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Sunday, December 28, 2008

It was a very merry Christmas

Dear Friends and Family,

It was a great week full of family and Christmas activities. Christina and I finished off the last of the pie for lunch so Christmas must be drawing to an end. We had bucketfuls of snow get dumped on us which made for a very white Christmas. I love the line in Shrek that says "Christmas ain't Christmas till somebody cries". So we had our share of tears and cabin fever restlessness but mostly we just loved having so much family around and enjoyed spending time with each other.

Monday morning we were awakened early by the sound of Spencer loosing it in the bathroom and running in to tell us that he had thrown up in the sink because he couldn't make it to the toilet. So Spencer threw up a bunch and spent the day laying on the couch watching TV and sleeping. I showed true mother fortitude by starting off my morning cleaning out all the chunks in a very full sink so it could start to drain. The spraying lysol all over my hands and the bathroom and taking a very hot, soapy shower.

Meredith came and stayed with kids while my sister Christina and I went out for a girls day out in the middle of a snowstorm. We slid our way to the store to pick up paint for the girls room and then slid our way for Christina to get a massage while I went grocery shopping. I appreciated the kindness of strangers when I realized you cannot push a full shopping cart across a parking lot with a foot of snow on it. A man came and picked up one end while I picked up the other and we carried the cart to the van. Then Christina and I rounded off our day with a lunch at Kneaders. As I am sure you have seen Jeremy's picture of me getting stuck in the parking lot I will skip that part of the story. Just wanted to point out that you could not see the landscaping curb due to the heavy snow and that it is my first time ever in Utah having to be towed because my car got stuck. After our ordeal we sat down to lunch when Christina got that look on her face and rushed to the bathroom to loose it. So we headed home where Christina joined Spencer in the sick brigade.

Monday night we were going to have our ice skating party but with all the snow Kelly was pretty much stuck at home and it wasn't the best day for us so we postponed till Christmas eve. Good thing because at dinner Taylor lost it and spent the night sick. So glad our washer has a sanitary cycle!

Tuesday everyone felt better although the sickies had sensitive stomachs. Christina pained Robyn's room while I cleaned for Christmas and kids ran around with friends. That night we met my parents and went out to dinner at Cafe Rio and then went to tour temple square and see the lights. Jeremy took off for a while to enjoy some time bonding with his new camera. The rest of us tramped around in the cold. Robyn looked like a stuffed starfish in her snowsuit and coat. I doubt she could put her arms by her side if she tried. Then we headed back to my parents for hot chocolate and cookies. Yes, Peter their place really is that small! It was a great late night out and kids all crashed back at home.

Wednesday I spent the morning cooking while kids counted the hours till ice skating. Christmas Eve is just a great time to go to the rink, its practically empty, they have Santa Clause come skate at the end and hand out candy canes and best of all kids are happy and blowing off some of the Christmas energy that was driving me nuts all morning (Spencer was checking Norad's Santa Tracker every few minutes - literally!) Robyn learned how to push a cone around the ice on her own - much easier on my back! Allison crept along holding the wall for an hour but by the end had to be dragged off the ice as she finally figured out how to skate. Lauri was unable to join us as she was sick with a cold and in fact went low and needed help after ice skating. So Jason and Kelly took Bryn and Taylor in their car to help Lauri with some needed ibruprofen and sugar and juice and met back at our house later. Girls enjoyed bubble baths and then everyone chowed down on pork nachos and Kelly's huge plate of Christmas goodies and watched Elf. Our kids think Elf is now the chosen Christmas Eve movie but we all enjoy it. Spencer and Allison arranged a plate of cookies for Santa with M&Ms for Santa and all hurried to bed so Santa could come.

