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Sunday, August 30, 2009

The big faker

Dear Friends and Family,

Yesterday we learned what a good faker Spencer is. We took him in for an eye exam the we scheduled a week ago when he complained that it was hard to read the projector, that everything was a bit blurry. When they pulled out the eye chart and he could only read the top letter, I was floored. Allison is a bit worse at -2.5 but not much as Spencer is at -2.25. The doctor said Spencer must just be really good at "blur definition" - figuring out what the blurs mean and faking it. I felt really bad. So Spencer is getting some glasses in a week or so. So far we are batting 2 for 2 now. Wonder how early I should take Robyn in? Spencer did point out that bi-polar, retainers AND glasses are a bit much - I had to agree.

This week has been easing back into the school schedule. I am still a little off as Allison show up 30 minutes late for her first gymnastics class and Robyn shows up 15 minutes early for her dance class. My mind isn't quite with the schedule yet!

So Spencer is still doing karate, now only twice a week until his contract expires at the end of November. He says he doesn't want to do it again but he sure loves the experience. Spencer was placed in the 6/7 grade pre-algebra class at school which he was very stoked about. He really continues to enjoy his teacher who has turned his class room into a mock space ship where they have missions to perform. His teacher is an ex-court appointed foster parent for troubled youth. Great background for a teacher! Spencer continues to be hooked to his DS quite a bit but it is almost even with the Percy Jackson series of books that he started in Newport and continues to devour. Even I am really enjoying them. He had pack meeting this week and let the flag ceremony and got his aquanaut merit badge which he was proud about. I keep thinking I should buy him a new shirt as he stands up there with belly button showing if he moves the wrong way but he only has 6 months of cub scouts left!

Allison started her new gymnastics class this week. She has a male teacher for the first time which I think is a good thing. He told them they had to be able to do a pullover on the bar within two weeks or they were out. So Allison did it by herself 10 times in a row for the first time. Its where you put your toes on the bar and then flip your body around the bar. Since no one else in her class could do it yet she had a big smile on her face. Nothing like a little pressure to motivate you. She has been busy every day after school working on her "play" with her group of friends. Not quite sure what version of Wizard of Oz it will be but I know it requires lots of craft supplies as they make sets, costumes, tickets and flyers.

Robyn started her dance class this week. She was thrilled to dress up and try to follow the teacher to the music. She got a new leotard that has become her prized possession. We also started our temple play group Tuesday. So she played with two friends while I along with one of the moms, Ruth went to the temple while Brenda stayed with kids. It felt very strange being in the temple in the middle of a week day. But it was neat to go and I am excited for this opportunity. This week we are hosting the playgroup at our house. With being back on school schedules, Robyn is taking naps quite often now. It is so nice. Not so nice are the tears and melt-downs that go along with being tired enough for a nap.

Taylor seems to really enjoy his new school. They send home a button switch every day which he can push for me and we listen to a recorded message from his teacher. And then in the morning we send a message back with any concerns and tell what Taylor did that previous evening.

Jeremy has had a busy week. He had his usual night of church meetings, plus two family photo shoots plus a night of photo group meetings and he was trying to finish up a video for the young men. So he has been a little stressed trying to get everything done but having fun doing it. Yesterday we spent most of the day working at Lauri's place. We really only worked for 4 hours but with very helpful, whiny, let me stand right in front of you while you are trying to carry that heavy dresser up the stairs kids running around, it felt quite a bit longer. The 94 degree temps I am sure contributed. We made a lot of good progress though. I finished up all the probate papers this week so Jeremy is meeting with the clerk and we should get that under way. After our long, hot day I took the kids out for snow cones to celebrate.

After spending the day in his wheelchair in the hot dusty condo Taylor was ready to be pampered. So I took the kids up the canyon for a ward activity where Jeremy met us while Taylor stayed with Meredith and soaked in the hot tub and cuddled a bunch and made up for a bunch of missed calories. The church owns a very un-wheelchair friendly camp up in the canyon where our ward had an activity. We ate a bunch, Spencer and Allison went on the zip line, we went on a girl's only hike and Spencer found a dead tree to carry down the mountain. Best part is that we got to wear sweat shirts! Coolness feels so good right now.

