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Sunday, February 26, 2012

"The best Saturday ever" - Allison

Yesterday was one of those days where you pinch yourself to make sure that your family and life is for real.  Thanks go a generous Jeremy I spent the morning enjoying a small piece of heaven at a spa.  I came home to find that not only had he gone with Allison to her last basketball game, they had emptied the dishwasher, gone and cleaned the office and then cleaned the van for me.  To say it mildly I was blown away.  Allison then went with a friend, BY THEMSELVES, to our local dollar movie theater to watch I bought a zoo.  They took my cell phone with them for any emergencies along with a purse of treats and felt like they were super mature.  I couldn't believe she is old enough to do things like this.  I am not sure if I would let her loose at the big movie theater but the little dollar one is run by high school students and her swim teachers.  Afterwards with some friends in tow we went to Krispie Kremes to turn in their report cards for free doughnuts.  And then, yep the day is not over yet, we had an adult only ward party where a group of couples came to our house for dinner and then we all went to the church to play games and have dessert.  It was a really, really good day. 

Only downer on the weekend is that Jeremy is sick.  Must be something about the springtime.  He is on all his heavy duty meds again, sounds like a frog and can't hear out of one ear so well.  It seems to be too early for allergies to be kicking in but we have had some serious wind storms this week which could be blowing something around.  And to add insult to injury he has had a pretty stressful week.  Things have not been going as planned with the studio remodeling.  He has spent a lot of time there this week cleaning things up in the evening and the trying to figure out things with the construction guy.  He needs a weekend away on some warm beach somewhere, right about now.  Instead he went with Spencer to the youth baptism for the dead trip.  I tell you more and more Jeremy teaches me that being a man is doing what needs to be done whether you want to or not.

Monday the kids were out of school.  So while Jeremy worked away, we went up to SLC to visit the Leonardo museum.  One of their favorite parts is the art studio.  I am always stealing ideas to use with the kindergartner art class.  And that night our friends the Hancocks came over to join us for dinner.  We love visiting with their family and it was a great excuse to make a mud pie!

Tuesday I spent the day with Allison and her class doing a field trip, touring the Energy Solutions Arena and then the new Utah Natural History Museum.  The trip lasted from 8 until 2:30.  It was fun to hang out with Allison and her friends but it sure felt like a long school day.   I had one of those moment where someone leading the trip was extremely inconsiderate.  It was one of those moments where you just shake your head and go, "really, that can't have just happened".  I realize that I need to watch what I say because when I express a little displeasure it comes out of Allison's mouth, blown up ten times more.  But my car of kids all handled it like troopers, and sucked it up a bit. 

Allison had her last basketball practice and game this week.  If she is doing a dance team like she is planning next year, I doubt she will be able to do basketball again.  She sure loved her coach and team though and worked really hard to get better.

On Thursday night we had our Stake Relief Society Meeting.  We had Sister Virginia H. Pearce speak.  It was an awesome night that gave me a lot of food for thought.  This meeting helped me with my humility as not only did I misquote our scripture theme on all the posters, I sent out 870 invitations with the WRONG DATE on it.  Luckily everyone figured out it was supposed to say February 23rd not January.  I think I am a stake secretary simply so all the ward secretaries can feel really good about their own efforts.

Friday was Robyn's Kindy 500.  She spent the week painting her car with Allison helping.  She wanted a Rapunzel car and was quite proud of her efforts.  They had a parade in their cars and then spent an hour going to different road stops to learn about the national monuments, get bumper stickers for their cars, fill up with gas and ice cream and have a great time.

Friday morning I was able to go at 5:30 am with two of my friends to the temple.  One of my friends was getting her thyroid biopsied later that day.  I was feeling like I was so heroic to get up that early until I arrived at the temple.  The parking lot was full of workers who had already been there for almost an hour.  Plus youth were there to do baptisms before school.  Another lesson in humility as I realized how many people just quietly do things like this all the time.  So it really was a good week.  I have that convenient Mom memory that forgets cranky yelling kids so easily.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Breakfast Pizza

We have pizza once a week.  That means that I have to add variety or I would go crazy although my kids could handle pepperoni pizza every day without complaint.

