Sunday, July 31, 2016

Grateful for Cool Breezes

Quick entry this week, which seems boring in comparison to most weeks. Summer is on, and we're grateful for cool breezes at the end of each day. 

Monday of course consisted of walking Roxy and gymnastics. Most days we walk Roxy early now (for her sake and for ours), and the heat and the humidity are still hanging around. With no air it is very yucky!!!

Tuesday the kids and Hallie hung out around the house, and Hallie was able to move into another food stage. Hard to believe that nearly three months have passed since surgery.

On Wednesday we had fun!!! Hallie hit the gym with her trainer Jessica and worked out hard. Right before their workout Hallie was weighed and realized she had shed 70 pounds since January 7. Hard to wrap your brain around, but we are proud of her hard work. WOO HOO!!!

Shortly after she got home, the kids met our friends the Taylors at the pool and had a lot of fun swimming. Eliza loves it when John throws her halfway across the pool and asks for him to do it repeatedly. Now is Mike's least favorite time of the summer: final writing assignments are starting to come due. From now until mid-August, he'll be feeling a whole different sort of heat. 

Showers and lunch were had when we got home, and with the heat mom fell asleep, waking up just in time to take the kids to gymnastics. While the two were flying through the air, Hallie went to check out new tennis shoes. None were bought because the price is not in the budget (yet), so they will be a future purchase. But she did have a great experience at Roadrunner Sports.

Everyone left the house early on Thursday. Eliza had a doctor’s appointment in the morning, Hallie then had a PTA meeting, and to top it off Cru and Grandma Maygren came swimming with us for a bit after lunch. Phewf!!! Grandma brought gifts for the kiddos. 

A bit of TV watching happened in the later afternoon until Hallie couldn’t stand the heat anymore and the trio headed to Costco for errands and to beat the heat while Mike taught one of his weekly classes. Time to start thinking of going back to school. . . . 

Friday started with Landon and Mike going to gymnastics and an appointment. Hallie and Eliza walked Roxy, saw our friend Madyson, and stopped by our friends the Bedards where Eliza had so much fun playing with Alexis and modeling sand.  

In the late afternoon, Landon attended a birthday party for a friend and had so much fun! Hallie had an interesting time taking him shopping for the present and watching how his eight-year-old mind works.

From the party, we went camping at Grandma and Grandpa O.’s again overnight and into Saturday. Grandpa had bought a small soccer goal for the kids to shoot at with a plastic ball that has managed to stay outdoors and inflated for some 40 years. They also had a ball with glow sticks in the dark.
Do you see his ghostly form behind the glow?

After a night outdoors, we had waffles and some Science Channel before heading back home in time for our friend Jenny to come over to visit.

In the evening, Mike spoke at a scholarship dinner for the Deseret Businessmen Association. While he dined on street tacos in a gorgeous backyard bathed in a cool breeze, the rest of the fam and Jenny went to Pizza Rev to indulge in a yummy meal of their own and then a movie at home. All too soon it was time for bed. Landon had a hard time settling down and invented a communication system (ring a bell and leave him a note, and he'll come down and get it), "wrote" a note with stickers, and did some drawing.  
Made while he was waiting for Mom to come upstairs to lie down with him 

On Sunday morning, we made empanadas and pancakes (the empanadas were for the ward linger longer after church). We assume the empanadas were well-received, because they were gone by the time Mike got to them. Good thing we made some of our own to enjoy beforehand!

We came home from church to a sweltering house. No A/C is no bueno. When the sun passed, the breeze came in, and we got some ice cream, we finally felt some relief! 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Scout Camp and Cousins Visit

This week, Landon spent most of his daytime hours in a giant field of dead grass at his first Cub Scout day camp. Plus, Aunt Elise brought the kids’ cousins down from Alaska for some more fun in the sun!

Monday was a busy day for both boys with Landon starting scout camp and Mike acting as a program leader. Collecting and returning all those cans and bottles made it possible, and we are grateful for all those who donated their recyclables to the cause. While Landon participated in a variety of island-themed activities like making boomerangs, dancing the haka, and archery, Mike stayed in one area teaching kids foot fishing (catching marbles with their toes in a kiddie pool with about six inches of water). By the end of the day, the pool was looking kinda gross. 

By the time he left, Mike was feeling more than kinda sick (possibly from the sun or lack of water). Oh, well! He had a dissertation defense to chair to a successful conclusion. Congrats, now-Dr. Mark!

Eliza, Hallie, and our friend Carrie made sure to stay cool in the morning by getting pedicures. Carrie needs a pedicure as she is due any day now with baby #4, and Hallie and Eliza had to go along for sympathy pampering. We love the ladies at this spa we go to in Moorpark.

