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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Surgery, Science, a Serve and Pizza

This week Taylor went in for surgery on Thursday to replace the battery on his VNS.  It has been 4 years next week since he had this done last.  He got it implanted when Robyn was born 8 years ago when despite maxing out medications he was still having seizures 40-50 times a day or sometimes he would just stay in an epileptic state for a day or two at a time.  It was no way to live.  The VNS has not stopped his seizures but having 1-3 seizures a day is a very manageable amount.  The photo above is right after they got his IV in - it was not an easy process and he managed to pull the first one out with his fingertips.  He is a sneaky strong little guy especially when he has to skip breakfast.  But the surgery went great, the leads were all intact and working so they just had to swap out the batteries.  The only tough part was that his body temperature plummeted to 90 degrees during surgery and despite all the heat lamps blaring away they could not get him warm during surgery.  After they had him swaddled in hot blankets that they kept changing out.  Between all the drugs and warm sheets he was a little wasted.  But after a few hours he got up to almost 97 degrees and was able to come home.  So it wasn't too bad of a day.  Left at 6:30 am and back at 4.  And the nurses gave me great ideas on how to stop the pressure sore forming on one of his hips.

Friday he spent recuperating.  He went for a walk, took a bunch of drugs, ate chocolate whole milk and cookie for lunch and had a massage from his therapist in front of the fireplace.  I think he felt quite pampered.  He isn't quite all the way back up to snuff but seems to be doing pretty good now.  And we were worried about the affects of anesthesia on his digestive system.  Our prayers were answered and this weekend the poop smell jokes have abounded around here.  Thank you to everyone who prayed on his behalf.

This week Allison went to BYU for the regional science fair.  I had the pleasure of driving these little ladies who did awesome.  They loved feeling all grown-up and hanging out at the creamery while the judges picked the winners.  That night at the awards ceremony Allison and her partner Samantha came in second in Computers and Engineering and won the Humanitarian award.  They were very excited.  Their project was what blades work best on wind turbines.

The night worked out well because at the same school as the award ceremony was Spencer's volleyball game.  So we split the night between the two kids (and getting Robyn from dance class - it was a busy night).  We were cheering for Spencer because for the first time ever he figured out how to serve and never missed all night.  Huge self esteem boost for him.  I don't think he ever got it over the net before and they never allowed him to serve during a game.

Spencer went out to practice backpacking with the teachers this weekend.  He was feeling very self sufficient that he could cook an MRE over a backpacking stove by himself.  Allison had play practice and a party.  So Robyn decided to have some friends over for pizza and we got to enjoy visiting their parents.  Our date nights are getting harder to squeeze in so we are trying to be more creative.

Saturday night I got to go to the women's broadcast with my two girls.  Jeremy snapped a few photos for his mission along the way.

We were lucky that my sister-in-law Kelly and daughter Kayla were able to join us.  I am not sure how much my daughters got out of it but I spent most of the time choked up and bursting with joy that I get to be a mom to these two girls.  That joy abated a little bit as we grabbed our neighbor and daughter and we all went out for a monster cookie (huge cookie with ice cream and whipped cream).  Robyn went into full on pout mode over that fact that she was having to share her cookie.  Evidently she can eat a lot of dessert, more than anyone else and did not want to share.   Since she couldn't finish her portion the evening ended with smiles and she gleefully went home with Kayla for an impromptu cousin sleep over.

With Robyn gone our house seems very quiet.  Taylor is happy in his bean bag with the fire place going inside and the storm blowing outside.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


It is beginning to look like spring around here.  Today the kids and I went for a walk which started off as a Robyn whining fest but thanks to Allison's efforts to cheer her up turned into a beautiful afternoon.  Spencer was just thrilled at how fast his long board could go on the hills.  With all the green coming up we mowed our lawn and have been pulling all these weeds I put off in the fall.  There is something about sunshine and things starting to grow that just fills me with happiness and optimism.  Everyone seems happier when they can run around outside.  That isn't saying its warm.  I weeded in a coat on Saturday but I was too happy to be outside to care.

