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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hiking Stuart Falls

I have to admit that it seems to be standard procedure that I get a backlog of photos before I tend to sit down and get things processed. It was several weeks ago that we hiked Stuart Falls as a family. I think we posted a photo or two, but of course there were quite a few more taken.

I have posted a gallery on SmugMug with more for the distant family to take part in our outing. Here are a few thumbnails to those images:

Dear Family and Friends,

Biggest news of the week for us is that we have a new niece - Samantha Jane. We all keep oohing over her photos online. Congratulations Daniel, Mimi and Claire!

Stomach bug spread to the parents this week so Jeremy was out for two day and then I was. Hate that feeling and am crossing my fingers that no one else gets it. I have been using lysol and sanitizer with abandon right now. And then Thursday night Allison was up most of the night coughing away but seems to be doing better today except for the raspy voice. Must be that time of the year.

Spencer had his pinewood derby this week. The last one for our family. He and Jeremy spent time getting the weight just right. Jeremy took lots of pictures at the pinewood derby - there was a lot of stiff competition. My favorite car was the one that looked like a pencil. Spencer came in right at the middle of the pack after 40 something heats. But he was quite proud with what he was able to create.

Monday the kids all spent the morning at the dentist. No real cavities - yeah! Just a few bugs that some floss and mouthwash should keep in check. Spencer got his bottom retainer put back on so he is talking a bit garbled again. Allison has to go in tomorrow to get two teeth pulled so that her adult teeth can come in straight. Kids favorite part of the dentist is getting doughnuts at Krispey Kremes afterwards. I am sure it counters any flouride and brushing treatments the receive!

I had my stake auxiliary training this week so I spent a bunch of time making copies and getting everything organized for it. It is always a really good meeting.

Jeremy had an Elder's Quorum tailgate party yesterday. Allison watched isolated in the van surrounded by blankets, pillows and books and making requests for more hot dogs or brownies. It ended up being a lot of fun. Then Robyn went with me to shop for a small buffet table for our dining room. She was surprisingly good and I found one I really liked. Jeremy had taken pictures for an owner of a furniture store for some trade off the price. It was great! Should be here in a few weeks.

Thursday I was able to go with Robyn's class on a field trip to the local little kiddie pumpkin patch. It was really fun and the time just flew by. She cam home tuckered out with a little pumpkin in hand. The same day Spencer had a marathon field trip to BYU with a dinosaur show, art museum, chemistry lab show and a visit to the creamery. He was in heaven. He still talks about all the stuff the chemistry teacher blew up.

Last event of the week is that I painted Allison's dresser white. It was an old 70s veneer Jeremy rescued several years ago from a trip to DI from a friend. It still looks a bit beat up but much nicer now. I used spray paint for the first time and liked the result a lot. My finger is cramped up a little bit though. I had heard mixed results on spray paint but followed all the instructions to sand, prime, spray 5 times and then spray varnish 2 times. Did it all in one day and then it just had to dry overnight in the garage. Don't know if I will ever paint furniture by hand again. I like the look of no brush strokes.

Taylor snapped out of comatose seizure mode Wednesday and had a bunch of wide awake, happy days. Its so nice to see him enjoying life again.

Been reading some of the "I should read these books" that I kept putting off for the latest thrillers. Read Memoirs of a Geisha and The Time Travelers Wife. Thought both were really well done although both a bit gritty at points. Ever since David gave me a hard time about The English Patient, I have to put in that disclaimer.

Love to you all, Heather

Pinewood Derby

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mary Haymore's Halloween Cookies

These cookies were first made by Mary Haymore for a Primary activity when I was little and have remained a yearly favorite. I saw a very similar recipe in Better Homes and Gardens this last month, so I must not be the only one who loves them!

