Blackham Bunch 2016

The Westra side of the family attempts weekly updates sent out to the siblings and folks, so we can stay in touch with what everyone is doing. It doesn't always happen, but I figured I keep a copy of the outgoing emails here ...

December 19, 2016

This week didn't have quite the excitement of last week, with Keaton's allergy attack. But Gray did have a couple of Meniere's episodes. Tuesday at work, and Thursday morning at home. We just never know when they will hit.

Callahan had games Tuesday and Friday. They won them both. He was struggling with his shots a bit on Friday's game. They just weren't going in. But the end of the game, Copper Hills was up by just three with seconds left and the other team in possession. Westlake took a shot, and missed. Rebounded to Callahan who was fouled. He was at the line, and the entire crowd there was chanting "Callahan, Callahan, Callahan" ... he got both buckets to ensure the win. 55-50.

Wednesday I'd pulled out a few of the school photos from this year, thinking I might make photo ornaments. Those are always my favorite :) Anyway, while I had the box of school pictures out, Callahan wanted to line all his up, year to year ... so we did. Then we did it for all the boys. Gray was already asleep, but the boys and I spent a good hour around the table laughing and talking.

Keaton's team played earlier and also got the win. I just wish Keaton got more playing time. Colton won both his games on Saturday, and Cooper's team got the win too, although it was a slooooow start. 1-0 at the end of the first quarter (28-8 at the end).

Gray and I went to his work party Thursday evening. Downtown at Tucanos, a Brazillian grill, like Rodizio. Then to a Kurt Bestor concert (we have some of his Christmas CDs).

Saturday evening it was the annual Blackham Christmas party. Building gingerbread houses, watching funny videos, eating soup and rolls, playing with the kittens, and then of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus came. 

I got a box off to Landon. With My Missionary Shipping ... I can track it (unlike with USPS) and it's been stuck in customs for a couple days. I called, and it doesn't sound like there is a problem, just a general delay. Hope it gets to him by Christmas. I waited too long to send it, but other than one other time we had an issue, it's always gotten there in just two days! 

Jen and da boys

December 11, 2016
Well ... we had quite a week here!

With the anticipation of Landon coming HOME ... we need to make a little room. We're going to give him back his old room upstairs. He's just neater (I mean this in a cleaner way, not necessarily "cooler" neat way, although there could be an argument made for that) than Callahan, so I prefer to have that upstairs where I can see it, and the messy room downstairs where I don't notice it as much (Keaton, also upstairs is absolutely OCD clean!) I've had a craft/scrapbook room for as long as we've lived here (although it's moved around some) but now I guess we need the room to actually be a bedroom for Callahan. Not sure what his immediate plans are regarding school/mission, and it's still months before graduation, so he needs a spot. So ... right now the basement looks like a tornado hit it as I'm rearranging and organizing and purging. I haven't been that crafty of late ... but I still want to be able to if the urge hits, so I'm trying to find a spot for some of my sewing and scrapbooking stuff. Went through the game closet, gave away a bunch to neighbors, set some aside for family to look through (they are at Mom's now) and repositioned the keepers upstairs for easy access (and a reminder to play them more often). 

Then there's the hot tub ... mentioned last week. It's getting used although I haven't been in it. Me and swimsuits aren't really on speaking terms. The hot tub does create more laundry, with towels being left all over. Maybe in the summer we can have some sort of clothes line. For now, the banister by the stairs, the shower curtain rods and doorways are where we can hang things to dry. 

We had some excitement ... not the good kind, on Wednesday this week. Keaton had successfully eaten a bananaNUT muffin (walnuts) with no adverse effects (as he, Landon and Colton stay away from nuts due to allergy issues), so he tried a cashew (more than one). But ... still allergic. It was pretty bad! I was on the phone with a doctor who prescribed steroid pills and an epi pen (those run $700!) and were a step away from bolting to the ER if it seemed like his breathing was affected. He did have some swelling of his lips, and then around his eyes. His nose wouldn't stop running. Spots all over his face and body. And the itching! He was going crazy. Dad had him jump in a cold shower and that seemed to help some, or the Benedryl finally kicked in. The drunk Benedryl phase was much easier to  handle than the angry itching phase! The scene from the movie "Hitch" definitely came to mind! He fell asleep ... but I had to get up and check on him all through the night to make sure he was still breathing. No cashews for Keaton! Picture (and poems) below.

It was also the Elite8 Tournament this week, a big competition down in American Fork. Of course, I don't dare drive there, so I didn't get to see the boys play :(  Luckily, they had a bus, so I didn't have to worry about them getting to/from the event anyway. I was actually able to watch the final, championship game (against Bingham) as it was being streamed online. Cooper had a Junior Jazz game at the same time though, so I was watching both ... or attempting to anyway. As a high school varsity game goes longer than a JJ game, we were able to rush home and catch the last quarter there. Unfortunately, Copper Hills just couldn't quite pull it off. 56-60 was the final. Keaton and the sophomores also played and won all three of their games. Keaton still isn't getting the playing time he'd like, but he did score in the last two games at least (one of the other moms was keeping my updated via text). Callahan pretty much played the entire game for the three tournament games ... while you like playing time, sometimes you really could use a break too! He says he feels pretty beat up.

Pammy posted a cute video of her kittens ... we haven't been out to visit them much. Joy is in heat again. It alternates between hilarious and utterly annoying as she follows everyone around meowing so loudly and just wants a constant rub down. Usually she doesn't like me much (she prefers the males ... I've even found her laying on Grayson a time or two) but she even comes to me for cuddling when she's in heat.

Now for some poetry ... Keaton needed to write a poem for school, so of course we were inspired by recent events. First, a limerick.

The boy's face was swollen and red.
He was itching all over his head.
He ate a cashew
He's allergic, it's true
Some Benedryl, and then to bed!

... the Keaton and his friend came up with this rhyme ...
I ate cashews
I nearly died
My throat swelled up
My tongue  got tied
My eyes dilated
My skin was dried
"I guess I'm still allergic"
I sadly sighed

... we have a neighborhood FB group (which is where I advertised the games I was getting rid of) and the mom of one of the gals in our carpool posted her daughter had won a poetry (haiku) award the newspaper had running.  I remember when Cooper and I wrote up a big one regarding different state license plates for his Great American Award (which Colton needs to be working on this year). 

I'll attach some pictures too ... Jen and da boys.

November 20, 2016

We had a pretty busy week here. Gray had a couple of derbies. With Keaton at basketball now, Cooper went once and Colton went once. Neither was particularly happy about "helping" out. Gray has one more and then that should be it for this year. I can't remember how many he did in 2016, but it was a LOT. More than he's ever done. I think he's still enjoying it.

It was "Meet the Team" night on Tuesday/ They introduce the players and then have some short showcase games. The sophomore team is split to scrimmage each other (Keaton got a couple baskets), JV played Varsity (Cal got 6 points) and then Varsity played Faculty. I made "muvees" and posted them on my "basketball mom" facebook account. I was thrilled when Cal and Keaton both got THEIR numbers ... as I often refer to my children numerically (Cal is #2 and Keaton is #3 ... Colton is also #5 on both his teams. Cooper is signed up for Junior Jazz, but I don't think they have a #4, dang it!)

After the games it was the team meeting ... signing up for our required "donations" and "volunteering" (I don't think it can be called donation/volunteer if it's REQUIRED). As we left ... SNOW. Brrr. I know it's November, but I'm not ready! 

Mom and Dad hit construction on 7800 when they came out last week. There is a lot of work going on on that street, and also 4000 W (the road you turn into our neighborhood on). As we came home on Tuesday, they had the turn lane closed off. Not a huge deal, as we know the neighborhood and could take a back way in. Today (Monday) 4000th is closed completely. The alternate way to get to Cooper's middle school is Bangerter, but they've had the right hand turn (to 9800, where is school is) closed off all week so ... we'll see how we get around today. 

Cooper struggles with carpool on a regular basis (he doesn't like waiting for other people if they aren't ready, not on time, or sing in the car or talk incessently ... or like Friday, forget about pickup completely! The kids waited for 40min on Friday (before I had finally texted the other moms to see what was up). 

Gray's birthday was on Saturday ... we went out to Texas Roadhouse with Pam. Stopped to see the kittens beforehand. Grayson has been smoking up a storm too! Brisket, ribs, pulled pork, a turkey (practice for Thanksgiving coming up). 

Our neighbor's have a puppy, and usually the Mr. is home enough during the day to keep watch over her. He's a hunter though, and was gone for the elk hunt. The Ms works all day and didn't want the puppy in the kennel for too long, so asked if our boys would go over after school and give her a break for play and potty. So they did that Mon/Tues/Wed. I went over with them to get them started then left them playing in the backyard (I could see them from my window), then came back to help get her back in the pen. On Wednesday, I guess there was additional licking/dander or something, because Cooper had an allergic reaction, bumps and splotches all over his face. It happens here and there with our kitties too. Fine most of the time, then a scratch or a rub a certain way and ... allergies! Gave him a couple Benedryl and he was fine, but also OUT for the night. 

Callahan and co. had a "game night" over the weekend and one of the new popular games is called "Speak Out" ... with it, you put these plastic mouthpieces in, they are like you have at the dentist to keep your mouth open. So they look funny, and make it so it's hard to talk (the point of the game, trying to get your team to guess what you are saying, a phrase on a card). Callahan showed me a quick picture on his girlfriend's SnapChat ... that's what the kids are using now instead of Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I got an account, JUST to follow the boys and make sure they are keeping things appropriate ... but I forget to check it (and things on it are only posted for 48 hours then gone). They also made a "Mannequin Challenge" video and one of the kids posted it on Twitter (and I reposted it on Facebook). 

That's the Blackham Business!

November 11, 2016
This was a pretty busy week, with the Thanksgiving Holiday and everything. The kids were only in school for two days. Wednesday, the bigger boys still had basketball practice, and then their annual physical. Turn your head and cough. Ha ha. I'm just glad I was able to get them in. It's a little hard to get an appointment sometimes, especially with a deadline, especially when the boy's time is limited with school and practice all the time.

