new entrepreneurial venture: Advance Tutoring Camarillo. If you know of anyone needing tutoring, pass the word along. He has over 25 years of experience (can you believe that? He’s ooolllddd!) in math, English, Spanish, college entrance exam, dissertation writing, and other academic preparation. Contact him directly at the form on his website or view his profile

Hallie has also ventured into the job market, landing one job at a local school district and another at a local retailer.

Mike attended the LA Temple on Thursday with a brother in the ward who is a shift supervisor. He invited Mike to consider working at the temple on a regular basis. We can’t make it work right now, but it’s something he would like to do in the future.

Also on Thursday, Landon had a jog-a-thon fundraiser where the kids ran laps and earned money from pledges to get funding for a part-time PE teacher. Landon even contributed $25 of his own money to the effort.

On Friday, Eliza had her closing IEP meeting/parent conference. The little chatterbox no longer needs speech and language services.

Oh, and here are some samples of this week's creativity.
Some kids build cities. Ours, marauding hordes.

And rocket-powered crocodiles.

Ha ha. Where around here are we going to find the first two sections?

While Mike taught on Friday night, Hallie took the kids to practice at church for their Primary program this Sunday.

On Saturday while Mike taught, Hallie and Liz took the kids to see Meet the Mormons at a local theater. They seemed to enjoy it.

Landon received birthday greetings from Grandma and Grandpa D.

On Sunday, the kids had their Primary program at sacrament meeting at church. Landon showed off his emerging reading skills in his part of the program. Hallie showed that she has the skills to wrangle some beautiful music out of those squirrelly little ones. Grandma and Grandpa M. and Uncle Shad, Aunt Carly and the kids showed up to lend their moral support. After church, the kids chatted with Grandma and Grandpa D. via Skype. Thank goodness for how technology closes the miles! 

Sunday, October 05, 2014

What October Heat Wave?

We entered October with a small heat wave. Well, maybe not so small. Of course, warm dry Octobers are common in Southern California. Many are the October nights that Mike remembers the skies tinged orange with wildfires burning beyond the hills north of his childhood home and the October days when the Santa Anas blasted the valley with dry desert-heated air as he walked to and from school. Of course, since we don’t have air conditioning, we have all the more incentive to go to church and beat the heat while watching General Conference!  

On Monday morning, Eliza attended a birthday party for a couple of new friends from the ward. 

In the evening, we had dinner with Mike’s friend Grace in Thousand Oaks. She got the kids a couple of fun drawing books which they took to with glee.

We love anything Ed Emberley.

Speaking of creative work, here are some samples of the kids’ recent schoolwork.

Another family in our ward is moving out of state. We’re one of two families that habe moved in over the summer, and in that time, about six have left, taking with them a bundle of kids. The most recent move took nine people out of the ward. It almost feels like Belle Isle all over again! We looked after their little girls in the morning and the rest of the kids in the afternoon on Thursday, and Mike helped move out some of the family’s remaining items on Friday morning. In the process, they gave us a bunch of food. We will literally only have to go grocery shopping for some fresh perishables for the next few months, and several families in the ward will be able to add to their food storage reserves. Thanks so much!   
The calm before the after-school storm
On Saturday and Sunday we watched General Conference, getting a chance to have our "strength faithened."
Princess Eliza in her Conference Crown

As he has done for the past few times, Mike took Landon to the priesthood session. This time they went a little early with Bruce and had some pizza with the ward’s young men. This meant that Hallie and Eliza had some girl time, so they went for a bike ride. A lady watched Eliza riding, and in a surprised tone, she asked, “How old is she?” Quick as a beat, Eliza put on her super “I’m cool” face and, holding on to the handle bar with one hand, held up three fingers with her other. Yup, that’s our girl.

Landon and Eliza made some wild flying machines with their Legos, and he has even used the Mini Mi app to create his own alter ego. We wrote that he goes to priesthood session with Mike. We didn’t say he pays strict attention the whole time. For a nearly-seven-year-old, we’ll take it.