My parents planned to come down Christmas morning for all the chaos so we warned our kids that they couldn't get out of their rooms before 7 and couldn't do stockings till 8. At 7 we heard little voices creeping around checking everything out but they didn't get us till 8. So enjoyed sleeping in and even having showers before all the hoopla. We had a big snowstorm sweep through that morning again so I was impressed my parents made it through. Kids loved all their presents. Robyn had a princess year and has been playing her princess wii game, reading her princess books or playing with her princess barbies ever since. My dad and Jeremy moved Robyn's crib over to her new "pretty room" as she calls it and set up Allison's new desk in her room. Spencer has a stash of new books and is excited to go to snowboarding lessons tomorrow (I think my emotions about that experience is more trepedation - see how it goes!). He keeos sending his dying chicken, screaming monkey and croaking frog slingshots flying through the house. Good thing they are soft! Taylor is covered in warm clothes and thanks to Mom and Dad is enjoying warm feet. Jeremy and I got new knives that I have been excited to cut with - it is amazing the difference - and Jeremy and my mom just cringe waiting for me to loose a fingertip.

Jason and Kelly came over in the afternoon along with their kids and Lauri (still with a cold but we said she had to come). We enjoyed an afternoon and evening of eating way too much, playing games and hanging out.

Friday kids spent the day playing with their new toys. Jeremy took off work early and we took kids and a few friends over to the junior high to sled down their big hill. Its a great hill for kids because its not too high but enough that you get a thrill and then you have a whole soccer field to slide over before you hit the fence - no rocks. Jeremy taught Rocky to pull Robyn around on a saucer which she loved. The other kids practiced their speed and going over jumps. Came home frozen and ready for hot chocolate and spent the night watching a movie and eating smashed sandwiches.

Saturday was spent just hanging out and cleaning the office. I tried to figure out curtains for Robyn's room. Christina painted a garland of flowers on the wall in an arc over Allison's desk - Allison was thrilled. Saturday night Christina, Jeremy and I went out to dinner and a movie. We had Tai food. First time I ever had tofu thanks to Christina that I really liked! I will have to try cooking it again. Jeremy learned how to ask for all the meat to be cooked seperately so he could make everyone happy. We went and watched Yes Man and had a good laugh.

So its been a good busy week full of family and fun. We all ate way too much, cleaned up too many bodily fluids, enjoyed doing nothing and then enjoyed doing everything - a good Christmas. Warning there are a ton of picture to come - a true mommy blog but I wanted to share. Love to you all, Heather

Christina and Robyn with her new "pretty room".

Robyn trying to put away her loot.

Our street Christmas morning. It snowed more later that day.

I went out to put birdseed in the feeder to find our playhouse full of birds. They were living in the rafters. Robyn had dumped out a bunch of the sunflower seeds on the floor of the playhouse so the birds thought it was great.


Guess what picture my parents are laughing about. Griselda, any ideas? Is wet suit enough of a clue?



Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Temple Square Outing

Last night we took a trip up to SLC to visit with Bill & Lynda and enjoy the lights at Temple Square. It is always beautiful to visit, but of course was especially fun with the Skeehans in town, including Christina.

The night started with a dinner at Cafe Rio, never a bad thing. Kids all enjoyed it, especially Robyn this go around. I'm not sure what struck her fancy, but the beans, rice, quesadilla and of course soda were all to her liking.

The night was particularly fun for me as Heather released me to go play with my new camera :) I had a lot of fun setting up in some of my favorite spots and trying out the gear. You can see my non-family photos over on flickr if you are interested.

Monday, December 22, 2008

California Drivers

Ok, I know this is cruel, but I had to do it. Heather had a "sister" morning out with Christina, taking her for a massage and lunch. While trying to park for lunch Heather jumped a curb hidden by snow and ended up stuck. Of course she calls her heroic husband who drops everything work to swoop in for the rescue. First things first though, he has to subject her to a little forced humility by breaking out the camera to document the event.

And here it is, posted online mere minutes later for your enjoyment. Ah, the wonders of digital photography.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Dear Family and Friends,
Kids are all nestled all snug in their beds (noisily but they are there!) Jeremy is in a zone by himself checking out his new camera and for me its time for a piece of fudge and blogging time!

