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Sunday, October 30, 2011

You're a stinky, smelly witch

Dear Friends and Family,

Robyn has been filling the house with Halloween music.  Her favorite lately involves the line "you're a stinky, smelly witch" followed by maniacal laughter.  At Walmart she was singing it pretty much non-stop while we trolled the aisles for an hour.  Glad she entertains herself so well.  She is loving her Cinderella costume and has put it to use many times already.  This has been the week of Halloween celebrations, that is for sure.

Monday was Taylor's school Halloween carnival.  The teachers and aides at his school go all out to make it a fun evening.  Taylor's "girlfriend" was there to bounce all around his chair (she is this super high energy autistic girl), stroke his cheek and give him kisses.  It just makes me smile.  The kids enjoyed all the games, candy prizes, glitter tattoos and came home on a tired, happy sugar high.

Tuesday the girls got to wear their costumes to their dance class and do 'The Monster Mash'.  Pandora has a kids Halloween station that we have been playing a lot this week so I have seen the dance many times now.

Friday Spencer had a junior high Halloween party at the Library.  He thought he was so cool to be able to go.  His costume this year is an orange T-shirt that says "I was too lazy to get a costume" - about sums it up right there.  His favorite game was zombie attack where they attached saltines to their pants with string and then used swim noodles to try to smash each other's crackers.  That and being introduced to The Twilight Zone made his night.  And then Jeremy and I had a costume party at a friends house.  Jeremy wore his best costume - a camera carrying tourist - complete with black knee high socks and sandals.

 We are carving pumpkins tonight with Jeremy and decorating our cookies.  But I convinced our kids to clean them out Friday.  I said scrubbing the kitchen down after scrapping out pumpkin guts is not my idea of resting on the Sabbath!

Thursday was the first day where everyone's church activities sort of collided.  It all worked out but made us realize that Thursday night is a lot easier if I don't have Stake stuff, Jeremy has bishopric stuff, Allison has Activity Days and Spencer has scouts - all at the SAME time.  It all worked out but made me realize how I want our life to not be so over scheduled.

Taylor had his 5 month follow-up on his surgery.  The doctor said that for a normal person 5 months is when they would start getting their original strength back so to not feel bad about Taylor still not liking to walk.  He puts more work in resisting walking than it would be to actually walk.  His bones are healing but very slowly.  They are thinking he might be vitamin D deficient so we are adding in some supplements to hopefully help his bones heal faster.  But otherwise everything looks good.

Throw in the BYU pow-wow, a wonderful cousin sleep over and a birthday party for Robyn's friend and we were all feeling a little puny by Saturday night.  While Jeremy spent Saturday working and writing a talk for today the rest of us took it pretty easy.  The kids and I watched Ghostbusters for the first time with me holding the mute and fast forward button.  I was just impressed when no one fussed about me skipping scenes that triggered my kid radar.  Its still a great, campy Halloween movie.
Allison gets the short end of the stick most nights.  Either Robyn or Mickey ends up in her bed curled around her.

Fall is on us full force with me running in the morning under the stars with it being 30 degrees outside.  Definitely wakes you up.  I am just glad for friends who meet me, otherwise I would never get out of bed.  Next Saturday is the turkey tri I am doing.  Swimming is getting better.  The lifeguard isn't watching me intently anymore to see if he need to intervene.  And I swear the more I swim, the easier breathing gets.  I am sure it does not look pretty at all, but I no longer worry about making the distance.  And I no longer care what I look like or how fast I go.  My goal is to finish, that is it.

Love to you all and hope you are enjoying Halloween!  Heather

Monday, October 24, 2011

Truckee Man Trip

Heather does all the heavy lifting when it comes to our regular blog posts, but I figured I could get a post up that shows a few photos from the trip. I really didn't take too many photos while out there, preferring to just relax and enjoy. I did realize we never took a photo of all of us together, which is to typical of a bunch of guys, right?

You can see a the whole gallery of photos, but I'll also include a few below.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A weekend away

At double arches

Dear Friends and Family,

This has been one of those jam packed weeks that miraculously left everyone still feeling relaxed and happy.  Perhaps we are getting better at handling the ups and downs of everyday life.  I better not say that too loudly as then I know I will get hit with something big this next week!

The garage floor on Jeremy's side is now painted so his side looks better than mine which I painted 6 years ago.  Just a little dirt has been ground into my side during those years.  We still have all the extras piled on top of the work bench and shelves that need to be cleaned out. But the truck can park inside again and the floors are not covered with junk that needs to find a home.  It really didn't take too long to get to this half way point but it is one of those jobs that take a lot of gritting the teeth and bribes of chocolate afterwards to get down to doing.  Next the workbench...

