Monday, December 15, 2008

Take your tantrum ticket and wait in line please.

This morning Erik started sulking because Jeff made the wrong kind of pancakes. Erik wanted the Bisquick "melt in your mouth" variety and instead he got whole wheat blender pancakes. Boo-hoo, life is rough when your dad makes pancakes, muffins, oven-pancakes or french toast for breakfast.

Claire then pouted because she didn't get to sit by who she wanted to at the breakfast table.

Later in the morning Megan screamed bloody murder when I attempted to give her a bath. The screaming started when Meg saw me filling the tub with water and she didn't let up until she was bathed and safely wrapped in a fluffy pink towel.

I already used up my "ticket" yesterday by being a big time grump in the afternoon.

And Jeff...he is downstairs watching "National Lampoon's Christmas" and laughing his head off! I think Cousin Eddie just showed up in his R.V. at Clark's house so I'm going down there now.
Background: We attended a church party last week for the primary teachers and their guest. The theme was to wear an ahhh... elaborate Christmas sweater. Jeff wore one of my mom's. He won a prize in the category of "most likely to be worn by a kindergarten teacher." (She is a kindergarten teacher...perfect!)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hey Steve - Welcome to America

I figure that if someone is going to come all of the way from Germany just to visit us, then by golly that individual is going to get his own blog post. Last week my brother, Steve, came out for meetings in Denver. Then he jumped a flight to say hi to my parents and we were able to intercept him for 24 hours. Technically the trip wasn't just to visit us, but close enough. Next time we aren't letting you in the door if Lindsay and Brynn aren't with you too!

The kids were so excited to see Steve. Claire wanted to talk to him about the castles and if he had seen any princesses. Erik had all sorts of questions about the Air Force for his Uncle Steve. Sometimes I feel bad that Erik doesn't have any brothers, but then I figure my 2 brothers and Jeff's 4 brothers are a darn good substitute. Our kids have some fantastic uncles (and aunts!). And what do you know Megan actually liked Steve. I say that last part because she is very wary of people she doesn't know and this was Megans first time meeting him.

We went bowling and Steve came out the clear champion. His score of 150 pretty much doubled that of any other score in our group. We are a sorry bunch of non-bowlers.

Here is Steve gloating in front of the scoreboards. No doubt owned the game. LOL!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

California Roadtrip

Jeff is quite vocal where he likes to spend Thanksgiving. This would be in Southern California at my sisters house. His logic is that 70 and 80 degree weather in November is awfully nice. Can't argue with that. About a month and a half a go or so he brought up the idea of taking a detour and going to see the Sequoias. In the past we have been to Yosemite and have also seen the Coastal Redwoods in Northern CA. It has been about 5 years since any of these trips and he loves these massive trees. So the Trees became part of our Thanksgiving roadtrip agenda.

Last Saturday we drove with my parents to California. There we spent a few days in the Sequoia National Park area where we met up with my sister and her family. Following that we drove to her family's home in Southern CA for 3 days. We celebrated the holidays with some of D.J.'s family and my brother, Jared and his fiance Lisa. Yesterday we arrived back home to grey skies and cold weather here. Welcome home.

But the pictures tell a much better story.

I'd like to dedicate this trip to Jeff's parents, Scott and LaKay. Just kidding. Seriously, thank you for letting us borrow your motorhome!

My mom is a kindergarten teacher and had endless activities for the kids to do. When you are used to 48 students in a day, three adorable grandkids are a piece of cake.

The road entering Sequoia N.P. from Three Rivers (little town outside the park) had signs about the road not being advised for vehicles over 22 feet in length. The motorhome is 34 feet long. Did this stop Jeff? No. But should it have? All I'll say is I'm glad it wasn't peak tourist season. My man has some serious driving skills ;-)

So the next day we rented an Expedition to take into the park. The drive was significantly more enjoyable.

A bunch of motorhome driving, SUV renting tree huggers.

These trees are so mind boggling big!

The view out from Moro Rock. Some of our CA cousins: Tre, Reagan, Madison, and Grandpa Martin.

Megan loves this pink coat and wears it every chance she has.

I love this photo of Erik and the background deer.

