Slideshow Image 1 Slideshow Image 2 Slideshow Image 3 Slideshow Image 3
Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happy New Year...

Dear Family and Friends,

Forget New Year's, there is something about school starting that feels like a new year of new routines, goals and plans has begun.  Most be all the aroma of sharpened pencils and still blindingly white new tennis shoes.

Taylor had his last pt appointment on Monday and then started school on Tuesday.  You could tell it was the first day of school because he was snoring by 7 pm that night and had to be rousted out of bed the next day.  Spencer and Allison started school Wednesday.  The spent Monday and Tuesday doing their school assessments and last minute school shopping and getting every last minute of non-school play/tv time they could.  First day pictures to come when Jeremy gets a spare moment to post them - something hard for him to find lately.

Allison bounced to school with a smile on her face.  Spencer was a mixture of nerves and excitement making things a bit tough around here.  I often wonder at what point are his behaviors caused by our inept parenting and at what point does the bi-polar kick in.  But he pulled it together and is thrilled with all his classes.  He was supposed to repeat last year's math class which would put him at grade level, instead they bumped him ahead.  Problem was he already knew about it and all his other classes so we couldn't rearrange his whole schedule to bump him down into a math class with a teacher he didn't like.  So he is going to go for it and hopefully be able to pull it off.  We will see how it goes. If he can't keep the grades up he will get bumped down.

To celebrate Robyn's last few school free days on Thursday we went to the Children's Museum with a few friends in tow.  The played hard, then went and ate lunch at the fountains and then played again.  Robyn who hates to get her clothes wet stayed outside the circle of water and "did magic" to make the fountain go with the music.
Luke, Jake, Robyn and Raquel
Friday I had a mom's celebration by meeting a few friends for brunch at Kneaders.  Robyn was less than thrilled that her mom's breakfast meant sitting around and talking with grown-ups but she was a good sport about it.

Between Taylor's surgery and my broken foot we have not gone camping as a family this entire summer.  So this weekend we cleaned and packed up the trailer and met Jason and his family down at Burston Ponds in Mona.  We are so out of practice in packing up the trailer!  But we did eventually get under way and had a great time.  We stayed up late roasting marshmallows and telling stories.  Spencer, Garion and Allison were enthralled with whittling and the power of a sharp pocket knife.  They filled a sock with an unbelievable amount of shredded pork to fish for crawdads but no luck.  All we saw were frogs and minnows.  Saturday we found a bunch of rope swings and Jeremy initiated our kids in the lost art.  I had never been to this campground so didn't know to pack swimsuits but out kids were happy in their clothes.  The reason there are no pictures of me is that I wore my pjs to swim and after doing one rope swing Jeremy nicely told me that it was a definite wet t-shirt contest look I stuck with an inner tube and hanging out with little kids.  Only sad part was coming home to clean the office and clean out the trailer at the end of the day.  But our kids are getting better at realizing that when you play, you pay as they buckled down and got it done.  Leftover ice cream cake from Jeremy's work and cold showers with lots of soap never felt so good at the end of a great, long day.

Tomorrow Robyn starts kindergarten.  She is very excited and Allison has told her she will give her a special bath tonight to get her ready.  Allison does her "special baths" for Robyn almost once a week.  They involve bubble bath and Allison reading her stories in the tub.  Robyn is our first kid who is starting kindergarten without being able to read and only knowing half her letters/sounds.  But I have worried a lot less with her knowing that it will all come at the right time.  And she is so excited to learn how to read on her own this year.  I am going to be teaching art (I know, the blind leading the blind...) in Robyn's class this year.  It should be fun.  So if you have any great art projects for little kids, let me know.  I still can't believe all my kids will be in school this year.  Although really there is only 1 hour and 50 minutes that everyone will be gone.  To help with the transition too I am babysitting in the morning a cute little 5 month old neighbor three times a week.  But I am looking forward to some quiet time, having a clean floor that lasts a few minutes and kids going to sleep when the sun goes down.

This week I have been walking and biking a lot in the early mornings.  In the 7 weeks I took off my muscles seemed to disappear along with the early morning sun.  But it feels so good to be up and moving again.  I haven't tried running yet as my foot hurts at the end of each day but its getting better.  The early morning alarm clock though still seems awfully early.  I am definitely not used to that yet!