For St. Patrick's Day I actually thought ahead a little bit.  Kids were amazed that I would buy Lucky Charms and eagerly pulled out all the sugar marshmallows.  They had a green lunch although I couldn't tell if Allison was impressed or disgusted that I found spinach tortillas to make wraps with.  After eating a quick Reuben sandwich that night (kids have vetoed corn beef and cabbage) we went to see the school play Oklahoma.  My kids had watched the original musical with me and we were all impressed how they turned it into a play for kids.  There was an actress who played Gerdy who had an obnoxious loud laugh.  We were busting up watching Taylor because everyone time he would lift his head up and grin as if to say, 'what the heck was that?'.

Spencer is still doing volleyball and thanks to a very patient Jeremy drilling him over and over he can now serve the ball over the net!  I cannot stress enough the patience and endurance Jeremy shows but it has made a big difference with Spencer.

The rest of the week was a blur of the daily life with kids.  I spent one evening up in Salt Lake learning all the ins and outs of getting guardianship of Taylor.  The steps involved are a little ridiculous but at least now I know what I am doing.  Jeremy had some photo things as always that he loves and enjoys to fit in when he can.  Allison has been busy with increased practicing for her play.  This week she went to do baptisms for the dead with a 4:30 AM!  I was getting ready to leave at 5:45 and she walked back in the door and went back to bed.  She says at that time there is no wait but by 4:55 there is a big line.  It amazes me what kids are capable of doing.  My friend taught me how to make really good pizza crust this week so Friday kids helped me with our first attempt.  Not there yet but we are definitely on the right path.  Lots of just odds and ends of life that keep us busy and happy.  My runs are starting to get longer.  This week it was 15 miles.  It was not pretty, or fast or even all running but thanks to two friends I finished.  And now I will figure out how to drink while running because that was too long to go without.

This my kids' decided unanimously was their version of chocolate chip cookies.  They do not appreciate my cake like ones but these gooey, soft kind are their favorites.  They will not look done at 7 minutes but take them out anyway and let them sit on the pan for 1 minute.  When they cool they will be perfect.  This is based off of my friend Brenda's recipe.

1 c butter
1/2 c white sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp corn starch
1/2 c peanut butter
2 1/4 c flour
2 c milk chocolate chips

Beat the butter and sugars together till light and fluffy.  Beat in the vanilla and egg and then the rest of the ingredients.  Cook in 1 1/4 inch balls at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheets for at least a minute before moving to a wire rack.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Golden Birthday

Big news this week is that Spencer had his golden birthday, turning 15 on the 15th.  Hard to believe that he is this old as he is ready to go get his learner's permit study guide.  Friday night as he went to bed he asked if we were waking him up with the traditional breakfast in bed singing brigade.  But I reminded him that he was going to Tucanos for his birthday lunch with dad and he agreed that he should probably skip breakfast.  So he enjoyed a carnivorous meal with Jeremy where he lamented that his appetite wasn't what it used to be.  And then on to a day of sloth where we did all his jobs for him.  That evening he had his friend Brenner and his dad, and his cousin Garion and his dad over to go rock climbing.  Kayla and Brynn stayed at our house to play with our girls so all were happy.  Then they came home for pizza, presents and chocolate-peanut butter cake (which was looking more homemade than usual being held together with LOTS of frosting).  Spencer is a little set on his traditions for his birthday as we do the same thing every year and he loves it.  Thank you to everyone who made his day special.

Last week Spencer had his first volleyball match.  They do three games in a row.  They help ref for one game and then play two.  It was one of those perfect nights where everyone's activities seemed to collide so I was grateful to friends who were willing to assist with carpools.  I got to Spencer's game just before he started.  He is definitely learning and has a long way to go but he is trying and I am trying not to wince.  The hardest part is watching him not realize he is being mean to people when he cuts them off or bumps into them.  So I try to remember where we were 7 years ago and how far he has come.  So many things I never thought he would be capable of doing.  So I am trying to focus on what he has accomplished rather than what I wish he would do.  I am definitely a work in progress.  Since he is currently making us beef stew for dinner to pass off one of his missionary challenges, and is very, very unhappy that my help consists only of advice I am getting my chance to work on my patience right now.

Taylor and Spencer had Monday off of school and enjoyed sleeping in late, Taylor getting a massage in his bean bag and Spencer trying to squeeze in episodes of Atlantis before the girls got home.  Taylor met with the neurosurgeon this week.  He is scheduled to get his battery replace on the 27th if all goes through on our insurance.  It should just be a one day hospital visit, go in early and come home in the afternoon.  This should also be his last time staying at Primary's before he switches over to the adult doctors at the U of U.  Weird to think about.  This week I go to the guardianship class where I fill out all the paperwork to gain guardianship.  This week I have been getting the paperwork ready for a special needs trust for him. 

