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Sunday, June 30, 2013


Two weeks ago we had one of those packed weeks where everyone's activities seemed to involve Mom in the car and had me question my judgement in trying not to overschedule.  I have decided that I need some calm spaces in the summer to tackle projects like laundry or weeds or bills otherwise I get to be a grump.  But it was a fun week.  Allison did swimming every morning and then came home to get ready to leave 15 minutes later for a story telling camp at UVU with her friend.  Spencer continued with cross fit and tennis lessons.  Robyn did swimming every morning and then was off to a different park every day with activities through a rec center program - crafts, cooking, swimming pool, movie theater etc.  Taylor was doing summer school for a few days.  And then we threw in a swimming pool trip and a concert at the park and it was just a week that required some good scheduling and a touch of insanity.

But late Thursday night a tired brother's family arrived from Denver and the fun and stay-cation commenced!  (I know Mimi and Jeremy have amazing pictures of all our fun.  But these are my handy dandy little camera in my purse photos)   We have never had my brother's family visit us during the summer and we packed in as many summer activities that we wanted to share with them that we could.  We just love their family so and everything stops when they come so we can just enjoy every minute with them.  Friday morning we got to hear Allison's final storytelling presentation and then we went up to This is the Place park.  I needed to redeem myself after taking them there in November and realizing that is not a fun time to visit it.  We only were able to do a small fraction of the activities there and Allison made me promise to go back.  Friday night was full of pizza, movies and Trader Joe goodness.

That week was our city's Strawberry Days.  So Saturday morning we went to our city parade.  We are blessed to have a friend who lives along the parade route so we went to his house for a pancake breakfast and to set up chairs in prime viewing spots.  Kids dive for candy and freebies that get thrown out and wave at all the floats.  Mimi and I snuck away to Kneaders later for a little girl time lunch and for Mimi to spoil our family silly with Kneaders treats.  Then off to the pool to cool down.  And thanks to our respite worker taking Taylor and later Daniel's baby boy Matthew we were off to the rodeo.  Matthew did have to make a token appearance to show off his cowboy duds but then he went home to sleep.  We gobbled up rodeo hamburgers and strawberries and cream.  We watched in awe some of the cowboys, the dirt bike half time show and the fireworks after.  It was an awesome night.  (I laughed as my kids thanks to Mimi's influence decided they better dress the part.  Allison wore her cowboy boots - with polka dotted socks and shorts.  Robyn and Spencer broke out button down shirts and jeans and even TUCKED THEM IN - an unheard of event around here)

Sunday was some tired kids with early church and naps were had as Daniel and family visited with friends.  Then we talked, visited, roasted hot dogs and s'mores and just enjoyed some family time.  We even had a great excuse to send kids to bed early as the next day...

We went to Lagoon!  Melissa came and spent the day with Taylor to make life easier for all of us.  A day at an amusement park is not his favorite thing.  It was the only day that was a little bit overcast which made the unheated water of Lagoona beach just a little chilly.  Kids didn't seem to care a bit though and played till their teeth chattered.  We rode rides, ate a backpack full of snacks, Spencer even got in some big kid rides.  Everyone left after almost 12 hours, happy and worn out.  (My one regret is urging my little niece to go on Wicked a super adrenaline rushing roller coaster.  She was a trooper but I really don't think she enjoyed it at all.  Not to mention the haunted house ride where little girls wanted to know why those beautiful women were being tied up.  Not my best auntie moments!)
Matthew was a hot commodity!  Allison and I passed him back and forth like a delicious treat.

The kids loved the century ride which was a crazy high merry go round swing.  It was just scary to watch them!

Tuesday Daniel volunteered to stay home with little kids while Mimi, Allison and I indulged in a visit to Taipan trading.  To show how tied kiddos were Robyn didn't wake up till lunch time!  And Matthew started to enjoy the sleeping arrangements less and less so Daniel and Mimi I think were getting a little punch drunk by the end with lack of sleep but that didn't stop our last day of fun together.
Allison had a Activity Days camp to go to in the afternoon where they go do the cub scout camp only with girls.  Daniel took Spencer on a long bike ride to Provo - brave, brave man.  The little girls and Mimi , Matthew and I got to go to the Princess festival at Thanksgiving Point.  Girls were in little princess heaven wondering around on 'adventures' and 'quests', meeting all the different storybook characters and being in costume.

