Sunday, January 31, 2016


(Insert Wallace Shawn’s unforgettable voice above.) Landon participated in his first Pinewood Derby this week. He won two heats and earned 8th place overall. Not too shabby! Eliza wants in on the action now too.

Mike had a somewhat busier than usual work week, Hallie experienced more success as she prepares for her bariatric surgery, and both kids had Friday off for teacher in-service.

Before the Pinewood Derby on Tuesday, Hallie looked after Jacob (Eliza’s classmate) and his sister Molly. They played together at home and the local park. Hallie had a chance to visit with friends from Landon’s school and from church who live near the park while the kids soaked up the sun and burned off some steam.

Then we were off to the races! As mentioned above, Landon held his own and learned about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. After the race ended, Mike discovered that one of Landon’s wheels had broken and an axle had come loose. Makes one wonder if the boy’s car might have done even better. . . .

After the race, we chatted with the kid whose car won. We took pictures of his car to see what we can learn for next year. The boy who won this year had also brought his car from last year. Landon’s broken car came in second in an impromptu three-car heat.
Missing a weight too!

On Thursday after dropping off the other three, Hallie picked up her mom and they headed for a walk to the local shopping center. The two ladies have wanted to visit a store there without the kids. There were a lot of fun things that they saw window shopping, and it was a beautiful day for a walk. Eliza was thrilled to see her Grandma at pick up.

After teaching at the University Mike went out teaching with the missionaries. While waiting for them at church, he saw the kids’ contributions to the Ward Primary bulletin board.

Toys and laundry. We’ll have to hold them to their commitments!

With both kids off from school on Friday, Hallie had her hands full. She got brave and let them do her hair.

Later, after we got home from gymnastics, dressed in pajamas, and ready for movie night, Hallie came running down the stairs yelling, “Get in the car! Get in the car! We gotta go!” She had received word that the Mister Softee ice cream truck was in the neighborhood. Yay for a spontaneous treat run!

On Saturday, we went to the movies to see Kung Fu Panda 3. For Christmas, we’d received a movie theater gift card from Uncle Riley, Aunt Breanne, and Porter. It’s been a while since we have all gone to a movie together, so this was a real treat.

A local kung fu school made the premiere into a recruiting event. Clever! 

Sunday brought some very welcome rain. Here’s to more green hills in our near future! By the afternoon, the sun had returned and the winds had kicked up. The kids watched The Princess Bride for the first time today. They liked it. “What?!” you ask? “They’ve never seen The Princess Bride before? ‘Incon-theve-able!’” Yeah, yeah. The kids’ parents were teenagers when the film came out.  

Sunday, January 24, 2016

When Life Gives You Fire, Have a Barbecue

The title has little to do with the rest of this week's post, but it is good advice -- from an eight-year-old, no less! We don't have any major themes running through this week's activities, nor do we have momentous weather to add excitement to our activities. We did have a holiday and some future events that occupied our time as we basked in the sun of early spring in California. 

The kids had the day off from school for Martin Luther King Day. On Monday, Landon had the opportunity to experience walking Roxy with Eliza. Both kids wanted their turn at walking the dog, and they also learned a valuable lesson when it comes to dogs and cats (i.e., when the dog pulls hard on the leash, let go or get dragged). Walking Roxy has been great regular exercise for Mike, Hallie, and Eliza.

On Tuesday, Eliza was invited to be on the girls’ pre-team at Victory. 

Later in the day, Landon and Dad went to the home of a man who had a woodshop at the back of his property where the Cub Scouts had been invited to work on their Pinewood Derby cars. Landon designed a Batmobile which Dad cut and Landon sanded. Landon was so excited to finally get a chance to work on his block of wood, and the race is right around the corner. Eliza doesn’t understand why she doesn’t get to make a car too. Maybe we’ll have to give her a chance make her own next year!

On Thursday after school the kids noticed a family in need standing near the driveway of our local grocery store. The kids took it upon themselves to put food, water, and money in a bag for this family and to deliver it to them. The family was touched by the children’s generosity, and Eliza said, “Heavenly Father is proud of us.” She is right about that. It was a special moment for Hallie and the kids.

Thursday night will be crazy for the next two months. Mike teaches a class, and Hallie is attending a class for bariatric surgery. We are grateful this week for Grandma Maygren who came to babysit the kids. They asked constantly when she was coming throughout the week and were excited to have her at the house.

On Friday morning, Hallie noticed a beautiful rose in the front yard. Good thing she caught this moment, because the gardener or someone else clipped the rose bush later on. 

