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Sunday, September 30, 2012


Allison is now officially 11 years old.  She waited patiently Friday morning to have breakfast in bed - sausages, toast with eggs cooked in the middle of the toast and juice.  She pretended she couldn't hear us getting ready for the 30 minutes before.  We let her open 2 presents of her choice before school as Spencer was going camping that evening and would be gone.  She got a blue old fashioned phone for her room that she loves and pretends to be making calls on even though it isn't hooked up yet.

At school she passed around Jolly Ranchers and life-savers to everyone - her treat of choice.  I came in to teach art and we created a massive Mona Lisa mural.  Then she came home to spent the afternoon prepping with me for her party.  She had a great birthday and seemed to just be on cloud 9 all day.
I learned that fondant is HARD to do but Allison didn't care that her cake was more Dr Suess than Martha Stewart.  She helped make the owl to top the cake.
She and I made little owl hair clips to give to all the girls.
We made little mice and teddy bears for each girl.  And then at the party they decorated the front of their altoid tin house.
Throw in a dinner of lasagna and garlic bread (Allison's favorite), some reverse charades (watching girls try to act out skunk was hilarious), running around the backyard with glow in the dark bracelets doing tag and dancing a samba line, then curling up on the couch to watch pixar shorts made for a great evening.  And thanks to all you thought of her on her special day.  Its hard to believe that 11 years and 8 months ago I was just crossing my fingers and praying hard for a little girl.  (And then freaking out for a few weeks when I learned my prayers were being answered.  For those who knew Spencer at 2 and Taylor at 5 you will understand why.)

To give Allison some big girl time, Jeremy took Robyn out for dinner during the party.  We promised we would wait on cake and presents for her.  And Spencer was off camping in the mountains for the night so it was a girlie evening with Taylor gladly helping out by eating cake and ice cream twice.

Allison decided to postpone her lunch date with Jeremy till Saturday so she could go to Chinese Gourmet for their all you can eat shrimp.  She decided to start her fast Saturday as she came home stuffed and happy.
Saturday morning was a bit rocky as we had to go clean the church at 7 am.  After a late celebratory night the girls were not super excited to go but they did.  Then they came home to crash with Melissa while Jeremy and I spent the morning driving the Alpine Loop.  It is gorgeous and breathtaking and so much better driving it in a convertible than stuck in a van!
Jeremy has had 3 photo shoots this week with fall colors playing a big part in them.  He also agreed to fish sit for a few months so we now have a big fish tank in his office.
This week we had parent teacher conferences.  Spencer was slammed with projects as they all seemed to be due this week.  For some reason the idea of having two weeks to complete a project in his mind means he has two weeks to get started.  We are working on that!  But he is doing well in all his classes and his teachers say if he causes problems by talking a million miles a minute and having to answer every question they know just to tell him to calm down and back off a little.  The benefit of having a small school.  Allison is as always getting 100% in everything and making me wonder if I should accept teacher's advice and skip her a grade.  They have been suggesting that since 3rd grade but it has never felt right to me.  Perhaps if she wasn't so small.  Robyn is just right on grade level, happy, helpful and follows directions.  So despite approaching conferences always a little nervous, all was well so far in schooldom.

Taylor got measured this week for his new wheelchair.  He will hopefully get it at the end of December.  It will be a lot bigger and recline.  We made some compromises so that we wouldn't have to get a wheelchair van.  But to fit it in our van will require us taking it apart and putting it together each time.  A pain but so would either getting a huge van with a lift or loosing our back row of seats with a ramp.

Spencer met with his psychiatrist this week as well.  First, 150 pounds!  That just still surprises me.  He asked Spencer what he did after school and Spencer replied, jobs, homework, sometimes a piano lesson or tennis lesson and then I go to bed.  There isn't time to do anything else.  I sadly realized that lately that has been true.  Hopefully, life and homework will slow down a bit for him soon. 

Fall hit this week with rain and cooler temperatures.  I put out our Halloween decorations and have been sleeping with our bedroom windows open.  I love the smell of fall.  And since our computer is back up here are the pictures from last week when I took the kids and Allison's friend Andra up the canyon for a hike to Big Springs.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Computer Failure

Well no photos today as last night my computer officially died.  Spencer has put on mourning and I realize how many times a day I check my email.  Since my phone is also on the fritz I feel a little disconnected with the world.  It will be good to go on a technology diet for awhile.  So I am down in the bat cave on Jeremy's computer realizing that you really cannot hear anything that is going on upstairs.  I can see why he likes it down here.

