Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dana Hills County Dinner

Hey.  Thursday was the Dana Hills dinner for the county qualifiers.  Only Scott qualified, but Tyler and Kira came, too.  It was at the Oakhurst country club in Clayton.  Heidi wanted me to dress up so I wore my Neal Caffrey pants.  Heidi likes when I "dress up."  Except for church, of course, because I am down to just one suit--my power suit.  Which, incidentally, has been worn 202 times.  I've gotten my money's worth two times over.  

Anyway, it was a pasta feed.  I'm not much into pasta but the salad and dessert were good.  Plus, it was fun talking to my friends.  Heidi and I have the same phone but her lenses always seem to be cloudy, but a bad photo is better than no photo.  I brought my big camera and took a few pictures.  Can you tell the difference?  I am amazed at how much brighter and clearer the SLR's images are.   Hint:  the last ones are from the SLR.

I don't know everyone in these photos but it's easier to me to make this post than have her do it.  

I sat by Neal, who has to commute to SF.  I told him to get a motorcycle.  His wife flatly responded with a hearty "NO."  I said, "They're not gonna take away his temple recommend if he has a motorcycle!"  She came back with something like, "No, but he won't have a temple marriage anymore if he gets a bike."  Wow.

This is actually one of my favorites:  Tyler with a closed mouth crusty.  He usually likes hanging out with his friends and must have been tired.  Scott, on the other hand, wanted to stay as late as he could.

This reminds me of the red carpet photos in People magazine where they comment on what you're wearing.

Heidi called these girls her twinners.  Don't know who's photobombing.

Kind of a weird expression on Scott but whatev.  My, he's getting big.

Heidi with Nicholas and Sofia.

I've been happy with the Dana Hills swim team.  The people are friendly and like to help out with Parker.  It's cool that the kids play outside instead of just sit on their electronics.  Somehow, I've gotten to know more of the Dana Hills parents than the Diamond Hills crowd and we were with the latter for four years.

Scott finished his 50 free in 7th place with a personal best time of 29.38.  Not too shabby.  Well, Parker's crying so I gotta go.  Bye.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Aspen Grove family camp

Hey.  We did our annual McMillan family reunion at Aspen Grove family camp in Provo, UT.  The campus is owned and operated by BYU.  I was a little hesitant to go because I thought it was going to be lectures like, "How to manage conflict in the home," or "How to be a better parent," given by a person with no kids but lots of education in child development.  Britton and John A. said that it was lots of fun, so I thought it they can enjoy it, then so can I.  

I worked on Friday and took the five kids with me in the van.  Heidi stayed behind to work a Saturday meet and then flew out.  

I was excited to drive the van because I finally got the steering all dialed in and I had put in a new air filter that morning.  The only time available I had was while Scott was swimming, so I used the house tool kit at autozone.  

We stayed at a super run-down hotel in Winnemucca, the halfway point.  I had booked it on but there was a problem with the booking.  Then we go to our room and it smelled real bad of smoke.  I asked for a non-smoking room and this one was such, but it shared a duct with a smoking room.  Woof.  

We pulled up at about one in the morning and the kids were all wired, including Parker, who wouldn't go to sleep without his bottle of milk.  Even still, he woke up every fifteen minutes and I thought I was going to lose it.  

The next morning the kids were up and at 'em at 5:30.  I was still pretty tired but took a cold shower to help wake me up.  We shoved off and the van was running real good.  I averaged 24 mpg on the way out and the check engine light didn't come on.  

At Tooele I was so tired that I thought I might fall asleep at the wheel and not realize that I was sleeping.  I have only fallen asleep twice like that.  The other times, like in school or church, I think, "I'm tired.  I'm going to close my eyes and take a little nap."  One of the times was in dental school.  I woke up in the lecture hall and thought, "What am I doing here?"  

Well, I didn't want to wake up upside down and wonder why I hadn't pulled over sooner, so I went to a parking lot and parked under a tree.  I slept for 16 minutes and then I was good for the rest of the drive.  

Grammy hired a pro photographer and we had to wear color-coordinated outfits, and Heidi doesn't like family pictures much, but I like taking advantage of everyone's done-up selves.  This one of Tyler and Scott was a pretty sweet candid.  They were laughing at something else and then Tyler saw the camera and looked over.  Nice.

Heidi's BYU swim coach and her family came up to visit, so that was cool.

This was the ropes course.  You had to climb a lodge pole, scale a climbing wall, and then do a cables course in the trees.  The fastest kid could get up in 18 seconds.  My best time was 35.  I'm an old has been now, but the interesting thing was that my silly nerve didn't hurt up there.  But my lungs really felt the altitude and it felt like my legs were full of lead all the time.