Jeremy turned 37 on Tuesday. He celebrated by going out to lunch with his coworkers to his traditional Chinese buffet and sharing carrot cake with everyone. Then back home to eat navajo tacos and a carrot cake cheesecake courtesy of David and Griselda (thank-you, thank-you). Then after driving Spencer to karate we enjoyed just sitting on a couch together watching a TV show - that just doesn't happen often enough. With all his birthday money plus all the jobs he has been taking the last few months Jeremy finally reached his goal to buy a 2nd better camera. All the places had waiting lists but Jeremy found someone locally on ebay who had bought 2 and was selling one and he got it! So this afternoon he went to pick it up and has been in the zone since.

Robyn helped blow out the candle. She is practicing already for January!

On Wednesday night the boys, Jeremy and I met up with Jason, Kelly, and Lauri to go see the production Savior of the World up at the Conference Center. They were so thoughtful and arranged it as Taylor's Christmas present to go see the special needs production of it. To get the wheelchairs in they took us backstage which was pretty cool. The production was very neat and makes you think about the reality of the scriptures and how it was really like. The most touching part for me though was watching all the interpreters especially for those who were deaf and blind. I cannot even imagine living like that. At the end the whole cast signed their last song - its the only night that they do this - and they all had tears in their eyes and were signing thank-you to the audience. Spencer enjoyed it although by the end he was almost asleep and snored all the way home.

Thursday night we had our annual mother/daughter cookie exchange. Allison was up the previous night hacking away and with a fever so she stayed home, napping and helping me make a ton of cookies (I had voluntered to make a bunch of cookies for Spencer's class party as well so it was literally a ton!). By that night her fever was gone and she was feeling better so she got to stay for the party. We had 8 other moms and 15 girls over. The moms visited and ate cookies while the girls decorated sugar cookies and ate tons of sugar and ran wild. Jeremy said the times he poked his head upstairs that the moms were all in their own world while girls were jumping on couches, counters and having a free for all. So we all had a good time!

Our contribution this year. Biscotti dipped in chocolate and then crushed red hots. Really good.

girls busy decorating

We have had a bunch of snow hit us this week. The kind where you shovel in the morning, in the afternoon and by night all your walks are covered up again! Someone prayed really hard for a white Christmas! The worst of the ice in the streets has melted so except for corners I don't slide anymore. Spencer has been trekking around with his sled having a great time.

With colder weather we get more cabin fever. So most nights are kids are out doing jumping jacks or sit-ups. I am just waiting for them to refuse but so far it works great!

On Friday we one of those really cold, windy, icy days with snow blowing everywhere. My sister Christina after a really long journey finally arrived via shuttle - parents didn't want to risk the roads. Our kids were extremely excited to see her and have her here for Christmas. Late Friday night I was hit hard with a stomach bug. Allison was hit early Saturday morning. So our plans of a family ice skating party were put on hold. Allison and I cuddled in bed with a throw-up bucket and Jeremy took over the house. Now we are both feeling much better.

Today my parents came down for the day. It is so nice to visit with them and Christina. I am having to stretch my mind a little bit to come up with some vegetarian meals that everyone will eat but its a fun challenge. This afternoon we attempted to make a gingerbread house. Spencer had a hard time working with others and I resolved that from now on we will do graham cracker houses where each kid makes their own. None of this sharing, working together crap at Christmas - it just doesn't foster Christmas spirit in our house.

Christina doing Robyn's hair. It looked so cute until Robyn decided to try out the static electricity in the pew and rub her head up and down against it. Then it looked disheveled cute!

Allison with the finished gingerbread house.

Got all the Christmas errands and wrapping presents finished up this past week. So I am looking forward to doing a bunch of family activities and stocking up on the patience and sense of humor that I'll need.

