Sunday, August 13, 2017

Do It for the Twins

No sooner did Mike get back from his California work trip than we hit the road for Washington to visit Riley and Breanne and their kids and to meet twins Harper and Norah for the first time.

Over the weekend, Hallie with the kids spent a significant amount of time putting together a shoe holder from IKEA. It was a bit time consuming, but it was one less thing for Mike to do when he got home.

Tuckered out from their labors, the three just zoned on Monday. Both kids had gymnastics Monday afternoon, then they headed to Salt Lake to get Mike from the airport.

In the meantime, Monday morning Mike visited with the Maygrens in the morning and did some school work before heading to the Simi YMCA to meet up with Grandpa and watch Alie at her swim lessons. 

Afterwards, he spent a little time visiting at their house before hitting the road to the airport. He arrived in good time to get some more work done while waiting at the gate. Free wifi is a beautiful thing.  

Mike’s flight east was remarkably unremarkable. He got to the airport, took his bag on as a carry on, sat in the emergency row on the aisle (with the middle seat open, no less), and walked right off the plane and to the departing passenger drop-off area. Good thing Hallie saw him and the kids were excited to see him. Once he went over to the arriving passenger pick-up area, the ride home was also quite smooth. He arrived home to a few less the boxes then when he left from Friday. Sigh.
The boy at a pit stop on the way back home

With the renewed motivation that comes from having another adult in the home, we set to work in the evening opening boxes, putting items away, and putting the new master bedroom bed together. Mike slept better with the mattress off the ground. Eliza was a great helper to her dad (probably because she was hoping it was going to be her bed they put together next), but it was already 11:00 p.m. at this time, and everyone needed to hit the hay for the big trip the next day.

Tuesday we got up and started packing for our trip. We have never left so late in the day before (11 a.m. – yikes!), but it did feel a bit more relaxing then trying to rush out by a certain time.

Their goal for the day was Boise (As a side note for the uninitiated, that’s [BOY-see], NOT [BOY-zee]). Someone broke the power supply for the DVD player, so the children went without videos for their trip. They did, however, have grandparent-supplied tablets, books, the broad sweeping landscapes, the radio, and (heaven forbid) each other as entertainment sources. We made pretty good time heading north with only one bowel-movement-related roadside mishap. The child who did not quite make it to a civilized restroom before leaving his/her mark on the trail shall remain nameless. Nevertheless, we did have a good laugh over the mess once it was over.  

On a different note, looking for a meal near Burley, Idaho, we happened upon Gossner’s Magic Valley Chalet in Heyburn, where we got some cheese curds (AKA “squeaky cheese” for the kids to try. They weren’t impressed), shelf-stable chocolate milk (for post-gymnastics snacks, if it makes it home), and ice cream.

We finally arrived a bit later than we wanted in Boise, and Hallie took the kids to the pool to unwind while Mike did some more grading.

We took off pretty early from Idaho on Wednesday, getting gas after happening on the Boise Idaho Temple at the same off ramp.  

Shortly after crossing the border into Oregon, we made another stop in Baker City to stretch our legs.

After stopping one more time in Pendleton and Hallie finding the tin sign of her dreams, we followed the south side of the Columbia River Gorge, crossing the border into Washington at the Bridge of the Gods near Cascade Locks. Beautiful views! Sadly, the views did not make it to the blog.

We followed the winding Evergreen and Lewis and Clark Highways along the north side of the gorge, encountering Bigfoot outside North Bonneville, before finally arriving at our destination in time for dinner and to help put the twins to bed.

Thursday morning while Riley worked, Mike, the ladies, and the kids all went to the Clark County Fair. Ah, the fair! Where else can you go for elephant ears, goat droppings, massage lessons, and lectures on parasitic mites all in one place?

Mike did a bunch of work in the afternoon and evening after we got home, and Hallie played with Breanne, the kids, and especially the babies. After Riley got home, we had breakfast for dinner.

Friday, the kids did all kinds of scootering out front and in the back yard. The kids figured out how to work the Playstation and had so much fun. In the evening Mike and Hallie were babysitters!!! It was great to watch the kids while Riley and Breanne went out on a date.

Saturday Hallie took off bright and early to grab tasty treats at Voodoo Doughnut. Shocking there was no one in line. The kids found some natural treats of their own – berries! – along a trail near the house.

We took advantage of the fine afternoon weather by taking a trip to Fort Vancouver. Deer crossed the road in Ridgefield along the way (NBD around here apparently).

At the fort, we learned all about life in the 1840s, when this part of the world was still run by the Hudson Bay Company, and pesky Americans traveling along the Oregon Trail were the ones keeping the locals up at night. It happened to be Smokey Bear's birthday, so we got treats and cupcakes.  

At the fort itself, we learned about the fur trade, including the origins of the term "mad as a hatter." Backwoods entrepreneurship, child labor, and a healthy dose of mercury all make for tales well told! 

Hallie and Breanne headed to do some errands before a dinner of tasty homemade gyros. Yum-o! In the meantime, the boys looked after the children. Everyone survived.

Sunday while Breanne worked, we hung out with the rest of the family around the house and prepared for a showing of the home around 4:00 p.m. This has got to be the one!!! 

