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Sunday, November 25, 2012


Monday in between trying to disinfect our house I got to attend Robyn's 1st Grade Thanksgiving feast.  They happily ate a bunch of turkey and pumpkin pie in their pilgrim hats and read to us a poem.  Simple, cute and over way too fast.  For the rest of the day kids were helping me find lots of lost treasures - socks, toys, half eaten food.  I think I should clean behind and under things more often.
And then Monday brother David and my brother Daniel and their families arrived.  The holidays officially started.  We had 6 extra kids to play with, 2 extra dogs to give Rocky some entertainment and cause our cat to practice his sprints, and 4 family members to sit and visit with.  It was a week of perfection, noise and chaos and we had a great time.  The week seemed to end way too early.

Tuesday while I dealt with Spencer and his retainer and some grocery shopping my brothers' toured BYU.  My nephew Lathan told me that he is going to go to BYU now.  David even checked out Tucanos to see if his boys could eat their weight.  Since his 10 year old son, David and Griselda had spent the morning running 7 miles straight up the mountain they had definitely earned their meal.  David, Griselda and Daniel seemed to be running every day they were here, just happily climbing the hills I puff and pant my way up.  A good healthy dose for me of humility and inspiration.  Kids all brought their swim suits and remembered that at night it was hot tub time.
Wednesday David's family with Allison happily joining them (Allison and her cousin Lathan are long lost friends who stick together like glue when they can) went up to Salt Lake to tour U of U and temple square etc.  Mimi and I made a bunch of pies and kids hung out for the day.  Then that night we went up to Salt Lake with all the big kids to go out to dinner at the Garden Room on top of the Joseph Smith Building and then to see Savior of the World, a musical about the Savior's birth and death.  It was an awesome evening.  Before dinner Mimi introduced me to Anthropolgie and I now know where all my dishes will come from if I strike it rich some day and don't care that we break a plate a week around here.

Thursday, we cooked, we ate, we 'played' football, we went on a hike and then we ate again.  Griselda brought a craft for all the kids' to make turkey name cards.  Mimi brought some gorgeous flowers.  David and Griselda slaved away on a turkey.  Mimi introduced us to her dad's mashed potatoes - its better not to know the calorie count of those things and her aunt's cloud 9 salad.  It was just a great day.  And then while I lazily crashed on a couch with a movie my sister-in-laws attacked the black Friday sales, getting back Friday morning at 6 am.  Mimi is 6 months pregnant.  I can't do that non-pregnant and am definitely in a different league of shoppers than those two.
Friday I left at 10 am with them to check out a few more sales.  10 am seems so much more reasonable to me!  Then we went up to tour This is the Place park.  A cool place but can't compare to how neat it is in the summer when everything is open.

Then we went to Temple Square where they turned the Christmas lights on and we were able to walk around along with the hundreds of other people.  The nativity story on the big grass field there tears me up every time as I remember watching it with my grandpa, then Jeremy before we were married and our kids ever since.
Saturday we decided to test out Kneader's all you can eat French Toast and then hung out at a park.  Everyone was just happy to have one more day together.  We sang an early Happy birthday to Jeremy and Claire showed her mom how she had learned to ride a bike without training wheels.  And then at night we braved the madness to attend a BYU basketball game.  Robyn was more interested in her cousins and the cheerleaders and the dunk team.  It was a good, close game though that we all enjoyed.  They were handing out t-shirts at the game to encourage a high school senior who was there on a recruiting trip to choose BYU so we were all showing our spirit.

This morning everyone left when we went to church.  On the way home Robyn asked me quite folornly, "what are we going to do at home now?  everyone is gone".  I missed the family who couldn't be here and loved those who were here.  It was way too short.  Now our house just seems empty and quiet.  And reminders are popping up on my computer of laundry to do and bathrooms to clean.  Reality is hitting.  Good thing there is one slice of pumpkin pie left!

