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Sunday, September 25, 2011

The last days of summer

Dear Friends and Family,

This week we are hanging on to summer.  We finally had to start closing the windows in the morning as 45 degrees was a little too chilly to eat breakfast in, even if hot chocolate was involved.  But the sunshine and 80+ degrees has just been perfect and made to be spent outside.  Robyn had two soccer games this week which we got to hang out and cheer at.  She more dances than plays but she enjoys it.

This was a week of apples.  I made a ton of applesauce and then a bunch of apple crisp filling.  Perhaps that is why the week seemed so laid back.  Just hanging out listening to music or watching an old movie while you peel apples leads to a very laid back life style.  We did get some of our carpets cleaned on Monday which got rid of the last cat pee smell in our house.  As I was writing out the check all sympathy for Macho living outside disappeared.  Now if we can just figure out Rocky's gasto-intestinal problems our house will be smelling good.  We have given Rocky two baths this week until we figured out the smell was coming from inside his body rather than outside.  We haven't been in a very pro-pet mood lately!

Taylor got his daffos this week and does not like them.  He really refuses to walk in them and getting him from his room to his eating chair involves lots of poking and prodding.  We went to an ice cream party this week and someone asked how you could tell if Taylor wanted to eat ice cream.  Jeremy was feeding him and I just pointed out how Taylor was opening his mouth super wide after every bite for more.  Its pretty humorous once you notice it.
Taylor eating a cinnamon roll at the park. He was loving the sunshine
Last night I got to go up with some friends to SLC for the Relief Society Broadcast and then out to dinner.  It was a great evening complete with watching people running around SLC in their underwear for some sort of protest.  We couldn't help but laugh at people who really shouldn't be walking around in their underwear.  A great evening of friends, inspiration and good food - how can you beat that.

My brother Daniel was here this week for a few days.  But he was busy working so Jeremy saw him for 5 minutes one night on his way in to BYU and I saw him for 5 minutes on his way out.  Wish it could have been longer but since he did come bearing treats from Trader Joe's and a promise to return in a few months, I couldn't be too sad.

Jeremy has been busy this week with work, side projects and a lot of church stuff.  And to top it off he gave up a day trying out new camera lenses at the zoo so he could go to a soccer game and clean the office with us.  He has been biking to and from work lately which he enjoys and has the quads to prove it.  I feel like my life is quite lazy in comparison but he keeps a good attitude about just getting the stuff done that he needs to.  It makes us treasure being able to go out to dinner for an hour (despite the calls about Robyn not going to bed nicely) or kicking the kids outside for 30 minutes so we can talk without little ears trying to hear every detail.

And I have just been happy puttering around and enjoying school life and this last bit of summer.  The fall colors are just popping up in the canyons so I am hoping to go up there soon on a drive.

Love, Heather

Every year our Braeburn and Gala apple trees dump a bunch of delicious apples on us.  This is not the plain applesauce which we like as well but the dressed up version that we like best.  If the apples are really sweet, I will decrease the sugar.

Lemon & Spice Applesauce - 16 servings or 2 quarts or 4 pints

5 lbs apples peeled, cored and sliced which should be around 15 cups
2 1/2 c water (add more water if needed to make it less thick)
1 c packed brown sugar
3/4 c lemon juice
3 Tbsp lemon peel optional
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp vanilla

1. Combine in large pan everything but the vanilla.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for at least one hour till apples are very soft.  Using an immersion blender or a potato masher, mash up all the apples till desired consistency.  You can also do batches in a blender.
2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
3. Pour into sterilized canning jars and secure with lids.  Put in boiling water bath for as long as needed for altitude.  For us that is 30 minutes for a quart or 20 minutes for a pint.  Or just eat the applesauce straight away!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Holy War

Dear Family and Friends,

Yep, yesterday was The Holy War with BYU playing Utah.  That is all I will say about that game, best to forget it quickly I think.  But on Friday, our kids' school let them wear team shirts to school.  Allison despite our best efforts has been tainted by her friends into thinking that she needs to root for Utah.  So she called her friend to bring a shirt with her to school for her to borrow, since we don't support such sedition around her.  Jeremy of course had to break out his camera.