Breakfast Pizza
Pizza dough for 1 crust (I usually make the dough 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 regular flour)
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 c ricotta cheese
salt and pepper
2 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 green onions chopped
1/2 c spinach leaves optional
4 eggs

1. Roll the dough out into a pizza crust  and put into pizza pan.  Make sure the crust has a lip to it. Bake crust at 450 degrees till starting to lightly brown, about 8 minutes.
2. Spread ricotta cheese all over the crust.  Sprinkle with bacon, salt and pepper, cheese, green onions and spinach leaves.  Carefully crack the four eggs in the center of the pizza.  I like to crack the yolks just a little bit.
3. Cook for 10 more minutes or until eggs are firm.
4. Serve with salsa or hot sauce if desired.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mud Pie

When we were first married I had some friends, the James family, who introduced me to this pie.  They would make it for Greg's birthday every year.  It is very simple and can be made in a 9 x 13 pan but I like the presentation of it made in a springform pan.  It does need to be started the day before you plan to eat it or plan on getting up very early.  I made this to share with a family with nut allergies but otherwise its fun to add another layer of caramel topping or use peanut butter cup ice cream.

Mud Pie

1 package oreo cookies
1 package cream cheese 8 oz
1 box vanilla ice cream
1 container hot fudge 16 oz or so
1 small container cool whip

1. Spray your pan with cooking spray.  If you are using a springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper to make it easier to serve.
2. Save 4 oreo cookies to decorate the top of the cake with.  Mash the rest of the oreo cookies in a food processor or in a bag with a rolling pin until the cookies are uniform crumbs.  Mix together with a package of oreo cookies.  Press the cookies into the bottom of your pan for your crust.
3. Soften then ice cream.  You can microwave it on half power for 30 second intervals or leave it on your counter for 20 minutes.  Spread the ice cream over the oreo cookie crust and then freeze until firm.
4. Warm the hot fudge topping and pour it over the ice cream layer.  Freeze until firm.
5. Spread coolwhip on top of the hot fudge and decorate with cookies.  Freeze until firm.
6. Let the pie set out for 5 to 10 minutes before you serve it to let it soften.

Serves 12-15

As many of you know I have been experimenting with rolls for the past two years.  I appreciate my neighbors and friends sending over recipes and sample, we have tried them all.  But this recipe from my friend Brenda who got it from her sister-in-law Jena is my favorite.  It is super easy and never fails me.  It is not the melt in your mouth rolls made with two cups of butter and risen twice etc.  But those kind of rolls never turn out 100% for me, they are more hit and miss.  Plus I have to plan my day around them to some extent.  These rolls I can start at 5 and have them for dinner at 6.  Plus it takes zero skill really which is exactly my type of recipe.  The sea salt and rosemary are optional but add a lot to the recipe.  Lecithin I can find at most grocery stores now in the baking aisle.  It gives the rolls some longevity so they taste good even when they aren't fresh from the oven.  These can also be cooked as cinnamon rolls or bread but although they will taste good, they aren't the best.

1 Hour Rolls

5 ¼ cup flour (whole wheat or white or any combination)
½ Tablespoon salt
1 ½ Tablespoons yeast
¼ cup sugar (OR 1/3 cup honey)
2 Tablespoons liquid soy lecithin
2 cups hot tap water
Coarse Kosher salt and Rosemary

Mix all dry ingredients in stand mixer first.

Add lecithin and water.

Mix for 5 minutes if mostly white, 10 minutes if mostly wheat.

Spray counter and pans with cooking spray . Roll into loaves or pinch off into roll sizes. Place in greased 9 x 13 pan

Let rise about 25-30 minutes, until almost double in size.  Spray with pam or brush with melted butter.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and rosemary leaves.  Trust me, this makes it taste really good.

Bake at 350 degrees rolls about 18 minutes, loaves about 25 minutes.
Makes about 15 rolls or 2 loaves.

This recipe is from my sister-in-law Mimi who got it from her sister who got it from her friend etc.  But my kids think it is the best thing to hit bread since strawberry lemonade jam.  They had honey butter for breakfast on their toast, honey butter sandwiches for lunch and honey butter on their rolls for dinner.  Usually honey butter gets hard to spread but this stays easily spreadable even when you keep it in the fridge.  Jeremy thinks it would taste a little bit better if the marshmallow cream was halved but his sweet tooth isn't as prominent as the rest of us.