Love, Heather
Jeremy had been catching little kids.  They thought it would be hilarious if he "caught" Jason too.
See that person in the distance way up in the air?  Thats Jeremy doing the BIG rope swing

It doesn't look that hard till you get up there and have to take that leap of faith for the first time

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has been packed full of last week of summer activities.  It was wonderful and gotten all of us ready for regular bedtimes and schedules.  And most of our fun was thanks to a very wonderful sister-in-law Kelly.

Monday, Jeremy played hookey for a day and we spent the day at Lagoon.  Taylor was happy to hang out at Kelly's and miss the sun, hail (yes HAIL!! in 90 degrees), crowds and roller coasters - not his cup of tea.  I have been going to Lagoon since I was 12 so I have lots of memories of going with my parents and grandparents and now taking my kids.  It is one of their high lights of the summer.  Allison was super brave this year and went on Wicked.  Robyn even sucked it up to try out the roller coaster (my personal favorite - the old wooden rickety one).  She made a puking face the whole way to make sure she didn't throw up.  As the one sitting next to her, I was a little worried until she started giving tiny shouts of weee!  To revive from the heat we had ice cream for dinner.  Robyn really got into it as you can see from the pictures.  We also learned that Robyn does NOT like to get her clothes wet as did everyone else standing in line at the rafting ride.
For Tuesday through Friday Kelly and I did our kid swap for Education Week.  Every day she came over with her kids and on Tuesday and Thursday I went to BYU and then she went on the other days.  So kids enjoyed having a week of playing with cousins and I got to go to some amazing classes.  On previous years I have felt brain overload by the end of the day but not his year.  Maybe its because I went to more religion classes and less how to organize your home classes.  I went to a bunch of Michael Wilcox's classes which I loved.  I had never heard him speak before.  The strangest part was to spend a day listening, learning and living in my own mind as I think about things.  I can't remember the last day I have gone a whole day without really talking to anyone or having little voices talking to me.  Its was nice to have two days just to think about my life and our family and what I want to do different.

Wednesday night our ward had a summer pool party in the evening.  So we played games, ate dutch oven desserts (candy bar chocolate cake - definitely will have to try again) and swam while the sun went down.  I felt like I was the only mom in the pool as it was mostly kids but there were a few others who came over to say hi and show solidarity.  If you look closely in the middle you can see Taylor in his floaty.
On Monday morning we picked up Spencer's school schedule and then Thursday night was Back to School.  Allison was excited to be in a class with her two best friends from our neighborhood.  Robyn walked into her classroom and was disappointed that it looked like a little kid classroom.  She was ready for some big kid serious work here.  Spencer tried his locker numerous times and his his books for English all staked up on his desk.  He is reading Dr. Jekyl and Mr Hyde this year - we are wondering if he will not any similarities :)

Friday, some friends invited us and a few other families to spend the weekend at their cabin up past Heber.  Kids ran wild, playing pool and ping-pong, catching frogs at the witches' pond, taking lots of Range Rover rides and staying up late with tons of food.  Adults just enjoyed being able to talk and get to know each other better.  Robyn learned what stinging nettle is and I learned that I really can stay up until 1 am although my ability to make intelligent conversation stops at 10 pm.  Had to come home Saturday late afternoon to clean the office and for everyone to go off to their various activites.  Girls went to their cousins birthday party and then to sleep over while Garion came to our house for a boy's sleep-over.  (We stopped sleep-overs last year after that General Conference talk mentioned them but still do cousin nights)  Jeremy went up to be a photographer at a BYU football kick-off and brought home cheesecake to make my night.

Last bit of good news is that as of Friday I am boot free.  And my muscles are non-existent!  I tried doing lunges or calf raises etc and there is just nothing there.  Can't run till next week but for now just walking get my foot pretty tired.  

So this week was wonderful and full and I am so ready to start school bed times tonight!  Taylor starts school on Tuesday and Spencer and Allison on Wednesday and then Robyn next Monday.    Spencer is now 5'6" and is 132 pounds - easier for me to believe that he is starting junior high than that Taylor will be in 10 grade.  He is quite nervous about junior high even though it is the same school.  It makes me glad we decided to have him stay at Lincoln at least this year.

Hope everyone is enjoying these last days of summer,
love, Heather
Jeremy is definitely the reason why there is fun in our family
Allison kept saying "I just can't stop smiling"
Jeremy has a new sunburn right where Robyn liked to rub the sun block off.
In the wind storm last week our plum tree broke - mom what do you think?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

17 years - can we be that old?

