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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Gone to the dogs...

Hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas.  This year it was just our family so we have been enjoying a quiet vacation of lots of family time.  Last Sunday we made our gingerbread houses.  We have learned some lessons over the years.  We separate our candy out for each person so everyone has the exact same amount and we each make a tiny house instead of one big one that we work on together.  Makes for a much happier experience.

Sunday night Allison's door was unlatched and while we were downstairs reading, Maddie got in, tore apart the guinea pig's cage off of the bookcase and was found mouthing it.  After a night of guinea pig convulsions with Allison sobbing in our bed, Midnight died.  Jeremy and Allison dug a grave out in our pet cemetery and Allison made a little marker for her.  Then Tuesday Maddie pushed out past Robyn at the door and was off with us close on her heels.  Only problem was that she can jump fences.  So 30 minutes into the chase we lost her into someone's yard as she started fence hopping.  So Jeremy came home from work and for almost two hours we were searching till the miracle of prayer and facebook let us know she had been terrorizing a neighborhood's chickens and even killing some.  So we got Maddie back and I was blown away by the graciousness of a lady who said Merry Christmas to us, and told us not to worry a bit about the havoc Maddie did in her yard.  I am sure cleaning up dead chickens was not on her Christmas Eve agenda.  Maddie was on the naughty list in our house so its a good thing she is pretty sweet most of the time.  (Did I mention she has thrown up every single day in our house so far?!)

After some chocolate to re-coup we went off sledding.  Kids had an agenda worked out for Christmas Eve.  Sledding (since we had already done ice-skating with cousins), hot-tub, nachos, watch Elf and eat oreo truffles.  Great evening.  Taylor loved the hot tub and giggled when we put him next to the fire.  Our neighbor sweetly brought us some treats just as we had stripped Taylor down for his shower, everyone was dripping in swim suits and Maddie chose to throw up all over the kitchen -- I am sure she thinks we are all slightly insane.

Our kids have been brainwashed into sleeping in on Christmas Day and then waiting on the stairs while we get Taylor all ready for the day.  We had a great day of eating yummy food, opening presents and just hanging out and playing.  Jeremy surprised all the kids with ipods so we have been learning new technology rules, self control and restraint.  Mom is definitely the technology scrooge of the family and I have been told many times that I just don't understand the need.  And I got to visit via phone with all my family and wish that they were closer.

Our bookworm family with their books just from this Christmas:

Allison got tickets for us all to go see Pentatonix her favorite music group in concert. (Monday night was spent watching the current finale of the Sing-off with kids cheering the winner).
Robyn trying on her Christmas outfit:
Spencer has been busy practicing on his new longboard:

Allison gave Spencer a mustache to next Movember:
Allison thought Spencer's snow boots were hilariously huge:

My mom made Robyn and her new doll matching PJs, they have been inseperable ever since.

For dinner each kid made a choice.  So Allison made us Shirley Temples to drink because she had always wanted to taste one.  Robyn made Chocolate mouse cheesecake.  Spencer and Jeremy pulled for cheesy mashed potatoes and ham.  While Taylor made sure there were sweet potatoes which only he and I eat :)  Diets start next week.

This week we have done a lot of vegging.  We have watched movies every night.  One night Allison babysat so Spencer, Jeremy and I could go see Ender's Game.  Spencer read the whole series last year and has been anxiously waiting for the movie to hit our dollar theater.  Kids have slept in and stayed up late.  We had a few friends over for a game night and ended up mostly just visiting - my favorite part.  It has been good to just enjoy doing nothing!  I have been using our new blender to explore the world of green smoothies while kids look on in horror.  One unfortunate incident with a lid coming off during the cycle taught us how to turn the cycle off, and to put the lid on all the way - as everyone was covered in pureed spinach juice.  No one but Taylor and I would eat the spinach drizzled pancakes that were cooking next to the blender.  Probably because Taylor is blind!

Allison got a new retainer this week and has been unhappily wearing it full time again.

Robyn got to bring home her binder of her best work to share with me over the break.  My favorites:

"I thought I would hate my piano teacher.  But I liked her.  Don't judge a book by its cover"
"Someday I will be a painter and sell them.  Someday I will help animals like zebras and old dogs and old cat and old horses.  But now I have to help my sister and brother with their pets."

