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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Its snowing!

Dear Family and Friends,

We woke up this morning to snow! It has been either snowing or raining all day. The ground is covered but the streets are staying clear. Last week the kids were all in shorts running around eating popsicles. It must be spring in Utah. We read a list of red necked jokes about Utah and one said you can tell you live in Utah if you use the heater and the air conditioner in your car on the same day.

Its been a pretty laid back week. I ended up with a cold the end of the week and spent most of my time laying around with kleenex and herbal tea while kids thought the extra freedom was great. David sent me a link to my high school alumni so it has been fun finding out what some old friends are doing. Made me realize what of bunch of neat people I hung out with in high school.

Jeremy is hopefully snoozing away upstairs before he goes home teaching. With 6 am meetings on Sunday he deserves what little rest he gets. He had a cool photography week with going to a class Tuesday on how to take pictures from that famous photographer he likes and then spending most of the day Saturday going on a photo walk with his photo group. He took a really neat picture of a homeless man that I am sure he will post.

Our basement is now sheetrocked and 1/2 way done on the mud and tape. We had a moment of panic when we realized that they had sheetrocked over the sewer cut off valve and we weren't sure exactly where it was. Jeremy drilled a hole but we couldn't see anything so we just went for it and he cut a big hole right over the valve, just by chance. So we didn't have to spend the night making holes all over the wall. I think we were being given a little help from above as someone had just called to ask for help with moving a neighbor but we needed to find the valve first. The sheetrockers actually showed up a day early which led to a moment of panic on our part as we weren't quite ready. A friend came over and quickly moved an intake vent for us and Jeremy left work early to drill a whole for the bathroom exhaust. It all worked but there was some stress going on.

With the good weather early this week I went and got a load of bio-waste manure to spread in our front yard. Yes its exactly what it sounds like but it is a great weed retardant. I didn't realize how many weeds I would have to pull before I could spread it! Still need to get another load to finish it off but I will wait till the sun appears again.

Spencer has been enjoying the good weather with hurrying through his jobs and racing back outside to play basketball or jump on the neighbor's tramp or ride his wave. He has gotten pretty good at his wave now and goes all around the neighborhood on it. We had pack meeting this week and Spencer got two arrows and led the flag ceremony. Can't help but think of how much better things are now. I never thought I would be pushing drugs for children but in Spencer's case it has been a huge difference. Spencer and Allison each had friends over for pizza and movie night. At the end Spencer and Matthew race outside to run around while the girls bounce around to the music. Our neighbor is selling black lab puppies so Spencer has been begging. He is willing to use his own money and doesn't really understand why we say no.

Allison has had friends all week. She is begging to continue with swimming so I think we will sign her up for one more session. She can do 30 yards now as long as she gets to float on her back for a few minutes at the 15 mark which I think is great. Of course I think the reason she loves it is because she and her friend get the whole deep end to themselves at the end of class for 30 min with a bunch of floater toys. It was our bishop's birthday this week and Allison made him a card and asked me to get him a balloon and walked it over to him, very proud and happy. They had a Primary activity yesterday afternoon

Robyn is Robyn, need I say more. So cute with running up to say I love you and give you kisses then leaving a path of destruction in her wake. She is disappearing every time the door opens to go get her friend next door. She loves to tell us stories but unless you know the context you really don't understand them.

I will be happy when my cold goes away but am reading my big stack of books. When sick all those good for me books get laid aside and the junk reading comes out! Love to you all, Heather

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Photos

I have more photos to upload, which I'll try to do tomorrow. For now I thought I would share these two cuties in their Easter dresses.

UPDATE: Rather than add all the photos on this page, or do a smaller selection, I added a bunch over on a Smug Mug gallery. Let me know if you like having more uploaded on an external gallery, or if just having a few on the page is preferable.

See the gallery here.