This week was much more laid back with our girls getting definitely spoiled this weekend.  Our ward daddy/daughter event ended up not coming together.  Our girls still planned on and told everyone that they were having a daddy/daughter date.  So Friday night Jeremy took them off to the movies where they decided a dinner of popcorn and candy was more than enough.  Then they camped out in the trailer - in a rainstorm - with Jeremy valiantly trying to get some sleep despite our girls' efforts to keep him awake all night long.  Then in the morning Jeremy made them breakfast and carried it out to the trailer where the girls spent the morning watching cartoons and hanging out till it was time for Robyn's soccer game.  Robyn did not do as well this week at soccer.  I am not sure if it is because she wanted her hair down so it could flow in the breeze, the lack of sleep or the lost in another girly world feel of the whole weekend but she was definitely doing her own thing.  The girls picked apples and played together all afternoon talking excitedly about their next night.
Our sweet friend and missed babysitter extraordinaire Meredith, called up to invite the girls out for a girls night.  She took them out to dinner and then back to her place for a surprise birthday present for Allison, to watch Tangled and paint nails and eat brownies.  To say our girls were living in cloud 9 all weekend is no exaggeration.  I am so glad for all the people in our family's lives who take such amazing care and efforts to help our kids.  Extra brownie points in heaven is all I'll say.

Thursday was our school carnival.  It felt a little disjointed as Robyn arrived there before us with her new BFF who lives next door to the school, Lindsay.  Then kids and I came and then Jeremy biked up from work (he has been a biking maniac lately).  Then I ran Robyn to soccer, came back, ran Spencer home to get ready for scouts, picked up Robyn and her friend from soccer and came back and then we all left.  But the carnival was full of face painting and mini-train rides (Robyn), winning a goldfish (Allison), eating pizza and knocking over cups with a squirt gun (Spencer) and visiting with friends.  So a great time for all with kids disappearing with friends for long periods of time and returning with big smiles and mouths of taffy.

Jeremy continues to work insanely but I am hoping he is catching up a bit.  He had a smug meet up this Tuesday that he enjoyed talking shop at.  He got to teach Beehives today about dating which he was thinking about all week.  He is starting to achieve super dad status around here between his daddy/daughter date and then taking time to go to the temple and missing the BYU/Uof U kick-off when he had work to do.  But the prize goes this week for his work with Spencer.  Spencer had to build a rocket for school.  Lets just say that Jeremy used enormous amounts of patience and know-how to get that rocket made correctly and in time by Spencer.  But it was made, launched 250 feet into the air and got an A.

School life keeps humming along.  We started this week hosting a veggie/fruit co-op in our garage for us and 11 other friends.  One of our friends makes a group purchase every two weeks and delivers it to our garage and then everyone divies it up and takes home their share.  Makes for some cheaper produce and gets us to try some new things.  Our kids are really liking it.

Signed up for a sprint triathlon for November 5th.  So I have been biking more and Monday tried swimming laps for the first time since I was 10.  Made it 1300m and felt like such a wimp when I had to stop.  I did run for awhile first but I think it was mainly that I need to learn how to breath while swimming again.  The shorts gasps in and out while doing freestyle just wear me out.  But I figure if all my siblings can be such great swimmers I hopefully have some of the same genetics to help me along.

Taylor is doing pretty good.  He had a bad day Friday and Saturday with lots of seizures and was pretty miserable.  But that is his life.  He seems to like school though as he leaves every morning chirping and clapping away.

Made a dutch apple baby for breakfast this morning and remembered my mom making them for me when I was a kid.   This week its apple crisp and apple sauce time along with getting our bedroom carpets cleaned of left over cat pee smell.  So our house should be smelling good by the end of the week!

love to you all, Heather

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thank you for the weekend...

Dear Friends and Family,

This was a great week, don't get me wrong.  But it was a week where I really needed a Saturday night of eating some good food with our Stake RS Presidency and coming home to watch a good movie with Jeremy and eat some chocolate and then to sleep all night and then all was right with the world again.  It was just a full week and after a very full weekend of kids the holiday weekend before I was ready for a break.

This week Jeremy spent continuing to catch up on his back log of photo work and then get ready for his photography class he taught with some friends Saturday.  It made for lots of late nights, early mornings and restless sleeping as he tried to get everything done.  But it sounded like it all went really well.

He did take a break with us on Monday evening when after cleaning the office we went to play miniature golf.  I realized it was the first time we have ever done that as a family.  I have lots of memories hanging out at Golf-land growing up.  Jeremy schooled us all of course and our kids experienced the gamut of frustration and delight that golf brings.  But it was a very fun few hours and kids were vocal about being willing to have a late dinner and bedtime so we could play again.