Halloween Cookies

Mix together:
2 eggs
1 1/2 c shortening
2 c white sugar
1/2 c molasses

Then add:
(Recipe says to sift the following 3 times before adding but I just dump it all in)
4 c flour
4 tsp ground cloves
4 tsp soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt

Mix well and form into balls, roll in sugar and then after arranging them on a cookie sheet press them flat with the bottom of a glass. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 min. Cool.
Decorate with orange frosting, green candy stem, candy corn for nose, chocolate chips for eyes and pull apart licorice for a mouth. My kids come up with my alternate ways to form a face.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Kids fall break

Dear Friends and Family,

Another week of odds and ends. Fertilized the lawn, worked on staining Lauri's cabinet etc. I realized that I am really good at pottering around and running little errands!

Kids had their fall break this week so they were out of school Thursday and Friday. Thursday I took Taylor up to Primary's to speak to the seizure people. Taylor's seizures have gotten really bad lately. He is doing all types of seizures without rhyme or reason. Wearing sunglasses at school to help with the florescent lights seems to help a bit. If nothing else he keeps his head up and eyes open with the glasses on. Tuesday I left my relief society meeting to pick Taylor up at school and take him home and knock him out as he had been in and out of seizures non-stop for 1 1/2 hours. So they adjusted his VNS to see if it helps and I go back up in 4 weeks to re-evaluate. They also gave him Versed to see if that works better at stopping the bad seizures instead of Diastat. The hope is that it won't knock him out for the day and its a syringe that is hooked to a nose inhaler instead of doing a suppository. Much nicer for me. We had to wait for half an hour while they filled the prescription as they have to do a quick background check for it. So Taylor and I headed up to the lobby and played Disney songs on the grand piano. Wow, what a difference in sound compared to our old up right. Taylor cheered me on by clapping and chirping whenever I would stop. Taylor has had a bit of a bad week as he became impacted as well which involves a bunch of smelly unpleasantness. Hopefully things will start to look up for him. The young men and women in the ward have started working vicariously on doing Taylor's Duty to God award for his deacon years. One positive note is that Taylor has gained 3 pounds this year and when we went in for new daffos he just had to have his old ones adjusted.

Allison visited with the Primary President this week about her baptism and has been working on all these little baptism games. She is still nose burried into Harry Potter books. She is on book 7 so she should return to the land of the living soon. Thursday afternoon she was busy playing with friends and then came down saying she didn't feel good and projectile spewed all over the kitchen - TWICE. We had a little talk about not waiting for me but just going straight to the bathroom! She spent the afternoon and evening extremely pathetic and sick. Friday she was feeling better, our house was bleached and lysoled and everything had been through the sanitary cycle on the washer. So happiness once again returned although she was very careful all day to eat only bland food.

Friday afternoon we met Kelly, her mom and kids at Pier 41 for pizza and then to see Where the Wild Things Are at the movie theater. Not really a kiddie movie, but well done I thought.

Kelly had invited me go with them to witches' night. So Allison and I with witch hat in hand headed out for an evening of poking through crafty stores at Gardner Village. We were broom to broom packed in. Amazing witch costumes were everywhere, with DJs playing dance music, cackling contests and decorations everywhere. Its almost all women and girls with a few brave men slinking around. It was a really fun night. Allison left tired out with her fudge bag in hand. She found a really cute quilt for Robyn's room. I had a mental argument with myself since I had planned to make her a quilt but this one as very cute and marked down to the point that I couldn't make it for twice the cost. It has to be ordered in so Robyn still has to wait a few weeks but here it is spread out at the store as Allison not so patiently watched me stare at it for many minutes.

We also found a really cute pillow I think I need to make for Allison with ladybugs flying around it and saying "Sisters are like ladybugs. They are little ladies that bug each other". With the teasing, whining that goes on between the two of them lately it really fits.

Spencer has been hard at work on his pinewood derby car. He couldn't understand why I handed him the spray paint and then we all stood far away while he went to work. He and Allison had piano master class this week and he is quite proud of the song he played for it. We hear it many times daily.