Gray took the three littles downtown to the Jazz game Tuesday night. He got great tickets from work. $650 price tag on each. It included parking and dinner and was up close. And the Jazz won too!

We hosted Thanksgiving this year. It was just our family, Maga, Olivia and Ana's crew. An even dozen. Grayson made two whole turkeys ... more to try different seasonings and techniques than to make sure we had enough food. We had enough! He also did a bacon wrapped turkey breast and a small ham. Maga did Lion House Rolls. They are great. I bought Gray a new "ricer" for his birthday which he tried out for his mashed taters. I'll include some pictures. I made our annual "Turkey Cookies" a couple days before Thanksgiving ... I ate more than my fair share.

No Black Friday shopping here ... Olivia was planning on going and was trying to talk Keaton into going with her. I did do a little online shopping. I never know what size to get ... but I figure with five boys, it will fit someone, right? The DMV was open on Friday though, so Grayson took Keaton in to get his driver's license. We'd had everything done (16 years old, class completed, test taken) for several weeks now but just hadn't made it in. Not that he has a car to drive ... I'm not sure I'm ready to let him take MINE. We need to find something for him. Our insurance guy seemed to say sometimes you could get a cheaper plan putting the kid on their own with a clunker car (so they didn't have to technically be insured on the family cars, even though insurance does cover anyone driving the family car). Anyone else heard that or use that trick?

Basketball is about to start up big time! This Friday is the first game for Cal and Keaton. Callahan is nervous, being the first Varsity game ... and it's also the one they had to sell tickets to for the fundraiser (so there will be more than the usual family and friends watching) PLUS it's Copper Hill's day to show off their student section for a "cheer" competition, so the school will be pushing attendance. Callahan (and probably Keaton too, although he hasn't voiced it) wishes they could get a couple games under his belt before having such a large audience. 

Saturday - Colton has two games (again, playing on a 5th grade team and a sixth grade team) and Cooper has one ... plus the dinner/auction for the big boys. It will be a busy day. At least everything doesn't overlap. I'm not sure yet what time Cooper's game is, it's either 3, 4 or 5:00. Colton's 5th grade game is at 1:00 and his 6th grade game is at 9:15. That is past my bedtime ... but at least it helps eliminate conflicts. For the auction, I made some of my hanging towels, but together a big box of scrapbook stuff, and got Muvee (my video editing software) to donate a couple downloads. 

I have been getting back to the family blog with a few updates. As the end of the year approaches I always feel the urge to get up to date... although I still have lots of stuff from summer, and even some from last year to catch up on!

Well - Signing off for this week!
Jen and da boys

October 30, 2016 
We've been quite healthy here, but this week Cooper came down with something ... cold, flu ... not strep, because I did take him in for a quick check of that. He missed school Wed/Thurs (they were out Friday so he didn't actually miss that day). Colton started Thursday night, still managed school on Friday but then missed his practice that night and his games on Saturday :(  We've had little "fever competitions" as I'd stick a thermometer in each of their mouths and then we'd see who could get the highest. Colton would win by numbers, but Cooper just looks super sick. Red face, sweaty, glassy eyes. Crossing fingers that they are both better enough to hit school tomorrow. Not that they've been any trouble really, just laying around watching TV and such. I've still managed to get in my zumba classes and elliptical sessions.

I laugh a little, as it was "Red Ribbon" week (say no to drugs) and this week I've been pushing pills for the boys. Colton has finally mastered swallowing, so that is good.

Insurance is changing at Gray's work, so we have a new plan Nov.1. Cost is up a bit ... $800 in premiums, $1200 individual deductible. Not as bad as our $10k deductible from a while back with Humana. I've heard they have pulled out of Utah completely, so anyone on that plan now has to scramble for coverage. A lot of my Facebook friends have been posting about their premiums skyrocketing. 

I had an interesting text conversation with Keaton ... I'll include a screen shot. Apparently, he has a girlfriend! NO! Callahan and Kate (his Homecoming date) have seemed to move in that direction too.

Grayson had three derbies this week, and he has three derbies next week. Whew! As if work didn't keep him busy enough.

Cal wore our Whoopie Cushion costume (no pictures though) to a school dance.  I pulled on the convict for a Halloween Zumba event. I'm really not sure if the littles are even going to go trick-or-treating though. They think they are "too old" and with them just barely over their sickness ...

That's it from the Blackham home ...

October 23, 2016
Just a quick update.  We had Fall Break, so I had to turn my alarm off Thurs/Fri and sleep in a little, remember Wednesday is an early out at the elementary, etc. Back to routine this week, but the high school and middle school have Friday off as it's the end of the quarter. Colton will still have school Friday. 

It was the end of Keaton's early morning driver's ed though (even though the quarter doesn't officially end until this Thursday). He still has a roads or two to finish up. This morning it was nice that I didn't have to make the 6:30 drop-off at school (just the usual 7:15 and 8:15 for middle school and elementary), but Callahan had run off in the morning and I had to call him and tell him he needed to take his brother to school from now on!

They are tearing up 7800 South again. I remember when they were working on the Bangerter overpass and what a pain it was to try to get to Columbia to drop off or pick up kids. You just never knew if it was going to take 5min or 30min! Now again! I usually go catch Bangerter off 7800 to make the morning drive to Elkridge, we'll see if I end up changing my mind. Of course, during this construction they are also going to work on 4000 W ... ultimately making it impossible to take an alternate, as the alternate is also under construction. The road in front of Elkridge has been under construction all summer (and still now) too. It's everywhere! My driving anxieties have NOT improved at all lately, and all this just makes it worse.

Callahan and Keaton had basektball games on Monday, then Callahan again on Tuesday. Colton just had one game on Saturday ... they won it in overtime! Tryout time is coming up. Callahan's pretty much a sure thing, I'm quite hopeful for Keaton ... although having two kids on the high school teams will be a little hard (as parents are required to donate and volunteer a lot ... required/volunteer ... isn't that an oxymoron?)  The younger prep league isn't even having a 5th grade team this year. I've debated having Colton try out for the 6th grade team, but he's already on a 6th grade team (not through the school) which he likes, and playing on a 5th grade team with friends ... both of which are less expensive options than the school prep league. Who knows if Colton will even end up at Copper Hills? I'm not sure what the future school situation is for the younger boys.

Gray made us a yummy dinner again this week. He enjoys the smoking ... I enjoy not having to make the meals myself! He's got three derbies this week too. Busy boy. 

That's it from the Blackham Bunch

Monday, October 17, 2016
What's going on here with the Blackham Bunch ... basketball, derbies, school, the usual.

Only a couple more days of early morning driver's ed for Keaton. It was just this first quarter, he doesn't have any next week (and Fall Break this week). Will I continue to get up at 6:00? It's habit, I should ... we'll see. While I was out driving with Keaton, getting those practice hours in, the song "Car Crash" came across the playlist. Keaton muttered "I don't think that is very appropriate!"

Colton had a busy day Saturday. FOUR basketball games. 4:00, 5:00, 6:00 and 7:00. The first two were in the same location, and the last two were in the same location, but he'd have to miss something between the 5:00 and 6:00 game. He ended up playing the 5:00 game, and then making it to the next one for at least half. All four games were losses though. When we were home, Gray was asking me how Colton was handling it. The last two games were unwinnable, against a good 7th grade team, and against a National Top10 6th grade team ... but with the pressure off, the kids just played and were happy with whatever they got. I did mention to Gray that there were some tears after the 5:00 game. Right after I said that we heard Colton call out from the kitchen "I can HEAR you!"

We hardly ever see Callahan. Seriously, some days I don't! With school, work, basketball and friends. He has cut back his hours at work (not this coming week, with Fall Break) but we're always to bed before he gets home from KFC. He's gone on a few more dates with the gal he took to Homecoming. Not sure if they are officially an item yet. I've tried to encourage him to date more than just one girl. He says he really doesn't talk to girls ( which I guess he's overcome with Kate). Three couples came and carved pumpkins at the house on Friday night after the high school football game. They always go cheer, even though Cooper Hills hasn't won a football game in ... a long time!

Cooper has been my ping pong partner ... or rather, I am his. Every day he asks "do you want to play ping pong?" and so we do. He expressed some interest in trying tennis, so on Saturday we went to the local park and hit the courts there. He was not bad for his first time. We'll have to try again before the weather turns, before they strip the nets (of the two courts at the park, just one net was up). Maybe we'll have to try racquetball too - it's harder to find a place to play, but weather isn't an issue.

Gray got back from his Seattle trip on Monday. Back to work, and a derby on Thursday. Sunday he tried smoking prime rib for the first time. It was wonderful! He's always a little nervous on these first tries, so he made brisket too. We have so much food! I don't know that I'll be making dinner at all this week. 

That being said, there is still a sink full of dishes waiting for me (the one load from breakfast and such was just done and still hot last night, so I put it off the unloading and loading until this morning). 


Sunday, October 9, 2016
I didn't write last week ... there hadn't been a lot going on. Saturday it was Homecoming at the high school, and Callahan was busy all day with paintball (predance) and then dinner (Tepanyaki) and the dance. His date was named Homecoming Queen.

Last Sunday there was some sad news, a boy in our neighborhood died. He was Landon's age, one of the boys he'd gone to church and scouts and such with. This boy (Kody) had struggles the past few years with drugs and other mental issues. I haven't heard it said outright, but I think it was suicide. I'd run into him a while back, he was working at Little Caesars. We'd had a nice chat. Landon had heard on Monday (my letter, and from other sources) and had me pass on a note to Kody's mom. The funeral was yesterday.

We finally turned on the heat this week. The house got down to 63° and the boys complained :) But a couple days later I was flipping it back to A/C ... we're not quite done with it yet. There was frost on Callahan's Charger one morning and we were caught unprepared, no scraper. It hasn't been a problem since, but I've told him to pick one up for the future. It will cool down again.