We planted our carniverous plants that my brother's family gave us.  Kids have high expectations of what will be growing:

From cooking Christmas cookies last week with our friends:

This was taken right before Spencer walked off in a huff because I was trying to teach him how to roll on a mat without the mat flying off the counter.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The busiest time of the year...

December means lots of festivities, concerts and recitals.  Allison had her December showcase for her theater group where she sang and shimmied across the stage and looked way too confident and grown-up.  We had to split up the night a little because it was also our ward ugly sweater christmas party.  So Jeremy took Spencer and Robyn over for the ward party and met us later.  Robyn had anticipated winning a prize for her sweater but had to leave early so that evening Allison and Robyn decided they both deserved to make some emergency chocolate cake and stay up late watching Christmas movies.

Robyn had her Christmas dance recital where she shook her hips and sang about jingle bells rocking.  And she did it with a smile...preceded by an hour of severe stage fright and crying exasperated by finding all her costume in the washing machine and having to wear a damp leotard.  First tears about her clothes being damp, and then lots more tears about her face being splotchy from crying and then more tears because the splotchiness wasn't going away fast enough and her mascara was running.  But she made it. 

Jeremy and I got to go attend a Lower Lights concert up in Salt Lake at the Masonic temple.  They are one of our favorite music groups and we had a great time listening to them without any little kid conversations trying to go on at the same time.

Our kids have been hooked on the TV show The Sing off and have been busy debating who should win.  Spencer has been series binging on White Collar and Allison has been growing monsters on Jeremy's ipad.  As the techno-phobe in our house I am often the scrooge who turns off electronics.

Kids had their end of the year parties and school assemblies where they sang Christmas songs.  They got treats ready for their friends and teachers and delivered those.  They broke out the cookie cutters and made Christmas cookies to doorbell ditch with our two neighbors.  I am grateful for our neighbor Alyce who makes sure that we don't forget to do this every year.

Between my going to a cookie exchange, thoughtful neighbors and kids cooking - the amount of sugar currently in our house is a little extreme.  Every meal its not the question of whether there is dessert but rather which one should we have.

One night with Melissa watching Taylor for the last time we split up. (Melissa is pregnant and needs to leave us so we are pretty sad about that)  Jeremy did a birthday bro-date with some friends for dinner and to see the Hobbit.  Spencer, Allison, Robyn and I headed up for Salt Lake for dinner and to see The Forgotten Carols.  I love that show, I haven't seen it for several years and was excited to introduce my kids to it.  I think they were more impressed with the juke box in the dinner next door but we had a good time and kids learned the phrase "nose-bleed seats".

Jason and Kelly's family are out of town this Christmas so we had our Hall ice skating/nacho/present part a little early.  My kids look forward to this all year long.  We even have the bum knee/ankle cheerleaders to help with crowd control.

Spencer was very excited about getting a new leatherman as I lost his on a trip to Denver.  He has taken it as a sign that he should wear it along with a few pocket knives daily.

And with Jason and Kelly gone, we got to have a house guest for the next two weeks named Maddie - a one year old St Bernard that they adopted a few weeks ago.  Our cat Macho has retired to the second story in protest.  I don't think we will see him downstairs for the duration.  She is super sweet and very, very fast at running away if given the chance.

We had Jeremy's work party where we were given the gift of shopping for ourselves and then having dinner and visiting with his co-workers.  So for Christmas, I got a painting for our dining room that I have had my eye on. It just makes me happy everytime I look at it.  I thought of putting a scripture about the Tree of Life next to it but thought that might be a bit over the top.  So I will just think it when I see it instead.

Every year I feel like I should do some Christmas craft or project.  So we decided and by we I mean the royal we to write to all the missionaries in our ward.  I didn't realize how long it would take me, I am one slow writer!  So some might be getting Valentine's Day cards.

