Sunday, September 24, 2017

Mom Takes a Vacay

The last half of the week had the kids and Mike holding the fort while Hallie took a trip back to California to visit with friends and family.

Most of the rest of the week was pretty routine with the exception of SEP (read, “parent-teacher”) conferences on Wednesday and Thursday.

Hallie and Eliza made a trip up to the BYU Store on Monday.

We had clouds and the threat of rain on Tuesday, which led to some dramatic skies.

Uncle Shad flew up from California in order to clear out his and Carly’s storage unit. With help from his brother Rudd, Mike and Shad packed up what turned out not to be an overwhelming amount of stuff into a truck that took it all in – dust, mouse droppings, spider webs, and all. We got to take in some of that sunset too.

Eliza had her SEP Wednesday afternoon, and we found out that Mrs. Leichty and Hallie share an Orange County connection. Small world!

The kids’ school pictures came in. They’re adorable!

We had Landon’s SEP with Ms. Freeman Thursday morning. We’re proud of the progress our students are making, and we look forward to them learning many new and amazing facts and skills.

Mike and Hallie are also continuing on the Y Be Fit program. This week they had their initial physical evaluation. There is room for improvement, and we anticipate better health for us both by the time we complete the program sometime in January or February.

After Hallie dropped the kids off at gymnastics, Mike took her to the airport and she embarked on her mini-vacation. Mike joked that she looked like she was dressed up to go clubbing. Hotty!

Mike got back to Springville in time to watch the kids practice a little bit before taking Eliza home for dinner and then getting Landon and bringing him home for dinner. Then it was time for homework and bed. We had rain during the night.

Hallie got to California and played with friends from Camarillo.

Friday, the first day of fall, dawned wet and cloudy. Mike got the kids ready and off to school before going up to a hospital in Orem to get some blood work done for Y Be Fit. He could see snow dusting the mountains on the other side of Utah Lake, but our side was still shrouded in clouds for most of the morning. This is the third time in about a month that he’s had blood drawn for separate reasons. Too bad all these vampires can’t coordinate the data.

He went back to Westside to volunteer in Landon’s and Eliza’s classes. Mike appreciates being able to volunteer both because it keeps him grounded in the schools and because it gives him perspective on where our kids are socially and academically. Every child is unique, and each has specific needs. Most of the time, Mike finds that the kids he works with have funny personality quirks and distinctive stories to tell.  

After working at the school, he went up to his BYU office, eventually returning to take Landon and Gavin to gymnastics and having some quality time with Eliza at the library, where he got her her own card and where she checked out a couple of books: one on red wolves, and the other on snakes.

Meanwhile in California, Hallie hung out with friend and kids at Las Posas School and then had dinner with her friend Beth. Lola's in Moorpark was super yummy! Shrimp enchiladas will definitely be ordered again.

After Mike and Eliza’s library trip, they then picked up Landon and watched the original version of Freaky Friday (one of those rainy day movies Mike would watch in the auditorium at lunch in elementary school along with World’s Greatest Athlete and The Love Bug) with our pizza. Good times! Landon couldn’t get over the cheesy special effects (scenes that were obviously done in front of blue screens or sped up for dramatic effect). He kept remarking, “That’s totally photoshopped!” You mean Jodie Foster didn’t really water ski or race that Beetle like that?!

In Utah on Saturday, Mike woke up with kids on either side and with the beginnings of a migraine. He nipped that in the bud with an Excedrin. No rest for the weary today! We had a light breakfast before setting to work on tidying up the house. The kids worked hard on their chores, cleaning off the kitchen table, vacuuming, and tackling the bathrooms and their bedrooms. Mike was so proud, and it definitely motivated him to make sure they had a lot of fun out of the house for the rest of the day.

Hallie had found a deal on movies, so Mike had pre-ordered a showing of the LEGO Ninjago Movie the night before as a bit of a surprise for the kids. Landon and Mom had talked a little about it, so Landon wasn’t really surprised. The crew headed up to Provo in the morning for the first showing. Although Mike was tempted to doze a bit in the theater, we all had good laughs at the movie. Landon kept looking over at Mike when a punny joke or sight gag came up on the screen, and Eliza cozied up on his lap.

After the movie, Mike raced up with the kids to the Toys R Us in Orem, where the store had a Ninjago-themed mini-build. We put together little pagodas. Cool!

Today was a free museum day, and Mike had ordered tickets to The Leonardo, a science, technology, and art museum in Salt Lake. However, with the rain and the lateness of the hour (it was now after 2:00, and the museum closed at 5:00), he opted instead to keep the party local with a trip back to the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum at BYU. Both kids, and lately especially Eliza, are fascinated by animals, so they definitely got their fill and then some. The museum has expanded significantly since Mike’s undergraduate days, so even Mike found surprises to keep him entertained.

