Sunday, April 24, 2016

Fresh Starts at Home and Church

Not a lot of words or pictures, but plenty of activity. We moved to a new ward at church without even leaving our house! A friend said, "It's like moving without actually having to move. How cool is that?!"

On Monday, Hallie’s visiting teacher came over, and the two of them knocked out a clean garage. We are trying to get the house in order before Hallie heads to the hospital on May 3rd. We are so grateful to all of those who have helped and will be helping. Mike brought his birthday Lego set to school. 

On Tuesday, Hallie went with a friend from the ward to Sky Zone to do some trampoline aerobics. A definite amount of calories were burned, and neither Hallie nor Paula could move all that well for most of the week. Hallie may go try it again after some more weight has melted off in the coming weeks. 

Mike was able to attend Lego Club this week, and the kids are moving along to the day of their expo. Landon headed on his first hike with Cub Scouts and was so very excited.

Later in the week, we got a group photo.
LEGO Smashers! 

Hallie started Wednesday with blood work that needed to be done before surgery. Everything was made better with a Star Wars band aid. Eliza and Hallie walked Roxy, and that dog could not be more excited for Eliza to show up her three days a week.

Friday morning Hallie spent some time in Ventura at an appointment. The girls took Mike up to work later that morning. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday were spent at gymnastics as usual. It is such a treat to see the kids improve each week, and they continue to use every square inch of the house to better their technique.

More cleaning ensued on Saturday, and the kids were great helpers. They both earned a small toy for all of their hard work. Grandma M. and Hallie went to lunch at Waypoint CafĂ© which overlooks the Camarillo Airport. The wait was really long, but it was a beautiful day, and who could not pass up dessert first? The ladies shared an amazing chocolate shake. 

The sandwiches were super yummy too. Hallie topped off the evening by attending a fireside by Wain Myers, author of Baptist Preacher to Mormon. It was electric and the Spirit was in attendance.

Sunday started with choir and ward meetings for the adults. Hallie loves going to choir because the ladies always get in trouble for talking, but Linda Brown loves us anyway (or at least we think she does!). Church was good as always. What a pleasure it has been to live in the Camarillo 1st Ward for the last close to two years. In the evening there was a stake meeting to tell us about how the leaders were going to reorganize our stake. Big changes were made, and it is hard losing our friends, but we are all hoping the transition will be smooth, and we will all be able to make new friends. Thanks to social media, Hallie is well on her way. Camarillo never looked so colorful! We're the ones in blue: The Pleasant Valley Ward.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Art or Graffiti? You Be the Judge

This week, we received many gifts that were clearly works of art and one surprise Eliza created in the backyard that straddled the line between art and graffiti. 

On Tuesday, Mike accompanied Hallie to her surgical consultation with Dr. Billy. She will go in for surgery on May 3. Hallie really enjoyed meeting Dr. Billy and is more excited than ever to have surgery.

After we got back, we picked up Eliza from John and Carrie’s. Carrie had painted Hallie something inspirational in honor of her journey of change. The quotation is from a talk Hallie gave in sacrament back in March.

Landon just loves to do his homework. It’s never a struggle to get him to focus. On another note, we live in Bizarro world.

Mike and Hallie celebrated his birthday with breakfast at the Waypoint Cafe. We hit upon the great idea of going to breakfast instead of dinner for a date when we realized both kids are in school and we didn’t have to pay for a babysitter. Breakfast was yummy, and it was great weather to sit outside and watch the helicopters and airplanes take off and land.

On Thursday morning, Las Posas School had a thank you breakfast for parent volunteers. The kids sang cute songs and presented the secretary with a vase as she is retiring. Oh, and Hallie is going to be PTA secretary next year. We have not been 100% fond of everything about our school, so we hope that by being more involved we can help make some needed changes.

Later, after she took Mike to work, Hallie visited with her mom and Sawyer. Later in the day, she and Eliza went for a visit to her friend Shirley and then on a walk with her other support group friends and the kids. The trail at Santa Rosa Regional Park has become a great walking path for Hallie and the kids. Hallie introduced it to her friends, and they enjoyed it just as much.