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope everyone is enjoying their Easter. Yesterday and today we have had sunshine and warmer weather (low 70s) that has felt wonderful. Yesterday afternoon I felt very self-indulgent as kids were occupied with friends and I went to run in the canyon for the first time this year (I remember the route feeling a lot shorter last year!) and then coming home to lie in a bath in the middle of the afternoon with the sunshine pouring in and a good book in hand. I day dream about such moments.

The Easter bunny came to our house while we were at church. Spencer could not understand why they didn't just have sacrament meeting so everyone could get home to do eggs, like they did at Christmas time for presents. Had a little talk about the meaning of Easter. Girls were all dressed up for Easter. Allison got a new dress but Robyn had several hand me down's to choose from. We had a really hard time finding dress shoes for Allison in her size and ended up finding a pair last night on our date for her. Unfortunately they are a little big on her so she was limping a bit by the end of church complaining about her blisters. She looked beautiful though!

In just a little bit Jason's family and Lauri are coming over for dinner and to do a candy easter egg hunt. We do a real hardboiled egg one with the Easter bunny. So the kids get two hunts every year, which they think is great. With all the candy they have already eaten from their baskets you would think they would be jumping off the walls but after we went for a long walk they have been pretty mellow. They sure look forward to having cousins over. It was cousin pizza and movie night this week so they have been able to see them twice which they think is wonderful.

This week was the week of then dentist. All the kids had appointments to see the dentist Monday morning. Everyone looked good except for Spencer having one cavity on the corner of his molar. They watched him brush and he never turns his brush to hit that one spot. They had repaired Spencer's retainer and glued it back into place. We grabbed happy meals for the kids to eat on the way to school and dropped off each kid at school along the way and went home to collapse. An hour later I get a call from Spencer that his retainer broke. I was not happy. So we load everyone up and go back down again (its a 30 min drive each way). The dentist said that when the repaired it they overheated the contact points so it wasn't Spencer's fault this time. So they did another mold of his teeth and said we could wait an hour for them to make a new one. So we ran up to pick up Lauri for St Patrick's Day dinner and came back for them to refit and glue in the retainer. On Tuesday afternoon Spencer shows me how the rings are sliding off his teeth. (This is while we are driving to and from SLC with all the kids for Spencer's psychiatrist appointment) I was not happy! So Wednesday morning we are back again at the dentist for them to glue it in again. This time they used super strong glue and crimped it to his teeth. They all remembered us at that point.

Other news of the week is that Jeremy has been receiving all the new equipment he needed to get for his Donny tour. He has been very happy trying everything out - Christmas every day. One new lens he got was broken by Robyn an hour after it arrived - a bad moment - but Jeremy gritted his teeth and refrained from saying anything he would regret. His knee is doing better although he still just sucks it up a lot. The insulation was finished in our basement this week. Tomorrow the sheetrock starts arriving. It is looking like real rooms down there now. Jeremy spent yesterday cleaning out all the construction debris that has built up and vacuuming out all the dust. While he was on a roll he even powerwashed out the garage and of course if you do that you have to clean off the driveway. What a guy! This week he and Jason got to take the kayaks out to start teaching the young men in preparation for their trip. He is figuring out how to mount them in our garage.

Rest of the week is pretty routine. Lots of little girls running around. Spencer cruising up and down the street on his wave board. Robyn being found with a hamster in each hand trying to have Mickey give the "girls" a kiss. Allison making it 15 yards doing crawl. Meeting with an accountant to be told that yes we really do owe that much. Spencer going to the planetarium and learning to weave an easter basket. Filling 80 eggs with candy for Allison's easter egg hunt. Reading a bunch of spiderwick. Somewhere in there laundry, shopping and cooking happen. Keeps us busy and happy. We had a enrichment night dinner this week and one of the questions asked was to name something unusual about yourself. I really couldn't think of anything. Made me think that to describe my life to outsiders might sound very plain but living it feels anything but!

Love to you all, Heather

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Susan's Photos

Yes, it has been quite a process scanning over 2,300 slides that Susan had in boxes, but it is finally done. There are plenty of shots that I don't know if anyone necessarily wants, such as scenery and people that were likely her friends, but also plenty of family and other people shots that others may enjoy having.

