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Sunday, January 29, 2012


Been feeling very grateful for family this week as my brother and his family are here visiting from Arizona.  We spent the beginning of the week getting our house cleaned up, laundry done and errands driven so we could just relax and have a great time.
We went to the Lehi pool to enjoy the sauna atmosphere and watch our kids show off their swimming abilities.  My niece Samantha was convinced she could walk on water and tried to show us as she headed off the deep end.  Taylor became a limp noodle in the hot tub with a smile on his face. 
We cheered on Allison's basketball game and then headed up the canyon to find snow and sledding.  Snow is pretty hard to find this time of year but Solider Hollow had broken out their snow making machines and it was an afternoon of perfection.  Sitting on a tube watching Robyn blow me kisses, enjoying the amazing views and the cold air with family happy all around me - can't get much better than that.  I love sledding because Spencer has a great time just as much as Robyn - not many activities you can say that about.
Little girls have taken over the hot tub every night until they are bright pink and tired out.  But the best part has just been all the visiting and hanging out.  We have the minor hiccups that we always have with family.  Claire deciding Friday to start throwing up out of the blue.  Samantha thinking that sleep is for the weak.  Spencer putting his new boots on right before we left only to discover that he had bought 2 left foot shoes (so ironic that he literally had 2 left feet), or getting up to the snow to find that Spencer had left his coat at home.  All the little things that variety to our days, make us grind our teeth at the moment and laugh about a few minutes later.
 And of course sugar is back in out household with a vengeance.  Our life has been full of treats these last few days.  Our kids didn't mind giving up red meat for January but treats they definitely missed.  But since they had their fill of sugar through school, friends and activities I felt no remorse.
Friday night Jeremy and I went on a date we had arranged several months ago to see Brian Regean, a comic that we like up in Salt Lake City.  He was as hilarious as usual especially as he talked about all the joy that comes along with being in your 40s.  Jeremy could really relate.
So all in all it has been a great week of just being grateful for the life we have.
love, Heather
After getting cold with puppies and our brief inch of snow - kiddos needed to warm up by the fire

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Setting Expectations

Dear Family and Friends,

Jeremy was pointing out that we are teaching Robyn to have high expectations when her birthday comes around.  Its not just a birthday - its a birthday week.  And with the festivities spread out she was one happy little girl and by the end of the week was tired out in a happy, dreams fulfilled sort of way.  Since she has been talking about this birthday for almost two years now I was glad she enjoyed her week so much.

Monday with everyone out of school we had Robyn's birthday party.  She and 13 of her friends ran around our house in happy mayhem for a few hours.  Allison and two of her friends were Mother Gothals and loved spending the day preparing for the event and then bossing little kids around.  Spencer and his cousin Garion spent the party hunched over a video game emerging to run a freeze dance game and for cake.

And the story of the cake.  Instead of following the instructions to the letter I thought it would be fun to make the bottom of the cake out of cake instead of Styrofoam.  It looked great for around 2 hours:
Then the tower fell over despite the dowel running through the whole thing.  We propped it back up and added a bunch more skewers.  Then the bottom cake just dissolved and cake went over the whole counter - an HOUR before the party started.  So we picked everything up and mashed it back together.  Robyn was just fine with it saying that the crumbs could be the dirt on the hillside that Rapunzel sang about.  Glad she had such a good attitude.
 So we made some more frosting and covered everything back up into a gigantic cake pop.
Kids could have cared less because as the girls pointed out - cake and frosting always tastes good, no matter what it might look like.

The kids colored, did some crafts, played balloon dancing games, and broke out presents, cake and ice cream.  Then they watched Tangled while I rescued our house from chocolate cake crumbs for a little bit.  They are like magic, I swear they multiply until your room is full of little pieces of cake.
Robyn's friend Raquel cracked me up as she was telling all of us how much Robyn would love her present - she just knew it
Jeremy then returned home early to help us launch some floating lanterns.  The instructions were the worst translation we have ever seen and despite being good for a laugh were not super helpful.
Despite cold and wind and some failed attempts we finally manged to launch one.  Launch is a relative term.  Jeremy was afraid to post the video, that friends would worry about their children's and house's safety.  The lantern drifted around our yard, open flame blaring, kids running around, me trying to catch it.  But then it finally took off and sailed off into the atmosphere.  We really were going to tie string to it but we didn't think it would go anywhere since it was having such a hard time.
Kids making a wish on the first floating lantern that just torched itself and never left our hands
So we all had fun, friends and cousins stayed for awhile and then we all collapsed.  Kids were asking me as I served dinner, what we were doing for FHE?  I told them that spending the entire day together doing the party counted as FHE for this one time and that everyone now needed to hit the showers and bed.