No big news this week just lots of little stuff that kept everyone hopping, with a few extras that got piled in.  But the ability to clean out a drawer in my bathroom or spread mulch in our backyard makes me very grateful for school.  I started teaching art in Robyn's classroom this week which I think will be very fun. I go in once a week for 30 minutes.  That same day Robyn and I got to help Allison's class make paper out of paper pulp.  Robyn loved helping to make a paper smoothie in the blender with strips of paper soaked in water.  The girls were both very proud of their homemade paper.  I started organizing the school art program which is always a lot of work at the beginning of the year but then pretty much runs itself.  I got to do a little in-service for the teachers and volunteers which just has to make me laugh.  As a very un-artistic person, I don't feel qualified for this job.  But I have decided that with school volunteer needs its not the person with the skills who does the jobs but rather the person who doesn't say no.  Add in doing a show and tell with Allison's guinea pig this week and I agreed with Allison when she asked me why I was called a stay at home mom if I didn't stay home.

Robyn has such a tough life.  On Friday we got to have my niece Brynn for the day and they enjoyed a picnic outside.  It is wonderful to have CA weather here.  It still gets hot periodically but most of the time its in the 80s during the day and cool in the morning.  My mom made Robyn a sweater that arrived Friday that she loves.  After talking to my mom to say thank you on the phone she came and told us with a big smile on her face that her sweater has hearts because her grandma loves her so much.  She shows those hearts to everyone she says.

Robyn also had her first soccer game this Saturday.  Despite having a few practices she still was convinced that she would be horrible in a game and spent Saturday morning crying about it during breakfast.  But then she went and scored 2 goals and was just beaming about it all day long.

Spencer had a court of honor this week.  He has earned 11 merit badges this summer which he was quite stoked about.  Kids and I spent Saturday afternoon down in Springville as Spencer did his swimming merit badge at a pow-wow down there.  In October he is doing the first aid merit badge at the BYU pow-wow and then he should be almost done with his required merit badges.  Right now he has to build a rocket for school on Tuesday.  It involved a shopping list for me of foam board, spray paint and soda bottles - we will see how it turns out.

Taylor gets his daffos tomorrow which we hope will help with his walking.  He would rather "skate" in his socks everywhere we go right now.  Friday he had a tough day full of grandmal seizures and had to stay home.  But most days have been pretty good.

Allison has started to try out cat fighting with Robyn - not my favorite.  She likes to poke, pinch and then run away and laugh.  Robyn laughs too for the first 5 minutes and then it turns into a whine fest.  Need to nip this habit in the bud!  Otherwise she is busy getting her water cycle diorama done and trying to play with friends whenever possible.

love to all of you and hope you are enjoying fall with its ripe apples and cool evenings,


This is for my nephew Garion who requested this recipe.  In my house Allison calls these the good enchiladas as opposed to the regular yucky kind I make I guess.  As a warning they are spicy, but that is how we like them around here.  This is almost exactly the recipe from favorite family recipes, a cooking blog I like, with just a few changes for how we like to make it.

The Good Enchiladas

Enchilada Sauce:
3 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp flour
¼ c. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
Stir in saucepan on low heat until bubbly, then add:
2 c. beef broth
2. c. tomato sauce
½ tsp. oregano

10-12 whole wheat tortillas
3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded ahead of time
1 can refried beans
3 c cooked white rice, cooked with 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp chicken bouillon added to the water
shredded cheddar cheese

Cook the sauce as directed, then simmer for 15 min over low heat stirring occasionally.
Stir in some of the enchilada sauce to the chicken. Take a tortilla and layer it with beans, chicken,  and rice. To get the amounts right, I will lay out all my tortillas and then put on ingredients assembly line style.  These are thick enchiladas, so be prepared.  Spray the bottom of a 9x13 pan and one 9x9 pan and cover the bottom with sauce, around 1/2 c and 1/4 c respectively.  Then add the rolled up enchiladas.   Cover the enchiladas with the sauce then top with cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  You can serve with sour cream, tomatoes, and shredded lettuce on top if you want.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

School days

Dear Friends and Family,

Monday it became official, Robyn started kindergarten and now ALL my kids are in the public school system.  15 1/2 years for this day seemed like a long time looking forward but looking back it seemed really quick.  Robyn is in the same class as her friend Luke across the street as well as two other neighbor girls.  Robyn was very excited for her first day of school.  Allison gave her a special bath the night before involving bubble bath, stories and bubble beards and then we braided her hair as she wanted waves the next day.  Robyn came home saying kindergarten was FAAAAANtastic but just a little bit boring because you can't talk to your friends except at recess.  And it was a bit of a wake-up call when she realized that no TV on school days now meant every day for her.  This summer we did no technology Thursdays which worked great but she had a few days of magic school bus withdrawl.