Spring is causing the hills to green up too. The rain we have received made the hills a joy to look at as we drove to Simi Valley after dropping Landon off at school. Woo hoo! Later, Hallie, Mike, and Eliza went over to Grandma and Grandpa O.’s for a visit and to get some macaroons that Hallie had bought for our anniversary.
Going for a race together in the family room

Eliza has learned to be a great helper in the kitchen. On Thursday morning she had gone downstairs to watch TV unsupervised, but on Friday when she went downstairs, she washed dishes instead. Eliza is very proud of herself when she is praised for the good she does. Washing the dishes was exciting to her, and she even brought a dish to show us while we were still in bed. We caught her as she helped some more.

Later in the day, Hallie took the kids to gymnastics while Mike worked. After picking up Mike, the kids finished up gymnastics and then had a pajama party at Victory while Mike and Hallie went out to dinner for their anniversary with steak and salmon at Holdren’s.

We spent a quiet Saturday at home playing with transformers and LEGOs and finishing Landon’s Pinewood Derby car.

On Sunday after church, we chatted with Grandpa Dorey on Skype and had the missionaries over for dinner of ribs, rolls, kale chips, cooked carrots, and steamed broccoli. Yumtastic! Here's a little random Landon LEGO free play action. He explained that the fire fighters decided to give up fighting the fire and decided to roast sausages instead. When life gives you a fire, have a barbecue, right? 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Mostly Quiet This Week

. . . that is, unless you count the constant racket of hands digging through buckets of LEGOs. If only those hands were those of children, but no.

The week went by pretty generically with no surprises to speak of. Ho hum. We’ll take it.

We went to school, walked Roxy the dog, attended gymnastics class, and so on as usual.

Eliza made a blanket fort after school on Thursday.

Hallie lost over 7 pounds and has been rocking her eating plan as part of her bariatric classes.

And Mike and the kids have mined through the LEGOs, building a small town and a 1980s-era space port all inspired by the boys’ Christmas gifts. Thanks to instructions from the LEGO customer service site, Brick, and Let’s Build it, we’ve managed to recover instructions long thought lost to the landfill. Landon in particular enjoyed building an exploding armored stage coach.

The available selection of bricks required some modifications, but it works. 
Of course, we always enjoy the kids' original creations. Behold the scorpion!

The kids built popsicle stick boats inspired by the story of Nephi building a ship to get to the promised land.

And that’s all we wrote for the week! Next week may hold more exciting adventures in store. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Working Out

When we talk about working out at our house, we’re not talking about exercise, although the kids did get plenty of that this week. Rather, the kids had a couple of opportunities to do work outdoors between the El Niño and winter rain we got this week. 

Eliza learned about transportation this week, and her art showed what she learned.

Landon shared some of what he has learned at church.

So, on to the work-related activities. As part of the kids’ effort to help pay their way for gymnastics, BMX and Scouts, in addition to collecting cans, Eliza has a new job as dog walker. She’s almost as big as Roxy the dog. The dog walking job is beneficial to our family for three reasons. First, Eliza wants a dog, and that is not happening for a long time, so by walking Roxy she receives her dog fix. Second, all of the different activities cost a pretty penny so any way we can help supplement these activities is a good idea. Third, Hallie wants to get more exercise, and she thought what better way than walking a dog three days a week for an hour? It's not brisk, but at least she is out of the house.

On Saturday, we helped a local Boy Scout with his Eagle Scout project replacing a section of grass with a paved patio area. The kids enthusiastically dug in with boundless energy. They put Mom and Dad to shame! Landon was quite mad when we told him it was time to finish up. We are grateful for their willingness to serve a family they had never met and without any idea of what we were going to be doing. It has rained recently, and the ground under the grass was quite muddy. Yay for new rain boots! All Hallie had to do was spray them down and the dirt and mud washed away quickly. Now let's hope we get more rain so the kids can get some more use out of the boots they keep wearing around the house.

Every little kid was quite vocal when they found worms. One little boy took it quite literally when Hallie said they were going to fry them up and give them to Eliza for lunch.

In other news, Mike got out all of his 1980s Legoland Space and LEGO Star Wars sets and started putting them together with the kids. The toy room has not quite filled to overflowing with the bricks, but it’s close. Landon modified Mike’s Galaxy Explorer with updated weaponry, compliments of his new set.

The kids enjoy their new Primary classes. From the reports we get from the adults who work with them, they seem quite precocious and well-behaved. Hmm. Do our kiddos have Doppelgangers who cover for them? Whatever it is, we’re grateful for the positive influence of the grown-ups in their lives.