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Sunday, September 24, 2017

School Starts

After a week of full time meetings and working on school paperwork for me, we moved Spencer up to Utah State.  Drove up, helped him unpack and gave him a hug good-bye.  It was a little anti-climatic and felt more like we were just dropping him off at camp.  He texted us half an hour later showing a bowl with a few noodle at the bottom saying "this used to be full of potstickers".  So we knew he figured out the cafeteria.  He had a week to get to know the campus and do a freshman seminar thing before school started.  His roommate ended up dropping out before school started along with 2 other room mates who all happened to be on his side of the apartment.  So currently he has a bathroom and a room to himself.  I am sure that will change at the semester.  We try to touch base weekly and he came home this weekend for a missionary farewell.  Seems like he is working hard, making good choices and figuring out his way in life - never an easy task.  It is just now starting to feel real to us that he is moving on with his life.  Such a strange transition period, where he is still your child but independent in so many ways.

When Spencer came home this weekend we hadn't seen him for a month.  Jeremy thought that deserved a Lucky 13 hamburger on the way home:

That Monday was my first day of school because of 7th grade day.  My first week was little rocky as I had yet to hire 2 aides and none of my peer tutors knew what they were doing along with all my students.  It has just gotten better and better since but it was a bit extreme for awhile I thought.  Now I have 3 amazing aides plus some peer tutors who really know what they are doing (plus some who don't but it is junior high).  I do love the teaching and being with students.  Its just me figuring everything out as a new teacher as well and balancing everyone's needs.  For the first time this week I have been able to walk away from school at a reasonable time and not feel like there were any emergencies I needed to stay up figuring out.

Tuesday, I set up mom lunches and cookies for after school.  But I missed all the big hoop-la of setting off.  Jeremy skipped yoga so he could take pictures of all the kids on their first day.

Allison has a pretty challenging load this year but is embracing it.  She has joined some clubs and is enjoying all the extra activities and opportunities.  She and Robyn are both doing their theater group again and are doing tap lessons once a week plus their regular piano.  It does make for a busy schedule for them.

With all the crazy of school starting I decided why not run a race and loose a toe-nail.  Always a good stress relief!  And a reminder that I need to exercise more and eat less desserts!  I was grateful for a super speedy friend Julie who would wait for me to finish.  With school I haven't been able to run like I used to but I try to fit it in when I can and am grateful for some friend exercise therapy whenever our schedules align.

Jeremy has had a couple of trips come up.  He went to Las Vegas for Labor Day weekend to show off his weight loss results.

He has been doing some longer bike rides when he can.  The cold weather and darkness in the morning has started driving him into spin classes again.

He also got to do a trip to South Dakota for a job and took some time to drive by Mount Rushmore and Sturgis.  He has been super busy trying out all these new opportunities and to figure out which ones to pursue.

Cancer treatment going well still.  Bloodwork is still a bit nuts and he is trying what he can to address the problems with sleep and his gut.  He ran into our amazing neighbor Peggy who just finished her chemo at the same doctor he goes to.

For Allison's birthday "party" this year she invited her friend Kaori to spend the weekend.  This involved lots of visiting and laughing and helping Jeremy do a photo shoot out on the Salt Flats of BYU's Vocal Point.  Plus some birthday cheesecake after which is always a hit.

One project that has been hanging over our head for the past few years is getting our solar panels up and out of our garage.  It finally happened! Thanks to Jeremy and a group he found.  We are up and running and I can reach the work bench again.

We planned a camping trip over Labor Day weekend before Jeremy knew he would be gone.  So I wasn't brave enough to pull the trailer but we borrowed a tent and the girls and I spent a weekend at Mirror Lake.  Coming home and then packing, taking Taylor to respite and being able to go meant we pulled in long after the sun set.  I felt so brave driving these winding roads in the dark and setting up our tent by flashlight with Allison telling us what to do.

