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Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve 2012

A Happy New Year


Spencer - 13 - 5'10" - wants to be an internet programer, favorite food is meat & junkfood, favorite color is blue and black - best part of the year was getting Chaz his bearded dragon

Allison - 11 - 4'6" - wants to a mom and an author, favorite food is lasagna, favorite color is orange - best part of the year was getting her ears pierced

Brynn - 5 - 3'9" - wants to be a doctor to animals, favorite food is cheese pizza, favorite color is purple, best part of the year was Christmas

Robyn - 6 - 4'1" - wants to be an explorer, favorite food is nachos, favorite color is everything but pink, best part of the year was starting 1st grade

Kayla - 8 - 4'4" - wants to be a vet, favorite food is spaghetti, favorite color is black, best part of the year was her birthday

Garion - 11- 5'1/2" - wants to be a scientist, chemist and game tester, favorite food is pizza, favorite color is black, best part of the year was all of it

Evelyn - 11 - 4"10" - wants to be a hairstylist and a mom, favorite food is oranges, favorite color is turquoise or teal - best part of the year was 4th of July

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas

We had a white Christmas this year with several snow storms blowing through, snow shovels and quads going to work, sleds getting used and a good excuse to turn on the fireplace.  Our gingerbread houses actually worked that we made Sunday thanks to industrial strength frosting:

Monday we cooked pies and got ready for Christmas.  Just as our kids were about to be sent to their rooms and have Christmas be cancelled, cousins arrived.  There is something about the morning of Christmas Eve that creates instant chaos and bickering - not what should happen but what does.  Luckily we went off through the snow to go ice skating.  For the first time I couldn't go out or push Taylor around the ice.  Kelly did everything solo with kids and they had a wonderful time.  Then it was back home for nachos, hot tub, snow ball fight, watching Arthur's Christmas and reading Twas the Night before Christmas (we do the nativity story the eve of Christmas eve when things are usually calmer and quieter).  And then everyone crashed early eager for Santa to come:
We told our kids they couldn't wake us up till 7:30.  At 7 they were lightly tapping rhythms on the wall and waiting impatiently on the landing.  Off for stockings, french toast and presents.
Taylor with a tummy full of french toast opened his big present and then lived in it all day:
Kids when they would open a box, "oooh its an amazon box.  wow - that means its a good one"

Allison was very excited to get a gift card to get her ears pierced and some new earrings.
My mom made Robyn a tent for her room that she lives in right now:

Spencer got an air soft gun from Santa as I would never buy one.  While I was busy playing legos upstairs with the girls I was listening as Jeremy showed Spencer how it felt to be shot - first on the legs, then the arms and then as he scoffed that doesn't really hurt - on the hand.  I don't think he is going to shoot anyone on purpose now.  He has been busy setting up targets in the garage to shoot.
 Wednesday Allison and her friend Andra with parents along for their ride went as they got their ears pierced.  A fun occasion for us all:


Thursday we got to enjoy a BYU Basketball game.  Our kids were more interested in hopping up and down the stairs, dancing with the cheerleaders and talking but we all had fun.  Friday we went to the Leonardo museum with a few friends.  Its like a children's museum for teens and grown-ups and is super cool.

So it has been a great Christmas break so far with copious amounts of chocolate eaten, mom disappearing for a few minutes at a time to regain some sanity and kids running around like banshees or lying around saying they were bored.  I finally took my boot off for keeps on Friday.  It is almost back to normal size and I figured after two weeks it was time to start toughing it out more.  Its greenish and sore but is working pretty good.  The hardest part right now is putting shoes on.  But the best part of the week has been for me seeing family together.  Visiting on the phone or in person.  Seeing kids make good choices (especially when the day before they had made poor choices).  Just makes me grateful for family and for friends that feel like family.  My favorite moment of the whole week has been watching Jeremy, Spencer and Allison wash up all the dishes Christmas night:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cranberry Sauce


A few years ago we were having a Relief Society luncheon in November and were planning out a menu.  A little old lady piped up that she had the best cranberry sauce recipe and that is what we should make.  So we did and it is.  Not perhaps a true sauce but more of a compote, it is delicious served on turkey, in sandwiches or as I like to do s served on top of oatmeal or yogurt.  And as a bonus it makes your house smell wonderful and keeps for a week or two in the fridge.

Cranberry Sauce - Serves 8

1 package cranberries
1 c sugar
1 c water
Put these ingredients into a pan and bring to a boil.  Cook until cranberries "pop".