I've been taking the "Family Phone" (Landon's old iphone that Cooper is using for PokemonGo) to my Zumba classes. Almost every church (LDS or otherwise) is either a gym, or a Pokestop. My Zumba locations are poke-stops, so I figured I could at least spin and collect some items and the start and end of class. But ... it resets after about 5 min or so, so every time I go grab a drink, I give it a spin :) Cooper has been happy with my help. I had tried catching a critter here and there, but without success. There is some trick to the "throw" but I was finally successful this week, catching a Pikachu! Since then I've caught a few more (as I'm out and about with the phone while Cooper is in school). I'm not as cool as Uncle Clay (Gray's brother), who caught a Charizard for his son though. 

Grayson is in Seattle with Ana, touring food establishments with Kolby's crew. He's posting pictures, but I must admit nothing looks tempting to me. I can't even recognize much of it as food! It's good he has others for his adventures, as I'm such a homebody. Gray is wanting to go to Mexico to pick up Landon when his mission is done. I think Landon will happily be a traveling companion to anything Gray wants to do.

Jen and da Boys

Sunday, September 25, 2016
Wow - all the kids wrote last week. Even Scott! And here I am getting off the Blackham update on a Sunday. 

It was a pretty normal week here. Basketball practices and games. Gray had a derby - Cooper was the helper because it was the same time as Keaton's game. With Pokemon Go, all LDS churches (other denominations too) are either Poke-stops or gyms, and that makes Cooper more willing to go out. He also likes the drives, hoping to pass stops and catch some pokemon. 

I was impressed that Cooper went out with Dad. It was Thursday night, and black storm clouds had rolled in. It was rather scary looking, even though the weather here in West Jordan wasn't as bad as elsewhere (as other friends posted pictures on Facebook). Yikes! Tornadoes! That is a trigger for Cooper's weather phobia, but again, he seems fine. 

Keaton is reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" for school and asked me to read it too, so we could discuss it. It is an easier book to read than "The Scarlet Letter" (which I read and attempted to discuss with Callahan last year). Just finished chapter 11 and went over some words K wasn't sure about ... wrathful, apoplectic, philippic, umbrage, interdict, tirade, cantankerous. After going over the definitions, Keaton said "well that was an ANGRY chapter, wasn't it?!"

I had an extra copy of the book in physical format, but was able to get a digital download from the library. I much prefer digital now, and it makes looking up and highlighting words or phrases so much easier. I have been listening to a lot of audio too, but I sometimes get distracted, especially when I have my headphones on during the boys basketball games and such. Not that I ever get overly emotional or yelling at games, but it also keeps me a bit distracted from the game, which isn't a bad thing. More parents maybe need to do it ... there have been some confrontations and arguments at the last couple of Colton's games. Me no likey ...

Well, that's it for the Blackhams. Keeping it short and sweet this week. 
Jen and da boys

Monday, September 19, 2016
I got a letter off to Landon yesterday (Sunday) but didn't alter it for the weekly family epistle. Sometimes I can just copy, but other times my letter is too "to Landon" and I have to rewrite for family ;)

We had a busy basketball week. Cal and Keaton had games on Thursday night. In Lehi, at the new Skyridge high school. It is the same floorplan as Corner Canyon (where Scott's kids went). Really nice main gym (doesn't even seem like a high school) and to auxiliary gyms. Cal played at 7:00, and his game went into double OT, so that made us a little late in to watch Keaton's game, which started at 8:00 in the smaller gym. Boy boys won. Gray drove us down, as I'm too wimpy to do it myself (although we did try a backroads route that avoided the freeways ... so MAYBE I could try it, as there are more games coming). 

Colton had THREE games on Saturday. One in Lehi again (we hitched a ride with teammates). Some adult altercations after, which is always disappointing and discouraging. We lost by one, due to a questionable call at the end. Our coach is a bit of a "yeller" and can be loud. Afterward though, one of the ladies from the other team came up to our coach's wife and stuck her finger in her face and said "You should be ashamed of your husband" ... and our coach's wife didn't take that well. I actually didn't see any of this going on with the women, but I saw some of the men get involved. I hate it when that happens. 

We had two games a little later in the day, in West Jordan again. Colton is playing on two teams in the Gene Fullmer league. One 5th grade, and then his 6th grade Wolves (the team that played earlier and he's been with for about a year now. The 5th grade team is one he played with last Winter but that didn't do Spring or Summer and is just now back together). They won both of those games easily.

Gray has been quite the cook lately! He made us yummy pulled pork on Saturday, and a steak dinner on Sunday. He had been really excited to try a new "salt plate" (big slab of salt you heat and cook the steak on) but it didn't work out that well (it exploded a little bit). Still experimenting. 

Cooper has still been excited about hit Pokemon Go. He likes it when I am on carpool duty Friday night's to Colton's practice at SLCC. Lots of Poke-stops and Pokemon there and back. I admit we did a couple small detours when some rare Pokemon appeared (driving aimless around a neighborhood or two until they showed up). He's also really been into Ping Pong, and it's been played a LOT, all of us taking turns partnering him up. He's pretty good if anyone is up for a challenge!

Well, I need to head out to Zumba now!
Jen and da Boys

Sunday, September 11, 2016
Hello from the Blackham Bunch ...

It's back to basketball and derbies for the Blackham boys! Gray has a bunch of derbies on deck and hopefully Keaton will continue to be his right hand man (with Cooper and Colton as backups). Cal and Keaton have been spending several evenings at the high school, open gym clinic in prep for tryouts in November. Colton has two practices a week now, as he's on two different teams. His Wolves (6th grade) and Grizzlies (5th grade, his grade, although some on the team are in 4th). He has his first game on Saturday in Lehi, at the Karl Malone Training Center. Of course I don't drive there, so we hitched a ride with buddies on the team. I saw Kim's son Seth (and Aspen) there leaving as our game was going to start. Not sure who they were cheering on ...

I think my duckies have flown. I saw them Sunday, but no sign of them Monday or Tuesday. Other ducks were still around, but not MY duckies. I always glance down the waterway as I cross the canal in and out of the neighborhood but haven't seen them again. I hope they are happy and healthy wherever they are!

Cooper accompanied me taking Colton to his basketball practices, getting some Pokemon-Go in. On Tuesday nights, it's just close, at Gene Fullmer. I'll drive through the West Jordan Park for him, as it has several Poke-stops in its loop. The trip to SLCC on Friday was fairly successful too, and there are a ton of stops all around campus. Our drive to drop off Colton took us past the volleyball courts, tennis courts, gym and a few others.

Cooper has also really been into ping pong lately. It's something that comes and goes in our house. In the past couple weeks, he's been playing and asking for partners a lot. He's quite good. He and I have been getting a lot of ping ponging in.

Gray smoked up ribs on Monday. So yummy! He did brisket on Saturday. Yummy too. I'm pretty spoiled ... not only does he bring home the bacon, he also fries, well, smokes it up. He's made dinner more often than I have lately!

He and the boys went up to the lake for a final waverunner run. We'll probably be winterizing them and putting them in storage soon. It will free up space in the driveway. Of course we also did that by selling the suburban last Saturday. Since Callahan got the Charger, the Burn was just a backup vehicle, although Keaton had looked forward to having a car at his disposal once he gets his licence. I guess we'll be on the lookout for something smaller for him ... and then Landon will be home in a few months and be needing a vehicle too. Multiple drivers makes for a crowded driveway! Especially with waverunners and a derby trailer.

Cal is busy with work (although he has cut his hours back), basketball and such, but still is very social, spending a lot of time with friends. Much of that time was spent making "music videos" for their creative homecoming questions

That's all for this week - Jen and da boys

Monday, September 5, 2016
I haven't been good at sending out the weekly update for a few weeks. Oops. I know, that leaves you all dangling like a participle (seriously, that was an actual simile I read in one of my recent books) wondering what we are up to. So sorry ... ;)

School has started for all the boys. I have to admit, I like the return to routine and school structure, even if it does mean getting up early again, helping with homework (haven't had to yet, other than the signing of all the disclosures) and carpools. I'm still driving TO school three times (Keaton at 6:30 to early morning drivers ed, CooperCarpool at 7:20, Colton at 8:20). I get up and make lunches, and can usually squeeze in a couple sessions on the elliptical while I'm getting the boys off. They have all been really good at getting up, dressed, breakfasted. I have good boys! Even Callahan has been getting up (and going to the gym early many mornings). 

Cooper has struggled with the carpool situation some. We haven't had a carpool for the last few years, while the boys were at TerraLinda (different school than the rest of the neighborhood). He's used to ME. But there are other kids in the neighborhood going to Elkridge, so we have set up a carpool with a couple families. Originally I was to drive to/from Tuesdays/Wednesdays, but Cooper gets SO stressed out in the mornings, likes to be in complete control of when we leave, that I just said I'd drive every morning (it's easier than waiting and watching Cooper stress out). I still pick up Tuesdays, as the other too moms have things that day, but then they pick up the other days. The first day, the mom was quite late and Cooper held it together until he walked in the door before bursting into tears. Since then it's been okay, although he still doesn't like it. 

Cal and Keaton have 4th period basketball together (if you don't make the team, you do have to transfer out of the class). Right now, due to district rules, they can't "play basketball" in class, so it's all conditioning. Lots of running. The first day, six boys threw up and one passed out. Yikes! Glad I'm not in that class!

Colton's basketball will be starting up this week. He's played/practiced all summer, but Fall will be more involved. His 6th grade Wolves team (who he's played with for about a year now, he's just 5th grade) will be doing two leagues, and when his old team (his level, 5th grade) asked him to play with them, it was hard to say no ... meaning we didn't say no. Unfortunately they ALL play on Saturday, so he'll have three games each Saturday. They leagues said they'd try to work around other game schedules, so we'll see if that works out. One of his games will be in Lehi, I'll probably just send him with a teammate. I don't drive that (at times I might hitch a ride too, we'll see). 

