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Sunday, November 30, 2008

A happy Thanksgiving to all

Dear Family and Friends,

The holidays are upon us! It was great this year because we were able to have so much family around us and had a lot of time to just relax and hang out. Kids had school Monday and Tuesday and then were off the rest of the week. Spencer had an etiquette feast on Monday to celebrate Thanksgiving. Since he has been trying to push the girl's chairs in for them at meals. The first time he tried to do it Allison was convinced he was trying to get her and was very upset! Allison had her Pilgrim and Indian feast on Tuesday. She borrowed a Pocahontas costume from a friend as her class were the Native Americans (Allison reading over my shoulder just corrected my unpolitically correct use of Indian). Robyn thought it was great to join in with the feast - dressed as a princess of course. She thought it was great that everyone else was in dress up too. Robyn looks put together for a few minutes each morning and then its anyone's guess what she will look like.

Allison was excited to find out that she got the part of a munchkin for the school play. Only one other kid in her class got a part in the play so I guess it was a bigger deal than I thought. Her friend in the other 1st grade class also got a munchkin part. So the two of them have been singing along to the scores they were given and watching The wizard of oz. Favorite part that even Robyn now knows by heart - Ding, dong, the witch is dead (over and over and over!)

This week felt a little slower as after Tuesday gymnastics and karate were out for the holiday. Tuesday night a friend and I went to see Twilight while Jeremy manfully covered the karate runs and bedtime routines. Dreamed of the movie that night and reread the book during the week. The movie was a lot more superficial than the book I thought but still really enjoyed it.

Wednesday the kids and I cleaned, cooked and spent the day playing with friends. The only sour note of the day was that we took Robyn in to be tested for a UTI. She had to get a catheter put in which they had a hard time with. Robyn was such a brave kid that it was a little heartwrenching. She didn't cry the whole time just squeezed my hand really hard at times and would look at me with a trembling chin to say that she was all done. She understood that they were going to kill the bugs in her bum (her words) and she must have been highly motivated to stop the pain. So she is on antibiotics now and is a much happier girl.

Thursday my parents, Jason's family and Lauri all came over. The morning we spent sleeping in and cooking. the afternoon we did our annual hike to the waterfall by us. This year Robyn came for the first time and Allison for the first time made it to the top of the waterfalls. We spent the afternoon talking, watching football, playing with cousins. Jeremy and Jason moved some last furniture over to Lauri's apartment. After stuffing ourselves everyone laughed at our attempts to play Dance Dance Revolution. Garion and Kayla spent the night so kids had a great time.

Friday morning all the cousins were here for half the day. Spencer and Garion were absorbed in either a zoo tycoon game Jeremy set up for them or playing all the wii games Jason brought over. Jeremy snuck out for a while to do Black Friday shopping with Jason and came back with a big poinsetta for me and a new TV for his mom. Friday night Jeremy and I went out to see the new James Bond film - definitely a guy action film! We went to Thanksgiving Point and it was neat to see all the Christmas lights on and then when we were good and cold to go split a huge hamburger at JCWs.

Saturday I got my hair cut in the morning. Then for the afternoon we had cousins over plus the neighbor kids. Jeremy was gone for the afternoon and evening shooting a wedding up at the SLC temple and then the reception after. So it was a fun but hands on afternoon for me. They all helped me set up the Christmas decorations. The resulting chaos and few broken decorations reminded me of the spirit of a family Christmas!

Today we muttered at our tree lights which were half broken. Then we put the lights up anyway and had a great time putting up everyone's ornaments. Jeremy took pictures and made us all hot chocolate to recuperate. We are having turkey soup tonight (thanks Mom!) and the last of the pies. Christmas music is playing. It is the holiday season! Love to you all, Heather

Allison's Thanksgiving feast - complete with princess

We made a little too much pie! Chocolate pecan was our favorite this year.

Every outcrop Spencer would yell for a picture. Any excuse to climb some rocks!

Robyn was a trooper and was running along.

