Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

Thanksgiving! In the past, it's been a relatively relaxing holiday. We'd just pack up and go to Grandma's and eat. At times I'd bring rolls and a dessert, but it wasn't much work. This year though, we were hosting. I made my annual turkey cookies a couple of days before ... they aren't for the actual Thanksgiving gathering, but more just for us. Silly children prefer them without all the candy corn, so I left several plain. But me? I love the full bird. Especially the day after making them, when the cookie and candy corn have softened overnight.

Clay's clan was going to hit the buffet at Grand America as we all did last year, so with our family, Maga, Olivia and Ana's family, it was an even dozen. We moved the couches and set up an extra table, and pulled out our serving stuff. Grayson was smoking the turkey ... turkeyS, plural. It was more because he wanted to try different presentations than to make sure we had enough food. There was a regular basted/seasoned turkey, one "spatchcocked" ... basically butterflied, one breast wrapped in bacon, and some ham.  I'd bought him a new huge ricer for his birthday, which is what he uses to make his mashed potatoes. Pam brought Lion House Rolls and pies and Ana brought a salad. I made jello cubes and my chocolate pie in a pan dessert. We were set ...

We started eating as Gray carved the first bird, and everyone was pretty much done before he even started on the second! Oodles of meat. Gray even set up one of the fountains with caramel flowing as another dessert option. As if anyone had any room ...
We joke that Pammy never gets a warm meal, as she's always still in the kitchen working as everyone eats. Today ... she sat, and Gray was the last man standing. I think he got to enjoy some of the fruits of his labor though. There are plenty of leftovers. We sent some home with everyone and still have a fridge full. It was a good day. I enjoyed having it at our house ... I was able to sneak away and lay down on my bed for a bit after eating!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Pokemon GO

We've always been a Pokemon family. We have all the Gameboy games, seen all the videos, have a ton of the action figures and trading cards. The interest in it comes and goes over the years, as the boys age in and out of the obsession. But in summer of 2016, a NEW app game was released. 


Callahan was the first Blackham boy to get interested. He downloaded it and spent a couple crazy days catching Pokemon and then ... his game crashed, and reset, and he lost all interest. Cooper was a week or so behind the initial opening. He doesn't have a phone, and the game does require service, GPS and data usage. Landon's old iphone is now the "Family Phone" and I told Cooper he could use that. Cooper has LOVED Pokemon Go!

... and it really got him GOing!
He's been uber active for a while now. Playing basketball, running on the treadmill, other activities ... but with Pokemon Go, he'd go out for long walks. He'd walk to the church and the neighborhood park, as they were Pokestops. He'd circle the neighborhood catching Pokemon and adding distance to help hatch his eggs.  When I'd run errands, he'd come in the car with me, just to see if we'd pass Pokestops or find creatures along the way. 

Once after dropping Colton off at basketball practice, a Raichu appeared on the "nearby". I'll admit, we drove around aimlessly (but anxiously) attempting to locate it, and then it appeared! I thought Cooper was going to hyperventilate! Another fun catch was a Snoralax and a Lickitung.  

Of course, I'm still not as cool as Uncle Clay, 
who caught a Charizard downtown for Cousin Will (who is also very into the game). 

As most churches (LDS or otherwise) are either a Pokestop or a gym, I started taking the phone with me to my Zumba classes (held at local churches) when Cooper was at school. All my locations were Pokestops, so in-between songs (Pokestops "reset" after about five minutes) I'd spin and collect pokeballs, potions, eggs, etc. There were some Pokemon too, and I tried a couple times but hadn't been able to catch them (and hesitated to waste Pokeballs). I finally had success! I caught a Pickchu! Since then, I've improved my throw and caught a multitude more ... for Cooper of course. Unfortunately, the churches, while having wifi, disallow such games as PokemonGo. They are blocked. So still using data, there was one month where we went over on our plan. We've tried to cut back.

Pokemon Go itself is free ... but there are in-app purchases. For Cooper's birthday, we gifted him some credits and he bought a bigger bag (so he could hold more items), some incense and lures (which draw Pokemon to you), some egg incubators ... while I'm not a fan of throwing money away on video games, Cooper has been enjoying this, and getting out so much more, I've felt it was worth it! While his weather phobia has ebbed, he's still been a homebody. With this game, he'll still go walking even in bad weather and looks forward to trips out of the house.