It's been birthday week here at the Blackhams. Cooper, Keaton and Landon. Gray decided on a last minute camping trip to Bear Lake last week. It was on some property friends owned (true camping, no outhouses even) ... Cal had to work, so I had to stay home to supervise (at least that's what I say, I'm just not a camping/beach gal, I didn't make it up once this summer). They had fun. Made it home last Sunday for a cake for Cooper. I didn't have much in the way of gifts for him. He did take $20 in birthday money to use toward his PokemonGo, had to upgrade his sack so he could hold more items (it was Pokestop heaven in Garden City Idaho apparently, and he caught some cool Pokemon as they passed through Wyoming). He went out on errands with me the other day and it was a VERY successful trip (as we drove the West Jordan park a couple times, it has about eight poke-stops in it), hatched a Charmander, and caught a Raichu (seriously, I thought he was going to hyperventilate!)

I sent a package to Landon - he'd requested some new white shirts. I always send him oreos and other "american" treats he can't get there. I dropped it off last Monday, watched the tracking as it arrived at the mission home on Wednesday, and he did get in to pick it up already! Already opened it too (it's not his birthday until Wednesday!) We use "My Missionary Shipping" and have been quite pleased with it.

We've had some funny food and fun phases. The kids liked the orange cream and banana cream yogurt Walmart makes ... but Walmart stopped making it. They don't even like the Yoplait (name brand!) go figure. I tried the Danimals drinkable yogurt and it's been a huge hit (Cooper doesn't drink milk, so I like getting him some calcium). Nutella has also made a comeback (the boys liked it a few years ago, but then stopped eating it, but it's back). Nerf guns have also resurfaced after maybe a couple years of being in a box! I pulled out some of our old Pokemon cards to give to cousin Will, who is now into Pokemon too (although Cooper loves the PokemonGo, he isn't into the cards anymore).

Well - I'll try to do better at writing weekly so it doesn't get so long!
Jen and da boys

Monday, August 15, 2016
School is coming up quick ... this is our last week of "summer" 

Grayson took Callahan and his friends (and Keaton) to the lake on Thursday. With a bunch of big boys, the waverunners were never beached, but in constant use. While they were gone, I took the two little boys bowling. AllstarLanes doesn't have the "free" bowling like in years past, but still a decent deal ($2 per game, free shoe rental before noon). In our two games, I got five strikes! I'm pretty happy if I can break 100, and I did both games, and I even went without bumpers. Sometimes Colton and Cooper don't look very happy when bowling (if they aren't doing particularly well) and I have to ask "Are you glad we came? Are you having fun?"  So anyway, we got ONE bowling trip in this summer. Keaton went to JumpNBounce with his friends once. We haven't hit a swimming pool once! Oops!

In prep for Cooper's move to middle school, we had to get his immunizations updated. I had an appointment scheduled at the regular pediatrician's office, although they said Dr. Azaid was out of town, another Dr. was filling in. We went, and they didn't have a receptionist or a nurse that day,  and hadn't updated to my cell for the phone number (still had the regular phone which we dropped a few years ago). So they hadn't been able to call to say they couldn't do the immunizations (which is what we needed). We stopped at Walgreens and got it done there. Easy Peasy. We'll have to go into the school and map out the classes, find his locker etc. We did get his schedule, and I printed a map of the school from online. It will be interesting to go there, because it's been remodeled from when Landon attended.

Both Callahan and Keaton have seminary in their regular day this year. The one year of early morning was quite enough, having to drag Callahan out of bed. He is nothing like Landon, getting himself up and off. We will have the one quarter of early morning driver's ed for Keaton. I don't know what time it starts. I've asked several times without getting a real response. Callahan went into the school last week for a little last minute scheduling. He switched English classes to get the one that will qualify him for the Regent's scholarship ... pending he can get his ACT score up. He'll be retaking it in September. 

I've been walking to the canal a couple of times every day to see (and feed) my duckies. Uno is gone though :(  we don't know what happened to him. The other three are still there (two never showed up at the canal, we don't know where they ended up either). Sometimes it's just me, but Cooper will often accompany me (then walk to the church and park, getting those Poke-Stops while I am feeding the ducks, then we walk back home together) and sometimes Daddy comes on an evening walk. 

We made Brazillian Cheese Bread on Saturday, so go with some yummy ribs Grayson smoked. Keaton invited a couple friends over to partake, and even Callahan was around that evening (he'd opened KFC so was done with his shift by 4:00). We've watched a bit of the Olympics.

Jen and da Boys

Monday, August 1, 2016
I always write Landon on Sunday, but do the family one until Monday ... after I see all the other family updates come across email!  While not a ton happened this past week, it felt pretty full...

Tuesday morning we were up early to get Callahan off to trek. Everyone was to meet at the church at 6:00 am to join their families and board the busses. Whoever the trip historian was, kept posting progress pictures to Facebook as the internet allowed, so we were able to follow them as they left, hit Wyoming, etc. We even got some shots here and there the next few days. Callahan got back on Friday about 4:30. Took a shower, ran to Costco for some dried mangoes he'd become addicted to on trek, then he and Keaton played basketball in the evening. I guess his feet weren't too tired, even after 44,387 steps on Thursday (and he still didn't quite overtake me on the Fitbit friends list).

I've still been hitting my Zumba every day, subbing during the summer for the Tuesday class. I have a couple other girls who know some numbers, so while I'm in charge, and plan the playlist, I usually don't DO the whole class. Except for this past Tuesday, when I pretty much did. But I can do it no problem now (I know enough songs). I still do my hour of elliptical most days (three 20min sessions) which is when I watch my current pick on TV. A couple sessions on the exercise bike, reading while riding. I've been doing a lot of reading lately! Hopefully weights a time or two. And I've been walking to the canal every day, often more than once, to see and feed my duckies. I've always been able to find them at the canal, although sometimes I have to walk further, depending on where they are. I often call out "duck, duck, duckies ..." as I hit the canal, a call I would do in the backyard when I'd bring breakfast. One morning, about 30 seconds after my call, four duckies came flying down the canal and landed right in front of me. Just that once though.

I took Keaton in to the Endodontist on Wednesday. He's had a problem tooth, and the pediatric dentist thought he needed a specialist. Then we went back to the dentist on Thursday, and hopefully that wraps up our dental visits for a while. Both Gray and I could use a visit but ... we haven't been good at making that happen. I need to get Cooper in for his 7th grade immunizations. I can't believe school starts up again in just a couple weeks (year round already started up! Crazy!).

Gray wants to get a few more trips in on the waverunners. He said he'd do a "friends" day for both Callahan and Keaton.

Colton's been on a summer basketball league. They've been having practices, but only one game so far. They have one tonight and Saturday, and then a double header the next Saturday (and that will be the season). We'll see what Fall holds ... I'm not sure if the older boys will do a pre-season league, or if they won't play until the official season starts at the end of the year.

Thats all for now ♥ The Blackham Bunch

Monday, July 25, 2016
Pioneer Day ... is this when we used to go to the church for the chuck-wagon breakfast?

Tomorrow (Tuesday), Callahan leaves on the Pioneer Trek! I think we have everything pretty much ready, but will have to finalize his "bucket" and such today (I wanted to BEFORE he went to work all day today, but we didn't get it done, so I am doing it). He did a little DI shopping this past week to pick up some shirts and pants. He's going to wear the same hat Gray and Landon wore on their treks (we call it the "Stinky Pete" hat). 

We had a couple visits to the dentist this past week. I took in Cooper and Colton on Tuesday. Their visit was quick and easy, just the basic exam and cleaning and NO CAVITIES. Yea!  The next day, it was an appointment for Keaton. A cleaning, orthodontic change, and a look at a tooth that has been bugging him for quite a while. It's not a cavity, but rather it just came in with a bad, soft spot. So HIS appointment was over two hours long, and it's going to need a root canal (going to a specialist for that) then back for restoration after. Uggggg. At least it looks like the dental insurance is going to pay pretty good.

Gray went up to Pineview twice this week. Thursday was with his work gang, and then over the weekend just with our three littles (Callahan had to work, he's always working!)  Keaton prefers a boat, for tubing ... but they have been pulling a tube behind Roxy and Keaton and Cooper think that is a blast (Colton apparently wasn't as fond of it).  

I've been taking a walk to the canal every day to see my duckies. So far I've always been able to find them. One day they were all the way down the South side, that was a longer walk. Lately, they've been right at the mouth of the canal, so that makes for a much shorter walk (and sometimes then I'll do multiple walks). We still have their feed, so I bring it to them so I know they are getting enough to eat out there in the wild. This morning I walked one way ... didn't see them, so started on the other way. I called out "duck, duck, duckies..." which I would do in the mornings at home as I'd bring out their feed. Four ducks came flying (literally flying) down the canal and landed right in front of me. They heard and answered my call! 

Aunt Olivia is working at SuperCuts over in Jordan Landing. She stopped by the other day after work and gave the three littles haircuts. Cooper needed one badly, he was so fuzzy! Colton has been liking his longer, but agreed to go short this time. He looks like he used to now, I'd missed that look. Livi did Keaton REALLY short on the sides, it's a little too short, she said he really looked like you. I'm going out on Tuesday for her to do my hair ... blondify me.

That's basically what's been going on with the Blackhams ... ♥ Jen and da boys

Monday, July 18, 2016

I don't know that I got an email out last week, but we had just seen several of you at the Westra/Waffles/Welatives at our house. And it is a good thing we didn't put the party off one more week because ... all my duckies are gone now!

Monday morning, the day after the party, I went out first thing, and was greeted by only four duckies. Antonia and Phillipa and flown (two of the black ones). I took a walk to the canal every day, but didn't see them. Wednesday, coming home from Zumba, I thought I saw a black head, so I pulled over and sure enough ... it was one of our duckies! Antonia!

Thursday morning ... two more were gone. Uno and Miguel. On a walk to the canal later that day, I did see that Uno and Antonia had found each other. Cooper and I also came upon a big group, at least 12, that looked just about a couple weeks younger than ours. We wonder if they were the ones that had stayed with us for a couple weeks. I've never seen that big a group (there were still 12 babies when they made it to the canal at 2-weeks old, they would be about 7 weeks old now). Rather than risking one more bird flying off solo, leaving one home alone, or the birds not making it to the canal, we took Ally and Jorge to the canal and let them out with Uno and Antonia. 