Monday, some friends invited us to attend Hotel Frankenstein with them and a few other families.  It was one of those corny, campy productions that our kids could come in costume in and just loved every minute of it.  Robyn's Cinderella costume arrived two hours before we were leaving which was just perfection.  She was ecstatic with herself and could not stop twirling and being a princess all evening.  She told me when I tucked her in that night that I could just call her Cinderella from now on.  Spencer has decided he is too old for costumes and trick or treating.  Such a sad moment.  While Allison is being her King and I character again.  Mainly I think because she likes dying her hair black. 

Wednesday night was a night of comedy in our house.  While Spencer was busy repairing a light switch he broke, he mumbled that he thought he saw a mouse.  And he did!  Since I took care of the last one, I wimpily left it in Jeremy's capable hands.  A full half hour of Jeremy trying to sound encouraging as kids "helped" - "when I say watch out, that means you need to actually watch for the mice, not let him run across your feet".  Robyn is there grabbing Mickey and jumping up and down on the couch saying "Eat him Mickey, get him" - full of bloodthirsty glee.  After 30 minutes of me laughing, the mouse finally went into the piano.  It must have snuck out while Jeremy was taking apart the piano with kids "helping" once again.  So now we have a mouse on the loose in our house.  Yuck!

Thursday and Friday was our fall break.  We started it off with a bang by taking all the kids to the dentist.  They actually like going!  Its the return visits that are not their favorite.  Allison has 3 cavities and Spencer has to get two teeth pulled as the adult teeth underneath them are growing in side ways.  I seriously had no idea how many problems teeth could have.  I thought they just came in the way they are supposed to!

Then we packed everyone in the van and headed off to southern Utah.  We stayed in Green River which is around 3 1/2 hours away - where all the good watermelons come from (don't worry, we picked up a beauty to take home with us).  We were in a hotel with a pool and free breakfast plus the Disney channel so our kids thought it was the best hotel ever.  Especially since the family suite wasn't wheelchair accessible, so they gave us two adjoining rooms.  There are definite benefits to having a kids room.  Thursday night at a cold water geyser by the Green River.
Spencer trying to be like his dad, had his camera out everywhere we went
Who knew the Green River has better sandy beaches than most beaches I have been to

Friday we explored Arches National Park.  We did a ton of hikes with Jeremy pushing Taylor over non-accessible trails and attaining super dad status.  Kids were great hikers until the last hike.  Robyn stayed in the van with Jeremy and Taylor and when Spencer looked like this, he went back too:
But Allison and I had a delightful time by ourselves.  By then all the kids had done over 6 miles of trails not counting all the pull-outs and climbing over rocks so I can't be too harsh about Spencer.  He redeemed himself the next day.
See the kid at the top - thats Spencer
  Friday we packed everything up and spent the day at Goblin Valley.  It is a small state park full of hoodoo or goblins.  They look like mushroom rocks all over.  Kids climbed, explored, found caves and had a great time running around.  Spencer and I went for a hike that was our own mini-adventure as only half the trail was maintained or marked and several ravines had to be scrambled over.
This picture does not do justice to the difficult terrain Jeremy pushed Taylor over

It was a great trip away and everyone came home happy and still getting along.  I came home all relaxed mostly because of Jeremy doing all the heavy lifting.  I would sleep through kids poking each other in bed and grumbling or Taylor chirping away at 4 am.  And then there was the time our kids decided to spill their hot chocolate - three times in a row!!  involving a soaked bed, two outfits and a chair.  And the time that Robyn had an upset stomach and told me she had made a mess of the bathroom and I told her to just go back to bed.  I decided that I am not a good mom at 2 am.  The next morning when I saw the clothes and bathroom I decided that sometimes I really do need to get my butt out of bed and see what is going on.  Taylor did much better this trip thanks to a bunch of weight gaining shakes we brought along for him - calories keep him happy.

To confirm Jeremy's super dad status, after driving us home and cleaning out the van, he got all dressed up to go to a play with me.  Little did we know what is meant by a Greek Tragedy.  Now we do.  We saw Medea full of women screaming and crying, disturbing dynamics and events and some over the top acting.  The story was one I knew bits and pieces off and it was interesting to see it all fit together.