The hiking crew at the beginning of the waterfalls.

Rocky discovered the water and was off.

Robyn picked 2 branches and hung all her ornaments there. We had to do some rearranging when she left the room.

The girls excited to unwrap their ornaments for the year

The finished result

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Viva Las Vegas

Dear Friends and Family,

Jeremy and I literally just got back from our weekend away. If you recall a few months ago Jeremy won the grand prize at a golf tournament for a weekend away at Las Vegas. So we invited 3 other couples that are friends to go with us and headed down Friday for our weekend away. The guys enjoyed their free round of golf at Lake Las Vegas this really posh golf resort. We all enjoyed this incredible penthouse condo and lots of amazing meals, including my favorite - cheesecake. The women spent an afternoon on the strip checking out a few of the casinos, touring the shark exhibit at Mandalay Bay and riding the roller coaster at New York New York (little nervous about that one, but it was so fast and furious I didn't have time to get queasy just scream and laugh). Best part was just spending a weekend away with friends talking and having a great time together. I went jogging/walking each morning around the 2 mile man made lake just admiring the gardens and glad to be alive. Kids had a great time with Meredith. We came back to welcome home and I love you signs posted everywhere courtesy of Allison and dessert courtesy of Spencer. It was a good weekend.

Besides that the week was just full of busy ordinary, hair pulling at times, laugh out loud at other, full of kids in your face times. Monday Robyn came with me to help move over a few odds and ends over to Lauri's and help hang up some pictures. They asked about having housekeeping come in more often to help Lauri out as she really can barely get out of her jazzy now to do anything. So I think that will be a good thing. Robyn was a pill for that morning, thinking it would be fun to kick over the lamps! So she made up for it another morning this week when we went to clean out a house of a lady who was moving. All this cleaning of other people's houses has really made me look again at all our nooks and crannies! I lifted out the stuff in our knife drawer and realized how bad things have gotten. So maybe I'll start cleaning all those places I should - probably not but its a nice thought!

I started working on sewing covers for the pillows for our bed. Then I am all set to start on painting Robyn's room. I found this cute pattern for little stuffed birds. Christina is willing to come work her magic on Robyn's wall so I am really pumped up about getting it all put together!

Jeremy has had a photo week this week. Monday Jason's family came over for FHE and then stayed to have pictures taken of their kids. Jeremy has set up his lights and back drop downstairs in the basement as he took baby portraits for a friend on Saturday. Then Tuesday was Jeremy's non-photo day so he came home early and set up the Christmas lights. Then we mentally kicked ourselves for not checking all the bulbs BEFORE we put them up. So I need to go get some more bulbs and then we can go replace all the burned out ones. Wednesday Jeremy went straight from pack meeting to teaching the young men in our basement about taking pictures. Then on Thursday night Jeremy spent the evening taking pictures of scouts at the court of honor. So Jeremy was a tad bit busy at night this week.

My plan this week is to shop, clean, laundry, cook and then be prepared to sit back and visit with family and eat pie. Sounds like a good plan to me. I just looked over and realized some water damage has caused the paint in our kitchen to peel off in one spot - looks like our kids have been helping it along. Guess I will have to start day dreaming about painting the kitchen...

Love to you all, Heather

At Mandalay Bay Shark Exhibit with my friends Dee, Jill and Monica.

Robyn at her gymnastics class.

We make our kids do jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups etc when they are bouncing off the walls - especially Spencer. They don't even argue anymore they just do them. Robyn often joins in.

Robyn during floor time of her gymnastics class. I am not sure how much she learns but she sure enjoys her class.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Made me smile!

Thought I would share Spencer's homework essay as it made me smile. Enjoy!

A Future Career by Spencer Hall
My dad is an internet marketer and I want to be one too. I grew up around computers and t.v.’s When I was my dad got me a job at his office. My dad actually let me us his flash media.
Someday my dad said we’ll get you your own laptop. Internet marketers make all sorts of things. I want to be the one my dad is. My dad makes internets and photography.
I already help my dad with his work. I’ve already made 2 internets plus I’ve downloaded 5 profiles. It is fun helping an internet marekter.
Of course I’ll need lot’s of computers, cameras, laptops, workers, and flash media. My favorite part is making internets. Someday I want to be a true internet marketer.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Girls' Day Out!