Love to you all, Heather

Mimi tagged me on her 7 things list, so here is my attempt.

7 things I was doing 7 years ago...
1. living in Orem
2. getting Taylor started in the school system and finding him a wheelchair
3. trying to figure out how to toilet train Spencer
4. being Primary president
5. teaching little girls piano lessons after school
6. praying that our next child would be a little girl (it worked!)
7 . missing my husband as he worked all the time at his own company

7 things on my to-do list...
1. to do NOTHING and enjoy it this Christmas break
2. hanging out with my sister
3. playing with my kids and remembering that work is on hold for the next 2 weeks
4. moving Robyn to her own room
5. getting all of the office stuff out of our bedroom
6. making a quilt and curtains for Robyn's room
7. figuring out to make a loaf of bread that looks all puffy instead of flat and squished (thats been a year long project so far - someday I will figure it out in the meantime we eat bread A LOT)

7 books I want to read/reread...
1. Lincoln (its been on my nightstand for months)
2. Hunger Games (just finished and want to reread it)
3. Persuasion by Jane Austin
4. Book of Mormon (stake challenged us to read it this year in addition to our regular study - we're going to do it as a family, see how that goes after being used to the book of mormon readers!)
5. Tom Clancy books (every few years I pull them all out again)
6. Shopaholic and Sister (neighbor loaned it to me - need to get it back!)
7. Marco Polo (got it for Christmas last year and only made it halfway through)

7 places I want to visit...
1. Hawaii
2. Detroit (just for the company! - get to come true in June)
3. Italy
4. Greece (saw Mama Mia last night and it gave me ideas - that and all the Mary Stewart books I read as a teenager)
5. Jerusalem
6. Australia (but not till after February)
7. Washington, D.C.

7 place I have lived...
1. Sunnyvale, CA
2. Mountain View, CA
3. Hamburg, Germany (does a month count as living?)
4. Provo, UT
5. Orem, UT
6. Pleasant Grove UT

7 things I would do if I were a millionaire...
1. Take all our family on a Disney Cruise (Allison has been asking for one for a long time - tell her to keep on dreaming)
2. Pay off our house
3. Hire a cleaning service
4. Buy a beach house
5. Fly all my family into the beach house often - this every 2 year thing doesn't work for me

7 snacks I enjoy...
1. Chocolate - any kind but Hershey's
2. Apples and Carmel Dip
3. Can't think of anything else - mind went pretty much blank after chocolate!

7 things I can do...
1. Make fishy lips
2. Play the piano
3. Sew curtains (as long as you don't look too closely)
4. Make pumpkin bread
5. Cuddle with my girls to read stories
6. Garden without killing too many plants
7. Reading surrounded by chaos and yet being able to tune it out (don't know if this is a good or bad attribute)

7 things that attracted me to my husband...
1. His legs were bigger than mine (you'd have to have grown up with chicken leg brothers to understand why I thought this was so important)
2. He set goals to try to be a better person and was always trying to find a way to improve
3. He could put up with my laughing at improper things at improper times
4. He would understand when I was in project mode to smile and grab a hammer
5. His smile in his yellow EFY shirt
6. He would take me dancing
7. He made me feel happy, safe and loved all the time. My own personal safety net.

7 favorite foods...
1. Chocolate
2. Cheesecake
3. Sourdough bread
4. Clamchowder inside a sourdough bowl
5. Spicy seafood tomato sauce pasta
6. Really good wheat bread with butter and jam
7. French toast with berries

7 people I admire most...
1. My parents
2. My siblings
3. Jeremy
4. All my sister-in-laws
5. Team Hoyt
6. All those friends who remind me every day of what is really important
7. My kids especially my daughter Allison

7 people I tag...
1. Kelly
2. Allison
3. Michelle
4. Brenda
5. Christina
6. Brenda
7. Angie

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The first true sign of winter

Dear Family and Friends,

The first official sign of winter is not the snow, Taylor's cold, the wet clumps of snow all over the kitchen, or even Christmas music playing - its my thumb cracking open. It happens every winter, doesn't matter if I put lotion on or solar oil or whatever else the pharmacy suggests. It cracks and then shortly afterward my other fingers start cracking and its a perpetual cycle that lasts till spring.

