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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Best ever brownies

These are my favorite brownies along with the rest of my family. Except for Allison who ranks these as #2 (mint ones are #1). The recipe calls to make this in a cookie sheet but I usually use a 10x15 inch pan and cook it for 5 more minutes.

Best Ever Brownies

Mix: 1 c soft butter, 2 c sugar, 1/3 c cocoa

Stir in: 4 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla, 1 1/2 c flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 1/2 c chopped nuts

Bake at 350 degrees in greased 1 inch sheet pan for 20 min.
Cover with 1 lb of mini marshmallows. Bake for 3 more minutes.
Cool completely!
Mix frosting of: 1 2/3 c powdered sugar, 1/2 c butter, 1/3 c cocoa, 1/3 c evaporated milk. Frost brownies. Easier to cut if you let it set for awhile.

This is my favorite chili. It is served over rice with cheese, avacado, sour cream, green onions etc on top if you want. It is more of a stew than a chili and is extremely spicy. This recipe is courtesy of Martha Stewart magazine. You can skip the chiles step by just adding 1/2 c chili powder to the onion mixture and cooking for one minute. The chile step though is pretty easy and makes it taste so much better.

Texas Red Chili - Makes 8 cups, serves 8
8 whole dried chiles (5 ancho and 3 guajillo or all ancho)
3 Tbsp oil
3 lbs beef chuck cut into small pieces, 1/2 inch or smaller
salt and pepper
2 large onions, chopped, about 4 cups
7 to 8 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapeno or serrano chiles, seeded if desired (I always seed), minced
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 can (28 oz) tomatoes, pureed with their juice
4 c water plus more if needed
2-3 Tbsp white vinegar, to taste

1. Toast dried chiles in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant and blistered, 2-3 minutes per side. Remove stem and seeds; discard. Put chiles in a large bowl and cover with hot water and soak for 30 minutes. Remove from water and puree in a blender with 1/2 soaking liquid.
2. In a large pot heat 2 Tbsp. oil. Season beef with 2 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Brown beef in batches, about 10 minutes for each batch. Transfer to a plate.
3. In pot with the remaining 1 Tbsp oil, brown onions, garlic and minced chiles for about 5 minutes. Add spices. Stir in beef and chile puree. Add tomatoes, water and 1/2 tsp salt. Reduce heat and simmer gently, partially covered until meat is very tender and chile is thick, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Add water if it gets too dry. Season with salt and vinegar. Serve or freeze for up to 3 months.

Dear Family and Friends,

For starters, I had a WONDERFUL birthday. Thanks to everyone for calling, writing etc. After being able to sleep without constantly coughing Friday night (more on that later), I woke up full of energy. I was able to go cheer on Spencer's basketball game. Kicked Spencer off to a birthday party for the afternoon. And then Allison and I went up to Sundance to ski for the afternoon. It was fantastic. My biggest worry is always the parking lots as last year when I took Spencer it was an ice sheet where I just slid out of control most of the time. This time the roads were clear, ski was blue, crowds were gone and Allison and I just had a great time. This was her first time skiing. And I think my 6th. By the end our skill levels weren't that far apart! Came home tired and happy to make a huge salad and get Kneader's sourdough bread. Then off to a friend's 40th birthday surprise party for a quick visit. And then back for hot tub and cheesecake. What a great day!

This week went much smoother. Taylor and I had cold most of the week so we did the hacking around the house routine. Taylor just mostly had a congested nose that made for some stupendous sneezing incidents. I had that dry cough that just wouldn't stop. Worst was at night when I just could not stop coughing. Felt better Thursday night and went with the stake to another ward's temple night. They are having every ward in our stake do a special session with the temple presidency after all the regular sessions. Was a really neat evening even though 8:30 to start seems really late. I did great until the last 10 minutes when despite the constant sucking of butter rum lifesavers that dang cough reappeared and didn't leave. I had it seemed like every lady on the row digging in their pockets for cough drops. I had quite a supply by the time I was able to run back to the dressing room, still coughing! for a drink. Hence why being able to sleep now feels so luxurious!

Best part of being sick is that kids were extra helpful. Came home from preschool carpool to find that Spencer and Allison had beat me home and were putting away groceries. Or Friday morning after being up most of the night I just wasn't functioning so I went back to bed after kids were up. They got themselves ready for school and Allison brought me toast and tea in bed so I could snooze for an extra hour.