Reduce heat to low and add to the pan:
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1 Granny Smith apple - peeled, cored and chopped
1 pear - peeled, cored and chopped
zest of 1 orange and juice

Cook on low until the fruit softens.  Store covered in the fridge.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

God bless everyone...

I don't have a single picture this week.  Too much enjoying and living I guess.  This afternoon we made gingerbread houses and inspired by my friend Brenda we made them from scratch.  They are now held together by industrial strength frosting waiting for Robyn to swallow her salad (it has been a loooong process) so they can be decked out with candy.  The candy has been on the counter all afternoon and has mysteriously been dwindling.  While the houses set up we watched the Muppets Christmas Carol.  It is one of my all time favorite Christmas movies.  It is hard to believe that this Christmas magic ends in only a few more days.

I spent the first part of this week on crutches and sitting on my rear.  Found out that my meds go down great with chocolates.  I had one last Christmas present to finish making so I spent the week sewing with Christmas music blaring and letting everything go.  It really was wonderful.  Got rid of the crutches on Tuesday and can now stump around pretty good in my boot.  My foot looks like a foot again albeit a green and purple one and my ankle is down to cankle status.  So vast improvements.  I can even bend my fingers all the way now.  Hope everything continues to heal as fast as I am getting pretty antsy.

My kids had school all week with their last day being a minimum day on Friday.  So they had lots of Christmas parties and activities at school. Taylor has been quite chipper all week which means he gets up and walks at the most inopportune moments.  And then of course doesn't want to walk when he needs to.  It also means his bumps and bruises have increased.

Friday afternoon we had a few friends over to make sugar cookies.  Our house was awash with sprinkles and frosting droppings everywhere.  Robyn and her two friends too cookies to two neighbors who lost their spouses this year.  They stayed a long time chatting with them and came home so excited to have spread some Christmas joy.

Friday night our kids got to practice their manners as we went to a dinner reception at the Joseph Smith building for our respite worker Melissa.  Robyn's face when they served salad as the first course was priceless.  She is not a salad fan.  But also watching her face when Jeremy danced with her and later watching Allison slow dance with her dad while pretending to be embarrassed was the highlight of my night.  Even Spencer asked me to do a slow dance and introduced me to the deacon shuffle and the four-square dance.

Saturday night I introduced my kids to Hallmark movies and the joy of leftover sugar cookies.  As you can tell it has been a laid back week where we just enjoyed being together.  Spencer and Allison went to see Here comes the Boom together at the local cheap theater.  Since then Spencer has been re-enacting all the fight scenes with different kicks onto his punching bag.  We have new cracks in our house I am sure as it seems like the whole house is shaking.  Spencer has still been playing the guitar at all hours strolling around the house as he does so.  I love that he loves guitar right now but I am also ready to confiscate the guitar for my own mental health for a few days.

Allison and Robyn got into the school play for this year, Annie.  That means lots of girls belting out Its a Hard Knock Life over and over.  They are both quite excited.  Allison is auditioning for a part in her theater class play too next week.  They are doing Little Mermaid and everyone gets a part but you try out.

Oops I guess I do have photos courtesy of Jeremy's phone :)  We had a goal that we would not miss a day for 30 days in reading our scriptures and saying a prayer as a family.  We made it so Monday was the reward of going out for ice cream.  We cannot convince Spencer that bigger is not always better:

And my favorite showing that Spencer grew another 1/2 inch to be 5'10"
Merry Christmas to all.  Missing my family this week and grateful for the family that I have here.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

You can't be hurt...it's Christmas!


Well one of the biggest events this week is that God decided I need to relax a little bit.  Friday morning while running with my friend Brenda, we took a new route.  I stepped off the road to get out of the way of a car not realizing there was a bit of a drop.  So I bit it hard.  Bruised up a lot and with a badly sprained ankle and fingers.  Luckily I wasn't by myself so Brenda went to get her car while I hobbled home.  Came home late trying not to cry with kids worried that I was hurt.  My favorite comment was, "You can't be hurt...it's Christmas!".  Friday I spent on crutches, the couch and lots of ibuprofen and ice.  Saturday I went in to the doctor because I was worried about one of my fingers that had turned gray and couldn't move anymore.  But everything is just badly sprained.  So I am on some heavy anti-inflamatories, my ankle looks better no longer like a grapefuit, more like a big orange and today I can bend my fingers again.  I am on crutches till the swelling subsides and a boot till I can walk again without it hurting.  Really no idea how long this will take.  Definitely a good time to remember that the world will not end if I spend a lot more time on the couch and that a dirty house is just fine.

