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Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Fallish type of day

Fall is here.  Today Jeremy tried to get our girls to pose in the leaves for some stock shots and our garage is full of drying leaves for a photo shoot on Tuesday.  Today we made our annual Halloween cookies and got a bunch ready to door bell ditch.  My kids think acting like hooligans and not getting in trouble for it is one of their ultimate joys.  We even carved some pumpkins and Spencer and Allison had a pumpkin seed cook-off.  Yesterday I forced my kids to go with me on a fall hike.  I asked them how can it be forcing and they informed me that when I say "you can choose not to go but I don't think you will like the consequences" it counts as forcing.  But once they got over their grumps they had a great time.

Spencer pretended to be miserable and then we hiked to where he did his Eagle Project and he was in heaven running around and showing off everything he did.  I am such a mean mom.

So I feel like we have sufficiently celebrated fall this weekend so that we can cheerfully go back to school and work tomorrow...with a cookie in our pocket and a sugar high.

Spencer had a volleyball game Saturday.  I love, love his coach.  They are not the best volleyball team.  In fact its sometimes painful to watch.  The entire time his coach is praising them and cheering for them while trying to offer pointers.  And it is all done with great enthusiasm and sincerity.  Jeremy said he loved watching Spencer try to high five a girl after a good hit.  It involved several attempts as they tried to make it work.

Saturday night Spencer had a Halloween dance to go to.  We spent the afternoon getting a KFC bucket, a rubber chicken and a sign that said "6 foot man eating chicken".  He thought he was pretty cool.

Robyn had to finish a biography project this week.  She had school Monday and I got to go join her for lunch.  She didn't think it was very nice that she was the only one who had to go to school.  Allison and Spencer just went back to bed.  She chose to do her biography on her favorite writer Gail Carson Levine and did her research, her art project, decorated a pumpkin like Gail (a little pumpkin as she is a super tiny lady), presented to the school and closed out the week watching Ella Enchanted to see what was different from the book.  It was an awesome project.  And I am really, really glad she is done.

Allison went to her long delayed birthday lunch with Jeremy on Monday.  She took Robyn's flat Stanley with her so she could write an adventure for Robyn on her Flat Stanley Project - this year has lots of projects I have noticed.  Every year Allison picks to go to a chinese buffet.  I think its the unlimited shrimp.

Allison taught in Beehives today and it was also my first time being in there.  Way, way different than Primary.  I felt like saying if you have something in your hands, put it under your chair.  Not sure how well that would go over.

Jeremy has been busy with some painting projects at his photo studio that has been keeping him busy.  He and I got to go out Saturday night with some friends for dinner and a temple visit.  It seems like what is gone from our lives right now is the down time of doing nothing.  So I am enjoying and embracing every normal, nothing happening, wearing my PJs evening. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall break

I am moving into this working thing slowly - first week, 2 days, second week 3 days and this week 4 days.  Hopefully by then I will have the routine down when I hit 5 days in a week!  Thursday I picked up Allison's friend Evie, dropped Taylor off at Kelly's and picked up her kids and we went off for an adventure.  Every year I try to do a fall hike.  This year we did a new one up in Spanish Fork Canyon.  You walk 2.2 miles next to the river until you reach a bunch of hot pots to play in.  It is now one of my favorite hikes.  We need to go again when we have longer to play.  And best part was that my fear of finding people bathing in the nude was unjustified although we had a game plan just in case.

The rest of the break has been filled with Robyn having a sleep over with cousins, hitting the dollar theater, having Kelly and the cousins over for pizza, s'mores and movie night, and me getting a bunch of to-do's done.  Its such a good feeling to check off my list things like a Costco run, or pulling out our garden an oil change.  Spencer and Allison even took a slug day where they literally spent the day laying around doing nothing except for Spencer introducing Allison to Hunger Games.  We also did apples - apple sauce, apple crisp, dried apples etc.  Our house smells like fall and apples right now.  We didn't do as much as usual but one day of it and I was done!  It has been pointed out that I am saying that lot about things - particularly around 7/8 p.m.  Funny, that is usually when I am looking out for something chocolate.

Today I was called to be a beehive adviser.  I am really excited about it.  I have never worked in young women's before so it will be a whole new experience.  Jeremy and Robyn each gave a talk today.  Which meant Jeremy quietly spending the morning pulling his thoughts together while Robyn provided the accompaniment of crying in the background as she tried to come up with any thought to share.  They both did great though and are relieved to be done.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Job

Jeremy's photos of the Neon Trees concert last weekend.  He obviously is the photographer in the family!