Jeremy had a service project clearing out a neighbor's yard this week. It ended up being in the pouring rain! Spencer came by at the end after his piano to help. I am so glad he is getting to have more opportunities to be surrounded by men trying hard to live the gospel. It really is a good influence on him. Jeremy also met with a contractor to being bids on fixing Lauri's place. I am curious to see what the damage will be! Yesterday we took all the kids out to Kneaders for their oh so good french toast. Then suitable rotund we went to empty out some more food storage at Lauri's. She was quite creative at finding spots to store food. Our kids can do an hour there before serious complaining starts so we decided we just need to do that every week before cleaning the office.

Last night for our date I went with Jeremy on a photo walk in old greek town in SLC. Then afterwards we went to dinner with his photo group. It was interesting to see Jeremy surrounded by photo enthusiasts as they all speak their different language of lenses, focus points etc. It is a very eclectic group but they all share the same passion.

Best part of the week is that we made our annual Halloween cookies. Robyn did multiple layers of candy on hers. Spencer went for the scary look with bulls with nose rings etc. Those cookies are addictive to me, especially with a big cup of peppermint tea.

Love to you all, Heather

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More Family Photos

Our photographer (Suzanne) has finished processing out family photos and made them available in a gallery online. I thought I'd post a link here for you all to enjoy:

You can also read her blog post here:

We are thrilled with the results, which is no surprise based on the great work she does. This is of course why I wanted to have her be our family photographer this year! good thing Suzanne is a photog friend so I can try and learn from her natural talent rather than feel threatened :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Angie's Pot Roast

This is one of my family's favorites. Great for Sunday as I start it in the morning and when we come back from church our house smells so good. This recipe came from my friend Angie though I think its just the lipton onion recipe that comes on the package. It is my favorite and easiest way to make a pot roast. If we don't eat just straight leftovers we make really good sandwiches the next day.

1 pot roast
Salt and pepper
1 Cream of mushroom soup
1 Can water
1 Lipton onion soup mix package

Sprinkle pot roast with salt and pepper. Sear all sides in a pan with a little bit of oil. Put into crockpot. Stir together soup, water and soup mix. Pour over top. Cook on low all day or on high for half the day. After you remove the roast you can thicken the sauce with a bit of flour if you want or just use it straight as gravy. I will serve this with noodles, potatoes or roasted vegies to soak up the sauces.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A wondeful nothing happening week

Dear Family,

This week there hasn't been anything big happening or crazy schedules and everything has just flowed. Which doesn't mean that Robyn wasn't crabby A LOT, or that kids didn't disagree, just that everything was just normal and regular and I loved it. Having some crazier weeks really makes you appreciate the routine, easier weeks!

Monday the kids were out of school for a teacher training day. We spent the morning shopping for new shoes for kids and shirts for Spencer. There should be a sport labeled shopping with kids. Awards given out for that mom who can help 3 kids at once who all need help finding their size right now! Or for that mom trying to explain why kids don't get to buy $30 shirts or for not going into shock when Spencer's shoes cost as much as mine. But everyone left happy with their new finds. Allison joined Jeremy for her birthday lunch at Chinese Gourmet. She was in heaven when she realized that they had noodles and shrimp - her two favorite foods.

Allison after eating a full bowl of shrimp!

Allison went to her fist Activity Days meeting. Didn't realize how nervous she was about it till Robyn and I walked to meet her afterwards. She was beaming saying that she knew all the girls in there already. They learned how to braid and ate licorice. She loved it. Rest of the week was full of piano, gymnastics, school choir and playing with friends whenever possible. She is deep into the Harry Potter books and is on volume 5 now. Whenever you see her, her nose is buried in her book. She was the very important student for her class this week so she got to bring in her hamster Storm for show and tell, make a poster of pictures of herself etc.

Spencer went to a local pumpkin patch/play zone called Hee Haws with cub scouts and came home very happy and dirty. He has been playing a lot this week with a group of neighborhood boys in games that involved a lot of rolling/jumping around. He started a new piano book this week - Hanon Junior that he thought was cool.

