Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Biker Boy Turns Eight

Our big event this week was Landon’s 8th birthday. He received presents that relate to his current loves: Bikes and LEGO. We feel so grateful to have been blessed with this energetic, bright, and enthusiastic young man in our lives, and we look forward to another year of wild adventure!

Last week was a bit slower, and that can be good. This week, on the other hand, was not quite as slow, and all of our appointments and activities kept us on our toes.

A week or so ago Mike thought it would be a good idea to try and fix his scratched glasses with some DIY methods. The result was a big thumbs down. Let's just say that toothpaste and baking soda do not clear glasses make. With his glasses that don’t work so well anymore in hand, the four of us went with Mike to pick out new glasses. Now we are just waiting for Costco to call that they are in. Soon Mike’s eyes will be very happy to see clearly.

Wednesday took Hallie and Eliza to Underwood Family Farms for the yearly preschool pumpkin patch field trip. Eliza counted down the days to the trip and asked every day if this was the day to go to the pumpkin patch. It was a warm morning, and there were quite a few kids from our school as well as others. We invited our fun friend Cami and her two cute boys Jett and Dax. Hallie wasn’t willing to pay for every single thing to do in the farm, and Eliza’s response to that was, “Is there anything funner to do?”


We celebrated Landon’s big day on Friday with presents in the morning: A couple of LEGO Ninjago sets and a new bike Hallie found for a steal of a deal and which we had kept hidden from both kids. He occupied himself the rest of the day (after school, of course—although we did let him out early) with favorite activities of gymnastics and BMX. The school had its annual Jog-A-Thon, and he ran 21 laps in about 20 minutes. Not too shabby! Friends and family wished him birthday greetings throughout the day.

After getting back from Freedom Park, we had cake and sang Happy Birthday too. All in all, he called it his “best birthday ever!”

On Saturday, the kids got up bright and early (ugg) to put together Landon’s new toys. They enlisted Dad in the cause, and, after completing construction, ninjas battled ghost warriors in the family room. 

Later on, Mom and Dad left the kiddos with a babysitter and went to the temple to join a family in our ward who were going for their first time. It was so nice to see so many people from the ward in the session to support this great family. Hallie almost missed the session when she realized she did not have one of her slippers. Mike was able to persuade the workers to not start the session until Hallie was there, and everyone was grateful the officiators waited for her.

Coming home from the temple, Mike got a Tommy’s craving. Must have been a throwback to memories of going on Tommy’s runs after doing temple baptisms. Anyway, after we got home, he and Eliza went on a run for our family dinner. Tasty food, but something not to be eaten often.

Sunday we had church, and after church we are going to be spending our time talking about Landon’s baptism which is coming up and going over his new Cub Scout handbook. In the evening Landon and Hallie joined the Stake Christmas Choirs. We have been told by several people that Landon loves to raise his hand in Primary to participate during music time. Hopefully he will enjoy this experience.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Keepin’ on Track

We had the first conference of the year with Landon’s teacher. He’s right on track. The kids got to ride a couple of days at Freedom Park this week. Again, they’re keeping right on track!

Beyond shorter school days for Landon, most of the rest of the week went by routinely. Enjoy the pics!

First off, some art from Eliza. 

We took Landon to the Scout Store to buy him gear for Cub Scouts, which he'll be starting soon.
He found his Wolf Scout Guidebook a great read.

On to the track: After getting his pants caught a couple of times too many in his chain, we opted for an early birthday gift of race gear.

In addition to making him highly visible, the outfit's colors show off some CLU Kingsmen pride!

Eliza will have to wait a bit longer for gear of her own. Good to know it comes in her favorite color.

Until then, she rides like a blur. In fact, she went straight up an incline. . . . and then tumbled straight down. Dusting herself of, she called out a characteristic, "I'm OK!"

And more art.

Saturday morning we built some fire trucks we had received from last week's building activity.

Well done! 

California Cartwheel Center had a Halloween-themed Kids' Night Out. While the kids tumbled and ate pizza and other treats, Mom and Dad had a nice sit-down dinner. We even had enough time for Mike to be able to conduct the baptismal service for the newest members of our ward, the Yumong family. We're happy to welcome this great family!
Landon dressed as a ninja. Can you find him?

Eliza took to great heights as a bee.
 And more art.

After church Sunday, we paid a visit to Grandpa and Grandma O. The kids love getting into little adventures while they're there. We finally are having a couple of days that feel like fall. Apparently it's just a short reprieve from the heat, but we'll take it. Hopefully the weather will get on track soon.  

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Aggies for a Weekend

We haven’t taken many road trips since moving out to California, so when we had the opportunity to drive up to Fresno to see our friend Loretta and watch some Utah State Aggies football, we took to the highway!

Before we headed out, though, we had the rest of the week’s activities to keep us occupied.

Eliza joined Mom for the ladies’ Lunch Bunch on Tuesday. Hallie always loves attending Lunch Bunch and looks forward a monthly time where she can get her share of adult conversation.
Because, although this little one is adorable, she's a handful (even when learning how to rub her belly and pat her head at the same time).

Art Class has changed to Carrie’s house, and the kids were really excited to go. While there they made scary looking trees from paper bags and salt clay sculptures for Halloween. By the time Hallie picked them up, six kids were in a full-blown light saber war.