 Then things started wrapping up.  I had to go do a pack meeting for a little bit.  We packed up, did one last bath together, treat run for milk shakes and visit.  Claire and Robyn giggled and talked together for a long time that night in their beds.  Wednesday we sadly said good-bye to family and returned to a quiet, lonely reality of being by ourselves again.  So with every a little hung over from family fun we dove back into jobs and laundry and regular life.  I must have been a bit grumpy as Allison has given me a hug and asked if I was tired (of course this is usually late at night so I usually snap Yes I am and now get to bed! - no mom awards will ever be handed out in this house after 9 pm.)

A heat wave has rolled in which has made every day go was over 100 degrees.  Yesterday we had Jason and Kelly's kids over for a cousin night and we spent the late afternoon at the pool. Taylor would not stop laughing and chortling as he tried to submerge his whole body under water.  He has been having some good days lately.

Friday night Jeremy and I got to have a date.  Dinner, shopping for hiking boots and seeing the play 'Guys and Dolls'.  The play was awesome and we even stopped by for chocolate cake on the way home.  If I can have a night like that once a week I can be happy all the other days.  Jeremy has been doing a lot of photography lately.  I haven't been bringing up some of his latest things but he has had a picture picked by Deseret book for their calendar, done a bunch of family sessions, teaching events, just for fun events and even had a picture of his on a billboard.  So he is having to pick and choose more what he does just to keep his schedule from getting too overloaded.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Camp, Girls and swimming

This week Spencer left on his high adventure early Wednesday morning until Saturday afternoon.  He went hiking through the Zion narrows, went rappelling in St. George, cliff jumping and visited several church historical sites.  He arrived home with an empty jumbo sized Dr. Pepper cup and a empty bag of Dorritos - his choice for a lunch of champions.  His buzz wore off late last night and he finally crashed.  He had a great time and didn't even complain about the blisters he got from hiking all day in water (he improvised and duct taped the bottom of his feet for the other days).  I am grateful for these men who give up their free time to provide such amazing opportunities for him.

Taylor had school three days this week and perked right up when the bus came.  These bus drivers are a little different and it is taking some adjusting.  Tuesday I took kids to the pool planning to run home to meet the bus at 3:40.  In the summer they get out at 3.  So my wonderful neighbor Brooke seeing the bus drivers waiting brought her kids over and gave up their own swim time to sit with Taylor until I returned home.  Taylor has been up and down a lot lately.  Either he is happy and digestive system is working or he is not and nothing works.  It doesn't seem to correlate with how we care for him either.  So a work in progress to get him to a happy point.

With Spencer and Taylor gone that left some girl time at our house.  Girls enjoyed the quiet and slower pace.  We went and rented Allison a viola and started viola teacher shopping.  Robyn got these ginormous new tennis shoes with which she has to jump, dance and stomp on everything. The girls went to their first library class.  Allison's class is 'Nibbles and Scribbles' where they eat treats and write on different subjects.  Its taught by the author of "a Christmas orange" which Allison was very impressed by.  We even had a long girls only day at the pool with some friends.  It was a very girly week.  Friday night we picked up Costa Vida for dinner and met Jeremy at a concert he was shooting.  We had to leave before the main artists came out but we all enjoyed seeing Jeremy in action and doing something different.

The reason the kids and I had to leave early is that we had a very early start on Saturday.  I had to leave at 4 am to run a half marathon race with some friends.  It was down A.F. canyon and was gorgeous.  The only bad part was that my ipod wouldn't work so I ran without any music.  I was thankful for a friend who stayed with me.  And I got 1:54 which was a few seconds faster than my fastest race so far which had been down a steeper course.  So I was quite happy.  Today I am having a hard time walking down stairs or getting up and down.  This is the first time I have done a race that I haven't run four times a week and gotten to higher mileage before the race.  I ran 10 miles a month and a half ago but that has been it.  I have been running three times a week but staying between 4 and 9.  The good part was that I didn't have any injuries this year so far.  The bad part is that my body isn't quite used to it hence the walking shuffle today.  Not sure which way I prefer.

