Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Nine Mile Canyon

While the boys were off hunting the girls and I got to go explore Nine Mile Canyon, just outside of Duchesne.  We went with Greg and Tracy and Laura and her boys.  We got to spend quality time together all in one car.  Well, Greg may have ditched us for a while in another car.  Can't imagine why;)

We got to go with a bunch of Tracy's friends, one of whom is an expert on the canyon and everything you can see.  There were all kinds of cool petroglyphs.  Even one of santa and his reindeer (for realls I'm not lying).  We made lots of stops to see cool things, enjoyed beautiful scenery, and made a couple of scrambles up some hills to see more rock art.  We had a great time, but I think its safe to say that we were all exhausted by the end of the day:)

One of the mountain scrambles.  Greg even made it up with his bad knee!

Sage's rock bed

Rock art!

Sage really likes to pose for pictures

This one is called the tree of life.  There's a tree and what I would call an iron rod that people are holding onto.  Cool!

Another mountain scramble

Thursday, October 5, 2017

September Happenings

I've already talked a lot about September, but there were some other random things.

We started off the month with Swiss Days.  I admit that I love it.  I love watching all the crazy people.  But I mostly love to help in the booths.  This year the girls helped me make bratzlis (google it) and they helped in our ward food booth for the first time.  Our ward is in charge of the knockworst sandwiches.  Too bad I hate sauerkraut.  I got to make sandwiches for President Uchtdorf and his family, but I didn't get to see them.  They had some guy collecting food for them.  Perks of being in the first presidency I guess;)

We're starting to get the swing of things with school.  The kids are doing well, Kate's enjoying middle school although there have been a few bumps as she learns about accountability with so many different classes.  Kate is going strong with piano and swimming.  Sage is busy with dance, cheer, and piano.  And Zack is in a rock band class.  You heard me, a rock band class.  He plays his electric guitar and is learning to play the bass guitar.  They have a piano player, acoustic guitar, and drums.  They're learning to play TNT, among other things and they'll be doing a live concert in December.  Yes, you can come watch.  You're welcome.  He really loves it.  Did I mention that Jake found out a little about his biological parents?  Well, he did.  One of the things he learned is that his dad played the guitar and wanted to be a rock star.  It's in the blood.  Love it!

September also brought our first snow.  The kids (Sage) were so excited.  They quickly built the first snowman of the year.  I'm glad we're back to normal fall weather.  The snow was fun, but I'm not quite ready for that.

The girls in their swiss days gear after working hard

Sometimes Sage randomly dresses up

My new farmhouse letters.  Love them

Sage enjoying the first snow

First snowman

We discovered Zack can roll his eyes back in his head while his eyes are open.  Gross.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Crazy Days

The last weekend of September was crazy.  Why is it that everything always seems to happen at once?  I already wrote about Women's Conference.  Well, that same weekend was the weekend we hosted The Builder Group.  If I could somehow make a big deep voice say those words with scary music, that would accurately portray what this was like.  First, I'm sure you're wondering what a builder group is.  The National Home Builders Association has a bunch of builder groups all over the country.  These groups consist of general contractors who build in similar price points but are from different parts of the country so they don't compete with each other.  They meet twice a year for education and to discuss their businesses and get ideas from each other on how to improve.  Jake's been in this group for two years now and its been really great.  He's learned a ton, but I think the biggest benefit is that he has friends who understand how crappy this job is sometimes, and really get what he's going through.  They email each other all the time between meetings and its definitely been a good thing. 

Anyway, every time they meet one of the builders in the group acts as the host.  And last weekend it was our turn.  We've known about it for a year, and it's been hanging over our heads all year.  We did things in the yard, the barn, and the house all because the builder group was coming.  This isn't all bad because things got done that wouldn't have otherwise, but it's definitely been adding to the stress level around here.  We were in charge of picking a hotel for everyone to stay in (they stayed at Hotel Park City which was amazing), finding restaurants, and then planning a home tour for a few hours one day where they go in a shuttle to see some of the houses we've built.  That was definitely the most stressful part.