Today Jeremy is 41.  Last night to celebrate we met up with Jason's family and took the older kids out for hamburgers at JCWs and to see The Hobbit.  Allison finished the book a week ago, to make sure she could go.  His birthday today is a little anti-climatic I am afraid.  He broke open his birthday present a few days early - a massage chair and has been using it steadily since.  Robyn was pointing out that our house now has 2 cripples in it - and she wasn't referring to Taylor.  Hope that ends soon for both of us.  Jeremy has been getting better I think over the last week as long as he doesn't move unexpectedly.  So today we are making navajo tacos now that Jeremy is done with meetings and doing some quality couch time.

Allison had her big December showcase Friday night for her theater group.  She did an awesome job.  She has learned how to act "big" and over dramatic to perform in front of people.  She has an audition workshop this week as she prepares to audition for Little Mermaid.

 Spencer this week went up with the deacons to Temple Square to see the Joseph Smith movie.  I am so grateful for leaders who teach our kids.  When someone helps me out I am grateful but when someone takes an interest in my kids and helps them become more of the person they can be, there are no words.

Snow finally caught up with us this week.  Monday my kids even had an un-official snow day when a truck ran into the transformer by their school.  Without power they had no light or heat so kids got to go home.  BUT they first served lunch so they can count it as a school day.  I had promised myself and kids that the first snow fall we would go sledding.  Everytime we wait the snow melts.  Monday is our busy day so we ended up going at night, in the dark and 20 degree temperatures.  Kids loved it, I thought they were nuts.  Luckily I had to keep running back to the car to sit with Taylor while I ran the heater and he chirped away.  So I could last as long as my kids could.

Rest of the week was filled with the regular day to day stuff that is so important although it often doesn't seem like it.  I have been wrapping presents and finishing up some holiday projects, read a book I loved called Edenbrooke that I highly recommend to any females, fixed a plugged up drain that was extremely nasty and all the other tasks that go into being a mom.  Taylor's teacher retired this week and it was cool to go to her retirement party and see all the lives she has touched.  We are starting to get Taylor's digestive system a little more regulated so he is starting to be happy again which is fun.  Allison found a little Santa Clause ornament that she calls Little Nickie. He hides around the house and leaves Robyn little notes.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

No snow yet


Despite the lack of snow Christmas is definitely here.  We made fudge today and are roasting a beast so we can watch the old cartoon of How the Grinch stole Christmas.  Robyn has been spending the last few hours with many tears and stomping of feet working on a present for her friend.  Those dang beads are not getting on her necklace the way they should.  Jeremy is having a bad back day and kids are taking full advantage of having him prone all day on the couch.  Nothing gets kids talking more than a captive audience.

Today was our Primary program and yesterday was our practice.  All went off without a hitch and Primary today was full of very hopped up, excited kids.  This is Allison's last Primary program - hard for me to believe.  And last night was our ward party.  We had a BBQ and then did line dancing and visited with Santa.  Imagine hordes of kids dancing the macarena and other dances in utter abandon and loving every minute of it.  Even Taylor got into the action.  What impressed me the most is that although Allison retreated off with a friend as she "doesn't do line dancing", Spencer was right in the thick of it having a great time.

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 I listened to President Eyring's talk from Priesthood this last conference and it has really been sticking with me.  The idea of trying to have a positive vision in your mind of what your children will grow up to be within the church.  For my girls its pretty easy for me.  For Spencer I have so many qualities where I think "oh, if he keeps going down that route - then that will be the consequence" etc.  Its hard for me to see what all his good qualities can become in the future.  Last night watching him cheerfully help jump into clean up the building helped me catch a bit of that vision.  Its not that I don't love him and think of his good qualities.  I just focus too much on what he has left to learn and qualities that need to disappear.

This week Spencer had Colonial Days where he dressed up and spent the day making lanterns, writing with quills, eating pease porridge and having a great time.

Taylor had a run in with his wheelchair this week at school when he decided to take a nose dive without warning while standing.  Usually he protects himself quite well.  Head wounds bleed quite a lot.  It didn't require stitches as it was a puncture cut.  To keep the pads on his head required him looking quite pathetic for a day.

