Sunday, April 30, 2017

Time Keeps On Slippin'

The end of spring semester brings with it a couple of major anniversaries for Mike. He graduated from college 20 years ago on Monday, and next week will mark his 10-year PhD anniversary. It also brings things like speech tournaments, which Landon had this week. 

Monday was a pretty normal day starting out: work, school, therapy. Then Mike dropped Eliza off at gymnastics, and Hallie took Landon to participate in the 3rd Grade Speech Tournament sponsored by the Pleasant Valley Educational Foundation. There were 10 kids from Las Posas Elementary School who participated, and they all had a wonderful time. Landon performed Crocodile's Toothache by Shel Silverstein. There were two rounds, dinner, rewards, and a third round. None of our kids made it to the third round, but we are still proud of all them! For participating in the tournament, the kids received a pizza party on Friday hosted by the third grade teachers, and they each received a Las Posas Leopards t-shirt.

As we look back at Tuesday, things seem pretty boring. A lot of the same old things happened. However, while Landon was at gymnastics, Hallie was able to hold and feed baby J again. He is so little and precious. Eliza found a few new friends to entertain herself with at gymnastics, and it is fun to watch them play together. We are also grateful for Davenport for giving Eliza three new leotards that she is in love with.

Wednesday, Hallie subbed at school as yard duty when three other yard duties called in sick. As Eliza had gymnastics in the afternoon, Mike picked up Landon from Hallie and took him home. Mike tutored, and Landon hung out with him at the library. There was Cub Scouts Pack Meeting in the evening where Landon earned a belt loop. (We actually forgot it was pack meeting and just dropped Landon off. Oops!)

Thursday was quite busy for Mike with lots of meetings and work to be done. Hallie worked, the kids went to school, and Landon ended the day with gymnastics. Eliza and Hallie spent the whole time there chatting with their friends and just plain hanging out. We love Victory!

Grandma and Grandpa B. came for a brief visit on Friday. They came out to the LA area on a work trip. We were sure glad to see them and catch up on old times! Afterwards, we had pizza and watched Queen of Katwe. Everyone really liked the movie, and Landon is now on a chess kick. If you have a free or cheap chess set, let us know.

We had to pause part way through the movie when the missionaries came over and talked with us about previous commitments we had made with them.

On Saturday morning, Hallie took the kids to gymnastics while Mike went to breakfast at the Hidden Café with his friend Grace, whom he has known since junior high. That’s some 30-odd years! Where does the time go?

Later in the morning, Mike joined Hallie helping the Kawai family from our ward to pack up for their move next month.

While at gymnastics, Hallie did some more packing at home. Not a whole lot, admittedly, but every little bit counts.

In the late afternoon Hallie headed to Westlake to have her hair done by her friend Kasea.

Mike and Eliza enjoyed a leisurely walk to and from church today. Hallie and Landon went on their second (of 3) Disneyland Resort trips in celebration of Hallie’s weight loss. This time they went to California Adventure. The two rode Radiator Racers three times in a row. Thank you to our friend Lissa and her insight of riding as a single rider. The day was beautiful a little warm but they came back reporting a lot of fun adventures, one of which Landon won two stuffed animals from the Boardwalk games. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Field Trip, Photo Booth Fun, and a New Job

Landon is in the spotlight this week. He went on a field trip to the Camarillo Ranch House as part of his grade’s community social studies curriculum. Hallie got to join as a volunteer (lucky!). Mike had some employment news of his own.

On Monday we were able to work our schedules out so that Hallie was able to attend a bariatric support group in Woodland Hills. Everyone was really nice, and Hallie enjoyed seeing her friend Shirley (who has gone through this whole process with Hallie) and how successful she has been.

Tuesday was the day Hallie joined the 3rd graders on their field trip to the Camarillo Ranch House. Hallie reported that it was a great field trip! It was a beautiful day even with the bit of rain they experienced as they were leaving. The kids saw period toys and tools, and they even had the chance to make their own butter.

During the morning on Wednesday Hallie spent time with Eliza’s class making cards for a friend who needs a bit of cheering up. The kids were so thoughtful and took their time with the cards they created.