Landon showed Porter some tricks for building amazing LEGO vehicles. Sadly, he may like his handiwork a little too well. 

Sunday, August 06, 2017

First Week in Our New Springville Home

Well, almost all our stuff (minus a few things accidentally left behind) and almost all of us (minus Fergus) have arrived at our new home in Springville. Sure glad that’s over. Oh, wait. Now we have mountains of boxes to unpack. Mañana, mañana. Let’s go exploring instead!

Monday morning found us adults wishing the air bed had made it to the car before it got packed in the moving van. Ugh.

We spent the day taking care of a number of activities to get us settled in, foremost among which was getting the kids set up at Airtime. We met the kids’ new coaches, had them leveled (Eliza stayed at 2, and Landon moved to 6). Both are poised to do well.

We took not one, but two trips to IKEA first to determine what we needed to buy and then to actually buy it (had to shuttle the kiddos back and forth to their first practices after the morning’s evaluations!).

Hallie has finally persuaded Mike to get a king bed (grumble, grumble – only because the kids are getting bigger – grumble, grumble), a memory foam/foam combo. We went to Costco in the evening and got one. Mike is not convinced that he likes it. Maybe once it’s on a frame. Maybe once it doesn’t feel so hot upstairs. It feels hot upstairs, by the way. Thankfully, we have air conditioning! And fans!

On Tuesday, we started the new month on the go. Mike headed up to BYU to get a haircut and get his professional photo taken. He also got an updated ID Card! 

He also got to watch the devotional in person, something he hopes to go back to making a tradition. He appreciates the BYU Speeches podcast episodes he listens to regularly, so having this resource literally a stroll up the hill is too good to pass up!

Meanwhile, Hallie and the kids ran some errands. Landon has gymnastics Monday through Friday, so that meant after dropping him off that the girls had their own window shopping time. We were in the market for a new dining room table and chairs. In addition to looking at new tables (which sure were spendy but so cute!), Hallie put the word out on Facebook, and it turned out that friends we knew from Michigan, the Tenneys, right here had a table they were wanting to sell for a much more reasonable amount.

While Hallie ran some more grocery errands in the early evening, Mike went on a walk with the kids. Eliza got a little too far ahead of us, and before she knew it, she was lost. Fortunately, lost only meant that she was on the other side of the elementary school in front of our house. She was a little worried, but she was brave. We all got home and set to work in earnest memorizing our new address. 

After Hallie got home, we went over to the Tenneys and got the table. Thanks so much!

On Wednesday, Mike stayed at home grading papers while Hallie and the kids ran errands and then went to gymnastics in the afternoon. That evening, we all went to Heber City to ride the Heber Valley Railroad. Tonight the train was transformed into the Hogwarts Express as part of a Harry Potter-themed evening.

Before going on the train, we stopped at the Dairy Keen – Home of the Train – for dinner. We chew-chew-chewed through a quick meal before racing to the train depot.

Before we got on the train, we witnessed a robbery and a shootout between the sheriff and a couple of taffy thieves. After defeating the scoundrels, the sheriff shared the spoils.  

Once we got aboard, we had chocolate frogs, every-flavored jelly beans, and butter beer.

Plus we got sorted into houses. Mike was sorted into Ravenclaw (natch? Typecasting?), Hallie into Hufflepuff (again, sure. Could be.), and the kids both got sorted into Griffindor (meh. . . . Previously they had both been sorted elsewhere, but who’s counting?).

We enjoyed watching the antics of the kids playing the characters, and even got into the trivia game and sing-along. Hallie won us a poster, and Mike (yes, Mike) and Eliza sang at full volume.

Once the train returned, we did a little shopping at the depot store. Eliza and Landon used money given them by Grandpa O. to buy a coon skin cap, a cap gun, some arrow heads, and every-flavored jelly beans. Enjoy, kiddos!

The grown-ups decided we needed to go back to get thick milkshakes from Dairy Keen, so we ended the evening on a sweet note.

Thursday was an on-campus day for Mike. He had a new faculty teaching retreat hosted by the Center for Teaching and Learning. Rather than learning new tips and tricks (specifically what the seminar was set up NOT to do, he learned about planning and about how to approach students in a way consistent with BYU’s mission and aims. He’s definitely excited to incorporate the ideas he learned into his teaching.

In the meantime, Hallie ended up having words with the people moving our stuff from California. Due to (let’s say) some “communication” errors, the people in California let her know that our good would be held until we paid them. Um, no. After some tears and intervention from Laura Decker and Paul Buckner (Mike’s new heroes) at the ASB, the errors got resolved (we still don’t know what we may owe, but that’s a concern for another day), and we received assurances that our stuff would be at our door, a day later than we were told last week, but here nonetheless.