Tonight everyone is happy to relax a bit and hang out together - always the sign of a good vacation.  Jeremy is trying to figure out a talk for next Sunday.  I am trying to figure out when I can clean up our garden this week.  And so life goes on...

Love to you all, Heather
Taylor in the middle of Goblin Valley - along for the ride
If you look closely you can see our kids in the middle shimmying down

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The boys are back

Dear Friends and Family,

Jeremy is back!!!!  And Spencer, least I forget.  They both came home tired and happy from a great man trip with my brothers and Dad.  They ate out, hiked in the snow, looked for geo-caches while others fished and rode a bike along the Truckee river.  Jeremy's account of hiking with Spencer 20 feet per whine and then trying to ride a tandem bike are hilarious and make me grateful for a husband who is willing to stick it out and make it work so his son has a great time.  I am grateful for all the guys on this trip living through Spencer's high moments of talking a mile a minute and his lows of grumbling and whining to show him what it means to man up and be a great guy.  I am glad they started this tradition.

Jeremy came back and then jumped into work and family fall portraits so we didn't see much of him this week.  But Saturday afternoon we played hookey with our friends the Hancocks and took our quad up in the canyon to ride and hike through the fall colors.  It was a wonderful time.  This is what we were surrounded with:

Came home to happy kids running around in a rare warm (relatively speaking) evening with Spencer having made everyone dinner and even had made brownies for dessert.  The brownies were pretty syrupy as he told me about his different "substitutions" but he was extremely proud of himself for making brownies from scratch to surprise us.  I felt so bad later that night explaining that he needed to check in with me before cooking something but he was fine with it - still on that sugar high.

Saturday afternoon was wonderful, the morning was full of kid activities.  I told them they owed us a few hours that afternoon after all that running around.  Spencer had a pow-wow at BYU with another boy from the ward coming with us.  He is taking first aid which they take very seriously in teaching so I am glad he gets to be there for it.  Allison and three friends also were at BYU although a bit later for a class pizza/bowling party.  Then Robyn had a birthday party to go to.  Add in getting the office cleaned, picking up prescriptions, getting gas, picking up pizzas for the party and a part to fix the hot tub and the day was busy.  But everyone had a great day and is very grateful that Sunday is a day of rest.  Fruitcake is cooking as I speak while a fall storm moves in outside.
Allison and her BFFs Andra and Alena along with their favorite fourthsome from class Anna - it truly is awesome to watch them all play together

Friday night while kids watched movies we played games with our friends the Larsens and ate junk food.  I forget how easy and nice it is to do stuff with friends as we get wrapped up in our own little family.  This weekend reminded me I need to do it more often.

This week the sunshine returned and kids were sent outside whenever possible.  Had a moment this week while I was picking apples, sun on my face, Robyn and all her little friends swarming the ladder to help that I just felt I needed to suck in this feeling and hold on to it.  In February when snuffly noses and whiny voices abound I need to remember that feeling of pure bliss and to remember how lucky I am.

This week I made a lot more progress on the garage.  I gave up the idea of surprising Jeremy by the time he returned.  Instead it was more of a "surprise, I made a huge mess but its just so I can make it cleaner!".  But I got the floor of the garage on Jeremy's side all painted.  It is taking a long time to dry because although the temperatures are getting into the high 70s this week, the garage is staying cool.  But this week we should be able to move, organize and purge everything back in.  Kids are really appreciating how nice a garage is when they get in the car in the mornings.  It is definitely a lot colder staying outside.

Spencer and Allison had a piano recital on Friday afternoon.  Spencer did OK and knew it, but also knew why.  I sometimes wonder at what point we stop pushing piano.  He started guitar this week again and that is our leverage to get him to practice piano.  But doing the time on the piano bench versus actually practicing isn't the same thing.  Allison did awesome though.

Learned my parents and sister will be here for Thanksgiving this year.  Hence cooking fruitcake today.  It is never too early to get into the holiday spirit!  Besides the thought of family always makes me a little giddy.

Two moments this week where I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.  Robyn after having a friend come home from school with her had to do her jobs right before dinner instead of right after school.  Lots of tears and drama about it till she came up to me whimpering and asking if she could just sit in my lap.  We always call her our sunshine.  But she told me in a very sad voice that her "sunshine didn't come out today.  It was behind the clouds".  Next morning she sprang out of bed telling me that her sunshine was back.  Other moment was a call from Spencer one morning.  "Mom, I need you to bring me a pair of pants.  Why?  There is a hole that I didn't notice until I sat down.  Does it need to be right this moment?  Yes, I don't think the staples are going to hold much longer".  What?!  Turns out he sat down, saw his pants were ripped zipper to bum so broke out his stapler to fix the problem so he could get to the front desk.  Looking back it was quite inventive on his part, but at the moment all I could do was bite my tongue to keep from howling with laughter - with a few tears thrown in.  Such is life with kids.