Today while our friends took Taylor and Robyn for us we were able to go to the Brigham City Temple dedication.  Allison was very excited as it is her first.  She had one of her great-great-grandmother's handkerchiefs to wave in the air which she thought was very cool and came home to put her temple ticket in her memory box.  Spencer and us are having a little talk about the appropriateness of burping in public and he is starting back on prilosec tomorrow.  Last Sunday, Spencer got up and made me breakfast in bed - an egg sandwich and juice without me waking him up or anyone helping in any way.  He came in and gave it to me and gave me a hug and said "good-job on your test".  Later this week he spent the entire day until 10 pm at night working away on his homework.  Moments like those make you feel like a pat on the back, like you must have done something right as a parent.  And then there are mornings where he is freaking out as he can't find his homework (that he found later in his backpack where he put it to make sure he wouldn't forget it) or temple ceremonies where he lets loose several loud burps that make you put your head in your hands and feel that you have really messed up this opportunity God gave you to raise your child.  Someone told me once that God gives us children so that He can raise them.  Our job is simply to not get in the way but to do what He would have us do.  Sounds so simple...

This week Allison and Spencer finished off their 50 miles for the summer.  They started the first day of summer in June and had until the last day which was this week.  The deal was they could run 50 miles for 50 dollars, or hiking/walking/biking counted as 3 miles to 1 mile running.  Spencer ran maybe 5 miles total out of the 50 as he is not a runner.  Allison was jogging away though.  So they were excited to count out their money and fill up their wallets.

Last Sunday we took our dinner up Provo Canyon to South Fork.  While there we noticed a neat trail that we couldn't really explore in my church shoes too well.  So Saturday morning after an early church meeting the three kids, Allison's friend Andra and I went back to check it out.  It was gorgeous to be surrounded by creeks and streams, red maples, yellow aspens and amazing views.  It was a little under a 4 mile loop to do the Big Springs trail.  The "springs" were not super impressive but the waterfalls and streams along the way were.  Spencer had a huge walking stick and a camelback and strode along ahead, stopping to point out snakes.  Robyn held my hand and collected leaves so her room could smell like nature and Allison and Andra just stopped for every bug and chipmunk and were in their own world of happiness.

In October we are going to Mexico for a week.  I am excited to show off my biker's tan!  I am tan from mid-thigh down and no where else.  Saturday night in preparation for wearing swimsuits we shopped for shorts for Jeremy and then met some other couples who are going at the same time to devour large amounts of food at Tucanos.  It happened to also be a chalk art festival so Riverwoods was packed and a big party was going on everywhere we looked.  The chalk art was very impressive.

Jeremy has been filling his plate with photo shoots this week and for awhile to come.  Everyone wants to get in the fall colors.  He still gets nervous on every shoot he does but he does an amazing job and always comes home on a photographer's high.  He took some time off Wednesday to take Allison to a daddy/daughter fishing event.  They didn't catch any fish but had a good time together.

This week has been my first official school schedule week.  Everyone is back in school.  The house is reasonably back to an organized, clean state - well relatively speaking.  Monday I went to run a few errands and realized that I spent the entire day without talking to anyone and without anyone knowing where I was.  Such an odd feeling.  I always said that when my kids were all in school I would do certain things or be a certain kind of person.  I guess that time is here and my excuses are gone.  I went for a long bike ride up the canyon this week with my friend Christie and realized how nice it is to exercise during the day time.  I can't do that all the time as then my day is gone and kid routines start up but it sure feels good to be outside with the sun up instead of wearing a head lamp and hoping I don't step in any holes.  One of the perks of kids in school is that Jeremy and I meet every Thursday for lunch.  It is one of my new favorite routines.  So I am enjoying this new school routine and am amazed at how quickly the day flies by.  It does seem like everything has to be done before 2:30 as after that kids take over but that is what I wanted so it is good.  I also realize how much I putter around putting things back to rights in our house and fixing little things here and there.  But I like to putter and it keeps everything running smoothly.