It was a beautiful place and I want to go back with Jeremy and paddle boards another time.  Jasper did not sleep the first night and since the zipper was broken on the tent that meant I had to hold him all night long.  It was really, really cold at night.  I was not super happy with him. But thankfully this was a girls weekend which meant a lot of laying around and napping and reading books.  And a few very small hikes.  Next time I am going to be more insistent that we do some more challenging hikes.  But it was fun, relaxing and a good time to just hang out and learn to be a little more self-dependent.  Allison was doing a project for her ASL class where she couldn't hear or speak for 24 hours.  Just when I started getting into my mom inquisitor mode she chose to start her project.  It made for an interesting 24 hours!  We learned that I don't need a swimsuit to swim.  Jasper can swim but doesn't like to.  That even if we forget a pan to cook with we can figure something out.  That little miracles like finding out turn-off in the dark without any cell phone reception or walking into the library and finding 2 new releases from my favorite authors are wonderful.

We were just a little wimpy as we came home Sunday night instead of Monday morning so we could spend a day with Jeremy, having brunch at Kneaders, doing laundry and I could spend an afternoon working at school.  We celebrated the end of summer with visiting our favorite snow cone shack that night with Allison driving us all over to find one that hadn't closed yet...along with A LOT of other people.

The following weekend the kids and I got to go to the Timpanogous Storytelling Festival.  This year they moved it to Thanksgiving Point Gardens which was a beautiful place to explore and a good work out for me pushing Taylor.  Allison chose a football game with friends for Friday night but she joined us Saturday for the whole day.  Of course she had to bring a butt load of homework along with her to make that possible!

This last week was our last elementary school fun run with Robyn being in 6th grade.  So they did it with flair this year.  Taylor and I skipped the colored chalk gauntlet but the girls embraced it, along with Jasper.  I was proud of them as they ran the whole way with some cute friends.

So this meant Jasper got a bath - he is not a fan.

We are thankful for slow nights and enjoying the crazy ones.  I am glad life for all of us is becoming more routine as we each adjust to the new normal.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The rest of summer

Summer went by waaaaaay to quickly for our family and before we knew it school is looming around the corner.

For the 4th of July we did a family night of fireworks so Spencer could be a pyromaniac which turned into a wonderful late evening of visiting with friends in the grass, eating popsicles and watching some very cool fireworks.

On the actual 4th of July, Allison and her friend Kaori got up super early with me to attend the Provo parade.  Then we picked up the rest of the family to meet Jason and Kelly for a hike up to Silver Lake.  Taylor, Allison, and Jeremy stayed by the reservoir to nap in the shade.  Spencer, Jasper, Robyn and I made a very hot and beautiful hike up to the Lake.  On the way down Robyn lost sight of Jasper who ran ahead to meet up with Spencer.  This made for 30 minutes of tears and prayers until an "angel" told us that he had seen a really tall kid carrying a little dog.  We had a little recovery time with lots of cold drinks we went over to watch the city fireworks. 

Robyn had swim team every morning and then in July added in Lifeguard camp in Provo four days a week.  She loved learning how to do rescue dives, retrieve bricks from the bottom of the pool, CPR, and "shadow guarding" with real lifeguards where she had her own whistle to blow.  She slept really well during July every night and often snuck in naps as well!  She had a few summer adventures of going to Camp Jeremiah Johnson with her activity day girls and she got to attend a week of Clear Creek.  Clear Creek is an outdoor, overnight camp for 5 days only for 5th graders in our school district.  She sleeps in bunk houses with her friends, hikes, plays and learns a lot about the world around her.  She loved it and came home tired out!
This is Allison being a very amazing big sister of getting up at 6 so she could cheer on Robyn for a swim meet:

Spencer continued to work all summer.  He and I went up for USU orientation which helped calm many nerves on both of our parts.  Lots of firsts this summer.  He got to vote for the first time.  He got ordained as an elder which just happened to occur on a Sunday when my parents were visiting - small miracles in our life abound.  We toured the new MTC in Provo and Spencer kept saying how he will be there in less than a year.

