Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pumpkin Patch and Other Brisk Outdoor Activities

The weather has definitely made this year’s turn back toward winter. Trees in the lowlands are bright, and those in the mountains have passed their prime. Now’s the time of year for pumpkin patches and hay rides, and not quite so much for horseback rides and nighttime outdoor concerts. As if we care.

On Monday while Landon was at gymnastics and Dad was at work, Mom and Eliza went to Jaker’s Jack-O-Lanterns. Mom didn’t really want to go but with the persistence of the young girl we went. The thing that really got Hallie to go was that Art City Donuts was going to be there. Free spirit that she is, Eliza fairly flew through the air and buried herself in the big corn pile. The latter is something unique that we have not seen in either California or Michigan. Maybe Utah’s unique combination of cool dry air keeps the corn from either sprouting or going moldy. Whatever the reason, the corn pit was a welcome surprise.

The girls also had Art City Donuts, which they brought home to share. Sadly, we do not have cider mills in Utah; thus we have missed out on cider and donuts for the last few years. Half the treat, especially coated in cinnamon sugar, tasted at least as sweet. We’ll have to get some juice and make our own cider! We hear the Big Red Barn just south of us makes cider donuts, so hopefully Hallie can bring home some while on Eliza’s field trip this coming week.

Hallie has felt quite run down with her cold. She went to the doctor (Friday) and found out that she had strep throat or a sinus infection. The doctor said strep was going around and amoxicillin would clear either up. Antibiotics have helped clear up the sore throat, but she keeps not getting enough sleep, it seems, as Eliza documented with Hallie’s phone. Watch the whole thing. Eliza may be an actress someday.

Prior to Hallie’s nap above, she had walked some 8,500 steps between going to her Y Be Fit appointment and going on the Fall Festival Fun Walk around BYU campus with Mike. We were rewarded with apples, molasses cookies, and international folk dancing at the Hinckley Center.

Mike also got the kids lapel pins for us successfully completing the Hike the Y challenge (admittedly a bit early). 

On Thursday, Mike got the Mo-mobile registered as a Utah vehicle. He went with BYU-themed plates because, like when he worked at Wayne State, if you have the option, why not? Hallie has her own ideas for when we get the Kia registered.

We had an uneventful Friday the 13th. That evening, after we watched The Nightmare Before Christmas, Hallie drove up to Krispy Kreme to get their seasonal pumpkin spice glazed beauties: A bit of “Friday Night Spice” this month. It was fun to taste the different donut but probably something we won’t wait in a long line for again.

Hallie was full of surprises for Eliza and Mike on Saturday. The girls got up bright and early so they could drive up to This Is The Place Heritage Park for a surprise mountain horseback ride. Eliza has wanted to ride a horse for a couple of years. Eliza was a natural on her horse Cinderella and wanted to go again the moment they got back to the barn.

Meanwhile, Mike took Landon and his friend Israel to Jaker’s for a boys’ day out. We even say Gavin from school and gymnastics and his family there. Mike missed his beard in the chilly air. Landon seemed unfazed in his sweatshirt and shorts. The kid has antifreeze for blood. We took in the corn pile, haunted shipping container, hay ride, and mazes, and we had lunch too. No donuts today what with last night’s haul, but rather beef brisket and sweet corn (for Mike. The boys wanted hot dogs and chips).

Later, our neighbor Sienna came over to babysit while Hallie and Mike went out to Mike’s surprise: Dinner at Thai Issan in Taylorsville and then David Gray and Alison Krauss in concert at the Usana Amphitheatre. We had a good time and enjoyed the music, but about halfway through Alison Krauss’s set we had to admit that we were moving more to the rhythm of our own shivers than to that of the beat. Much to our regret we left early. Thank heavens for technology—the seat warmers helped us defrost by the time we got home.
We discovered that the staging and sound of Sister Roberta Goes Before Us struck a seasonally appropriate note.  

Even the performers remarked about the cold, and Mike thought it was amusing that Alison and her band started playing It's Goodbye and So Long to You on our way out, as if right on cue. 
Sunday proved to be a quiet day at home and at church.  Hallie can’t seem to stay awake. By 9:00 a.m. she was back in bed for a three hour nap. Mike stepped in and got the kids ready for church. When Hallie awoke at noon a mad rush happened with her needing a shower and getting lesson prep finished for her primary class. The three hour block was pretty uneventful, and after church Hallie was set apart to be a Primary Worker (aka Valiant 9 teacher). Mike has been called as an Elders Quorum instructor, and he’s volunteered to substitute in Sunday School and Primary classes as needed. Time for both of us to hone those teaching skills!
By the looks of things in Primary, pie-making skills may also be required.