Yesterday and through the night it snowed and it stuck. This morning I thought how nice it would be to send the kids out to shovel the driveway while I got Taylor ready. I need to rethink my idealistic dreams of having the kids shovel the walks before we leave for school this winter. "Where's my boots? Where's my gloves? Robyn is wearing my shoes, make her take them off. Mom this is my shovel and no one else can use it right (while waving around a snow encrusted, gunk flying off shovel inside Taylor's room), wahh, my feet are frozen, why didn't you tell me I should wear boots/socks" and so on. I am sure we will get the routine down but this morning was laugh or cry time at the chaos. Robyn got into the spirit and was down on her knees (in her church clothes) using an ice scrapper on the walks.

This weekend was full of festivities. Friday night was Jeremy's work party was is always a very fun event. They did the shopping spree again where we had to buy something frivelous for ourselves in 1 1/2 hours, spend all the money and then show the party what we got and our receipts for judging. Somehow I never have a problem doing this and had a great time getting some new clothes and running shoes. Jeremy had a hard time figuring out what to get - must be a guy/girl thing. I can always buy clothes! Then we met up for dinner, talking and riding in a trolley around Thanksgiving point. They gave all the employees an ipod touch for their company gift so Jeremy is psyched about that. What a great company. Makes me feel like we have an excess of blessings in our lives every time that Jeremy has a good job right now that is generous to our family.

(Right now Jeremy is running a random slide show of all his family pictures. Makes me realize how despite being far apart how much family has been with us throughout our married life. We have pictures of all our siblings doing stuff with us - Daniel digging our sandbox, Peter hacking at trees, Mimi hiding easter eggs, Christina playing with Taylor in the ocean, kids asleep at my Grandma's and it goes on. Really neat to watch. Does strike me how often visiting family has been stuck with manual labor at our house - trees, stumps, sandboxes, gardens, playhouse, I too abusive?)

Saturday morning was our ward Christmas breakfast. Kids loved running around and visting with Santa Clause. Robyn got a very concerned look when Santa Clause came in and could not stop staring at him. But she hopped right into his lap and stuck her hand out for a candy cane and asked for a pink princess. Allison brought a picture along to make sure he knew she wanted an American girl doll. (We had a talk about how sometimes Santa Clause thinks of something even better than you asked for!) Saturday afternoon Jeremy took pictures of our friend's daughter's wedding. 17 year old with a 4 month old baby marrying the father - a tough road ahead. Then I showed up with the kids for the reception. The parents are trying hard to be supportive and make this work for her.

This week was a pretty good week. It might be because we made a massive amount of fudge so there were constant infusions of chocolate! Jeremy has his own container in the fridge with a sign saying for dad only on it. The kids all know not to touch it. Dad there is a similar container for you next time you're down! Robyn was feeling a little puny this week with a cold and was happy for a few days to sit and play with barbies so I just stayed in the next room wrapping up presents. Mostly done now! I handmade some presents this year so I need to finish a few things up still. Its been fun to make some presents this year, adds a lot to the enjoyment of the season.

Thursday was a day to make me appreciate Jeremy. I had a Relief Society board meeting/Christmas party that night so Jeremy was taking point. I loaded up the truck cinnamon rolls and handouts and left a little early so I could drop Spencer off at karate. I realized that the dresser I had picked up for Robyn earlier that day was in the bed so Jeremy and I hurried to unload the massive box. I was really struggling to keep it up and at the doorway I gave a last shove to get it up the stair just as Jeremy paused to readjust his hold. Ended up smashing his hand against the doorjam. Then I had to leave! Jeremy text's me that his hand isn't broken he thinks just really swollen and stiff. Then 30 minutes later he texts me that Robyn was wearing 'practice' underwear and had pooped all over. 2 hours later I get home to find Spencer back home from his karate party and kids in bed. Jeremy's hand is swollen to twice its size. He had his Osmond book's proofs spread throughout the family room because Robyn had spilled a drink all over them. He still was almost smiling. What a tough night and he made it through!