I love how Allison when she is concentrating still sticks out her tongue.  She had an early morning dentist appointment this week to get a cavity filled.  While there they tackled her horrible cold sore with some anti-viral medicine.  Spencer's cold sore is just gross.  Allison's is painful.  I feel bad for both of them.  But hopefully they will clear up soon.  On Saturday Allison and I got to go work on her set for Suessical.  She loves her theater group.  Last Sunday we went to the park by Jason and Kelly's picking up some cousins on the way.  Allison was pretending to be too old to goof around on the playground.  So Jeremy manned up and went off to be silly with her and I loved watching the little kid in her come out.

This week we had the seasonal passing down of the clothes where Allison hands of clothes to a gleeful Robyn and makes a list of what she needs.  (Robyn loves getting new clothes while at the same time is a miser about her old clothes trying to prove that she can still button up those too tight jeans).

Robyn has had a week of running with friends in the snow and the sunshine - welcome to spring in Utah.  This week for art in her classroom we did paper mache.  My first time ever and with 28th 2nd graders.  I was glad I went before I was able to take a shower.  But I was impressed how she spent the second half of the class period helping a classmate who was having a really hard time.

Jeremy taught a photo class on Lightroom this week as well as having a photography event for the church.  He spent a lunch hour taking photos of people doing church scenes at a church.  He works so hard trying to meet everyone's needs, which usually involves a lot of playing with kids to balance out my list of jobs to do.  I am grateful that he can make our kids smile and lighten up when I cannot.  Friday night we snuck out to see Jack Ryan and remembered reading all those Tom Clancy books together when we were first married.

Spring is coming here slowly.  I cleaned out the playhouse this week discovering rotten fruit and discarded "science experiments" and many bugs.  But our playhouse is open for business again and bulbs are starting to poke their heads up.  I even can open the windows periodically to air out the winter funk.  I have loved being able to run in sunshine and short sleeves again.

A few more photos from Sunday.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Family day

Yesterday was a family day.  Spencer has been having a hard time feeling motivated to go to the temple and Allison keeps putting if off for play dates.  So I told them once a month I would take them to do baptisms early Saturday and then for breakfast afterwards.  I told Spencer it was just fine if the reason he went right now was simply out of bribery - I can live with that.  And Robyn lucked out that Jeremy had to work in the morning at the studio so she and Taylor got to come as well.
We have too much kissing going on in our family as right now all the kids have cold sores in various stages.  They are just gross and painful to look at.

I asked my mom once how we did family activities growing up and she said we did one Saturday a month.  I thought that sounded like a fabulous idea so we are trying it out.  This month Robyn got to pick.  Going to Coldstone was her top priority but a close second was doing miniature golfing as a family.  They had to try out the rock climbing first though.

Thanks to Jeremy and Spencer carrying Taylor and his stroller up THREE flights of stairs to the miniature golf course we got to play together.  It was a serious work-out for them.  The course was all in black light so it was cool to go through although very tough to get an idea of bumps and steps in the floor.  Then Taylor and I waited in the hall while the others got ambushed in a laser tag game.

Followed by the mandatory ice cream.  For some reason as our kids were brainstorming what they wanted to do in their months - it all involved going out for dessert.

Then we hurried home to go to our neighbor's vow renewal ceremony.  Gave me food for thought.  Jeremy really had no idea what he was agreeing to 20 years ago.  Getting married is truly a leap of faith!  Robyn and her friend continued to play crazy flower girl games till bed, Allison had a birthday party and Jeremy, Spencer and I finally watched Lone Ranger.  So we all went to bed happy and tired out.  I don't know if we could handle every Saturday like that but it was sure fun.

This week I have been painting our pantry.  Scrubbing out those shelves and having to use serious sandpaper to get gunk off gave me more motivation to put an enamel on.  But oil based paint is really messy - especially in hair!

I am hoping in a day or two to get it all put back together and hopefully even fix the door handles!

Friday night the girls had their piano recitals.