This week Robyn and I went with the R.S. Stake Pres. to a luncheon for one of the counselors. It was at this extremely girly, snotty, cool boutique that also serves lunch. It is definitely on my list to visit with any female relatives! It was a lot of fun. The rest of the week Robyn and I tackled getting our house in order. We picked one of our apple trees and one of the pear trees and made a bunch of applesauce and pear-applesauce. We picked all our tomatoes and canned salsa. Finally cleaned our oven out and Allison's closet. Feels good to start catching up on some things. We even cleaned out the shoe cubbies and found out how many new shoes for the winter we need to buy (not a pleasant revelation!). Nothing big this week, just normal life which I am really enjoying.

Love, Heather

Realized I didn't post a picture of Taylor going back to school. He was standing up until I got the camera. If you look closely he is smiling because I kept trying to get him to stand back up but he wasn't going to do it!

Our apple and pear tree went gang busters this year. Hardly any worms which surprised me because we didn't spray.

Spencer and Allison made their own snack this week of nachos. They were quite pleased with themselves as they cleaned up their mess afterwords.

Our new weed free corner. Still need to landscape it but am still mulling over ideas.

Robyn showing off her new leotard - post nap, hence the hair style.

Allison has been busy making "cakes" for her friends this week. They involve freezing different types of sprinkles and melted candies. Rocky loves this as he cleans up any spills.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I finished!

Dear Family and Friends,

I finished my race! Biggest news for me this week is that I made it without walking or stopping for 13.1 mile averaging 9 1/2 minute miles. Not fast for many people but painfully fast for me! My running partner was hopped up on caffeine chomp blocks and I felt bad that I had to keep asking her to slow down. Getting up at 4 am to get ready and drive down there for the 5:15 bus was tough - multiple alarms were called into play. Jeremy brought kids down to cheer me at the finish line which was very cool. To celebrate that afternoon I had a great massage that kept me from stiffening up till night time. This morning I am still pretty stiff and sore but I am doing much better this year than I did two years ago. I am almost more proud that I was able to get up early with my friend all summer to run than that I was able to do the race. I am ready to just walk for a week or two now.

This week seemed to be full of stuff as we try to get our house and lives organized post summer vacation time. Sunday evening since despite our very best attempts to get kids to take naps (so we could join them!) no one had napped we decided to do a walk and turn in early. Robyn riding Spencer's scooter fell and sliced open her hand. I didn't think it was too bad till when I was cleaning the blood off I noticed the fatty tissue popping out. So she and I were off to instacare for the night. She was extremely brave and was mostly upset that she couldn't put her barbie band-aid on right away. So she held her band-aid in hand the whole time while they numbed, cut off all the tissue and glued it all back together. They wrapped her hand all up and stuck her barbie band-aid on top for her. She has been a little miffed that she can't take a bath this week but I sure have been enjoying how quick and easy showers are.

Monday was an early day as we went in to get the office cleaned and then spent the morning at the school where Spencer and Allison met their teachers and had their assessments done. Allison is a little stoked because they asked if she could join the 3rd graders for reading time. They both have really good teachers this year and are very excited. For the last time this summer we all went to the grocery store and I kept muttering my mantra of "last time, last time" throughout the kid helping experience. Laundry and all the other post vacation stuff and then Jason, Kelly and kids came over for the evening. With everyone's trips it has been awhile so everyone ate, visited and played in the hot tub.

Monday also we started turning the weed corner into a small waterfall, pond and sitting area with the help of some very nice Hispanic guys that Jeremy knew. We had met with them before we left for California and as soon as we came back they were all ready to go. They finished up Thursday evening. We still need to landscape, paint some chairs to put there, spread mulch etc but it is so nice to have the weed corner gone! And it amazes me who has been poking away at the corner for years now what a few days and some strong guys can accomplish.

Tuesday I was lucky enough to spend the day at Education week. It has been a few years since I have been able to go. Since I could only go for the one day I was there from the moment it opened at 9 till it closed at 9:30 going to every class I could. It was amazing, tiring and full of great ideas. Kids were with Meredith during the day and Jeremy at night and they all had a great time without me. Biggest idea I have been trying to implement since is the idea of finishing ie. finish getting dressed in the morning involves putting your PJs away, finishing eating dinner means putting your dishes in the dishwasher and all those other things that we all so conveniently forget to do.