I've been making many walks to the canal now! Each trip is about 30min (longer if I stay and chat with the duckies) and about a mile. A quarter mile from our house to the canal, then the ducks have settled about a quarter mile down the canal. So many goathead thorns though! I have to pick them out of my shoes every time after. This alge-bloom at Utah Lake is making it's way to the canals and Jordan River now. I hope the ducks are okay.

Gray and the boys finally made it up to Pineview with the waverunners. Last Saturday, and then again on Tuesday (with just the older boys and a friend). Landon was berating us from Mexico for not having gotten the girls out yet!

Keaton had researched and found a good deal on a Wii U ... we've been talking about getting one for quite a while. So he and the littles are putting up half the $$ and we ordered it (off ebay). We're lucky we got it though, as USPS delivered it to the wrong house! Happily those individuals were honest and brought it by. The boys have been enjoying it.

Callahan has also been into the Pokemon Go craze! Cooper jumped on board too, but has to use Landon's old phone (which is the "family phone" as we gave up our land line) because it needs service for the GPS. Cooper likes to go walk between the neighborhood park and the church, as both are Pokestops. Have you all heard of this game (it's all over Facebook and the news). 

Gray tried smoking pork chops and chicken drumsticks last night ... and even a peach cobbler. Unfortunately he's really the only one that likes peach cobbler.

Jen and da boys (and no ducks)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016
I didn't get a letter out, Sunday, or Monday. Better late than never? We've been a bit boring this past week. Not a ton going on to write about. Landon hasn't sent out a general email in a few weeks, but I got one (a picture of a written letter, as his wifi camera can send it) so the blog is updated.

Gray is TRYING to compete with the parents on doctor appointments. He also had an appointment with a dermatologist last week and they took a sample to check. He goes back Thurs to get stitches removed. His pinched nerve pain comes and goes some, but he's had some bad days. Makes it hard to sleep especially. He's tried the recliner a few times, trying to find a pain-free position. Surgery might be in his near future too.

The kids have dentist appointments in July. Keaton has been having some tooth pain and might need a root canal himself. It's not even a cavity really, but more of a deformation on his tooth. The dentist couldn't really even get to it (pressed against another tooth, would have to go through and destroy a lot of good tooth to get there) and he been trying orthodontics to shift the tooth position some. Keaton's tooth pain comes and goes too.

Keaton's bedroom has a window on the East wall, and the morning sunshine just blasts in and his room gets SO hot. We had a portable window a/c, and so Keaton rearranged his room and we put it in there (picture attached of him jumping for joy). 

Our six duckies are almost full grown and testing their flight feathers. Yesterday when I went out to turn off a sprinkler ... there were only four ducks! I peeked over the fence into the neighbor's backyard, and there the other two were. The neighbor's weren't home, but before (when Momma and baby ducks were wandering) they'd told me I could go back there if needed. By the time I walked around, one duck had flown back, but I couldn't get Uno to figure it out. I ended up catching him (quite a trick) and then tossing him back into our backyard. We'll see what the future brings. I'm wanting them to stick around until next Sunday at least, so they will be here for the Westra Waffle party.

After Zumba this morning, I invited on of my friends and her kids over to see the ducks. They thought it was pretty fun to feed them. We need to order more live mealworms (we only have dried ones right now). 

Oh ... the other news is that Callahan has a new car. We didn't really need a new car yet, but Keaton driving and Landon returning home are right around the corner. I think it was Gray more than Cal who pushed it ... it's a Charger (picture attached). 

♥ JenB and da boys (and da ducks and da new Charger)

Monday, June 13, 2016
Well, the first week of summer went pretty well. Not having to get up at 5:30 to get Callahan off to EMS has been nice, I have been sleeping in. Still hitting my Zumba classes though. The instructor for our stake is going to be gone most of the summer, so I'll be taking over. With that, I have a key to the church (to get in Tuesday mornings) and I've been taking the littles and going over for an hour here and there during the day. I let them play basketball, while I practice Zumba and supervise them.

Keaton and Callahan had a basketball camp up at the U of U last weekend. They will have the Copper Hills clinic at the high school this week (Mon-Thurs 9:00-12:00) and then Dixie camp the week after that. Originally I hadn't signed up Keaton for the camp, as it was the same week Gray had scheduled the Seattle trip (Callahan was going to miss the family vacation for it though). But, as Grayson has been struggling with pinched nerve pain and Meniere's attacks ... he made the tough decision to cancel the family going on the vacation (Kolby and Jami and Maga will still make the rounds). He just didn't feel like he could risk going down for four hours (which is what happens with the Meniere's) or battle pain the entire time. Luckily I was able to get Keaton onto the Dixie agenda late ... otherwise he would have been a sad boy that week with no basketball, no vacation, and no friends around.

In the backyard ... Momma and the babies took a walk Monday morning and didn't come back (they had been wandering almost every day at dawn and dusk but kept coming back). Colton and Cooper and I took a walk to the canal in the evening and we found them there. They made it. All 12 babies. I hope they stay safe. We still have our six (Ally is improving!) and I think they are happier with Momma and the babies gone. Now they have free reign over the yard and can swim whenever they want. They sure are growing fast.

While on the way to the canal, we came across a Killdeer - another bird, looks a little like a roadrunner with long legs. It is nesting right on the corner after you pass the canal on the way in. It laid it’s eggs in the rocks (decorative, instead of grass next to the sidewalk) for camouflage, because it’s eggs look just like rocks. Momma bird will run to the other side of the road and pretend to have a broken wing to distract you from the eggs, but will also fly AT you! She scared the boys! It’s a crazy busy corner for her to lay eggs at! Tons of cars and people! She nested there last year, and I remember seeing the little babies running around and hoping they wouldn't get hit by a car or eaten by a dog or cat. 

Had a bad experience with our Oreo (kitty) and the elliptical on Thursday ... we are always really careful to make sure the kitties aren't in the gym if the treadmill is on, but the elliptical and bike are pretty safe, IF the kitties aren't IN the elliptical, hiding in the hole in the back. I have often caught Oreo going in right when I want to hit the machine, and I make him come out. This night, he was in there already and I didn't know it. I start up slow, but still I'm not sure how the gears move back there and where he was exactly. A thunk, a "meowwww" and a mad dash from the machine. Scared me to death and although he wasn't limping or had any physical sign of injury, I wasn't sure if he'd gotten squashed or how badly. He does seem to be fine though ... whew!

Gray made wonderful pulled pork this past weekend. The smoker was an early Father's Day present, and he's already put it to great use. He is often the one making Sunday dinners at our house now. Ribs, brisket, have yet to try even more yummy things.  #graystartedsmoking

Last night we got hit with hail ... HUGE hail! We had to run out and coax the ducks to shelter under the trampoline (just grab a bucket of mealworms and the ducks will follow you anywhere). Seriously, the size of a nickle! As we have a couple pools of water for the ducks, as the hail would hit it, the water would explode. It was pretty cool to see. A little tough on the plants, but we don't have many (I have planted some stuff ... mainly for the ducks though). 

That's it for this week ...
Jen and da boys (and da ducks)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Poor Blackham boys ... we have no such college funds set up. Callahan had been hoping for the Regent's scholarship, but didn't score high enough on the ACT. Not that he can't take it again, but I just don't know that he'll improve it enough.

I didn't get an update out Sunday ...
  • Memorial Day Grayson took the munchkins to Maga's, where they got haircuts ala Olivia and visited some family graves.
  • The last week of school ... the kids got some school awards, the littles had field day.
  • Gray got into the orthopedist for his pinched nerve (sorry Mom, we didn't know it would be contagious!) and got another round of steroids. He seems to be a bit better. Probably surgery next if it flares up again. More Meniere's though, a bad attack last Tuesday while at work. Between the two issues, Gray decided to call off the family trip to Seattle, which is a huge disappointment to him and extended family.
  • Colton had his final Spring basketball game (they came in second) and will play summer. Keaton and Callahan will be packed here in June with basketball camps (playing up at the U tomorrow, Fri, Sat - at Dixie June 20-24).
  • Our wild Momma ducky and babies made their way to the canal. We still have our six.
When I saw Derek post his car for sale, I wondered if we should buy it (not sure where our finances are at the moment) ... keep this whole car swap in the family! We've been practicing driving with Keaton this week, and Landon will be coming home next Feb, we're going to need more wheels!

I almost missed  your update Mom, it got a bit buried in the blog email and I had to go look for it. Glad you can move around a bit more, but still so miserable (as Gray can attest to). Gray's MRI showed nothing (no brain tumor) so we're still sticking with the Meniere's diagnosis there (unfortunately it cost almost $900 out of pocket to show that) and unfortunately that scan won't work for the pinched nerve problem ... not sure if he'll need another MRI for that

Jen and da boys (and da ducks)

Sunday, May 29, 2016
It's continued to be ducky days around here. We are down one duckling though :( While we had a few close calls (them wandering off and a couple falling into the neighbor's window well, a cat attack at 4:30 in the morning, and they were gone Saturday night when we got home from the Westra BBQ, but found them across the circle and walked them home) we still had 13 ... up until Sunday morning. They wandered again (Momma and the babies), I've really tried to block all the exits from the yard (boards and stuff against any small holes in/under the fence) but they still got out. Again, a couple babies down a window well. I had to hold Momma off while Keaton got them out, and when we counted, just 12, not 13. We looked all around but could find no sign (or sound ... it's often the peeping that leads you to a lost duckling). I'm not sure if Momma actually wants to leave, or is just a little stir crazy in the small backyard and wants to forage and then would return on her own (if nothing happened in the mean time). She does fly off a couple times a day, circling the skies with the Mr, and we keep an extra close eye on the babies when she's left them alone.