The girls also had an early morning of it.  Allison and Robyn had their first swim meet starting at 7 a.m.  Luckily our respite worker came to stay with Taylor so Jeremy only had to deal with two girls and the chaos of a first swim meet ever.  Robyn had spent Friday night crying for an hour before going to sleep that she would loose or be disqualified.  A bundle of nerves - makes us worry about the teenage years.  Notice the red eyes at the beginning of the meet:
They both did really well especially when you think they have only been doing this for two weeks.  Allison's team won their medley relay and she was very stoked about her ribbon.  Allison did five events and Robyn three - they were tired out.  And since Jeremy was there:
By the time I got there at 9, they were both happy and had figured out the system.

After Jeremy's heroic efforts to handle a morning of swim meet madness he then spent the afternoon putting up baseboards and installing new drip lines in our gardens. Quite the guy. He even took Robyn out late that night for her dessert with dad award for getting her chore card all finished. He convinced her that JCW's milkshakes were much better than Kneaders desserts.
 Robyn after the swim meet had spent the afternoon at a neighbor's birthday party so she was tuckered out and happy by then.  Our neighbor turned 70 so she had a carnival in her backyard - face painting, balloon animals, bouncy house, huge waterslide, cake, treats and BBQ.  Allison came home as she said she was too old for it but Robyn spent the day there in happy delirium.  I hope I do that when I turn 70.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Summer hits

This week was a slap in the face of summer.  Kids activities all started and I learned yet again that I need to pace myself a bit with all the kids home.  Robyn asked me at the end of the week where my smile had gone.  Not a good sign.  Kids and I are starting to learn that not every moment needs to be filled with activities and that Mom needs to go to bed and have some quiet time every night.

We came home from California to a beautiful new floor.

We have been reinstalling furniture, caulking and painting baseboards, getting our carpet edge stretched and retacked etc this week.  The few places where I took off the baseboards needs to be replaced so there are a few torn up surfaces left to fix.  But we are pretty much back together now with our house.

The girls' started swim team this week.  Allison starts at 6:45 and swims for an hour and a half and Robyn is at 8:15 and goes for an hour.  The first day when they told Robyn to hop in and do a 100 for a warm-up she just had big eyes and slowly got in.  This is the girl who cried last year when told to swim across the deep end by herself.  But both girls are loving it.  I smile every time I see them in their team suits and swim caps swimming away.

We sort of overdid it swim wise this week.  We went to the pool one afternoon, a neighbor's pool one afternoon and to the waterpark one day.  By Thursday my girls' skin was raw.  So we are learning about showering right away, using lotion and not spending every moment in the water.

Spencer is doing cross fit three times a week and then tennis lessons two times a week.  I am trying to convince him that showering mid-day wouldn't be a bad thing.  He loves all the activity though.  This week he is off on his high adventure to southern Utah about which he is very excited.

Saturday morning the three kids and I went to the city hike.  They do breakfast, games and then do more games along the trail as you hike to the water fall.  It is a great activity.
Mostly this week was relearning our summer pace.  I remembered after a trip to Costco with kids how much longer everything takes when we all go together, and how much more patience and humor I need.
I also remembered how vital dates are!  Saturday night Jeremy and I got to go to the temple, go out for yummy Indian food and to check out my new favorite dessert place.  Just having some non-kid time was wonderful.  I love having my kids around but now that Spencer is older there is very little non-kid time in our lives right now.  He goes to bed often after I do!

As we drew closer last Saturday to my parent's house, my kids all requested the song 'Going back to Cali' be put on. And then I read the words on Jeremy's phone and realized what my 7 year old was singing! I don't think I am a good influence on my children sometimes! A week spent in lovely California at my parents' house and visiting with family was wonderful. And this time Jeremy was able to stay with us the whole time which made it just about perfect. It couldn't be truly perfect as we were missing one family but they were in our thoughts. And since we had this guy with us:

 brace yourself for many, many pictures!