Robyn is refusing to go to sleep lately - hence the often crabby Robyn. She loves, loves, loves her preschool and we all hear the songs and stories from Miss Suzanne over and over again. She was so excited to have homework this week - a matching game. We hung up her birdie pictures in her room Friday. I was going to just hang them to the wall, Christina gave me a great idea on how to do it. But then I saw Robyn climbing a chair to draw on the papers on the bulletin board and I had an inkling of what would happen to those prints! So I found some frameless frames that worked great.

Taylor's teacher is working to find ways to slow down his seizures. It seems like the florescent bulbs are bothering him so he is wearing sunglasses at school to see if that helps. He always has more seizures at school than at home.

Jeremy had 3 photo shoots this week plus one photo group event. So he is keeping busy! He hung up an 8 foot bat with glowing eyes in our big window over our front door which the kids all thought was very cool. Yesterday he braced himself with a smile on his face and we went for this amazing 4 mile hike up in Provo Canyon, just past Sundance, up to Stewart Falls. It was a beautiful hike even at our 45 minute mile pace! But Robyn made it the whole way except for a 5 minute carry up one hill. Jeremy got some beautiful pictures we will post. Made me realize how out of shape we are as a family as all but Robyn were tired out and sore afterward. We hiked through gorgeous yellow aspen trees and overlooked the whole canyon full of red and yellow oak trees. Afterward the kids all had to recuperate with hot chocolate and trader joe's chocolate dunkers.

I cleaned out our vegetable garden this week and took a truck load of tomato plants etc to the green waste dump. It was the week of apples. We had Katherine's delicious apple pancakes with cinnamon butter. Taylor ate 4 of them and would have kept going except I thought his stomach would explode! We canned some more apple pie filling and made apple crisp. Allison commented that we were going a bit overboard on apples. I learned that I really like oatmeal with apple crisp sprinkled on top!

So just a regular, wonderful type of week. Everyone healthy, happy more often that sad. Love to you all, Heather

Our afternoon of general conference.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hot chocolate weather has arrived!

Dear Friends and Family,

I hab a cobe. Not bad enough to lay me out but enough to keep the tissues going and to be glad for the weekend to curl up on a couch and watch conference. I was reading some cleaning hints that said if the mom was super clean than the kids would be clean by association. Made me think about conference and how when I try to can apples or sew some project while listening my kids go a bit wild. So I tried this time sitting down with pen and paper to take notes. Good thing conference reminds you to be nice to your children so often as it was more an exercise in frustration so far. have done tons better than years before. It might help that if they write down what each apostle says they get a coupon for a no jobs day to use when they want. Highly motivating. Robyn on the other hand keeps stomping around that she is done watching TV and that I need to turn it off. She was excited for around 30 minutes Saturday morning scribbling all over her conference packet but then the thrill was gone.

Saturday night we had our semi-annual priesthood party. 2 of my friends and their kids were able to make it. So we all pigged out on home made cafe rio salads and fresh apple cake and kids played and splashed around in the hot tub a lot. It was wonderful just to visit and catch up. I realized that we have now been friends for 11 years. A lot has happened in that time and babies we helped with are now old!

Monday and Tuesday were the last days of indian summer. Wednesday the temperatures dropped 30 degrees, vegies froze over night and we broke out the warm clothes and hot chocolate! It was an abrupt change for us. I had to hide all of Robyn's summer clothes as to remove temptation. Monday Allison had a great birthday. She brought brownies into her class for snack time, had gymnastics and then had a family dinner along with Jason and Kelly's family. Allison had macaroni and cheese, watermelon and a homemade ice cream cake. The cake looked great but I had a moment of humility after tasting it. Coldstone must use a special type of cake or perhaps I needed to let it defrost longer. Will have to experiment a bit. Allison went to bed a very happy and tired 8 year old girl. This afternoon her new activity day leaders came to introduce themselves and give her a calendar. Her first activity is this week about which she is very excited.

Tuesday I ignored the jungle as Robyn referred to our yard, the laundry room I literally could not close the door on and the piles of clutter everywhere or the bathroom where Allison blew a bloody nose that misted over the entire room and went to the temple. Seems like temple mornings are always tough but then things always seem to fall into place afterwards. I managed to mow our entire yard in 1 hour that afternoon before the storm hit - a small miracle to me as it usually takes me much longer.

The kids helped me pick our last apple tree of Braeburns. They thought getting up on the ladder was just the best thing and jockeyed for the opportunity. Since the temperatures were cold and the dark was coming I think I ran the operation a little militaristic but they all had smiles on their face. Ran inside afterwards for quick showers to warm up and to eat apples and caramel dip. Canned apple pie filling that turned out really good. You can see the recipe at:
Cleaned out most of the garden and made salsa too. Hard to believe that summer is over.

Had my annual dental appointment this week and for the FIRST time in 5 years I had nothing wrong. It just made the rest of my week! My friend Brenda who watched Robyn for me asked what root canal or crown I was going in for this time. My mouth has just been going down hill the last couple of years.

Jeremy had a busy week with church meetings and then our family shoot and then he shot a corporate event up in SLC. This week is full of photo stuff for him as well. Tis the season for fall shoots for christmas cards. And then Friday with a friend he met at a previous photo gig he went to the BYU football game. So there hasn't been much alone time for the two of us. So last night after we kicked kids into their beds and cleaned up the chaos we stayed up late watching The Proposal. Kids even allowed us to sleep in to make up for the late night which I greatly appreciated.

Went to parent teacher conferences this week for Spencer and Allison. Allison is doing great although a little too absorbed in her books that she doesn't hear the end of quiet time. She got her schedule for her choir and is excited for her assembly, concert and then performance up at Temple Square in December. Spencer is doing awesome on all his school work. And he has had no behavior problems this year. We are all a little concerned how he chooses to sit and read during recess instead of trying to play with other kids. He isn't that great at sports which is what most of the boys do. Of course it is a self-perpetuating problem as you don't get better by not doing. So we and his teacher are trying to encourage him to put the book down and interact. See how he does. I wonder if I pushed too hard as after talking to him about it the next few days he tried harder to do stuff with other kids but also lost it a lot more with me. Worst he has been for awhile. But right now he and Allison are giggling in his room over some game so life can't be too bad.

Robyn had a field trip this week to the fire station. She loves, loves, loves preschool. She gets so excited when it is her day to be line leader or bring the snack or show and tell etc. She tell us in detail each thing that happened that day to her. Right now she is trying to imitate Allison's afternoon project that involved glue and popsicle sticks. Not sure what she is actually making but it is requiring all her attention.

Taylor spent the day pooped out, refusing to eat or drink and just laid by the fire with some blankets. Rocky joined him seeking protection from the thunder storms - what a wuss. Taylor decided to perk up and drink some chocolate milk though so he must be feeling better.

Kids are out of school tomorrow so we are going shoe shopping and Allison is having her birthday lunch with Jeremy. I am looking forward to not getting up before 6! Love to you all, Heather

Robyn and Luke playing house.

Spencer's fort

The cute cousins Garion and Kayla

Mom - Bet you thought I forgot! Had some old bananas to make banana bread this weekend. I usually do 1/2 whole wheat but did 100% white flour this time and kids thought it tasted like cake. I like diced up apricots mixed in but my kids prefer mini-chocolate chips. This is courtesy of the test kitchen cookbook but its our favorite.

Banana Bread - One 9 inch loaf
2 c flour
3/4 c sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 very ripe bananas mashed ( 1 1/2 c)
6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs beaten
1/4 c plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1 tsp vanilla extract
opt: 1 1/4 c walnuts toasted and chopped or diced apricots or chocolate chips or combo of all

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
2. Whisk all the dry ingredients together. Whisk the bananas and liquids together. Combine. Mix in optional ingredients.
3. Pour into pan. Cook until golden brown about 55 minutes.
4. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before un-molding onto a wire rack to cool for at least 1 hour.