Sunday, January 6, 2019

JenB's Journey 2018

I've been really bad at keeping up the family blog ... and only slightly better at my personal food/fitness blog. I have at least kept up with my weekly and monthly recap posts there. Here's a quick collection of the collages from each month this past year. It just gives a little peek at my progress ... or lack thereof!

January: Pastry wreath, snowflake cookies, new calendars, 
Zumba, snow, basketball, duckies

February: A non-black shirt, Cal's b-day, a fantastic find, baking, 
Colton's basketball break and valentine's day. 

 March: Spring flowers, derby workshop, Prom, more baking,
Eggs and Grandparent's lunch.

April: Spring snow, Easter ears and boy's baskets.  Fabulous friends and cute cousins. 
Basketball. Gordy's grave, gardening, movies and medication. 

 May: Mother's Day. Purple flowers and broken eggs. Five Fitbits. 
An engagement and school awards. 

 June: Father's Day get-togethers. More basketball.
Sleeping with kitties, and a Segway.

July: A family 5k and trips to the beach. Anniversary, Girl's Lunch. 
More basketball. Duckies and eggs. 

August: Street stuff/closed for construction. Bachelors at the beach. 
Garden. Birthdays and back to school stuff.

September: A birthday, a wedding, and other stuff. 

October: Kitty case. Family games. 
All things Halloween. 

November: More birthdays. Sick Colton, then more basketball.
Continued candy. Turkey cookies and casting a vote. 

December: So many cookies, and the Santa head. Kitty and the tree.
Christmas Zumba, ornament earrings, a birthday and Christmas morning.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Grandpa Gordy's Grave ... Over the Years

It was just over 26 years ago when Grayson's dad passed away after battling pancreatic cancer. There are quite a few family photos gathered at the grave over the years. It's often in April that the Blackham Bunch goes out, as April 23 is the day Gordon left this earth. Sometimes we get together around Memorial Day in May. As we gathered at the grave this past Monday, Maga wondered how many pictures we had from the past years. I've posted several here on the blog ... but thought I'd do my best to compile them in a collection. 

2018 is posted at the top. Missing some family members as is generally the case. Landon and Keaton were working. Olivia too. Courtney and Addie were in New York. It was a nice day, but still quite cool. We hit Crown Burger afterward, which is also a bit of a tradition.

Here's the rest of the photos I could find. Some years, I know we went and there are the family photos at the duck pond from MY phone, but the picture at the cemetery would have been taken with Grayson's or Maga's phone/camera, and I wasn't able to locate them. Going back further, pictures were taken with film cameras and then scanned to digital. The olden days!

Only Gray and Keaton represented our immediate family this year. Landon and Cooper were off to a Jazz playoff game. Callahan was working and Colton was under the weather, so I stayed home with him. 

We didn't stay very long this year ... it was cold and rainy!

Two shots from 2015
 ... the selfie with only partial Gray

... and one using the timer.

Maga and Ana made another trip that year (2015) ...

Not sure where the 2014 photo is.



More pictures from 2011 in the long grass here. 


More pictures here.






Monday, April 16, 2018

Fun with Friends and Family

If you search this blog for the DiFran family ... you will find a plethora of posts. Years ago, we just clicked. Of the five Blackham boys, four line up exactly with DiFrancesco kids. Our oldest boys, Landon and Chance are the same age, although those two were never quite as involved in the gatherings. My Keaton and Kiana's Tony were the same grade (although in age, Keaton is almost a year older), Marc and Cooper have been in the same classes at school, and Colton and Mara match up as the youngest for both of us. Callahan is the only odd man out. 

Several years ago, the DiFrancesco's moved to California. We've kept in touch on social media, and they've made trips back. We love to see them whenever they can squeeze us into their schedule as they visit. This year, they were here for Spring Break, and it lined up with our Spring Break, so perfect timing. We got to spend several hours on a Thursday just hanging out, visiting and eating.

Just in case the image doesn't work ... the link is HERE.

They kids played several games of Spikeball.
The boys gathered around the video games.
We introduced everyone to the ducks.

Then that weekend, Jami and the girls flew in from Seattle to spend a few days (Grayson had found a great deal on airfare, and he and four of the boys are heading out to Seattle next weekend. Jami just figured she'd take advantage of the deals too).  Sunday morning brunch, we had all the grandkids together.

