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Sunday, April 24, 2011

He is risen...

Dear Family and Friends,

Happy Easter to everyone.  Jeremy and I got to speak in sacrament today on the Savior which although it causes panic and nerves on my part it was good to spend the week thinking about our testimonies.  And now that its over I can truly relax and enjoy our Sunday.

One of Jeremy's eardrums ended up rupturing last Sunday which was very gross.  He sounds better and is able to function better but he still can't hear very well.  In one ear he can't hear at all and in the other only a little bit.  So you have to speak loudly and clearly to his good ear right now.  Needless to say he is quite sick and tired of this situation despite trying to have a good attitude about it.  He sees an ENT tomorrow and hopefully they can help.  He is on antibiotics and decongestants etc but it hasn't helped yet.

Despite feeling so badly at the beginning of this week Jeremy hosted a workshop for a photographer he admires.  So he was gone Monday night and all of Tuesday for that.  It was something he had looked forward to all year so it sort of sucked to be feeling miserable for it.  Then Wednesday night he took the kids to a ward activity (I had a stake meeting) by himself and tried to smile and read people's lips.  And good dad that he is this Friday he went with Spencer on a scout camping trip and even tackled our jungle of a backyard on Saturday.  (You might think that I am kidding about the backyard but I really am not.  Allison was quite concerned that if we didn't mow it, we wouldn't be able to see any easter eggs in in, not to mention the doggy surprises that like to hide :) )  So he has accumulated his blessings in heaven this week.

Rest of the week seemed busy but it was mostly odds and ends.  Allison had her first softball team practice and then spent Saturday at a softball skills clinic.  She is thrilled at learning how to pitch softball.  Her height is starting to bother her as she is a head shorter than anyone else on her team.  On Friday I was able to go with her class on a field trip to see Beauty and the Beast.  Spencer was there with his class as well.  It was a play weekend for us because Saturday night Spencer and I went to see Suessical, which we both loved and felt like kids again at.

Taylor has been a bit out of it all week to put it mildly.  I thought it was digestive issues at first but after changing one to two blow-outs EVERY DAY this week, I no longer think that is the problem.  I am hoping that he doesn't come down with anything too serious.

Friday night I hosted a part at our house for our Ragnar running team.  I am getting worried I might be walking part of my legs as I can only run 4 miles now before my knee gives out.  Hopefully it will recover before then.  But it was fun to sit and around and just visit with a group of women who are all so different and yet we remain friends.

Everyone seems to be enjoying their Easter Sunday.  We dyed Easter eggs this week and tried doing some with silk from one of Jeremy's old ties.  Those turned out very cool.  Look at this site for instructions.  The kids awoke this morning, after sleeping in!!! and checked out their Easter baskets full of summer gear like goggles, flip flops etc.  Then they went on an egg hunt for all the dyed eggs and then peeled them all.  Half went towards our traditional egg salad sandwich brunch and half towards deviled eggs.  This evening Jason's family comes over and we do dinner and do a candy easter egg hunt in our yard.  Allison had a friend invite her to an Easter party Friday so she has quite a stash already of candy in her room.  I am sure Rocky will have a hay day when she forgets to close the door one day.

I realized I did not take a single picture this week but Jeremy has some cool ones from Easter I will have him post.  Love to you all, Heather

Kids are ready to charge into those Easter baskets. They have to wait until Taylor is ready...and Dad with camera...

I got just what I wanted!
The annual family Easter egg hunt begins!
Robyn was busy looking for eggs, and when she saw Dad was taking a photo went immediately into "pose" mode

Counting up the eggs to see if she had hit her limit

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Life happens...

Dear Family and Friends,

I wrote my blog yesterday on the way home.  Jeremy is feeling worse today with a visit to the instacare to get a bunch of decongestants and pain drops for his stuffed ears.  He can't talk above a whisper and can't hear very much and is just miserable.  He has a bunch of photography events this week that he is hosting so he is praying hard that it will all soon pass.  And here is what I wrote yesterday:

We have been on the road back home for 13 hours so far with 3 hours left in our trip back from Arizona.  We took some long stops, a 45 minute wrong way detour, plus we have to go up to the airport and back for Jeremy's truck. So with a sick Jeremy gamely pushing ahead, I get to play on his ipad.

Week before the trip was full of getting ready to be gone for a week amid the normal schedule.  Allison finished up her last play performance Monday night with flowers in her arms from her Jason's family, a smile on her face and a very tired little girl.  So tired that she caught a cold (which she shared with Robyn and me).  Cold gave her a bad ear infection and sore throat which resulted in 24 hours of her laying on her pillow sobbing and holding her ear.  Till her mean mom at 2 in the morning gently closed her door and asked her to try to cry quieter as I am trying to sleep.  But antibiotics are wonderful things and the last few days she can almost hear normally again.