Kids are getting used to school and activities.  Robyn is starting to realize that she can't play with a friend every day.  Allison and Robyn both light up when I come into their class to teach art.  They always run over with a big hug and ask if they can be my special helper.  Even Taylor gets a goofy smile when I come into his class for lunch time help.  I wish I could help in the junior high with Spencer but I haven't really found anything yet I can do there.  He is slugging through Anne Frank right now.  It is the first book that he has to read that he hasn't liked.  He reads a page, heaves a sigh, stretches and then reads another.  He was excited to grow again and is now 5'9".  He seems to tower over me every night when he comes to give me a hug.  Allison is excited to turn 11 this week and has big plans for her birthday party.  I keep reminding her that my skills don't match the photos you can see online!  So right now we are busy making little mice for her party - photos to come!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

I loved baked potatoes loaded with all the good stuff on top.  I think my first two years of college I had a baked potato for dinner at least weekly.  I got this recipe in our Relief Society Bulletin and we all unanimously agreed that it was a keeper.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

2/3 c butter
2/3 c flour
7 c milk
4 large or 6 medium baking potatoes, baked, peeled and cubed - about 4 cups
4 green onions, sliced
12 bacon strip, cooked and crumbled
1 1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 c (8 oz) sour cream
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

In a large pot, melt the butter.  Stir in flour, heat and stir until smooth.  Gradually add milk, stirring constantly until thickened.  Add potatoes and onions.  Bring to a boil; stirring constantly.  Reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients; stir until cheese is melted.  Serve with salt and pepper.  This will keep but you have to reheat it slowly and not bring it to a boil.  It separates in the fridge so you will need to stir in well when reheating it.
Makes 8 to 10 servings

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A century

Robyn has discovered the amazing qualities of our neighbor's flowering purple plum tree.  Its fruits make an indelible ink.  She made this picture several weeks ago to greet our guests and it is still there.  It just makes me smile.  Robyn went to school Monday a little grumpy but feeling good.  After doing a long, beautiful bike ride up the canyon I was feeling guilty and selfish for sending her to school.  So I went and pulled her out for the last two hours to come home and take a nap.  She spent it making animal creations on her bed, happily listening to her CD - obviously feeling fine.

Allison has been working this week on her birthday party invitations.  She still has two weeks to go but is a big believer in planning ahead.
I made another batch of salsa this week.  This time I tried a new recipe that Jeremy likes a bit better.  I have a hard time eating too much of it as it is very spicy.  I made the mistake of touching my face after cutting up 16 jalapenos.  My face tingled for a good day!  But I think we are stocked up for the year.  Now I just need to decide what to do with all the rest of these tomatoes.  I always plant more plants than I need, but in the spring they look so puny I just keep adding more.

Thursday was the kids' school festival.  They stocked up on hot dogs, snow cones, cotton candy, games and a goldfish that is currently swimming in a vase in Robyn's room.  Taylor could not understand why I limited him to 2 big scones for dinner.  He is currently eating as much as we can possibly give him.  (And he is pooping!  I know, tmi but we all had a poop celebration around here.)

Spencer got his bike back this week from a tune-up after his last big crash.  He went with the YM on a bike ride only to pick up a bunch of thorns and two flats.  So we patched his tubes.  Then the next day with the patched tubes flat, we put in thorn liners and new tubes.  I was feeling so self-sufficient that I actually knew how to do these things.  Until I couldn't get the tires back on and Jeremy comes out after my trying for 20 minutes and in 10 seconds flat just pops everything back together. 

Thursday night my tummy started having problems and Friday I spent the day feeling pretty miserable and taking every stomach aid I could think of.  Because Saturday was my century ride and stomach problems and a bike do not mix at all.  But by Friday night I could keep down spaghetti and could leave the bathroom for long periods of time - so I felt more confident.  The century was truly tough but really well run and beautiful.  The first 4 miles have a 7 % grade and since my friend Christi had assured me that the course was flat, I felt just a little bit mislead.  Hit a wall at mile 25 for 5 miles (really early to hit, I know) where between winds, uphill, muscles complaining I just couldn't believe I was going to be able to finish.  But a caffeinated cliff bar and I started doing much better.  Christi was super patient and would coast or stop and wait for me to catch up periodically when during the last 50 I had a hard time staying up with her.  Ride time was 7 hrs 20 min and total time was 8 hrs 20 min.  They had 5 stops with water and food along the way.  Ice water has never tasted so good as there was no shade on the course and although it was 87 degrees it felt much hotter.  Definitely pushed my body past what I thought it could do.  Felt pretty good afterwards just creaky and tired.

While I was off for the day, Jeremy took the kids to a puppet festival in Orem, followed by lunch out and they went and cleaned the office.  Super dad all around.  Kids loved the puppets, ventriloquists, and all the craft booths.

Saturday night it was off to Stake Conference and then a run up to Cheesecake factory for some post-race cheesecake.  Its nice to be married to someone who knows me so well.