Love to you all, Heather
Allison and her friend Andra did portraits of each other for school

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Dear Friends and Family,

This week fall seemed to come and go.  Early part of the week I had a cold, just miserable enough to keep tissues and hot chocolate on hand but not enough to crawl into bed for the day.  We had our windows open during the day and enjoyed the sunny afternoons of 80 degrees.  And then on Thursday we woke up to snow on the mountains and slush in our back yard.  Winter had decided to give us a little taste of what is coming.  Waking up to pitch black cloudy skies just makes me want to curl back into bed with the heater on.  Luckily I have friends who are waiting for me outside to go running.  Without them I don't think I would ever get up before the sun.  But today the sun has come back out and everyone feels more cheerful.

With the fall colors coming on fast and quick we took a ride Monday up the canyon to look around and for Jeremy to scope out his portrait spots.  We stopped at a reservoir for a few minutes before we turned around and just happened to run into some friends of ours up there fishing.  Then back home for hot chocolate, cookies and bed.  Something about a car ride, cold weather then baths and hot chocolate makes for a magic formula where everyone is ready to crash into their warm beds, happy and tired.

Spencer and Jeremy left Thursday night for their man trip in Lake Tahoe with my brothers and Dad.  Reports I have heard so far have spoken of lots of food, hiking in the snow with Spencer in full on whine mode until he manned up a bit, biking, sleeping in, talking and searching for for geo caches.  It sounds like a perfect man trip to me.  We had to make an emergency shopping trip this week when I realized that Spencer had no long sleeve shirts and had lost his sweat shirt.  Guess that is what happens when you grow so much, so fast!  I always think I will surprise Jeremy with all I had done while he is gone.   I had big plans that the garage would all be cleaned out and organized by the time they came back Monday night.  Instead it will be more like, "See that little tiny corner over there?  Its clean.  Now I just have the rest to do!"

The girls went and picked up their painted piggy banks from Allison's birthday.  It amazes me how good they look after being fired.
Allison now that she is 10 was old enough to go to a babysitting class Saturday at the rec center.  She came home feeling super knowledgeable with a big bag of supplies - treats, games, first aid supplies, info sheets for the parents.  She told Robyn about the sleep fairy that only babysitters know about who leaves a treat under the pillows for all kids who fall asleep quickly for the babysitters.  Last night she put a mento underneath Robyn's pillow and Robyn woke up jumping around with glee saying, "she came, she came!".  Allison can tell you all about how to feed and burp a baby, what to do for kids who are fighting or for when they get a burn or easy meals to make for little kids.  Now she just needs some kids to practice on!  Right now Robyn is being the lucky recipient of all her new ideas.

Yesterday Robyn had her last soccer game until spring time.  I was sure it would be cancelled but the rain stopped and although it was slushy and 40 degrees they had a great time.  I am not sure when or how my kids became wimps about doing tough things like bundling up to go play when its cold outside but I am determined to correct it.  Once Robyn got over the whine mode, she had a great time.  Of course I think I was pretty wimpy as a kid and didn't toughen up till I was older.
Saturday we had a cousin afternoon which was fun.  I am glad they act like our house is their house and are just comfortable here.  Wish we had more family close by, but I treasure those that we do have here.  Saturday night Allison was my date to a play at Hale Center Theater in Orem.  It was The Marvelous Wonderettes.  It was more of just 50's songs being sung by 4 women rather than a play but we enjoyed it.

Rest of the week was full of me bumbling around and doing odds and ends.  My friend Brenda came over to preview '17 Miracles' with me to see if Allison could watch it.  It was a great movie.  I am just not sure Allison could handle it emotionally to see what the pioneers went through in the Willie Handcart Company.  She lost it during the Joseph Smith movie in SLC and we have yet to finish it.  I have been sewing this week on a present.  I am sure that if I spent the same time and money on something at a store, it would look a lot better, but I enjoy the process and the thought that I am making something for someone I love.  I am trying to make more of my presents this year.  I like to think that it means more.