Eliza and Hallie are still walking Roxy the dog. This little job has been such a big component in Hallie’s weight loss. Knowing that, Hallie’s friend Shirley gave her a dog for her to walk in the hospital after surgery. Meet Trixi Coconut. We will thank Hallie’s friend Libby for the first name and Shirley for the second name. The kids always want to steal Trixi, so Hallie has to keep hiding her.
Not Trixi Coconut

This is Trixi Coconut

During the week, Mike has, with a little help from the kids, put together his TARDIS LEGO set (all those capital letters!). The kids have enjoyed playing with it. Eliza makes little social scenes with the characters, and Landon has them going, “Pew! Pew! Pew!”

Along with several members of our church, we participated in a day of service to the community at Casa Pacifica. We did some weeding and cleaning up of an area around some of the homes for residents. The kids always enjoy getting out and getting dirty, even when stinging nettles come along to put a sting on things.

We received word today that the boundaries of the wards in our stake will be realigned. Mike’s already drawing new borders in his head. We really enjoy our ward. We have also gone through this process before, so if we know nothing else, we know there will be some significant upheavals both geographic and emotional. Joy, joy. 

Eliza, our resident artist, made some more work in the backyard. This work included making her mark on the pergola and newly installed back fence. Good thing we have lots of elbow grease to clean up the mess.

Not so nice

Oh, and we have lots of lettuce. Somehow that stuff is growing quite nicely. There’s a pepper plant and a tomato plant in there somewhere too. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Early Birthday Wishes

There’s no one coherent story line this week, so we’ll let the photos do the talking. Enjoy!

On Monday, Eliza walked Roxy. We finally took a picture of her. She’s a German shepherd/chow mix.

Eliza keeps producing fun and beautiful art at school. Mike took her to a kindergarten information session at our local school. She seems excited about the idea of kindergarten and has spent the last several days reviewing the preparation packet we received.

Landon has enjoyed his time with Jr. Lego League. Mike was able to join the fun this week, and the kids have made some great progress designing a recycling plant. Thanks, Jen and Tracy for reining in the chaos!   

Later, while Landon went to scouts, Mike and Eliza had some time together while Mike got a haircut. Frequently, when he get a haircut, he also goes and gets Hallie a little bouquet of flowers. This time Eliza decided to take credit.

Landon is learning orienteering skills, such as how to make maps.  

It was so hot while the girls were walking Roxy on Wednesday. Eliza kept stopping and complaining about the heat. The normal 60 minute walk lasted only 30 minutes. Hallie promised Eliza if we could finish our walk then we could go to SweetFrog. Eliza especially likes embellishing her yogurt with gummy worms and gummy frogs, and the man that helped us gave Eliza color changing spoons.

For some strange reason, after we had some rain on Thursday, the kids decided they wanted to make pets out of the snails that came out of hiding. Ew.

In honor of Detroit Tigers Opening Day, when Hallie got her nails done Friday, she blinged them up with orange glitter and Old English D’s. Landon sported his Tigers uniform for school and gymnastics.   

On Saturday morning, the kids went to a super hero-themed birthday party for a school friend of Eliza’s. Some of the family cleaned a bit in the house trying to get things ready for Hallie’s upcoming surgery.

After church on Sunday, we went to Grandma and Grandpa O.’s to celebrate Mike’s birthday a little early. Hallie and Mike’s folks made it into a themed affair: Dr. Who and LEGO. Thank you, Mian, for the amazing cake! 

(Some little boy is totally jealous of his old man.)

The kids got a huge kick out of the new tire swing in the back yard. Cousin Haydn pulled the kids so that they went flying high. Eliza screamed and carried on so much that we thought she was scared, but no. Not this one. We should have figured it meant she was having the time of her life!