Dear Family and Friends,

Friday, Jeremy and I celebrated 17 years.  2 college graduations, 1 knee surgery, 3 c-sections, 2 VNS surgeries, 1 hip surgery, 1 tonsillectomy/adnoidectomy, 2 ear surgeries, 1 mouth surgery, 1 two week commitment in a psych ward, way too many ER and hospital visits to count, Lauri's stroke, her hospital visits and ill health and her funeral, taking 4 brothers and my parents to the MTC, taking trips to the Mediterranean, New York, Florida, San Francisco, Carmel, Michigan, Phoenix, San Diego, Riverside and numerous vacations at beaches and national parks, hiking the Grand Canyon for my Mom's 50th birthday, living in 4 different houses, building this house and doing a yard, 2 trucks, 2 motorcycles, 2 cars and 2 vans, 3 dogs, 3 cats, 6 hamsters, 1 cockatiel.  No wonder it feels like we have always been together!  Jeremy plied me with love notes, chocolate and cheesecake and kids were excited to babysit while we went out to a movie.  (side-note: Cowboys vs Aliens is NOT a chick flick but is Predator vs True Grit movie - lots of chances to jump and hold Jeremy's hand)  So it was a great anniversary all around.
After 2 years of saving all his money and working every Saturday, Spencer finally got enough saved up to buy his I-touch.  I felt like he was opening Pandora's box but he was so excited about it and has been a little obsessed with his new technology ever since.  This year his school is asking the junior high kids to bring an i-touch or i-pad to school to use in the classroom.  I have visions of it being broken or lost or spent playing games but we will see how it goes.  Right now Spencer has it in his pocket constantly as he says he just likes the feeling of it.
Taylor has been going out in the evening to practice his walking.  He walks very reluctantly but he will stand for almost 10 minutes now till his legs start to tremble and then he slowly sits down.  These evening excursions have exposed him to all the mosquitoes flying around and he has quite a collection on his legs.  Allison has him beat right now though with her face looking like she is suffering from a severe case of acne.  Friday night, Spencer and Allison slept outside hoping to see the meteor showers.  But despite me waking them up at 3:30 to look, we didn't see a thing. The full moon and to many clouds foiled our efforts.  But they enjoyed the adventure - just not the bug bites.  For some reason Allison is covered but Spencer is bite free.  She must just be a little sweeter.
Allison continued with her music theater class this week and she loved every minute of it.  On Thursday they had the parents come for the last 15 minutes and performed.

On Tuesday night it was Robyn's turn for her "date" with Mom.  She did not think shopping for school supplies sounded much like a date.  But when I told her that we would of course get ice cream at the end she yelled "Wahoo, now that is a date!"  When we got home Allison asked how her date was and she replied 'faaaantastic" and I figured I must have done something right. This week Robyn's loud talking has hit a new high.  We seem to be constantly working on our indoor voices.
I made a bunch of jam this week thanks to a neighbor's generous apricot tree.  I also made jalapeno jelly for the first time.  Wow, our house was pungent for awhile.  This was our last real week of summer vacation so we did a lot of nothing too.  Spent one last afternoon at the pool with friends.  Played a lot and hung out.  I thought kids might get bored with such a loose schedule this week but they loved it.  They didn't want to stop playing and go to bed when it got dark.  Yesterday they got all their Monday jobs done so we could spend the day at Lagoon tomorrow.  Last item left on our summer to do wish list.

I went and had a bone test this week and moved out of that awkward heavy boot to a smaller granny shoe.  In another week I am back to normal shoes again.  And in two week I can start running again.  Hopefully it won't be too painful to start up again.

Life is just good all around and I am hating the thought of giving up our summer days in one more week.  I have been gorging on peaches hoping our motto of you can't get fat on fruit is really true, and figuring out what classes to go to at Education Week this week.

love, Heather

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Zucchini Cookie Sandwiches

It is that time of year for all things zucchini.  My kids think zucchini equals dessert and I have yet to convince them there are other uses for those green monsters in our garden.  But this is one of my new favorites.  This recipe is courtesy of Martha Stewart.

