Sunday, December 04, 2016

Light the World and Judges Cup

Our trip to and from Irvine for Landon’s first gymnastics meet was certainly memorable.

We returned to school and work on Monday a bit worn out after our trip and Thanksgiving weekend. Hallie was able to get a few things done around the house, and we as a family started getting back into our routines.

Tuesday both kids had gymnastics after school and Mike had his late night at work.

On Wednesday morning Hallie went to the gym, and we had a bit of time off from normal activities so we decided to have Family Home Evening tonight when we knew there was time. We decorated the Christmas tree, and we read a calendar with ideas for service as part of the Church's #LighttheWorld initiative for the 25 days leading to Christmas. 

Hallie had ordered enchiladas from a teacher’s daughter for a fundraiser, and we received them today and had a yummy Mexican dinner before Mike had to head off to tutor.

Thursday is not normally a busy day, but today was crazy. Everyone had work and school, Landon had gymnastics, Mike had work on campus, and Mom went to the ward Relief Society Christmas activity. It was one of those days where we left the house early and didn’t come home until late.

With the change in gymnastics schedule and a new month, we were provided an extra day off this week. On Friday, we also celebrated Eliza’s Family Day, the day Eliza was sealed to us five years ago. Eliza is a beautiful, kind, energetic, tester-of-patience child. Mom and Eliza spent some time together before Landon got out of school, and then Hallie took both kids to the park where many of their friends from school were playing. It was a pleasure to have relaxed time to play. The kids were a great help when we got home where we cleaned out the garage from our mouse mess and collected bottles to turn in for spending money the next day. In the evening while Mike finished his last doctoral class for the semester, Hallie took the kids to Pizza Rev, and the trio watched Jungle Book for pizza and a movie night. Dad came home from class not long after, and we were blessed to talk to Diamond. We were all up late, and Eliza had Mom laughing so hard that Mom could barely breathe. Mom said her favorite thing is to laugh. Thank you, Eliza!

This school year has brought us busy Saturdays. We got an early start with gymnastics practice for Eliza at Victory (today was Eliza’s first practice on Level 2 Girls Team). We knew we would all be on the road all day, so everyone went to the gym. Hallie and Landon took the cans and bottles we had collected over to the recycling center for a little spending cash while Mike watched Eliza (and cut several paper snowflakes, and enjoyed a thermos-full of mate, which led to an interesting chat with another parent of French background about immigration policy and cultural identity in his home country), Hallie returned something to Kohl’s, and the duo also stopped off at the Maygren/Hopkins home to iron Landon’s shirt for his meet and to have a little breather before we were off again.

After Hallie and Landon got back and Eliza finished her workout, we got on the road down to Irvine for the Judges Cup, Landon’s first honest-to-goodness gymnastics event. The Cup was not competitive, but rather it was the pre-season evaluation meet, an opportunity for the boys to learn from the judges about their strengths and areas for improvement. More on that later.

But first, we got to Irvine early enough that we had time for a leisurely lunch at the first reason we were excited to drive to Orange County – Cafe Rio – 

. . . and a little drive around the UC Irvine campus. Anteaters? Really? C’mon. What a funny mascot. Of course, there are stranger ones. . . .

We arrived quite a bit early for the meet, but it turns out that lots of people were already there waiting in line to get in. Good thing we arrived when we did! Landon showed off his skills and got lots of useful feedback. Mom and Dad saw that seriously pursuing gymnastics might become quite the investment of time and resources. Sheesh.

After the meet, we drove to Costco to get gas but missed the service station closing by five minutes. Those five minutes will matter later.

We decided to push on to the other reason we looked forward to driving down – Downtown Disney! Landon had a LEGO gift card from Grandma and Grandpa D. to spend, so we made a bee line for the LEGO Store after finally persuading a now-tired Eliza to carry her sweatshirt and walk on her own power. Apparently many other people had the same idea on a Saturday night during the holidays to shop and dine over Disneyland way. What a crowd.

In addition to Landon buying his own set, Eliza did as well with her spending money, and Hallie not only got herself a set but two more mystery minifigs from the Disney series (Mike actually walked out without any of his own purchases, although he did get the free calendar-with-purchase).  Mike wanted to get good ones and no repeats. Apparently, so did other people. One couple seemed very intently manhandling all the different packages. Mike did his best to grab a couple with what he hoped were big ears, and then we booked out of there before too much more of our money headed over to Denmark. We should buy stock in that company. We went window shopping at a few other shops, bought some Disney-themed sweets, and finally made our way back to the car sometime after 10:30 p.m.

After we got on the road, Mike had to know whether he got good minifigures. Hallie opened the first and discovered Minnie Mouse. Score! Then she opened the second one. More mouse ears, and this one was Mickey! Yes! What are the odds?

We still needed gas. So we got some at a service station along our route. As we finished pulling back out onto the road, Landon asked if the gas station had a rest room. We asked why. “No reason. Don’t worry about it.” Famous last words.

Although traffic was light, there were several crazy drivers. A Porsche cut Mike off, so we missed one of our off ramps and had to backtrack. No biggie. Then just as we were coming up on Santa Monica Boulevard driving up the 405, Landon announces that he needs to use bathroom. Mike tried to get over, but two racing maniacs decided the 405 was their personal race track, so he wisely waited to get off at the next exit. As a result, we got to see a homeless guy in Westwood pulling a twin mattress down the road as we drove back down Veteran toward the restaurants on Santa Monica Blvd. Rather than have Landon find a friendly bush, we opted for the local Jack in the Box. Landon rushed into the restroom there (we had to get buzzed in by the server – weird, but actually a good thing), and while Mike waited for the boy to deal with what became an extended appointment with constipation, Eliza (who had fallen asleep) suddenly woke up in the car with her own need to use the potty. So, leaving Landon in the self-locking restroom, Mike got Eliza. Now he’s got two kids vying for who gets to use the toilet as Landon is not finished and Eliza is doing the potty dance. And Hallie wanted tacos (protein right?). Some 45 minutes after getting off the 405, we finally got back on the freeway. It was now after midnight. Somehow Mike stayed awake for the rest of the ride home, listening to Christmas music while the others slumbered.

Sunday morning dawned harshly, but we made it through. Eliza napped during sacrament meeting, and Mike would have happily joined her. Seeing former-Michigan Detroit Mission President Holmes speak during the First Presidency Christmas Devotional was a treat. Hallie had to make the hard decision that the duo had to quit the Stake Choir, and so it was with a bit of relaxation we were able to spend a quiet time as a family this evening before all of the mayhem starts again tomorrow.  

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