Robyn was star of the week at school so she enjoyed bringing in posters, show and tell, treats on her birthday etc.  One of her friends missed her birthday party so she had a mock birthday party a few days later where she and her friend go to play and have cupcakes.
And then on her birthday she got to have breakfast in bed, skip all her jobs, go out for lunch with Jeremy and play with friends all day.  And then for dinner she picked her favorite meal - soup and cheese bread.  She talked to family on the phone, opened up family presents and then had Meredith stop by with balloons and flowers.  Meredith's visit was seriously the icing on the cake.  After an hour she had to pry little girl arms off of her, tell Spencer he needed to take a break from talking and escape out the door.  My family sure loves her.
Jeremy and Robyn after their Daddy birthday lunch
Jeremy convinced Robyn this year that nachos was a much better birthday meal than chicken mcnuggets

Then on Friday she had doughnuts and dads at kindergarten with Jeremy and then her cousins took her out to a movie for her birthday.  And the kicker to the whole week was that our neighbor has 8 pure bred golden retriever puppies.  Tuesday after school we went over and played with them.  They are 6 weeks old and the cuttest, fluffiest things you have ever seen.  Robyn has been visiting them whenever possible.  She and her friend Luke one day even climbed their fence to go visit.  She carries them around wrapped in baby blankets and has begged every day that we need a puppy in our house.  So Robyn has had a very, very good week.

And as far as everyone else goes...

Taylor has had a few bad days this week where he can't stop seizing.  They aren't grand mal seizures but rather that static state where he is breathing heavy, eyes fixed and dilated, can't respond etc.  Don't know why.  But on other days he has been super cheerful and alert, trying to walk and eating tons.  So it sort of balances out.

Spencer spent Saturday at a scout pow-wow from 6:30 am (yes that is 6:30 am on a Saturday morning) until 5:30 p.m.  He came home tired, with 3 merit badges and some homework in his hand.  He got himself up Saturday morning, dressed, breakfast and out the door on time.  I went back to bed, feeling all proud and then 5 minutes later he comes home knocking and ringing the door bell because he forgot to bring paper and pencil.  Oh well, progress is two steps forward, one step back.  Flexibility is definitely not in his mind-set.  On Friday he had a junior high party after school that he didn't want to go to.  So we had a talk about how its easy for him to avoid social situations and the path that leads to.  So he ended up going for the last half and enjoyed it.  I just wish he had inherited more of Jeremy's social savvy instead of my nerdiness sometimes.

Allison continues to do basketball and everything else.  She had her best game this week where she scored two baskets and did one break away with the ball the full length of the court.  She was quite stoked.
Allison and her friend Kathryn have been sewing rice bags
Jeremy had a big photo shoot this week to create some stock photos for a client.  He has been pulling some late nights as he tries to get a bunch of projects caught up.  Saturday we hired a respite worker - Craig's list really does work.  Melissa starts next weekend.  So Spencer was our babysitter yet again on Saturday while we went to dinner with some friends.  Nothing like good food in a warm restaurant while you watch a snow storm outside.  Yep, I said snow.  Finally.  Not much but at least it looks a little bit like winter now.  And then back home to watch Real Steel.  A great way to end the week.

Nice guy that Jeremy is, he gave me a facial for Christmas.  So this week I had my first chemical peel - pumpkin.  I had no idea how many things you can do to your face.  Maybe I am lower maintenance that I thought!  Thanks to a thoughtful friend who let Robyn play I cam home relaxed and with a super clean, smooth face. 