Allison made it for 30 minutes of school on Monday and then came home.  She spent the day asking why I was doing so much work or coughing violently for minutes on end.  If kids are going to be sick I prefer the out on the couch, just want to cuddle variety.  The 'I'm so bored' kind is not very fun for any of us.  Luckily cough drops kept her going the rest of the week at school.  On Friday I got to go on a field trip with her to see A Christmas Carol.  I love that play.

Friday night we went up to the zoo to see zoo lights.  Walking around in 30 degree weather, seeing a few animals and tons of lights while sipping hot chocolate was pretty fun.  Taylor wearing a shirt, sweatshirt, coat, 2 blankets and a hat looked like a tortoise who periodically peeked out whenever we entered a heated building.  And to top off the night we stopped at SLC's newest store Trader Joe's.  Kids and Jeremy have already gone through most of a big container of hummus.  I think we will be stopping there often.







Sunday, December 2, 2012

Deck the Hall's


Jeremy jokes that he hated the song "Deck the Hall's" as a kid as his friends would come along and punch him on the shoulder as they 'decked' the nearest Hall.

This week started off with a whimper as everyone adjusted back to an empty house and a regular schedule.  For some reason laundry and cleaning isn't as fun when you are just doing it for yourself.  But Christmas season is here and the festivities have started.  As we cleaned we would unpack Christmas decorations and put them up.

Monday we had our annual light parade, where we stroll down our block and everyone turns their Christmas lights on for the first time and then we have hot chocolate and goodies.  Kids run around in bedlam and joyful chaotic sugar highs on scooters and roller blades.  Its a fun way to start the season and I am grateful for neighbors who do it every year.

Wednesday we got to go as a family the the Utah Valley Symphony Christmas concert.  Taylor who was having a tough day and rode down to Provo looking quite green chippered right up and was alert and listening every time the orchestra played.  The kids thought the last piece with 14 movements was 13 movements too long but they had a storyteller who told holiday stories throughout the night who they loved.  He told of his mom singing songs for every state ie "We love driving through Wisconsin and smelling its dairy air" - sing it out loud and you will understand why Spencer was doubling over.  My favorite thought of the night though was when he talked about how God had sent large prophets and huge disasters but for Christmas he sent a baby.  He told of how he got to hold his baby cousin at a Christmas gathering and how careful he had to be to support its head and hold it carefully.  He said that perhaps God sent a baby to remind us that our faith like a baby can be fragile and has to be cared for carefully.  I thought of how paranoid I was over taking care of our own babies and how I don't give as much thought and attentiveness to my faith as I did to them.  Then I also thought how strong our babies were to survive my own fumbling efforts to care them correctly.  Gave me motivation and thankfulness all at once.

Thursday we got to throw a shower for my neighbor who is getting married.  Two of my friends threw it with me and it was the easiest bridal shower ever.  We did a hot chocolate buffet of different types of hot chocolate and then a wide assortment of things to stir in, stir with and top with.  Easy, delicious and quick.  It was fun to visit.

Friday the girls' had their piano recital where they played Christmas duets.  They both did awesome despite Robyn having some severe misgivings.

Saturday the kids and I went up for our annual Festival of the Trees outing.  We oohed and awed at gingerbread houses, ate scones with honey butter, cried over a few trees and their stories, bought some fudge for Jeremy and came home.  Great tradition.

So we started off the holidays with a busy week but it was fun.  Allison had some play stuff this week plus a birthday party and I think it just did her in a bit.  She wasn't feeling great Friday but today she is down for the count with a bad cold.  My girls can look so pathetic so quickly.  Hopefully she will improve just as fast.  She is trying to finish reading The Hobbit so she can see the movie with us.

Taylor and Spencer both had doctor appointments this week.  Taylor's hips are looking good.  His left side is completely healed up.  His right side you can still see where they cut the hip bone and its being held together by the pins and plate.  But the bone is grafting together just at a snails pace.  We were worried his back was getting worse but his upper back has stayed at 27 degrees which is great news.  The reason it looks worse is that his lower spine is literally twisted which is why he cocks his pelvis and sits differently.  But it isn't something we have to fix or that will impair breathing or digestion so I was glad.  And the best news if that his hip growth plates are done growing and his femurs are almost done.  So he can still grow along the spine/torso but he is getting close to his final height.  Yay!  Spencer is still stable and good - along with being 14 pounds heavier than 3 months ago.  The doctor wants him to take his pills right before dinner which is tough.  We are trying it but Friday night he wanted to watch Bourne Legacy with Jeremy and I - he lasted 15 minutes before starting to snore.  Those pills just knock him out.   So we will see if this works for him.