In the afternoon, Grandma M. texted Hallie to let her know that Elise and the kids had arrived safe and sound. Grandma, Carly, Cru, Sawyer, Elise, Lily, Emerson, Chance, and Penelope all joined Hallie to watch Landon and Eliza at gymnastics. What fun everyone had, and Landon made sure to wave lots to all of his cousins. We think he was secretly proud they were there to watch him. The crowd left after about an hour, and Hallie and the kids said they would meet up with everyone when gymnastics was over.

After Mark’s defense, Mike went to Gma. and Gpa. M.’s to visit with Elise and her kids before Hallie, Landon, and Eliza came over from gymnastics. Not long before he got there, Penelope fell off a little scooter and hurt her leg. Later on, we found out she had broken her femur. Poor girl!

Tuesday meant another day at scout camp for Landon and another day volunteering for Mike. This time, among other activities, Landon learned how to hula, make glitter lava, and put together a mini-first aid kit. Mike taught kids how to tie knots and in the process relearned himself how to tie two half-hitches and the bowline. After taking Landon home from camp, Mike headed off to the CLU Oxnard Center to teach class. Long day.

While the boys were at camp, the girls went with the cousins (minus Sawyer and Penelope), Aunt Carly, and Grandma to the beach. They got a lot of (too much?) sun. The cousins all play so well together, and Eliza loved that Lily was willing to hang out with her when the boys weren’t too fond of playing with her.  
Chance was very into digging in the soft sand. 

On Wednesday, the girls got an early start to their day, driving out to Knott’s Berry Farm with the cousins, Aunt Elise, and Aunt Carly. All of the kids wanted to ride together, and being that our car holds 7 that means Hallie was the Queen Chauffeur for the day. The kids sang along to Kidz Bop 31, and never a word of complaint was uttered during the whole two-hour trip. Summer (Elise’s sister) and her 3 cute kids met the girls at the amusement park. Hallie thinks the women deserve a metal for taking 10 kids to Knotts Berry Farm in 97 degree temps and with two of the kids having broken bones. Everyone was rather well behaved and good to each other. All the heat from the day before and the temps of today almost caught up to Hallie, but thank heavens she was able to stave off being sick, and the kids all had fun.

Mike took Landon to scout camp and then spent the rest of the day grading papers. His eyes burned after so much screen time. Ugh. He got a little break when he took Landon to gymnastics. Once the boys got home, Landon watched a movie while Mike hit the papers again. The girls got home after 11:00 p.m.

Mike had an early start at work Thursday, so Hallie took Landon to camp. After getting home from work, he and Landon put together a contraption for an egg drop competition Friday. They found a video on YouTube that discussed some techniques for building winning projects. Mom brought home some straws after she and the kids came home from the Maygren’s where the kids played with cousins and ate yummy spaghetti for dinner. Once Landon got home, Mike and he built a protective cage for his egg.

On Friday morning, Mike and Eliza were able to go to Landon’s last day of scout camp long enough to watch his contraption successfully protect his egg. Woo hoo! Then Mike spent the rest of the day up at work. This is his long weekend of the month, with both a Friday night and a Saturday class.

"It's safe!"
Haka at the closing ceremonies

Eliza and Hallie stopped by Mian’s baking fundraiser and of course had to buy some yummy treats. Scout camp got out by 1:30, and the girls picked up Landon and ran into a few friends from church who hadn’t seen Hallie recently. It is very fun to see reactions from people when they notice her weight loss and the short blonde hair. The trio went on lots of errands from Camarillo to Ventura and back. We got everything done, and the kids made it without killing each other.

Hallie took both kids to a super-hero-themed Victory Night down at the gym, leaving her free to relax at home. Mike picked them up at 9:00. Then he and the kids had Hallie going for a minute thinking that he had forgotten them. It helped that the lights were out, otherwise Hallie would have been able to read the joke on his face. All fun and games.

On Saturday, Hallie and the kids helped clean the church while Mike spent the day teaching. The kids and Hallie watched quite a few cartoons and started melting in the house with the heat. So, they headed to Shave It! Nothing better on a hot day. Carly, Elise, and the cousins came over to a sultry hot house in the afternoon. Good thing it was cool for playing outside!

The kids had a fun Pioneer Day in Primary on Sunday, reenacting some experiences of the pioneers of yore. 

Mike learned some more details about his pioneer ancestors, some of whom were stone masons on some of the temples in Utah and did some of the window arches on the west side of the Salt Lake Temple and others of whom built communities along the Mormon Corridor. Pretty cool stuff! Their travels and travails put our own to shame.
Makes us look at the temple in a whole new light! 