Jeff is standing on a stump of a fallen Sequoia. Crazy!

My sister Heidi and her two girls, Madison and Reagan.

Tre, Jeff, D.J. and Heidi.

Josh and Claire. My kids would have had a lot of fun on the trip but being with cousins made it 100x's better.

We camped at an RV park (Kaweah Park) in the town of Three Rivers. We had the place to ourselves for the first two days. They also have tent camping available for the summer season. Highly recommend the place.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey, gravy, and gratitude a la mode

In early November Claire came home from Miss Angie's preschool talking all about "attitude of gratitude." She told me "Mommy, if someone does something nice for you, or your friend shares a toy, you should have an attitude of gratitude."

There is so much for me to be grateful for. Sure there is the crummy ALS diagnosis and the muscle atrophy continues. My strength is down easily 50% of what it previously was. I can do many day-to-day tasks but they take so much longer to do. So we have made some changes and have a cleaning crew come in once a week. There is a high school girl who comes over twice a week after school to help out with whatever needs to be done. She is great. Our freezer downstairs is stocked with some tasty frozen dinners donated by family and friends. It has been a huge help.

I was telling Jeff how while holding a friends newborn baby my arms became tired after just a few minutes. He asked me how I felt when things like this happened. I replied that I felt a combination of frustration, sadness, and embarrassment. In college a friend was diagnosed with Severe Aplastic Anemia. After diagnosis she was immediately admitted to the hospital and remained there until she died 3-4 months later. On one of the visits I told Trisha that I really missed her. She replied, "I miss me too." I finally get what she was talking about.

This blog is meant to be about my family: Jeff, Janae, Erik, Claire and Megan. The stories are written from my perspective so there are a few ALS updates but not many. If you are interested in how ALS affects a person in a day-to-day and month-to-month way I would recommend the book, "I Remember Running: The Year I Got Everything I Wanted - and ALS" by Darcy Wakefield and Jonathon Eig. This woman was diagnosed when she was 34. She is honest in her writing about what is happening to her body in a very non-whiny way. She just calls it like she sees it. The book is a quick but insightful read. The disease hasn't progressed quite as far with me as it did her at her time of writing.

Back to Claire's "attitude of gratitude." Because really, my attitude is the only thing I feel like I can control in this crazy situation. I'm grateful for Jeff, Erik, Claire and Megan. I'm grateful for the support and prayers of family and friends. I'm grateful for knowledge and teachings that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and has a plan for each of us. I'm grateful for the scriptures. Prayer is when we talk to God and when we read the scriptures is just one of the times when God can speak to us. I'm also grateful for the health that I still have. I'm grateful for this great big wonderfully gorgeous world of ours and that I can still get out and be amazed by it. And of course I am grateful for my always funny funny friends (blog ref.).

Thursday, November 20, 2008


There is the saying that trying to keep a house clean with young children around is like trying to shovel during a snowstorm. If that is true (which it is) then Megan would be our blizzard.

Her latest fav drawer would be one of mine in the bathroom. It contains all the items like finger nail polish, scented bath stuff, and monthly "chic products." (Guys everywhere are saying a collective "Ewwww") For whatever reason she is drawn to the item last listed and will sneak them out and scatter them around the house. The other day I walked in to find Megan peeling off the sticky back protector strips and attaching "chic products" to the cupboards, the walls, and her arms. They were everywhere. Don't you think 16 months is too early of an age to be honing prank skills for girls camp? Needless to say, the next project will be to put child locks on all our lower cupboards and drawers.

And the list goes on. I could ask, "Who unrolled this big pile of toilet paper onto the floor!" But I'm pretty sure I know who the offending individual is. It is either Megan or maybe Jeff (just kidding Megan...opps, I mean Jeff). She is a handful but we sure do love her.

110% Daddy's Girl. Here Megan is helping her Daddy make breakfast. He is a keeper. Jeff has had those Birkenstocks for over 13 years! Christmas is just around the corner but I don't think new Birkenstocks are the kind of thing a guy wants for the holidays. But I digress...