Love to you all, Heather

This is a summer staple in our house.  I never realized what a wide world of taco salads there are out there until I went to a potluck where everyone brought a totally different version.  To me this will always be what taco should should be.  I don't add the chips to the salad because I want to keep the left over salad for lunch the next day and soggy chips don't taste very good.  So I let everyone sprinkle either fritos or broken up tortilla chips on their own bowl of salad.  My sister-in-law Mimi has converted us to BYU ranch but the Italian style dressing this recipe comes with is still my favorite although my family votes for ranch every every time.  In the summer time I will add in one small diced zucchini

Taco Salad - 8 servings

1 head of red leaf or green leaf lettuce torn into small pieces
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 avocado cut into small pieces and tossed with 1 Tbsp lemon juice
4 tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped up
1 16 oz can kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red pepper chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1 16 oz can corn, drained
1 lb ground beef, cooked and sprinkled with 1 Tbsp taco seasoning for the last few minutes
1 c olives, chopped - optional
1/2 small bag of broken tortilla or frito chips

Dressing: 1/2 small bottle Italian dressing, 1/2 bottle green taco sauce and 8 dashes Tobasco

Mix all the salad ingredients together.  Mix in as much dressing as you like.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

This can also be used as a bread but I prefer the muffins.  This is from our best bites.  This is one of Robyn's favorites because she thinks she is getting cupcakes for dinner.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

1 c flour
1 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
6 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 c oil
1 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c sour cream or plain yogurt
3 c grated zucchini with excess juice squeezed out

Mix all together and put into greased muffin tins.  Cook at 350 degrees 12 minutes for mini-muffins or 20-22 minutes for regular muffins.  They are done when you can lightly push the middle of the muffin with a finger and it will spring back.

To make this as a bread or a dessert, use all white flour and add 3/4 c mini-chocolate chips.  Top uncooked bread with a mixture of 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 2 Tbsp white and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  Bake 8 inch pans at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes.  This will make two large 8 inch pans or 4 small 4 inch loaves.  For the smaller loaves bake 40 to 50 minutes.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Zucchini Bread

Bread, cake - a matter of sematics when it comes to this recipe.  Whatever erases the guilt when making it!  My kids think this is the only reason we grow zucchini.  This recipe is from the Test Kitchen cookbook with a few changes.

Zucchini Bread

2 1/2 c shredded zucchini, left to drain in a colander (around 2 small or 1 large zucchini)
1 1/2 c sugar
6 Tbsp butter (3/4 stick), melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1/4 c plain yogurt or sour cream or Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 c all-purpose flour (you can do 1/2 whole wheat flour but you will taste the difference)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c mini-chocolate chips or chopped walnuts

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Coat a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with oil spray, place a piece a parchment paper on the bottom of the pan and spray with oil again.  Take your finger or a towel and wipe off the spray around the top one inch of the pan.
2. Make sure your shredded zucchini has had time to get rid of any excess liquid.  Squeeze it out if needed.  You want 2 1/2 c dry shredded zucchini.
3. Whisk the sugar, butter, eggs, yogurt and lemon juice together in a small bowl.
4. In a larger bowl mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and salt and either chocolate chips or nuts together.  Fold in the zucchini and the yogurt mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined.
5. Pour batter into pan and bake until golden brown about 55 to 60 minutes.
6. Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes and then take bread out of pan, peel of parchment paper and let it cool for at least one hour before cutting.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Double Digits

Dear Family and Friends,

Allison is officially double digits now.  Her birthday festivities stretched through a couple of days all of which she carefully planned out.  Robyn rolled out of bed early with a smile to make her breakfast in bed Wednesday morning.  Then Allison packed a cooler full of little milk containers and toted a container of Trader Joe's dunkers to hand out to her classmates at recess.  Jeremy showed up at her school with take-out in hand to eat lunch with her in the lunch room.  On birthdays at our house you get the day off from all jobs so Allison enjoyed playing with friends and then her favorite meal of ravioli, presnts, more playing as she showed off her now roller-blades, topped off with a bubble bath in mom's tub.  My favorite quote of the night was Robyn who was having a tough time with Allison's day - "Just because its your birthday doesn't mean you get treated like a queen!  She should get treated like a normal person, just like the rest of us!"  Accompanied with tears and stomping off to bed.  You can see some of the attitude in this picture:

For Allison's birthday my parents gave Allison Betsy.  Betsy was a doll that my mom got as a little girl from her mom.  When I turned 10, my grandma made a new wardrobe for Betsy and passed it on to me.  And now Allison has it.  She thought it was so neat, and so do I.  Spencer dashed off to his room before dinner and came down with a sheepish smile and an envelope for Allison.  I love his smile when he knows he is doing something good and is bursting with pride about it.  Allison love his 'present'.