Dear Family and Friends,

Yesterday was my annual girl's day out. I brought my camera this year and then forgot to take a picture. So myself and 5 friends met at 9:30 and spent the day hitting all the craft, decoration stores, the mall, having lunch at the Cheesecake factory, grabbing fudge at Gardner Village and then in the evening doing the nitty gritty Christmas shopping at Target, Wal-mart etc. I came home at 11:30 tired and having had a great time. We do this every year and I look forward to it for months. Its not like we do anything super special but just browsing all the shops, catching up on each other's lives and having a whole day (and night) together without kids. It was great!

So yesterday was Jeremy's day with the kids. All seemed to survive and enjoy the day of extra TV, playing with friends, letting some chores slide and gorging on ice cream for dinner. Jeremy works hard to make my day out possible, brought him some fudge but that isn't enough to say thank you. And he took on the kids after having a tough day of artistic criticism Friday over his work! What a guy.

Working backwards, Friday was cousin pizza and movie night. Kids all (except for Allison) decided they like garlic sauce pizza and ran around playing for a few hours. Then we cuddled and watched Wall-e and then Bryn and I cuddled some more to watch Mummy 3. Our kids all have the routine down now so they actually go to sleep until Jason and Kelly come to pick up their kids. Makes the night much easier.

Spencer had a karate week. His gift certificate expired and since he decided to stick with the program we signed his contract. Ouch! Started thinking perhaps he should go to class Wednesdays before cub scouts too. We have been having him skip that day as we worried having cub scouts and karate on the same day would be too much. See if he can handle it or not as the weeks go by. This week his sparring gear arrived which he was very excited about. So now he can spar/mock fight with light contact. He also was ready to test for a new belt. What a racket, there is a belt/testing fee! Makes you want to sew your own belts. Spencer was extremely pumped to go test and is proud of his yellow stripped belt.

Thursday night was a parent's meeting at Spencer and Allison's school. They discussed some school policies and then had mini-classes for parents on helping their child. They had a class on writing that really made me think. They said to stop focusing/commenting on handwriting and focus on the writing. That most serious writing for adults takes place on a computer anyway. But they talked about how its one of the most needed skills in almost every career. Made me think about it.

While I was in the parent meeting, Jeremy was handling kids and trying out the text option on my phone. "I know why Rocky hasn't been feeling good. He just puked up Robyn's sock all over the family room - I cleaned it up". Made me glad I was gone and appreciate Jeremy's efforts!

Allison learned how to play jingle bells on the piano with both hands and by memory. She is performing it for her piano recital in December. In gymnastics she learned how to do a handstand and then to a bridge. She sort of has it. She also has been practicing popping her hands on handstands. I was talking to her today about perhaps switching to a tumbling class as the cartwheels and handstands on the beam freak me out a bit! She is heading towards tears and big sobbing emotional moments a lot lately, over very little things. Not sure why yet. She tried out for the school play this week. She just walked up to be in front of the producers (while I chased Robyn who was in full princess getup and thought SHE should be trying out too). She sang her song, did her poem and smiled. No nerves at all, I was impressed. She really wants to be a munchkin. She made the height requirement, no problem.

Robyn is very very good except for when she's not! Monday she went over with me to visit Lauri and help her settle into her new room. She thought it was great to chase the ducks outside and then terrorize the cat inside. But she did it all with a smile. She definitely knows what it means to "run errands" and is usually a really good sport about it. Just need to remember to tuck a snack and a drink in the car and we're set. Christina gave Allison an easy reader princess book last year. It is now greatly loved and carried everywhere by Robyn. She reads it every nap time and bed time. Yesterday when I was shopping for presents I realized it was a princess Christmas for Robyn, but I am sure she will love it.