The kids participated actively in a live vertebrates show in the auditorium and even got to pet a bearded dragon.

Somewhere in the mix of running around, we had not eaten, so we took a quick trip to the BYU Creamery Outlet for brownies and ROC (Roar of Cougars – like rocky road but with macadamia nuts) ice cream before heading home for dinner. It’s all about priorities (just don’t tell the Y Be Fit folks).

The kids watched the more recent Freaky Friday in the evening, and both remarked that they preferred the original. Very interesting! Following the movie, it was time for bed and for some quiet time for Mike. Landon made a reappearance, so we chatted some while watching the Real Salt Lake game and some Arthur.

Back in California, Hallie started with two hours spent at Victory Gymnastics Academy holding babies, catching up with coaches and chatting with friends. In the early afternoon the Maygrens headed to Cru’s soccer game. They won! Hallie spent the rest of the day with Carly and her kids before going over to Grandma and Grandpa and Alie O.’s to spend the night.

Sunday dawned quiet in Springville with LEGOs, CBS Sunday Morning, and Music and the Spoken Word with gray skies outside. Then it was time for a walk in the rain to church.

Hallie went to Alie’s primary program. Church was great! She especially enjoyed seeing Roxanne Schwarze and Jeff and Mary Kunz. We knew them from Michigan, and we really respect this family. After church we hung out with the Owens, and Haydn made an appearance.

Tonight Hallie will spend the night at Beth's house, and the girls will head out early to the airport in the morning.

Eliza had a talk in Primary on the Ten Commandments. Before church, Landon and Dad helped her draw some visual aids. We think using them helped!

On the way home, we noticed snow in the mountains. Fall has definitely arrived, and winter may closer than we want. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hike the Y!

Among the week’s many outings, we hiked up to the giant block letter painted way up on Y Mountain.

The kids had a full week of school with a couple of unique elements thrown in for Eliza. On Monday, she attended her first after school enrichment program: music creation. We look forward to learning from her what she discovers! After the first class she brought homemade maracas, and said she had a lot of fun.

Fergus is getting on well in his new digs. We managed to keep him in all week.

Hallie had a doctor’s appointment and ran some errands in Orem after her appointment, and Landon had gymnastics. While Landon was at gymnastics Eliza and Hallie went to the Happy Valley Farmers Market here in Springville. There is a theme most weeks at the market, and this week it was Kid Entrepreneurs. Kids were invited to set up a booth and sell their wares. Eliza was excited to buy things from the kids with her own money. She bought slime made just for her and a magnetic wand from a family selling all things Harry Potter. The girls also bought some homemade salsa, macarons, and some yummy brisket from a food truck.

Monday also brought Mike’s first class of the semester. He taught at a high school in Orem, something he has yet to do in all his years as a professor. He enjoyed getting to know his new cohort and introducing elements of inspiring learning into his teaching.

Speaking of inspiring learning, Hallie completed her application for enrollment at BYU as a transfer student. She plans to major in exercise and wellness. It’s kind of daunting to consider, but coincidentally this week we saw an article about why college matters for women in particular. We look forward to whatever the future may bring in this regard, and Hallie has a happy and willing tutor in Mike.

Speaking of exercise and wellness, Mike and Hallie have both enrolled in BYU’s Y Be Fit program. Mike’s intending to drop a few (read several) pounds, and Hallie wants to at least maintain what she has worked so hard to accomplish over the past year and a half.

Prior to the appointment, Mike listened to the devotional while installing a vinyl mural in his office. The lack of windows gives him plenty of wall space to use creatively. One of his colleagues who will retire soon noted that he could get an office with a window in the next few years, but Mike won’t count his chickens quite yet.

Oh, he does have a window. It's the wee transom up in the corner there by the pirate ship.

After our Y Be Fit appointment, we took advantage of being together to have a quick lunch date at Noodles and Company! This is one of Hallie’s favorite places, and she orders the same thing – Pasta Cavatappi – every time we go. Yumm!

Both kids had gymnastics in the afternoon. Mike had a bit of free time as it got closer to pick up the kids, so he came to watch the kids. The kids love it when he comes and can’t wait to show him all of their new skills.

On Wednesday Hallie had another doctor appointment to get an iron transfusion. Hopefully once it kicks in she’ll feel some pep she’s been missing since her surgery. Two hours relaxing in a recliner left her wanting to take a nap. The appointment lasted a bit longer than they said, so Hallie had to hurry home and get Landon’s stuff ready for gymnastics and meet the kids at the school.

Mike attended a meeting of the education interim committee of the Utah State Senate at Salt Lake Community College as part of his efforts to relearn about education policy in the state and, as it turns out, to represent the department. He also had a couple of meetings back on campus in the afternoon, so he did a lot of sitting. He learned a bunch, though, and he’s looking forward to using information he learned to help build his research.

In the afternoon after dropping Landon off at gymnastics, Hallie noticed a double rainbow in the east.