After church we Skyped with Diamond and Caleb, ate yummy leftover Thai food, and watched some Living Scriptures videos. Thank you Grandpa O. for giving us a subscription!

Oh, and Eliza read to the cat. Fergus has found that his favorite place in the house lies on a bed by the window under the warm afternoon sun. Eliza likes it pretty well herself. 

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Autumn Heat and Colds

For the second time this semester, Mike went back out to a very warm California and left Hallie with the kids. To complicate matters, everyone, it seems, is battling a cold Hallie brought with her from her last trip. This cold has been with Hallie nearly two weeks, and she is nervous what she and the kids will pick up when they go to California at the end of the month.

This was in most other respect just another one of those routine weeks at home in contrast with so much tragedy and turmoil outside our walls. The kids had gymnastics, and the parents had work and home responsibilities.

Eliza participated in Westside Elementary's Fun Run fundraiser activities on Monday while Landon flew like a bird at gymnastics.

Mike has found that the good folks at BYU will get him to come to their meetings if they provide him lunch. Doing so has both filled his tummy and given him valuable teaching, research, and grant-writing insights.

Meanwhile, in Hallie’s world, she battled a cold and cough and extended period of poor sleep. Landon joined her in her suffering from Wednesday through Friday: No school or gymnastics for Landon during those periods. You know he must be pretty sick if he was willing to give up gymnastics.

Christmas came early to our household, or at least to Mike, when Hallie found a deal on a desk built into a stationary bike for his home office. Maybe Mike’s bowl full of jelly will be a bit smaller by the time St. Nick shows up.

On Wednesday night, we got "booed" by a neighbor who left ghost balloons and bottled water with ghoulish fruit-flavored potion to mix in. Later in the week, the kids tried to return the favor with their own ding-dong-ditch-styled "boo," but they got caught! 

Mike left for California late Thursday, spending time working from Grandma and Grandpa O.’s on Friday before doing a little tutoring in the evening and helping EdD students through their dissertation data analysis on Saturday before visiting with Grandma and Papa M. before tutoring some more. We ended the weekend with church on Sunday.
Donuts on the way home from the airport = yummy! 

Hallie held things together at home with a little help from ice cream. She and Landon soothed their sore throats at SOS. 

They also built blanket forts to make watching TV even more fun. This meant stealing Fergus's favorite blanket. He managed to get it back eventually. 

Hallie is a newly called Primary teacher. This year she is teaching six boys. Today she had four, and they all have or will have turned 10 by the end of the year. This happens to be the same age group as Landon, but we have so many kids in our Primary that Landon is in another class with another six or eight kids. Hallie has a boy on the autism spectrum in her class, and he seemed to warm up to her quickly. During Singing and Sharing Time, our young friend took to laying his head on Hallie’s lap.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Falling into October

We had a busy week leading into October with a homecoming, a visit from family, and General Conference.

On Monday, Mike sent the kids off to school while (out in California) Hallie got to the airport and flew home. She brought a number of treats (and a cold) home with her.

After school, Eliza made a tambourine in her music class.

Dwight and Marilyn spent a few days here with us while they took care of paperwork and planning for their new home. They arrived Monday afternoon after traveling up from Cedar City.

In the evening Hallie and Eliza spent time at the Happy Valley Farmers Market. They bought peaches, zucchini, sourdough bread bowls, homemade salsas, and chips. The girls even had dinner from a food truck called Jurassic Street Tacos, and there was definitely more food than our little bellies could hold.

Last week Mike noticed outside his building at BYU a biblical tabernacle replica being built. Curious, he asked about it and discovered that the tabernacle was originally built in California and has gone on tour for several months now. On Tuesday at lunch he went over for one of the group tours. Pretty enlightening. Dwight and Marilyn went in the evening after meeting with their architect. 

(Yup. They transport it in a wooden box that reads "Top Secret.")

Earlier in the day Hallie, Dwight, and Marilyn ate at Ginger’s Garden Cafe in Springville, which was very healthy and yummy. Right before, we went to Ream’s and scored some great deals on pumpkins for our front porch. The three even stopped at SOS Pharmacy for the great $1 ice cream.

The Maygrens and Hallie even spent some time driving through Hobble Creek Canyon. The leaves have been turning beautiful colors. We saw deer running across the road, turkeys tempting the cars, and livestock doing their thing out in the fields. We live in a beautiful part of this country.

