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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fun, School, and a Broken Van

Dear Family and Friends,

Our kids didn't have school on Monday so after spending the morning lazing around and getting jobs done Spencer, Allison and I went to see Spiderwick. It was a great kid's movie although a little intense in spots. We are getting the books sometime this week to start reading them as a family. Spencer has read all of them so he was busy telling me during the movie when book 1 ended and book 2 began etc. Spencer said of course he doesn't need to read them again with us but maybe he will just listen in now and then (meaning he will be there every night).

Last Friday our van's heater started not working right. And then on Monday it kept overheating every few minutes when we drove to the office. Luckily Jeremy had a guy who owned a auto place owing him money so we dropped it off to get fixed and went without a van for 2 days. It needed a new water pump and a radiator hose but is doing fine now.

Spencer spent Monday making a pan of brownies with marshmallows and frosting 100% by himself for the dad and son bake-off at the Blue and Gold dinner. He said Jeremy's part was picking the recipe and then eating a bunch which Jeremy was happy to do. Spencer made them from scratch which was a little scary to watch and involved me going back to clean up a bit after he left. But he did it and was very excited to share them with everyone there. He didn't win but he had some stiff competition. He was grinning though as all the boys hurried to get brownies from him. Spencer got his wolf badge at the Blue and Gold dinner which was neat. No nerves about getting up to get his award at all which was great. His teacher says he is doing good at school although he gets antsy and nervous if the schedule changes or if she leaves the room. He is having some issues with discretely pushing/shoving/kicking people as he walks by if they try to tell him what to do - so we are working on that. But he is also going out to play at recess with other kids again, which is a big improvement but also where he has his anger problems. Not sure at what point we want to try to address the aggression/anger problems with medications as he hasn't done well with any of the common choices versus just helping him learn to cope with it. He has been practicing a new song for piano that he is very proud of as its pretty hard. He stayed home from school with a cold on Tuesday and despite a terrible cough was bouncing off the walls - making me look forward to football season where he runs the energy off.

Allison had to present a fairy tale to her class this week. She chose the 3 little pigs and was nervous about doing it. So I told her if she chose a story I would make puppets for her. Grandma Drechsel gave me a set of patterns for hand puppets that are made out of gardening gloves and pom-poms that are easy and cute. I heard she did a great job although I didn't get to see it. The girls and I have been going over in the morning to to film teachers at Lincoln. The have been very patient with coloring in the hallways. I need to buckle down and get that video done. This time of year I always seem to have excuses to postpone projects - a book and a blanket always sounds better to me. Allison decided to keep doing swimming for another 6 weeks. She has side breathing down now although on breaststroke her arms don't really come up out of the water. On Friday Allison and her friend Kambry and I went to her school's play and chocolate fountain bar. I can not believe Allison and her friend didn't get sick but they seem to be able to handle eating tons of junk food covered in chocolate without any effects. This week we had a few warm afternoons (50 to 60 degrees) and Allison was getting spring fever and set up a kool-aid stand outside with her friend. Think she would have earned more if she was selling hot chocolate but they had fun. I got to substitute in her Primary class today and she was beaming, constantly sitting on my lap and wanting to help pass things out.

Taylor is getting used to the sedentary life style. Yesterday we had a taste of spring with temperatures getting in the 60s. So Meredith took him for a half hour walk. You could hear him huffing and puffing as he came through the door - it was pretty funny. Guess I need to provide more exercise than bouncing on the couch or bed.

Robyn is still a bundle of energy and attitude on 2 legs. She sings songs now which are pretty funny to hear - "little man" is "Mary had a little lamb". She does things like stuffing toilet paper down the toilet, saying she doesn't like dinner and pushing her food away and sitting there pouting with her arms folded, climbing on counters in the hope that candy is out there. somewhere. Just a very happy 2 year old who runs with glee to give hugs whenever someone comes home. I am glad she takes naps as it makes me appreciate all the other times. She loves having other little girls around and is very sad when it is just her.

Jeremy has been working to get another media player like ours ready for a friend. He is trying to get it out of the office in the hopes of Daniel and Mimi visiting this next weekend. Right now that room is a little crowded. He continues to organize his pictures and went to another photo walk yesterday with a friend.

Yesterday afternoon we left Taylor and Robyn with Meredith and took Spencer and Allison and a friend each to a UVU basketball game. It was scout day so ther tickets were free at the scout office. after seeing how little our kids actually care about the game, that is definitely the way to go. They ate tons of sugar and junk, cheered on all the dancers (Allison and her friend got to do the chicken dance with the cheerleaders) and had a great time. I had told Spencer about my brothers playing the broken arm game when they were teenagers so Spencer and his friend went out in back last night with their flashlights to try to recreate the game. So everyone went to bed tired and happy.