A few weeks ago I bought one of my sister Christina's drawings.  This week the frame was finished and I got to hang it up.  Looks amazing and makes me smile every time I see it.
My brother and his family come into town this week about which we are very excited.  They always have the best timing.  This is the hump time of year for me when family visits in the summer seem so far away.

Best kid quote of the week is Robyn and Luke praying over lunch: "please let us never have to date, hold hands, get married, kiss or have kids".  I was trying really hard not to laugh too loudly as they were very serious - they don't want anything to ruin their friendship.

Love, Heather

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Someone is almost 6

Dear Family and Friends,

Robyn's birthday week has officially started.  For some reason this birthday party and all the events associated with this week have been building up in her mind for months.  She and her friend Luke are here decorating her poster for her to be star of the week in her kindergarten class.  She also had to design a flag, answer a questionnaire, bring in a box of show and tell and bring treats in on her birthday.  Add that to being sung to in Primary and getting a bag of gumballs (because she "chews" the right), and having a party on Monday and she has been literally giddy.  Now I just hope everything lives up to her expectations!  She wanted a 'Tangled' party and luckily we have a sister-in-law Mimi and several on-line sites that had some great ideas.  Only thing I am nervous about doing is the floating lanterns but I am delegating that part to Jeremy.

Three times a week Robyn comes home to find McArthur here to play with.  She said that she hates babies except for McArthur because he is cute.  He really is like her own Cabbage Patch doll and she follows him everywhere.

Spencer's friend across the street broke his leg quite badly last week when all the kids were out riding on bikes.  As a result Robyn has dug up my crutches and has been using them all week.  Walking around Walmart with her hopping next to me made me very grateful this was not a permanent thing in my life.  In fact one day this week Taylor's wheelchair lift on his bus broke so I had to take him to school.  McArthur was already here so he came with us.  Pushing Taylor and carrying a carseat, brought back a lot of memories and made me wonder how I ever did that.  And made me grateful for all those people who helped me during those times in my life.

Spencer took this photo for me as he and Allison were laughing at the situation.  Kids were going to bed, I was settled on the couch for a TV show, apple and peanut butter in hand with Jeremy sewing his light box project.  Glad I wasn't the only one to see the humor of it.  Jeremy had two photo events this week, one for fun that he enjoyed and one for a job that was a challenge he was glad to be able to accomplish.  It still amazes me that this talent of his is something he discovered and has developed all within our married life.

Taylor is doing well.  He has grown - a lot.  I thought it was just my imagination but today Jeremy pointed out that earlier this year he was at my chin.  Now he is right below my eyes.  Plus he is getting heavier.  I refuse to believe that we are getting weaker.  To help fuel all this growth Taylor has decided to eat as much as we can give him.  This seems to have solved his digestive issues and left us with the unfortunate part of doing lots of laundry and more frequent diaper changes.  But a happy, healthy Taylor is worth it.  I finally put out a classified ad for a respite worker this week.  I got a few responses but when I sent out a more detailed message describing the job I didn't get one response.  Makes me worry that I scared them off!  So I will try calling them this week to see if I can make it not seem so bad.  Spencer and Allison do a good job of babysitting but they can't change Taylor or feed him.

This week I painted the toilet room part of the kids' bathroom.  I did not realize how bad it was until I started.  I am thinking less of my cleaning skills now and hoping the paint has anti-fungal properties.  So their bathroom is now neon green as we had paint left over from Allison's room.  Now I just need to paint the door from when Rocky scratched it up a few years ago.  For some reason this time of year I seem to notice all the dents, marks and dirt that need to be fixed up everywhere.

On Thursday I packed kids up to go see a dance outreach program of Labyrinth.  They only did an hour of the show and would stop to explain and talk to the kids about what was going on.  Spencer looked at me after five minutes to say with a disgusted look, "its' all ballet".  He had been quite excited to see a production of the Labyrinth.  Obviously he missed the part about "Wasatch ballet company presents...the labyrinth".  So for pizza and movie night we had to watch the movie of it.  Kids talked it up to their friends so we had a few extra kids over.  It was a nostalgia weekend as Saturday night we watched Back to the Future.  Luckily Robyn was oblivious to all the swear words as she was busy coloring her poster in the kitchen.  Why do 80's movies have so many swear words? Spencer said in the olden days, ie the 80s people smoked and swore a lot because they didn't know better.  Made me feel so ancient.