Hallie looked after Jett as they ran errands on Wednesday and Eliza loved having a buddy to tag along with. Eliza’s biggest complaint with all the running around we do is that she is bored. The two of them had so much fun yelling, “Mike!!!!!” like the seagulls from Finding Nemo turned up to 11.

Mike took Eliza with him to collect produce at the Camarillo Health Care District. This time we received Granny Smith apples, Bosc pears, green onions, and radishes. Speaking of going to collect produce, when Hallie and Eliza had gone to the Lunch Bunch, one of the ladies gave Hallie a copy of the newspaper with Eliza’s picture from another time she had gone. Fun!

The kids played in the street to beat the afternoon heat, and as they wandered up and down, Eliza noticed that our neighbor Dave was working in his garage. Turns out he does pottery. He kindly offered some of his time and clay to the kids so they could do a little tile project. Both of the kids were ecstatic with what they witnessed and got to do and what will happen in the end, what a great little experience.

On Friday morning, we left Fergus to tend the house while we traveled north to Fresno so we could meet up with our friend Loretta (the returned missionary from the Michigan Detroit Mission who helped us on our move out to California) and so we could watch the Utah State Aggies play the Fresno State Bulldogs. She works for the football team and got the chance to come out to California, so we figured we’d come up to see her. It was really about Loretta, but, hey, football! Bonus, right? We loved spending every minute we could with Loretta.

We went part of the way through Ventura County along the back roads north of where we usually drive, taking the 126 and connecting with I-5 up near Magic Mountain. We then traveled up through the Tejon Pass before hitting the Grapevine on the way to Bakersfield, where we stopped at Dewar’s Candy Shop for ice cream sundaes and taffy chews, AKA lunch.

Stomachs full, we continued our way to Fresno. Along the way, we saw road signs advertising a place called Bravo Farms. Much as the Wall Drug road signs did, the signs’ tongue-in-cheek humor drew us in, and we found ourselves stopping (it helped that we would have been too early to check in at our hotel had we kept truckin’ on). For kitsch value alone, it was worth the stop. And it did remind us of Charlie Brown Farms along the Pearblossom Highway and Wall Drug (writ much smaller, of course. There’s only one Wall Drug). The kids appreciated the play area with Tonka Trucks and an incredible multi-story tree house. Our photos do not do it justice: Here’s a link to better ones (if the link didn’t work, just do an image search for Bravo Farms online. You’ll see some amazingness). The kids have begged us to go back on our return trip, but Mom had a different idea. 

(Sadly, not our picture)

After settling in at the hotel and taking the kids to the pool for a swim, we attempted to take the kids to a BMX track so they could ride. We ended up traveling first to the right place but asking the wrong questions then driving to the parks and rec office in the not-so-nice part of town to find out that we had been at the right place beforehand. By this time, Eliza had fallen asleep. Got to know a bit of Fresno in the process and passed the same accident three times in the process. Woo hoo. Ultimately, we just met up with Loretta at the hotel where she and the Utah State football team was staying. Loretta got us USU T-shirts, earrings for Hallie, tattoos for the kids, and bumper stickers so we could show our Aggie Pride.
Yay. Go team. 

We made plans with her for Saturday morning and then let her get back to work. We still had a tiny bit of time to make it back to the track but opted for dinner instead.

On Saturday morning after picking Loretta up, we went to Lowe’s for their Build and Grow event: a haunted treehouse. The kids are getting to be very proficient, even schooling their folks in the finer details of construction. Good on them!

Hmm. Our kids must have served as models for the instructions! 

After a quick stop at the Fresno Temple and some lunch at Sonic, Hallie dropped Loretta back at her hotel while Mike and the kids played at a splash pad and playground we found on drive around Fresno. The kids quickly changed into their swimwear in the car. Fortunately, having swimwear handy made this impromptu activity possible. It also made going to the pool right after checking into our second hotel (yes, we stayed at two different hotels) very easy. After pool time for Dad and the kids and nap time for Mom, we got ready for the game!

T-shirts and face tattoos placed, we drove to Bulldog Stadium and visited some with Loretta while watching the Aggie bulls dominate the Bulldogs. Such joy to listen to the hecklers get silent while our small cadre of USU fans got more raucous! Good times. We didn’t stay for the whole game because small girls and long football games don’t mix, but we left knowing that, short of a miracle, we’d won. With a final score of 56-14, we didn’t have anything to worry about. Thanks for inspiring a great road trip, Loretta! Landon was bummed that we didn’t stay the whole time. On the 23rd, he will get his shot at another football game when we attend the Westlake High School Homecoming game. We heard fireworks will be involved, and that made this young sportsman very excited!

On Sunday morning, we traveled back home by way of Highway 41 crossing I-5 and past the other Bravo Farms location and over the Coast Range through Paso Robles to Pismo Beach and down to Solvang before taking the Chumash Highway into Santa Barbara and the 101 along the coast to Ventura. In order to avoid sitting in traffic due to an accident in Ventura, we again ventured inland along Foothill Road before finally landing among familiar roads near to home. All along our way, we saw stark evidence of the drought that has parched the state, but we also saw rolling hills, farmlands and vineyards, and sweeping valley and coastal views.

No trip to Solvang would be complete without at least a little Danish culture. We stopped by the Hans Christian Andersen Museum.

What to say? Ol' HC does have a massive schnoz. 

The grind will start once again tomorrow, but we are glad we had three days to be together as a family and to experience new things and new places.