I started painting our bathroom/bedroom but I am moving pretty slow. I am only doing half the room at a time. Hopefully the motivation of being able to use our own shower again will get me to move a little faster. I have felt very slug-like lately - need to get back into running outside again I think.

Love to you all and especially wishing Griselda a Happy Birthday! Heather

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Allison's Curly Hair

Allison has fine, straight hair, so every so often she likes to have mom put socks in her hair overnight to make it curly. I took a photo this morning at breakfast and she wanted me to share it with the family. Here you go! :)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope you all had a great Valentine's Day. We definitely had kids hopped up on sugar that day. Our kids look forward every year to having waffles with strawberries and cool whip. Spencer had early morning piano before breakfast so I met him to pick him up, running down the street to meet me, anxious to get home to his waffle. Allison spent the morning at swimming which she loves. After her class the teacher lets Allison and her friend play with all the floaties and toys in the deep end for a half hour which they love. I have tried to take pictures in there but all the steam just fogs up the lenses - its like a sauna in there. I got to help Allison's class with her party and had made cookies for them all to decorate. We had a great time. Allison had dance class as well that day where they learned a dance to Elvis Presley's Hunk Hunka Burning Love. We got Spencer and Allison alarm clocks for Valentine's Day and ever since they have been up bright and early. When I heard Spencer get in the shower on his own this morning at 7 I was very glad they have been such a hit. Jeremy and I spent the night eating chocolate and watching TV together - as kids tried to wind down upstairs after all their candy - it was a great day.

For Family Home Evening Jeremy set up the game Rock Band for the kids and we all learned how to play. Spencer had been getting his jobs done at the crack of dawn since so he can play as soon as he gets home from school. Its been a fun game and isn't as hard as it seems once you get used to it. He has had 3 playdates this week teaching his friends how to play. Even Robyn will get the drumsticks and start trying to beat along. We're gong to take it back to Jeremy's work this week so it stays as a novelty reward before kids get too used to it.

Jeremy is home sick today with a cold. Good guy that he is he went on a date with me last night even while under the weather. We went out for thai food which I have never had before. It was good once you got past the preconceived notion that it should taste like Chinese. We went to see jumper and just enjoyed having a totally frivelous date - we even topped it off with the most chocolate concoction at Coldstone that I could think of. Jeremy has been spending his evening working on photos. He took some cool personality shots this week of the sales support people at his work for them to post on their walls.

Monday is my big laundry day and this week we finally realized that our dryer takes 3 hours to dry a load. We have been thinking for a while of replacing our washer and dryer and Jeremy decided it would be a good Valentine's Day present. Home Depot was having a good sale so they were a lot less than we thought we would have to spend. They don't arrive till march 7 but we're all looking forward to them.

On Friday we had Jason and Kelly's kids over for the evening for cousin pizza and movie night. They all had a good time. We're going to start doing it once a month. Bryn was not happy when waking up from a nap but was quite content to sit in Jeremy's lap as he worked on his laptop - I am sure its a familiar pose for her.

We had Taylor's IEP meeting this week. They are going to work a lot on focusing on life skills like being able to stand up straight while we pull up his pants, being able to drink out of a different cup etc. There is some concern that a separate classroom in a regular junior high will not be able to meet all his needs but I am still pulling for that option.

We were able to take Lauri shopping one day this week. Our girls thought it was great to get lots of treats while wheeling around the stores. We went to the scout store for her to buy birthday presents for Garion and Spencer so I was able to buy a new slide for Spencer. He gets his wolf this week(he has to pick up a bag of garbage still and then he is done).

Robyn is a 2 year old in every sense constantly running around in a tutu, singing songs, trying to put on make-up, spreading flour everywhere in an attempt to make cookies. She got to go with me to hang snowflakes from the ceiling in Allison's classroom after school. Allison had her hands full chasing Robyn around the room as she attempted to play 'school'.

We had one scary snowstorm here on Wednesday. It wasn't so much the amount of snow but the fierce winds that went with it. Most of the major roads closed down for the afternoon and evening, kids had to overnight at schools, and lots of people were homebound. We were lucky in that the worst of it missed our little neighborhood by a mile or so.

Tomorrow the kids are out of school and Jeremy is home. So we're going to clean the office and then I and Spencer and Allison are going to go see spiderwick. Spencer loves the story and has been talking about the movie for months now. Hope all of you have a great President's Day.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Out with the old, In with the New

Well, it finally happened. I finally was tired enough of the standard blogger design that I put something together unique for our site. This new design is actually based on a template, rather than starting from scratch, but I adapted it to work on Blogger and personalized it a bit. Hope you like it.

