Sunday, September 28, 2008


I love the relationships I have with people.  I have lived in 7 cities in my life.  In each one I have met special people that are dear to my heart.  I enjoy continuing those relationships long after we've moved or my special friends have moved away.  On this trip we were able to connect with lots of special friends.  I kick myself for not taking pictures with each of them.  So sorry Jim and Jill, Doug and Fran, Stan and Shelli.  I don't know what I was thinking.

I already posted pictures with my lil sis Brielle, and my lifetime BFF Amy.  But here are a few you haven't seen.

Best Pal Al.  She and I lived on the same floor freshman year of college, in the same apartment sophomore year, and roomed together our junior year.  She came out to visit me in Dover, DE and I spent some time in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she grew up.  

The weirdest thing happened 3 years ago.  Al called me and said she was walking down her church hallway (in Taylorsville, Utah)  and saw a bulletin board with a picture of my boys hanging on it.  I said, No Way!  She was sure it was them and I asked what the picture was. She said that they were standing with a missionary.  Then we figured out that the missionary was serving in my ward here in PA and his home ward met in her building.  SMALL WORLD.  It was so good to see you Al.  
And here's Carrie.  We were roommates both freshman and sophomore years of college.  We've managed to maintain our relationship for 16 years now.  We made each other baby blankets.  Hers was much better than mine.  She made it for me the summer after freshman year.  Chase used it til the fabric got so thin you could see thru it.  I made her one too.  It was in the early days.  I crocheted it, started that same summer but never finished.  When I finally did finish 5 years later, they didn't make that color yarn anymore.  So the the first third was variegated green, pink and white and the second two thirds was all white.  It was hideous!!  But I wanted her to know that I had finished it so I sent it anyway.  I told her to keep it the trunk of her car for emergencies or whatever.  AWFUL!   

I spent 2 Thanksgivings at her house in Las Vegas.  She visited my house in Delaware and Valley Forge.  I have spent time at 3 of her homes in Utah - OK Carrie - your turn to come here.  We love to see each other and now our girls are having a good time playing together too.
And here's my baby sis!  So glad I got to spend some time with her too.  Hope to come out when Dan returns to see her new little bundle.  Looking forward to see Piper and Emma play alot more.  Makes the best cakes ever!!!   Love you Brinn.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Boxes Anyone?

During the basement remodel, we had to box up all of our books, papers, folders etc... that had been down in the makeshift office and put them in the garage.  We finally unloaded them into the new office which was the old playroom which is really a formal living room.  Musical rooms.  (Doesn't HGTV say that unused space is wasted space and you have to make the space functional for you?  I think they did say that - which means you can use any room for whatever you want!!)  

We have already given my parents probably 10 of these boxes.  Daniel called me into the foyer the other night where he had built this little doosy with what we had left.  Good thing we have a vaulted foyer.  I think it's about 18 feet high so that puts the boxes at probably 16 feet.

No really, Do you need any boxes?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


This kid loves glasses, shoes, purses, etc...  In all of my mother's "cleaning out of her house", she came across this little pair of hot pink glasses.  When she brought them over, Piper just happened to be wearing hot pink pants and had a hot pink bow in her hair.
Of course I tried to get the perfect picture, but it was not to be.  But here are my attempts. (Her head is even a little hot pink with a blueish hue, this kid also climbs and runs, trips and falls-- ALOT)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Best Brownies

I found this recipe in an old Reader's Digest (May 2007) I was reading. (I never throw one away until I read the entire thing, cover to cover.  I have many around the house, all dog eared in different spots.)  It was in their "Top 100" issue.   They said they had tons of submissions but this recipe won and they said it was "sinfully delicious".  Sinful because it has 3 sticks of butter in it.

Anyway the brownie itself is homemade with 2 sticks of butter, cocoa, eggs, sugar, flour etc...  then you bake in a cookie sheet or jellyroll pan.  When the brownies are done you pour a whole bag of miniature marshmallows on top and continue baking for another 3 minutes or so.  Then  you make homemade icing from yet another stick of butter and powdered sugar, evaporated milk and more cocoa.
Super Rich...

Super Yummy!!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Metal Mouth

Poor MacGregor!!!

He has always had spaces between his teeth.  I thought for sure he would not need orthodontics but rather Chase would because his teeth have always been so close together.  I was surely wrong!!  The reason he needs orthodontics really isn't related to his teeth but rather to his skeletal form.  He has a flat mid-face.  His skeletal growth is pitched to have him grow into an underbite.  So they are trying to pull his upper jaw forward to keeps things even.

