Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Multiple Personalities

I love Facebook. I was late to the party, joining right before my 20th high school reunion. But since jumping on the bandwagon, I've been hooked. As the kids moved to Instagram, Twitter, and now Snapchat ... I remained faithful to Facebook. I just like its interactions better. In fact, in addition to my personal account, I set up a second one, to post about fitness ...

I don't post much about family on this profile. I friend all my Zumba buddies on this account, and follow fitness pages and blogs, and post stats, workout photos, Zumba routines, etc.

... and then why not make it three. I wasn't sure if all my boys friends (those still on Facebook, which admittedly are few) and the basketball parents cared about family photos or fitness stuff, so THIS Facebook profile is all basketball all the time! I post my highlight videos and game scores and such here.

You might say I have a split personality. Three ways!

Recently, there was a little "favorite word" app going around. I'd done this when it circulated before. It gathers your most used words and arranges them in a word cloud. It's fun to see the results ... usually nothing very unexpected, but there can be some surprises. I did it for all three of my accounts and you could definitely see the slant from each account ... 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Water Bottles and the Blackham Bunch

We love water here at the Blackham house! For my Zumba classes, I've been thrilled with my BIG pink water bottle. It always has enough ice and water to get me through class ... and I get an arm workout carrying it in. We have many of the refillable Gatorade sport bottles the boys use for their basketball games, and several of the "mister" refillable bottles too.

We do still go through many of the disposable water bottles too. We always keep several in the fridge for those moments when we need to grab and go (and don't want to worry about having to bring the bottle back home).

But in recent months ... water bottles haven't ONLY been for drinking.

A video posted by JenB (@jenblackham) on

The "water bottle toss" is a favorite game. Flipping fun! Attempting to get it to end in an upright position is the challenge. Apparently, this isn't only a Blackham phenomenon. As I posted the video above to Instagram/Facebook, I had several parents telling me their boys having been doing this all summer too! Who knew boys were so easily entertained?

That's not the only unusual activity we do with water bottles though ...

A video posted by JenB (@jenblackham) on

We'd seen instructional videos on YouTube about how to "instafreeze" your water. We attempted to follow the steps to no avail. We couldn't get it to work. Then, we accidentally accomplished it after putting some water bottles into the freezer section of our mini fridge. The temperature there isn't nearly as consistent as a regular freezer. Sometimes the bottles freeze completely, sometimes they stay liquid (but very cold) ... and when they do, we can do the "instafreeze" easily. When the water is exactly the right temp, a tap to the side causes it to form a soft freeze. It's about the consistency of an icee. It's so cool to see the water change to ice, after a simple tap to the side of the bottle.  If you put that ice in a bowl, and pour the water over it ... it freezes right before your eyes. Pretty cool, huh!  They boys then sprinkle a powdered drink mix over the ice to turn it into an icee treat to eat. 

Don't YOU wish you lived in the cool Blackham house?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The A/C and Me

What? A post about air conditioning? Well I must admit, I L.O.V.E. A/C and am not sure how well I'd cope without out it. We HAVE had to live without it, for a few days here and there in past years, as our air conditioner would freeze up, and we'd have to turn it off for hours. 

Even when the A/C was working, the West side of the house (the kitchen/family room) was always hot. With the evening sun pounding on the many windows, and not enough vents in that area, the A/C just couldn't keep up. As it attempted, our bedroom (on the East side) would get pretty chilly ... which was actually okay with me, especially at night (I like to cuddle in my blankets). 

I remember being pregnant with one of the boys (probably Cooper) when the A/C wasn't working. Gray came home from work to find me outside sitting in a small patch of shade, looking miserable. He went out and bought a portable air conditioner and set it up in our room, so at least there was ONE place to escape the heat in the house.

That portable air conditioner moved out into the family room when the house one was back up and running. Just a little extra push in that area. The kids would often come in from outside and stand right in front of the machine. After several years of use and abuse, we replaced it with another portable unit.

A couple years ago ... we replaced the house unit and had additional vents placed in the kitchen and family room area. It's been pretty effective. The only drawback was now our bedroom doesn't turn into an ice box ... it's one of the warmer rooms now. I have to turn the thermostat way down to get our room cool. Mornings (as the sun comes up and hits the house are the worst. I like our Nest thermostat, so I can adjust it from my bed without getting up).