As part of the new faculty retreat, Mike and Hallie were invited to have dinner at the assembly hall in the Hinckley Center, where he had spent most of the day. While we looked forward to dinner together, it meant getting a babysitter. In the midst of getting Landon from gymnastics and dealing with the movers, Hallie had to figure that out. Fortunately, other family friends we have from our time in Salt Lake (they now live in Orem) have a girl who fit the bill to a tee. Miriam even had training and everything! So, Hallie picked up Landon from the gym, got Miriam, returned home, and finally met up with Mike on campus. As we were late, we joined the party already in progress and ended up with a table to ourselves. Oops. Still, it was fun to have some alone time. Ken Plummer, Mike’s CTL consultant, came by to visit and get to know Hallie too, and that was nice. Several experiences, interactions, and insights garnered today have helped Mike feel right at home.

Friday was crazy on multiple fronts. Mike got his wires crossed and thought he had the class he was teaching in the morning. A call the night before (this after all the moving hub bub) set him straight, and he quickly got a new plan in play. So, rather than going up on campus in the morning, he stayed to help out with all the rest of the activities that converged instead.

To start, we took the car to Queen Bee Auto, a shop Hallie got recommended to her, for an oil leak that started over the last couple of days, hoping that it was just something small.

We came back in time for the movers to arrive. The guy with the truck intimated that he might not be able to unload if we didn’t pay. Yeah, yeah. Read your email. We got your number. By the time the local movers came to unload the truck, he got his email. We’re grateful for the mild weather (clouds and a couple of cooling showers cut the summer day’s heat from what it could have been) and the hard work of the movers, one of whom came in at the last minute. Within a few hours, the truck was unloaded and the movers were on their merry way. And here we sit with boxes and boxes.  

While the movers (who were originally supposed to be her Thursday) did there thing, the IKEA delivery crew came with their items. Fortunately, they and the movers moved in synchrony, and the IKEA folks were on their way before we knew it. Now to assemble the beds.

After Landon’s gymnastics in the morning, Hallie and both kids went to a party for the boys’ team at the Provo Rec Center. Most impressive venue based on Mom and the kids’ reviews.

We had a limited window between everyone else getting home and Mike’s now-correctly-scheduled class. In that time, Hallie and the kids got home, we went to retrieve the Kia (oil leak was minor. Yay!), dropped the Olds back home, and drove Mike up.

While en route, Diamond texted us about a frightening experience she had getting lost in West Virginia, where she got no help after asking five people and instead got harassed by those whose job should have been to “serve and protect” her. Suffice it to say, racism is alive and well among some in the public safety ranks. It is particularly disturbing to see it happen to one of our own. Fortunately, it was only harrowing instead of any number of all-too-plausible alternatives.

Her messages brought home for Mike some key points to share with students in his BYU class, which is about multicultural education. No one should have to be told, “Go back to where your people came from.” When seen through the light of the gospel, when we see all people as Christ sees them, we understand, empathize, and work toward more inclusive social systems. He’s grateful for the sincere desire of his students to learn how to question their own biases, assumptions, and actions as educational leaders.

He had to cut class short to make his flight to LAX. Hallie and the kids picked him up and dropped him off at the airport, heading back home to TV and Roku both up and running at home. Ah, creature comforts! We love that we get free live TV again after several years of going with streaming TV alone. It’s a little thing, but it still means that we get to keep the cable cut. Here, by the way, are early views of our new living room.

Mike’s flight got out of Salt Lake late, which in itself was fine. However, it compounded what became a bit of a car rental nightmare in LA. Mike stood in line waiting to get his rented car for longer than he had spent on his flight, standing in line with scores of people while four attendants waited on us.

On the plus side, Mike learned about the American Cornhole League. ESPN showed the ACL COBS (Championships of Bags). For those unfamiliar with cornhole, it’s basically a bean bag toss game. For money. $20,000 for the open division singles. Hmm. Who knew? Well, a fair number of people actually, eh? Anyway, at least he had that to entertain him.

By the time he got to the Maygrens’, it was early Saturday morning. Grr.

Saturday morning dawned too early for everyone on both sides of the Sierras. In California, Mike tried to get the kids to do his class for him. In Utah, Hallie stayed in bed for a bit longer than she might have. Didn’t help that she had an uninvited guest in the guise of our little girl.

Mike really enjoyed teaching his last EDLD 603 class. He has an awesome job teaching people who want to do good in the world. What’s not to love? After getting done with work, he went over to visit his folks and Fergus. He then made a trip back to the old house to get a couple of items that made neither the moving truck nor the car.

In Springville, Hallie and the kids set to work unpacking boxes and assembling some furniture.

Mike spent most of Sunday at his parents’ house visiting and trying to coax Fergus into visiting him. Prior to going, he paid a visit to Alison’s gravesite and strolled around the Rancho Simi Community Park duck pond, home of many happy early childhood memories. Eerily, there were very few people at the park at that time of the day (were they at church or brunching?).

All these duck, geese, and pigeons surrounding him --
It's like something out of a Hitchcock movie. 

Later, Emily, Mike, Lucas, and Laura came over to drop off Alie. We enjoyed a pizza dinner al fresco. Fergus decided he should come out too, resulting in a bit of mildly frantic attempts to get him back in, ultimately with success.

Back in Springville, Hallie and the kids unpacked more boxes and eventually got out of the house to go down to Dwight and Marilyn’s lot in Elk Ridge. Pretty, if a bit remote. 

"Oh, how we missed our toys!"