So the first thing they started with is a palatal expander.  I had my palate split years ago as well but I had a removable retainer.  I didn't have to eat with it on (but that's why I threw it away on my cafeteria tray the first day I got it, did find it in the trash though).  MacGregor's is cemented in.  He got it one week before we left on vacation and had to turn  it (expand it) 10 times.  He was soo miserable, couldn't eat a thing.  
Luckily, a day or two after the last turn, his mouth began to feel less sore and he learned how to chew and swallow with that big piece of metal suspended in his palate.

But wouldn't you know it?  A few days after returning from vacation he had another appointment with the orthodontist.  He said everything looked great and the expander was doing exactly what it should be doing - expanding.  BUT because MacGregor has always had spaces between his teeth, and the expander was pulling things farther apart, his front teeth were being pulled wider and wider apart.  SO he put braces on to pull the front teeth back together.  He has pressure being exerted in BOTH directions in his poor little mouth.

Silly Kid
The great thing is - once they move the top jaw forward - MacGregor may not need "the whole full set of braces for 2 years" thing because his teeth are fairly straight and have lots of space for those big teeth to come in.  Chase on the other hand is looking at 2 or more years of the full set of braces when all his big teeth finish coming in. 

Sweet Boys

I am nearly finished posting the pictures from our summer vacation.  There are still a few more up and coming, but I came across this one and I just had to post it.

In Utah we stayed with good friends who gave us their finished basement.  It had 2 bedrooms, a bathroom and a family room.  The boys stayed in one room and we put Piper's port-a-crib in their room.  Ainsley slept on a mattress on the floor of the other room where Dan and I were sleeping.  

Piper did not sleep well on vacation and often woke up in the middle of the night or early morning.  One morning I realized that I hadn't heard her yet so I jumped up to check on her, I was worried that we had put her in our bed and I hadn't remembered and perhaps she gotten up and wandered upstairs.  But instead I found this:

Two cute boys who rescued their little sister from her crib in a strange house and let her snuggle up with them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reid Ranch

We took our biannual trip to Reid Ranch for Daniel's family reunion.  We were so busy there visiting and having fun that we hardly got any pictures.  So I am just posting the few pictures we actually took.

Ainsley's favorite thing by far was riding the ponies.  Lucky for her when we arrived - there was no one waiting in line, so she got to ride over and over again.  She got to pick whichever pony she wanted and kept switching til she rode them all.
This employee above was the nicest guy.  He talked to Ainsley the whole time, asking her questions and just engaging her in real conversation.  And when Ainsley wanted to ride a full size horse, he found her a real gentle one and walked her around on it.  That is definitely going the extra mile.
Piper on the other hand - didn't dig the pony riding so much.  She tolerated it one time around and then that was enough.
Lucky for all of us - Reid ranch has a small lake.  They have canoes, row boats and paddle boats that you can sign up to do and you can also fish on it.  When we were there two years ago, Daniel didn't catch one fish.  Our brother-in-law Keith did and the picture of him and his large fish adorn the cafeteria wall at Reid Ranch.  Daniel wanted to get up on that wall sooo bad.

He spent a good amount of time fishing.  He took anybody that wanted to go.  He often asked the kids and I if we wanted to go for a boat ride because that meant of course that he could get some fishing out of it.  He even took our poor 4 year old nephew at the crack of dawn.  But I think Isaak totally loved it.  The best part was - they actually caught some fish.

I think that pole is about 3 times as big as he is.

And guess what?  Dan's picture finally adorns that cafeteria wall!  What a pretty trout!!   (we'll ignore the blood dripping out from between Daniel's fingers, poor fishy)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

More Fun in Idaho

I know it's been 2 months but I'm still behind in posts.  These are other pictures of fun times in Idaho.
Brielle and I had an awesome "girls night out".  We rented a tandum kayak for an hour and a half and went up a beautiful river (flat water only).  The water was crystal clear and we saw fish, birds and several families of Canadian Geese with lots of babies.

We then went out to dinner, walked around town, rented a video to take home (which turned out to be really good - "Dan in real life" was the title.  Steve Carrell was the main character.  Great show if you're looking for something entertaining and yet thought provoking.) We ended up the evening at Ice Cream Ally for some great shakes!

Meanwhile... the guys had all 6 children.  What were they doing?  Why the zip line of course!