I am going to make a DVD for anyone that wants the full set, but also if Bill/Lynda perhaps want to pull out the ones that are likely more "wanted" we can also make a smaller collection to pass around. Either way works for me. We'll be bringing the boxes of originals along with the digital versions in April when we come to visit in California.

Here is one from the 60s that I thought everyone would enjoy.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Spencer is 9

Dear Friends and Family,

Biggest news of the week is that Spencer is now 9. On Saturday Meredith came to stay with Taylor and Robyn while we took Allison, Spencer and two of his friends to Boondocks. They have laser tag, an arcade, bumper boats, go-karts, minature golf, batting cages etc. It has that frantic atmosphere I associate with Chuck-e-Cheese but the kids had a great time. Spencer struggled a bit and we had moments of tears like when he lost a bunch of arcade games so he only had a few tickets for prizes compared to everyone else. (We're going to ask if we can up medicine dosages for high stress days like birthdays. His current meds keep things pretty functional most of the time but there are days where he looses it still). The nice part was that Spencer could go have his melt-down in private and the party could go on without him till he could rejoin the group. I should have known better to not hurry and get things together at the last moment to help decrease the stress level but next year I hop to do better at remembering how high stress special occasions are for him.

Not to say he didn't have a great time. On one rogue shot at minature golf he got a hole in one which he thought was wonderful. He has been enjoying his presents and woke up at 5 am so he could start playing. We're going to push for an early bedtime tonight! We gave him a wave, a new type of skateboard that he has been working hard to figure out. He has been campaigning for his presents for several weeks now. He was eager to take his new scriptures to church and read through most of sacrament meeting. He also got a tamagatchi that he has wanted for a year now. Its a digital pet that he is constantly checking to see if it needs anything. So he has been a happy boy.

This week the 3rd graders did their play the wizard of oz. For 3 days Spencer had to wear his uniform of black dress pants and white oxford shirt to school. He assumed every night that I would be able to preform some laundry magic to make his shirt white again in time for school the following morning. It was a major undertaking of a play, lasting an hour, and was quite entertaining. They had some tiny little girl playing the witch who had the best cackle as she ran around the stage. As soon as Spencer finished his part in the Wednesday night performance he ran back to see if I had seen him do his part. I was in the back with Robyn watching so he didn't know I had seen him and was concerned. I can't help but remember 5 months ago when Spencer thought it would be best if he could kill himself and would scream if he thought I had seen him,. eating hiding under a chair, and unable to get into the car unless I closed my eyes and he would hide behind my seat. It is amazing what a difference medicine can make as now I get hugs and thank-yous and love yous. Grandma Lauri was able to join us that night for dinner and the play which was fun. She uses her walked now almost exclusively and is much more stable in her walking. Spencer had his Dads and Doughnuts this week as well (busy week!) and was happy to stuff down as many doughnuts as he could while spending time with Jeremy.

I was using my camera yesterday and Jeremy asked why as he had all his stuff. I pointed out how he does the quality shots that get posted a few here and there while I go for quantity! He hurt his knee this week and gutted it out yesterday for a 6 hour birthday party and has been paying the price ever since laying down his his leg elevated and iced. So I appreciate him posting pictures from his convalescent bed. He was on Family Home Evening lesson this week and took us up to the temple and talked about temples. Our kids loves it and acted very interested and relatively reverent until Robyn at the end decided grass was made for running and why run if you can't yell at the same time.

Taylor has started laughing as the sun continues to be out. It was a cloudy/rainy day on Friday and everyone noticed how glum he looked. His snotty nose is gone for which I am grateful. Since he can't blow his nose he just randomly sneezes and snot flies everywhere!