This was edited as Robyn was quite upset that cousins might see her chest!
Robyn has also started up soccer.  She has had 2 practices so far but missed her first game as we were camping.  So this Saturday is her first game.  She had lots of tears at first saying she was horrible, couldn't kick the ball and would make her team loose.  I think she has had a harder time as she hasn't seen Spencer or Allison ever play.  So Allison showed her some moves in the backyard and that plus her friend Nylie and Luke playing on her team and a super nice coach has brought her around.  She also started up a dance class and has another friend Karlie who takes it with her.  Her teacher is one of those bubbly 6 foot tall gorgeous women who can't stop smiling and Robyn loves her.
Allison found out on Monday that she won the election for class secretary which means that she and her friend Andra who won for treasurer get to sit at a special table with the class president, a boy that they just ignore and get special privileges.  Allison is in charge of filling up the bird feeders for the class etc.  Her teacher brought their council table chocolate croissants this week for breakfast and Allison was just beaming for the rest of the day.  She is taking a jazz dance class this year again which she really enjoys along with her piano.  She is now treking over to the 6th grade class for math this year.  I worry a little bit as I see no homework coming home but as long as she is getting A's I am assuming she is getting it.  On Friday she made a cookie map of Europe's topography at school and has been eating it ever since.
Spencer is still very stoked about being in junior high.  It has taken a little getting used to as he has A days and B days.  So he has two homework assignments each class and two days to get them done in.  So remembering to do homework every day even if its not due the next day and remembering what class he has on which day is still taking a bit to sink in.  It was Stake Temple week so on Tuesday he and I went to do baptisms for the dead.  The idea of going by himself without having family names is something I want him to understand.  After we were done he came out with a big smile and said he felt really good.  It might have helped that it was 7:30 and he knew we were headed to In-n-out for dinner too.
Junior high kids can wear red shirts - Spencer has worn a red shirt every day so far
Taylor is doing good as he adjusts back to the school schedule.  The bus schedule which had differed according to the day up to 60 minutes is getting more consistent which makes life easier.  On September 1st Utah decided that fall had arrived with cool evenings and mornings.  It feels so good to open all the windows and actually want to grab a jacket.  Of course its 95 degrees by the afternoon!  With the cold weather I thought I would try hot chocolate Friday morning with Taylor.  He most definitely thinks drinks should be cool to cold and was not happy.  He was throwing his warm drink all over and left a nice drizzle of chocolate milk everywhere.  But he leaves for school smiling and comes home ready for a nap so he must be enjoying his days.

I thought this week would seem really quiet but the time has flown by.  Babysitting this little 5 month old has reminded me how fun babies are and makes me glad to have him on a temporary basis.  Robyn thinks he is the best toy as they are both here for an hour.  I did get to go to the temple this week and spend some time picking out new non-holes everywhere sheets all by myself, both of which I ate up.  I have been trying to get back into the early morning work out routine but it is tough.  I went with two friends for their invite a friend week to their bootcamp.  I literally couldn't raise my arms to shoulder level after one morning there.

This weekend I got to take all the kids Friday from 3-9pm and Saturday from 9 am to 11 pm to the Timpanogous Storytelling Festival.  It was a wonderful time meaning a lot of fun with lots of work, whining, bickering, being treated as a pillow/climbing apparatus and frequent reminders of how to act in public - so basically a good event with kids.  We came home all happy and tired out.  We listened to lots of fun storytellers, kids made pots and vases at the pottery station, watched jugglers and puppet shows, laughed a lot and ate a bunch of picnic food.  The daytime events were all up in Provo Canyon and because we had Taylor we didn't have to take the shuttles.  On Friday evening they had an event just for kids with a puppet show, then bedtime stories followed by doughnuts for everyone.
The Sat night show was an outdoor ampitheater and was packed
Our supply of snacks and sandwiches ran out by Saturday night so kids enjoyed pizza and icee for dinner
Where was Jeremy while we were having fun?  Home working away to relieve some of his stressful backlog and enjoying some unscheduled time.  Kids felt bad that he had to work but better when they learned that he got to spend Saturday night with a photography group.  Jeremy got to do pictures at Ignite SLC this week as well so he does have some fun in his life to balance all the stuff that he has to do.  We have been working at getting back into the school/chore schedule.  There is a sign on our fridge that sums this up: "Do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do".  Now if I can just convince our kids to do what they have to do with a smile!

Love Heather