Friends and family made Spring Break 2017 a little more memorable!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Easter 2018

Easter ... it's that time of year when other families hard boil eggs and color them. Occasionally that happens in the Blackham home, but EVERY Easter, we separate the egg whites, beat them into a meringue and add sugar, salt and cream of tarter to make "nests" ... these crumbly, flaky, melt in your mouth bites are OUR tradition. Every since elementary school for me. 2018 was the year of the nests. I made so many batches, and ate more than my fair share.

Easter morning was underwhelming again. In years past, there were times that Easter almost rivaled Christmas with the number of goodies and gifts brought by "the bunny" instead of Santa.  Last year, this year? Not so much. Buckets weren't even laid out and filled until the morning this year. Not much in them, but the kids didn't complain. They even posed for pictures, although I didn't get the boys all together. 

In the afternoon, we headed over to Maga's house. It conference Sunday, and we couldn't have asked for better weather. Warm and sunny. Perfect!

 I'd made roll dough, turning it into orange rolls and traditional dinner rolls (forgot to grab a picture of them). I also made Brazillian cheese rolls, as they are easy and a family favorite on both sides. 

We had quite the smorgasbord laid out. Grayson had smoked brisket and made mashed potatoes. Maga had her mac&cheese and ham, Clayton prepped mussels. 

Then there was the "peeps" cake ...

Keaton had to work and was missed (Sam's first words as we entered were "where's Keaton?") but we did get both the big boys and their girlfriends. Should have grabbed a big group photo!

Landon joked he was going to hit the stores the day after Easter to stock up on clearance candy. He didn't ... but I did. I mean, I was going to the store anyway, not making a special trip just for that! I must admit, most of the candy this year, was picked up last year. My Monday stop at Smiths I grabbed a few bags of the Reeses eggs (favorites for me and the three older boys) and some Robin Eggs (I love them), but that's pretty much all they had there. A few days later, at Walmart, I was surprised there was still quite a stock of clearance candy. More Reeses eggs (as they were less $$ than Smiths had been), some odds and ends (jelly beans, smarties, KitKat and Twix, Cadbury Eggs, PB M&Ms Eggs ... only found one package of those or I would have grabbed more). I had grabbed a couple of the FavorREDS jelly beans as I saw them mixed in with the others, as the reds ARE our favorites (and then I still pick out the dark cherry reds) ... but then I found a bin full of just that flavor. I grabbed quite a few.

What are YOUR favorite Easter eats and treats?

Monday, March 19, 2018

Fun w/Famous Peoples

I think it's human nature, if you have any sort of connection at all with someone famous, it's fun to brag about it a bit. Here's a look at a couple connections with famous peoples recently.

I remember watching the show "Dirty Jobs" years ago, and have followed Mike Rowe on Facebook. He's pretty entertaining and enlightening too. He started a Facebook program last year called "Returning the Favor" ... in this show, he spotlights someone who does kind things for others and "returns the favor" by doing something nice for them. A man in our community had been nominated, and so the show came to West Jordan. Part of the program was throwing a "parade" for this fellow. Several of the local schools participated, including Colton's 6th grade class. If you watch VERY carefully and don't blink, you can see Colton in the FB feature. I grabbed a couple of screen shots.

You can watch the entire episode HERE

"The Greatest Showman" hit the scene late last year. Everyone seemed to love it! I hadn't been to a movie in theaters in over two years, but this peaked my interest, even before all the buzz.  I heard that my old high school buddy Will Swenson was in the movie. There at the start, as young P.T. Barnum's father.  Another high school friend, a writer for the Murray paper, was doing an article about the local connections (aparently the voice behind the singer "Jenny Lind" was also a graduate of Cottonwood High School) and he contacted me for any background info on Will for his piece.

... you can see the entire online article here

Here's Will and I in a couple shows ...
Christmas Carol at Hale and 42nd Street at Cottonwood.

I'll spare you the Junior Prom picture ;)

Will and Audra came to Utah in 2010 for a charity performance at the Orem theater.
My high school friend Lynette and I went to see the show and say hi. A couple years ago, Gray and the older boys went with Kolby and Jami to New York and caught Will as Javert in Les Miserables on Broadway. Watching to see what Will does next ...

Friday, January 5, 2018

2017 Recap

Well ... I was not a very productive blogger here in 2017. On this family blog, only about a dozen posts. I'd have other blog posts in my head, but they just didn't quite make it out of my head, through my fingers and onto the blog.