Allison is busy trying to help everyone that she can think of. She actually had 2 birthday parties yesterday as she spent the morning at one for her friend. She loved it. She had her parent-teacher conferences this week and her teacher said there is nothing to say beyond she is perfect and exactly what I would want every kindergartener to be like. She was bumped up 2 reading levels so she is reading harder books now, beyond the 1 syllable easy to sound out words. She gets frustrated but is proud that she can do it. Her school had a book fair so she spent a long time picking out the perfect book to get (which at these events is never a real book, their posters and toys go like hot cakes while the books stay on the shelf) she finally found a multi-colored pen and a sticker book that she had enough money for. She made lunch for all of us today and was just bursting with pride that she could do it and kept asking us if she was making good choices today.

Robyn is a cute little menace still. She is very funny, full of energy and a curiosity about everything. Curiosity plus determination makes trouble. One example of a fairly typical evening from this week: just getting back from picking up Allison from dance I go to make dinner. I hear this crash from upstairs and find that Robyn has swiped the hamster's cage off of the dresser into her crib with shocked looking hamsters racing around and sawdust with hamster poop all over the crib and Robyn. Remake the bed with new sheets, give her a bath etc and eat dinner. Hamsters are recuperating. Then while we bus the dishes Robyn disappears. We hear another crash. Race up to find that Robyn had climbed on to the top of the back of Allison's rocking chair and fallen backwards while holding onto the door of the hamster's cage that was locked. So she pulled the cage on top of her head, split her lip, broke the cage and is covered in fresh sawdust and hamsters look shell shocked. So yet another bath as Jeremy mutters about 'not learning her lesson the first time' as he struggles to repair the cage. Then as we pen her in downstairs I go to get the scriptures and find that Robyn unnoticed has climbed onto the counter to get down Spencer's pills - luckily she had only eaten a vitamin and steered away from the bad ones. Its a good thing she is cute. Spencer and Allison are little Robyn alarms and I am constantly hearing "no, robyn" in screechy voices.

I had my last dental appointment this week with 4 more fillings. They had to take 2 of the teeth down to little spikes and cut away a bunch of gum tissue. Not pleasant and am glad that once my mouth heals up I won't have to see my dentist for a while. I was able to finish painting our bedroom this week. I still need to do some touch-ups. It is looking nice. Robyn kept sneaking in to help by spreading spackle with a little trowel on the walls for me! Kids and painting don't mix. I am starting to decide on paint for downstairs. We got insulation bids this week and the electrician finished up. Its getting closer! On Friday we had a date but Jeremy was pretty crippled at that point so after eating dinner he went home high on painkillers to crash and I ran errands and was able to go to the temple. It hit me that Easter is a week away this year and I didn't have an easter dress for Allison or things for baskets. So I was able to shop a bit without kids, always a fun and rare experience. I haven't done an endowment for two months and hadn't realized that they changed the ceremony, the changes made a lot of sense to me.

Love to you all, Heather

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Spencer's Birthday Photos

Today at Spencer's birthday Heather was busy with her camera right next to me taking some photos. In Heather's polite and kind way, she let me know that I am lacking in the posting of photos even though I take plenty. Alas, she's right.

So though Heather will give the full breakdown of happenings of the week, I thought I would beat her to the punch with some photos from today. Because there are a few, I am posting small thumbnails that you can click through to larger ones.

Spencer, friends, and Allison all had fun at Boondocks Fun Center, and back at home the cake and presents were a big hit.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Claire the Gerber Baby

When Dan & Mimi visited we took some studio shots of Claire. I commented at the time I thought she had a perfect "Gerber Baby" look to her when photographed. This particular shot is my favorite for that look, and I tried to give it some aged look to enhance the feel.

Cute baby makes for cute photos :)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Spencer's Basketball "Team"

We had a little fun yesterday making a photo that Spencer modeled for. I was telling him about how we could make a photo with multiple instances of him in it, so he thought it would be fun to do this basketball scene. Not exactly a work of art, but he thought it was fun and liked it, so that's what counts. Click to view it large for a better view.

Dear Family and Friends,

We finally have sunny skies and the kids are being kicked outside. Robyn is always begging for "backyard". Spencer has discovered a neighbor's trampoline while Allison is busy creating "creations" out of sticks and branches.