We paid Elise and our cousins one last brief visit to surprise Grandma M. with an early birthday present and to say our last goodbyes to everyone before they make their way back to Alaska this week. We loved having them here and wish they were closer. Maybe, one day we will make it to Alaska. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Service on Order

This week we learned about different ways service can be rendered at church and by our local public safety officers. Sometimes it's the things we do, and sometimes it's the things others do for us in the line of duty. Either way, we appreciate service given and received this week. 

On Monday after gymnastics, Mike, Landon, and Eliza went camping at Grandma and Grandpa’s. The kids sure enjoy sleeping out of doors! Hallie is starting to adjust to the alone time. The kids are wild at home, but then when they are gone it is too quiet. The nurse for Hallie’s options class told them about an ice cream called Halo Top. The unique thing about this ice cream is that it is low in calories and has a bit of extra protein. On Monday night Hallie finally found some at Whole Foods and has been enjoying small servings of the ice cream all week. Yum!

On Tuesday morning, Hallie came up to Simi and traded Mike places visiting with everyone while Mike went back home to get ready to go on a temple trip with some members of our ward. He enjoyed getting to know new people from the new ward and from the stake whom he had not met before. He got home in time to set to work for the rest of the day and into the night. Classes that run from 7:00-10:00 pm can be a little much, but when they give him the chance to use the daylight hours in ways he otherwise might not, he won’t complain.

The trio made sure to stop at Aldi and Fire Island Grill on the way home from Simi Valley to Camarillo. They made it just in time to attend the Pampered Chef Party at the Cox’s. The kids had so much fun playing with the other kids in attendance and Hallie had fun chatting with the other ladies and sampling some yummy fajitas that they made.
Eliza enjoyed treats at the party! 

On Wednesday morning Hallie met with Jessica her trainer, and they did all kinds of fun things to Hallie on her road to good health. Weight-wise Hallie stayed the same this week, and she is handling it a lot better than the first plateau she encountered back in May (Mike says she’s building muscle).

For some reason walking Roxy slipped Hallie’s mind, and thank heavens her gracious owner Mian let us skip the day. We picked Roxy up on Friday a little more like usual.

Landon got a fun summer haircut. 

Thursday started early with a trip to Dr. Mick’s today with Eliza, and we all learned how to help her when she has trouble handling her strong emotions. The rest of the day was mundane as we did school work like most days this summer and tried to get the house cleaned up. In the evening, Mike taught at the CLU Oxnard Center, and Hallie, her mom, and the kids went shopping at IKEA. We needed more storage for all those LEGO bricks. Hmm. 

Friday Landon had gymnastics in the morning, and Eliza came with to give Dad time at home to do some work. The girls ran a few errands and then ended up in Thousand Oaks visiting Aunt Carly, Cru, and Sawyer.
Cru read a story to the girls. What a good guy! 

Eliza and Hallie ended up back at gymnastics right before it ended. Pizza and a movie night was really popcorn, watermelon, and a movie night. Hallie learned the hard way that popcorn is no longer her friend.

On Saturday morning, Hallie participated in the Relief Society Day of Service. She originally was just going to drop in real quickly and then run some errands, but she thought it was so cool that she stayed for the whole event! Last Sunday Hallie had signed up to help set up the breakfast, but by the time she got there it was done. Marsha Pyne quickly put Hallie to work separating items for the hygiene kits and then put Hallie in charge of the Hygiene work station. What a rush it was to work with so many enthusiastic and hard-working sisters from our stake! When we ran out of items it was great to see women willing to go and buy more items so we could finish the kits. At least 200 kits were put together by the end of the service activity.
Blurry flurry of activity! 

While Hallie was out (getting her hair done after the service activity), Mike took the kids to Coppers and Choppers at the Camarillo Airport. This year, the kids had the opportunity add their well wishes to a couple of large thank you cards made for our local law enforcement and public safety officers. These are trying times, and we want foster in our kids a healthy attitude about the many jobs the police, fire, and other public safety service officers do for our community.

After Mom got home, she cleaned up the house while Dad took the kids to the pool. Didn't want to mess up her new 'do! 

At the pool, Eliza especially likes being thrown into the air and landing in the water with a big splash. Landon likes using the pool noodles as water cannons. Mike prefers not to think about the chemical swill they're all swimming in. 

In the evening Hallie headed to Sam’s Club to pick up a few things with their coupons before they expired today. Landon has taken a real liking to the Chobani flips that Hallie has been eating for breakfast in the morning, so that was a must on Hallie’s list.

On Sunday, Hallie had a lot of kids in her Primary class. 

Aww, they're all so cute! 
Note Eliza in the patriotic bowtie.
Hallie's getting to be quite the hottie. . . .