I looked yesterday for some fantastical colored Christmas bird ornaments to hang from her ceiling but didn't see any. I have seen them in past years so I will have to continue to look around.

Lots of other trivial stuff filled our week. I watched Mama Mia (Jeremy wisely retreated to the bike and football game on TV downstairs). I will never hear those songs the same again. We hung up our mirror in the basement bathroom so it looks like a real bathroom. Ordered curtains for Jeremy's office. Had tithing settlement (8:30 on Saturday morning. Kids didn't think it was a great time to break out the church clothes and turn off the cartoons. But now its done!)

So life keeps plugging away keeping us busy. Everyone is healthy and well. First time I've been able to say that for a while! Next weekend Jeremy and I are going away with 3 other couples to Las Vegas, so we're excited about that.

Love to you all, Heather *Bunch of videos below*

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The sickness is over!

Dear Family and Friends,

I am sure I am jinxing myself by the title to this post but I am really crossing my fingers that everyone is over the hump now and that sickness is banished from our house for a while. I am spraying the lysol and handing out the vitamins. Spencer stayed home from school Monday (very sick, asleep most of the day) and Tuesday (bouncing off the walls with boredom, constantly following me around, talking to me, I was pulling out my hair). Jeremy had a bad fever/cold hit him Friday night that left him lying there dripping in sweat. But today everyone is sniffle and relatively cough free and everyone has smiles on their faces.

The smiles might have had more to do with the fact that my parents came down for the day. Spencer and Allison had their primary program in sacrament meeting. At one point they sang Called to Serve and had all the past and current missionaries with their tags on march up to join them in singing the 2nd verse. So my parents went up with Jeremy. It was a very cool moment. Spencer wore Jeremy's spare tag for the program and was quite proud. Then we spent the afternoon talking, visiting, Allison working on file folder games and crafts while Spencer tried to play Runescape and tell us random thoughts periodically. And to top the evening off I finally made rolls that actually tasted like rolls instead of hard round balls of roughage! Its only taken me what, 17 years on my own to get the recipe right?

Taylor is still having some rougher seizure days but also is having better days as well, just depends. He has been enjoying the sun mid week that melted all the snow. Yes I did say snow!

Spencer and I got to struggle through all his math make-up work - it was a BAD afternoon that required infusions of cookie dough. Then he ended up being ahead of his class so he got to coast for a day or two. Yesterday his class had a party at the BYU games center - bowling and pizza. Jeremy was gone and Allison was at the primary practice so I drove Spencer and his friend down. While they played - Robyn, Taylor and I got to tour the campus. We visited the fishes in the Widtsoe basement and saw all the new buildings that have gone up since I graduated. It has really changed and looks much better than the construction zone that it was for half my college years. Robyn's favorite part was the BYU candy counter where she handed over her 50 cents all by herself and pointed to the candy she wanted as they patiently weighed it out for her.

Allison is getting excited to try out this week for the school play. She is just happy and loving school and friends - except for those moments of high drama, tears, screeching - can't find her shoes that she wants, Robyn sat on top of her canopy or ruined a drawing etc.

Robyn is just 2 an awful lot. Of course I sum up her behavior by saying she is 2, but in a few months she will be 3 will that be any better. We took Lauri to a doctor's appointment Monday that ended up being delayed by an hour and a half. Robyn decided she did not want to be there and spent the full 2 hours screaming and being a wild child. Then she takes a nap and wakes up giggling and dancing like a princess and giving me lots of hugs and kisses.

This is one of those weeks where I knew what I should do - clean our bathrooms - and did everything else first to avoid the job. Cleaned out closets, my file cabinet until those toilets had to be faced! Friday I went over and cleaned out kitchen cabinets at Lauri's. My friend Allison took Robyn for the morning and without her around to worry about, it really wasn't too bad. Made a lot of progress - one small bite out of an elephant really - but I am trying to focus on what has been done, rather than what is left. Friday night Jeremy and Jason moved Lauri over to her permanent apartment, on the non-lockdown side. I am sure she will be glad to have the freedom to move around and to be in her permanent home where we can hang up pictures etc.