Wednesday I had church meetings where kids kept coming in to ask "how much longer??" whine, whine. But they eventually went to the greener pastures of the next door neighbors. We went over for Taylor's new class's open house. He has a really unusual teacher this year but she is full of energy, and ideas and is highly committed. The evening we spent at Jason and Kelly's for Kayla's birthday party.

For the first day of school on Thursday our kids were up, dressed and panting at the bit to go. They asked Jeremy to give them blessings before they left and after Spencer and Allison went Robyn hopped right up for her turn. Same with pictures, she just wants to be part of the gang. Kids all loved their first day and came home happy and excited. The eagerness and excitement that goes along with their first days is almost painful to watch but just makes you smile with their enthusiasm.

Friday I met two of my friends, Kate and Allison at Kneaders for french toast, to celebrate kids being gone and to plan out Kate's baby shower. It was a great morning as we visted from breakfast time till lunch was being served while Robyn and Tally (Allison's girl) wolfed down cinnamon rolls then literally ran laps around the restaurant. I am sure the other patrons were glad for the free entertainment.

With kids being back in school I am exited at life calming down at least to the point that I can caught up on housework and everything else. I tackled my very full inbox this week and kids were amazed by my stack of paperwork. Spencer who was anxious to take over the computer couldn't believe that I had that much work to do. When I told him exactly! he wasn't too amused but he got the point.

Jeremy was able to do two photo things this week. Thursday night he went to an inspirational event up in SLC that uses multi-media (think I have those details right) and then Saturday night he spent at a BYU booster event taking pictures. He really enjoys those time outs to enjoy his hobby. Allergies have been up this week making it tough for him.

Robyn starts her dance class this week on Wednesdays. We went to sign her up last week and she had to go in full princess regalia carrying her dress-up suitcase with her just in case they required a multiple outfit presentation. She is very excited. Between that and preschool that starts September 8th twice a week hopefully she will keep busy enough to stay happy. As well this Tuesday we start our temple play group. Two of my friends Brenda and Ruth have kids Robyn's age so we are doing a playgroup every Tuesday where one watches kids and the other two get to go to the temple. Good for everyone!

I am looking forward this week to some more quiet time as we get back into the school schedule. It has been a good summer but it went by fast and busy it seems. Love to you all and Happy Birthday Kathryn,


Friday, August 21, 2009

Back to School Photos

The kids are back to school this week, much to Heather’s great enjoyment :)  Of course it is still a busy week getting started on all this, but it must be a good thing if Heather is meeting a couple of her friends at Kneader’s this morning to celebrate!  There has to be some real relief knowing that there is once again some available time during the day when kids are at school for, if nothing else, some decent amount of quiet time to get things done!

Heather asked that I take some quick photos of the kids yesterday before their first day at school.  I thought I’d share the snapshots.  Robyn doesn’t start pre-school yet, but of course she wanted to be a part of the big “first day” activities as well.

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P.S. Photos from the vacation are coming soon, it’s just been pretty busy catching up on some things.  I am planning to post them to a SmugMug gallery in full resolution for everyone to grab that would like them.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The cat is out of the bag

Dear Friends and Family,

The secret is out of the bag and I can finally talk about our trip to Newport. I am amazed that my sister-in-law Mimi kept it a secret for the past 4 months but we were able to meet up in sunny Newport, California to celebrate my brother Daniel turning 30. We stayed for a week of fun, sunshine and visiting. It was AWESOME! It seems like so much has happened in the last 2 weeks that I am going to go chronologically.

Two weeks ago I flew out to California for three days for my sister Christina taking out her endowments. I stayed with Peter, Katherine and Christina along with their menagerie of pets. Got to laugh at and admire Porkchop and take a long three hour walk Tuesday morning down memory lane as I walked the new trail by my house out to Shoreline. Had to stop at La Boulongere for some sourdough bread on the way back - it is the best ever. It worked out that my brother David and his family were there Monday night and Tuesday as Peter and Katherine had been babysitting their 3 boys. So I got to visit with them as well. And of course despite the camera packed in my new gargantuan mommy purse I forgot to take any pictures! Tuesday I spent the afternoon escorting Christina through the temple. It was an amazing privilege. I was impressed by how many of her friends were able to come be with her through this process. I had a lot of flashbacks to taking out my own endowments 15 years earlier in the same temple. Wednesday I got up before the sun and a very obliging Christina took me to the airport at 5 am! I realized I have never flown completely by myself for 15 years now. It has always been with Jeremy or kids. It felt very strange.