Monday the kids were out of school and after the fun weekend with Daniel and Mimi were happy to hang out at home. My neighbor broke her tibia so we are having her daughter Mia over every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a while. Mia is Robyn's special friend so Robyn is ecstatic. Spencer wrenched his neck on the tramp and came home from school Tuesday because he cried every time he turned his head. It was a good warning to me that I better have a good plan in place before summer starts. My suggestion to complaints of boredom that our kids need to clean the bathrooms or other jobs to occupy their time was not met with smiles of approval.

Tuesday I had all my cavities filled on my right side. This week I do my left. Its pretty bad when the dentist takes an x-ray to check on one cavity and finds out that it has spread to the tooth next to it. I have never had fillings done in the front of my mouth. I swear the shot of Novocaine enters the nasal cavity. I usually can suck up the pain but that sharp inner nose pain just brought tears flooding down my face. I will be glad after this next week to be done with the dentist for awhile.

Wednesday was Garion's birthday and he had a party at Chuck-e-cheese that Allison and Spencer were invited to. It was a late night for those two but they had a great time. Allison didn't want me to stay the whole time - she has a fear of being different than other kids. So I happily went shopping at the mall across the street for an hour. Allison was thrilled as I bought her some new clothes. All our kids seem to be shooting up lately. I don't think its t-shirt and short weather but Allison seems to be impervious to the cold as long as she has on her new clothes - the price of beauty I guess.

Taylor has a cold right now and is happy even with the periodic snot eruptions. I never knew what a blessing having a kid being able to blow their nose is. With the sun coming out Taylor has become more vocal and has been giggling at school again. He must be growing as he now has stretch marks forming on his thighs. Its hard to believe in 2 months he will be in young men's - we have been debating how to make that work the best.

Allison has had many play dates this week. Last night Jeremy and her went to Meredith's dance recital. With the late night and then daylight savings time emotions are running close to the surface today. For example she had to carry her own coat home from church today and you would have thought the world was ending or at least stitches were required. She loves her swimming class and can now backstroke 12 yards. She can only do 8 yards frontstroke with side breathing and then she needs to doggy paddle for awhile and get her breath back. Friday night she had a friend over for pizza and movie night and we watched Enchanted. She taught Robyn how at every kiss she needs to cover her eyes and say eww - of course only one eye is covered so they can eagerly watch the screen with the other.

Spencer struggles at times with his strange fixations or ideas but overall is doing good. He just gets very anxious over things you wouldn't think were important. He went Friday night with Jeremy and bought himself a watch which he is very proud of. He is very conscious of what time it is or when things should happen. On the plus side he is getting to places on time or early lately. This week is his play about which he is very excited.

Robyn is just a lot of energy and curiousity in a little body. She doesn't walk to places she runs. Yesterday we got a call from our neighbor that Robyn had sneaked over there wearing Allison's coat and shoes and had asked to play. She throws little tantrums now when she doesn't want to do something. She tells long stories that you can sort of get the gist of if you listen carefully. In church it hit me again how much she watches other's behavior. She got out the hymn book and sang along - very loudly - her version of the song. Then she put it back and hopped back up to fold her arms. I was beaming with pride until the sacrament reaches her, she reverently takes a piece, puts it in her mouth and decides it didn't taste right, so she spat it back into the tray and reached for another piece. We're the entertainment for the row behind us.

Jeremy has been immersing himself lately in photography more. He started a new flickr group to share how they create different images and photos. He was able to get a hold of the electrician this week so Sam is finishing up the electrical work downstairs for us so we can start progressing on the basement. As I contemplate Jeremy being gone for 3 weeks in May having access to a treadmill and a set of weights downstairs sounds really good.