Jeremy has been enjoying his photography this week. He was able to attend a photography class up in SLC and on Saturday he hosted a photo class at his work. He really enjoys his hobby/job! He was asked to do another wedding to bolster the new camera body fund.

Last night with Jeremy still a little under the weather I went out by myself. Went to the temple and ran some errands, picked up a mirror for the basement bathroom etc. It felt very strange to be out and about by myself. I even went and picked up a sandwich - something I never do. Liberating and yet an odd feeling at the same time.

No real news this week, just normal busy week - I was going to say quiet but that is NEVER the case around here. Although at the moment as I sit here digesting carrot cake and kids are in bed for light and book time life is pretty darn good. Jeremy and I watched the Lake House Friday night. A drawn out girlie type movie but I really enjoyed it. Made me think about how timing is everything in life.

Love to all, Heather

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sleep, glorious sleep...

Dear Family,

Despite Robyn not getting the memo about us sleeping in, Jeremy and I managed to catch a few extra Z's. Allison great child that she is, changed Robyn's diaper got them both dressed in church clothes and set themselves up on the couch with a box of cereal and Vegi-Tales. I am looking forward to not having to drive kids to school with the street lights on and having to turn on my headlights to see the road. It just doesn't feel right to start the day when it feels like the middle of the night!

Monday I took our last load of garden refuse to the dump. I don't know how people garden without access to a truck. It made me wish I had dumped the tomato plants before the frost hit and they became all moldy! The sunflowers ended up requiring a hack saw to cut down. The roots are still waiting for my manly husband to yank them out as they are not budging for me. Monday night we got to go tour our friend's the Guymon's new house. Jeremy took some pictures of them around it and then we all went out for ice cream. It made me realize that our kids have a very set routine because by 7:30 Robyn was DONE and ready for bed.

Wednesday was our ward Halloween party. Jeremy had a great idea to set up his back drop and lighting to take pictures of all the kids dressed up for their parents. They turned out very cute. Spencer and Allison invited our two neighbors to come with us so we were a full crew. Jeremy asked if he could go over early to set up and meet us there. The moment I said yes and he took off I realized that I was dooming myself. So I kept a smile on my face as the chili burned, Rocky took off to growl/bark at a neighbor walking down the street, Allison decided she needed her hair sprayed blue for the party and Spencer lost it over tripping on something! Always happens, doesn't it? Kids had a great time. Robyn kept doing the cake walk over and over and then finding a corner to lick the frosting off her wins before going back! I won third prize in the chili contest and hope the winners are going to share their recipes! Kids ended the night with hot chocolate and a hay ride around the neighborhood. Jeremy gave up all the fun to spend the night hunched over his camera on the stage, helping the young men take pictures. Today he posted his pictures on the board and made many kids' day.

Halloween has to be one our kid's favorite holidays. Allison woke up at 6 so I could spraypaint her hair and braid it all over. They all had parties and parades at their schools. We went trick or treating at Jeremy's office and Robyn got the concept down VERY quickly.

Friday night we invited our two old neighbor families to come over. Our kids were all bummed that this year they wouldn't be trick or treating with the old group. My parents came down as well and manned the door for us. We had a suitable digusting dinner of brains (stuffed pumpkin - really good and although my kids begged me to make it, none would touch it), bones (breadsticks), blood (tomato soup) and eyes and fingers (olives and carrot sticks). The boys took off to go on their own with a dad catching up with them halfway through the night. The big girls raced ahead of our group with the little girls and we didn't meet up with them till the end of the night. They thought they were just so awesome for having gone on their own. It was nice running into so many parents who let us know where the big girls were and what they were doing. Spencer was busy eating as much candy as he could that night and filled up on the hot chocolate and doughnuts one of the cauldesac does for a break area. Robyn kept hiding candy in her skirt so we wouldn't take it away. Each kid got to eat a bunch and then pick out 10 to keep to eat at their discretion (need I mention that their bags are half empty already?). The rest gets donated to Jermey's office treat jar and to the lunch treat stash.