Taylor has been doing well happiness wise but not so much physically.  Yesterday Jeremy and Robyn went to see an early show of Frozen.  Unfortunately they were sold out.  So he bought tickets for a later show where he would have to take Taylor.  A Taylor on massive doses of laxatives and stimulants and hope for the best.  A brave, brave man.  He even took them out for pizza first.  While he was praying for no dirty diapers, Allison, Spencer and I got to go see the Hobbit.  Allison hides in her coat for all the scary stuff and Spencer has finally calmed down on the comments in a fake whisper during movies so we all had a great time.  Taylor seems to be doing better today.  We have sprayed air fresheners generously.

So life has been busy but really, really fun.  And now kids are out of school and excited to sleep in and play.  We have had tons of snow lately so there is no end to the playing possibilities and the need for hot chocolate and cookies.  The teachers all got up early this morning to go shovel snow for neighbors.  I love when Spencer can serve and burn some energy.  He currently has been out walking the two dogs for an hour.  I am getting a little concerned that he is not walking but chasing a run-away by now.  It will be good exercise for them all.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cranberry Relish

*Boil together about 5-8 minutes or until the cranberries pop:
    1 pkg. (12oz) whole fresh cranberries
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup water
*Remove from heat and add:
    ½ tsp. each of cinnamon, cloves, allspice
    ¼ tsp. salt
*Stir the spices into the hot mixture and let set while preparing the remaining ingredients:
    1 large apple – peeled, cored and chopped into ½” cubes
    1 large ripe pear – peeled, cored and chopped into ½” cubes
    Zest of 1 orange
*Add apple, pear and zest to the hot mixture and let simmer abt. another 5 minutes or so until the apple is softened.

This year I tried a new tradition.  I made 24 envelopes to stick into our advent calendar to open every day that says a Christmas activity to do that day.  Sunday we hung up ornaments on the tree.  Monday we bundled up and walked our streets for our neighborhood turning on our Christmas light parade with treats afterwards with our neighbors.  Tuesday kids unwrapped their new tree ornaments.  Wednesday they opened new Christmas socks except for Allison who received earrings.  Thursday we read Christmas stories.  But Friday took the cake...we went to the Alpine live nativity.

We went from fall to winter Monday night.  In fact I let Taylor stay cuddled up by the fire while we went on our neighborhood light parade.  We have been hit by snow all week especially on Saturday where we got 10 inches.  So Friday our friend Gabe sat with Taylor while we (with the exception of always warm Jeremy and Spencer who wear only a coat no matter the temperature), bundled into as many layers as we could find.  Every kid picked one friend to come with.

It was 7 degrees in the Alpine parking lot where we piled into horse trailers.  The girls informed me that I should pick my words more carefully as a I had told them a horse drawn wagon.  I thought horse trailer or horse wagon its not that big of a difference.  Robyn begged to differ - loudly.

The trailers took us up onto a hillside where volunteers dressed up as shepherds, centurions and a whole barn full of people acting as Jerusalem and explaining the different activities they were engaged in such as pottery, baking, games etc.  Then we met the wise men and then entered a second barn where Mary, Joseph and Jesus were.  At the end they passed out hot chocolate which helped stave off the chills.  I didn't feel warm until the next morning and refused to take off my long johns until then.  Girls all came home and jumped in the hot tub with their friends.  I chose to go the pizza and movie route with the boys.  It was a great night.

Saturday, snow came down with a vengence.  Our activity that day was going to the Festival of Trees.  Jeremy stayed home with Taylor as I worried about pushing his chair through snow drifts and Jeremy doesn't like the crowds plus kids combination.  I don't think kids will remember me taking them, or white knuckling the steering wheel as we crept through the storm watching accidents all around us.  What they will remember is that I forgot to bring cash to buy scones.  They had a great time checking out the gingerbread houses:

And then Spencer learned that for the first time ever we wouldn't be getting scones:

Luckily I had Robyn chattering along, holding my hand and saying that is OK mom.  Of course she also told me that since the snow wasn't that bad in SLC, that I was pretty wimpy for not bringing Taylor.

But then we made it home and Jeremy came out to save the day, taking kids for sled rides and playing crack the whip with Spencer on the quad:

Wet, cold clothes filled our hallways and kids were high on hot chocolate.  And Spencer even went down to shovel snow for the lady he home teaches.