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Nature in Motion

The kids had spring break this week. They spent a lot of it outdoors enjoying nature and the amazing spring weather. Anything to keep them (and their parents) from bouncing off the walls! 

We received a new game from Grandma and Grandpa O. called Kerplunk. Dad enjoyed getting Landon’s goat as the marbles came closer, and Closer, and CLOSER to tumbling down. The two boys thought it was most funny that Mom lost every game.

On Tuesday morning, Hallie met up with Carrie Taylor and her kids at Community Center Park. Our kids had never played there before, and they had so much fun! They even convinced Mom to do some exercising with them. The kids and Hallie then drove to T.O. to pick up Mike from work, and then we headed over to Simi Valley to eat at Fire Island Grill. Hallie LOVES it and doesn't mind telling everyone about it. Hallie's friend Shirley met us there and was introduced to the rest of the clan. The kids were super well behaved, and that makes Mom and Dad happy.

After lunch, we took a hike up Mt. McCoy. Unfortunately (depending on your perspective), we took the hard way up. Hiking up the side of a mountain after a meal, even with mild temperatures, is not easy, but Landon offered Mom lots of moral support as we trudged up the trail. Mom tells everyone she thought she was going to die, and Eliza has a great scab from a scratch on her leg to prove she made it to the top. Landon volunteered to pray for Mom, and she said no, it was okay, but when they pulled over in the picture below, he chose to pray for her anyway. What a sweet blessing Landon is to our family.

Mike and Eliza made it to the summit, witnessing a grand panorama and getting battered around some by gusty winds that threatened to bring stormy weather. What a view!

We all found the easy way down, and the kids got a kick out of finding the “short cuts” (cross-throughs) between the switchbacks.

Once we finished the hike, we went over to Grandma and Grandpa O.’s to celebrate Grandma’s birthday and check out the new play area in the back yard with Cousins Ali and Haydn.

Hallie picked up her parents from the airport late Wednesday night. They’d been up in Washington visiting Uncle Riley, Aunt Breanne, and Cousin Porter. Mom got a Cafe Rio salad for her efforts. Yum!

The following morning, we looked after Alexis (a friend from church), and along with Cousin Cru went to Kids World in Oak Park, an indoor play area a lot like our old favorite, Jungle Java in Michigan.

On Friday, April Fool’s Day, Mike convinced Landon that children’s TV programs had been removed from our Roku. That worked until after we came home from his doctor’s appointment. Later in the day, Landon discovered the joys of riding on a motorized scooter. He said he knows what he wants for his birthday. Maybe, many years hence.

Mike had one of his all-day classes to teach on Saturday, so Hallie took the kids to Kasea’s to get her hair done. The kids behaved themselves very well, and Kasea’s daughter was a real trooper to put up with Eliza’s grooming efforts.

After picking up Mike from work, we got home in time for Mike and Landon to attend the Priesthood Session of General Conference. Landon has been Mike’s Priesthood Session buddy off and on since he was a wee infant. Mike sure enjoys having Landon come with. Landon enjoyed getting some sweet treats from Trader Joe’s along with a little tablet time.

In the meantime, the girls went over to Freedom Park so Eliza could go for a long-overdue ride. We could make riding her thing and gymnastics Landon’s at this point.

After the boys walked home and met up with the girls, the kids got sent to bed. To bed with you both!

We spent Sunday morning watching General Conference. Between the morning and afternoon sessions, we went to Santa Rosa Valley Park and hiked with Aunt Carly and Cousins Cru and Sawyer along the Hill Canyon Trail. Quite the pleasant way to spend a couple of midday hours. What a blessing to have natural areas like these just a few minutes from home! Of course, it isn't all paradise. Now that the weather is warming up, we were warned to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes. 

Happy trails to you! 

Then it was back home and back to conference. Afterwards, it was time to get ready to get back into the regular routines of school. While we’ve enjoyed this bit of a stay-cation, we look forward to having the kiddos back on a normal schedule. Even with all the time out and about, a body can get to feeling a bit antsy for quiet time.