Monday we went out to Maga's house to see Princess and the new kittens. They looked a little like rats, but I'm sure they'll be darling once they open their eyes and get a little bigger. Sadly, out of the five, they lost one ... this animal life is hard! The boys will probably mention that Joy is in heat again. It does cause a little inappropriate talk (about how Joy wants to get "knocked up" or how she needs a man). She's SO funny when in heat.

Gray had three derbies this past week (Tues/Wed/Thurs) which was a little harder than usual, as his neck pain has been bad this week. He's going to the doctor on Wednesday, and hopefully they might have some options to help.

Last week of school here. Early Morning Seminary ended, so I don't have to set my alarm for 5:30 to drag Callahan out of bed. It was actually nice to get a jump start on the day though ... I wonder how I'll do with exercise and such on a summer schedule. Colton had his 4th grade program last Wednesday, and Cooper and Keaton are getting awards this coming week.

We had to make some stressful decisions on basketball this week too. There is a camp up at the U ... and of course I don't drive there. In the Spring League, Keaton was bumped to the B team, and it was pretty miserable. Getting smashed almost every game, and just frustrating for him to feel like none of his teammates know the plays or will catch a passed ball. And with this U tournament, I'd have to be sending him with other families (it's an all day thing) and we're just not close enough with these kids to impose that way. So he'll miss it, and the Dixie camp (which is the same week Dad scheduled the Seattle trip this year ... Callahan is choosing Dixie over the family vacation). But we just get the feeling from the coaches that if you don't come to these camps, it will affect the chances of making the team in the fall. So ... we'll have to see. I guess if Keaton doesn't make the team (or even if he does and isn't getting playing time) maybe he could accompany Dad and come pick up Landon in Mexico next February! Keaton IS always spouting off in Spanish, and hasn't had a trip with Dad yet.

Monday, May 23, 2016

It's been a ducky week. We'd been bringing the six babies outside, letting them stay in the pen most of the day ... and out of the pen if supervised. Sometimes they'd get out and were so happy to be running around that I'd end up staying outside for  an hour or so, digging worms and such.

Friday morning I was on my computer and I had the blinds open when I saw Momma duck walk by ... and she wasn't alone. She had babies with her! THIRTEEN babies! Little balls of fluff, only a day or so old. Way back when I first convinced her to come into the backyard I told Daddy I'd love it if she nested here, but I'd never seen any sign. I swear she'd been flying in and flying out each day, yet she had to have nested close. The boys and I have done a thorough search of the yard and haven't been able to find any eggs. It's a mystery.

So ... that is 20 ducks in our backyard. Not sure what the zoning restrictions are in our area. I've also been buying some birdseed for some feeders in the front, and have been seeing a lot of birds there. We also have two starling nests ... one in back in the cinderblock wall, and one in a hole in the brick in the garage. That opening is right at eye level, right by the sidewalk. We're a little worried about getting beaned in the head by a bird! It hasn't happened yet but there have been some close calls!

It's been funny with the ducks. A little of the "younger child" syndrome. After last year, especially after adopting the two other ducks later in the season, we've relaxed a BIT. We'd  kept our three penned up most of the time (for their own protection) and then let them out when we were watching (a few hours each night). With the other two, they had been living on their own, so we never penned them up, just letting them roam the backyard.

Of course we never penned up the wild ducks that flew in this year ...  We're not penning up Momma and her new babies - so we've been a little more lenient with our new six than we might have been otherwise. Although we do have to watch, as Momma duck gets protective of her babies and comes after them at times. Our six have learned to stay out of her way (but they still get a little too close at times and there is an altercation, causing me to run outside and break things up). I'm still planning on putting our six in the pen for nightime and if I'm away for hours.

It's been so fun just looking out my window into the backyard and seeing all my duckies! I'm constantly counting (six of ours, 13 babies). They look so cute as they cuddle, or swim, or forage. Not exactly sure what the future holds as they grow bigger! It has really impacted my productivity negatively.  I'm not getting a lot done, but I have taken a lot of cute pictures (I made a Facebook page for my ducky posts). Gray is a little worried about food and spacing issues and wondering about the possibility of relocating mama and her babies to the canal .... I'm not ready for that though. I'm sure there was some other stuff going on this week ... but really, it's all been eclipsed by duckies!

There was a stake 5k run on Saturday. I actually THOUGHT about it, even charged my ipod shuffle, but it was cold and raining. Both Cooper and I wimped out due to the weather, but Keaton still ran it. Gray has really been struggling with a pinched nerve in his neck. It will seem to improve a bit, then he'll do something to tweek it and can hardly move. He stretched Sunday morning and ouch ... :(  He has three derbies this week too. 

Jen and da boys and da duckies.

Sunday, May 15, 2016
I still got a letter off to everyone last week ;)

Pretty much the same stuff happening here in the Blackham home. Keaton had a game Monday ... they lost, so that ended Spring season for him. Colton finished his Tuesday league this week, but still has a couple Saturday games left. Callahan had a game Wednesday. No derbies for Gray this week, which was good, as he hasn't been feeling well with pinched nerve pain.

With some nicer days, we've been bringing the ducklings up and letting them stay in the pen outside during the day. When we are out there to supervise, we let them run all around. I'd picked up some flowers (finally ... my first flower purchases this year!) and let them hang with me while I got everything planted. I've added a few more birdhouses to my flowerbed. Never can have too many birdhouses, right? All mine are just decorative, I should put up a realish one and see if anyone comes to nest. I've been putting out seed and have been getting a lot of different birds visiting. It makes doing dishes more fun as I can see them out the window as I work.

I've been making minute improvements to the kitchen ... I cleaned out the "pencil" drawer the other day. It's the "junk" drawer and it's so much nicer when it's a bit more empty and organized. After the boys had to spread peanut butter with the handle of a spoon a time or two (when all the knives have been dirty) I bought an inexpensive set of 12 butter knives. They are quite thin and small but they do the job. Then I picked up a set of 8 new steak knives, as we'd had a variety in our knife block, and again wouldn't have knives there when we needed them. And ... after 20+ years of my dishtowels with the crocheted tops I've had hanging on the stove/dishwasher, I tried out a Pinterest idea for new hanging dishtowels and they turned out great. I'm in a bit of a "making" mood and as I already have the sewing machine out, I might make more to give as gifts.

Gray smoked a roast last weekend, and did brisket for today. It was in the smoker for a total of 19 hours! Low and slow! It turned out very yummy though. It's been rather nice for me having him make Sunday dinners for the past few weeks. We usually have a lot of leftovers too, so my cooking during the week is helped as well.

Grayson took the little boys to see the new CaptainAmerica movie. Keaton went the day before with his friends. I just haven't been much in a movie mood for a while now. I prefer to wait and watch them at home, where I can have subtitles and Grayson's yummy popcorn. I grabbed "McFarland USA" from the library, as Colton had caught some while waiting at a friend's house and wanted to see how it ended. It was a very cute, clean show.  Gray and I watched "The Martian" last night. I really liked it. There was a lot more humor than I'd expected, some language though ... I know Derek and Wendy's family like the new VidAngel service for editing movies.

I'm still behind on the family blog ... I went to post about Pammy's Party from a couple weeks ago, then realized I NEEDED to include a video of the party itself (in addition to the video I made for the party). Things like that always add onto the time it takes to do a "quick post" (I did that when I finally did a blog post about the duckies too). 

Signing off for now -
JenB and da Boys

Monday, May 2, 2016
I'd sent Landon a raincoat with one of our packages ... he finally had reason to wear it last week. He said it didn't do that great a keeping him dry. Back when I bought the one for Landon, Gray happened to pick one up for himself, just to have on had ... and he wore it for the first time that same week. 

This was a pretty crazy week! Grayson had three derbies (finishing up his busy season, he'll still have some year-round but not like April!) again, there was TONS of basketball, and then a family weekend, with a big birthday bash for Maga on Saturday and then the Westra and Waffles on Sunday.

Tuesday, between the three boys, there were FIVE games! I had to arrange for Colton and Keaton to get rides to their 6:00 games, I went to Callahan's 7:00 game, Colton had an 8:00 game, and I went out to see K play at 9:00. Keaton had gotten knocked to the floor hard during the earlier game and it actually split his head open a bit. Two gashes, one long but fairly superficial, the other was smaller, but deeper, and I wondered if it should have had stitches. Apparently there was blood everywhere (I wasn't there when it happened, the other moms had to help clean him up). Head wounds bleed a lot. Keaton hadn't been able to finish that game, but he did great in his second game at 9:00 that night.

In addition to the leagues the boys are in, there was a tournament over the weekend (Thurs/Fri/Sat) so multiple games, and Keaton and Callahan ran clocks/stats for games they weren't playing in. Saturday morning the boys had games at 8:00, 9:00. 10:00, 11:00. and 12:00.  Whew!

After basketball, it was off to Maga's party. Grayson had been prepping for weeks, especially these last few days. I made a slideshow (20min long!). I'll include some pictures. After the party and cleanup, we hung out at Maga's house. Maddie was holding one of Maga's chickens the entire time (like two hours) ... it just snuggled up with her and fell asleep in her hand.

Another animal ... a "black hamster" was given to Maga at the party (I guess when Pammy was little she brought a hamster home without telling her parents and then spent a week or so asking them IF she could GET a hamster). So the kids were playing with it too.

We had everyone over at our house Sunday morning for a big breakfast too, and then Kolby's family flew back Sunday night. We headed up to Chris and Kim's house, as they were hosting the waffles/westra monthly gathering. Waffles twice in one day!

Our eggs have been rocking and showing cracks. We had hoped one might hatch when the Blackham Bunch was over. When it didn't then, we hoped it would NOT hatch while we were gone to the Westra family activity ... but alas it did. It's smaller than the duckies we hatched last year. So tiny! Right now we have a box next to the incubator in the laundry room. We need to keep the kitties out! Our wild female duck stops by at least once a day still too, but now that the canal has water, we have a little competition (we're not the only place around offering food and water). 