Halloween night was a bit of a doozy. With all the candy Spencer ate his acid reflux acted up for the first time in a long time. At 2 am we hear these loud wheezing sounds and Spencer is all panicked. So he spent the night sitting outside trying to calm his breathing down in the cold air sucking on cough drop and watching Jeremy's ipod. With the medication he is on, steroids would not be a good idea unless there was no choice. Last night was better as he was only up for an hour or so.

Mean parents that we are we woke up Spencer and Allison at 8 the next morning to hop in the car and go up to Antelope Island with Jeremy and me for his photo group. They were busy vetting the bison, tagging them and releasing them. It was fun to see. The kids and I went for a hike up a mountain where you could see most of the island and the Salt Lake. Robyn and Taylor vegged at home with Meredith.

Spencer's hard work at math is paying off. He got a 90% on his test Friday. Makes the long homework sessions of me checking over every problem worth it. He is vigourously campaigning for sparring gear for his martial arts class. He found the make, color, etc on the web and has shown it to use many times. He is talking better with his retainer but boy when he is tired at the end of the day you need an interpreter at times!

Taylor has not been doing so great. He is perky in the mornings but then goes downhill. I can't decide if he is having absentee seizures again or isn't feeling well or what is up. He has decided that he doesn't need to walk anymore which gets awkward. I wonder sometimes at what point I won't be able to lift him. Just have to keep working on him getting himself around.

Allison started an after school art class at school this week, every Thursday. She was really excited about it. They are having a school play, The Wizard of Oz, and she has decided to try out to be a munchkin.

Robyn is 2 - that really sums it up. Every day she wears a princess outfit - the rattier the better usually. She reads princess stories, acts them out, watches the movies and dances to their songs. She is a little obsessed! Luckily she found a friend, 3 year old Luke across the street who shares her obsession. He is over most days as they strip down, put on their "ball gowns" and high heels and strut around to the chipmunks.

Jeremy is really, really tired of having a hurt back. The chiropractor seems to help and then it comes back. The constant pain is making it hard for him to sleep which makes it even harder to keep a smile on his face during the day. He keeps sucking it up but I hope things improve for him soon. He anchored all the book cases to the walls downstairs so I filled the shelves with all our books. Looks good! They also came and put on the doors to his desk. The frosted glass on the top doors didn't quite meet his approval - there are smudges on them - so we're going to work on that. We also picked out the curtain material for his window in the office. I am hoping to get it done soon as right now there are beach towells draped across it - not quite the effect I was shooting for.

Lauri moves aparments this next week over to the regular assisted living side. I'm hoping to focus on her kitchen this week and cleaning out cupboards. Tonight she and Jason's family are coming over for dinner - always a fun time. I am sure we will work out the logistics then.

Seems like I stay busy just getting life done. Had a flat tire this week so Robyn (in full princess regalia) and I went to get that fixes - had a presidency meeting - did the laundry and shopping and boom, our week is full. Strange how that happens!

Love to you all and check out HUGE amount of pictures below, Heather

Allison trying to look like Ariel at the top of the mountain we hiked.

Standing on an observation platform overlooking the bison getting checked.

Allison made a line out of her loot to pick her top 10 to keep.

Robyn's friend Luke who always wants to come over and play dress up. His mom says he prays that he can come over and wear princess shoes with Robyn. Needless to say his parents get worried sometimes.

Up at Liberty park last week. Robyn was promised a cookie if she would pose.

Allison and Robyn feeding the ducks.

The old gang is all here (minus Taylor).

Spencer striking a pose at Liberty Park

What a handsome kid!

Robyn got a little scared by several cameras flashing at her so she came to get my hand. Then she was set to be Daddy's little poser.

Allison is a professional now. She just walks up and breaks out her cute smile.

The ducks were well fed!