So the planning was done and the weekend finally arrived.  Before they got here I put some gift bags together to go in their hotel rooms.  They were full of treats made here in Heber Valley, plus some Brigham's Brew root beer.  This was a joke because the rest of them give out beer when you go, so we gave them some beer Utah style.  Anyway, those bags are the most crafty thing I've done in my life.  I had to do 15 and I was pretty proud of myself for pulling it off.

The day of the home tour arrived.  They ended up driving around in a full size bus rather than a shuttle for some reason.  It was pretty funny seeing a tour bus drive around neighborhoods in Midway.  The very first house we went to of course had a problem.  It's a second home, so the property manager was letting us in the garage.  Well, the garage code wasn't working and she had no other way to get in.  She ended up running down the street, grabbing a battery from another opener, and then getting it open for us.  Of course we had to start off with that.  No stress at all.  Anyway, the rest of the tour went well.  Jake was like a proud papa showing off his babies.  It was cute.  They came to our house, which about killed me.  We got the house super clean on Saturday and then the kids were told that no matter what happened the house had to stay clean.  There may have been some threatening involved.  I had some drinks and little snacks here for everyone to eat.  The kids enjoyed meeting all of the builders.  Especially Sage.  She was totally in her element.  She was able to give tours and entertain a whole group of people.  At one point I heard her say, "I'm going to go show them my mad chicken catching skills!" and then she was out the door.  Hilarious.

So, I know this post is eternal, but this builder group (cue booming voice and scary music) has been a big deal around here for the past year so I figure it deserves a long post.  But it's over and if it ever happens again it won't be for a lot of years.  Hallelujah!

I know you think (hope) I'm done writing, but I'm not.  The home tour was Monday.  On Tuesday there was a funeral for our neighbor.  Because of my compassionate service calling I had to help do the whole thing.  Fortunately we have a separate person who's actually over the funerals so I didn't have to plan it I just had to show up.  I've been to a lot of funerals in my day (sadly) but this is the first time I really helped behind the scenes.  I had no idea how much work a funeral is.  Holy cow.  I wish I could go back in time to thank all the people who helped because I had no idea.  I was at the church from 10:45 to 3:30.  We set up tables, made them look nice, got all the food ready, set it out, made sure there was enough, and then cleaned it all up.  I was more than happy to help, but my eyes were opened to what a job funerals are.

By Tuesday night after making it through Women's Conference, The Builder Group (cue music/voice), and a funeral, to say I was exhausted would be an understatement.  Everyone in our house looked like we'd been hit by a train.  When we finally sat down to eat dinner together after those crazy days Kate said, "It feels like forever since we ate dinner like this."  Amen Kate.  I was in bed, lights out, by 9:30.  And that is all!  We survived the craziness and you survived this post!!

The beautiful gift bags I put together.  Only picture I have of the craziness

Friday, September 29, 2017

Women's Conference Choir

I had the opportunity to sing in the choir for the Church's general women's broadcast.  The one that gets shown all over the world.  A once in a lifetime opportunity.  I was told about the time commitment when I signed up, but it ended up taking a lot more time than I thought.  For 6 weeks we spent every Sunday night practicing in Park City for 2 hours.  Add the drive in and we were gone for 3 hours.  Then factor in church ending at 4:00 and you get 6 weeks of running in the door, shoving food in my face, and heading out again.  On top of those rehearsals we had a 3 hour dress rehearsal in SLC the Saturday before and then the actual performance day we had to be there at 2:00 for a 6:00 broadcast.  And then there was the time spent memorizing music to hymns I'd never heard before.  Phew!  It was definitely a time commitment.  But well worth it for sure.  It was so great to sing in a good choir again and put my voice to work.  I honestly would have rather been the rehearsal accompanist, but it was good for me to branch out I guess.