The rest of the week was spent catching up on laundry, weeding Lauri's, and getting everything in order for us to leave Saturday morning. Jeremy took the girls Friday evening for the daddy/daughter campout where they roasted hot-dogs and ran rampant. Figured they would come exhausted. But at 2:30 a.m.!!!! our kids were up and dressed, ready to go. My alarm was set for 3:30 BUT since everyone was up and happy we left a bit early. Good part is that the kids all zonked out and slept for the first 4 hours, watched a movie for 2 hours and we didn't stop till Las Vegas. There we introduced them to the joys of a casino buffet at some very greasy old casino outside of town. We will not be returning there! But kids loved it especially the fact that they served ice cream for breakfast. So we all porked out and decided to call it brunch. On the way back we stopped at a much cleaner, nicer place. And Allison realized that a plate of bacon and an ice cream cone were not her only options this time.

Rolled into Newport around 4 after stopping at Albertson's with some very hyped up kids. Met Daniel and family at the condo, yelled surprise and were thrilled to all be together. Peter and Katherine met up with us and we went out to the Crab Cooker for some really good sea food. Our kids were in heaven because they had shrimp while I was smiling with my big cup of clam chowder. The condo we stayed at was one block away from the Balboa pier on the peninsula. We bought boogie boards for the kids and after trying out Newport's really rough surf Sunday and Monday we moved onto Huntington down the road for the other days. It was just a wonderful time. Our kids were thrilled to be playing in the sand and waves. Robyn was a little territorial with Claire but by the last day was cheerfully sharing her milk shake and hugs. Peter and Katherine stayed till Wednesday morning at her grandparents and came down every day to visit and play. Christina drove up Tuesday to stay with us and relax as well. She left Friday night.

One day we took the ferry over to Balboa Island to walk around admiring the quirky shops and amazing beach houses. Kids weren't too thrilled until they found the ice cream shop that sold Balboa bars. Peter and Katherine had told us about them and they did not disappoint. After that kids thought it was the best place ever! Spencer and Allison learned how to pace themselves and would boogie board, hunt for shells till tired and then collapse on a towel with a book and a box of snacks. Robyn's hair became bleached out and except for her daily tantrums in the morning and her nightly too excited to sleep excursions she had a wonderful time. She would just roll in the sand till she was covered head to toe and then run to the ocean till she was shivering.

We left Taylor at home with Meredith and they spent the week swimming, going for walks and having a great time. He gave me a big smile though when we came home so I think that although he enjoyed the pampering one on one time he must have missed us a little.

On Wednesday we did the Disneyland excursion for the day. We got to the park around 9:30 and left at midnight. Except for the afternoon melt down of everyone from heat and lines which ice cream helped fix, it was amazing. Mimi and Daniel discovered the one rider stand-by line which let everyone ride the big rides without waiting in line for an hour and a half. Robyn was amazed by Snow White's castle and all the excitement wore her out to the point that she took an hour nap in our arms along with Claire. My favorite part was watching the fireworks over the castle. Kids oohed and awed wearing flashing necklaces Mimi provided and it was AMAZING. We were starving by nightime and kids managed to put away plates of macaroni and cheese at a restaurant within minutes - literally. It was very crowded, loud, happy and thrilling all rolled into one. The next day we all slept in!

Saturday was just one of those days which you always try not to think about. Leaving at 4 am to drive home and unpack. Never a fun part. Packing always flies by but unpacking just stinks! This morning we had Stake Conference. Jeremy said he wasn't sure who was filled with more trepidation, me because I was speaking or him because he was watching 4 kids by himself. He did great though and even put Robyn to sleep. Which at 11 am is an amazing feat - think the vacation wiped her out. Think the talk went OK and I am glad to not have to worry about it anymore.

Kids ate big plates of tortillini for lunch thanks to Daniel and Mimi putting up with our stop at Trader Joe's one day. Wish I was back there, with family around. But next year! Second week of August?!

Love to you all - its back to reality for us. These pictures are all definitely second string and I will post a link when Jeremy gets all of his up.


We rented bikes one day and took them along the boardwalk for an hour. I love beach cruisers and think I could do that every day. Kids loved it.