Jeremy continues to work hard and put in the extra hours. He had a friend this week make Spencer a new retainer and another friend come over and fix his quad just in time for another snowstorm. Friends really do make the world a better place. Besides working he put up with my coughing in his ear all night and chipped in as much as possible to help out. Favorite moment with him this week is Saturday night when Robyn straddle runs down to the kitchen to ask him to wipe her bum as the poop won't come off (I pulled the birthday card on this one). Afterwards Robyn tells him "I knew you could do it Daddy" Jeremy thought it was nice to have his skills appreciated. This is after spending the day watching Taylor and Robyn and then taking apart and fixing the garbage disposal that had been gummed up by rotten fish parts - a smelly and disgusting task. What a guy.

Spencer had a big week this week with scouts receiving his Arrow of Light. They made a big deal out of it which was cool. He continues with basketball and although his skills are weak they are getting better. I just have to admire his coach - the patience of Job I tell you. Friday we went to the pet store to stock up on our animal life. Spencer got a hermit crab for his friend's birthday present and was excited to set up a little home for him. Then he also picked out a new fish and frog for his aquarium. His aquarium was a toxic chemical experience which is why the garbage disposal broke. But it sure looks cool now. I started painting Spencer's room this week. It already makes a big difference. It is taking longer than I thought but I am planning to have it done this week. He has been sleeping in the basement and I want him back in his bed and all his stuff out of our room.

Robyn continues to be a bubbling, energetic piece of personality. My favorite moment this week with her is watching her run out to me from preschool, first in line, holding her Chinese lantern craft in her hand, with the biggest smile on her face. She got to play with a lot of friends this week which she loves and I appreciated. She is always asking what she can do to help. Makes me stretch my mind a bit trying to come up with suitable tasks and its not always cute. But a lot of the times it makes me smile.

This is how Allison and Robyn eat their breakfast. Need I mention that they both fall often!

With the trip to the pet store....Allison is now a proud owner of a new baby hamster. The hamster cage is now in her room. She says she is old enough not to get scared by hamster noises in the middle of the night. And the doors have twisty ties on them to keep the cats out.

I realize how obvious it is which pictures were taken by me and which by Jeremy! It was nice to be able to talk to family this week and I am already dreaming about beach time!

Love, Heather

Monday, January 25, 2010

Robyn Watching Claire's Video

Mimi - this is for you. Robyn loved the video of Claire, just watch and see.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Might as well pile it on!

Dear Family and Friends,

Rough start this morning. Jeremy came downstairs to find Mickey torturing Storm, Allison's hamster. He rescued Storm just to watch him do his death spasms for a few minutes and for Allison to be woken up to say good-bye. As you can imagine there were lots of tears this morning. Storm is currently curled up in a small box on our counter awaiting a hamster funeral. He has lasted 2 1/2 years which is a record in our house. There has been lots of second guessing as to how the hamster got out. Spencer has come up with some creative ideas on how to punish the cats until he was informed that gruesome cruelties were not OK to even talk about. So instead he and Allison broke out his forensic science kit to look for clues. Much better channel for all the emotions around here.

This has been a week of high emotions. I will start with the bad so I can finish with the good. Friday was not the best of days. It also made me realize what a good man I am married to! Let me set it up for you by telling you that Jeremy has been bringing in lunch every day and working at his desk. Without his usual hour break of going out to eat and talking with his co-workers it makes for some long days of hard work and stress. Thursday after spending an hour waiting at the dentist and taking the boys to school late, Spencer had his new retainer. Thursday afternoon I picked up Spencer's new prescription to find out that our co-pay was $260, just for one of his meds. Thursday night Jeremy spent the evening making posters for a stake event for me.