I haven't had many photos to post lately, primarily because I have been going through all my old photos (starting with last year) and compiling, culling and cataloging them all. It is a long and arduous process. Once it is all done, though, I hope to have a nice repository of photos that Heather can easily search through for those she would like to post, scrapbook, etc.

From the blogs it sounds like everyone is doing well. I sure have enjoyed the more frequent posting everyone is doing on their individual blogs.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Still alive

Dear Family and Friends,

I missed posting last week but yes we are all still alive and doing good. We have been hit with a bunch of storms the last 2 weeks. Last Sunday we got 12 inches in one day. So we shoveled so we could get the van out to go to Stake Conference and then shoveled to get the van in afterwards. And then we shoveled so Jason's car could get in our driveway and then shoveled so they could walk to the car that night. We were very grateful for those neighbors who came over periodically with a snowplow or snow blower these past few weeks. It is so nice when they do what would take us an hour or two in. Between church, shoveling (and of course playing in the snow) and then having Jeremy's family come over to watch the super bowl - my day was gone before I ever got on line.

Today for the first time in a while the sun came out and temperatures rose to almost 50 degree, melting the worst of the snow and ice on the roads. I am planning to go for a walk later. When we did Jeremy's work shopping spree I ordered some Bear Paw boots (like uggs but cheaper) and am enjoying walking in the slush while my feet stay cozy. I don't know why I didn't get boots earlier - all I ever had were dress boots that got pulled out for dates and church. I have a friend who wears dress boots and platforms and heels all the time - I am too much into comfort I guess. Allison and Spencer are busy right now working on their valentines. Spencer got small game cards for everyone in his class while Allison found princess conversation hearts so they are both fairly happy - especially since they are finding out they will have one or two extra treats for themselves! On Friday the girls helped me make valentine colored M&M cookies on a stick for Taylor's class. Robyn has learned that cookie dough tastes good so its either put her down for a nap while cooking them or be prepared for her to chow down.

It seems like there's been a lot of church meeting these last two weeks. We had the adult session for stake conference, regular conference, Pres.Hinckley's funeral, the world wide broadcast and a ward valentine's dinner and tonight Jeremy has a scout meeting - not to mention pack meeting and cub scouts! We're going on a totally frivolous date this weekend to make-up for all our 'righteousness'.

I had a great birthday. Thank you to everyone who called. Jeremy stayed home to shovel all our walkways and driveway and to drive Spencer to school. Then I had 2 friends who had me come to their house for lunch. The made the best spinach salad - I will post the recipe at the end. I had friends popping in all day to say hi, which was wonderful and I ended up having 3 friends bring me cheesecake - so I have been eating a LOT of cheesecake. Jeremy went and got me a new sewing machine (my old one died a year ago and every repair shop has told me that since the company was bought out they no longer made the springs necessary to fix it). He also go a small heater for me to blast right on the shower month during these cold months when our open bathroom won't hold in any steam or heat - so nice.

I went into the dentist for my permanent crown and for a check-up. Found out I needed 7 fillings - always so depressing. Its mainly the old fillings needing to be replaced as the break down and cavities form. I would rather have them fixed now though than to have to have more root canals. So I have started swishing with flouride in the hopes that it would help.

Jeremy went and got one of the kayaks yesterday to use with the young men. Good guy that he was he took on full parenting responsibilities for the morning while I went out with my friends to breakfast and to get pedicures. I have never been to Kneaders for breakfast but it is so good and I will definitely be back lots! Jeremy had something neat happen for superbowl Sunday. One of his pictures from Spencer's football games was picked to be up on Times Square for the day for kodak picture of the day. He was quite stoked about it. One of their business associates gave Jeremy's work a playstation and the game rockband for Christmas. So when we cleaned the office yesterday Spencer was super polite in the hopes that we could bring it home. So its laying in our family room as Spencer counts down to Monday afternoon when he can play it.

Last Friday the kids were out of school for an inservice day. So we went up to the Salt Lake Aquarium. Its still in the small stage but it is really neat and our kids had a great time. Robyn loved to watch the jellyfish and Spencer was really good to take care of her while Allison had a friend with her. None of Spencer's friends wanted to go -they said an aquarium was boring. But I told Spencer he had a mean Mom who made him do family outings, boring or not. He had a great time. Although I have learned I need to have firm gift shop rules in place as our kids spent any money they had on junk.

It seems with the bad weather I have turned into a slug - preferring to read and stay inside. We started reading Fablehaven as a family at night. Our kids love it. We have a few Cleaver family moments in front of the fireplace - but mostly kids are jumping around as I wonder if they are even listening. But they always beg to read just one more chapter.