Keaton's new bedroom (also on the East side) suffers from the morning sun too. It's HOT on summer mornings! With the portable A/C not in use in the family room, we went ahead and set it up in Keaton's room. He had to move things around to make it work, but we actually like the new arrangement better.

Now the boy is jumping for joy in his COOL room ...

Monday, August 1, 2016

Callahan's Crossing (Trek Time)

All packed ... no, Oreo didn't go.

The stake participates in a pioneer trek every few years. Grayson had gone on two here, once when he was in the Young Men's Presidency, and once while in the bishopric (also once when he was 14 years old back in the Cottonwood stake). Landon went a few years ago. Now ... it was Callahan's turn (Keaton was also eligible but didn't feel the pull and we didn't force him). Cal made the run to DI to grab some clothes (boys are so much easier than girls to outfit!), we gathered the gear ... and of COURSE the old "stinky pete" hat that Gray and Landon had worn. It's fourth time going out. 

Callahan and Travis
Tuesday morning, July 26, we were up early and to the church by 6 a.m.  Then they were off.  The trek historian posted pictures and their progress as internet access would allow. This trek was to Martin's Cove. They did some walking Tuesday, with square dancing in the evening. Callahan said the dancing was fun, and was his favorite part!

A little dancing to end the first day ...

 As they are put into families (Callahan was in #12 - Brother Hansen in our ward was with him), Callahan mentioned how quickly everyone got to know each other, and how they really did become family. 

Jordan Oaks Stake

Of course, being the pedometer person that I am, I made sure his Fitbit was running and ready for the trek. He is using the Zip currently, which was perfect for this, as it has a replaceable battery that lasts longer than the rechargable ones (my Charge wouldn't make it four days). One Wednesday, he got 26,651 steps. Thursday was the BIG day, with 44,687. Back on busses on Friday for the return home (synced the Fitbit, and while Callahan came close, he didn't quite pass me on my Fitbit friends list). 

Welcome back Callahan! He wore his old basketball shoes, and said they worked perfectly. No blisters. He does have a nasty looking toe (ingrown?) that we will be keeping an eye on (I remember we got Landon's toes fixed a few months before his trek, but I hadn't been aware of Cal having any issues until now). I'd had to do most of his packing (as he was working a lot before leaving) and he hadn't realized I'd put a set of scriptures in his bucket, so he stuck a set in his duffle ... so he had two. He also didn't notice the spray bottle (for cooling off) until the last day. I packed sunscreen, but he didn't use any. His nose and hands got pretty toasted!

Upon his return, he took a shower, then went to Costco to grab some dried mangos they'd had on the trail. He was craving them! Then he and Keaton went and played basketball for a couple hours. Back to the usual routine!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Father's Day 2016

 Father's Day ...

It's also the annual Westra gathering at Scott and Amy's house. This year ... sans Scott and Amy, who were in Switzerland for a work trip! Their kids stepped up and hosted though. I also thought we'd be missing the Blackham bunch, as it was the scheduled Seattle vacation. But Grayson decided to pull the plug on it as his Meniere's has been acting up, and he's had so much pinched nerve pain. I was pretty happy to have him around on Father's Day though. I would have missed him tons!

As we headed to the party, Grayson pulled out a slack line kit. He had purchased it months ago (maybe even a year or two?) and we'd never gotten around to putting it up. There were two trees in the backyard that were perfect. It was a hit with the kids!

It was fun to visit ... Shane and Alicia were even in town from California, and Jensens had made the trip (they usually do, but not always). So other than our missing missionaries, Callahan working, Mckenna and Spencer back East ... and of course Scott and Amy, we had a pretty full house.

 There was some frog kissing 
(okay, it's a toad from under the tramp).

... and some baby throwing.
(There MAY have been some photoshopping of this photo). 

So happy Father's Day to THIS guy!
I can't believe I didn't take pictures of HIM on the big day. He'd bought himself a smoker, and was getting the bacon ready, so no breakfast in bed for him today. Keaton did step up and make the waffles (usually Grayson's job). See that HUGE wood cutting board? That's what I got him for Father's Day (after he sent me a link to it in an email earlier). I did good didn't I? He's pretty happy every time he uses it ... which is pretty dang often!  It's true. Gray started smoking!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

End of the Year Assemblies and Awards

The end of the school year has been wrapping up. I'm SO glad the littles are on a traditional schedule with the older boys, and that we don't have another month of school for them. Colton FINALLY unloaded his backpack and I glanced through all the papers. Oops ... a notice that he was receiving the Principal's Pride award, the date had passed. Colton had never told me about it. I asked him if he was sad when I wasn't there and he said "No, I didn't want to get my picture taken".  Cooper however cares, and always lets me know when he is receiving an award. He did get the Principal's Pride a couple months ago. I did make it to that one ... and took a picture.