This year Allison had a family party as we alternate years with friend parties. But she is able to invite one friend over.  So Friday afternoon Allison, her friend Andra, Robyn and I went to Color Me Mine, a ceramics painting store.  They spent two hours carefully painting piggy banks and in a week we can go pick them up and they will be glazed and fired for us.  I haven't been there before and thought it was a really cool place.  Now I want to go back for me!  Then we met up with boys and cousins at our house for BBQ pesto pizzas (Allison's surprising choice - with all kids but her going the traditional route of red sauce and pepperoni), cake & ice cream, presents and movie.  So a bit low key but very fun.  Allison was very explicit on her cake, 3 layers of different sizes, caramel cake, with blue writing and curly candles.  Nice to have a girl who knows what she wants.
Allison had her 10 year old physical this week.  They predict on the growth charts that she will be 5 foot 1 inch.  I told her as long as she hits 5 feet, that's all that counts!  She is just excited that she is ON the growth charts - 15% which is pretty respectable.  I am just used to 100% Spencer or 80% Robyn!  And he assured me that she will not take after me and stop growing at age 10.

Other news of the week - I had parent teacher conferences for all the kids.  You would think I could figure out how to get it all done in one afternoon but nope - 4 separate trips.  I decided that junior high conferences stink.  You wait in line for each teacher instead of having an appointment with just one teacher.  Kids are all doing good in school.  Brought up having Allison skip up a grade again but I think I would rather have her graduate high school at age 18 and just go up two grades for math class.  Spencer despite him taking full responsibility for homework etc this year is doing great.  One problem he has is that in graphic arts and photography, two of his favorite classes as he tries to be like his dad, he just won't shut up.  So we told him to limit himself to two questions a day.  Sometimes that kid needs a filter when he gets all excited about a subject.

Taylor has had a good week.  As you know constipation is a real issue for Taylor that he constantly battles.  Just goes along with all his other problems.  But this week it all came out, and didn't stop.  It became quite hilarious.  One message from his teacher, "In all my 20 years of working in special -ed I have never, ever had a situation like this.  I cannot imagine where all of this is coming from".  So Taylor has been having a smile on his face this week and his baritone giggle has been heard again.  Still refuses to walk for us, especially with his daffos.  Now though it isn't that he can't, he just doesn't want to.

Jeremy has taught the photography merit badge this week, one night to our ward and one night to another.  He had fun with it.  He even got to do a senior's photo shoot this week.  He loves his photography.

For past General Conferences I have always made up work sheets for our kids.  Robyn came down Saturday morning to ask where her M&Ms were.  The memory on that girl - ask her what she is getting for her 8th birthday and she will tell you I am giving her a parakeet - as that is what I said a year ago.  Anyway this year I decided that those sheets were causing more disruption than help so instead each kid has to show me notes for everything President Monson says and then for two speakers.  So far it has been a much more calm conference and kids are listening better.  It seems like you have to keep changing things up to keep them interested.

Last night for Priesthood session with Jeremy and Spencer off for enlightenment and a supply of grease and shakes at JCW's, the girls with Taylor along for the ride and I threw a girlie potluck.  Our curse continued though as though despite sunny 90 degree days at 6 on the dot, it began to storm.  (Every party we have had this year has involved rain).  So the party was moved indoors and was a lot of fun.  When the rain stopped kids ran around outside while Allison and friends entertained a bevy of little girls with their skits upstairs.

Finished reading Brandon Sanderson's book The Way of Kings this week and really liked it.  Then I found out that it was a projected 10 book series and my enthusiasm waned a little.  The first book was the size of a dictionary!  And I read a fun book called Mr. Darcy Broke my Heart.  I like both books a lot.  I canned a few peaches this week and tried a new way.  You put sugar in the bottom of the jar, add some boiling water, peaches and then the rest of the water.  A lot easier and less messy but we will see how well it actually works.

So life is good, busy and full of the everyday fun that really doesn't translate very well into a letter.  Why hearing Allison say to Robyn as they play cars, "Come on honey, Its time to go wild" makes us crack up, I don't know, but we do.  We put up our Halloween decorations this week so our house is looking suitably fallish.  We are still running around in shorts as though the mornings are cool, the afternoons are hitting 90.  One of my favorite times of the year.

Happy Birthday to Claire!  Love, Heather