After some uproar about safety (people who couldn't stop playing while they drove) the company changed things up, making you unable to catch critters or collect Pokestops if you are over a certain speed (15 mph? 20?) ... even as a passenger (the "I've a passenger" option had been available before). This did impact Cooper's enjoyment of the game a LOT ... and with winter coming, and not being able to walk around (treadmill miles don't count toward the steps needed to hatch eggs), at this point, he's losing interest. I'm a little sad about it ...

It was a Pokemon Go summer and fall. 
I'll never forget it!

Monday, November 14, 2016

School So Far (One Quarter In)

#5 going into grade 5!

I never did a "Back to School" post ... so here's one showcasing the school situation so far. I only have ONE child in elementary now! But still kids in three different schools (and all on permit). Cal and Keaton in high school, and Cooper moved up to middle school. Big changes for #3 and #4 this year!

The boys posed for their obligatory "first day of school" photos. And the required "fingers showing your grade" as well. If you are familiar with sign language, Keaton's "thumb's up" is also the number 10.  A senior and a sophomore. It's Callahan's last first day at Copper Hills, and Keaton's first first day at Copper Hills. I do still get to chauffeur Keaton for the first quarter, as he's taking early morning driver's ed. Once it ends, he'll be able to hitch rides with his brother. He is able to get a ride home most days, saving me a pickup.

I think the biggest change was for Cooper this year. 7th grade! Seven different teachers. Moving between classrooms. Lockers. A much bigger student body. It's also the time for immunization updates. We attempted a trip to the pediatrician, but ended up at Walgreens, which was fast and easy. Once we got his schedule in the mail, we went to the school and found his locker and classrooms. We mapped it all out and walked through it several times to make sure my little man was comfortable. We are also in a carpool, which can stress out my anxiety child (if others run late, or talk too much, etc). I said I'd drive to school every day to ease the transition. I still picked up two days, but we tried out with others driving home on the other days. He is surviving ... 

As school started up ... I was on lunch duty again! Not Colton ... he's a hot lunch kid. We look over the menu calendar, and there's usually only one or two days a month where he doesn't care for the offering and prefers packing from home. Callahan said he was going to go out to lunch on A days, but I'd make him a lunch on B days. Keaton and Cooper were taking cold lunch every day. It's funny the food phases we go through! Currently, popular items are the to-go Nutella packs and the Danimals drinkable yogurt. Just grapes for Cooper (although he'll eat an apple in a pinch), whereas C&K like a little more fruit (adding in kiwi, strawberries, cuties). Cooper and Callahan are willing to eat wheat bread, but only white for Keaton (... and I must admit, me too).  It's a little assembly line eat morning as I prepare and pack. As second quarter started though ... Cooper is taking hot lunch every day, and Keaton is taking it on B days, so my lunch making is minor now.

School Pictures
The high school and middle school uses the same photographer (Lifetouch) but the elementary has a different one .. and a different background. I had completely spaced off picture day for the two little ones, thus the distracting sayings on their shirts. I can't believe Callahan is a SENIOR and going to graduate. The traditional TUX yearbook photo. Keaton ... the "I have braces so I smile without showing teeth" look.

... as the first quarter ended and PT conferences are behind us, all the kids are doing well. Cal wants to pull up his grades, to get his cumulative back up to a 3.9 (this first quarter was his lowest at a 3.6). Keaton and Cooper both got a 4.0, and Colton had perfect scores and a glowing report from his teacher.

Memorable moments so far ... Callahan and Keaton have basketball class together. It's fun (and intimidating) to hear about their conditioning workouts! Callahan spends a ton of time "studying" with friends, practically living at Stockton's house. Keaton had the annual pumpkin drop in Physics, and I read "To Kill a Mockingbird" with him and we had some good discussions (Required Reading). I also re-read "The Great Brain" to discuss with Cooper, and Colton is starting on his Great American Award (we did this with Cooper) and it's a big project. Learning the states and capitals and more! It's been a fun review for the older boys too.  

One quarter down ... three to go.
At least early morning driver's ed is done now!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Fall Food Tour ... Eat and Repeat

Stuffing the Stomach in Seattle with Siblings
...otherwise known as the "Fall Food Tour"
(October 2015 and 2016)

Last year, in 2015 ...Grayson got bit by the travel bug. He'd had his work trip to Vegas in January, family trips to Moab and St. George  (sans Mom both times), then the trip to Europe in the summer... but that wasn't enough! In the Fall, he figured it would be fun to catch a quick flight to Seattle and spent the weekend with his bro. They decided to bring Ana along, and then they proceeded to try out various restaurants in the area. LOTS of eating. 