Eliza has taken to hiding out and scaring people. Landon has other ideas. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Fizzled Fireworks, Beach Bliss, and Pancakes

We started the week by celebrating Independence Day with a flag ceremony and pancakes, took a trip to the beach later in the week, and finished up with chocolate chip pancakes. Everything is better with chocolate!

Mike and the kids got up bright and early on Monday to help set up chairs outside of church for the annual flag ceremony and pancake breakfast. Brother Lassen, our stake patriarch, gave a speech about patriotic symbols and sacrifice, and we sang patriotic tunes before digging into our meal. The weather this month so far has been quite mild (not that we’d want to jinx it, not having air conditioning and all), and we actually had overcast skies until right before we left.

We spent much of the rest of the morning watching Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. One of the cartoons had a patriotic theme. Remember Porky Pig in “Old Glory”?

We did go out later during the day to have a water balloon fight. Hallie bought some amazing self-closing water balloons attached to a mass of plastic straws. While our experience with the balloons wasn’t perfect, we did have fun, and it was a lot less tedious than filling each balloon individually.

In the evening, Grandma and Grandpa O. and Alie came over, and then we all went down to the empty lot next to Dave Maddox’s palm tree farm for tri tip barbecue and pot luck before watching fireworks. Or at least that was the plan. As the sun set and it got dark and no fireworks could be seen, the crowd started getting restless. Children (including Eliza) started falling asleep, and families (including Gma and Gpa and Alie) started heading for the exit gate. When the floodlights at the high school turned on, we finally had to admit defeat: No fireworks this 4th. Hallie is not a big fan of fireworks, so she didn’t care. More than anything, she was thrilled to have time with friends!

On Tuesday morning, we went to see Finding Dory at the movie theater. After it ended, Hallie said it was the best movie she had seen in a long time! Then she let on that she fell asleep about 10 minutes into the movie and woke up shortly before it ended. Best movie, indeed. The kids earned free meals to some local restaurants, so we headed to Johnny Rocket’s for lunch. We had a great server who made sure we were well taken care of during our lunch. Unfortunately, Hallie overindulged on small amounts of the yummy popcorn and other food and felt very ill by the end of the day. This new baby stomach is still a learning process for her.

While walking Roxy on Wednesday the trio ran into Levi and Mian (Roxy’s owners) who were visiting a lemonade stand. What a fun treat to have on our walk. Grandma M., Cru, and Sawyer met Hallie and the kids at a park close to where Roxy lives. Everyone had a great time playing until Sawyer fell. She was crying, which was to be understood. But no one realized she broke her arm until the next morning when Aunt Carly took her to the doctor.  Poor little cutie pie!

It’s been a week or so since Hallie went to the gym, and Thursday morning she met her trainer Jessica, and they worked out hard and quick. Before working out Jessica weighed Hallie, and she is close to the milestone of 65 lbs. How exciting to see an average loss of 2.5 lbs since January 7! Right soon after Hallie headed to Bandit’s Barbecue with the Lunch Bunch. Hallie had been really looking forward to BBQ food for nearly a week but was sorely disappointed when her kid’s meal order came. There was no overeating at this meal.

Mike took Eliza walking Roxy on Friday. Mian tells us that Roxy knows when we’re about to arrive and gets all excited for her walk.

Hallie took Landon to gymnastics early so levels 4 and 5 could play games before gymnastics started. Hallie headed out a little after 9 and eventually ended up at Grandpa and Grandma M’s, where they visited for a bit. Close to 11:00 Hallie headed back to Victory to watch Landon, and then they ran errands when they were done.

It was supposed to be pizza and a movie night on Friday night, so we were going to make our own pita pizzas. The kids wanted to play outside instead, so that is what they did while Mike taught online and Hallie ate her pizza.

While Hallie got her nails done on Saturday by Seaward Beach in Ventura, Mike took the kids down for some time on the sand. We came home a little sunkissed. Well, maybe a little more than a little. Mike’s a bit of a redneck now, and his calves got a little toasty, and as Landon took a shower before bed, Mike saw that Landon is going to tan up really nicely. That is if he doesn’t peel. Mike did warn the boy to wear his rash guard. Eliza, the other hand, benefitted both from having worn her rash guard and from having a complexion that takes the sun in stride, getting a lovely tan for her time outdoors.

The afternoon was topped off with some yummy fish tacos from Seaward Fish and Chips. Hallie spent time in the afternoon cleaning up Eliza’s room and our room. The kids spent time riding bikes the rest of the day, playing at the park, eating watermelon, and watching more Looney Tunes.

Sunday, Mike spent time teaching the kids how to play UNO. Bless his soul. It helped that the kids were quick studies! We spent time at church in the afternoon, and we are still getting to know many people in our ward.