Here's MacGregor:
A cute Daddy daughter moment:


These two?  Oh no, not a chance!!  But they did have fun playing on the swings and trampoline

Brock:  I know... it's not the most flattering picture, but he sure was having fun!
And what's this?  My baby?  You men put my baby on there?  What were you thinking?
We also got to spend an evening at the hot springs.  It closed much earlier than we had expected so our time was short but very enjoyable!!!

It may have been summer but the mornings sure are cool.  Brielle opens all the windows and the house is full of cool fresh mountain air.  This causes the kids to bundle together under blankets for movie time.

Here's Piper wearing every available necklace in the house.  These necklaces get thrown at the winter carnival parade.  Brielle has been there for at least 4 carnivals and has collected quite a stash of necklaces.  Piper was fascinated by them and wore them most of the week.
Her other favorite thing was riding the horse.  If you come to Idaho, you have to ride!!

Our last day there we had a little birthday celebration for MacGregor.  He opened a few little gifts and we ate ice cream sundays.  It's hard to always be away for your birthday, which happens to MacGregor every other year, but he goes with the flow and enjoys it.
We had an awesome time in Idaho and the kids are already asking when our next trip will be!

Wizard of Op

The kids and I read a really fun book tonight.  It was called the Wizard of Op.  It's an old book, almost as old as I am (printed in 1975).  In fact we found an old library card in the back with stamps dating back to 1986.  It's a black and white book with a goofy story line that leads you to stare at lots of black and white pictures made of lines and squares.  Your brain is totally seeing things that aren't there...  like "furbillies" on the corners of black squares with white intersections.  You see color on black and white pages.  You see movement and multiple dimensions.  Anyway - we had a lot of fun with it and I encourage all of you to look it up at your local libraries.

I also found that someone had posted the whole book on line.  You can read the funny story but the black and white pictures don't really work as they are supposed to on the computer screen, but if your library doesn't have it - then definitely take a gander at the site

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Black and White

Dan and I don't get our picture taken very often, let alone our picture together.  And since this will someday be printed into a family scrapbook, I decided to include these.  I thought they came out pretty well.

This was our Anniversary.  We went out to dinner and ate at the Greenfield Inn.  It was a very nice restaurant with very good food.  We ate outside on their covered patio.  I got pork and Dan got lamb.  I also had a yellow pea soup.  It was very tasty.  For dessert I got a chocolate mousse but it was WAY too rich and much too dense.  It was like eating fudge that hadn't hardened yet.  I like my mousse light and whipped.  The best part was that we use a gift card and didn't have to spend a dime on dinner.

Friday, September 05, 2008

And So It Began...

First Day of School 2008.

Have you ever seen a kid so happy to start school?  Ok, ok so he wasn't smiling about that, but at least he was smiling!

Chase started 5th grade and has Miss Spangler.  He is once again a safety patrol. (a big honor)

MacGregor started 3rd grade with Mrs. Przystup.  Chase had her in 3rd grade as well.  We really like her and MacGregor is about as sweet as they come so I know she will love him too.  

A funny thing happened on the first day of school.  A new family moved into our ward 2 weeks ago.  It turned out that they are just a few streets away and would attend the same elementary school.  They also had a 3rd grader who ended up getting Mrs. Przystup.  We did several things with this family the last 2 weeks of summer - went to the park, cub scouts, saw a movie, attended church so MacGregor had already gotten to know Nick.  Well Mrs. Przystup seated him next to MacGregor and told Maco that she knew Chase was always such a good helper and friend that she knew MacGregor would be too.  So she told MacGregor that she was seating him next to a brand new boy and would Maco help him out etc...  MacGregor said he almost told her that he already knew Nick but then decided not too.   Jokes on her I guess - but nice for Nick to be seated next to the only kid he knows in school.

And Yes - Can you believe it?  Ainsley started school this year too.  She is in afternoon Kindergarten with Mrs. Pypiak.  

Ainsley has gone through a real rough spell this summer being separated from family.  She hasn't wanted to go to friends houses to play or primary in different wards (0n vacation)...  I was really worried about her starting Kindergarten and not wanting to go or crying and throwing a fit etc...  Well also in the new family that moved in was a little five year old girl.  Ainsley and Courtney hit it off so well in Primary and at the park.  She was my saving grace.  Courtney ended up in Ainsley's class at school and now Ainsley isn't afraid to go.  She gets excited now and has a buddy to walk in with and help her be brave.  

