Friday, July 31, 2009

As It Is The Last Day In July...

... And since I have been terrible about doing this so far, I thought I would post some updates from the last few months.

1. Got my green card though, finally. It is a 10 year card, but I can apply for citizenship next year. Not totally convinced by it yet (partly because of the ridiculous hoop-jumping required... but that is another post), but we will see.
2. Oliver is walking. This one is rather behind the times... Oliver has been walking for about the last two months, but refused to use it as his preferred mode of transportation until we went to San Diego at the end of June. There he had plenty of room to practice, and the furniture at Grandma's house was spaced sufficiently far enough apart that he was forced to let go of things. Now he is running.

3. We went to San Diego for 10 days. And it was great. Evan built a retaining wall with his Dad (and some other people), and the kids and I had a much needed break. We stayed long enough to celebrate July 4th, and watch the fireworks. And, by the way, perching on top of a 10 ft wall, and craning your neck to take pictures of fireworks with no tripod is not a walk in the park... More photos to come.

4. Lena started and completed swimming lessons. She loves the water. She hasn't figured out everything completely yet, but she can float, and propel herself around underwater. We are working on staying afloat whilst taking a breath... so trivial, and yet so essential... Grandpa P, if you could figure out how to get Hayley swimming for the next 11/12 years you can have your kick-@$$ relay team you have always dreamed about :D
5. Oliver is talking. Yes, talking. Words currently in his repertoire are (in order of length of time in use): "Dada", "Mama", "Nenen" (Lena), "KKKKKKKKK" (and increasingly now "kkkkkk-a" for cat), "hess", which serves the dual purpose of meaning both 'yes' and 'this'. Lena on the other hand has discovered the full mileage that can be gleaned from using the word "No", and has fully implemented it in her day-to-day life. Oliver, in true younger brother form, also likes to annoy his sister. This was an exchange I heard between the two of them the other day while Lena was eating her lunch.
Lena: (seeing that Oliver was eyeing her food) "No"
Oliver: "Hess"
Lena: "No!"
Oliver: "Hess"
Lena: "NO!"
Oliver: "Hess"
Lena: "NOOO!"
Oliver: "Hess"
Oliver: " . . . . . Hess"

I almost died from silent laughter.
6. Evan finished school. Winter semester went really well, and Spring semester went even better: He got a 4.0, and he got the highest score in the final exam. Evan is now confident that he made the right decision with Economics, and I couldn't agree with him more.
7. With no school during the summer term, Evan and I have been able to spend more time together, doing things like hiking and devoting time to postponed projects. Like our apartment. I am happy to announce that our apartment should (finally) be finished by the end of the summer!
8. Evan got a new road bike to replace his mountain bike that got stolen while we were away in San Diego (darn those Mexican gangs that hang around our neighborhood!), and he loves it. Now for me to learn how to ride one and we will be set!
9. Not really from our family, but from my family... My sister Hayley just competed in the World Swimming Championships in Rome in the 100m Freestyle. She smahed her NZ record for the event with a 53.91, and for those of you who know anything about swimming, on the first 50m of her heats swim, she was 0.01 seconds off of the NZ record for the 50m, which is phenomenal when you realize that her time included a flip turn, and was the first part of a longer race. (Don't expect Toni Jeff's record to be on the books for too much longer!) She made the semi finals, and placed 11th overall, which is great because that meant I got to see her race (they have only been showing the finals sessions here...), and she gets funding for the next year. On top of that though, in her semi final, she was the fastest split at the 50m and 0.01 off the world record split for the 100m (which incidentally was slower than her heats split), and was leading up to about 75m. That in itself may not seem like cause for celebration, but, in fact, is since even though she dropped a full second off of her previous PB (and NZ record), it was not a perfect swim, and there is definitely still room for improvement.

Congrats, Hayley! We are very proud of you!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Last Relic of Baby-ness

When I was growing up my Mum decided to trim my younger sister's fringe [bangs] at home. It started out OK, but Mum insisted it didn't look quite right, and kept pulling hair forward to trim to try and correct it. By the end, poor Hayley, who had a lot of very thick hair, had a fringe about an inch and a half thick framing her eyebrows, that started almost from her crown, and incorporated most of the hair on the front half of her head. All that could be done was to let Hayley's hair grow out, and laugh about it (which we did... a lot). Fortunately, I think she was young enough that her peers at school didn't really notice, and thick skinned enough that those who did would never have been able to bully her about it. I just wish I had a picture of it, but I suspect my mother has destroyed all the evidence. So for this blog posts purposes it looked like this. Only... bigger. Just waaaaaaaay bigger... everywhere.

