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Sunday, February 23, 2014


Jeremy took photos at Allison's theater class where the kids could practice facial expressions and he could get stock photos for the church this week.  This photo sums up our Monday night.  For Christmas we gave the kids tickets to a Pentatonix concert in Salt Lake.  We debated not bringing Robyn but we also knew she would be very unhappy to not go.  So we met up with Jason, Kelly and Garion to go to our kids' first rock concert.  We got there two hours before the concert started and saw a line going down a whole city block, and then around another block and then back up again.  We are not their only fans.  I didn't realize it was a standing concert in a big warehouse.  Spencer was fine but our girls struggled to see.  Some nice guy gave us chairs at the back that they stood on and they were much happier.  It was a bit much for Robyn but she loved being there and it was a great concert.

With it being such a late night, going back to school Tuesday was tough on everyone.  The girls went back to sleep for an extra hour in the morning so they could get their happy back.

Taylor was home with a cold this week.  His nose is so rubbed raw from a snotty nose that it bleeds if you touch it.  He is doing much better now and went back to school Friday.  Today was a bad seizure day but he is currently hopped up on versed and very happy.  He has been struggling getting his digestive system regulated again so it just throws everything off - either its lakes of poo on the floor or nothing.

With Taylor home it was a good excuse to tackle some home to-dos.  I finally got the garage cleaned up a bit so you can see the workbench again and we found many treasures there.  And I finished up pillows for our basement.  I thought I had made so many but when they are spread out it looks like I need to make some more.

Other events this week was helping with our ward's Blue and Gold Dinner, Spencer making breakfast over a backpacking stove and learning that powdered eggs cooked in a ziplock are not that great, Allison and Robyn had a Lincoln celebration that they decorated cakes for, and all the other odds and ends.  Spencer continues with volleyball with Jeremy wincing as Spencer is over eager to learn and trying so hard which leads to some smack your head moments.

And on the sad side, tomorrow I am taking Rocky our dog to the vet to be put down.  He has lost control of his bladder now too and is just struggling.  Although he will eat a bit now he looks like a skeleton.  Kids are sad but despite lots of showers he is so gross and pathetic looking right now it feels cruel to keep him alive any longer.  Jeremy is stressing that just because we are going from 9 to 8 pets we do not need to get another dog to bring that number up!

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Valentine's day filled our house this week along with the Olympics.  Kids gasped at snow borders and ski jumpers and relished in privilege of getting to watch TV on school nights.  Girls were busy making their valentine's and Allison making a valentine box.  Robyn went into tantrums over valentine's being too mushy to give to a boy so we had to brainstorm a non-mushy valentine idea for her.

Valentine's day meant kids had their traditional waffles with strawberries and whip cream for breakfast.  Funnily enough they ALL remembered to set their alarms Friday morning.

I teach art on Fridays and kids were super hyped up for their parties so the girls came home on a Valentine's high and Taylor came home tired out from a Valentine's dance.  Spencer came home a little down that he is too old for school parties.  Luckily he has awesome grandparents and Sunday school teacher who made sure he had his hit of valentine sweetness.  Friday night we hung out at a family.  Kids have been watching studio C's lobster bisque skit.  and we decided to try lobster bisque and toasted cheese for dinner.  After my panic attack at finding out the cost of lobster tail we luckily found some pre-made lobster bisque at Costco's deli.  And now we know that Robyn really likes it and the rest of us range from impartial to grossness.  But bacon cheese sandwiches, sparkling cider and nutella cake made up the difference.  Throw in a cartoon while cuddling on the couch and all were happy and sugared out.

This week Rocky our dog continues to not do so well.  He has stopped eating pretty much and has lost control of his bowels most days.  So he is living outside while I de-pooped our house and he is getting lots of showers.  He doesn't seem to be in pain just really tired.  I am hoping that if this is it he will just not wake up one day but he might still pull through so we will see.

Spencer is really liking volleyball and was thrilled that he could block.  He spends most afternoons and evenings practicing setting and our house.  Not my favorite place for volleyball, we are working on that.

This week I got to go to a presentation for options for Taylor when he turns 22 or for the summers.  I was amazed at how many choices are out there.  Still far off in the future but its nice to know what is coming up.

Last night Jeremy and I got to go see Les Miserables.  It was an amazingly well done production and had the best male lead that I have heard before.  I laugh sometimes at the dates Jeremy goes on simply because he married me but he truly does enjoy them!

Rest of the week was blissfully normal.  Doing laundry and errands, going to parent-teacher conference, realizing after all the kids left for church activities that good parents would probably go to the court of honor (and we did just 20 minutes late and 10 minutes before it ended) and trying to sew pillows for the basement.  I seem to be in hibernation mode lately and am happy to lay on a couch with a book and something chocolate.  I tell myself that I am just storing up energy for spring and sunshine.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

40s, baptisms and family

Wow a lot can happen in one week.  Last week was one of those milestone weeks.  I turned 40 and Robyn was baptized.  We spent the first few days getting ready to celebrate for a long weekend.  My brother Daniel's family braved the mountains to drive to our house and arrived late Wednesday, just in time for a black-out.  Our girls despite going to bed early were still wired and running down the stairs with flashlights at 10 to welcome their cousins.  I am sure my little nephew Matthew wondered what spook house he had wondered into.

