Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pumpkins, Rain, and Costumed Cuties

We had some welcome water fall from the sky (with more expected, woo hoo!) along with typical late-October treats like going to the pumpkin patch, attending costume parties, and carving jack-o'-lanterns.

 Monday afternoon brought a Girl Scout activity for Eliza: Reverse Trick-or-Treat at the local retirement home. Eliza’s friend from class Ellie is a Daisy, and Ellie invited Eliza to join in the fun. Eliza reported that she had a great time and would like to keep doing Daisies. This could be the start of a fun activity while Landon is at gymnastics, not like we need more activity in the mix or anything! Now if Hallie could just get busy on filling out the paperwork we will be all set.

Both kids received back the artwork they made at Reflections. Colorful! Landon’s story involved a hungry shark, and Eliza’s a flying squirrel. Perhaps it’s time to reintroduce her to Rocky and Bullwinkle. . . . or a Christmas in Nova Scotia with the Doreys.

At gymnastics this week, Eliza climbed to the top of the rope. That is way high up there!

On Wednesday, the kids at school had music on the playground with the new sound system. Everyone, including Mom, danced and sang and generally made merry. Hallie had over 60 minutes of activity on her Fitbit and 13,000 steps by the end of the day. Mrs. Walker sure knows how to get the kids to open up at lunch!

Mike joined Eliza, her K-1 class, and the other 1st grade classes on a field trip to the pumpkin patch at Underwood Farms. Activities included riding in a wagon pulled by a tractor, looking for the perfect pie pumpkin, eating a picnic lunch, and feeding the animals.

The weather made a change from Thursday into Friday. Thursday started cool, cloudy, and a bit muggy, and overnight we got rain. Good thing the kids had the day off from school for teacher professional development! Eliza started the day early with chalk painting in the backyard.

Later, we had lunch and cake at Grandma and Grandpa O.’s to celebrate Landon’s birthday. The kids love spending time with Alie and Shep. The kids also took full advantage of the big open backyard.

Apparently the #MormonMafia is sort of a trending topic, thanks to Lou Dobbs’ tweet relating to Evan McMullin’s candidacy for the Presidency. Too funny. A sample: They don't call them funeral potatoes for nothing.

On Saturday, Mike had to work, and Landon had gymnastics. This meant that Eliza and Hallie had girl time to themselves! They had Sawyer join in the fun. Las Posas Plaza had fun games, and plenty of stores participated in the trick or treat festivities. Hallie had a lot of fun running into kids and parents that she knows from school, and she really appreciated that Aaron and his mom went store to store with her and the girls.
Mrs. Fig as Mother Goose

Later in the evening, we all went to the stake center for the ward Halloween Party (or Harvest Festival, or Chili Cookoff and Trunk-or-Treat). Call it what you will. We’ll call it a good time had by all. Our friend from school Alyssa and her daughter Abbie came to join the festivities.

Mike monitored the kids as they dunked for apples. The water was pretty foul by the end of the party. Eww.

Bishop Meyring. Yee haw! 

With Baby Claire (who earlier had been Snow White before a little wardrobe mishap)

Who's Medusa? Sis. Rollins in amazing makeup! 

We have a mouse in the house (it appears to have moved from the garage into the walls). Kind of disturbing to hear the pitter-patter in the walls during the wee hours. Appropriately timed, considering the upcoming holiday. Our landlords came by and set traps. Assuming they work, we could have a corpse on the premises within the next day or so. Let’s hope zombie mice don’t exist. . . . “Cheeeeese!”  

We had rain again early Sunday morning and off and on throughout the day. So nice to hear the sound of rain! After church, Hallie and two sisters went to visit our friend Donna who has been in ICU at a local hospital. Donna was so happy to Hallie and friends and it was good for Hallie to see her too.  Both kids got into sidewalk chalk art before Landon and Hallie went to stake Christmas Choir practice. Choir practice makes Hallie’s heart happy as she gets to see friends from our old ward.

Eliza and Mike carved her big pumpkin while the other two were out.

After Landon got home, it was his turn. 

We had a little mishap. . . .

. . . Nothing some bamboo skewers couldn’t fix.

Happy lanterns all around! 

Oh, and the cat enjoyed dining on the leftover entrails. . . .

Sunday, October 23, 2016

And Then He Was Nine

We celebrated Landon’s birthday this week. Hard to imagine how nine years have already flown by!

On Monday, Hallie has made a little tradition of going with Eliza to ALDI while Landon is at gymnastics. She always finds some deal to bring home. Now that it’s no longer our neighborhood market, it’s become a destination shop of sorts. Today, we met Grandma Owens out there and had a nice time chatting with her.