Last night we got to combine photography and a date.  He took pictures of my uncle Gary's family and I got to catch up with them.  It has been two years since we have all seen each other!  I was the photography assistant and got to watch Jeremy shine.  Then we packed up and drove off to see a play.  Last year we bought season tickets for preview nights for the Hale Theater and have really enjoyed them.  This was the last play of the season for us.  It was "Catch me if you can" a musical and I really enjoyed it.  We sat in the warm car outside the theater eating our pb & j sandwiches and I sensed a theme in our date lately - photography, peanut butter and some time together.  Great combination.  Best part was that since our respite worker was out of town Spencer and Allison babysat for us.  Which meant they made dinner, fed Taylor and ran the household.  Everyone was happy and intact when we got back.  No diapers were changed - that is beyond their purview they informed me.

This week Jeremy had two family photo sessions.  He took Allison as his assistant for the other one.  He is really good at figuring out ways to spend time with the kids.  He also had a really cool opportunity of being a photographer for the movie premier of Meet the Mormons.  He was busy playing paparazzi for every famous Mormon you can think of - Mitt Romney, David Archeletta, Studio C, apostles etc.  He had a great time doing it and our family was all wishing they could be with him.

Big news of the week for me is that I got a job.  Its been 18 years since I have worked and I was a little panicked about making it work.  But I applied last weekend to Taylor's school, met with the school Monday, interviewed Wednesday and started Thursday as a teacher's aide.  Its not in Taylor's classroom but in a junior high classroom of severely autistic children.  Very different and challenging but I think it will be a great learning experience for me.  I start as soon as Taylor leaves for school at 9 and end at 2:20 just in time to run do carpool.  I didn't want to do anything that will hurt my ability to mother and take care of our kids which is my real job.  Robyn is a little sad I can't teach art anymore in her classroom but she understood.  So I just need to get up a little earlier, be less selfish about "me" time and cut out some things that aren't important right now.

I have been working on clearing out our garden as the cold weather starts to move in.  We made a last batch of salsa and let the chicken roam free eating up all the tomatoes we dropped on the ground.  Yesterday we had a ward day of service and we spent the morning clearing out a neighbor's back yard.  It was super fun and very motivational to keep up with our yard and not let it go!  I was proud of everyone in our family being willing to pitch in and work hard, weeding, and trimming.

A small addendum after I just read through this.  I was proud of our kids but I should point out that we were 40 minutes late to the project because Robyn was crying about her hair being ugly and not wanting to go with Allison slipping upstairs to crawl back into bed.  And then Spencer left early because he was done and wanted to go home and watch TV or the fact that the girls sat around with friends and talked for the last hour.  BUT despite that, they worked hard for awhile and they showed up so I am going to choose to focus on that part instead of grinding my teeth about the other.

This is a recipe you only make if you are having people over.  Its got everything that is good in it and is dangerous to have in your house if you are like me and lack will power.  It does take a very long time to cool to the point that you can cut it.  So either make it the day before or put it in the fridge to finish cooling.  This was off of the Skinny Chick site which is quite ironic I think.

Heath Bar Cookies

Cookie dough:
1 stick or 1/2 c butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Fudge layer: 
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 bag (12 ounces) milk chocolate chips
15 (4 ounces) fun size Heath bars, cut into chunks or 4 regular size ones broken into pieces

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Line an 8×8 baking dish with non stick foil (or use regular foil and spray with cooking spray).
  3. Make cookie dough by creaming butter and sugar, then mixing in egg. Mix in flour, salt and baking soda, then chocolate chips.
  4. Press about 2/3 of dough into the bottom of the pan.
  5. Melt chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk together until smooth in the microwave.  Do 30 second intervals for around 2 minutes, stirring at each interval.
  6. Spread melted chocolate over the cookie dough.
  7. Sprinkle Heath bar chunks over melted chocolate.
  8. Take spoonfuls of remaining dough and drop over chocolate layer. Carefully spread out lumps of dough with fingers. It will not totally cover chocolate.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes. The top should be set, and golden.
  10. Remove from oven to cooling rack. Cool completely before serving. It takes around 12 hours to solidify to the point you can cut it.  Or put it into the fridge once it has cooled down to the touch.