A rare moment of stillness.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Uncle Mike

Jeff's Uncle Mike died Tuesday in a plane crash. He was flying his plane, a Cessna 182, from Denver with the ultimate destination being Price, Utah. His wife, Colleen, reported him missing Tuesday night and on Wednesday search and rescue crews found his plane outside of Aspen, Colorado. Today (Thursday) they were able to finally get his body off the mountain.

We heard Tuesday night he was missing and were anxiously waiting further news. Upon hearing the latest we were absolutely floored because Mike was the kind of guy who could get himself out of any jam. He was so resourceful. Mike was as close to invincible as they come.

I took this photo of Uncle Mike from one of the Mazatlan trips. We often heard him say "Life is Good" and the picture reflects of his positive attitude. The entire family (Jeff's moms side) subscribe to the work hard/play hard philosophy. They will all pitch in and work incredibly hard and they will then play play play every chance they get.

Uncle Mike seemed to always be smack in the middle of all the action and any resulting stories. His family could fill volume after volume on his adventures. Some of our memories over the past few years include: Camping and 4-wheeling at "the hunting spot", Lake Powell trips, Mazatlan trips, hiking the Black Hole, lots of games (in Hearts who do we now pass the Dora to?), and wondering what the next matching Mike/Colleen outfit was going to be. From staying at their house overnight Jeff was introduced to putting peanut butter on french toast, and has since acquired a taste for the culinary creation. There aren't many men with grandchildren who while wakeboarding can do a flip (4+ in a row), but Mike could. Not all men act like a crazy-in-love newlywed towards their wife 27+ years later, but Mike did. Did you ever hear his laugh? If you were ever around him I know you did. He had a great laugh, and he really loved to laugh... a lot! A trait he and his wife passed onto their two kids, Spencer and Mikaleen, and their grandkids.

What a guy. We are really going to miss him.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween 2008

I remember being twelve and trick-or-treating with a group of neighborhood friends. We were having a really good time until we knocked on the door belonging to the Halloween Scrooge (cousin to the Christmas Scrooge). She took one distainful look at us and with irritation in her voice said, "You are too old to be trick-or-treating. This year really should be your last." The Halloween Scrooge then dropped one Smartie packet in our bags and shut the door. She was the poop in the parade that night if you know what I mean.

For years I was stuck with the idea that you don't go trick-or-treating after age twelve or thirteen. Then along came Jeff's brother, Brian, and his wife Erin. They are well into their twenties and still go trick-or-treating. My new line of thinking is that I don't care how old a person is that comes to my door, as long as they have taken the time to put together a decent costume.

Erik was a K-9 Police Officer. Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa for bringing over their dog Sadie to complete Erik's costume!

Claire is posing to show off her witchy pink and green fingernails.

Our cute baby bunny, Megan.

I'm not quite sure what to do with all of their candy...

Throwing caution to the wind, our twenty-something trick-or-treaters...Napoleon and Deb.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pretty Pretty Princess

Back row: Sarah, Dina, Diane & Elizabeth
Front row: Janae, Marci, Nancy, Joanna & Bridget

Ahh, once again it was a "you had to be there" moment with this title. It comes from a something Nancy read. As a mother you spend so much time building up and encouraging your child that you can neglect the bit about building up and encouraging yourself. So sometimes you have just got to look at yourself in the mirror and say, "I'm a pretty pretty princess!" Well, for fun I tried doing that today. I started with a straight face, then the smirk kicked in and I was flat out laughing by the time the sentence was over.

These are my playgroup friends from a previous neighborhood. I started in when Erik was 18 months old and we got together every other week or so until our kids were in kindergarten. We haven't been together as a group for nearly 10 months and finally last week the "moms" got together for dinner. During dessert we had what is affectionately refered to as our "kumbaya" session. There is a serious amount of sass in this group and my cheeks hurt from laughing so hard.

We all readily agree we needed each other at that point in our lives. There is no way it was mere chance we all became part of the same playgroup. What an inspiring group of women. Thank you!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hiking - It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I don't mean to be redundant with titles but those words are what came to mind after Erik and Daxton came screaming back onto the trail after being stung by bees.