Thursday and Friday seemed to be a lot of the same old routines. Mike had a busy Friday with a couple of dissertation defenses to oversee and class to teach. He also volunteered a bit at the elementary school in the morning. Hallie and the kids watched Frozen for Pizza and a Movie Night while Mike taught his last class of the semester. A great family at gymnastics is fostering an infant, and what a joy Hallie found it to be to hold this little precious one-week-old baby!

For some of you who do not know yet, Diamond’s boyfriend Caleb officially proposed to her a few weeks ago. On Friday she headed to West Virginia to visit with Caleb and to take the engagement pictures. We are so excited for Diamond and Caleb and can’t wait to celebrate with them in Oklahoma City in July!

The kids and Mike headed to gymnastics on Saturday morning, and Hallie stayed home to make a mess of the house. Okay, she was supposed to be cleaning/packing (read below). Everyone headed home close to 1:30. Landon hung out with his friend Sampson for a while, and then it was time to invite the kids to help with the sorting and cleaning of rooms.

In other news of the week, Landon decided to take Dad’s iPod for a spin.

Eliza did a little of her own selfie action.

Mike put in notice at Cal Lutheran and has accepted an offer at Brigham Young University’s McKay School of Education. As with CLU, he’ll be working as an educational leadership professor. As with the move from Wayne State, we’re taking this one with mixed feelings. We’re definitely going to miss living here and being so close to family and the new friends we have made (Landon said he will miss “standing tall for Victory”), but we’re looking forward to new opportunities and reconnecting with old friends. Apparently, the kids are even looking forward to snow for some peculiar reason.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter and Birthday Greetings

Happy Easter! Not a lot to write this week. Mike celebrated his birthday, and we enjoyed his day and the holiday with visits with family and friends. 

Mike took his little princess to see Beauty and the Beast at the movies. It was a sing-along version, but (for a while at least) only Mike was singing. In fact, until she finally got into the spirit of it, Eliza actively tried making Dad clam up! Eventually, though, she snuggled up, and they followed the bouncing tea cups to the tunes, some well-worn, and some new.

Landon and Cru went to Young Art at the Oaks Mall while Eliza was at gymnastics. Landon painted Mike a storm trooper for his birthday. Very cool! 

Meanwhile, Hallie looked at dresses for Diamond's upcoming wedding.

Grandma, Grandpa, Alie, and Haydn all came over for an Easter-themed birthday on Friday. We had Sharky's and chocolate cake covered in jelly beans, and then we colored eggs and visited. The time flew by!

Mike got his wish! There was a lot of smoke. 
On Saturday, Eliza left gymnastics a little early to go on some Easter activities with Mom, Marina, and Ellie.

On Sunday, we finished celebrations with a meal and an egg hunt at Grandma and Grandpa M.'s.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Mom Goes to Time Out

She didn’t get in trouble, though! She went to Time Out for Women, a couple of days of inspirational presentations and music presented by Deseret Book. Meanwhile, the rest of the first week of April leading into Spring Break was marked by the ordinary ebb and flow of activities at school, gymnastics, and work. The excitement, such as it was, came on the weekend.

Monday was a tiny bit exciting for Landon and his teammate Dietrich. After competing this season as Level 4 but practicing Level 5, both boys officially were made full-fledged Level 5s. Coach Ray made the announcement after practice, and the boys are very excited.

Mom started catching a cold on Wednesday. She even took a much needed three-hour nap during the day. Hallie was hoping that it was allergies, but each day she felt a bit worse.

Eliza rocked this fun outfit at school on Thursday: Best dressed, retro style! 

By Friday not long before heading out to Pasadena for TOFW she felt pretty yucky, but she went anyway.  After school, Landon went to his classmate Dominic’s house to play, so Dad and Eliza had their own pre-movie night before picking Landon up. Everyone had a good time!

After picking up Landon from Dom’s, we had some pizza and a movie (Happy Feet) before hitting the hay.

Mom got home late on Friday and then had to get up early the next morning to drive back to Pasadena, still suffering from her cold (or is it allergies? With so many beautiful spring flowers, it’s hard to tell).

The kids had gymnastics in the morning, and this time Mike stayed and watched them the whole time, something he doesn’t often get to do. Both children amazed with acts of strength, balance, and precision. They spent a mellow afternoon at home.