This was the air rifles course.  I did the best but got disqualified because I fired six shots.

Ultimate frisbee was fun.  Chelle was pretty competitive.

Nobody was as good as Katniss Everdeen but it was fun to try.

This was Stewart falls, a 1.7 mile hike.  The water must have been in the mid to high 30's and the feat was to walk under it from one side to another.  All these young cross country whipper snappers came up to the falls and the boys were all showing off, doing pushups under the falls.  I wanted to ask the girls, "Do you find these boys more attractive because they can do stuff like that?"  But I didn't.  Then Heidi took our picture right as a butterfly flew past.  Tyler had wanted a picture with a butterfly, so this is the best it'll get.

This was the cabin we stayed in.  When we first pulled up, I said, "I hope this is the storage shed for the real cabin.  Well, no.  This was actually an efficient usage of space and could sleep over ten people.

My favorite part was playing volleyball with some people who really knew how to play.  I was the weak link but not bad enough for them to kick me off the team.  I made a couple of good bumps, sets, and the occasional dig.  I played softball on the last day and I could always get hits, but when I went to run, it just seemed like the brakes were on.  I always made it on base, though, and one of the guys even commented, "You're fast."  Ha, that's funny.  I used to be fast but I feel like I can't run like I used to.  I'm still faster than Scott, though.

Speaking of Scott, he wanted to make a pen with me.  Normally the activities are divided for parents and kids, and I had to explain that Scott was savvy enough and could do it.  I started reading the destructions and made my first cut on the bandsaw.  The girl in charge was wary about me doing my own thang, so I explained how I was going to use the drill press and the saw.  Then she put the stock on the lathe and powered it up, but there was an awful racket.  She fiddled with it for a while and then left, so I removed the stock and determined that the bearing on the holder was bad.  Sure enough, the collar came off without much effort and all the balls fell out of the retainer.  I explained to her that the reason it got so hot and made the racket was because the bearing was toast.  She gave me a look of, "You broke my machine."  I had to explain again that it was already broken.  I just diagnosed it.  "Got any bearings?"  She didn't know what bearings were.  At that point, it seemed her attitude changed about my knowing what I was doing.  A couple of the maintenance people came down and I was like, "It seems like this piece is non-serviceable, but if you had a press, we could just retrofit a bearing."  My sisters had to leave because there weren't enough functioning lathes but Scott, Boy and I made our pens.  It was fun.

I recognized the voice of one of my classmates whom I had never met, and when we talked, we determined that we had several courses in common.  Good old cell biology.  Woof, that class was so stinking hard, but it made us learn how to think.  I hope I never have to discern a gel electrophoresis again.

The food was pretty good.  It was buffet style and I thought they did a nice job with the shredded pork.  My dad didn't like it that much, though.  I was a bit disappointed that they didn't have creamery chocolate milk on tap, but they did have a wide selection of sodas and juices.

I was impressed at the program the BYU put together, especially how solid the youth seemed.  I got all amped up about BYU again and wanted to visit the parent campus to get some BYU paraphernalia.  Heidi was all down for it so we took a long tour.  I got shirts for each of the kids, a pen for myself, some slippers for Scott and a football for Tyler.  Oh, I got some fudge too.  I was telling Scott that I used to get Cookies'n'cream milk on Wednesdays and leave the bottles in the cupboard of my biology lab.  Good old college.

Heidi's whole career was spent mostly at the RB, and I just remember riding White Lightning there with Dan-o to go diving on Friday nights.  

They were out of Cookies'n'cream milk so I go them ice cream and a chocolate milk for myself.  Despite the difficult time I had socially at BYU, I really took advantage of the facilities.  I called it "Get to know your university."  I was telling Scott about the engineering building, making a gearshift selector knob for Bessie, and how they made an electric car there.  The point I was trying to make was that if you can conceive it, you can make it at the university.

We went to my nerd stomping grounds, the Benson building.  C-158 is where I entertained Chem 105 office hours and it hadn't changed a bit.  This was my favorite desk.

None of my teachers still worked there but the replacement chem 353 teacher was there.  She asked if we wanted to see anything and I said, "Yeah, a hydrogen balloon."  I told her about how we used to blow them up and she played like she didn't have the resources to do it.  Whatever, she just didn't want to.