Jeremy has had quite a few family photo shoots lately.  It must be the holiday season.  Saturday night we had a his/hers date which we both enjoyed.  Temple, watching "Here Comes the Boom" (it was hilarious and awesome) and then eating amazing hamburgers at Jeremy's new favorite place.  It was a great break.

Tonight it is clam chowder and the First Presidency Devotional.  I am looking forward to it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Family


Monday in between trying to disinfect our house I got to attend Robyn's 1st Grade Thanksgiving feast.  They happily ate a bunch of turkey and pumpkin pie in their pilgrim hats and read to us a poem.  Simple, cute and over way too fast.  For the rest of the day kids were helping me find lots of lost treasures - socks, toys, half eaten food.  I think I should clean behind and under things more often.
And then Monday night...my brother David and my brother Daniel and their families arrived.  The holidays officially started.  We had 6 extra kids to play with, 2 extra dogs to give Rocky some entertainment and cause our cat to practice his sprints, and 4 family members to sit and visit with.  It was a week of perfection, noise and chaos and we had a great time.  The week seemed to end way too early.

Tuesday while I dealt with Spencer and his retainer and some grocery shopping my brothers' toured BYU.  My nephew Lathan told me that he is going to go to BYU now.  David even checked out Tucanos to see if his boys could eat their weight.  Since his 10 year old son, David and Griselda had spent the morning running 7 miles straight up the mountain they had definitely earned their meal.  David, Griselda and Daniel seemed to be running every day they were here, just happily climbing the hills I puff and pant my way up.  A good healthy dose for me of humility and inspiration.  Kids all brought their swim suits and remembered that at night it was hot tub time.
Wednesday David's family with Allison happily joining them (Allison and her cousin Lathan are long lost friends who stick together like glue when they can) went up to Salt Lake to tour U of U and temple square etc.  Mimi and I made a bunch of pies and kids hung out for the day.  Then that night we went up to Salt Lake with all the big kids to go out to dinner at the Garden Room on top of the Joseph Smith Building and then to see Savior of the World, a musical about the Savior's birth and death.  It was an awesome evening.  Before dinner Mimi introduced me to Anthropolgie and I now know where all my dishes will come from if I strike it rich some day and don't care that we break a plate a week around here.

Thursday, we cooked, we ate, we 'played' football, we went on a hike and then we ate again.  Griselda brought a craft for all the kids' to make turkey name cards.  Mimi brought some gorgeous flowers.  David and Griselda slaved away on a turkey.  Mimi introduced us to her dad's mashed potatoes - its better not to know the calorie count of those things and her aunt's cloud 9 salad.  It was just a great day.  And then while I lazily crashed on a couch with a movie my sister-in-laws attacked the black Friday sales, getting back Friday morning at 6 am.  Mimi is 6 months pregnant.  I can't do that non-pregnant and am definitely in a different league of shoppers than those two.
Friday I left at 10 am with them to check out a few more sales.  10 am seems so much more reasonable to me!  Then we went up to tour This is the Place park.  A cool place but can't compare to how neat it is in the summer when everything is open.


Then we went to Temple Square where they turned the Christmas lights on and we were able to walk around along with the hundreds of other people.  The nativity story on the big grass field there tears me up every time as I remember watching it with my grandpa, then Jeremy before we were married and our kids ever since.
Saturday we decided to test out Kneader's all you can eat French Toast and then hung out at a park.  Everyone was just happy to have one more day together.  We sang an early Happy birthday to Jeremy and Claire showed her mom how she had learned to ride a bike without training wheels.  And then at night we braved the madness to attend a BYU basketball game.  Robyn was more interested in her cousins and the cheerleaders and the dunk team.  It was a good, close game though that we all enjoyed.  They were handing out t-shirts at the game to encourage a high school senior who was there on a recruiting trip to choose BYU so we were all showing our spirit.

This morning everyone left when we went to church.  On the way home Robyn asked me quite folornly, "what are we going to do at home now?  everyone is gone".  I missed the family who couldn't be here and loved those who were here.  It was way too short.  Now our house just seems empty and quiet.  And reminders are popping up on my computer of laundry to do and bathrooms to clean.  Reality is hitting.  Good thing there is one slice of pumpkin pie left!