She called Mike to let him know, and he and Eliza ran out to take a look for themselves. Sure enough, we also could see a rainbow!

Eliza had a walking field trip to the Springville Library on Thursday. Mom got to come along as one of the adults. We were a little concerned that the weather would be wet, but instead it was just cool – perfect for walking. The kids did a great job walking just about 1.5 miles round trip and were very well behaved in our beautiful library.

At the library, the kids discovered a bunch of features and activities designed just for them. Eliza loved seeing the art and all the picture books. Two ladies at the library even put on some skits and sang some cute songs.

While the kids had gymnastics in the afternoon, Hallie babysat. Mike came and rescued Hallie by helping get one of the littles to sleep. At 6:45 when Eliza was done, Mike and Eliza headed home and Hallie and a cutie hung out until her mom was done about an hour later. Landon came up for a visit after practice and to entertain Lily for a little bit.

On Friday, Hallie helped out at Westside’s book fair. It is interesting to see how different schools put on essentially the same book fair. The ladies helping with preview day were super nice, and time went by quickly.

Quite soon after helping at the book fair Hallie had her very first mammogram. It was a good experience. If you or your loved one has not had your mammogram this year, make your appointment!

After Hallie took Landon to gymnastics and Mike came home, Mike, Hallie, and Eliza ran a few errands. Carly and Shad have a storage unit in Provo, and now that they are living in their own place, it is time to come get the items they kept here in storage. It’s been seven years, so items may have gathered dust, shifted, become home for vermin, or otherwise suffered with the passing time. Upon viewing the items, Mike thinks might have cut his losses long ago. Of course, we have carried around items for years that are sitting in boxes in the garage as we speak. Oh, the struggle of stuff and not knowing what you might use someday.

Afterwards, we went to the Macey’s in Provo, where KSL had a BYU-themed promotion going on. We hoped maybe to get tickets to the BYU-Wisconsin game, but we got hot dogs instead.

We also got some soft serve ice cream and a few groceries in the store. Eliza tried sushi for the first time. We’re not sure if it’s really her cup of tea.

On Saturday after a leisurely breakfast at home of yummy pancakes, we met our friends Elizabeth and Daniel and their kids for a not-so-leisurely hike up to the Y. We had rain yesterday, and last night it actually snowed on Mt. Timpanogos, so even late into the morning we had ideal hiking weather. The climb to the Y is relatively short (about a mile from the trail head to the bottom of the Y and a tad further to the top), but it’s a fairly significant change in elevation considering we’re climbing up the side of a mountain. Mike and the kids did all 13 switchbacks to the top, and Hallie, Elizabeth, Daniel, Claire, and Elise made it to switchback 10 and the bottom. Actually, Eliza didn’t do the final switchbacks, opting instead to follow another hiker along the right side of the giant letter straight up the mountain to where Mike and Landon met her.

We enjoyed a small sense of accomplishment at having successfully done something hard today. Of course, we saw how some of the hikers make this little jaunt a routine part of their exercise regimen. Some of these folks lapped us while hardly breaking a sweat. Hallie thought she was going to pass out but made it too. 

What those hares failed to catch that we tortoises did capture were the details (right?). Two things we caught of interest were the sweeping views and a tarantula (yup, they live here!) who moseyed across our path on the way down. Eliza in particular gaped in fascination at the massive arachnid.

She was also a bit of a pill and a daredevil, insisting on climbing where she shouldn’t for safety’s sake. Grr. It didn’t help that some bigger college-aged “kids” on the trail were getting in some danger time of their own.    

After coming home from the hike, Mike watched BYU try to play a superior Wisconsin squad, Hallie got her hair colored (great to have a neighbor who is a hair dresser), and the kids played with their neighbor friends. We have the ideal setup for pre-teen play. The boys all got out their custom LEGO spaceships and had an impromptu battle out by the playground.

In the evening we drove up to the east bench of Salt Lake to attend a get-together of old FSA friends and to honor the life of Brian Anderson, one of our FSA friends who passed away unexpectedly earlier this year. While the reason for the reunion was borne of tragedy, we appreciated seeing old friends and acquaintances who all share the common bond of adoption. We particularly noted how ordinary it was to have all these parents and kids who, while sharing no biological ties, were just families having fun together. Many thanks to the Sharp family for hosting!

Toward the end of the evening, we saw what looked like fire coming out of an airplane, but it turned out to be stunt divers for the U of U-San Jose State football game down at Rice-Eccles. The U won its game handily. Mike is happy on days like these to have multiple fan loyalties. . . .

On Sunday, Hallie received a new calling: Primary worker. We don’t know details about the age group yet. Hallie has decided (and should have realized this a long time ago) it doesn’t pay to be friendly.

To date, Mike has flown under the radar (so to speak). He attributes this to his natural lack of friendly charms and general surliness.