All week the kids got out early for parent-teacher conferences. We had ours on Tuesday. Landon and Eliza are both making good progress in school. We are glad to see that they are working hard and seeing results. It is only two months into school, but we are in love with their teachers, and both kids are finding it a joy to be at school this year. They both are learning lots, being well behaved, rekindling old friendships, and making new ones.

Wednesday started early and was very busy for Hallie until the kids got out of school at noon. The school had its second PTA meeting this morning, and Hallie turned in her first set of minutes as secretary. Typing up the minutes is not hard but not her favorite thing to do. Needless to say she waited until the last minute to type them up. So, between going to Sam’s Club at 7:00 a.m. and working at 7:45 she had to finish her notes. They were just fine. We didn’t have enough participants at the meeting, so after Mike brought Hallie a protein shake for breakfast/lunch, he sat in for some board business. Looks like we’ll both be attending meetings for the rest of the year.

Later on, while Mike was at his office he noticed the trees outside his office trying to pretend it’s fall. We have a couple more weeks before the few trees that do change color put on their modest show in the full glory they can muster. Of course, hearing about the unseasonable warmth in Michigan and Virginia gives us pause.

Hallie and the kids were going to head to the beach today with the warm weather, but as the morning progressed so did the Santa Ana winds. Hallie had to make the tough call and cancel the excursion to the beach because the last thing she wanted to do was to be pelted by fine particles of sand or have to chase the umbrella down the beach.

A highlight of the week was when Eliza, Mom, and Dad went to the Día de los Muertos celebration at Cal Lutheran while Landon was at gymnastics. She decorated a sugar skull, had her face painted, and enjoyed Mexican pastries. We appreciate opportunities to teach the children about the rich heritage they have received from their birth families. Eliza was so excited to go to the “party” that she wore her sugar skull leotard to gymnastics so she could have something fun to wear to the party.

Fergus has no complaints about the sun.

With kids getting out early this week we headed to Red Robin to celebrate Landon with lunch. It was nice to be able to have the four of us together and to not be rushed and enjoy our time together.

On Friday night, the kids enjoyed some time off from the parents, while Mike and Hallie went to Oxnard to watch the BYU Ballroom Dance Company perform Swing ‘n’ Sway. While it was not the 160-strong Marriott Center extravaganza, we really enjoyed being able to see so many performers up close. We imagine it might be kind of like watching the pro dancers on Dancing with the Stars perform live. We even met and shook hands with performers at the end of the performance.

Saturday was even busier than usual. Mike had work on campus, and Landon had gymnastics. While Landon was practicing, Hallie brought over and set out some pizza and cake for Landon’s teammates and friends. Mike had enough time at lunch to run down and help celebrate a bit before heading back to work. We are grateful to Victory Gymnastics Academy for letting us have a gathering after practice and grateful for our friends that came back even after they spent a long time at practice earlier in the day.
LEGO and gymnastics in one cake. Thanks, Susan

After gymnastics, Landon got a haircut, and then everyone met over at Grandma and Grandpa M.’s so we could pick up Cru and Sawyer for kid time at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Landon chose to go here instead of Halloween Time at Disneyland. Hallie’s not bitter. . . . All of the kids had a lot of fun and were very well behaved. The boys were too busy to get any photos taken. 

We celebrated Landon’s birthday Sunday morning with pumpkin cinnamon rolls and eggs.

Eliza was sick, so she and Mike stayed home from church. In addition, a domestic violence tragedy hit our community last Sunday evening, so on their way to church, Landon and Hallie stopped by a church where people from town had come together for a fundraiser for the affected family. We are trying to teach the kids compassion, so hopefully Landon was able to see some of that today. Hallie was amazed at what less than a week’s worth of word of mouth can do for a community. We did not know the family but wanted to show our support in some small way. On their way to church Hallie tried to share with Landon what had happened and how it will affect these children for the rest of their lives. It was not an easy task, and tears flowed freely as Hallie shared with Landon how she felt.

After church, we had a chance to chat with Grandma and Grandpa Dorey on the computer, and Landon opened gifts. He’s thrilled by the fun new electronics, books, and LEGOs.

Landon and Hallie went to the first practice for this year’s Christmas Choral Concert at the stake center. We hope that Landon enjoys singing as much as he did last year. Both participants reported they had a nice time and that the production will be stepped up quite a bit this year. Some information was held in reserve, and it will be so fun to see it all come together.