Honey Butter

8oz jar of marshmallow cream
1 cup butter
1 cup honey
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Blend all of the ingredients in a mixer with a dough attachment not with a whisk.  Let it sit for an hour or two before you use it so the flavors can blend.  Store in the refrigerator.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

It snowed, it really snowed

Today we woke up to snow.  Allison made us all waffles, from scratch, by herself.  And then kids suited up with smiles to head outside and make snow igloos and snow angels.  They are in snow heaven out there and I am just feeling super content in life.  There really isn't much snow and the roads have already melted but our kids have been missing their winter.  Robyn is singing Christmas songs at the top of her voice and everyone is too happy to even mutter a "shut up Robyn" when they think I can't hear.
My good mood might be in part to last night.  Jeremy planned a special date for Valentine's Day and took me up to the Tree Room at Sundance and then we stopped at our local sticky feet cheap seat theater to watch Mission Impossible 3.  Since our movie was a bit spontaneous we ended up getting tickets not next to each other, our first time ever.  But it was just a great evening to remember that we actually do like spending time together.

Valentine's Day this week meant a little sugar high was going on.  Robyn helped me with Allison's class party and she was in heaven.  Face painting, decorating valentine card bags, going on a treasure hunt, hitting pinatas, decorating cupcakes and making root beer.  Throw in Robyn's class party that morning, random treats appearing with little love notes all day and dance classes with treats and our girls were quite happy.  Spencer thought the fact that junior high just does regular school work and test on Valentine's day a little bit unfair.  And then Jeremy surprised me that night by a bathroom with a big bath bath drawn, candles, chocolates, one of my favorite new TV shows on his ipad and the promise to lock the door and put all the kids to bed - is that true love or what?!

Our kids' school does a mail system where kids can send letters to each other and they have mailmen that help deliver notes to each class's mailbox.  What I love is finding out this week that our kids have been sending letters to each other.  Robyn's usually involves a princess picture and a "Hi Spencer, I love you Robyn."  But then Spencer will write back how much he likes her letter and how good she is doing at school.  One of these days I will take a photo of these letters as Spencer makes sure Robyn hides them as he doesn't want me to see any mushiness.  Nice to know that some good things go on in our household that I don't know about.

On Wednesday Jason and Kelly took our three kids to an ice hockey game.  We were all going to go but it ended up being our ward temple night for ward conference.  So Taylor stayed home with a very nice beehive doing her homework while he slept.  Our three other kids thought it was great.  The girls couldn't understand why people were cheering on the fights but Spencer recounted each fight with gusto.  A late night for a school night so they were all a half hour late for school the next day as we let them sleep in a little.  A small price to pay for a great time.

Taylor has had a good week, except for yesterday when he was out of it all day.  But the rest of the time he has been walking around and making his bass happy sounds - all day and all night.  At 2 in the morning it doesn't fill me with quite as much gratitude to see him coming back to normality.

On Friday night we had a cousin night at our house along with a friend of Allison's came over.  Jeremy and I were just laughing as we put pizza in the oven and heard this all in the space of a few minutes: Allison, "my friend doesn't eat anything that comes from animals, has sugar, artificial stuff or salt" (what?!  we really had to think about what she could eat for dinner as the rest of us unhealthy people had pizza and salad), Kayla, "I had a really sick stomach today so I had to say home from school.  I don't know if I need a throw-up bucket" Garion, "she isn't sick, she is just grounded because she wouldn't go to school so she can't watch the movie or have dessert", Brynn, "I don't eat salad, my mom never makes me eat vegetables" (followed by an hour and a half of screaming and trying to hide her salad).  Can I just say that it pays to have a sense of humor when you are a parent?

Speaking of humor, I need to record our car conversations.  On the way to clean the office and cheer on Allison's basketball game these were the questions we faced back to back: "how many people follow Satan?  if 1/3 followed Satan does that mean Robyn is going with Satan and Spencer and Allison aren't?  Where is the Bermuda triangle and why do people vanish there?  What happened to Amelia Earheart".  This is why parents get in traffic accidents.

As part of the Valentine week festivities the kids had crazy hair day this week.
Spencer has been having some pretty stylish hair lately.  A month ago Wednesday Jeremy bet Spencer $10 that he couldn't remember to do his hair with a comb and gel every single day.  It has been great!  I couldn't decide if its good parenting technique to bribe our kids for personal hygiene habits but it works.