Allison was Bianca this week in the 5th grade rendition of Taming of the Shrew for their Renaissance Festival.  She did an awesome job remembering all her lines and acting like a pouty girl.  Her teachers go all out for this event.  They have a big feast, with the kids, teachers and servers all in Renaissance era style clothing.  They hand out awards to the Renaissance men and women of their class who have done projects in all these different areas, they do a play and have kids do different performances.  It was a culmination of a month long event.

Other big events this week is that I got to see some of my longest known friends for our annual Christmas shopping day this Saturday.  Really it is a day of non-stop talking and catching up while we stroll around stores.  It is such a small and simple event and yet is one of my favorite traditions.  Of course, this means Jeremy runs the home front on his own for the day and kuddos for him being so willing to always do this.

Jeremy has had a few photo shoots and events this week.  His neck is starting to get a little better.  He finally went into a doctor about it.  The x-ray showed no signs of breaks, tears, or bursts which is all good but is showing signs of arthritis which isn't.  They shot his back up in different places with Lidocaine to help him function and he is on some pills to help his muscles relax.  Still not great but not as miserable.  He just keeps a smile on his face so I forgot how long and how constant this has been hurting him.

I am sure the reason Jeremy is feeling better is that Thursday we went to the new Twilight movie with some friends.  Silly, ridiculous story plots and all, it is still fun for me.  Jeremy tried really hard not to laugh aloud and enjoy being one of the few men in the audience.  He and his friend pretended they were giving up their man cards to attend.

I have been munching on fruit cake and working on Christmas presents all week.  Family arrives tomorrow for the week and I figured why clean the house too much if I will need to clean it again really well on Monday.  So dust bunnies and clutter have piled up a bit but I have had a fun week tackling some projects.  Here are a few photos from last week that I didn't include.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sour cream lemon pie

OK I will get a better picture of this done when I make it again but this is all I had and some people were requesting the recipe.  I got this recipe off of everday-art  and I topped it with some leftover meringue I had from making a caramel pumpkin pie.  I increased the proportions of the original recipe to fill my pie crust.  This left maybe a cup of filling left over which we just ate like pudding.

Sour Cream Lemon Pie
1 pie crust baked
1 1/2 c white sugar
3/4 c flour
3/4 tsp salt
3 c milk
3/4 c sour cream
4 egg yolks
1/4 + 1/8 c butter
2 1/4 tsp lemon zest (zest of 2 lemons - more the better_
1/4 + 1/8 c lemon juice

1. Make a pie crust.  When you roll it out sprinkle a half cup of graham cracker crumbs on the counter and on top of the crust.  This will give the crust a good sweet crunch and keep it from being soggy.
2. Cook the pie crust completely and let it cool.
3. In a sauce pan, combine the sugar, flour and salt.  Gradually stir in milk.  Cook and stir on medium heat until thickened and bubbly.  Reduce heat, and cook and stir 2 more minutes.  Remove from heat.
4. Beat yolks slightly in a small bowl.  Stir one cup of milk mixture into yolks while stirring.  Then stir in yolk mixture into sauce pan.  Bring to a gentle boil.  Cook and stir 2 more minutes.
5. Remove from heat and stir in butter, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Fold in sour cream
6. Pour into baked pie shell and cool.  Let it cool on the counter till room temperature before sticking it in the fridge to help keep it from cracking.

Wednesday I had a bunch of friends over for pies and visiting.  Then I spent the afternoon biking with a friend.  Sun was shining, I was out in short sleeves and shorts and feeling like I was sluffing all my adult responsibilities for the day.  Friday the weather turned and we had five inches of snow that stuck.  Kids were in full snow gear, sledding, scrapping drive ways and building snow men.  It has been bitter cold and snow ever since.  Piles of wet snow clothes and boots line up outside the garage door causing me to trip, fall and step into puddles of melted snow in my socks.  I keep feeling like I am out of synch with the calendar lately.  I keep having big plans for each season but it seems to fly by while I am still enjoying it and ends before I am ready.  So weeds and piles of leaves will just stay buried in the snow and I will make my fruitcake and start working on Christmas presents instead.