Allison continues on with basketball.  She came home Wednesday night with a bloody nose from getting hit in the face with a ball.  I guess at practice all but two girls got hurt.  It was a rough practice.  This week Allison and I worked on a skirt for her to wear to church.  She wore it today and we have decided we need to re-do some things.

We still have no snow but there are hints of a snow-storm coming tomorrow.  We have enjoyed the warm front all week that comes in front of a storm.  Yesterday kids were running outside without coats or jackets.  Taylor laid on the grass clapping and chirping while I pruned some bushes.  It just feels wrong to say its January but I am soaking up every moment afraid it will end.  We even opened up all our windows to air out the place.
Spencer took a photo with his touch for me
Spencer got his touch back Saturday after loosing it for the last month and a half due to poor grades in some of his classes.  But it is a new term, so he is back at straight A's.  It is up to him to keep them there.  Allison has been using Jeremy's old phone whenever she can so the amount of devices being used in our house is a little ridiculous.  The other day her friend Alena, Allison and Spencer were all in a row texting to each other.  Enough to make me kick them all outside and deny the reality of what is coming.

Kids have long abandoned the sugar free month, but I am hanging in there.  Don't know how much it actually improves our eating habits but it sure wakes me up to how much sugar our family takes in every day.  Robyn was in tears this morning because there were no chocolate chips in her pancakes.  Figure its a good reality check for everyone.

Love to you all and will post lots of pictures next week of Robyn's birthday excitement.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Recent Family Photos

So I let Heather do most of the posting as we all know, but I after getting a little comment flak (yeah, I read them Mimi) about the lack of Christmas photos I figured it was time for me to throw a few photos into a post. I have taken a little bit of a photo break following the completion of my 365 daily photo project last year. It was high time for a moment to take a breather. Still, some family photos have been made, so here are a few to share.

Allison enjoying some quiet time in her room with the iPad, a hot commodity in the house

Fun with Dad's wide angle lens on the iPhone
What's good for one is good for all, right?
Heather busy at the kitchen counter, enduring my photo taking
Spencer taking Dad's photo as Dad takes Spencer's
Here are a few others from Allison's first basketball game. You can see the complete gallery here with of course many more photos.

That ought to do for now. I'll try to keep Heather more flush with family photo options to post.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Back to reality

Dear Family and Friends,

This week seemed to fly by as everyone returned to their normal schedules.  Monday everyone had the day off.  Jeremy spent the day catching up on projects and his to do list and enjoyed a day of nothing scheduled in his life.  Kids helped clean up the Christmas decorations and restore their rooms to some form of normalcy.  I thought they would want to spend the afternoon going miniature golfing as a family but everyone begged to just have one more afternoon of freedom and friends so that is what we did.  I was amazed at the dust bunnies everywhere as we put decorations away but now our house feels strangely empty as everything is packed up.

Kids were excited about going back to school but getting back to normal school sleep times meant a little more emotion and drama in our house this week.  Spencer must have set some New Year's goal as he was the happy, get everything done without being asked one this week.  It was great!

Robyn learned this week how to make an egg sandwich by herself.  She is quite proud of her new skill.  And by herself, I mean 100%.  She toasts her english muffin, cuts her cheese, microwaves her egg etc and then cleans everything up.  She practically beams as she cooks and has made her own breakfast or lunch several times this week.  She has been counting down the days to her birthday and birthday party.  This week we planned out what we wanted to do and she made and delivered her invitations.  She asks every day if it is time to decorate for her party.