After Mom came home, she shared some of what she learned and saw. TOFW is something Hallie looks forward to going each year in the cities close to wherever we have lived. This year Hallie was able to sit next to her good friend Marie Turner and saw several other ladies from church. It is a blessing to hear words of encouragement and how much our Lord truly loves each of us.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Engaged in Important Activities

Things got more-or-less back to normal with everyone home this week, with one notable exception: Over the weekend our lovely daughter Diamond became engaged! We are excited parents who feel lost in this new world of weddings. We can’t wait until Caleb becomes a part of our family. Congratulations, Diamond and Caleb!

Monday started with our normal routine of work, school, and gymnastics for both kids. Not too much fun or different today.

Tuesday was much the same.

On Wednesday Las Posas School had its first ever Math Festival. Hall volunteered the whole day as every grade spent about 30 minutes in the Multi Purpose Room playing math games. All the kids seem to have a lot of fun, and the students were invited to come back that evening with their families to have more fun with math.

Eliza and Mike celebrated Granny O.’s birthday with chocolate cake and ice cream and a visit with her, Grandpa, and Alie. In the evening Eliza had gymnastics as usual, so Mike took her there on his way back to work and picked her up.
Hangin' out with Grandpa

It was a treat for Hallie’s visiting teachers to come over Thursday morning. It sure is nice having other adults come visit our home. Candace and Patty even gave Hallie some chocolate, which every mom loves!

On Friday morning, Mike shared pictures and insights about New Zealand primary schools with Eliza and Landon’s classes. Main take-aways relate to how the physical environment and curriculum in NZ primary schools allows kids to be kids as they learn: Shoes in the classroom and on the playground are optional. Kids are given spaces to climb and curl up both on the playground and in class. Classrooms are more open to the outdoors and other learning spaces. Various aspects of art (e.g., visual, performing, music, etc.) play a relatively larger part of the curriculum. The Maori culture plays a significant role in language, art, and community values. Overall, Mike feels that Landon and Eliza would feel right at home in any of the New Zealand primary schools he visited! Hallie was grateful she was able to sit in on most of the presentations in between her shifts at the school.
Bare feet and soft benches: What's not to love?

After school the kids played at the park with other school friends while Hallie chatted with their moms in the sun.

The missionaries came over to have dinner in the evening. Hallie improvised another first-time dish. This time it was meat loaf, which we haven’t had very often, and homemade red velvet cake sandwich cookies. Everything turned out well, and the elders went for seconds. Eliza did a great job cleaning and setting the table for the missionaries. The only real bummer is that when it takes Hallie 30 minutes to eat meatloaf doesn’t taste so hot cold. But, hey, now she knows for next time.

Mike got Landon good on April Fools’ Day, telling him to pack his bags to get ready for his flight to Japan for ninja school. The boy went right to the garage to grab a suitcase. Later Landon perched a few cat food cans above the fridge door that landed on Mike when he opened it. Dad got the last laugh on both kids after gymnastics when he convinced the kids to pull a prank on Mom telling her by text that the Momobile had broken down and she needed to come pick us up. Hallie never got the message, so when Mike walked in the back door, she was merely surprised. Mike then locked the kiddos, who were waiting for a “hi” sign from him in the garage, out of the house. The look on their faces when they finally figured out they’d been had was priceless. Dad better watch his back in the future. . . .

General Conference weekend was marked with more than usual dependence on technology to make sure we had a chance to see or hear sessions on the road or later in the day. We are grateful for multiple formats and media! The talks seemed very relevant for our family, and we are grateful for inspired leaders who share these messages with us.

Landon’s last meet of the season took place at a YMCA in Carlsbad. The drive down was nice at 8:00 a.m. This meet was exciting for a few reasons. First, we had the most boys on our team this whole season—10! It is fun being able to cheer for so many boys and to see them succeed. Landon did the best he had all season! We were also pleasantly surprised when we heard the announcer declare that Victory had won first place at the meet! To top it all off our friend Dietrich won Mr. Handstand. 

Our ride home was not as fast as our ride down: just over three hours later we arrived home. Ugh.