  • Travel Time ... I blogged about Gray's trip to Mexico and the family vacation but there was a lot more.  A January trip to Orlando for work, a Portland weekend with a couple of the boys in March, Moab weekend with work guys early April, Bear Lake in June, St. George with the munchkins and extended family in August, biking White Rim and another Canada getaway (just Gray). I got it blogged. Grayson's Getaways 2017
  • Medical Moments ... Not too much for us this year (yea!) Ingrown toenails (Cal was in twice), Stomach problems for Landon. Menieres moments. Extended family ... Chris and his semi-colon and Pam's head injury.
  • Cars ... I never blogged about the Durango and Cal's Charger (well, I finally did, follow the link. I backdated the post to 2016). Still need to blog about 2017 car changes ... a Charger for Landon. Passing the Monster Truck to Keaton. Sequoya. 
  • Other People's Pets/Maga's Menagerie ... been thinking of highlighting Maga's kittens, and chickens, and dog. Also the neighbor's dog who the kids have been hired to care for here and there. Dog bite this year as well :(
  • Duck, Duck, Goose ... two geese, four ducks, two ducks then four ducklings again! DuckRun. 
  • Apps ... stupid Snapchat and fun Fight List (play with me!)
  • Basketball ... I did update the Basketball Blog but meant to do a general wrap up here. Callahan's senior season and playoffs. Keaton's sophomore year. Cooper's Junior Jazz and Colton's Wolves and Grizzlies.
  • Girls ... dating and girlfriend stuff (mostly Landon and Callahan, but Keaton went to a girl's choice dance at school too). 
  • Summer Stuff ... trips to the lake, little boys out with the older boys and their girlfriends (bowling, pool, Airborne). Movies ... I DID get the Seattle summer vacation blogged.
  • Inflatable Fun ... the bop balls and t-rex. Bought but didn't try out the "inflata-bull"
  • Eating Out ... many of the food gatherings were birthday related, but there were some good meals and fun photos. Neighbor dinner in the Spring. Red Robin with the Westra clan. Tepanyaki. Jen's b-day Red Robin. Gray's b-day Market Street and Windy Ridge. 
  • Ice Obsession: Pebbled ice, ice balls, ice cubes ... Grayson is obsessed with ice.
  • Starting School ... got the traditional pictures with all five boys. College kids too!
  • Halloween ... didn't get pictures of all the costumes, but did capture me in a Whoopie cushion costume and Colton doing Thriller.
  • Christmas (the annual "leg lamp lighting" to start the season. Lights on the house. BOXES! Sitting on Santa's lap. The Westra party, Christmas decor and Christmas morning.
  • Birthdays ... Colton got a party this year! Finally!
  • Derby Daze ... Gray did 43 derbies this year. He attempted to limit his travel, not booking ones in Utah County (although there were still a few). Keaton was his right-hand man most of the time. 

I am still hoping that maybe I'll be able to get some/all of the above still. We'll see. If I do, I'll leave them at the top for a couple days and then move them to the chronologically correct spot. But I'll update with links.

Here's a quick look at the family. I really should have the boys do their own write-ups to see what makes it onto their list. I was really good at making them write Mr. Missionary every week, but that pretty much ended in 2016 because ...
  • Landon returned from his Mexico Mission and started school at SLCC. He got a cool car which he takes good care of, and a job at Discover, to pay for said car (and all his new clothes).  He's been attending the young adult ward. He dove into the dating scene and got a girlfriend.
  • Callahan finished up his senior year and graduated. Basketball season as a senior was memorable, with pro pictures and name drops in the news. State playoffs and a little post-season fun with friends. Super social, with buddies and his girlfriend. Wrapped up his time with KFC and started working at Caption Call. Started school at SLCC.
  • Keaton moved from sophomore to junior and can now drive himself to school... in the Monster Truck Tundra no less! He also started working ... at KFC like Cal, but also still helping Dad run derbies. Finished up his season on the sophomore basketball team. He played Spring and Summer ball (St. George, UofU camp, CHHS camp) but decided not to try out come Fall, opting to play for fun with friends in Junior Jazz (where they are currently creaming everyone). 
  • Cooper finished up 7th grade in the Spring, and started 8th in the Fall. He's got a great group of friends and enjoyed hanging out with them during the summer and after school. He's playing Junior Jazz with them again this year. . He lived in shorts for the first 3/4 of the year (and for quite a while before that) then suddenly started wearing joggers again. He got an iphone in the Spring and spends a little too much time on it. Obsessed with NBA, NFL and music.
  • Colton started his final year of elementary school. He never stopped playing basketball, although Summer was only with his Wolves team. He got an iphone in the Fall (when Dad upgraded himself, then everyone) so now Mommy can stalk both little boys too.  The silly boy almost always sleeps in his clothes on the couch upstairs. 