My brother David and his family were with us for a few days before leaving on a family trip to Hawaii.   My brother Peter and his family live close by and were over often and my sister Christina was around whenever she wasn't working or playing roller derby.

Monday for Memorial Day we went to the Golden Gate National Cemetery.  I have never been there and was truly humbled at the site of so many men and women who have served in the military.  The location was awe inspiring, the speakers good and the music hokey - just like a good Memorial day ceremony should be.  And they had hot chocolate and doughnuts which kids loved and helped make up for the cold and drizzly conditions.  Jeremy was thinking about his dad and I had teary eyes watching Peter stand up as they played the Navy song.
Then since it was Memorial Day we turned on our windshield wipers and those crazy enough to attempt it drove to Half Moon Bay.  Our plan as we drove through the rain was simply to park by the beach, eat our lunch and then go home.  But our kids saw a break in the drizzle and were off to play on the deserted beach.  They stayed there for a couple of hours ignoring the rain and the cold.
Then home to de-sand everything and enjoy cousins and hot dogs.
Board and card games were big in the late afternoon/evenings.

Tuesday we went up to San Francisco for the day.  We went to the Aquarium on the Bay and Fisherman's wharf for some clam chowder and then to meet up with David's family at the Exploratoirum.  The Aquarium was good but not my favorite.  The new Exploratorium was awesome.  You could stay there forever if your brain didn't go on overload after a few hours.  Spencer was Jeremy's shadow, Allison and Lathan were in their own world and I got to hang out with Robyn and Taylor and whatever cousin Robyn was playing with at that moment.  My favorite line from the day was when Jeremy pointed out to Spencer an apron at the Boudin restaurant that said "Dad, king of the grill" and asked him if we should get it.  Spencer's reply, "Yeah, that would be perfect for Jason" (Jeremy's grill crazy brother).  Jeremy slammed, moved on.

Wednesday we said good-bye to David's family and went to visit the redwoods with Peter's family.  We successfully made the drive there without anyone throwing up due to open windows, deep breathing on Allison's part and driving very slowly.  And coming back we bought out Trader Joe's supply of cookie butter as they are out in SLC.

Wednesday night we left tired out kids with my parents so Peter and Christina could introduce us to to this really good burrito place and then while Christina left us to meet her friends we went on to watch Star Trek together.  It was nice to hang out and visit a bit.

Thursday we got up super early to trek up to San Francisco for another day of touristy activities.  We took the ferry out to Alcatraz in the morning.  I was worried that Robyn wouldn't be interested in it but they all loved listening to the audio tour and walking around.
I thought this should be added to our family rules:
Then after reviving at Golden Gate Park for lunch we spent the afternoon at the Academy of Science.  An absolutely amazing place.  My kids could have lived in the butterfly house or aquarium.  Of course Robyn did and we lost her for a few minutes when we all went left through the one way eleveator and she didn't.  Thankfully really nice security guards work there.  Robyn pointed out that we kept leaving the exhibit for the next one before she was done.  Which is true...stinks to be the youngest sometimes.

After our cold and northern California style beach day Monday, Friday we tried again.  It was a beautiful day in Capitola.  No waves for the boogie boards but that didn't stop kids from trying.  I went out once and came back when my legs lost all feeling.  Kids thought I was pretty wimpy.  Spencer didn't think he needed sun block and now has learned that he does, the hard way.
Taylor knew he was at the beach and refused to walk out to his towel.  He kept trying to lay down and stretch out on the sand.
My lovely parents who cooked massive amounts of food and dealt with the chaos of my family descending on them with generosity and humor.
It was a wonderful week that flew by way too fast for all of us.  We got in the car to make the long drive back on Saturday at 4 am feeling quite sad yet glad for the family in our life.

You can view the rest of Jeremy's photos in this gallery, including ones he will continue to add after this initial batch for the blog post!