The power of Christmas was evident this morning.  Spencer and Allison set their alarms and spent the morning shoveling our sidewalks again and scraping off ice.  Allison came in to make Spencer and omelet for breakfast because she wasn't able to help him with the icy spots.  Robyn not to be left out made Jeremy and me breakfast.  We even made fudge today.  So all is definitely right with the world.  Don't worry though life is still real around here. 

Robyn is our score keeper who is getting quite good at doing push ups for tattling.  Allison came home from a fireside a week ago just bursting to finally say, "I know its tattling and I will do push-ups, but Spencer took TWO doughnuts tonight and I had to tell you because I don't think its fair and its worth tattling on him."  Spencer is learning how to circumnavigate tattling like "robyn really likes to sneak candy doesn't she?" - we are getting pretty wise to that technique.

This week I got to go with Allison's class to a performance of The Christmas Carol.  One of my favorite stories.  We are embracing the Christmas season around here. 

Taylor is doing well, laughing a lot.  There are a lot of stories in our family that require a rather sick sense of humor to appreciate.  This week I took Taylor out to his beanbag after dinner.  A few minutes Jeremy walked through the kitchen, paused and yelled that he thought he just stepped in poop.  Somehow it had just rolled out of Taylor's diaper, down his leg to the floor and none of us noticed.  We use a lot of Chlorox cleaner in our house.  That and candles, lots of candles.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Going back to reality tomorrow is going to be very, very, very tough.  We all have switched over to vacation mode and seem to be stuck there along with a lot of leftover pie.

Monday night we kicked off our festivities by going to see a kid version of the play Mulan that Spencer's friend Brenner was in.  My favorite moment of the night was when the Captain approaches the Hun to say "you killed my father" in a trying to sound serious voice.   Next to me Jeremy says "Prepare to die".  Cracks me up every time.

We spent Thanksgiving at our house this year with Jason and Kelly's family joining us.  We spent Tuesday cleaning, Wednesday cooking and Thursday playing.  I tend to get a little carried away at Thanksgiving and think that we need tons of stuffing and pies etc.  And then I stop cooking for a few days and we live off of leftovers.

We went on our 9th annual Thanksgiving Day hike to the waterfall.  This year it seemed so easy and short.  I have vivid memories of literally dragging and pushing little kids up that trail.  Now they run it.

Spencer and I had spent the previous week building a model rocket that he had gotten for last year's Christmas.  We are a little slow around here.  Thanksgiving seemed a perfect day to shoot it off.  Unfortunately it blew up a bit after the first launch so we have some repair work to do.

We had cousins sleep over Thursday night so their parents could indulge in some Black Friday shopping.  My kids were thrilled.  We spent the morning setting up Christmas decorations and Jeremy tackled some honey do's for me.  Taylor had an awesome day.  French toast for breakfast, having his "masseuse" come give him a massage, stuffing and gravy for lunch, then off to lay in the pool and hot tub at an indoor recreation center and then back home for lemon pie and sleeping by the fire.  He had a smile all day long.

Allison broke out the smashed sandwich maker my grandpa gave me years ago.

And she was not in a pool mood Friday so she found ways to entertain herself on the car ride there.

While we were playing, Jeremy headed up to Salt Lake to take photos of the lights at Temple Square for the church.  We have learned that it is much easier for him to do this solo.  So Saturday night we all went up to walk through the lights, meet Jason and Kelly and go to an amazing Christmas concert at the Tabernacle.  It was such a wonderful way to get into the Christmas spirit.  Allison and Robyn were thrilled that Kevin from Pentatonix was there to perform.  Allison was literally giddy.  The cool part was when he spoke for a few minutes about being faithful to God and he will be faithful to you.  For him Sabbath is Saturday and when he joined the group he told them he wouldn't perform on Friday night or Saturday and they don't.  Which I think is pretty unusual for a music group.  He attributes their success to that commitment.

The biggest plus on a late night out with kids.  We ALL got to sleep in this morning and feel like sloths before church.  Robyn especially needed some extra sleep.  She has had along with all the other excitements this week, a birthday party and a Christmas party to go to.  A day of laying around was sorely needed by her to get her sunshine back.