There were award assemblies for the end of the year  ...
Colton has always excelled at math, and won the Master of Math Facts award. The fourth grade also participates in the Presidential Fitness Program. Colton got the silver there, he was a bit bummed about not getting the gold, but didn't quite have the flexibility on the v-sit (which also knocked Cooper out of contention back when he was in 4th grade). In every other category, Colton had the high score for the class.

Cooper received the Academic Excellence award, 
and also a certificate for finishing the 40 book challenge. 

Keaton received the Presidential Academic Award (4.0s every quarter) 
and an athletic award (only given to one boy in the entire school). 

Of course, there was the end of the year program too. Cooper didn't have one this year, but Colton did. It was almost identical to the 4th grade program Cooper did (see clips here). Most of the songs had a familiar ring (with a Utah theme).  Colton doesn't love singing and performing, but I thought someday he might like to look back and remember, so here's some clips ...

... and I never got around to posting (here anyway ... I did on my JenB'sJourney blog) about Grandparents Day at the school back in March. My folks were able to come out and eat with Cooper and Colton. I come too, to say hi to my folks, the kids, and take the annual picture! 

Grandparent's Lunch 2016

Check out my Throwback Thursday Grandparent's Lunch on my other blog where I showcase all the pictures from the past several years. I can't believe that next year I'll only have ONE in elementary.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Shakespeare in School

Ah Shakespeare ... I have to admit, he's NOT my favorite author. A few months ago, Cooper's class was putting on a Shakespeare play. All the 5th grade classes at Terra Linda were. There was "The Tempest"  "A Comedy of Errors"  and "The Merry Wives of Windsor" ... Cooper's class did "A Midsummer Night's Dream". 

Yes ... the boys had to wear tights. 

Leggings were acceptable as well, and Shakespeare completely changed up Cooper's winter wardrobe. Cooper fell in love with leggings (sport leggings) and wore them the rest of the winter under his shorts.  Some good came from Shakespeare I guess ...

Parents were invited to come watch the productions. Some of the younger classes were invited to watch too. I did overhear this funny conversation on the car ride to school ...

Cooper: You better not have told your friends to laugh during my Shakespeare play today!
Colton: Naw ... I DID tell them to mock you at the science fair, but then the teacher said if she caught anyone teasing she would pull four cards! So I was like "abort plan, abort plan!"

In included the above conversation in my "Cute Quotes" page, but felt like it belonged here too.  I went and watched, and caught the play on video (much to Cooper's chagrin) ...

Here a a few highlights

Yes ... Cooper's play happened back in February, but I'm only getting to the blog update now? What's my impetus? Well, today was Shakespeare day at Keaton's school. All the 9th graders had to dress up Shakespearean style, and to make a mask. Probably a bit easier for the boys than the girls. It's fun to look around at carpool drop-off and see the kids in costume. I told Keaton to take pictures of him and his friends, but I guess I should just feel luckily he allowed me to take these ...
Keaton had donned the knickers (just some sweats pulled up to the knees) and an oversized white shirt. He didn't look quite costumed up enough, so I said I'd look for a "drape" we'd used for Callahan a couple years ago. Happily it was easy to find and did add a more authentic look.

Just for a little Throwback Thursday ... 
Callahan HIS 9th grade year!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Party for Pammy

It was someone's 70th birthday this year, and Grayson decided to throw a party for Pammy to celebrate! All the other siblings really stepped up, and Kolby's family even flew in from Seattle for the event. There was a lot of planning (it was a surprise though) for weeks on end, and then it was the big day.

It was a really nice set-up. Grayson's derby tables come in handy for more than derbies! Courtney had pieced together two big #70 displays of photographs (and created the invitation) and I'd put together a slideshow to play in the background (posted below). There was a birthday cake and a chocolate fountain, and Jami and the girls had made sugar cookies and cupcakes. Clay made pulled pork, and there were chips and veggies too. Aunt Judy brought a nice display of Pammy products and there were tons of pictures everywhere.

It was held at the old Cottonwood 1st ward church gym. All the family was invited, all the friends we could get a hold of, and all the neighbors ... it was quite the reunion. Lots of catching up after many years.