Then dawned Friday. Snowstorm blew in so everything was icy and wet. Robyn continued her week long streak of spending breakfast time either whining or crying. Spencer had a ski trip with his class which he was excited for and left with high emotions and forgetting all his stuff. So Jeremy ran him back to get his gloves etc. He had a great day snowboarding and then spent the afternoon shoveling the basketball court so he could practice for his game. Jeremy showed the condo then ran to Costco to pick up the poster prints he had made for me. Had to wait an hour an a half as they were 3 hours late getting them ready. Then he comes home to find Robyn had ripped off one of our kitchen cabinets. We just have to smile about how when you are trying to save money, it always comes up that things break etc. Then we looked at Spencer's mouth and asked where his new retainer was. Much wailing, gnashing of teeth resulted. It had been less than 24 hours! We think he left it on the bus to go up to Park City. After all the screaming, crying and self-recriminations we sit stunned on the couch trying not to be angry. We had talked so much about how with this 3rd retainer he needed to always put it in his case if it wasn't in his mouth. And of course he chose not to bring his case with him. Then just as we start watching Fame, Allison comes down to show us how she broke her glasses. Movie was so bad we just turned it off, had to laugh at how bad things had gotten and went to bed. Best part of the evening. Saturday was MUCH better.

So now on to the good stuff:

Robyn is officially 4. On Monday there was no school so we had 12 little girls and boys over and 4 "helpers". There was no real theme as Robyn wanted to do a hodge pile of events. Spencer and Allison and their friends divided up all the activities and they were in charge. It was great as they all had a good time. Spencer, Conner and Garion set up all the play-dough. Helped the kids make their shapes and then cleaned it up afterward. Girls directed puppet making and making necklaces. The boys taught them how to play duck, duck goose. I just had to supervise and cut the cake. Robyn then went home with her cousin Kayla and Garion stayed here. So we spent the afternoon cleaning up while the boys had a wii fest. Made a bunch of cupcakes for Robyn to take to preschool. Picked up Allison from gym where she said all the bending hurt her stomach and drove out to pick up Robyn and drop off Garion. On the way I hear those horrible sounds from the backseat that just makes me gag. Yep, Allison lost it. Luckily she aimed into an empty glass so the puke didn't go everywhere. And then she spent the evening and early morning hours in her bed and in the bathroom. I am so grateful that she is old enough to make it to the toilet and take care of herself without waking me up. Early morning puke calls are at the top of my hate to do list.

Tuesday we sent Taylor off to school and took Robyn to a friend's for the morning. Spencer, Allison, Jeremy and I headed up to Ogden for my Grandma's funeral. I have already told all my siblings all the details but it was really a nice day. The early morning sleet and snow pushed away the inversion so the afternoon at the Salt Lake Cemetery was full of blue skies and sunshine. It was neat to see all my extended family as its been a couple of years with most of them. And I was able to remember how much of an influence my grandparents had in my life.

Robyn had a great birthday playing with friends and going to preschool. She opened her family presents that night and we all enjoyed left over cupcakes. She went to bed a very tired and happy girl. And that chased away any lingering sadness I was feeling over the day.

Rest of the week is the regular laughter, tears, work and sometimes play that makes up our lives. Allison still enjoys her dance classes and has one more gymnastics class. Spencer got to dress up and go home teaching with Jeremy. He was in charge of a game for the little kids. We have been cleaning out Spencer's room prepatory to painting it. It has been a gross experience and we will NEVER let his room get to that state again! Kids had a Primary activity. Spencer had basketball practice and a game. Jeremy and I were able to go do sealings. Our neighbor was in a horrific car accident so we were able to bring them dinner.

It was just one of those weeks that was good but sort of left you feeling shell shocked. Thank goodness everyone is willing to laugh about things and that tomorrow is always another day! Love to you all. Lots of pictures to follow.


Spencer took this video so its a little choppy.

Still doing yoga. Robyn loves "helping" me.

Tuesday morning Robyn channeling Dr. Seuss is ready for the day.

Allison made Robyn a crown to wear for her party.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pass the chocolate

Dear Friends and Family,

This week has been driving me to chocolate a little more than usual. I have a neighbor who runs when she feels stressed - I need to become like that! We have had a really bad inversion all week which makes the air smell yucky and everything look gray and overcast. You can't even see the mountains. I keep hoping a storm will blow through and bring back the blue skies. But the best part of the week is that everyone is choosing to laugh about things rather than cry. And we got to enjoy pumpkin chocolate chip bread, chocolate chip waffles, hot chocolate and chocolate covered cinnamon bears - bring on the treadmill.