We had our new bishopric, Relief Society presidency, EQ president, scout leaders and deacons and teachers quorums all come over to visit.  Plus all the new Primary teachers have called.  They are really going all out to make sure we feel welcome.  I just feel bad that I don't think I will remember any of their names for awhile!  Spencer went to his first new ward mutual and all seemed to go well.

Last Saturday we headed off for Arizona.  Jeremy drove with us down, stayed for Sunday and then flew back early Monday.  The trip was wonderful despite all the "life" that happens.  Allison and I were at the tail ends of our colds, with Samantha just getting one that turned into an ear infection too and Daniel being sick the whole week.  And then Jeremy brought back some of these family germs to Utah so that by the time he arrived Friday night to drive back with us he was in the middle of this really nasty cold we have been all sharing.  He thinks allergies have made it worse as his eyes are bright red.  Add into that that we drove down through pretty bad driving conditions with icy roads etc, having our van spend a day in the shop getting fixed from a broken shock, and kids managing to plug and overflow Daniel's toilet a couple of times.  But no matter what we always have a wonderful time when we are with family.  So we just thumb our nose at the challenges life comes up with and get on with enjoying spring break.  Did I mention Taylor throwing up all over himself as we pushed him into sacrament meeting and cleaning him up in the parking lot?  Or that after acting healthy he threw up again in the car as we drove to the park that afternoon?  Or the fact that he threw up a bunch more in the middle of the night?  Yuck!

The weather was amazing the whole time.  We had a BBQ and picnics, played at parks, went to the science museum and the music museum, spent a day at the zoo, tried out in-and-out for our first time and ate more delicious food than you can imagine, stocked up at Trader Joe's in case we need a three month supply of tortillini and best of all spent two days swimming at this posh hotel resort's pools.  Our kids begged us to stay and would love to permanently move into Daniel and Mimi's house.  Seriously.  Spencer and Allison are happy with the tent in the back yard and Robyn thinks the big puffy mattress in Claire's room is the best.

Robyn finishing her meals every night so she can do the "done" dance with Mimi and packing her white kitty so she could share it with Claire.  Allison being a babysitter for Samantha whenever she could and enjoying having a baby to take care of.  Taylor laying in the pool with a big smile on his face just chirping away.  Spencer so engrossed at the music museum that he doesn't even notice Robyn copying all the video dances right next to him or trying to explain to Mimi in detail every rule for one of his video games.  Most of all just being around family again and enjoying being together. Daniel and Mimi it was an amazing week.  Thanks for letting the horde invade and hopefully the plague will leave your house (and ours) soon.

Love, Heather

After two days of not so happiness Taylor loved every moment of his spring break
Claire and Allison playing mind ball
At the Music Museum at the end of our trip we went to the experience room where kids were let loose on a bunch of instruments

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Etc, Etc, Etc

Dear Family and Friends,

This has been Allison's week.  She had play practices Monday and Tuesday and then performance of the King and I on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with one more on Monday.  I chaperoned the backstage room Wednesday night and we got to see the play as a family on Thursday night.  She was very nervous Wednesday but has loved every minute of it.  She has had 2 friends bring her cookies and tell he what a great job she has done which just has been the icing on the cake for her.  She has been handling the late nights pretty well but has been sleeping in no problem this weekend to make up for lost time.  Our life is going to seem so much more relaxed when this play is over but it has been a great experience for her.  All the junior high kids keep telling me what a cutie she is.

She dances the party of Eva in the Uncle Tom's Cabin Scene who goes back to live with Budha.
And here is the whole cast:
So our week has been mostly about the school play.  It takes an hour for me to do up her hair and make-up but I am getting faster.  Her scalp is starting to have permanent black splotches from all the hair dye but her hair is still blond which I was worried about.  I'll post a bunch more pictures at the end.

Taylor met with his surgeon this week.  Skip this part, if I have already told you the details. His surgery is May 4th.  They hope to do both hips at the same time but will limit the surgery to 6 hours just for the sake of trauma and blood loss.  They will do the left hip first as that is the hardest one to do.  If they can fit in the right hip afterward they will, otherwise they will do another surgery the first of July.  He will be in the hospital for 5 days, no weight bearing for 4 weeks (although he can sit up) and then at 4 to 6 weeks start pushing physical therapy and get him moving again.  Full recovery is 6 months.  The surgeon said the surgery will be to drill a new hip socket as his are so immature and under developed and his left hip will need a plate and perhaps a bone graft to make contact with the socket.  He said not to worry about the surgery so much as the few days afterward as they try to get seizures, digestive processes, pneumonia complications etc under control.  But they won't bodycast him which I was grateful for.  And they said he shouldn't be in too much pain now as long as he isn't having to move his joints in certain ways.  But on the bad side, because this operation is done during puberty there is a small chance it will pop out again as he grows and have to have the surgery again in a few years.  If the plate bothers him because he is so thin, it can be removed in a year or two.