I have been reading a lot lately. It must be all the junk mystery/romance books I check out lately. I was excited Friday to have our washer/dryer delivered. The idea of being able to get through more than 1 or 2 loads a day sounds wonderful - but I will have to adjust my routines now. Yesterday Robyn and I got to take Lauri out to run some errands then to lunch at Kneaders. Robyn got some packs of butter, a knife and a few pieces of bread and was in heaven. I decided to branch out from my cheesecake festish and had carrot cake - really good, they do a mixture of whipped cream and cream cheese for frosting. Robyn dropped her knife on seeing the cake and wouldn't stop asking for more cake after that.

My goal this week is to finish painting our bedroom. I pulled out all the furniture yesterday to help motivate me. It feels strange to sleep in a bed in the middle of a room and not against a wall. I am off to read a bunch of spiderwick and hopefully watch Spencer and Allison drift off for a nap - they are so beat. Love to you all, Heather

PS I will try loading pictures later, I am having trouble with them

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Painting and Family

Dear Family,

Springtime decided to make a brief appearance this week with days nice and sunny and sometimes getting up to 70 degrees. Almost all our snow melted and everyone tried to be outside as much as possible.

I finished painting our bathroom and cleaned everything up and put stuff back. I think it looks really good although it is a big change. It always amazes me how much time a painting project takes. You remember how long it takes to paint but all the prep work and clean up work afterwards you quickly forget about. In the next week or so I am hoping to continue on with the paint to get our bedroom done. I want to be finished before outside gardening jobs start calling my name. Out dryer this week must have heard me talking about its replacement as it decided to give up the ghost this week. Sometimes it will turn on, sometimes it won't. Sometimes its hot sometimes its not. Makes for long laundry days! I will appreciate the news ones that much more.

I filmed a bunch at the beginning of the week for Allison's school. I am really impressed with the teachers as I have filmed in the different classrooms. I still have a few more teachers left to film and then Jeremy and I will start editing. Allison is getting really good at watching Robyn in the hallways while I film although faint shouts of "more candy! more gummies!" filter through the classroom door.

Allison had Dads and doughnuts day at her school on Friday. Jeremy went to school with her and they played a bunch of games together. She was very proud of the 2 legged race that they won where dads had to put on a button down shirt and a tie on their kids and then race back to the start. She learned that her dance company is doing the wizard of oz for their June dance recital and her class will be the munchkins.

Spencer's grade at school has been working on the wizard of oz as well to perform this month. Spencer is one of the guards. The teachers were a little nervous how he would do dancing and singing with a group on stage but they have all been thrilled as he eats it up and goes around singing the songs all day long. We had ordered the spiderwick series of books and started reading them today. Spencer just eats it up and would have me read till I was hoarse.

The biggest news of the week is that Daniel, Mimi and Claire came to visit Thursday and were able to stay until today. Friday morning our kids were all trying to convince me that they were too sick to go to school (they have had a lingering cough for weeks). Mimi and Daniel had bought them all Krispy Kreme doughnuts for breakfast so that helped ease the disappointment of having to go to school.

Friday Robyn and I got to take Daniel, Mimi and Claire up to Gardner Village. We ate lunch, visited the shops and fudge shop and laughed at Claire and Robyn entranced with the ducks. We had a great time. They went out that night but came back to watch I am legend and stay up late visiting. Nicole, Mimi's sister stayed overnight and our girls fell in love with her. Our kids were so excited to have an uncle and aunt and cousin around!

Saturday we took some cute pictures of Claire and then headed up to Park City. We went to a tubing place where you take tow ropes up to tube down pre-made runs. The kids had a great time. Towards the end our spring weather disappeared and the snow and sleet and cold came back. Cold weather just wipes you out and we were all grateful to go out to dinner someplace warm that serves the best hot clam chowder around. It was Market Street Grill. Our kids had a great time. Robyn's meal consisted of butter and sourdough bread, french fries and ketchup and ice cream - she ignored everything else. She had a great time over there in her corner chowing down on everything. After that day our kids slept hard and were happy to go to bed.

Tonight Jeremy's family comes over for dinner so we are enjoying all the family time. It is nice just to visit and hang out together. Love to you all, Heather