Spencer had a great day Monday. He had a luau at school where he brought 3 dozen cupcakes (Sunday nights' activity) and learned the Haka and ate pork and rice. Than he came home only to leave a few hours later to see his first NBA game (Jazz vs Miami) with Jeremy thanks to his junior jazz BB league. Definite nosebleed seats but they had a great time. Tuesday we got our first "official" call from school. Spencer and another kid ended up having a physical altercation. Spencer's story: he and his friend were playing ball tag on the slide. Spencer was about to fall so he pushed the kid out of the way so he could grab the bar. So his friend punched him, Spencer pushed, it got a little ugly and Spencer ran to tell the playground supervisor with broken glasses. So the two got to spend some quality time in the principal's office. Other kid's story is that Spencer started it and so he was going to finish it. So they both go the official first warning. Spencer was a little peeved to put it mildly that he got in trouble for all of this. Than he developed a bad rash all over the back of his leg that we were worried was a med-side effect. But after investigating further we think its just a hygiene problem :). So nice that all our talks about washing yourself ALL over and wearing clean clothes every day seems to fall on deaf ears. But I think he learned his lesson.

Other highlights from Spencer this week is that he had a great BB game Saturday and enjoyed practice. We watched a movie last week where every time the boy got in trouble in a juvenile hall facility he had to scrub toilets. We had a moment of inspiration and decided that was a great idea. So Friday while I left with Robyn to pick up Allison from choir we heard Spencer banging around in the bathroom, scrubbing away and muttering loud insults directed towards my brilliant idea. I figure if I have to deal with bad behavior I should at least get a clean toilet out of the deal!

Jeremy had a tough week at work. He can give you nitty gritty details if you want it. But short story is that their ability to accept credit cards on their sites was shut down. So they had a week of deciding to pretty much start over, take pay cuts and stick together. As you can imagine Jeremy is a bit stressed but they all are trying to be optimistic about things and working hard. We had bought tickets a week ago to see Avatar this week up in SLC. We got to see it in 3D on an imax screen Thursday night. It was extremely cool. The story line makes you laugh in some of the wrong spots when they spout the sterotypical G.I. Joe style lines. But the imagery takes your breath away.

Then as all my family knows, my grandma up in Ogden passed away Thursday. It wasn't unexpected as she has been hanging on for several years now but it sort of marks an end of an era. I have been remembering what a large figure my grandparents were in my life growing up. I remember taking long bubble baths in her hot tub, going shopping for a BYU formal dance with her, going to Rainbow Gardens for muffins and honey butter, having a cool Indian theme birthday party for Daniel, spending a week or two every summer with her and every holiday getting some cool little envelope/present from her. Its hard to believe that is all over.

This week was a cousin week. They came over Tuesday night while Jason and Kelly had temple night. Then they came over Friday night for an extended sleep over and left Sunday morning after stuffing themselves with waffles. Our kids had a great time. Brynn the 2 year old sort of stretched the auntie love a bit with rough nights and diarrhea. So I think I will be crashing early tonight. But as Kayla said to her mom - they ate and they played and then they ate and played some more. Spencer and Garion had a wii marathon Saturday afternoon. Girls just ran around playing games and making their "creations".

Today I get to teach Taylor's Sunday school class. Because I think every sub should be allowed to give out treats I am well armed with pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Tomorrow is Robyn's birthday party so kids are busy making decorations for me. Robyn is so excited about the whole event.

Love to you all,


Friday, January 15, 2010

Jump and Jump and Jump...

Heather already mentioned how the pogo stick has been a huge hit. I took a couple quick clips of Allison showing off how she is already very comfortable bouncing all round on it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pixie's Pantry Cilantro Lime Chicken

This recipe is from JaNae Worthen who won the Cache Valley Cheese recipe contest with it. We all gave it a huge thumbs up, including Allison which is high praise indeed.

6 chicken breast halves, pounded so they are flat
3/4 bag crushed tortilla chips
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 c honey
zest of 2 limes and juice of 1 lemon
3/4 c sour cream
1/2 c cilantro chopped
3/4 c mango salsa
6 slices Monterey Jack Cheese

1. Crush tortilla chips in bag with a rolling pin. Add garlic powder and black pepper and shake it to mix it up.
2. In pie pan, mix zest and juice of one lime with honey.
3. Dip chicken into honey mix and then dip it into the chip mix. Lay on a sprayed pan.
4. cook at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until almost done.
5. Remove from oven and turn the broiler to low. Mix sour cream, and zest and juice of second lime.
6. Place atop chicken breasts, cilantro, lime sour cream, mango salsa and finally the cheese.
7. Broil until cheese is golden brown and chicken is cooked, about 5-7 minutes.

Dear Family and Friends,

Last week as I sat in sacrament meeting holding Robyn she patted my belly and told me I had a baby inside. When I told her that nope no baby was in there, she grew quite insistent that yes there was a baby in there because it was so round and big! When I informed her grimacing that that was just fat she told me that she didn't like fat bellies that I should get a flat belly just like her. This conversation was not said in a gentle whisper either. I had no problem getting up early Monday morning to exercise!!

Tuesday as I went to the temple I realized that our recommends would expire at the end of the month so I quickly set up appointments for Jeremy and me that very evening. Jeremy turned off the little bit of the bowl game that he got to see and was all dressed up for the occasion when the 1st counselor showed me with a sympathetic smile that Jun is not the same Jan and that we still had 5 more months. The mind is such a sad thing to loose! Last month I went up to Primary's with Taylor and Robyn only to look over my shoulder and realize that Taylor's wheelchair was missing. So I spent the morning carrying Taylor all over the hospital with Robyn "helping". Then I got back to the car and put something in the trunk only to realize that the wheelchair was there the whole time, just with the head rest folded down. My brainless moments seems to happen more often lately and I just have to shake my head.

Monday morning I was feeling so good about life as I got up early enough to exercise, start waffles cooking to help get kids out of bed for their first day back to school. Taylor, Robyn and I were leaving early for a doctor's appointment up in SLC and I thought I was right on track. Then I went into the garage to find out that Rocky had had severe digestive issues all over his crate which despite his efforts also covered his entire backside. So I spent my morning with bleach and a shower head cleaning off the dog and his crate. Then a quick shower with LOTS of soap for me and we were off for the doctor. Not the best way to start a morning.

Met with Taylor's neurosurgeon. His next surgery for his VNS will be in April and this time because we aren't doing anything else at the same time it should be an in and out procedure. Taylor got his seasonal flu shot at the same time. It seems to have kicked his seizures up a bit. So Tuesday Robyn and I got to rush over to his school and try out his new med, Versed. It was wonderful. It goes up his nose which is easier BY FAR than a suppository. And it knocked him out for only 30 seconds and then he was back to being alert and happy. Didn't have any seizures for 24 hours after that which was wonderful. Taylor has never had the best circulation in his feet and he has developed 2 small sores on his feet that will not heal. So he has been enjoying a week without daffos which means he tries to ice skate across the floor rather than walk.

Allison has a friend over Tuesday for a cooking play date. They had a few recipes they had created at school they wanted to try out. Her friend Jenny must have a patient mom as Jenny came equipped with a bag full of ingredients in little plastic baggies. As they reached into the pantry for aprons I heard a shriek. Allison thought someone had left a little stuffed animal in an apron pocket until it jumped at her. So we had a mouse hunt full of running around and shrieking for an hour. Quite fun to watch I am sure. But we finally caught him up inside Spencer's snow pants (twice as he escaped the first time) and walked him down to our nearby field.

The upside to this is that I cleaned out our pantry and scrubbed everything down to get rid of all the mouse droppings and to see what he had gotten into. He seemed to have lived off of a bag of corn. Since everything was already out and scrubbed down with paint peeling and stains everywhere I decided to just paint it. I had to take a picture to remind myself later that at one point our pantry was clean and organized!

Allison tried out her first dance class this week. Spencer babysat for half an hour for me Monday so I could watch her at gymnastics. She has really gotten good as I watch her do handstands on the high balance beams and flips etc. So I hope she doesn't quit it altogether. But I said she could try adding one dance class to see if she could handle doing two classes a week. She loved it. This next week she tries out a ballet class that Meredith teaches and then we have to decide what she will do. She was channeling a younger Christina this week when after I went grocery shopping she asked if I bought the two most important things - plain bagels and ramen.

This week Spencer had his first basketball practice and Saturday, his first game. Only I went so Spencer wouldn't stress about everyone watching him and looking at the side lines more than the game. But he did awesome. He has no clue about what he is doing but he is eager and trying to figure it out. I am just glad to see him active. Thursday he kept complaining about how he thought he broke his ribs because his abs were so sore from doing a weave drill. I resolved to get him out doing more! Yesterday he and Allison spent the afternoon doing their pogo stick outside. It was great. They were outside (a big bonus for me and my sanity), they were playing together and they were getting exercise. When their legs got sore they ran inside to get ice packs to rub on their legs so they could continue through the burn. It was great.

Robyn and I ran lots of errands this week and started cleaning house. I finally painted over most of our wall patches so it doesn't look like a construction zone anymore. We had to go to the paint store for some touch up paint and found Spencer's BYU paint for his room. Our next big project. I am still trying to crochet late at night while watching TV. My scarf looks quite sad and is a very wavy pattern unintentionally. I just hope that when I finish it that I will have figured out how to do it right. I am doing the chain and the single stitch OK but the double stitch doesn't look too pretty.

Jeremy had a bit of a tough week at work. So pretty stressed for awhile about what would happen. But now he just is doing what he can and waiting to see what the fall out will be. They are such a good group of guys that I think that will make a difference.

Last night thanks to some gift cards Jeremy received for a photo job we went out to this cool Mexican restaurant. I had this mole made of chocolate, bananas, pumpkin seeds and all this other unlikely stuff that was really good. The restaurant was in an older part of SLC on the other side of the tracks, literally. It was quite packed with people who must have heard about it on the news the last few weeks. To top it off we got a piece of cheesecake at the Cheesecake factory to take home with us. So much for my new year's resolutions! Guess they got a night off. And we learned something about Abercombie and Finch. Before Christmas Jeremy ran up there before a photo gig to get a perfume I wanted. He went into the Abercombie store and they said it was discontinued. So last night we went next door into the Abercombie and Finch store and there it was. Who knew that was two different stores! Jeremy was just shaking his head as he had made the trip when short on time and had sprinted over there in the snow to get it for my stocking.

I am sitting in my PJs still after making pancakes for everyone. It has become a tradition that Sunday morning there will be something good for breakfast. I am teaching Robyn's sunbeam class again this week. Last week we had a few sobbers but the worst was Robyn who threw a major tantrum at the beginning because she wanted to be in the other class! What a stinker. I did think though that sunbeam teachers should never have to teach on fast Sunday - the physical reserves are just not there at 3 in the afternoon!

Love to you all, Heather

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Back to reality

Dear Family and Friends,

Today is the last day of Christmas break. Although in many ways I am VERY excited for kids to go back to school and routines I am going to miss the laid back very slow pace of the last two weeks. Kids have been sleeping in every day until 8, going into hibernation mode. We have done some fun things but they have been very happy just to hang out.

Monday Christina and I left early in the morning (ok 8 isn't early but it sure feels that way when you're in vacation mode) and went up to SLC. We did a session at the temple and then grabbed some lunch at the Lionhouse pantry. It was just a really neat morning. I didn't realize that a live session is 2 1/2 hours not 1 1/2 hours but it is such an amazing place - the history and the architecture all around you just adds to the experience.

Tuesday we were hit with a big snowstorm that lasted until Wednesday night. The kids and I drove Christina to the airport and then went sledding. I have finally worked out how to take our kids sledding by myself. I bundle Taylor up and park in the parking lot next to our junior high's hill. Then I hike over and set the kids up and cheer for a few minutes. And then I return to the van for awhile to sit with Taylor and make sure he is warm and read for a few minutes. For some reason those little breaks keep me smiling through the whole experience and kids have a blast. We all went sledding again the next day with Jeremy. Kids come home tired out and cold - it is great. All Robyn wants to do is take a bath, get into PJs and have hot chocolate. You always have the whining and tears about being cold, wet, or sleds not working right but I like to just gloss over those moments in my memory.

With all the snow we shoveled a lot and Jeremy used his quad a bunch. Our Elder's Quorum is in charge of snow removal at the church so he was down there several times a day if needed scrapping snow off of sidewalks.

Wednesday night Jeremy and I went on an old married date - going to the grocery store and then seeing a community theater play. It was really fun and nice not to have to worry about getting to bed early because it was a school night. Thursday night our kids were stoked that it was New Year's Eve. Spencer "rested" all day to make sure he would be able to stay up. Jeremy and I were invited to a neighbor's adults only party. So we put Robyn and Taylor to bed and set Allison and Spencer up with movies, popcorn and the remains of the gingerbread house. They thought they were so cool and old to babysit on their own. We came home at 12 to watch kids run up and down the street banging their pans and seeing the distant fireworks. They were very stoked to be up so late. We have had them babysit for us for small amounts of time more often lately. I think they are doing OK with it although I still worry. When I was at a funeral and they had to get Taylor inside on their own, they talked about how it was really hard and that Taylor's wheelchair almost went off the ramp. Gives me pause. But they are very conscientious about the whole thing. Spencer will set the timer for every 15 minutes to remind himself to check on Taylor.

New Year's Day was full of football for the boys. Took Spencer shopping for basketball shoes before practice starts this week. He is finally wearing shoes that are the same size as Jeremy. He thinks he is very tall in them and wore them inside the house all day yesterday to break them in. Then at night he and Jeremy went down to the church to do some drills and work on Spencer's skills. He is eager but doesn't have much coordination or ability yet. That just comes with practice so we are trying to encourage him to get out there more. Snow tends to make him turn to video games and books more often.

Yesterday Allison and Robyn got their hair cut. Robyn finally has her hair cut in a bob that is all the same length. Only took us 1 year to get to this point. Allison, inspired by Christina had her hair cut to her chin with it shorter in back and it flips out a bit. Tried to take a picture this morning but my battery died on my camera so check back later. I think it looks very cute.

Been working on my yoga and my crochet. My toes now touch the ground above my head - didn't think that would be ever possible. I am hoping my flexibility can come back. It seems lately that wrinkles appear over night, joints start popping and creaking - when did this happen? Sort of sad in some ways. Jeremy keeps having gray hairs pop up. Just goes with the territory I guess. But I will put up a good fight about it! Crochet I thought I was doing better at as I can now do a single stitch pretty well. Last night I tried to expand to a double crochet to make a pattern in my scarf. Not so pretty - not sure if anyone will ever wear this scarf but hopefully by the time it is done my skills will have gotten better.

Tomorrow Taylor meets with the neurosurgeon to plan his VNS surgery. I debated doing his salivary glands again but that was such a bad experience last time that I hate to do it. Somehow our kids are all getting up by 7 tomorrow - not sure how that will happen yet, perhaps I will have to cook some waffles or something to get them going.

We put away our Christmas decorations. Every year when I pack stuff up I get the urge to clean. Hasn't happened yet but I have high hopes for this week. We did recover our kitchen chairs though. I was tired of guests checking to make sure all the spots and stains on the fabric were old and not fresh. So this time we used fake leather that is waterproof and I can just wipe off. It doesn't look as nice but I think will hold up better. Its amazing what a staple gun can accomplish in under an hour!

Robyn had given us some great lines this week. It helps make up for the fact that she believed this week should be lived at full volume all the time and without breaks. Meredith told her to go brush her teeth and go potty. She checks to see if they brushed by smelling their mouths afterward. Robyn asked her if she wanted to smell her bum too to see if she went potty. My two favorites were yesterday when she was playing with her friend Luke. She told Luke "you be the daddy and I'll be the witch". A few minutes later she laid on the ground and Luke waved his arms over her and said "Poof, I put a baby in your belly!". Jeremy and I working on the chairs in the next room just had to laugh.

Love to you all and hope you are not going into shock from the reality of after Christmas life.


P.S. This week I taught Spencer and Allison the duet of Heart and Soul on the piano after Sarah taught Allison the chords when they were playing together. Its pretty cute and almost makes up for the constant playing of it. There is no video as Spencer as yet wants no record of him playing with Allison.

Spencer and Allison working on their thank you cards. They were really excited to do this - no nudging on my part was required. I am glad that they were so thankful for what they received.

Spencer playing video games. He lost his retainer the last day of school at his waffle party so he has been enjoying going without during this break.

Allison and Robyn playing dance dance revolution. That game has brought more smiles to my face than any other! Robyn is considered too little by Spencer and Allison to play so she stand behind them and tries to follow their lead.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Sledding Fun

Wednesday this week I decided to take off a little early from work and surprise the kids with some sledding. Not that they haven't already gotten out with Mom, but of course some Dad time "on the slopes" is always as fun for me as it is for them. Plus, I wanted to get some fun shots with the new wide angle lens.

There were some friends over for the afternoon, so they joined in the fun. Plus some neighbors happened to be at the same hill. So, as is no surprise, I snapped off a ton of photos trying to get a some good ones. As normal, I'll post some here, but you can also see the entire gallery over on my photo site.