Marilyn and Dwight had never been to Culver's and so Hallie took them to Culvers before their meeting, and after we spent some time watching Landon and Eliza show off their mad skills at AirTime Training Center.

In the meantime, Mike restocked our freezer with a shipment of frozen chicken thighs from a truck from Zaycon Foods, which is delivered here at one of the local elementary schools.

Hallie began to suffer from her cold in earnest by mid-week. Hallie did manage to get herself out the door to get some of her blood tested for the Y Be Fit program Mike and Hallie are doing through BYU.

For dinner, we broke in our new instant pot making some Asian garlic honey chicken using some of our Zaycon chicken. Oh, boy! We have just found a winner of an appliance!

On Friday, Mike took in an early-morning session at the Provo City Center Temple, which is now our local temple. Very ornate and beautiful. It’s a bit surreal to be in a place that from the outside looks similar to the same building we used to go to for concerts and church meetings but which is now the above-ground portion of what is actually a much larger building with many motifs that hearken back to the history of the original structure. By the time he got to the terrestrial room portion of the endowment session, he was treated to a view of the stained glass windows bathed in the light of the eastern sunrise. Quite striking!

Later in the day, Hallie and Eliza came up to visit Mike at his office at BYU and go to the BYU Store for some Conference sale items. On the way out, we caught sight of a doe who had come on campus for a visit. Not something you see very often!

We watched the Captain Underpants movie for pizza-and-a-movie night. It was really funny! We had seen a segment last week on CBS Sunday Morning about author Dav Pilkey and his book series. Quite the creative fellow.

We had the four general sessions of General Conference this weekend. Uncle Bryce put the word out that a chaplain he knows from Alaska had tickets to the conference center for Saturday afternoon’s session, and Hallie immediately responded. She wanted to make sure Landon had the chance to see a session in person now that he’s old enough to appreciate the idea of seeing it live and that we’re close.

After the conclusion of Saturday morning’s session, we all drove up to Salt Lake, where Hallie dropped the boys off by the hotel where the tickets were being held. Mike and Landon walked from the hotel to the conference center. Landon noted the vocal protesters standing on the street corners surrounding Temple Square. Mike tried to explain that these were people who had strong feelings about what was going on, that we live in a free country where they can express those feelings, and that we can be respectful toward those who do not share our beliefs.

We had pretty decent seats among many military personnel wearing their dress uniforms along with their guests. Of course, like us, there were lots of people just dressed in their Sunday clothes. We had a packed house by the time the session got under way. Landon seemed to appreciate the experience and had lots of observations and questions.

The girls ran a few errands in town while the guys watched the session. As the girls drove around Hallie noticed that downtown Salt Lake and their old stomping grounds sure do look a lot different than they did 10 years ago.

After the afternoon session, Hallie and Eliza picked the boys up and took them to Howdy Homemade Ice Cream, a new shop in Salt Lake employing mostly people with special needs. Hallie had heard about the shop through friends on Facebook. We enjoyed the sweet treats, but we also especially liked getting to know the guys behind the counter, both of whom were professional, engaging, and courteous.

We each tried a different flavor of ice cream and free topping: chocolate-covered cinnamon gummy bear with M&Ms for Mike, peanut butter and chocolate with crushed Oreo cookies for Hallie, real strawberry with hot tamales for Landon, and hot tamale with gummy worms for Eliza. Fresh out-of-the-box flavors! All of the family members wanted to share their flavors with each other, and everyone loved the other flavors. Almost all flavors were made in-house, and the flavors that weren’t were still made locally and even had fruit from local farms. Awesome!!! If you are ever in Salt Lake make sure you go to Howdy Homemade Ice Cream. It was so yummy!

After getting home, Mike went upstairs to take Eliza to bed (she fell asleep on the way back) and to watch the priesthood session while Hallie and Landon played downstairs. One of Landon’s new friends, Lincoln, came over, and the boys played on the Wii for a bit before going back to Lincoln’s to watch a movie.

After the priesthood session ended Hallie ran over to Macey’s grocery store for some last minute items so we could make egg soufflĂ© in the morning, which has become a general conference tradition in our family. This year all of us tried it with some of the homemade tomatillo salsa the girls had bought from the farmers market.

For the Sunday morning session of conference, we each took turns picking a key word to listen to in a talk and if we hear the word everyone gets a skittle. This game ended up pretty successfully for all of us, and the kids paid pretty good attention.