And the topper of the week is that I had my dentist appointment, and NO cavities.  I now live in dread when I go to the dentist that another root canal or crown is in the works as it was for so long.  But I must be living in the in between golden years.  Half my mouth is fake and the other half has yet to go.

Kids are now coming in for hot chocolate and to get ready for church.  Must be that time.  My favorite quote of the week was from Robyn in a very little prissy, bossy voice, "Dad, which is more important taking off you shoes or giving your daughter a hug?"
Love, heather

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Back to real life

This week has been getting back to our normal routines once again now that our visitors are gone.  There have been a few squawks and murmuring about jobs and normal bed times and our quiet house, and not just from the kids.

This week I met with Taylor's teachers and therapists for his yearly IEP and then with the other kids' teachers for their parent teacher conferences.  Junior high conferences are not my favorite because you have to go sit in line and wait to speak to every one of your kids' teachers.  Luckily I had a good book!  Taylor is coming back to where he was a year ago which is good to see him sort of wake up to life once again but it isn't like he is making progress anywhere.  I learned how to change him standing up instead of lying down, which everyone swore to me will be easier but I haven't bought into it completely yet. Taylor is now up to my eyes as he continues to grow so I better get used to changing him standing quickly.  Spencer is learning not to constantly make comments, ask questions etc but to think before he opens his mouth.  And he seems to be figuring out the homework thing.  This week he got his touch back about which he was literally jumping up and down and clicking his heels for.  Our rule is he looses his touch if any of his classes get below a B.  Allison is as always straight A's everywhere, gets along with everyone and excels everywhere.  I worry sometimes that she will push herself too hard but she likes to challenge herself.  Robyn is just middle of the road, learning how to sound out different words and get more fluent.  It is fun with Robyn that I get to teach her class every week for 30 minutes as I really get to see her world.

Friday night the kids and I went to attend a storytelling event.  Jeremy enjoyed an unheard of night at home to catch up on work and watch a movie.  By himself, in peace and quiet, with nachos.  He was a happy man.  Kids and I enjoyed laughing at the story tellers.  It was one of those nights where its all good but it requires more effort on your part as a parent.  Some events with kids just flow, others have little girls begging loudly, in the front row that she needs to go home now or have a big piece of chocolate out of Mom's stash in her purse, or now that she has had said chocolate she needs to walk back through a huge auditorium to get a drink - repeat several times.  But the next day all three of them retold the stories over and over, so I think the night was a hit.

On Saturday Jeremy and I went and picked up my road bike for my birthday.  I rode it home and learned a few minutes later that road bikes are different than mountain bikes when I hit a bunch of railroad tracks.  So now I have some nice road rash on one leg.  Guess that is what happens when a clutzy nerd tries to get athletic.  But the bike is awesome and I rode it around a bunch enjoying the speed.  of course today the rain and snow hit so I am not sure how much I will get to use it this week but I have big plans for this summer.

Saturday night our new respite worker, Melissa started.  Kids all really like her and she seems to fit in well.  After training her we left for a few hours on our "date".  It really was an awesome date as we went to our old ward's adult valentine dinner.  Jeremy took pictures of all the couples and then we got to hang out with our friends and catch up and laugh.  They did a slide show of everyone's high school pictures.  Earlier that week I had pulled a picture out of me and Jeremy said I should not submit it as I was really homely in that picture, "there has to be a better one".  I assured him that is exactly what I looked like at 15.  So Saturday night I won the award for "Biggest Surprise".  Jeremy was just doubled up with laughter and said I should view it as a big compliment.  I viewed it as a huge tribute to my parents and young women leaders who never made me feel that I looked as nerdy as I did!

I don't feel like the mundane tasks of the week would interest anyone but myself.  Probably I am the only person who was excited to clean out our kitchen cupboards this week from crumbs and debris.  But I love mundane days where you just realize that everything is clicking and working the way it should.

Love, Heather
Our "cookie hamburgers" we made for the Superbowl.  Peanut butter cookies sprinkled on top with sesame seeds and brownies and red frosting in between.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What a week

Today feels eerily quiet.  My brother Daniel and his family left last night after a week of fun, visiting, excursions and treats.  We were spoiled rotten with family and coming back to reality is a little bit of a downer.  The time went by way too fast.