Spencer and Allison got to participate in our Stake pioneer Trek in July.  They went up to Rocky Ridge and Martin's Cove for 4 days and truly had an epic adventure.  They had rainstorms, hail, mud, wind storms and were truly pushed to their limits not to mention the bus breakages and other mishaps.  Spencer loved being a water boy pushing wagons through the rivers and mud.  I was proud of Allison, trek was not quite what she was expecting and she decided that she was determined to have a fun time with her family and she did.  Like she said, she didn't get the family she wanted but she got the family she needed to learn and grow.  Taking 500 teenagers and 100 leaders through trek blows my mind when I think of the logistics.

Allison worked at the pool every morning teaching lessons.  She also did drivers ed online and then attended a week of range (driving in an enclosed range) and road (driving with a very, very brave teacher).  She has come a long way.  Today she drove us home from St. George.  I sat in the back trying to stay in my happy place while Jeremy was the driving instructor.   Allison did a dance class this summer with her theater group. Robyn and I got to watch her performance at the end where she was amazing.  Hard to believe how grown up she is.

We were able to go on one family camping trip this summer.  Sad but we could only find one weekend that worked for everyone.  We went to Wasatch Mountain State Park for a few days and loved it.  The first night we were there involved Jasper being like a little kid and literally bouncing around the trailer.  When I let him out for the 2nd time to go to the bathroom at 4 am, he decided to do a walk about.  This meant I spent 45 minutes roaming the campground, hissing "jasper" and alternating between praying and being really, really mad.  Eventually he spotted me on a road, raced to me and spent a few hours trembling next to me in a sleeping bag.  Saturday We did a little hike where I was blown away by Jeremy's ability to suck it up for family.  He had forgotten his pills so had run home to get them early in the morning.  That meant for a few hours he got to feel terrible while smiling and putting up with the whining that always accompanies family hikes.  Somehow our kids are usually happy by the halfway point of our family hikes but the first little bit is always pulling teeth!  Then we spent the day at Jordanelle Reservoir paddleboarding, floating and hanging out.  I think I could lay in an inner tube talking to my kids for hours every weekend.  We did a little hike where I was blown away by Jeremy's ability to suck it up for family.  He had forgotten his pills so had run home to get them early in the morning.

Jeremy had a photo trip to Houston this summer plus a bunch of jobs here and there.  He enjoys the change of pace, the challenge and adventure but he also works super hard at them.  He has been biking hard whenever he can.  I took his place one evening with his friend to bike around Antelope Island in the dark.  Definitely out of my comfort zone but a great time.

One of the best parts of this summer is all the family we have seen. My brother Peter, his wife Katherine and their two cute kids Tommy and Lydia came for a visit, which we loved.  If we could we would just move them into our basement permanently!  It was wonderful to hang out, play whenever we can and just to get to know each other better.  Phone calls and texts are great but nothing beats just sitting down at the same table for a few hours.  We got to visit This is the Place Park on the 24th for a super hot, very crowded but amazing day of re-enactments and activities.  That night we tried to see a big firework celebration but got to enjoy getting soaked in the rain instead and running for our cars.  We did picnics, pool time, a cute little play but mostly just got to visit together.

Then two days after Peter's family left, my parents arrived.  They always are like the fairy godparents who fix things, finish all your to-do's and just lift a load off your shoulders.  I don't know how much fun it was for them but they provided so much peace of mind for me in that they were here for my first few days of work.  I was a little stressed, not sleeping with all the to-do's floating through my head and just feeling overwhelmed with it all.  I could not have asked for better timing.  While they were here we got to do a double date up to Sundance for a picnic and to watch Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  And we got to attend the Drechsel reunion and meet all of my mom's cousins. 

With summer ending, Spencer leaving this week for USU and me working full time, we decided to do one last family outing.  We drove to St. George for a weekend, saw Newsies as a family (minus Jeremy who graciously took a nap in the parking lot and read a book because I forgot to buy him a ticket), went school shopping, got pedicures, did baptisms at the St.George temple, and hiked Kanaraville Falls.  Jeremy and I even left kids with money and instructions to get dinner and a back to school shirt while we celebrated our 23rd anniversary with dinner and Mama Mia at Tuachan.  Awesome evening, even if it was partly in the rain.

Summer was amazing and way to short and full of family.  Family is what makes this life truly amazing.  Some summer days tired me although I was always grateful.  I think my kids sensed this: