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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Third times the charm!

Dear Family and Friends,

We did it again. This weekend we got our 3rd lab, a 6 year old rescue dog named Rocky. We've talked about getting a dog when Robyn started school and then this last week one of my friend's daughters said that Utah lab rescue had the perfect dog for us named Petey. Jeremy with great grace, as he had no real desire for a dog gave into pleadings to consider it. Petey ended up having a deep hatred for cats which we knew would not work. We told the head lady of the society exactly what we wanted and she found us a great match with a dog named Rocky. His family had to move out of state and couldn't take him with them so he was given to the rescue society to find him a new home. We drove up to meet him Sat morning and explained to the kids how this might not be "the dog" but that we would check him out. Of course they all agreed and then a minute after meeting him Spencer and Allison are both saying "this is the one, this is him". His original family had moved Friday and had left him at a kennel where we met him so he was a little excited when first let out. He gave Robyn a big lick on her face and with her thinking all dogs were tiny chiwowa like our neighbor's she was very tense and scared about the situation. They offered to let us have him for the weekend to make sure he was a good fit before we officially adopted him. We continued on to pick up some tile for our basement shower and while waiting in the parking lot Robyn fell in love with him as he would crunch on any stick she gave him. Now she just mauls him and follows him around everywhere.

Rocky is 86 pounds, a black english style lab. He is in great health although a few pounds heavier than is good. He is extremely mellow and is greatly driven by food from what we have seen so far. He already knows to spread out next to Robyn or Taylor's chair. With Taylor every time Taylor's arm sweeps his tray looking for food he perks up ready to lap up any spills. He doesn't respond the greatest to commands like sit or stay but we plan to work on it. He did bark once during the middle of the night at some noise outside but besides that is quiet. He does sniff anyone new and licks their hand but doesn't jump or take off if the door opens. He leaves the plants and trees alone and doesn't seem to dig (although he did bury a bone under our porch today). All our kids are in love with him but Spencer is besotted. He got up this morning early ready for church and took Rocky for a walk, scooped his poop, put him in a crate with a toy and was just thrilled after church to run home and play with him. Rocky doesn't really want to play catch yet but Spencer is working on him. He is not a running dog but more wants to walk along and be with you for whatever you are doing. Robyn treats him like a small horse and thinks she should go for rides on him. I think he will be a great (and messy) addition to our family and will provide a lot of fun for our kids. Last night we had him sleep inside and he wasn't too content, and kept going to the garage door and slept in front of it. So we're going to see if he likes sleeping in the garage better for tonight.

That really is the biggest news of the week. A lot of other odds and ends made up the rest. I went in Tuesday to finish re filming a bunch of the Lincoln school video. Jeremy and I stayed up late re-doing the video and the end result was much better. Jeremy took time off Thursday to go show it for the assembly and I ran over to see it as well. I think the kids really liked it but the last 1/4 of the video couldn't be heard as kids were just non-stop cheering for each teacher that appeared. A bit disappointing in a way as we worked hard on all the audio but hopefully they will play it again so the teachers can hear all the comments.

Taylor got measured for new daffo braces this week. He has really grown - hence all the stretch marks on his legs. His new daffos are going to be bigger and more involved to help him not walk crouched over with his knees in front of his toes. I talked a lot with his current teacher this week about his school situation for next year. We decided that the regular junior high with the life skills classroom is the best bet for now although a lot of changes will have to be made for it to work - with a seemingly pretty inflexible teacher. But we'll figure it out. We can always fall back to the 100% disabled school by us but I really don't like it and once you're in, its hard to get out.

Spencer went and had a filling replaced this week. He is a pretty old hand at it now and just goes in, lays down, and takes his shot like a man. They shaved part of his chipped front tooth and will keep working on it to smooth it out for him. At school this week he and a large group of boys were all riding their skateboards, waves etc on the playground before school. Spencer "says" he thought the rule was only no boards in the school building not on the play ground as well. I take that with a grain of salt. Regardless they all had their boards confiscated and were told they couldn't bring them back to school for the rest of the year. So Spencer is back to walking. This week the weather couldn't tell if it was winter or spring as one minute it would be a blizzard and the next there would be sunshine. So I got a few desperate calls to pick him up when snow would fly and he would be in shorts. He has spent his afternoons looking up "how to do tricks" videos on skateboards and bikes and then going out to try the tricks.

With the warmer weather, as Jeremy puts it, I have entered into the spring fix-up stage. I have been tearing out weeds, moving bushes around, and attacking the dandelion rampage going on in our lawn. Robyn and her friends are having tea parties out there whenever the sun shines. I went and got the wood needed for our raspberry trellis and the sandbox. Now we just need to actually build them. I planted 5 sticks of raspberries that look a little pathetic at the moment. They are gold raspberries so I am hoping to find some red one to plant as well. I started digging the holes for the fence posts and after inches thought that was good enough but knew before Jeremy shook his head that a pick-ax would have to get involved. Jeremy got the screws needed to attach them to the boxes, we just need to finish the holes first.

Jeremy had a friend want him to do a side project. Jeremy isn't taking on new projects anymore so to sweeten the deal he gave us an imac. So now I have this big honking screen in our kitchen and we have a fear of Robyn waving keys in front of it! It is pretty nice although it feels extravagant. Jeremy likes that he can do all his stuff on it as well.

Allison continues to just enjoy life. As I drop her off for kindergarten she calls out to any classmate she meets up with and is busy chatting away with who ever it is as they walk into their classroom. She has play dates, birthday parties, new dresses to design for her dolls and stuffed animals - life is always busy and happy for her especially if a friend is involved.

Hope all is well with everyone and love to you all, Heather

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Coming back to reality

Dear Friends and Family

First part of this week was straight vacation. We took Cal Train up to San Francisco from Mom and Dad's house. Surprisingly easy to do and don't know why I didn't do it more when I lived at home! We checked into our hotel which would end up having the best bed I have ever slept in - Jeremy agrees - and a great view overlooking the whole city since we were 26 stories up right next to the Moscone Center. Jeremy and I walked through the city and then along the bay visiting Pier 39 and having the required clam chowder in a bread bowl. There is something about watching the sea lions and the boats and the salt air that makes sourdough and soup taste so good together. Then we took a ferry out to Alcatraz Island and did an audio tour out there that was really good and then just walked around. The day was extremely windy, so the ride out to the island was a little rocky and we were glad for our jackets. I don't know if I would do the island again but its definitely neat to do it once. Most of the history I had no real idea about. One of the escapes was made into a Clint Eastwood movie that I want to see now. I also never knew about the Indian occupation or had thought about all the children and families who grew up on the rock while their dad's were guards. Its a little creepy to hear accounts of children playing games outside these prisoners' cells. That night we met up with the rest of Jeremy's company to attend a Giants game, 5th row behind 3rd base. It was really fun to watch, and thats coming from a non-baseball fan. It was also really cold! Made the polish dogs with sauerkraut taste that much better. (I decided I focused too much on food this trip - I told Jeremy I figured out why everything tasted better on our vacation, I didn't have to make it and I could sit and eat my meal instead of taking care of kids all around me)

Tuesday Jeremy was at the convention all day and I spent the day wondering around and shopping. I found an H & M store which is one of my favorites. It always takes me aback when I try clothes on there as they do fashion sizes not vanity sizes. Their clothes are too nice for me to wear with my kids as I never know what disgusting thing I will be around during the day but I got a new church outfit. I met up with one of the other women to walk through china town - talk about some serious pushy saleswomen. Meandered around till I reached Ghiradelli Square and then took a cable car back. Before this trip I thought I was in pretty good shape but boy after two days of walking hills all day my calves were aching. That evening I thought of how grateful I am (now) for my eye surgery as I laid down for an hour to catch a nap before I had to meet up with the group. I can't remember the last time I slept during the day, what a luxury. That night we all went to the restaurant at the top of the Bank of America building. It has glass on all sides overlooking the city so we got to sit and watch the sun go down and all the lights go on. The food was amazing and I cheerfully and tiredly waddled back to the hotel afterwards.

Wednesday I ran, wondered the city and met up with Jeremy and then Christina for lunch. Christina's work now is really amazing, I am not sure how much of my opinion is based on the fact that I like the genre she is doing more now. Then we took Bart to the airport to wait for a delayed plane and then on home. Our kids had the best time while we were gone. Lindsay had everything cleaned up and had even washed our sheets and remade our bed. The next day the kids told me how she took them to the park and the animal museum. She had one of our 4 teenage brothers come over each day to play with Spencer - football, wii, basketball - which he thought was wonderful! She had her 11 year old sister come over a bunch to do crafts with Allison. And she had quiet time every day during Robyn's nap time during which Allison and Spencer had to quietly play on a couch, at a table or in their rooms. They said the biggest rule was that you didn't bother Lindsay for those 2 hours. I thought it was a great idea and one I will have to carry over into summer.

Thursday was a sad wake-up to reality. The kids all made me breakfast in bed - waffle sticks, juice, toast - I was very impressed. Robyn thought she should be crawling up into bed with me to help do the syrup so we moved the party downstairs to the kitchen. I spent the day facing a mountain of laundry and house cleaning but promised the kids we would make it to the park after nap time. So we did and our neighbors joined us so all the kids had a friend to run around with. They loved it.

Friday I had promised the kids for spring break we would go to the zoo and get our pass for the year. They were bouncing around as I tried to eat breakfast ready to go. It ended up being high 70s and sunny so it was a great day to go. 2 of our neighbors ended up being up there with their kids as well which made it nicer for everyone. Robyn loved the wild turkeys running around and took a while to believe us that they would bite her hand if she grabbed them. Spencer and his friend noticed all the nature aspects of the zoo - i.e. poop hanging off a monkey's rear - and giggled together with enjoyment most of the day. After 4 hours as I pushed Taylor's wheelchair up a steep heel with a 2 year old on my back I just looked in disbelief as Allison and Spencer complained at how tired their legs were! But if you walk to the back off the zoo you have to walk out! We stopped to visit Kelly and her girls on the way home. They have been finishing up some yard projects, new fence, deck etc and we wanted to check it out. Their girls came home with us for cousin pizza and movie night. Got home 8 hours after leaving pooped but with happy kids. We have been having warmer weather and although snacks disappear at an alarming rate and kids need to be bathed every night to get the dirt off, the house is much calmer now! Kids ran around, enjoyed a bunch of pizza, strawberries and ice cream and laid around worn out, sunburned and ready for bed. Jeremy and I decided we had become callous as we listed to Kayla yelling at us from her couch that she wanted to go home, Robyn singing and Allison complaining while we calmly ate ice cream and watched an old tv show quite happily.

With the warmer weather here the last few days I have been eager to dive into our yard. I pulled a ton of dandelions yesterday in our lawn before mowing it and this morning it still looks like there is yellow polka dots all over. We cleaned a bunch, with Jeremy's work and a church assignment but our kids brought along a friend each so they were happy for the work. As I watched Robyn race around the church pushing a carpet sweeper I wondered how much work they actually did but at least they were there. That night I went to the tulip festival at Thanksgiving Point with Jeremy as he was meeting his photo walk group there. I got to wonder while he and his photo geek friends got to discuss lenses and angles to their hearts content. Winning solution for both of us.

Jeremy also helped with a photo shoot Saturday morning. He has really been diving into photography and his online groups more. He is ramping up a bit as he prepares for this big Osmond project he has coming up. I remembered Christina saying when I got married that she wanted to marry someone who ironed as Jeremy spent Friday night catching up for me on all the ironing - which was quite a daunting task. He tries really hard to balance everything out but there is always more to do than there is time it seems. He was gone from 6-12 today and then got called back to do tithing for an hour or two this afternoon. What a guy.

We found a finish guy and a tile guy for our downstairs. They do the finish work starting the end of this week for which I am very excited. I need to epoxy our food storage room floor before they can shelf there which I am not too excited about. Jeremy has vacuumed (Shop Vac) out the basement many times but there is still a lot of dirt and dust down there. And the floor has to be all clean before we can paint it. See how much happens this week!

Coming back home is always nice and always a shock to the system. Thoughts of, do I really do this much and is this how I am always treated start running through your mind. Just need to remind myself to delegate, buckle down or let it go. Missed our kids though and appreciate even more their hugs and kisses. It is nice to do trips with Jeremy though as it reminds us of our non-kid personalities! As I sat on a bench overlooking the bay I remembered the story of the grasshopper who didn't work all summer but looked at the flowers, sounds and nature all around him. Then during the winter he entertained the other grasshoppers with his stories, pictures, and sounds. I think of times like this past week of storing moments of peace, beauty and calm that I hope I can remember when I need to go to a 'happy place' during stressful moments. Love to you all, Heather

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fun in the Sun

Dear Family and Friends,

You can't beat yesterday, we slept in (which for us was 8 am CA time) and then I got to go running around all my old schools and neighborhoods (feeling very pumped at how easy it is to run here versus home with the lower altitude), stop at a store to find a button down shirt for Jeremy and then off to Santa Cruz to walk the beach, lay with a good book and enjoy the 90 degree weather. am sure its partly my memories but walking along the pier, smelling all the fried sea food, hearing the sea lions, walking through the old candy shop Christina and I used to visit just makes me happy. We even escaped with only a few patches of sunburn where sunblock rubbed off or we missed applying - I never even thought of applying sun block to my arm pit area but live and learn. They closed the freeway on the way back for 3 hours which made me really regret that big gulp at 7-11 I wolfed down as we left Santa Cruz! but without kids it wasn't too bad to just sit and visit.

We arrived in CA Friday afternoon and spent the afternoon and evening visiting and going out to dinner - I learned that broccoli and carrots can taste good in burritos. Walking around down town Mountain View was a bit strange as things have changed so much since I lived here. I realized I haven't really live in CA for 16 years now, hard to believe. Today Jeremy and I spent the morning over at Shoreline walking around. I took a tour of the Rengstorf house where we had our reception 14 years ago. Not much has changed. Then we went to the Heritage Oaks ward where everything has changed. I no longer really care if I attend Mom and Dad's ward as I know so few people there. Tomorrow we head up to San Francisco until Wednesday for Jeremy's conference.

Our sheet rockers finished up this week. They left a stack of unused sheetrock in the basement that I am not sure what we will do with. Next is tile in the bathroom and finish work. We got one finish work bid back but its a bit hard to take when we think of how we could do it ourselves - but I am not sure how long it would take us or how good of a job we would do. Being in CA and seeing Mom's garden has me eager to jump on all our yard projects. We had snow two times this week and its been pretty cold and windy in UT.

Jeremy spent many long hours at night finishing up Allison's school video. On Tuesday when he had set aside the night to finish everything up, his computer died. He ended up having to reinstall everything with a big frown on his face and an all nighter Wednesday to make up for it. Of course after that on Thursday the school board member over the project didn't fully like the end result so we are tweaking it when we get it back.

On Monday the girls and I toured the two options for Taylor's junior high next year. He can go to a self enclosed classroom at the regular junior high where he would be by far the lowest functioning student there or he can go to an all disabled school where he gets more services but he is surrounded by kids just like him and unable to talk and interact. I like the regular junior high option better but I wasn't too impressed with the teacher there and worry how well she would work on Taylor's goals. His current teacher who goes above and beyond is touring the schools for me next week so I am hoping he will have some ideas to help.

Spencer was thrilled this week to be honored at the school assembly for being in the top 10% on the standardized testing they did. He also successfully memorized his two recital pieces for piano so he feels like he is on a roll. He has been expanding his circle of friends lately so he has been playing with different friends after school. Its been nice to see him reach out as he isn't heartbroken when his one friend next door can't play. The motivation behind this is that his one friend started hanging down at the trampoline with some older skater boys on the street. They taught Spencer a joke that was really bad so we had a big talk about walking away from bad environments and how to not be rude but choose not to play at that time. Hard thing to implement but he is trying. He is pounding food lately and we worry that the side effect of increased appetite and obesity of his meds is starting to affect him. For example he comes home from school and a granola bar, cheesestick, apple, banana, and go-gurt, later (I kid you not!) he wants to know when dinner is! This is in a 20-30 min period so we have been talking about slowing down and letting the food hit your stomach. Jason and family gave him the Chronicles of Narnia for his birthday and he has finished The Magician's Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardobe and is on to the next book. He thinks its cool to have such a big book.

Jeremy and I have a new peeve with Spencer's school. They had a book fair this week and Spencer was there 5 min early with money in hand to buy some of their overpriced, cheap toys. I always thought book fairs should only sell books! Spencer and Allison both are in love with their little gizmo's that they ponied up for though.

Allison was excited this week to pass level 3 of swimming and move on to dolphin and butterfly. She and Spencer fight over who gets to play with Robyn as they both try to offer bribes to her. Its usually a love hate relationship with the girls. Allison is either trying to "mother" Robyn or yelling at her for ruining her latest art project or trying to play with the big girls.

Robyn is still a cute little bundle running around and begging to go outside. She throws tantrums that we all laugh at as she spits at us, tries to hit us and bite us. But she stays in time out really well yelling and screaming. But then when she gets up she says I'm sorry and gives us a hug and all is forgiven. She usually looses it when she doesn't understand why we won't let her do what she wants - i.e. whats wrong with writing on the wall or hitting someone who teases you.

Kids seem to be doing fine without us and we are enjoying the break. We don't call home when we are gone as they do better without the reminders of us being gone. I don't realize how much we stay on our toes with kids until they're gone and it feels strange to just sit or lie in bed and not worry over how much time you have before you hear a kid yelling for you. Love to everyone, Heather

Heather has much to say I am sure, so I will be short. We are thoroughly enjoying our weekend in California thus far, both visiting family and having some "couple" time as well. Part of my enjoyment has been to break out the camera and take a slew of frivolous photos, including flowers in Lynda's garden and downtown Mtn. View. I think everyone here is a bit nervous with my shutter constantly snapping, but we have some good candid family photos as a result as well.

I never get tired of having quality time with Heather, so life is good for me on this outing. Here is the link to view some family photos taken. As for the rest of the abstract or just playing around photos, you can see them on my flickr stream if you are interested.

Some photos over on SmugMug.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Slow week

Dear Family and Friends,

No big events this week just lots of little things that keep our lives full. I got a call at the end of last week saying the needed the school video we were supposed to be making for Allison's school by the end of this week! Moments of panic and Jeremy trying to suppress his I told you so's for my procrastination. So I spent a lot of time finishing up filming at Allison's school, Jeremy even popped over to take some pictures one morning. Jeremy showed me how to edit out clips which was a bit time consuming but interesting to learn. And now quite unfairly a large burden rests on Jeremy's shoulders to turn it into something kids and teachers will want to watch. I have complete faith in his abilities but I know its a big time and effort involvement on his part to get it done at the last moment.

Our mudders showed up twice this week for the basement and I think are pretty much done. As far as I can tell the biggest thing they have left to do is all the clean-up. We've been talking to other subs this week to get bids etc on the rest of the work. The nice part of the slower housing economy in Utah is prices are way down which is working out great for us.

All the boys got their hair cut this week. Spencer was a surprise as he has been trying to grow it long for a while now. We had told him that he had to get a trim so it would look like he was doing it on purpose. As Jeremy trimmed Spencer just decided to get it all off. I think having to comb and style his hair plus the sweatiness of wearing his helmet all the time was getting to him. I even got my hair cut which I always enjoy. While I was there I had my eyebrows waxed for the first time - I have never waxed anything before. I am sure it is a less sensitive area but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be! I tried plucking my eyebrows once and decided after a few minutes of pain that it was so not worth it but waxing twice a year is doable.

Friday night Jeremy and I went out to dinner with some friends. We went up to the new Cheescake Factory in SLC. The hoopla has died down a bit so it was only a 2!! hour wait to get seated (they don't take reservations). But we were then able to sit and just talk for 2 hours and eat lots of cheesecake. We don't usually have that long to just sit and talk with friends - usually we are doing kid interference. It was really nice.

Had to have a little talk yesterday on why our kids had to stay inside and watch conference and other friends didn't. Growing up when we did things differently it was because we were Mormon. But here that isn't the answer. So we have been trying to explain to our kids that our family chooses to do things a certain way because we feel its right and that although other families do things differently it doesn't mean that they are wrong. Its a tough concept to grasp for them.

I repainted the bead board in our downstairs bathroom this week. I kept wondering why it looked so streaky and bumpy till I realized it just needed a thicker top coat of paint. Spencer afterwards said it looks the same, just whiter now so why did I bother? Told him that was the point!

Kids are all doing good. Robyn learned how to open doors and yes the hamsters are still alive (don't ask me how). We find the hamsters all over the bathroom now with Robyn gleefully playing with them. I learned that she could open the door when she showed up in the kitchen with a hamster running up and down her arm while Robyn proudly beamed and tried to be careful about her accomplishment.

I go to tour the junior high tomorrow for Taylor to make sure it will be a good fit. I am hoping to make it work as I really don't like the atmosphere of the disabled school.

Besides that life is full with errands, going to the library, Spencer starting the bear den and learning a bunch of magic tricks, Robyn discovering how fun it is to ride a trike, Spencer reading through the Narnia chronicles, Allison singing non-stop all the time in this high pitched voice, taking Lauri shopping, and all the other stuff that goes on in our family.

Love to you all, Heather