Spencer had a court of honor this week and received his life rank.  So now its on to an eagle project.  Half excitement and half dread sums up my feelings for that challenge in his life.  He went to BYU for a pow-wow Saturday and got his chess and nuclear science merit badges.  So he is moving along in the scout ranks.  One night I was reading our current book to all the kids in the hall as Robyn lay in bed.  Spencer was splayed out over the stairs, yawning.  I guess the story was that good or that bad as when I went to bed an hour later, this is how I found him:

I have been going in every Friday to do art in Allison's classroom.  My two week current art project turned into a four week project and by this week I just told them we were going to get as much done as we could and then we would call it quits.  I think only a few actually finished but I still thought they turned out cool.  This was Allison's self portrait:
Its a little humbling to realize that most of the 5th graders can draw better than I can.  Allison has been working at school on a short excerpt from the play Taming of the Shrew for the 5th grade Renaissance Feast.  She is going to be Bianca.

Jeremy is in the thick of photo shoots lately as families get their Christmas cards together.  He also had his back go out right at the bottom of his neck which has necessitated a couple of chiropractor visits and lots of ibuprofen.  He gamely just smiles and toughs it out and drives me to Cheesecake Factory with his neck crinked over.  He was excited to get his Bug O Salt gun yesterday and start shooting flies in our house with bursts of salt.  Unfortunately now the few remaining flies in our house have been exterminated I think he is out of luck until the spring.  Last night he spent some time in the Apple store getting his lap top and phone fixed which he was glad about.  Then I took him to a restaurant in a snow storm that I had heard good things about.  Second time in our marriage where Jeremy has stopped eating after one bite and sent it back saying it was that bad.  So...we won't be going there again I think.  Luckily we had a big piece of cheesecake in the truck to console us.  By happenstance the apple store is in the same mall as the cheesecake factory!

Taylor hasn't had a great week but seems to be on the upswing again.  He either has diarrhea or nothing - we can't seem to get to a good middle ground.  So we will keep playing with medications.  This week I met with his case worker and supervisor to re certify that Taylor is truly that disabled.  Questions like, "can he pick out groceries at a grocery store" just has me shaking my head.  The only question that Taylor could partly do is signal whether he likes a certain food or not.  So I think he qualified!

Robyn is still in full whine stage or in "let me help you and hug you constantly" stage.  Not sure if its growing/school pains or my parental incompentence but hopefully we will get on an even keel soon.  Having her asleep by 7:30 though makes a huge difference in all of our lives.

Snowy kids coming in means time for hot chocolate.  We have depleted our stores lately as I have had to make the rule that there is only one mug of hot chocolate a day.

We tried to squeeze in all our Halloween fun into a few days before Halloween.  The upside and downside of an October vacation.  You only have time to do the things that you really like to do for Halloween and everything else gets left behind.

Sunday we carved our pumpkins with for the first time ever no one complaining about scooping out the guts themselves.  Spencer even boiled up and roasted his seeds by himself so he could have a little stash to nibble on.  Then we made Halloween cookies which somehow were mysteriously eaten by a self confirmed Halloween cookie addict with kids only getting a few each.  I love those things.

Monday was Taylor's Halloween school carnival.  It is a sugar high piece of mayhem that my kids love every year.  Taylor enjoys his dinner of chicken nuggets and as many chocolate cupcakes and treats as he can win.

Wednesday was Halloween.  Allison spent the last few nights cutting out and making her owl costume entirely by herself.  I was very impressed with it.

Robyn recycled an old witch costume I had with a few embellishments.  This witch costume has been around since before I left for college and has been well loved and used.

Spencer couldn't decide if he was too cool for a costume or not but at the last moment decided he could still enjoy the holiday.  Halloween morning involved me and Allison assuring me that he looked good and that I knew what I was doing.  Spencer was not convinced as he micromanaged every stroke of make-up goo and fake teeth that went on his face.  I just gritted my teeth and smiled and was glad that he was wanting to dress up and have fun.