... and plenty of new pictures taken too!

Here's the video that played at the party.
It is long ... 70 years worth of pictures!

I also took video AT the party, and combined with the pictures Courtney took, here's a video recap of the party itself. Thanks to all who helped out and who came to wish Pammy a happy birthday!

Happy Birthday Pammy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Blackham Bunnies and Other Easter Activities

Easter fell in March this year ... it seemed awfully early! We celebrated on Saturday with the Westra side of the family, Sunday with the Blackham side ... and a little Easter prep all week long at home.

As always around Easter ... I made meringue nests. 
Cooper, Callahan and I LOVE them.  

The Westra gathering was quite small this year. Shane's family in California, Wendy's family in St. George, Chris and company were helping with a move ... so it was just us, Scott's family and D&D and their girls. Ani and Layla were our only "finders" for eggs this year! As usual, our family brought the eggs, but we didn't prep as many, knowing they wouldn't be needed, so it wasn't as big a job as usual.

Our Easter at home was pretty low key this year too. Admittedly, some years it's been more like Christmas. No overabundance this year. The boys got some candy and Nike socks. Keaton got a backpack (which he'd been needing for a while), a new soccer goal for Cooper, some compression shirts for Colton. Even the kitties had a bucket.

We went over to Maga's for an Easter brunch. An egg toss ensued. It was quite a bit of fun (to watch!) Instead of a traditional egg hunt for candy, Maga had prepped a pinata.  Here's a little clip of Colton having a go at it.

A video posted by JenB (@jenblackham) on

Of course I brought at the bunny ears and we took pictures at both family gatherings. I even sent a set to Elder Blackham, but the package got help up and didn't make it to him before Easter. I sent him some favorite candies ... the "FavorReds" jelly beans, Reeses Eggs, and peanut butter M&Ms (I only found ONE package this year, so I didn't get any for myself ... I did indulge in lots of Reeses Eggs though). The Whoppers Robin Eggs are another favorite for me. I sent Landon some Cadbury mini eggs, and bought some for Callahan and Keaton. Those are ONE treat that doesn't tempt me. 

What are YOUR favorite Easter treats?

Monday, March 21, 2016

My Little Man Ran (First 5k)

For the past several months, my Cooper (12 years old) has been a step-crazy kid! Often with weeks averaging daily steps of 30,000 or more. When it's too cold to play outside, he started jogging on the treadmill to up his step count. He mentioned casually to me "I set it at 6 (6mph), so that's one mile in 10 minutes, and three miles in 30 minutes." Ummm ... I don't think I could do that (admittedly, I'm a wimp when it comes to running)! I haven't hit the treadmill lately, but back when I did, I was more at the 12-minute mile range. 5mph. I'm not even sure how long I could keep that up at this point, three miles would be pushing it!
I mentioned the statement to Hubs, and he looked up a local 5k this past weekend.  We wondered if running in a race might appeal (this is my anxiety child, who has dropped out of team sports because they are too stressful and competitive.) Cooper seemed willing to give it a try, and Keaton said he would too (even with a cast on his arm/broken wrist). If Colton had wanted to run too, I would have done it myself (I even updated and charged my ipod shuffle just in case), but the little guy wanted to save his energy for his basketball game later in the day. So off Daddy and the two boys went. Maga met them at the race!

Ready to Race!

Daddy's original plan had been to start closer to the back of the pack, so the boys could pass some people and get that rush. The boys however didn't like the "back" idea and wound their way to the front. They were off and Hubs couldn't quite catch up! We were both a little afraid the boys might push too hard, and then need to stop, but they ran the whole thing. Cooper came in just under 24 minutes (2nd in his age group, 19th overall) with Keaton right behind him. 
I think it was an excellent experience for both boys. They had been with us years ago when we did our Family 5k, but CooperMan was in a stroller then, and Keaton had been on a scooter. This was the first time running a 5k for both of them. I don't think it will be their last though ...

Update ...

Our stake has an annual 5k in May. After the success of the first race, I thought this would be an easy one ... and maybe I'd even participate this time. I was planning on it, and so was Cooper and Keaton. The morning of the race, it was POURING rain. Cooper and I opted out, but Keaton was still game. He did get soaking wet, and slipped a time or two.

They got these nice t-shirts! 
Not bad for a free race (we did donate a couple cans of food). 

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