Thursday I officially became middle-aged.  Now I have a great excuse for that lousy memory, rapidly forming wrinkles and a tendency to eat more calories than I can burn.  It was a great birthday.  I met my friend Brenda for breakfast at Kneaders along with Daniel's family.  Then we went up to Taipan trading to do some girly shopping and to pick up a cheesecake before driving to the airport where my parents arrived.  People dropped by during the day to give me a hug and wish me happy birthday and it was just a wonderful family, friend day where I felt loved.  Then that night Allison took on babysitting duty and the adults went out to dinner at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, Milagros.  Spencer had decided to try out for the high school volleyball club team that evening so I wanted to make sure we were back by 7:30 as tryouts were at 8.  Jeremy dropped off a camera part to Brenda's house and when I came all my friends were there to surprise me!  It pays to be oblivious sometimes as I was sitting in the van turned to talk to my parents I guess people were still sneaking in the door behind me.  So Jeremy gave me a hug and ran off to help Spencer with volleyball and I got to visit and enjoy a wonderful birthday party.  It was truly awesome.  I felt very loved and appreciative that I have somehow earned the friendship of some amazing people.

Friday I checked Spencer, Allison and Robyn out of school early and we went up to Soldier Hollow for some sledding.  Beautiful weather to enjoy sheer fun and lazy sledding.  My favorite part is lying in a tube while music plays and I am being towed up the mountain side with blue skies above and kids on either side of me. Spencer's goal was to get as much air time as possible, Allison to play with Samantha non-stop and Robyn's goal was to get as many people hooked together as possible when going down the mountain.

That evening we ALL went to the pet store for Robyn to buy her birds.  I had told her a long time ago that she could get a pet when she turned 8.  She had her money saved and was ready to go.  My parents bought her a cute bird cage for her birthday present and she bought two little parakeets named Sky and Beauty.  Sky likes to try to nip her but Beauty will hop on her finger and let her pet him.  Yes him, they are both males however their names are not changing.  I am sure the pet store owners thought it was a little bit of a circus as every kid wanted to ask them questions about the birds and the different options and what toys are best etc.

So we got birds set up and did pizza and movie night and early to bed.  Adults did late movie and left over cheesecake night which was wonderful.  Since it was Austenland I think all the males stayed busy elsewhere during the movie.  I know Spencer was a bit disgusted with our choice.

Robyn has been so excited to be baptized.  She had several friends come for it, even Meredith.  I love her sunny, cheerful personality.  My mom gave a talk on baptism and told the story of a shiny penny and a dirty, used penny and how we can be shiny again.  (I remember my grandma giving the same talk at my brother Daniel's baptism).  My nieces, Claire and Samantha and later Brynn and Kayla sang songs, Spencer and Allison each played the piano and even Robyn sang a song.  So there was LOTS of music but Robyn wanted everyone to have a part.  Mimi gave a talk on the Holy Ghost and Robyn was just nodding and smiling at her the whole time with great enthusiasm.  Even Jason and Garion were able to make it as they hurried over straight from a camping trip.  Jeremy baptized her and afterwards Robyn was getting dressed and just talking about how she felt so warm and happy inside.  She just beamed all day long.  One thing I think is a tiny miracle is that once again during the confirmation Taylor got very quiet, raised his head and paid attention.  When Allison was baptized he did the same thing with a huge smile (and that is when he wasn't laughing or smiling for months on end).  I think he knows his siblings are one step closer to being with him.  (I don't know if he did it at Spencer's baptism because I was too focused on Spencer that day as he wasn't in a very good place then.  We just didn't know that he was ill.)

Robyn had invited her friend who isn't a member to come but I think she was a little hesitant to come by herself even though her mom had given her permission.  So as soon as we got home Robyn ran over to get her so she could join in for the afternoon.  We had some friends come over for sandwiches and brownies and just visited.  It was very fun.

After all the excitement kids were happy to run to the gym to fool around with balls and then play in the hot tub.  The little girls gave me an enthusiastic performance of every song from Frozen.

Somehow Daniel and Mimi were convinced to stay another day.  So Sunday we got to enjoy church and hanging out with family and puzzles.  The puzzle we started December 1st finally got finished.  My mom worked at helping Allison figure out how to knit socks.

Jason's family joined us for Jason's famous wings and other junk food and the super bowl.  One of the most painful football games ever to watch but Jason and Jeremy were thrilled their home team won.