  • Jen (me) likes the structure of the school schedule, especially for exercise. Both the required rising at an early hour, and not sharing the gym with the boys ;) Still enjoying Zumba and leading classes somewhat regularly.  Reading a LOT (both digital and audio).
  • Grayson works, works, works ... although he sure did use up all his vacation this year too. He's still smoking and as mentioned above, developed an obsession with ice. Yes ice ... frozen water.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Monthly Moments ... One Second Every Day

I've been SO BAD at keeping this blog updated, I know. I have blog posts in my mind, but just don't seem to find the time to sit down at the computer and make them happen. I bought a fun new app though, that captures life "one second" at a time, and I've been keeping up with my mini-monthly updates, which I post on Instagram and Facebook. They are a fun, quick (about 30 seconds) way to remember each month. I'll update this blog post as I add new videos ...

January 2017
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February 2017
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March 2017
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April 2017
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May 2017
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June 2017
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July 2017
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August 2017

September 2017
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October 2017
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November 2017
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December 2017
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... it's an easy little app. It automatically connects to your photo album to show you what videos are available for each day. The latest Apple products and their "live photo" feature come in as videos, but you can use still photos as well. If you take video on a camera, and can transfer the file to your photo, that can be accessed and used as well. While the videos show up according to date created, you can play around and manually move things. The app is called "One Second Every Day" and that's how I've used it (showcasing each month's memories) but you could do a year at a time, or multiple seconds in a single day ... the app is very adaptable and I love looking back at my memories one second every day ;)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Chocolate Milk Taste Test

Growing up in the Westra household, premixed chocolate milk was pretty rare. We had Nesquick powder, which we could mix to make our own with the regular white milk, and that's what we did. But true "chocolate milk" ... straight from the bottle has its own taste. Rich and creamy. Of course some brands are richer and creamier and chocolatier than others. Or so the boys claimed. Once upon a time, any chocolate milk was fine, from name brands to generic versions. Then the boys got picky. ONLY Tru Moo. Then ... no Tru Moo, only DariGold.

We decided to do a blind taste test to see if the boys could REALLY tell the difference. Landon made the rounds to several stores to pick up every brand of chocolate milk he could find. Well ... he stopped at seven and we figured that was fine. Then it was taste test time ...

... this front image is the same as posted above, 
click to the second square for more pictures

We SHOULD have picked up a better blind-fold and smaller cups!

We tried to trick Daddy by adding in a cup of regular white 2%
... he could tell! No chocolate!

The kids COULD tell the difference in the various brands. Tru Moo was rated lowest by most ... it is quite watery and light on chocolate taste (which I am actually okay with myself). Surprisingly the Kroger brand was hard to tell from the name brand DariGold. Unfortunately, the Kroger stores (Smiths) don't sell the Kroger brand in the big gallon jugs (they carry Mountain Dairy as the store brand) so the Kroger in small bottles is still pretty pricey. 

As we had oodles of chocolate milk left over I offered some to the neighborhood (we have a facebook group) and one family came and took all we were willing to give and had their own taste test too! It was a fun family activity. Years ago, we had a rootbeer taste test, and we'd done the same with vanilla ice cream ... but I guess I didn't get pictures or a blog post for that one. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Colton's Birthday Party

I am NOT a good birthday mom. I just don't enjoy the planning and putting together of a party, in fact, it's uber anxiety inducing. Over the years, I'd managed to host one or two birthday parties for each boy ... but that was all they got. Poor Colton though ... with his birthday falling right before Christmas. It always got lost in the hustle and bustle of the season, but the kid never complained.

This year, I committed to a party. We gave him the choice of a few friends to Airborne or somewhere else fun ... or many friends at the local church building, with pizza and the chocolate fountain (and basketball of course). He chose the latter, and the invitations went out.

We waited until after Christmas, hoping to catch the kids with a little extra time as they were out of school. Some friends were traveling for the holidays, but we still had quite the crew. Colton invited his Wolves team, his Grizzlies team, and some friends from school. 

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Several of his Wolves teammates live fairly far away, in Utah County. I was a little surprised that they (and their parents) were willing to drive so far to support him! All the brothers came for a bit too. While basketball was the main activity (little pick-up games, tornado, random shooting) there was spike ball and some big inflatable balls too. 

We picked up pizza (and crazy bread) and instead of cake, let the kids "dunk" (basketball theme, right?) strawberries, marshmallows and pretzels in the fountain of chocolate. Colton really "cashed in" too, as money is the main gift at this age. I think the party went well and Colton was pretty happy. I'm just glad it's over, and now I have just a bit less mommy guilt this year. 
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