Jen and da boys (and da ducks)

Sunday, April 24, 2016
We got a surprise picture of Landon the other day. I've told him to  do that more often! When he's at dinner with a family or something just say "would you mind taking a picture of me and sending it to my mommy?" and give them our email address :) Easy peesy, right? 

The duckies have continued to come every day. I'm already attached. I dread the day our girl doesn't show ... meaning she has probably nested somewhere else. It would be such a treat if she'd nest in our yard and we could watch the natural process. They have still been flying away each evening. I don't know where they nest for the night. I think our our incubator eggs might hatch as early as next week? I'm not ready ... the wild ducks in the yard are one thing, but baby ducklings completely under our care is another. A LOT of work!

This was a busy basketball week. Keaton had four games (he's right back at it after his broken wrist), Colton had three and Callahan had two. There were some conflicts, so I didn't make it do watch every one, but I do like seeing the boys play. I have started wearing my headphones and listening to my audiobook while I watch and video tape. Especially at Soccer City ... there is SO much noise there! Multiple games, whistles, coaches and parents yelling ... it's enough to drive me batty! Not that I'm not already there, right? :) It will be a very busy basketball week coming up here too ... Tuesday the boys have FIVE games between them (I think I can only hit a couple). I did make a video of a couple of Colton's games (I'll attach). 

Gray has been busy with derbies too. He had three this past week, and three coming up next week. Grayson has been a little sad that Keaton is getting back to basketball, as that does take him away from helping. Cooper just isn't as willing. All Cooper wants to do is watch basketball games!

Colton has stinky feet syndrome right now. Callahan had the same problem when he was this age. We'd make Callahan take off his shoes outside and immediately wash them just so we could all survive the smell. Colton is coming in a close second. Stinky feet!

Yesterday it has been 24 years since Grandpa Gordy passed away. We did our usual visit to the cemetery, even though it was cold and rainy (it actually hit 81° earlier in the week, but now has turned colder again, and this next week looks quite dreary). I'll attach a couple pictures (we went to Crown Burger afterward, as is also tradition). 

Gray bought himself a smoker (happy father's day?) and made us yummy ribs last week, and smoked a pork butt today (making pulled pork). His brother Clay has been into smoking meat for a while now, and I thought I heard Derek mention he was thinking about starting up. I sure don't mind Grayson taking over Sunday dinners!

Well - JenB and the boys, signing off!

Thursday, April 14.2016
I didn't get a family letter out this week ...  I was quite down about missing the blessing. Dang anxiety issues! Callahan has a game tonight I'd love to go watch ... but I don't think I'll make it either (at Highland High School, doable, no freeway, but still out of my comfort zone). 

Callahan used to have night terrors. They were so bad and unnerving! He would babble, nonsensical stuff, like he was speaking in tongues. It was like he couldn't see or hear us, but that he could see something, he'd reach out into the air to grab or bat things away. It is funny how things fade from memory though ... I can't remember exactly how we dealt with them. I think we'd try to wake him up (which was hard!) We'd walk him around and ask him simple questions ("who am I? I'm Mommy.  Is this your blanket? What color is your blanket?") I think eventually we'd get through to him, he'd wake up, be fine, and then go back to sleep (sometimes it took longer for ME to get back to sleep though!) 

We had a cleaning lady for a bit ... it was good, but it stressed me out too *Ü*  I felt like I had to clean before the cleaning lady got there. I mean they can't tackle putting things away, and the house needs to be in a certain amount of order for them to be able to clean. I'm always uncomfortable when someone is in my house too. Poor Grayson ... I don't do a great job keeping things clean.

I posted on Facebook, that there have been a couple ducks in the neighborhood (I mean, with the canal close, there are always ducks, but this pair was in the yards right by us). Once when they were right next door, I took out some duck feed (we had leftover from last year) and water. I was even able to coax them into our backyard. I filled up a container with water so they could splash around a bit. 

I've been complaining a bit about the prospect of raising ducks again. It was a lot of work last year. I always felt like I had to clean out their box in the morning (they would make SUCH a mess with poop and spilled water) and take them for a bit of outdoor time, then swimming time in the tub. They were so hard to catch, quick little buggers. It was easier when it warmed up and we were able to move them outside, but I'd still have to feed and water them in the mornings. The evenings were enjoyable, our "duckie time" when Gray and I would just sit outside and watch them. Poor Gray happened to be having another Meniere's attack Sunday night when I got the ducks back, so he didn't even get to enjoy them. 

They flew away for the night ... but showed up again in the morning. That has been the trend. They fly away, but come back. I think that is what we hoped for in the fall, when our two (male and female) flew away. We're not sure if these are them, or one of them with a mate. I actually suspect the female might be! She seems less skittish than the male (although she, Pedro, was always the most skittish of our three ducks). When I went to dig up some worms, she did come toward me expectantly (and was rewarded with worms). 

It's been fun having the ducks back! I would love it if they would actually nest and raise their family here. We'll see. I even pulled out the big swimming pool for them.  Of course, Gray already picked up eggs, and there are seven of them in the incubator too. I wonder how many ducklings we'll end up with this year.

If you watch the news, the story about the 13-month old who fell into a cooler and almost drowned yesterday ... that is the grandson of my main Zumba instructor :(  He's still on a ventilator, they aren't sure where things stand for sure. I had mentioned to Mom too, that an instructor in another of my Zumba groups was pregnant. Full term, a couple days overdue. They went to induce her when the baby started struggling, and even with an emergency c-section the doctor wasn't able to get the baby out in time and she died.  So very, very sad!

Jen and da boys

Sunday, April 3, 2016
I did update Landon's blog, even though he didn't write much this past week (but there were cute puppy pictures!).  It was "the holy week" in Mexico and the missionaries didn't get much done with everyone on holiday. The mail was shut down too, and I've been tracking my package I sent. The others went through fine, but this one seems stuck in customs, so cross your fingers it makes it through.

The kids were off for Spring Break Monday, then in was back to the routine. I've been getting up at 5:30 to get Callahan off to early morning. I've had to drag him out of bed (literally) all three days this past week. They don't have early morning on Fridays, and he and Keaton were out of school last Friday anyway.

Keaton got his cast off on Tuesday. It was only on about four weeks. The doctor said to still be careful for the next three weeks, and then we'll follow-up once more. Gray and Keaton had a derby on Wednesday, and then Keaton had his basketball team dinner on Thursday. Keaton received the award for "best defensive player" which is a bit ironic, as he's point guard (more offensive) but the team defensive wasn't great, and Keaton had to really step it up there.

Colton had his basketball practice on Friday, and a game on Saturday (they won). He'll be playing double games on Tuesday nights starting this coming week. I think Callahan has some games coming up later in April.

It's high school registration this week. We've been going over classes and teachers for Callahan and Keaton. With the "arena scheduling" they can pretty much choose their classes/teachers/periods. So many more concurrent and AP options than when I was in high school. 

Jen and da boys

Sunday, March 27, 2016
I did update Landon's blog, even though he didn't write much this past week (but there were cute puppy pictures!).  It was "the holy week" in Mexico and the missionaries didn't get much done with everyone on holiday. The mail was shut down too, and I've been tracking my package I sent. The others went through fine, but this one seems stuck in customs, so cross your fingers it makes it through.

The kids were off for Spring Break Monday, then in was back to the routine. I've been getting up at 5:30 to get Callahan off to early morning. I've had to drag him out of bed (literally) all three days this past week. They don't have early morning on Fridays, and he and Keaton were out of school last Friday anyway.

Keaton got his cast off on Tuesday. It was only on about four weeks. The doctor said to still be careful for the next three weeks, and then we'll follow-up once more. Gray and Keaton had a derby on Wednesday, and then Keaton had his basketball team dinner on Thursday. Keaton received the award for "best defensive player" which is a bit ironic, as he's point guard (more offensive) but the team defensive wasn't great, and Keaton had to really step it up there.

Colton had his basketball practice on Friday, and a game on Saturday (they won). He'll be playing double games on Tuesday nights starting this coming week. I think Callahan has some games coming up later in April.

It's high school registration this week. We've been going over classes and teachers for Callahan and Keaton. With the "arena scheduling" they can pretty much choose their classes/teachers/periods. So many more concurrent and AP options than when I was in high school. 

Jen and da boys

Sunday, March 20, 2016
I was a little worried last week, about how Monday morning would roll with the time change. I was up early, as were all the boys! Easy peasy! Callahan is trying to eat better, so I've been trying to help, but making him breakfast and lunch. I can prep a lunch the night before, but with early morning seminary (starts at 6:00) it's an early rise to pack it and get breakfast for him. This week I've made him some smoothies and scrambled eggs (on different mornings, not together). Gray is up at 5:30ish anyway and I usually don't really fall back asleep. It's not bad, getting a jump start on the day.

Tuesday was our Pinewood Derby (I updated the blog). I really don't know how the scout leaders, or Gray, does it. All the chaos is crazy! Colton hadn't cared about being fast this year ... but on the test runs and first couple races, it was pretty speedy! He came in 6th (there were 23 racers, three different wards combined).  Gray and Keaton ran another derby Friday night.

If Keaton hadn't broken his wrist, he would have been playing in the state tournament this week. They had games Wed, Thurs and Sat. I thought Keaton would go watch and cheer them on, but he said that was too depressing. His friends ended up taking 1st place in the lower division.

Colton is back to basketball this week ... played his first Spring game on Saturday. But it has been a change going from three games and two practices a week to just one practice, one game. Not that it hasn't been nice having some evenings at home.

Thursday was sophomore orientation over at the high school. We got word a couple weeks ago that Keaton's permit had been approved. I do think they were really stingy handing out permits this year. I had been a bit worried he wouldn't get in and wasn't sure what he'd do if he couldn't go to the same school as all his friends. I think it's the "sibling at the school" that made the difference (that, and we were the very first on the waiting list). Cooper's permit for Elkridge has also been approved ... I wonder where he will want to go to high school (it feeds into three different ones!)