And then Monday unfortunately had to come and end it all.  Daniel's family drove home and I took my parents to the airport and returned to a life of household chores and regular life again.  I cannot imagine my life without my family and were grateful to share the weekend with some of them.

But regular life goes on.  Taylor has had two meetings these last two weeks to get him set up for the yearly IEP and then for his transition out of the school system in 4 years.  Although he is a senior he gets to stay at his school till he is 22.   Biggest news is that his stroller arrived.  I love it.  It is low to the ground but all the wheels pivot which is huge and I can easily lift it.  If you have ever seen me breaking my back trying to get his wheelchair in and out of our van or putting it together in rain and snow you would understand why I am so excited about his stroller.  He failed two hearing tests at school during the last two months so we spent an afternoon with an audiologist to learn that his ears are just fine.  He must have just had some fluid build up or something that was tweaking the tests previously.

Spencer decided to try out for the boys volleyball team.  It is organized by high school but it is a club sport.  He is very excited about doing it.  He was very nervous for the try-outs and Mimi graciously gave him some pointers while she was here.  (And I mean very, very graciously as Spencer listened only a small fraction of the time and the rest of the time wanted to show what he already knew.  But he now brings up things she told him, so some of it must have stuck despite appearances.  The hair pulling aspect of teaching Spencer things.)  At try outs a kid accidentally reached back to serve and hit Spencer right on the nose causing a gusher.  Heavy emotions and he was sure if he left to take care of the nose bleed that he would never make the team, life is ruined etc.  But he pulled it together with a very patient Jeremy and made it through the night.  So he is on the team.  Its the feeder team and basically as long as he was willing to learn and work hard he was on it.  Jeremy told the coach that Spencer didn't have much skill but the coach told him he can teach skills but he can't teach height.  Spencer has been practicing his setting every night and his four step jump approach.  He is looking better.  Hardest part is that practice goes until 10 at night which makes for a rough morning.

Allison has been working with her friend Samantha since November on a science project, "what blades work best on turbines".  They were one of the finalists for their school so they went on to the regional competition at UVU this Thursday.  She was there all afternoon and evening and had a great time.

End of the night she and her friend along with two other friends who were there won and are going on to the state competition at BYU in March.  She was thrilled.

I think she is most excited about is the fact that its during the school day.  So she and her three friends get to roam BYU campus having activities all day.  Ahhh the life of a science nerd.

Saturday Spencer, Allison and I got to heads up to Roots tech conference for the youth program.  Their favorite part was the Studio C presentation.  We ended up meeting three girls and two moms from our ward so Spencer not wanting to be the only guy headed off on his own for awhile while we did a temple square scavenger hunt.  I wasn't sure how much of the classes sunk in but today Spencer and Allison have been busy finding cousins in our genealogy that need work done.

They were super good sports as we came home, ate dinner in 20 minutes, changed and then went to the adult session of stake conference where the youth had been asked to attend as well.  Jeremy rewarded them with ice cream after.  While we were doing our busy day Jeremy was at BYU doing photos for the church.  So Robyn had a great day made possible by two of Allison's friends who looked after her and sometimes Taylor.  Robyn really likes Allison's friends and even more so when Allison isn't around to interfere.

Friday night for movie night we watched The Three Amigos.  I now know that it isn't little kid appropriate as Allison and Robyn had to take their friends down to the basement at the 30 minute mark.  And now Robyn can do the Three Amigos salute which included hands on hip, pelvis thrust, cough to the side.  Probably not what an 8 year old should do.  She has a very different childhood than my other kids did.

This is a universal favorite - except for Allison whose vote we no longer count.  I originally got the recipe from: and then just tweaked it a bit for how I cook.


1 package 8 oz manicotti noodles
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
1 lb bulk ground beef
1 onion
1 garlic
16 oz cream cheese
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
32 oz spaghetti sauce
1/4 c parmesan cheese shredded

1 pkg Manicotti Pasta cooked according to directions on the box.  Drain and cool.

Cook 1 pound Italian Sausage,  1 pound ground beef and for the last 5 minutes of browning add in 1 cup onion and 1 garlic head cut up.  When meat mixture is all browned, drain out the grease and take out half the mixture to save for a future use.  (I will save it for manicotti in the future or for pizza toppings)

To the meat mixture add 16 ounces cream cheese softened, 1 1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried parsley.  Stir till well combined.  I will sometimes turn the heat on low to help the cream cheese soften and mix in easier.

Use 32 ounces spaghetti sauce, either made or bought.  Pour some on the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Stuff the pasta with the meat mixture and arrange the filled pasta over the sauce.   Pour remaining sauce on top of the noodles.  Sprinkle with 1/4 c Parmesan cheese and a 1/2 c mozarella cheese.  Spray a piece of aluminum foil with Pam and put it over the pan OR lay a piece of parchment over the noodles and then foil.

Bake at 350 degrees covered for 40 minutes and then uncovered for 10 minutes.