Really there is no big news this week.  It has been one of those weeks where everything just hums along and makes you so grateful for normalcy.  Allison had her first basketball games this Saturday.  She has never played basketball before and it has been a big learning curve.  But it is fun to see her so excited and trying to listen to her coach and do what she says.  (We haven't had that experience before with sports and kids :) ).  Jeremy's new lens arrived this week so he was enjoying breaking it out for the game.  Spencer who has taken to wearing his camera at all times following in his footsteps.  At times a little too literally but Jeremy tries to grin and enjoy it.  Spencer had a library class for tweens that he goes to twice a month and learned how to make poi balls.  Throw in piano lessons, guitar lessons, dance classes, volunteer stuff, and catching up on errands and the week is full.  I picked out a frame this week for a sketch of my sister's that I bought and got a bunch of books on hold at the library that I was waiting for.  So really nothing big but at the same time weeks like this make me so grateful for the little things we have.  I did sign up yesterday for my second tri for the year that will be at the end of August.  I am a little nervous about it as it will be a challenge as its Olympic length and its open water.  But it will be good to push myself to try something new.  And as promised last week here are some Christmas photos.

Love, Heather

We are so mean, our kids sit at the top of the stairs while we get Taylor ready, anxious to run down.
Robyn really wanted pink yarn - don't ask me why
Allison and Robyn reading the letter Santa wrote back to answer their questions
Robyn could not stop dancing with happiness that morning
Spencer and his lizard gear.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Catching up at last

Dear Friends and Family,

With Christmas and New Years happening on Sundays this year my usual blog time disappeared and I wasn't able to find it again these last two weeks.  Some of my favorite parts of these week  was just all the family time.  While some of my least favorite parts of these last two weeks were also family times.  But as Spencer said Christmas morning with a big smile on his face, "this Christmas is just awesome.  It really is".

Our kids had school the Monday and Tuesday before Christmas which were filled with their school parties for the younger set and tests and projects for Spencer.  He was feeling a little gypped about junior high not having class parties.  We had a few friends over to make Christmas cookies one day.  We went with some friends in tow to help in the deciding process, to petsmart so each kids could pick out a toy for an animal in our house.  We had several friends over and just enjoyed the season.

Our or really I should say my Christmas present arrived Monday evening.  We got a new L-shaped couch with an ottoman for our family room.  It has already been WELL tested out and has been a hit.

Spencer had a little bit of a rough beginning to the vacation.  We met with his new psychiatrist which was interesting as he has a very different approach and expects Spencer to manage his own care more.  Which is good but it is sort of a sit up and pay attention expereience.  Then on Thursday Spencer had an 8 am appointment (I just want to point out that 8 am means we ALL leave at 7:30, during Christmas vacation!) to get two of his back baby molars pulled.  One had become infected and one was stuck in the bone but both needed to come out so the permanent teeth coming in sideways underneath could straighten out.  It was not a pleasant experience for him.  And the next few days were spent with him crying as he tried to eat and complaining about everything hurting.  On Friday night Spencer, Allison, Jeremy and I went to a improv rendition of A Christmas Carol.  I realized that Spencer was having a really tough time as this is how the night looked from 5 minutes on:
Keep in mind that it was a huge theater and very noisy.  He slept like a baby through it all.  Christmas Eve he was a bit better but said everything hurt to much to ice skate so he spent the afternoon watching us while he read his book.  I realized he wasn't just complaining about his mouth but also his thighs and hips and elbows.  So we measured him and realized he had grown an inch that month.  He is now 5'7" and we explained what growing pains and suffering in silence meant.  But by Christmas morning he was back to eating most foods and being cheerful again.

Christmas Eve we met up with Jason, Kelly and their extended family for our traditional ice skating afternoon.  Taylor loved being pushed around on the ice and his wheelchair made a great support for unsteady skaters.  Then it was back to our house for nacho night, girls splashing in the hot tub, watching Elf and visiting.  Robyn sprinkled her reindeer glitter (glitter and oatmeal) all over our porch so Rudolph would find our house.  Allison wrote out a letter to Santa.  We read Twas the night before Christmas in front of the fire with everyone leaning on mom.  It was one of those perfect moments.  Then we read the Nativity story for our scriptures and the moment was gone.  (This year we wrote letters to Christ of what we would do for him this year as a gift and put it in a treasure box under the tree to be opened up next year. Thought it would be such a spiritual moment.  Maybe it was for a minute but then again it disappeared.  Seems like if I try to stage a really good FHE, it doesn't work.  It has to be more spontaneous.)  But everyone went to bed after the poking and teasing died down, eager to go to sleep.  The girls slept cuddled together in Allison's bed so they could listen for Santa.  Jeremy and I got to hang out till the house was quiet watching MoneyBall and the peace and quiet of a happy house.