Having never cut hair before I was terrified that I was going to scar my son for life with a haircut like Hayley's that was beyond fixing. Added to that, I loved Oliver's hair. I loved that it had waves and curls, and I loved that it was wispy, baby hair. And with as abnormally large as Oliver is, it was pretty much the only thing that kept him looking like the baby he is supposed to be.

But, after months of chickening out and procrastinating, I finally had to face up to the fact that since his hair was now in his eyes, Oliver's haircut was long overdue (ha). So, we soaked his hair, sat him in front of the TV watching 'Dive Olly Dive', and gave him all the bananas he wanted. He was as happy as a clam, and fortunately Evan was great with the distraction techniques.

Here are some before pictures:

The curls above his ears were my favorite.

... When your son's hair starts getting long enough to tie
into a pony tail, you know it is time to cut it.

And, despite Oliver's face in the next picture, I think it turned out fairly well. I tried to keep it a little on the longer side (even though Evan spent the entire time rolling his eyes as I refused to cut his hair any shorter), because I prefer it that way, and I figured I could always come back and trim more off.

(Yes, it looks like there is a bald spot, but I assure you there isn't. It is just the way his hair waves, the fact that he was playing with it right before I took the picture, and the fact that his hair is growing in blond for some reason.)

And now I can relax, and stop having hairy nightmares. At least until next month, that is...

Three Years Already?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Family Home Evening

Evan and I went out to dinner early this evening. We went to Spark Restaurant Lounge, and spent far more than we should, but it was marvelous. I love the food there. It also helped that we had a 40% off coupon (yay!).

When we got home we spent some time playing with the kids on the floor... mainly because sitting in chairs was painful on our stomachs. Oliver exhibited his rugby scrum moves, and toddled around cackling. Lena giggled and told us how much she missed us while we were gone. Then this happened:

Evan: Hey, Lena. Shhhhhhhhhh....

[farts really loudly]

Lena: Hahahahahahaha!

[Oliver laughs because everyone else is laughing]

Lena: Hey, Daddy. Shhhhhhhhhh.....


At which point Evan and I rolled on the floor laughing. Laughing so hard that I thought I was going to puke up those 4 courses I just ate at the fancy restaurant. Laughing so hard that Lena started laughing hysterically at us. Laughing so hard that Oliver wandered over and sycophantically upped the volume of his laughter.

"Pooooooop! Hahahahahahahahahahaha! Poooooooooooop!"

So much for the spiritual message...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Battle Creek Falls

Note to self: Be better about blogging.

Second note to self: Don't go hiking with a two year old after 8pm.

That being said, though, it was a good 'hike'. More like a walk, really, but we were rewarded with some fairly impressive waterfalls at the end of it. Even more impressive was the amount of water that was cascading over them. In some of the pictures I looked at of the falls before we left, it looked more like a dribble over a cliff. This evening the water was roaring over it. I heart Utah when there is lots of rain.

Oliver got packed in his hiking backpack (Craigslist, Kelty backpack, half retail price... score) and was a gem the entire time. Lena was a pill, and really the only success we had with getting her to walk up the hill was having her march her way up. "Come on, Lena... March, March, March, March". We felt like drill sergeants. I guess we should have expected nothing less with as late as it was...

One cool thing about going at sunset was that there were swarms of dragonflies around the trail from the creek that ran along side it. I tried to get some pictures of it, but with the low light, and with them buzzing around my poor camera had no idea what to focus on. And this pictures doesn't really show the extent of the swarm: there were literally hundreds along the entire length of the trail. (If you click on the photo it is easier to see the dragonflies.)

The low light and lack of tripod also meant that most of my pictures of moving things (read people, and pretty much anything but the mountains) turned out mostly blurry. But I did manage to take some acceptable enough ones.

And, yes, in this next one there is snow on Mt. Timpanogos... In mid-July... after a week (at least) of high-90's/100's F...

And some nice lady took a picture of our family.

Evan exhibiting his 'exasperated gesture'.

And finally, the 40-50ft high waterfalls at the end of our hike. (I heart the live view function on my camera...)

All in all, it was worth it. And we are planning on going back again sometime soon - next time with more sunlight, and happier toddlers.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wise Words from a Wise Guy

"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government."

- Thomas Jefferson