A friend of mine traveled to Minnesota this summer and brought back some yummy wild rice for me.  This recipe has been my favorite way to use it and as a plus its super easy to make.  We found it on

Wild Rice and Chicken Soup

 3/4 c uncooked wild rice blend - cook according to directions
1 c chopped yellow onion
1 c chopped carrots
1 c chopped celery
7 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic minced
4 1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 tsp of each dried thyme, marjoram, sage and rosemary
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c milk
1/2 c cream
1 tsp lemon zest (yes you really do need this)

1. In a pot melt 1 Tbsp butter.  Saute the onions, carrots and celery until slightly tender, about 3 minutes.  Add in garlic and saute for 30 more seconds.
2. Add chicken broth and spices.  
3. Add chicken breasts and bring the mixture to a boil.
4. Cover the pot with a lid and allow mixture to gently boil 12-15 minutes until chicken is cooked through.  Reduce heat to low.
5. Take chicken out and cut into small pieces.  
6. Add chicken and rice to soup.
7. In a separate pot (just use the same pot the rice was cooked in) melt the remaining 6 Tbps butter over medium heat.  Add flour and cook 1 1/2 minutes, whisking constantly.  Then slowly pout the milk in and cook about 5 minutes till it start to thicken.  Add milk mixture to soup.
8. Stir in the cream and lemon zest and serve warm.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Eagle, Studio C and Piano

Monday night we bundled up our kids and Allison's friend Evelyn and went to the Studio C premier party down at BYU.  There was a huge crowd of people, tons of give aways and a giant blow-up screen to watch the premier on.  They handed out nerd glasses which Robyn wore to school every single day, all week long.  Too bad such big, thick glasses weren't considered cool when I was wearing them.  Of course I added a purple tint to mine to make them look even better.

To celebrate the first day of Halloween, we put up Halloween decorations, bought some apple cider and pumpkin doughnuts and watched The legend of Sleepy Hollow.  It has been years since I have seen that cartoon and Robyn has never seen it.  I thought it was a great way to start of the month.  I loved it even more because I wouldn't let a kid have a doughnut until they smelled wonderful - which led to thorough showers by all kids.  Two of our kids keep putting off showers the night before until they were so tired they just crash in bed.  A wave of axe body deoderant and mango lotion wafted down our hallways but it was much better that what was there before!

Thursday was Spencer's eagle project.  I am so glad that he got this done.  Now for the paperwork!  We all met at the church at 4:30 and a bunch of boys and men from our ward came.  We drove up the road and Jeremy shuttled people into the trail with his truck.  They pruned and sprayed and hiked this whole section for two hours.  We had drinks and pizza and everyone went home.  I was proud of Spencer putting it all together.  Then Spencer and Jeremy ran home, changed and were off to volleyball practice with Spencer doing homework by flashlight along the way.  What men these guys are!  It truly was a family project that day as Allison kept track of paperwork and Robyn ran rampant handing out jolley ranchers and falling into rivers.

This week I went to Robyn's class to teach art and found this paper of hers up on the wall.  It made me laugh.  She considers nachos to be the best meal ever - must be in the DNA.

Friday evening our girls had piano recitals where they played duets they have been working on for the last few months.  They both were able to play with a friend on our street and did awesome.  Jeremy and Spencer couldn't be there as it was pretty early so Taylor and I clapped loudly and took lots of videos.

Later that night after getting everyone fed and settled (our respite worker ended up cancelling on us at the last moment) I went down to Provo center street to meet Jeremy.  He had two camp chairs set up for us for the free Friday concert.  Neon Trees who we really liked played along with two other bands we aren't as fond of.  Waiting for Neon Trees, eating our packed Pb&J sandwiches and apples, surrounded by BYU students, I felt just a little bit old.  But then I realized everyone who was sitting by us were in the same boat.  I guess we naturally gravitated to the old fogey section.  The concert was really good and a lot of fun.  Jeremy is selling his copter and got permission for one last hurrah to take photos of the concert.

Saturday and Sunday we have baked yummy breakfasts and enjoyed General Conference.  Kids have been working on drawing and craft projects and Spencer has been doing contortions on the couch.  Spencer and Jeremy crammed in two photo shoots and a volleyball game (where Jeremy coached) in between.  Saturday night the girls and Taylor and I hung out with our neighbor Brenda and her family to play games and eat treats.  There is something about this weekend that makes everyone want to make something yummy.  Today Allison and Robyn broke out the easy bake so they could join in the fun. 

I can't decide if I have a cold or just allergies that keep flaring up.  Either way I have taken it as an excuse to eat treats and watch a new tv show most nights before going to bed early.  Its been awesome.  Although going to sleep while still hearing my older kids moving around is a strange feeling.