Christmas morning our kids know they can't get up before 7:30 but right on the dot you can hear all the alarms going off and knocking on our door. Christmas photos are coming via Jeremy as I don't think I broke out my camera once.  We opened presents all morning, ate french toast and sausages and just enjoyed our day together.  Then it was off to an hour of sacrament and singing hymns which just really made the day.  I think Christmas should be on a Sunday every year.  Then we bundled up and were off to Jason and Kelly's for dinner.  It felt strange and so much less stress to just show up with our dish at someone else's house on Christmas Day.  We had fun eating and visiting with kids showing off their new toys.

Spencer got all the stuff he needs for his bearded dragon.  Now he just has to save up and go buy one.  I am curious how long it will take him.  Allison got new stuff for her bed.  At first it looked like this:
But then she decided her room needed a make-over to match her cool new bed.  So:
Our inspiration was a room with pastel stripes.  This turned out a little brighter than I thought.  But it looks cute and Allison loves it.  She feels so grown-up.  So I spent a lot of my time working on this.  The girls would hang out and talk to me and help paint the occasional stripe.  My favorite moment is when they were lying on Allison's bed playing a game.  Allison was trying to get Robyn to kiss her feet and Robyn was trying to kiss her cheek.  It involved lots of tickling and giggling and moments of "Robyn Ann Hall you cannot tickle me there!"

Jeremy technically had Monday after Christmas off.  Instead he spent the morning repairing our garbage disposal which had gone caput Christmas Eve.  Then having to buy a new one and install it.  He had a good friend come help him out.  The difference is night and day.  I seriously thought the new disposal was broken when he turned it on, our cabinets don't shake anymore.  Then because he forgot to punch through the hole connecting the tube to the dishwasher he spent the next evening cleaning out a disgusting dish washer - with a smile.  That guy just is racking up the points, I tell you.  Did I mention he also spent his day off cleaning the office and standing in a crowded noisy line for an hour to get our family pass printed for 7 peaks/trafalga?
Nothing huge happened the rest of the week, just enjoying vacation days.  We were a bad influence on Jeremy as none of us wanted to get up early.  Played with friends, read new books, had some late nights, Jeremy and I got to go on TWO dates.  One of which was to go to dinner and see Sherlock Holmes with some friends.  Lately I feel like my time with kids is getting shorter and shorter so I try to bring them everywhere with me.  And then I am always tearing my hair at moments, going why, why did I do this to myself?  So some adult outings bring my sanity back.

The kids and I did get to go check out a very cool new museum in SLC which was all about technology and art.  I am not sure which they were most impressed with, the museum or the city library next door that we walked through.  But they still say its one of the coolest places they have ever seen.  Good thing as we got a year pass so we will have to go back!

Saturday we celebrated New Year's Eve by having cousins come for a sleepover.  We played in the hot tub:
 We played on the  computer:
And broke out the fondue and cheeseball:
We watched movies, did sparklers and pop-it fireworks and at midnight ran around in our PJs banging pots and pans, screaming Happy New Years and watching our neighbor's firework show.  Great night and everyone slept in and was reasonably happy for the next day.  Jason and Kelly joined us that night for dinner and to take some tired kids home.  A great way to see in the New Year's.

Today I have been trying to catch up on our house and my to-do's.  Kids go back to school tomorrow about which they are not excited.  We have quickly fallen back into the vacation mode and coming out of it will take some effort.  I am not excited to run in the pitch black again.  And we are doing the sugar free January again.  Or at least till my brother's family arrives.  I was surprised at how willing our kids were to jump on board this time.  Maybe they sugared themselves out during the break or since we cleaned rooms today and I found plenty of stashes of loot, they just think they will get enough on the sly.  I will try to load Allison's first attempts at making videos below and the dance recitals.  Allison in the dance recital is the short one on the right and Robyn is the one who can't stop looking at her teacher off stage to make sure she is doing it right.   Love and hope all had a very Merry Christmas,