This week spring arrived:
And then last night we had a huge storm and we woke up to snow.  But we sure enjoyed the sunshine while it lasted.  We planted our pansies and vacuumed/mowed our lawn and Robyn broke out the selling lemonade signs in our driveway.
I finished up our bench cushions FINALLY:
Spencer went to his first Priesthood session of Conference and thought it was great because they went to 5 guys afterward.  I had two of my friends over, Allison and Kate with their kids to do some much needed catching up and eat dinner together.
And then today we got to enjoy visiting with Jason, Kelly and kids in between sessions and then touring their new house they are building.
So it has been a great and busy week.  I went to my first every town council meeting with Spencer for his merit badge.  It was really interesting.  We had a lot of moments this week where you think wow our kids are turning out so great mixed with a lot of moments where you think wow, we really messed our kids up, where did we go wrong?!.
But in the end I am just happy to be where we are at.  Love, Heather
Mom - the pan finally arrived and the rustic bread turned out much better.  Plus our house wasn't full of greasy smoke.
This was the dress rehearsal and they didn't have the lounge for the king yet so chairs worked instead.

This recipe is from my friend Karen.  It is one of my favorite cheesecakes, which is saying a lot.  I make the cheesecake the evening before I want to serve it.  Keep it in the fridge overnight.  Do the mousse topping in the morning and then let it stay in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

30 Vanilla Wafers
2 Tbl. Unsweetened Baking Cocoa
4 Tbl. Sugar
4 Tbl. Butter, softened

6 oz. semisweet Chocolate, broken up
1/4 C. Butter
20 oz. Cream Cheese (room temp.)
2 Eggs
3 Egg Yolks
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 C. Sugar

Chocolate Mousse Topping:
6 oz Semisweet Chocolate, broken up
1/2 C. Sugar
2 1/3 C. Heavy Whipping Cream

To make the crust:  Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 10-in spring-form cheesecake pan. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.  Spray again.
In a food processor, combine vanilla wafers, sugar, cocoa and butter and grind until fine. Press the crust onto the bottom of the pan.

To make the filling:  In a bowl combine the chocolate and butter.  Microwave in 30 second intervals, (around 3 times) stirring after each until it is melted and smooth.  Don't over cook this.  Let cool slightly till just warm but still stirable.   In a food processor, combine the cream cheese, eggs, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Pulse in the chocolate mixture.  Pour over the crust. Bake 35 minutes or until set. Let cool completely, around 3 to 4 hours.

To make the topping:  In a bowl combine 1/2 c of the cream and the chocolate.  As before cook in 30 second intervals (around 3 times), stirring after each interval until mixture is melted and smooth.  Cool till barely warm.   In a deep, medium bowl, whip the remaining 2 Cups cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in the sugar and the chocolate mixture. Spoon onto the cheesecake and smooth top with a spatula.  Refrigerate till ready to serve, at least 2 hours.  Don't remove the sides of the pan until you are ready to serve it.

This is easy to make but looks and tastes amazing.  We made it for General Conference morning this year to get us in the suitably food coma daze necessary for kids to sit and listen.  You can either make your own cream cheese mixture or I usually do the shortcut way.  We just keep a shaker full of cinnamon sugar mixture for our kid to make cinnamon toast with that I use.

Stuffed French Toast
1 loaf white sandwich bread
1 tub whipped white cream cheese
Cinnamon sugar sprinkle mixture in a shaker (1/4 c sugar with 1/2 tsp cinnamon and shake of nutmeg)
*Or you can mix 8 oz cream cheese with 1/4 c sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and shake of nutmeg till smooth)
Jam if desired

Make cream cheese sandwiches.  Spread one piece of bread with the cream cheese and shake on the cinnamon sugar.  (Or spread on the cream cheese mixture if you are doing it that way).  If you want on another piece of bread spread jam.  Then put the two pieces of bread together.  Keep making sandwiches till you use up all the bread.  I usually get 8 sandwiches.

Mix in a shallow bowl like a pie pan:
2 c milk
4 Tbsp melted butter
2 egg
4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 c flour
4 Tbsp sugar

Heat a skillet to medium heat.  Spray with oil.  Dip your sandwich in the batter till both sides are well coated, soak for a few seconds.
Lift sandwiches out of the batter and let any excess drip off for a moment.  Lay in skillet.  Cook till golden brown and then flip over, around 2 minutes per side. 
Serve with syrup and fruit.