I worked hard on Robyn's room this week. All the stuff that was in the old office is now all over our bedroom. Jeremy commented that he had no idea that we had so much stuff cramed in that room! So the painting is all done now except for some touch-ups. We even have her dresser in there and Jeremy hung up her closet rods. The dresser caused us to curse the Chinese manufacturers as Jeremy had to cut away wood and drill new holes to install the mirror. Allison is just a little excited about Robyn moving out. As we are setting up the dresser Allison is running in and dumping all of Robyn's stuff as she happily rearranged her room without Robyn's clothes.

The rest of the week was made up of our normal chaos. Had an hour long wait at the dentist for him to tell Spencer that his crooked teeth had all turned so there was nothing more he needed to do except keep wearing his retainer at night. Of course Spencer has now decided he likes wearing it all the time so he still does. Robyn and her friend Luke have spent the week accessorizing the barbies. Allison has been busy with her play at school and crying over the smallest things. I keep trying to get her to bed earlier to see if that helps. If she thinks she looks or has to do something different than her friends she looses it. The last girl in her class besides her not to loose a baby tooth, lost one this week. So now Allison is the only first grade who has all her baby teeth. We told her about Peter literally pulling out a baby tooth before it was ready and I think it gave her ideas. So there have been lots of tears as she tries in vain to wiggle her front teeth.

Taylor has been under the weather most of this week and just happy to curl up in a blanket. His last favorite sippy cup permanently broke so we are stuck with using this new ones that spill easily. Makes feeding him something that requires a lot of attention right now.

Robyn managed to pee in the toilet this week. We made a huge deal about it and now she is convinced she needs to wear underwear. Unfortunately she has been unable to repeat that performance leading to lots of lysol being sprayed.

Last story of the week is about Spencer. He was very excited when he came home from cub scouts. Jeremy was teaching the young men so I was on my own. Spencer had made a candle decoration and wanted to give it to Allison for Christmas. So he was looking around for a box and I handed him one I thought would work if he laid the decoration on its side. As I am saying that he puts it in the box and slams the lid on breaking the candy cane glues on the back that was sticking up. Major tears. Tried to glue it together - glue and sticky tear fingers and peppermint doesn't mix. More tears. I found another candy cane that someone had given us. We glue it on. The glue doesn't dry very fast so we hide it in a cupboard while he goes to take a shower. He comes back down all excited that it is dry and grabs it, misses it and it falls to the counter shattering all three candycanes glues to the candle. Lots of tears. So he is sent of to bed and told not to reappear because I am done with the drama. So that night I am up finding more candy canes, gluing it together and finding a better box. Next morning he is up an hour early so he can wrap it before Allison wakes up. Reminds me of a saying from Shrek's video "Christmas ain't Christmas unless somebody's crying".

Love to you all. Bunch of pictures below, Heather

Allison told me that Robyn's room was pretty except for the poop colored brown. I am afraid that phrase is stuck in my mind now.

The curtain fabric I picked out is leaning against the window.

Kid's attempt to shovel. As always Allison works hard, Spencer poses. But Allison gave up after 5 minutes and Spencer worked for 30 so I guess it all comes out even.

Rocky took off to go run in the snow.

Our bedroom was clean of all stuff for a month there. I keep reminding myself that this is temporary!

Robyn's usual attire. I tell everyone that for 30 minutes in the morning she looks really cute. Then its anyone's guess what she will be wearing.

Spencer's bed head.

Robyn's face when Santa walked in the room.