Spencer needs to burn some energy. He keeps practicing his street ninja moves or football tackles with his friend onto our poor sofas. At night he hurries to get his stuff done so he our neighbor can go outside in the dark to practice sneaking around our backyards working on their spy moves. He is doing pretty good. We have adjusted his medication again in an effort to get rid of the paranoias that crop up sometime. For example he got a new shirt and I couldn't see him wear it the first day. He usually asks me nicely, and he knows its wrong but he just can't do it sometimes. At pack meeting he received a bunch of beads and asked I could please not look at him while getting the award (which is progress as he didn't want me even in the room before). He knows its wrong and even that was hard for him, but next month he said he thinks he will be ready for me to look at him too. He had to do a biography book report at school and stand up to make a presentation, memorized for 3 min. That is a huge deal for him and he was a bit freaked out. But we found an old recorder of Jeremy's that he recorded his report on and made his poster on Steve Young to go with it. He thought the recorder was so cool that he showed everyone and played with it lots. So 2 hours before his presentation at school the batteries died. So I came over and we ran to walgreens to get new batteries. The recorder was old to begin with and was getting more fragile in Spencer's hands by the minute. So I told him to put it on his desk until it was time for his presentation and to stop playing with it. So right before his presentation a girl leaned back and accidentally knocked his recorder to the floor breaking it into pieces. I came over and tried to put it together but no luck and I left Spencer halfway between crying and anger as he refused to get up in front of the class. It was a mini-tape recorder so none of the normal tape players would work. So at home I prayed and found another recorder that took regular tapes packed up in our old stuff. So I pulled Spencer out and he recorded his presentation in the hallway. His teacher said it was pretty muffled as Spencer played it for the class and kept shaking the recorder saying it wasn't sounding very good. But his teacher is so good she didn't allow anyone to comment on the sound quality and he did it. His life just seems to be made up of painful experiences that I don't think a 3rd grader should go through. But despite that most days at least he will talk to me and be pleasant to be around. I even get thank yous and hugs again. His teacher has been very accommodating as we try to find the best amounts of meds. Unless things get really bad, to the point that we're willing to risk the side effects there aren't any more medication choices till he is older. We had parent/teacher conferences this week. Spencer is at grade reading level now - reading and sitting still has been hard for him this year - so everyone has caught up. At math he is way above and is working on the 7 times tables right now. We found out he is missing a bunch of homework - so we cleaned out his backpack and found all the missing stuff. We are now going to do that on a regular basis. he does all the work, just needs to remember to turn it in. With our personalities Jeremy and I just cringe as we see him hand in wrinkled, stained sheets of homework - but they're done and he is doing it on his own. As Jeremy says no one will ever wonder how much we helped Spencer with school assignments.

Allison is running around in her 'valentine outfit' - hot pink capris, bright red shirt and neon pink and green knee length socks. We finally figured out that putting some gel in her hair calms the frizz so her hair stops standing straight up around her head with all the static. She is loving swimming and dance still. There are tears if a day goes by that she is not playing with a friend. Since we don't allow TV on school nights it seems like on weekdays the group of girls often disappears to a more accommodating house. I often wonder if the no TV is a lost cause as they will watch it somewhere else instead. She has to tell a fairy tale to her class next week without help so she is pretty nervous about that. She alternates between being this huge help of getting Robyn dressed, reading her books, even making her breakfast and crying and whining over some slight. Must be a girl thing. She is excited to be playing real notes on piano now.

Taylor has his yearly IEP meeting tomorrow. So there have been lots of pre-meeting meetings. Next year he will be going to the local junior high. Which I just found out starts at 8am. So he will be leaving at 7 a.m.!!! Since Allison and hopefully Spencer will be leaving at 7:30 I hope I become more of a morning bird before then. He somehow broke the feet of his new wheelchair. So we have been trying to figure out how to fix them. I hate driving up to Salt Lake for a 5 min fix-it job. He has been home with a cold the last few days but is doing pretty good now.

Robyn is a little hurricane on two legs. As she gets tired she literally goes nuts as she grabs anything she can find to rip it, dump it out, eat it etc. She discovered hair spray and I will often find her 'doing' her hair with it shelacked with gel and hairspray as she sings "I'm so pretty". The snow drifts are taller than her head now which she thinks is fun to try to climb over.

If I can stop wanting to curl up with a book I am hoping to work on painting our bedroom this week. We'll see if it happens. Regular life seems to take up most of my time. Love to you all, Heather

Spinach Salad
Spinach (with some red leaf if you want), chopped red onion, sliced red onion, grated mozerella or swiss, cooked bacon pieces, dried cranberries, sliced hard boiled egg
Dressing: 3/4 Tbsp poppy seed, 1/3 c white vinegar, 2/3 c oil, 1/3 c sugar, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/3 tsp mustard