For starters, I had a great birthday.  We met some of my friends at Kneaders for breakfast - their french toast cannot be beat.  With Robyn home from kindergarten we headed over to Kangaroo Zoo to run kids silly around all their inflatable toys.  Then with tired girls home with a patient Daniel, Mimi and I went for pedicures.  Jeremy asked all his friends to text me Happy Birthday so my phone was constantly buzzing me with the message "Happy Birthday, Your hubby loves you".  Friends dropped off little treats and sweet notes.  Jeremy showed up with roses and we had cheesecake.  The love shown was greatly appreciated and I was truly touched, all day long.
Tuesday we checked out Robyn from school and headed up to the Children's Museum with little girlies in tow.  Spencer and Allison have really outgrown that place but Robyn is their target demographic age as she loves it.  My favorite quote of the day was a conversation between Claire and Robyn.
Claire: "My dad is the greatest"

Robyn: "No, my dad is the greatest.  But your mom is the funnest.  She is the queen of fun"

So Mimi has a new name in our house.  One night at dinner Robyn comes up to Mimi afterwards to tell her that she ate all her dinner.  Mimi said OK and moved on.  A few minutes later Robyn came up to me to say that she had eaten all her dinner but Mimi hadn't done the "done dance" with her.  The things that girl remembers...  So of course Mimi broke out the "done dance" for her and made her night.  And every night girls hit the hot tub and baths afterwards.  Robyn was right there with Claire and Samantha telling Mimi and Daniel that they could rub her with lotion and stretch her to make her tall just like their daughters.

Wednesday we grabbed Allison from school and went to Sundance for the afternoon.  Robyn had never skied before and took to it like a duck to water.  Spencer stayed in school and then babysat Taylor for us as an afternoon on the bunny slope did not appeal to him and I wouldn't let him head off on the mountain by himself.  It was one of those perfect afternoons.

Thursday and Friday were filled more with real life although we did get to have a girls only dinner with Taylor as our token meal at Pizza Factory that night.  And then Friday we had a babysitter come over while adults only headed up to Red Iguana one of my favorite Mexican restaurants.  Spencer was telling us we should get the nachos as when he had them "they were epic".  So Jeremy obliged.  And we returned home with JCW milkshakes to share.

Saturday we had some crabby kids so we ended up just hanging out and visiting instead of going anywhere.
This week I often felt like I should be apologizing for the tantrums, mess and screaming that goes along with our family.  But really that is who we are.  Or should I say who Spencer is - ha ha ha.  But really it made me glad that we all accept each other warts and all and work with what our family is.
On Thursday night Jeremy and Spencer got to go up to SLC with the youth to tour the conference center and watch The Testaments.  Then Spencer came home at 10 and did some homework and then got up an hour early to do some homework again the next morning.  Made me realize that he is growing up.

Allison had another basketball game this Saturday.  She is sticking with her pattern of making 2 baskets and then a bunch of assists.  Afterwards the team did a congo line all around the junior high as they waited to do their team picture - their team really has a fun time together.

A mom moment I forgot to share last week.  Jeremy was gone and the kids and I were doing family prayer together upstairs on the landing.  Allison excused herself to go to the bathroom and when she turned to flush a toy phone in her shirt pocket fell out into the toilet bowl.  For some reason she thought getting it out was a mom job.  I disagreed.  Lots of tears - we are talking 10 minutes of tears.  Robyn was offering to get it for her.  Spencer was telling her she was a wimp for even thinking of letting her little sister do it for her.  So while Allison went to go find a rubber glove Robyn went in and bare handed it.  While I explained to her why she needed to REALLY scrub her hand and arm, Allison started bawling more because she was now a wimp.  So Allison went into the bathroom, glove in hand, slammed the door, dropped the phone back into the toilet and bare handed it herself just to prove that she could do it, and then took a disinfecting shower for a LONG time.  I couldn't decide if I was really mean or if I should just laugh.  I chose to laugh.

Superbowl starting, Jason's family coming over, 7-layer dip and hamburger cookies made (peanut butter cookies with brownie and red frosing sandwiched in between) so we are ready to go.  Hopefully Jeremy can relax a bit.  Between church, work, some studio stuff plus getting a new tenant in the condo with all the cleaning and fixing and paperwork that entails - Jeremy hasn't been able to have much free time.  Hoping things ease up for him.  And now for some photos from last week.  Love Heather