On Saturday we had gone up to the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon to a family friendly trail and met up with our neighbor, Lyndsey, and her three kids. The colors were gorgeous and the air was filled with that yummy spicy fall scent. The only downer was when the boys stood on an old log that the bees liked to call home. Amazing enough they received only one sting each. It was unusual how many bees and wasps were in the air along the trail and even back in the parking lot. I had never seen anything like it!

On the drive back I asked everyone who had fun. Claire pipes up, "not me!" She didn't get stung by a bee but did have to use the Forest Service hole-in-the-ground restroom facility. It was smelly, there was no sink or hand sanitizer available (very important to my hygiene conscious daughter), the hole was big and she was concerned about falling in. Amen sister, falling in would scare me too! Erik responded, "medium." This meant he didn't have a great time, but didn't have a bad time either. Darn bees (or wasps). All that aside, the rest of us had fun.

Megan had fun because she got to be carried around by her dad in the backpack.

Erik, Daxton and Kai ready to take on the world. This was before the bees took on them!

Daxton, Kai and Claire. We did see mountain goats too but they were so far up the mountainside I didn't bother to attempt taking any pictures with my sissy camera.

Lyndsey and Janae

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Redbox - It seemed like a good idea at the time.

This photo was taken at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, California when Erik was 6 months old. Alright, so a little background on Erik and myself. We are wanna-be marine biologists. The local Aquarium: we have a season pass. The Planet Earth series: we own and love it. The favorite "chapters" from the series are anything to do with the ocean.

With that being said...A couple of weeks ago as I am standing in front of Redbox my eyes lit up when I saw one particular dvd rental title: Shark Week. I checked it out and brought the dvd home. That night after dinner we put the movie in. I was thinking it was going to follow the usual nature program model. Show a variety of sharks in their habitats from all over the world and how they are not man eating killers but docile (not quite friendly mind you) creatures. Throw in the segment how shark fin soup, pollution, and global warming threaten their survival. Top it off with commentary how you can make a difference (as a lone dorsal fin swims off into the sunset dodging its way between commercial fishing vessels).

Instead of the typical movie format, what I saw were the following chapter headings:
Chapter 1- Shark Attack Rescuers
Chapter 2- Shark Attack Survivors
Chapter 3- Anatomy of a Shark Bite

At that point I had 3 dead give aways that perhaps this wasn't the most appropriate viewing material for the three children ages six and under sitting on the couch with me. Despite that evening's hiccup, the last three books Erik has checked out from the school library have been about (you guessed it) sharks.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Last week I felt like a little kid asking "how many more days before Christmas" as I waited for the weekend to arrive. We had made plans for a quick one day trip to Arches National Park. This is where I had gone to for spring break during college, Jeff and I came here on our honeymoon, and we made many miscellaneous trips to the surrounding area afterward.

My mom stayed with Claire and Megan while my Dad, Jeff, Erik and I left at 6:00am on Saturday. We met up with a family friend, Lauren, at the visitors center and then drove to the Delicate Arch trail head. It felt so good to be out hiking and this trail can accommodate different levels of abilities.

After the hike we got lunch in Moab at the "Golden Arches" (okay that was pushing it...with the whole arches theme) and were home by 5:30pm. I took a quick shower and then my Mom and I attended the 6:00pm LDS General Relief Society Broadcast (via satellite at the nearby church building). Phew. You've got to have days like that once in a while, they are a blast.

While this photo was being taken a group of Italians came up and started taking his picture too. Kindof funny I thought, but then again he is a good looking kid!

My two main men Jeff and Erik.

Look close, it is Jeff and Erik under Delicate Arch.

Mi padre. Thanks for coming with us Dad! And thanks for toting along your super cool camera to take these photos with!

Our friend Lauren who met up with us just for this hike. We actually share relatives but we come from different sides. She will soon be leaving on a mission for the LDS church and is heading for Cape Verde, Africa. A perfect match for this river guide girl!

The honeymooners a short 10 1/2 years later!

Our artistic interpretation of a "Cairn" (the stacked rocks that are used as trail markers).

Erik and Janae immediately following the hike.

This second picture was taken maybe 4 minutes after the above picture.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

High & Low

The game is "High and Low". How you play it is to go around the table at dinner and ask everyone what was their high and low for the day. Yep, that is all.