We made it back home at 3:03 am.  It was not a super pleasant drive but it wasn't awful.  Okay, let's see when Chelle gets her post up.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A meet in the heat

Yesterday was battle of the ages in Pleasant Hill.  It was a hundred degrees but we got a babysitter to watch Kira, Blake, and Parker at home.  So I sat in the shade and talked with my friends.  Scott wanted this silly cap which claimed to have decreased resistance, and when I told him no, he had a meltdown.  I thought I explained it well, that it would not appreciably increase his speed, but no.  So I got it for him so he could "feel" faster.  Well, he didn't eat adequately, and even though he ran a best time in his 50 fly, he was in a sour mood the rest of the day because he didn't finish first.  

Tyler, on the other hand, was in good spirits for the whole day.  He was adequately stimulated with the ipad and swam well, all things considered, especially the fact that he barely practices.

Kira had made some jello this morning and wanted to get her picture taken with it.  Scott was still in a sour mood but he's in better spirits now.  

Today in church we talked about facebook, and the guy giving the lesson said, "I don't get it.  I mean, it takes so much time to do that, I think, 'How can those people even get anything else accomplished?'"  Someone in the back said, "Make sure to like their posts, then."  And he goes, "Yeah, is it that they need validation?  I'm here getting a dress, I just got a latte, I mean, right?  Who cares?"  I thought the whole thing was pretty humorous and I agree that people waste way too much time.  You might think to yourself that it's a bit hypocritical that I post my thoughts on this blog, which is a form of social media, but I do this just for the McMillan family history.  Okay, that's all.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

2016 School Year

Scott finished 4th grade which is CRAZY to me.  I can't believe I have a 5th grader.  It seems like he just started kindergarten and in 1 more year he is in middle school.  It really goes faster each year. He had a great 4th grade year.  He had a teacher, Mrs. Sutherland, who he LOVED!  He would randonly tell me how nice she was.  She said it was an amazing class. He is confident in who he is, his likes and dislikes which is nice to see.  In the fall he did swimming and and running club which was fun. We didn't make it to swim that much, but he enjoyed it when he was there.  He did a gate class after school which he didn't like.  We decided not to enroll him in a 4th/5th grade district class next year that would have been at a different school.  Catering to academic needs would be nice, however, not worth it to be at a school across town, without his friends for just 5th grade.  It is nice that he is at the age that he can weigh pros and cons and help decide what is best.  He loves to be a leader, is very responsible and chooses to do what is right most of the time.  He also can be rather impatient, especially at home or when he feels his way is better.  He enjoyed being in student council and taking pictures.  It was fun for him.  I am proud of him that he tried out.  He also tried out for the school play (which is about as low key as you can get) and got a solo for that.  Everything he does it because he wants to do it.  He did Odyssey of the Mind which was alright.  I realized he likes to do outdoor/athletic stuff after school, not academic.  He made it through and it was good for him to learn not to be bossy and work in groups better.  Don't think we will do it again next year.  He is so smart, athletic, kind, a hard worker and disciplined.  He has a good group of friends.  It is the first year that he would just hang out with a larger group.  Before he needed his one best friend and this year he would mingle with a bunch of kids.  He had a crush this year and we told him he only has 6 more years to date....he was excited when he found out his crush liked him.  Of course they don't talk to each other.  5th grade crushes.  The things I remember.  We are so proud of the young man he is becoming and know 5th grade will be a great year.  I know next year is going to be a great year.

Tyler finished 3rd grade with Mrs. Wheeler.  She has been such a loving, great teacher for him this year and last.  He really liked school and had a great year.  Anything extra after school for Tyler this year was like pulling teeth.  Whether it was practicing the piano, reading or playing baseball.  He really doesn't have a love for anything.  He is a really talented pianist but fights, screams and gets angry to play.  He continues to be a quiet, sweet boy at school and is somewhat of a pain at home.  Better than he used to be but he has a hard time doing this that make his siblings happy.  He likes to do things that make them angry.  Little things like not moving over on a couch when one wants to sit down.  He loved baseball last year and this year had a coach that was great but a lot stricter so didn't love it.  He also didn't like being in the heat. When I asked him if he was going to play next year, he said it was just too hot outside.  I don't know how he feels.  I imagine at the end of the school day his little body is spent and we get the worn out, exhausted Tyler.  I have learned to allow him to listen to his body.  If he wants to just relax and hang out that might just be what is best for him.  On the other hand, I want him to foster his talents and think things like practicing the piano aren't too much to ask.  Still trying to figure him out and find something he enjoys.  He is a great friend and liked by everyone at school.  He really is a sweet kid at school and can be a sweet kid at home when he wants to be.