Spencer had parent teacher conferences this week.  His math teacher told me how he makes sure to correct any mistakes he makes while teaching the class and is super meticulous.  I just shook my head and hoped he was polite about it.  His math teacher said he should look into engineering or something where such great attention to detail is needed.  He does great with Spencer because he puts him in the back so all his wiggles don't interfere with others.  And then I meet his science teacher who tell me Spencer has a really hard time staying in his personal space and how other kids complain that he won't make room for them.  It is better to stay in reality and know what is going on but sometimes I miss just being oblivious to Spencer's problems and being happy that he is getting A's.  He is having the same problem in volleyball.  So something more to work on.  That and picking at scabs - a new gross habit I really, really want to nip in the bud.

We got a new addition to our chickens this week.  A black chicken named Hestia (by Spencer) that looks exactly like his chicken who died named Artemis.  She wondered into a friend's yard and they could not find her owners.  The other chickens are picking on her but hopefully soon she will fit in.  Jeremy and Spencer washed all the poop of the sidewalks and deck again Saturday but it is still a constant battle.  They are popping them in the rears with Spencer's air soft gun whenever they come up on the deck.

Spencer and Allison are doing a missionary month with the youth of our ward.  They have assigned companions and are doing mission activities all month long.  Allison is "serving" with a Laurel in the Mexico something mission and Spencer is "serving" with a fellow teacher in the Canadian something mission.  They are both excited about the challenges although the one of 7 days with no electronics is causing some dread around here.

Taylor had fun this week while I was at a meeting:

Spencer having a hard time staying awake in church after a busy weekend:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Rocky and colds

Monday I took Rocky into to be put to sleep.  The kids all knew to say good-bye in the morning and I thought it would be very emotional.  But kids all said how he will feel so much better and happier when he stops hurting.  I think it made it a lot easier on them.  When I got to the vets I had warned them I might need the gurney but he just hopped out of the van I had had to lift him into and was eager to walk around.  I started feeling extremely guilty but the vet assured me that it happens every time when the adrenaline hits at the vet.  But a few minutes later as he just laid on the blanket for them while continuously dribbling out pee I felt less guilty.  He just licked their hands while they gave him a shot and laid his head down and was gone.  He was often a pain but we have loved having him as a member of our family over the year.  Robyn wrote me a letter for school explaining how now she needs a puppy to take care of because every family needs a dog love your lonely daughter Robyn.  We are mean parents because we said no.

This week sickness seemed to haunt our house.  Allison and Jeremy spent last weekend with a cold.  Taylor's nose turned into one big scab from being wiped so much.  Every time you would clean him up or he would rub his nose it would start bleeding.  Allison started feeling better by Monday but then Monday night Jeremy put off taking Nyquil so he could stay up with a Robyn who was throwing up everywhere.  After lots of "events" he tucked Robyn into bed and went into a Nyquil coma.  Then it was my turn to wake up as Robyn kept throwing up everywhere.  For example one time I woke up to find her on the toilet yelling for me because she couldn't get up because of diarhea but had thrown up all over the walls, floor, towells etc.  Or when she was running to the bathroom with her throwup bucket and tripped so everything went all over her room.  Just a tough night for a little girl with amazing stomach storage capacities.  So Tuesday and Wednesday was spent with Robyn nibbling crackers and feeling miserable.  Then I caught a bad sore throat/cold that laid me out for a bit.  But the power of tons of sleep and chocolate should never be under-estimated plus having amazing visiting teachers/friends who bring me Kneaders.

So this week was a little bit on the quiet side around here.  Friday night and Saturday while Jeremy did solo parenting, I got to attend a special needs conference.  Lots of long meetings but also some great nuggets of information I needed about what I can do to help Taylor.  Jeremy spent the weekend spraying off chicken poop from everywhere in our yard (we have had lovely spring weather this week and the chickens have taken it upon themselves to christen every available surface with poop), cleaning and selling the RV and introducing the kids to the movie "Kelly's Heroes."

This week Taylor had an appointment with neurology.  His battery for his VNS implant is dying so he has to have a same-day surgery to replace it.  It should happen within the next few weeks and should be a fairly simple 1 to 3 hour surgery up at Primary's.  Most of his nose scab thanks to copious amounts of neosporin has healed up.

We told Allison that she had to pick one instrument to play for next year and she decided to stick with piano.  So this month will be her last month taking viola lessons.  We would have gone through the end of the school year but in April her rehearsal schedule for her play starts getting pretty intense.

We have had some lovely spring days lately.  Last Sunday we left sickies behind to go to the park.

And we had to "mow" our lawn for the first time as the wheat Allison planted for me grew.