Zucchini Cookie Sandwiches

1 c flour
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c unsalted butter - divided and at room temperature - 1 1/2 sticks
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c grated zucchini
1 c rolled oats
1/2 c chopped walnuts
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 c powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
2. In a mixer beat 1/2 c butter (1 stick) and the sugars until pale and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.
3. Beat flour mixture into butter mixture.  Mix in zucchini, oats and nuts.  Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.  (don't skip)
4. Scoop a large spoonful of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, about 2 Tbsp a scoop.  Bake until edges are golden, 16-17 minutes.  Let cool on wire rack.
5. Beat together remaining 1/4 c butter (1/2 stick), cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth.  Spread 1 Tbsp onto a cooled cookie and top with another cookie.
6. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was spent enjoying summer and getting a bunch of last summer things done.  A lazy afternoon at the pool with 4 extra friends along for the ride, a couple of late night playing with friends and watching movies made for a great week.  Had at least one summer thunder storm every day till Thursday but supposedly we are now hitting the dog days of summer with blue skies and hot temperatures ahead.  To celebrate kids made a fort on Saturday and slept in it last night.  They each have their own "rooms" inside.  Spencer even has a cot in there.

I had my own way of celebrating August by putting myself in time out in the back yard.  I can't remember the last time I sat outside and just read for a few hours.  It was wonderful.

This week we cleaned out the kids rooms.  That means everything they owned got put into the hallways while we rediscovered all the flotsam and jetsam a bunch of pack rats can accumulate.  Allison decided her furniture all needed to be rearranged which she loves to do as long as I provide willing muscle.  I always forget how big of a project that is to do but enjoy the one evening where our kids literally have immaculate rooms.  I should have taken a picture as they have since returned to their natural state.  But at least I know there are no hidden water bottles filled of curdled milk or old homework papers stashed away in dark corners.  One dark moment for me was when Robyn told me I could put away all the dolls and their clothes as she wasn't a baby anymore.  But she has been playing with her American Doll knock-off all week long so I feel like I haven't lost my little girl completely.

Allison and Robyn got their hair cut this week which they always love.  Neither of them wanted to give up the power of doing a ponytail so nothing drastic.  Allison does her own hair now and most days she just pulls it all back into a ponytail.  Other days I just try to bite my tongue unless its really something strange.  Usually she does a good job though and loves to do Robyn's hair if Robyn will cooperate.

Allison and Spencer had piano camp this week at 8 am! every morning.  8 may not seem so early to most but to them and their summer schedule it was a bit tough.  But they set their alarms each morning and were down here with red eyes and yawns to eat breakfast before going.  Allison also started a music theater class that continues through this week as well.  She has been busy singing "Food, Glorious Food" up in her room and practicing her dance steps.  She just loves that whole thing - dancing, singing and acting.  This week Allison and I went on our back to school date so she could get her list of supplies and new tennis shoes.  She just skipped and smiled the whole night between being out by herself with her mom and getting new pencils and folders for the school year.  Spencer babysat and was so proud how he carried Taylor to bed and tucked him in and remembered to watch Robyn brush her teeth and read her a good night story.

Taylor continues with physical therapy.  Today is a bad day for him as he is either in a partial/complex seizure or resting up from one.  But the rest of the week has been a good one.  He learned how to fall/sit and protect himself.  It was a huge step.  Bad part is that now instead of walking he just decides to sit down and relax instead.  So walking has decreased a lot this week.  He was casted for new daffos which will be done right before school starts which should help keep his feet under him.  We also went up the the wheelchair clinic and had everything re-adjusted for him.  His wheelchair is now more upright and bigger which is harder for us to transport in our car but is much better for him.

Kids had their last cooking class this week as well.  Brownies and tacos - what every college kid needs to know to survive.  Their favorite part of the class is that they get to eat whatever they make.  Robyn has been either her normal sunshine bubbly self or a whining, crying thundercloud waiting to explode.  We are working hard to get her voice and attitude back into a middle of the road normality.  As Jeremy says when that high pitched whine kicks in all brain function in people surrounding her quits.  Its like a little pick ax working on the back of your skull.  We talked Monday about our home being like a temple and the screaming voices do not  belong.  That gave us a few hours of nice voices before the whine re-emerged.  Maybe we just need to do FHE twice a day!

Jeremy stays busy with photography, work and church.  He is usually doing one or the other.  But he did manage to play hookey this week for a few hours with a friend and go out on the lake.  He has had a lot of introspection this week as he tries to figure out how to balance everything in his life and what he needs to put priority on. 
My foot is healing up I think.  On Friday a little kid ran full force into it which did NOT feel good.  This Thursday I get new x-rays and hopefully a smaller, more comfortable boot.  We bought tickets for Lagoon and are planning to go next Monday.  I don't want to be clomping all around an amusement park in this big boot if I can help it.  Our kids only have two weeks of summer left really.  This week and then next.  So we are trying to think of any last summer ideas we haven't done yet.  Lots of doing nothing is high on my list - with perhaps some snow cones or watermelon along the way.

Happy summer to you all, Heather