Kira finished Kindergarten.  It was a great year for her.  We love Mrs. Folgelstrom.  When my dad died, she started gymnastics which was the first activity we did that was just for her.  Before that, with my mom and dad's illness, it was just too much to add to the plate.  She loves it and it is fun to see her work hard and enjoy.  She is a really hard worker.  Whether it be coloring, running or listening, she wants to do her best.  She went through a weird stage that she was afraid of men.  Legitimate fear of men.  Men substitutes were the worst.  Men helpers at church or the gym.  No, No, No!  Once she got over that, I went to work and she was afraid to be away from me.  She didn't want to go to gymnastics (even with Danny).  Just wanted mom, which is understandable.  That is a big adjustment.  So we have been patient and after about 6 weeks she has been doing better.  Well, then we started swimming with her and she just wants me to coach her.  I know consistency will help her, but there comes a point, that I just want her to stop being so emotional and fearful or needy.  But I patiently wait and help through each stage and eventually she gets over it.  Sometimes I think if I used tough love, she would just get over it quickly, but we patiently deal with all her emotional needs.  Thank goodness I only have 1 is touch stuff!  She is a great friend and very well liked at school.  She loves a boy in her class named Peter who is the sweetest, funniest, nicest boy.  He has 3 brothers so they make a good pair.  She enjoys everything about school (except male subs).  Her favorite day was when her dad got to come in and help with learning tubs.  Danny took the 1 morning off to sub in her class which was such a great thing!  So lucky!

Blake did joy school this year with Zack, Liam, Bosom, Charlotte and Rissa.  I enjoy teaching joy school.  It is a lot of fun for me and he really liked it when his friends came and played.  It is amazing how easy things are after doing them for 8 years.  I remember my first year of teaching and I would prep and plan the night before and now I usually am able to throw it together that day.  It is fun, we play games, learn and do a fun craft.  The kids were all very sweet.  Such different personalities.  Blake loves being with friends.  Next year we are going to do 2x a week.  I always debate doing preschool with my kids and then I just can't let go of them.  We have them at home for such a short period of time, that I just don't want to give them up.  Sometimes I LOVE the idea of homeschooling or even doing it for a year so we can be more adventurous, travel around the country and learn through experiences, not just being stuck at home or in a classroom.  Right now with little kids that isn't going to be the reality, but someday maybe we will just go.  Probably by then, Scott will be in Calculus and I couldn't teach him.  One of my bucket list items.  Blake loves to please.  Is so proud of himself when he accomplishes something.  He is my most serious child and always has a serious, concerned look on his face.  This year he has also been really angry.  I think it all started when the baby was born and then when my dad died.  We called him the hulk for a while but he is getting better.

Onto 5th, 4th and 1st grade next year.  I am so proud of the year my kids had, the friend that they are the growth that took place.  Feel so lucky to be at such a great school with great teachers and families.  Bonus that we can ride bikes and run as a family.  So excited for summer!  It will go too fast, but we will enjoy quality time with the family of not having to be at school at 8am.  I might have to leave for swim at 6am, but at least my kids can sleep in.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Capitol, kittens, and sports

The field trip to the capitol was enjoyable.  Scott liked talking with me about cars, finances, and his friends.  He was pretty happy to have gotten this beanie because then some of his friends also got them.

Vietnam war memorial

Garden of world peace

My favorite room was the senate room.

The kittens have been enjoyable.

Even when it's a hundred degrees outside, the kids still like jumping on the tramp.  They have taught themselves how to do backflips.

Tyler's baseball season has been on and off.  His coach is great and the team has improved a lot but Tyler lacks the confidence he had last year.  When he's at bat, it's as though he wants to just swing the bat to get his at-bat time over with.  Last year he could hit anything and he had this look on his face of sheer determination.  Now it's kind of a blank expression.  His team is in the playoffs though and just beat the #1 seeded team, so that's cool.

I was supposed to be home from work at 4:15 on Wednesday but I knew I wasn't gonna make it because of my cases.  I texted the babysitter to ask her to pick up Tyler from his swim party.  At 4:46 I called the babysitter, who apparently hadn't gotten my text.  She picked up Tyler from his swim party and took the kids to the game, at which point I showed up 16 minutes late with his bat bag, a chair, a sun shade, and some water.  The coach made a comment about Tyler's performance, or lack thereof, and I took offense to it.  I thought, Does he think we're the family that doesn't have it together?  You know, always late, or someone else taking Tyler to practice, or not being able to practice with Tyler because of the demands of the other kids.  I don't know, but it upset me.  I thought about things I could say to make him see that I'm doing my best but decided against it.  For all I know, the coach has to juggle several jobs and has all kinds of personal hardships but still makes it to practices and games on time.  So I didn't say anything.

I told Heidi about it and she said, "Well, we don't have it together."  Meaning Daddy doesn't have it together.  I was hurt.  Oh well.  I'm doing my best.  Okay, time to cut my hair and get breakfast going.