They got out and enjoyed the fall foliage as well.

It was such a success, that they decided to do it again this year ... maybe every year? Jami is great at planning, so she was setting everything up. Grayson put in a request to hit Din Tai Fung, one of the favorites from last year. Jami responded "okay, that is the ONE place we'll go again" indicating everything else was going to be new.

As Gray and Ana flew in on Friday, Kolby and Jami were still hard at work and the girls were in school. So the two out-of-towners hit up "Lunchbox Laboratory"  ... the Blackham boys back home were jealous!

I don't know if it was that first night or one of the following, but they did hit Din Tai Fung. I remember Grayson texting me that it was quite the wait (two hours?) and was very late when they finally ate.  Kolby and Jami's girls are much more adventurous in the eating ... I'm not sure how the Blackham Boys would fare on such an eating outing. Gray took lots of pictures ... and honestly, half the time I couldn't even tell what anything was.  I'm a pretty Plain Jane "steak and potatoes" gal, so it's good Grayson has family to support his adventurous streak!

 Food (and family) photos!

They did some of the touring again, but it wasn't until Grayson returned home that Jami posted some truly spectacular photos, as even without guests, they are getting out and about and discovering new things to see in their own backyard.

Gray and the boys had planned on going to Seattle in the summer. Unfortunately, some medical issues squashed those plans.  Grayson had really missed not it making out then... hopefully, this trip made up for it a little.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Cal and Kate - Homecoming 2016

Homecoming 2016 ... Callahan didn't go to Homecoming his sophomore year. Last year, he had a girlfriend (so it was an obvious ask). This year, he really wanted to go. The gang had plans, but he just wasn't sure who to ask. He told me there was "one girl" that he talked to sometimes ...

The guys set up an elaborate ask ... music videos. They spent SO MUCH time and effort on this. I'll admit, when Callahan would say he was leaving to go work on the video some more I'd get a little frustrated. Just do something quick and simple! I must say though ... when I saw this finished product? It's a treasure! I loved it ... I hope the girls did too.

It is a little long - Callahan's "solo" is at the 3:50ish mark, but he's in most of the other videos too (just not the lead singer lip sync). So anyway ... she said yes.

 Friday night was the homecoming game ... 
Cal with the guys.

... and the girl.

They started Saturday (the day date) with paintball!
 Cal and the guys 

... and the girl

Then it was time to get all dressed up for the dance.
A fun photoshoot at a friend's house before heading to the high school ...

Silly Socks (they matched each other ... and nothing else!)

 Five guys (most of the senior basketball team!)

Cal's date Kate was named Homecoming Queen.

... and the final formal shot.
Callahan's senior Homecoming ... in the books. And on the blog!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween 2016

Halloween was on a Monday this year. That just feels a little off. It seems more like a weekend holiday! Several schools had their Halloween parades on Friday, while many stuck with the actual day for parades and parties (Colton's school had theirs on Monday). He went as a "Chick Magnet" for lack of a better costume. Not that he likes girls at all of course. I mean ewwww.

Callahan apparently does feel the same way about girls (Keaton either ... but that is another post). For a triple date, Cal and friends and their dates came and carved pumpkins at our house. This one pictured was Callahan's design ... and a pretty perfect one for a house full of basketball boys!

Pokemon Go even got into the Halloween theme ...
They had a Halloween update for the week preceding the holiday. The "scary" Pokemon, such as Gastly, Haunter, Zoobat, Cubone and even Meowth (a cat, though not black) would appear much more often. Also, distance walked was doubled, and triple points were earned on some catches. Cooper was pretty happy about the incentives, but then he got sick and ended up on the couch for several days, instead of walking around taking advantage of the update.

My Friday Zumba class encouraged us to dress up ...
It was a fun holiday dance edition.

Callahan and Co also raided the costumes for a school dance ...
Cute Woopie Cushion Callahan!

Colton ended up getting sick the weekend before Halloween too. I wasn't sure if either of the little boys would feel up to going out, or if they would even want to (they consider themselves a little old for it at this point). Colton felt better, and did want to go collect some candy, so I walked the neighborhood with him (and the PokemonGo phone). He would have had more fun with friends I'm sure, but we hadn't planned ahead enough. I didn't get around to taking the traditional "candy" shot. 

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

Serious shot

Silly shot

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!
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