It was interesting to see some of the behind the scenes conference happenings.  I'll definitely look at the choirs that perform in conference differently.  They put in a lot of work!  They were very specific on what we wore, and worked hard to train us NOT to look at the cameras they put in your face.  Our director was Jane Fjeldsted and she was amazing.  Jake grew up in her ward and she and his mom are good friends.  I also realized I went to high school with the rehearsal accompanist.  It was fun to have those ties. 

Singing in the conference center was a great experience.  What an amazing building.  It was a great experience singing praises to God in front of so many people!  I couldn't help but imagine Mom and Linz listening in from the other side.  Maybe they all go to women's conference too?  Anyway, it was a wonderful experience and I'm grateful to the kids and Jake for surviving without me for so many Sundays.

filing in to the conference center for the dress rehearsal

the beautiful organ

how it looks from the choir seats

Our director Jane Fjelsted

the organ pipes are amazing up close

the ladies I sang with from my ward

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Sage's Baptism!

All of my kids have now been baptized.  I'm so old.  Sage got baptized a few weeks ago.  She was so excited.  She picked out a pretty white dress for the occasion.  When I took her shopping I thought for sure she would choose something pricey.  But she picked a dress on the sales rack, didn't even want to try anything else on, and we left spending $30.  Tender mercies.

Her baptism day was wonderful.  She was lucky to be the only one in our ward getting baptized, so it was a meeting all for her.  Everyone talked right to her and she knew everyone who was there.  All of the family came and it was so great.  For posterity's sake, I have to add that there was a mix up on the opening song.  Aunt Alicia played the wrong song, so no one knew the words.  We all hummed our way through the first verse and then cut it off.  We made up for it by singing the correct opening song for the closing song.  It added some spice to the day, and in true Spjute fashion Alicia was properly mocked:)

Grandpa Spjute and Grandma Tracy gave great talks.  We even had some Jensen family there, which I'm sure made Mom happy.  And I'm sure Mom, Linz, and Grandpa Alan were there.  After the baptism we gathered at the house for pizza, garden veggies, and root beer floats.  The perfect ending to the perfect day! 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Back To School!!

The kids are back in school, and just in time too.  We were about ready to kill each other.  Good thing that seems to happen every year or going back to school would really be hard.  Zack and Kate are in middle school together this year, which I love.  They leave the house at the early hour of 7:10am to catch the bus.  Sage doesn't leave for another hour.

Zack is in 8th grade this year (meaning he goes to high school next year - heaven help me).  He's so far enjoying most of his classes, except for english.  I don't think he'll ever enjoy english.  Ever.  He's taking an agriculture class that he loves and I love because maybe we'll learn how to handle our goat and chickens.  (PS - when Sage is asked if she has any pets she says 9 - 1 goat and 8 chickens.  Perfect.  Now we don't need to get a real pet).  He's doing catalyst math and is doing 9th grade math this year.  He gets great joy over telling everyone he's doing high school math.  If he hasn't told you yet don't worry, he will.

Kate is breathing a sigh of relief that she made it through a rough 5th grade year and is in 6th grade.  She has friends in most of her classes, which is awesome.  She was a little nervous about switching classes all day, but I think she's loving that she doesn't have to sit in he same class with the same people.  Her favorite class is english and journalism (crazy how different kids in the same family can be).  She gets to be in 7th grade orchestra and is happy they don't spend the whole class learning notes.