I was thinking about this recently - the tender mercies of the Lord.  This was definitely one of them.  I felt that their kids ended up in our kids classes for a reason.  Nick was having a really hard time the first day of school - but I think having MacGregor in his class and even sitting right next to him has eased his anxiety.  Ainsley was having a horrible time and none of the kids she already knows were going to be in her class (they were all in the morning classes) so having Courtney be in her class was such a blessing!!!  I know the Lord looks out for us - even in these little ways.  I feel blessed.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Big Reveal

If any of you watch the channel HGTV (of which I am a regular) you know they have a show called "The Big Reveal".  Also - any show you remotely get into - you 
just HAVE to stay to the end because you want to see the end results.  I have been waiting to post these because I wanted to have a good result.  We are just about there.  We still have some touch up painting and some work in the bathroom - (mirror, shower curtain, art work, towels etc...) Plus we still need to hang shelves in all the closets - th
e priority being the toy closet. 

We brought down the living room couches about a week and half ago after Daniel got his new Audio Visual equipment set up.  My parents are giving us their family room sofa and love seat to use while they are in Africa so we'll put those up in the living ro
om.  Just two days ago we started bringing down the boxes of completely mixed up toys and now we are in the sorting stage.

Ok so here's the BIG REVEAL - we just love it and can't wait to be all moved in!!

This is now in the toy room.  The big cut out corner is now an electrical closet and the toy closet.
After:  The two doors to the closets.
Before:  The rest of the playroom.  The water valve you see here on the edge of the picture is now covered by a steel door.  
After:  If you were standing at that desk looking the toward the camera view point - you would now see this:  Next to the steel door over the water main there is a small closet.  The little door in the wall is the access to the storage under the stairs.  This room has two entrances, both pocket doors.  One is to the right of the bottom of the basement stairs.  The other is behind the basement stairs - seen here.
Before:  This is standing right behind the basement stairs looking thru the door into the playroom (seen above).  To the left (under the stairs is our old fridge) - to the right is a wall of kitchen cabinets for storage and a small sink and countertop.

Before:  After walking down the stairs and turning to the left.  If you turned around and looked behind you would have seen this.  Where you are standing is now the family room.  The back corner on the right with the little upper window is now the sewing room  If you look straight back - that area became the bathroom.
After:  Here you can see the bathroom door.
The bathroom:  In the little closet is the sewage ejector pump.  They had to dig down about 3 feet thru the concrete foundation of the house to insert the pump.  What they thought would take a couple of hours took 2 or 3 days because instead of dirt they ran into granite and had to get a jack hammer to remove the rock.  They built a wooden cover over the pump so when you open the closet it appears that the floor of the closet is about  2 1/2 feet high.  I will hang 2 shelves in the upper space for linens.  
It has a stand up shower...
And a small vanity.  Still need to touch up paint and add mirror and accessories.  But it is really nice to have a potty downstairs and to have the extra shower for company.  When we had Taffy's family here this spring it was kinda tight on shower space but now we got room - so come on back!!!
Across from the kitchen cabinets is the sewing room.  I have double pocket doors so that I can have a big opening.  I wanted the room to feel open and allow me to hear, see and interact with my kids while they were playing.  But yet I needed some doors to shut when we might have little visitors over.  This room still needs some trim painting.  I can't wait to move all my stuff in here and get started sewing again.  I haven't done anything since school got out for the summer.  Now that I have 3 of them in school for at least part of the day, I hope to get started on some new projects.!!!
Before:  when you walked down the basement steps you would see this.  
Now when you look down the stairs you see this.  The door is to my food storage closet (which also needs shelves).  You can see above where they chalked in red the outline for the food storage closet.
Before:  We left the freezer and current shelves right where they were.  This picture shows the wall they are on further to the left.  The door is to the steps to the outside bilco doors.  This is the area we left for unfinished storage.  You can see where they stopped framing.  That is now...
...this wall.  The door closest is the food storage door that you see from the top of the stairs.  The other door is to the unfinished area.
Before:  This is the area again to the left of the bottom of the stairs that became the family room and sewing room.  This pretty pole is now framed out into a column.
After:  They also moved the wall back 18 inches on the left side of the stairs and cut out a triangular opening.  This has made a HUGE difference in the feeling of openness downstairs.

The sewing room is thru the window.  Daniel thought I was a little "hokie" wanting a window in that wall, but if and when I am working on a project in the sewing room I want to be able to hear and be part of the conversation or movie going on in the other room.  Plus it will be a great asset when my boys start to bring their "friends who are girls" over.  You never know when mom might be peeking thru that window.   :)