Taylor was Carl from Up.  I didn't get around to making his pvc pipe walker but next year for sure.

I got to go spend the afternoon helping with Robyn's class party.  One of the mom's brought in snacks - jack-o-lantern faces drawn on clementines, gloves stuffed with popcorn and a spider ring, a veggie tray in the shape of a jack-o-lantern.  I was so glad not to see candy and the kids loved it!  They ate while she read them a spooky story.  It was fun to see the Halloween parade and just all the fun of being a kid.

For dinner we ate our blood (marinara sauce), bones (breadsticks), brains (stuffed pumpkin) and mouths (apple slices with marshmallows and peanut butter sandwiched in between).  Then Spencer felt very cool as he and Taylor watched Men in Black and handed out candy.  Jeremy went out with Allison and her friend while I leisurely strolled with my friend Brenda following Robyn and her friends.  We are experiencing a wave of warmth right now where it just feels like fall outside, warm afternoons, cool evenings and it was so fun to walk around our neighborhood.  One cauldesac has a fire pit and hands out hot chocolate and doughnuts.  They even have a haunted house in one of the basements for the kids to walk through.  And some friends go way out on their decorations, making it a fun night.  Everyone went to bed with a sugar buzz going on and a smile on their faces.

With the warmer weather I have been pulling out our garden.  Jeremy's truck is piled high with dead tomato plants and leaves.  I think I need a full time gardening crew for a week right now to put the garden to bed for the winter.  I finally finished with laundry on Thursday - I started Saturday.  So I am hoping to make lots of progress this week.

Saturday night we got together with a group of friends to eat and play and visit.  I count myself lucky with the neighbors we have been blessed with.  I had a head cold and felt like I was moving in slow motion all night and still I couldn't stop smiling at everyone joking around.  Its encouraging to me to know so many people who although they mess up sometimes like we all do are still cheerfully trying to live they way we should. 

This recipe is from my friend Karen who got it from her friend Bonnie.  This year I planted butternut squash in my garden and have been working my way though my 10 beauties that grew.  None of my kids like this recipe but my niece Kayla had two bowls of it and Jeremy and I love it so I told them too bad, their taste buds will adapt!

Butternut Squash Soup

1 large white onion, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
5 Tbsp butter
3 lb butternut squash, peeled and cubed
3 c chicken broth
3 medium zucchini, chopped
2 tsp salt
1 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
1 c half and half
1/2 c milk
parmesan cheese and croutons for garnish

Saute onions and carrots in butter for 5 minutes in a large coup pot.  All all but the half and half, milk and cheese.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes covered.  Either using an immersion blender (easiest way as you can leave the soup in the pot) or doing small scoops at a time puree with a blender.  Return to pot.  Add half and half and milk.  Re-heat if necessary but do not boil.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese and croutons.  Does not freeze but keeps in the fridge well.  Serves 6.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Photos from Mexico

Jeremy stayed up late the other night and go all our Mexico pictures processed.  So here are the highlights and yes my eyes are closed in almost every pictures - its a gift I have...
The girls Melissa, Brooke, Brenda and me

And the boys Jeremy, Jeff, Aaron and James:

The resort:

Going to church.  As the taxi driver said, "this must be a very secret church - its so small and hard to find".  We almost doubled their attendance.
Driving to church, glad our friends spoke fluent Spanish and feeling very spoiled with our lifestyle
Getting up for the sunrise and seeing our friends Brenda and James:
Going to tour Tulum and yes it really was that hot and sweaty and gorgeous:
Zip lining fun - I promised I wouldn't post the pictures of us screaming:
And rapelling:
My favorite part - hanging out on the beach:
Watching baby turtles hatch and then launching them later that night:
Watching a fire dancer show:
Sitting on the beach at night - despite the lighter look this is actually pitch black:
snorkeling at aquamal
Shopping at Playa del Carmen
The fun that can be had with just a pink floaty and a pool
We all had our books for the week:
A great week with great friends.  Sad to see it end.