Someday there will be a good picture done of this cake by Jeremy but I always seem to make it late at night and when Jeremy is gone.  I have made microwave single serving cakes in a mug before but they just don't quite do it for me.  I have my emergency chocolate nights and this is the recipe I break out.  It takes me 25 minutes for perfectly gooey chocolate cake - start to finish.  And if I happen to have some cool whip around, its perfection.  I make it usually in two tiny loaf pans and will either share the extra or tuck some away in the refrigerator for a future chocolate emergency - otherwise known as the next night.  The recipe is from BHG magazine.

Emergency Chocolate Cake

1/2 c flour
1/4 c sugar
3/4 c tsp baking powder
1/3 c milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c nutella or peanut butter or biscoff spread
1/3 c mini or regular sized chocolate chips
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 c boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray either 6 5 oz ramekins set within a baking pan or 2 small loaf pans or 1 small cake pan with cooking spray.
2. Mix flour, 1/4 c sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add oil, milk, vanilla and spread of choice until smooth and stir until smooth and then stir in chocolate pieces.
3. Divide batter into pans.
4. In bowl stir together 1/2 c sugar, cocoa and boiling water.  Pour over batter.  DO NOT STIR
5. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cake portion comes out clean.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A common theme - unfortunately

Robyn woke up early this morning throwing up and has been a feverish, sick little girl ever since.  This afternoon Motrin and Sunday football white noise seems to have done the trick and knocked her out.  Hopefully she will be back to her spunky little energetic self soon.

This week, finally all my kids were in school!  Grocery shopping, without kids.  Going to the temple and not falling asleep because it is early or late.  Going for a long bike ride.  Volunteering at Taylor's school for lunch time and teaching art in Allison and Robyn's classes.  Mowing the lawn and pulling some weeds.  Being able to say for an hour or so that the laundry was officially all done.  It was awesome!  Best part was that I started having any of my friends and neighbors who are home come over for desserts on the first Wednesday of every month.  I am not up to my sister-in-law Kathryn's pie for breakfast club standards but I did my best and had a great time.  Plus I have been having little slivers of chocolate cake every night to finish off the leftovers - a dangerous practice.  
This week flew by very fast because Monday was a serious play day around here following a weekend of the story telling festival.  Trying to get everything cleaned up Tuesday after a lot of playing left me feeling like I had a short amount of time and a list of chores to do.  Jeremy knowing pee incrusted toilets were a stress to me when having people over sprang to his feet Tuesday night and went to clean the bathrooms for me...without ever being asked.  Such an act can hide a multitude of sins - if he had any to hide.

But Monday was super fun as our friends, the Larsens took us out on Utah Lake.  Melissa came over to play with a recuperating Taylor while the rest of us rode wave runners, got pulled on a raft and tried knee boarding.  Loved all of it and despite it taking me a long time to get my knees under I was excited that I could knee board.  Allison is so short she just popped her legs under and was ready to go.  Spencer was an exercise in him learning patience and experiencing great frustration.  He doesn't do well with super hard physical, pressure is on, tasks.  He had difficulty shrugging it off when he couldn't get up.  But the rest of the time was pure pleasure.

Allison started her theater group this week.  She practices every Wednesday right now for an hour and a half.  They do 45 minutes each of drama, dance and singing.  She loves it and is very excited about practicing her "home-work" every day.  Speaking of homework...Robyn's is heavily parent involved.  Which means she and I sit down for an hour every afternoon to read together, do math and then do piano. By the end of that hour we have had enough bonding and go our separate ways happily for a little while. 

Robyn got bumped up a level at gymnastics this week so she will be in a harder class.  She was happy to get moved out of the "baby" class as she called it.  What threw me is that her substitute coach was my old neighbor who I had at Activity Days, Lauren.  She is now going to college!  Its a strange world at times.  She kept calling Robyn, Allison all afternoon.

Saturday Spencer and Jeremy spent the afternoon cheering on BYU at a football game.  When they got home Spencer made a beeline for the bathroom.  Jeremy laughingly explained that Spencer was in charge of going and getting a refill for their drink all afternoon to give him something to do when he needed to stretch his legs a bit.  They had 5 30oz drinks!  They had a good time.

Then Saturday evening my brother David came to crash for the night.  He had been a pacer for his friend Betsy who was running a 100 mile race.  In 2 days he ran 40 of it with her.  He was super tired and hungry.  So we went out to dinner and ate a bunch of navajo tacos and then he stumbled down to his bed to sleep for 12 hours.  It was short and sweet but it was good to see him.  The things he does with his body are beyond my ability to understand.  I just hope some of it is genetic as this next Saturday is my century bike race.

I went on two longer rides this week on Monday and Friday.  Monday I got 2 flats in one morning.  So I put in these liners in my tires to stop thorns.  I hope it works as I hate flats.  But Friday I biked up Provo Canyon and just loved all the leaves turning colors.  For some reason time lately seems to fly by before I am ready to be done with the season.  But the fall leaves make me remember how much I love this time of the year.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Here we are again...