This not so complicated game started with our neighbors Dawn and Dave. We have tried it for the last month or so. This has proved a low key and easy way to get the whats up on other family members. We want our kids to know it is okay to share the bad along with the good.

Past Answers:
Erik's high - "Lunch" (he never says this when eating at home, only for school lunch)
Claire's high - "Picking raspberries"
Janae's high - "Watching Erik run his first race" (and the Moab trip)
Jeff's high - "Hiking to Delicate Arch"
Megan's high - I would guess it to be hanging out with her Dad.

Claire and her friend, Claire, were so excited to pick raspberries while we were visiting the house of her Sunday School teacher. Any time you go to garden where someone has tomato varieties (grown from seed) with names like "Black Pineapple", "Mr. Stripy", and "The Dutchman", you know this yard is going to be worth seeing. Janet's garden was beautiful. I love how she has integrated fruits and vegetables into her boarders as ornamental yet practical elements. A feast for the eyes and the girls tummy's too!

The bush's were dripping with juicy sweet raspberries!

The elementary school had a fundraiser/fun run this past week. Erik and his friend Matthew ran the 2.1 miles in 25 minutes. I volunteered at the finish line along with Jeff's grandma handing out popsicles. If you have never participated in a race, you should. The energy and the adrenaline is such a rush. Even as a popsicle handing out bystander it was inspiring to watch all these kids just beaming after finishing a course much longer than they would have every tried on their own.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Puppies vs Princess'

It is September and this summer is finally slowing down. I don't really have any specific stories to tell so I'll put out some of the latest. (In August my cousins, John and Brady, came by. It has been way to long since we have seen them. They happened to be in town so stopped by to visit and have dinner with us. Thanks for coming!)

This past week the cool new game to play in the neighborhood has been "Star Wars". The boys will get out their Light Sabers and have mock battles.

A friend, Meredith, and I compare boys to puppies. When her family lived in the neighborhood and our boys played, they would always tackle and wrestle each other. We would let them with the hopes they could learn how to get the excess energy out without hurting each other (they do need limits...of course).

Claire is happy to be back in a dance class at her grandma's studio. Light Sabers aren't something she is into (note: she will be the one to point out that she does like to wrestle with her Dad and Erik). That once a week dance class is Claire's pink dress and slippers, twirling and whirling, princess time.

Now to the tune of George of the Jungle, "Watch out for that tree!" Megan is going on 14 months and hasn't been interested in walking until this past week. Something clicked and she is now eager to try it out. Megan has been practicing walking by holding on to our hands and also by herself in going from one object to another. This has been a week of bruises, bumps, and a bloody nose. Hang in there Meg!

I did go to my quarterly appointment at the Neurology Clinic last Wednesday. I said it before, but it is so impressive the level of comprehensive care they provide. I am higher up on the Lithium drug trial wait list then what I thought and could possibly start as soon as October. Blah blah blah...moving on...

Jeff has had some fun work trips this year. He has been to London twice and just got to go to Montreal. I'm glad he was able to get out and about. Jeff doesn't travel so often it becomes tiresome but enough to keep work interesting.

That is the whats up on us.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

I love how visually open Southern Utah is: the red rock, the green vegetation, bright blue sky, the cactus, the is all good. I think the desert is beautiful.

The parents of one of our friends own some property outside of St. George. They opened up the place to guests, so our friends invited three other families from the neighborhood to come hang out with them over Labor Day weekend. I can say we had a wonderful time, but that wouldn't even come close!

I was snapping pictures the whole time and not until we came home did I realize how many were of Erik.

A boy and his bike.
Erik trying to impress Raquel with a big caterpillar he found.
Lizard hunters: Matthew, Erik and Scott. Erik is holding a smallish size lizard (which is fine by the mother in me). No one would hold the largish size tarantula that was later found (which was also fine by me).
Kevin and Tyler taking out a dune buggy.
Megan, Claire and Jeff in the pool.
It sure is hot, what should we do...let's go swimming again!
This was the overall best group picture of the kids (our Megan was missing). I should have taken a photo of all the parents trying to get their kids to look in the general direction of the cameras, let alone smile!