Sage is in 3rd grade with most of the same kids she's been in class with since kindergarten.  Since she's in dual immersion they stay together for a long time.  Which is good and bad.  Her spanish teacher has a different accent this year, so its taking her a second to figure it out.  She had an interesting first day of school.  She came home all upset (I wasn't surprised, she tends to get worked up and not enjoy big days).  Supposed girls not being nice and other stuff.  She had a snack, we talked about it, snuggled it out, and an hour later she was still crying and being super dramatic.  I finally told her it was time to move on and that she still has a pretty good life.  She got super mad, told me I don't love her, and said she was leaving.  She put her shoes on and headed out the door.  Kate was so worried that I wasn't going after her.  She headed down the street on her bike, then came back for her coat.  Then she stayed around the house and kept hiding in the trees.  Kate finally came in and told me Sage said she would come back in if I went outside and told her I love her.  Oh the drama.  This girl brings a lot of joy to our family, but the drama may kill us.  The next day she told me she thinks 3rd grade will be really fun.  You're killing me smalls.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Final Summer Days

This summer was one of the best.  Really.  We got some good camping in, spent some fun days at Lagoon, swam, spent time with family and friends, and just had a good amount of fun.  I loved having a short camping trip planned every few weeks.  It was fun to always have something to look forward to.  We definitely had our moments of kids fighting and me losing my sanity, but all in all it was a great summer.

We ended the summer by trying to do as much as possible in the last two weeks.  We went to the lake, visited cousins, went on one more camping trip, went swimming, to a bike park, and fit in a couple more trips to Lagoon.  Basically my kids hit the "I'm bored" part of summer and started fighting constantly if they were home.  I decided I couldn't handle it and so I planned non-stop activities.  Yes, the kids won.  I was exhausted by the end of the summer, but it was worth it.

I can't finish talking about summer without addressing the "Great Garden Experiment of 2017".  We planted a huge garden.  It was a lot of work, and as we were planting I couldn't help but think about how much work it would be to harvest.  Anyway, we gardened following a new method.  The method is tried and true, but we've never done it before so for us it was an experiment.  (Zack insists it can't be an experiment if its already been done, but whatever.)  We put posts in the ground, put rebar across the posts, and tied strings to the rebar.  All to try some vertical gardening.  We also used a special fertilizer, and let me tell you, it worked.  I've never seen such big plants that produce so much.  It's crazy.  Our skills at the vertical gardening definitely need work, but all in all I'd say the experiment was a success.  Now we're into the agony of the harvest.  Those of you who have never had a big garden might wonder why this is agony.  I'll explain.  Yes, it's great to have fresh veggies.  So great.  And you eat a lot.  And really enjoy it.  But then it just keeps coming and coming and coming.  The other problem is that harvest time does not follow your schedule.  The vegetables don't wait for you to have time before they ripen.  Oh no.  So of course it was time to harvest everything the last couple weeks of summer.  Kids are all home.  We're running around crazy.  And somehow I'm supposed to find time to preserve all this food.  So I did a couple of batches of dilly beans.  A couple of batches means 14 jars.  These jars are like gold because of the time they take.  And then the kids eat a whole jar in 5 minutes and I want to cry.  So I limit them to one jar/week.  We've made fresh salsa, so much squash, lots of zucchini bread and muffins, 7 jars of pickles (hopefully I'll find time to do more of these), and lately we have 2 ears of corn each for every dinner (because we can and because there are like 1000 ears of corn).  On Sunday the girls and I loaded up a wagon with squash and delivered it to poor unsuspecting neighbors.  They acted grateful, but I know the truth.  And I don't care because I just needed to get rid of squash.  Surely we won't do this again you say?  Oh, but we will.  Because Jake loves gardens and you must have big gardens.  Maybe after I have a nervous breakdown he'll shrink the garden size, but until then if you come to our house plan on leaving with some squash.

Oh, our chickens have also started laying eggs.  We're up to 4/day.  So you'll probably leave with some eggs too.  But you can't take eggs unless you also take squash....

The Garden

Zack wiping out on the flow rider.  He did get better.  I promise

Making pickles

Precious jars of pickles

Dilly beans

Fun at the park

Camping up above Strawberry

Don't ask why we didn't take the trailer.  Just know that we're no longer going to get rid of the trailer, so mission accomplished;)

We watched the eclipse at Lagoon

Sage at back to school night