Remember how I thought Taylor was looking like he was doing better?  Monday he was willing to eat a few bites of yogurt so Tuesday I packed him off to school despite him not drinking or eating breakfast.  My thought was that he was just in a slump and needed to get back into his routine.  An hour later he was back home.  Grandmal seizures - 16 of them before noon when I gave him Versed.  That slowed the seizures and didn't stop them.  So between not eating for 2 1/2 weeks really and drinking off and on we took him back into the doctor and from there to the ER at Primary's.  After lots of tests to figure out what was wrong it ended up being something very simple.    He was full of poop.  No obstructions, no kinks or tears just a colon that took his whole chest cavity on the x-ray and had become so stretched that it had shut down.  Do you know that even if you have a bm you can still be fully plugged up?  I didn't!  They said it was like a pipe where you put some in one end, it will fall out the other.  So he after a night at the ER he was checked in at 3 am to get an NG tube put in.  They pumped 2 GALLONS of laxatives into him to do a "clear-out".  It was gross, miserable, and seizures galore (even atavan couldn't stop them) but it wasn't anything scary just a matter of time to get through it.  Taylor slept most of the time and came home Thursday afternoon.

This hospitalization was actually not too bad.  Jeremy was able to get kids off to school in the morning and then I ran home Wednesday afternoon to drive kids to piano lessons and do the school pick-up and grab a shower and make dinner before heading back up.  Kids told me Wednesday that dad showed them "inappropriate videos about the preemptive shhh".  They said it was great and asked when I was leaving again.  Then Thursday Allison told me that Dad was such a good dad because when her stomach hurt in the middle of the night he got out of bed to settle her on the couch with some saltines and a waterbottle.

Taylor is doing better and started eating again Saturday.  Hopefully we can keep this from happening again.  Less whole milk, more bran muffins and vegies and double the amount of miralax.  One thing that was funny is that as you can imagine Taylor had to be cleaned off almost hourly.  And when he seized he would have to be suctioned a lot the first day.  One of the pills Taylor takes just moved up to the toxic chemical list so every time nurses would interact with any body fluids they had to put on special gloves and gowns.  Everything that got fluids on them had to go into bio-hazard bags.  Made me feel like I should be washing my hands a lot more!

And then since Taylor had spent such a long time laying around and he wasn't really sick Thursday evening, and most of Friday and Saturday he and the other kids joined me at the Timpanogous Storytelling Festival.  Wind and sudden rain storms, puppeteers, folk music artists,  men with big beards, women with fanny packs and lanyards of pins, scary to funny stories and lots of snack food made for a great weekend.  Taylor would wake up and listen and smile to some stories and then crash for a cat nap.  I love taking my kids to this every year.  But there is a little self-talk going on in my head as I remind myself "i like my kids, i really like my kids".  Nothing bad just the usual kid attributes that surface in crowded places that make you grit your teeth a bit.  The festival is really not Jeremy's thing, he would rather listen to the high-light cd at home.  But he brought us up pizza Saturday night for dinner and hung out with us for a bit and then took Taylor home for a nap.

Robyn started piano lessons this week.  She is very excited and will do much better with an official teacher instead of just me.  I sit in the room during her lessons so I know how to help her practice.  Its a little humbling to realize she learned more in 30 minutes with Cindy than she did with me all summer.  Spencer started up tennis lessons again and is loving it.  He has really been trying to get into better shape, fueled in part by the arm wrestling competitions that are taking place at school.  Allison has been putting on scenes from the play Beauty and the Beast at every recess with a group of friends.  So the school routine is getting back into place.  I have yet to have a day where everyone is in school but hopefully this week.

Saturday morning we got to attend my niece Kayla's baptism.  Allison played the piano for it and has been nervously practicing all month.  She did great with a few flubs that she  just kept on going through.

So this week life should get back to normal, knock on wood.  We are going to push calories on Taylor as he is really thin now and I am going to tackle my list of chores.  Right now after getting home after 11 and switching to morning church it is mandatory nap time for all.

And some pictures via Spencer's touch.  On Saturday because we didn't get there until the afternoon all the parking by the event was full.  So kids "babysat" themselves while I parked and shuttled back.  I found Spencer shepherding the girls through making their pots and making sure to take pictures of the whole process and telling them what a good job they were doing - all quite seriously and while holding onto Taylor's wheelchair.  Its nice to know he can step it up if he needs to.