In the Tiki Room. Last time we went to Disneyland it closed before dark. It was neat to stay with all the lights on. To ride Thunder Mountain with only spotlights to light the path.

Allison was excited to meet all the fairies and Tinkerbell in Pixie Land.

Can never forget the chips and salsa. Especially when Cafe Rio pork is around!

At least half of every day (after the first day which was spent in a frenzy of shell collecting) Allison spent relaxing with some new books.

Peter and Daniel were sporting some very handsome hats this trip.

After seeing the little girls being buried, Daniel hopped into the game and became a lovely mermaid.

Robyn enjoying her casino buffet.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Loving the canyon

Dear Family and Friends,

I was once told I didn't post enough pictures of the adults in our family. So here you go! After spending the day with Jeremy working on the yard getting it ready for his big photo party this week, we went up to Sundance for the evening. We enjoyed a picnic next to the stream in the shade and 20 degree cooler temperatures. If felt so nice. Then we took a tractor pulled wagon up the mountain to watch a musical The Fantasticks in Sundance's outdoor theater. It was a really cool location and the play was excellent. They overacted in a hilarious way that kept us just laughing. I forgot how good the canyon feels compared to the dry 100 degree temps at our house.

And tomorrow I get to go to California! I am very excited. Its the first time I have traveled somewhere without either Jeremy or kids. Feels a little strange to plan for. Meredith is going to be helping out TONS with kids while I am gone so it should all be good.

Daniel, Happy Birthday! Mailed you a little birthday present trying to rely on my memory. Somewhere there is a confused postal worker trying to figure out why a Michigan street address was sent to Phoenix! When they return it eventually I will pass it on but we were thinking of you!

Nothing big this week but again lots of odds and ends. Spencer and I spent an afternoon up at the drug study and decided to take him out. We are hoping the constant need for movement and the grouchiness/irritability from being so tired should go away. On the way back Spencer had enough to stop and get his Nintendo DS. So he has been busy showing that to everyone he meets and waiting for his supercard to arrive. The lamictal should be out of his system in a week so we will see how he does then.

Had pack meeting this week and Spencer was thrilled to receive a ton of merit badge pins. He has been working on them all summer so it was quite a haul.

Took the kids to walmart to buy their list of school supplies. They always get giddy when surrounded by choices of notebooks, pencils and glue sticks. Mega bucks and wired kids later we came home and they wrote their names on everything and carefully packed it up. It is hard to believe school really is coming up soon.

Got a notice from Lauri's HOA that her yard didn't pass inspection and that we would be fined if it wasn't cleaned up. So I spent Wednesday, weeding and hacking away and then making trips to DI. Got a notice the next day that although it was greatly improved it still wasn't good enough and we were given one more week to get it into shape. No one is there to water the ground so I am not sure how the weeds are taking over but they sure are!

Mom for FHE activity we killed squash bugs in our garden. The tiny ones I have no problem squishing with my fingers as long as I have gloves on. The ones that are 2 inches long give me a little pause! The kids thought it was great entertainment especially when the guts really squirted out. Our efforts only seemed to encourage their population surge though so yesterday I doused them with 7 an organic insecticide. We can't loose our zucchini! It would almost seem sacrilegious to not have a huge zucchini in our garden.

Refinanced our house this week and signed all the closing papers. Our kids thought this was extremely boring as they all came with. They sure enjoyed the free cookies in the lobby though. Just glad that my phone plays little movies and I brought headphones for Robyn!

Went swimming this week with Meredith, kids and even Jeremy took some of the afternoon off to join us. With that many adults it sure felt relaxing to hang out at the pool. I can handle playing with Robyn, it is the constant "look at me's" etc that wear me down after a while.

Went 11 miles this Friday and didn't get sick! Tried a different goo type supplement that was made from fruit. Seemed to agree with me better. David, I am doing the Hobble Creek 1/2 marathon on Aug. 22. I did a half 2 years ago but this time I am hoping to do a lot better. My goal is not to stop to walk at all this time, think I shouldn't have any problems with that. I am still a sweaty, jiggly wana be athlete mom but it gives me a great goal to work towards.

Something about Fast Sunday makes our kids decide to argue more. Or maybe I just notice it more on Fast Sundays! Right now I am listening to Robyn complain that Spencer is sitting in her special spot on the couch. Maybe they sense my resistance is low on these days!

Love to you all and seem some of you tomorrow! Heather