The other day, Cooper had mentioned to me "I set the treadmill speed to 6, so that's one mile in 10 minutes, and three miles in 30 minutes" ... um, I can't do that! I mentioned it to Grayson, and he wanted to try Cooper (and any other of the boys who were interested) in a 5k. He found one nice and close (in Daybreak) on Saturday. Callahan had to work, but Keaton and Cooper said they would try it. I would have if Colton wanted to, and I even tried to talk him into it ... but we two ended up staying home. Cooper and Keaton did great! Cooper came in just under 24 minutes. 19th overall, 2nd in his age group. Keaton was right behind him. I think they would both really like to do it again. Cooper slept in his race t-shirt.

I can't believe it's Easter next Sunday! It seems too early. Some years, Easter is a bit like Christmas at our house, with gifts galore. This year ... not so much. I really don't have anything! I'd grabbed some stuff here and there, but often end up giving it to the boys to use immediately (as needed) rather than waiting for a "holiday" gift. I'd just picked up some socks for Cooper's Easter basket, but ended up giving them to him Saturday (they matched his race outfit perfectly! Orange! I couldn't resist). I am getting a package off to Landon tomorrow, but just heard that March 21, 24, 25 are holidays in Mexico and there will be no mail delivery those days ... so who knows (usually with "My Missionary Shipping" it does get to the mission home in 2-days. Otherwise USPS can take months!)  Grandma says we may not need many eggs, as the only "finders" this year will be Aniston and Layla!

I attached a couple race pictures, and some funny photos of the boys using the face swap filter on Snapchat ... Landon said they were disturbing and to "please not send any more of those",

Jen and da Boys

Sunday, May 13, 2016
Daylight Savings time. Usually Keaton is my "clock changer" boy, but I wasn't sure if he would be up to it with his broken wrist (as some of the clocks still require some old fashioned twist turning). But this morning ... they were all "correct" for the new time. Keaton had changed them last night! We got to sleep in this morning, I hope we'll all able to get up tomorrow when 6:30 feels like 5:30.

No basketball this week (other than one practice for Colton). It opens things up, but there was still plenty of stuff going on to make things interesting ...

Tuesday, I accompanied Callahan to Vasa (previously Gold's Gym) as he wanted to sign up for a membership there. At least they don't require the two-three year contracts like years ago. It's $20 a month, plus a $10 enrollment fee and $40 annual fee. If you do stop before six months, it costs $25 to cancel. Good think Cal is making the big bucks at KFC. I'm such a cheapskate ... I love my home gym! I guess I am happy not to have Callahan and his buddies down in MY gym this summer. I'm already having to share it with Cooper, and Keaton's been hitting the treadmill some lately too.

We thought he needed an adult there to sign up, although they didn't really seem to need anything from me. Afterwards, I grabbed Keaton and Cooper and took them in for haircuts. Cooper pretty much got buzzed ... I could have done that! Gray also trimmed ... the beard is gone. Back to baby face!

Wednesday, Keaton had an appointment at the dentist. We'd put off some of his dental/ortho appointments until the semester change. Now his two final classes are seminary and gym, which are a little easier to miss than math, language arts and biology. With his broken wrist, I've also had to check him out for doctor appointments. Gray went ahead and grabbed him Friday and took him to Draper to get his learner's permit (finally ... Mommy hasn't been good about getting it done). He had to take the written test twice, but did pass the second time. Not that he'll be practicing much until he gets his cast off.

Wednesday was also PT conferences over at the elementary. Rave reviews for both boys ... as always! Thursday, it was "Grandparents Lunch" and so Grandma and Grandpa came out. Colton's lunch started at 11:10, and Cooper's wasn't until 12:40. They did excuse him early to come and eat, and then he got to go out early to recess, giving him an extra long one (which he loved!) My boys are NOT lunch lingerers ... even with company. Even with an extra long recess. I did manage to snap a picture before the boys dashed out to play. It's been fun as Facebook keeps bringing up older memories, and I've been seeing all the "grandparent lunch" pictures from the previous years. I guess it's always right around this time of year, even with our school switch.

Gray had a derby on Thursday night, and Keaton went along to help, even though he didn't feel like he was much help with his broken wrist. Our derby is on Tuesday. We had the weigh-in at our house on Saturday ... Gray is STILL working on Colton's car of course :)  Always the last one to be done!

Friday we went out to dinner with the folks and Scott and Amy at Braza Grill. It was good ... but my Brazillian cheese rolls are a bit better I think ;)  Gray made us a nice steak dinner tonight, and I made them (I also made them Thursday to take to Grandpa at lunch). 

I've been enjoying my audiobooks ... it's not a switch, it's just in addition to my regular reading. I always have one book on my phone, and now I always have one in digital format for walking, driving or doing housework. Gray bought me some nice wireless headphones, as unloading the dishwasher with corded ones was causing problems!  When reading two books at once, I was TRYING to keep them a little different, so I didn't get the storylines mixed up. Alas ... not working out that way (sometimes you gotta read what comes available at the library). I finished two books this past week, and both were space type adventures. Now, both my books are post-apocalyptic stuff. Yes ... I'm a very superficial reader. It has been interesting with audio, as sometimes words/names are pronounced differently than I did in my head. One word ... dais (a raised platform, stage). For some reason I had been thinking it was a long I, but it's a long A. Ironically, the word has been in the last three books I read! I don't think I've every actually spoken it myself though.

Here are highlights from Colton's last three games in the Junior Jazz championship. They were all pretty tight and exciting! 

Jen and da boys

Sunday, May 6, 2016
This week was basketball championship week! 

Copper Hills was in the state tournament, with Callahan sitting the bench with varsity. Tuesday the junior boys took the ACT in the morning, then the parents provided the team with a continental breakfast before they boarded the bus for the game at UVU. I brought scrambled eggs ... and the crockpot tipped over in the car, leaving several servings all over the floor. The boys won that game and moved onto the quarterfinals at the University of Utah. It was against Lone Peak, who squashed Copper Hills last year. This year ... CHHS won. Dad and Keaton went to that game. Then they were playing Westlake, who had surprised everyone this year. Dad, Keaton and Colton went to watch that one. Then it was the finals on Saturday, against Bingham. It was close for the first half, then Bingham pulled ahead and our stars fouled out. Tough loss. The last two games were shown on KJZZ, and it was fun for me to watch on TV, get a commentary, and see glimpses of Callahan. 

Colton had his championship games this week too. They played Wednesday at West. It was close, but they won it. Then Thursday, another close game, but again they got the win, moving them to the championship round (for the 4th grade Junior Jazz). The final game was close the entire time, but our boys won by two points, and got the cool t-shirts! Several of these games were downtown, and I had to hitch rides with teammates because there was no way I was driving downtown!

I didn't send an update last week ... Keaton fell in gym on Monday, Feb22. A badly hurt wrist, bruised knee ... he couldn't walk, the school had use a wheelchair to get him to my car.  A loooong wait at urgentcare (didn't feel very urgent) and the wrist was broken. Keaton was in a splint for a week, and this Monday he got his cast on. He wanted black, but they didn't have it, so he went with the next darkest, navy, which is more royal blue. The cast is a bit more manageable than the splint, so I'm hoping he can do a bit more. For a while there someone would have to help him put on his Apple Watch and his socks and tie the string on his joggers.

Grayson had his derby workshop on Saturday, opening the garage to the neighbors and stake to come use his tools and know how building cars for the upcoming pinewood derby. This will be Colton's (and our) last derby! I mean, Gray will still be doing them, but won't have HIS boys IN it after this.

I was able to snag some pictures from the mission Facebook page.  Landon's mission isn't doing the big meeting each change anymore, I'll miss these posts with the big group, trying to see if I can spot Landon in there! Landon hasn't been too great and sending pictures. I did update the blog.  

I also keep my JenB'sJourney blog updated.  I haven't been as good on the family blog! I did do a "belated birthday" post for Callahan's birthday a couple weeks ago, but I still have quite a few posts from 2015 that I still need to get to, as well as keeping up with current stuff. 

Jen and da boys!

Monday, February 22, 2016
It was Callahan's birthday yesterday. We finally had our steak smorgasbord and even got Callahan to take the evening off work and join us. Red Velvet for his cake. I really don't have anything for him ... he says he doesn't need anything. So whenever he does need something, I guess I'll owe him a birthday gift or two.

We didn't get a letter from Landon last week ... although a couple pictures came through (the camera has an autosend when it has wifi). Hopefully a letter will come today, then I'll get his blog updated with the pictures and the "between brothers".

This was a bit of an "end of basketball" week. Callahan played Tuesday and Friday and they won both. Friday was the final game. Then varsity will play in the state tournament, and JV will come support and sit on the bench, but I don't know that they will actually be playing much. I'll be sad not having Callahan games to watch.

Keaton had his last official West Hills game. There is still one or two on Thursday night with his school team. Then they are taking the best boys from  West Hills and Sunset to form a team for Spring, and Keaton was invited to join that. He's excited to play on a solid team, and hopefully it's a precursor for the sophomore season.

It was a little strange not having the Junior Jazz practices this week (Colton usually had it Tuesday nights, Cooper Thursday nights) ... but it's also nice to have a little more time.  Colton still had games Wed, Thurs and Sat, and still has a few more before his season ends, and is doing a Junior Jazz tournament. Then he'll go to one practice and one game a week for Spring.

After a bit of a break, Gray is back to derbies this week. Three of them! Our ward derby is coming up quick in March, and Grayson usually hosts a derby workshop for our neighborhood, and he'll need to help Colton make a car.

I'd really dropped in my stepping in December, just feeling really tired. I'm trying to get back to my 22k a day average (I am hitting it on weekdays, but not weekends now). Still going to my Zumba. I started listening to audiobooks some, as it was easier to walk and "read"(listen) then to walk and read on my phone (I'd just wait the hour during basketball practices and get some steps and books in), and I've been listening more now ... while I clean the house or drive in the car. 

Cooper of course, is still step crazy! With the nicer weather, he was able to get out and play again. Basketball, soccer, wallball (throwing a racquetball against the house and catching it). He usually gets in over 10k BEFORE school starts, getting up at 6:00 and walking on the treadmill for a bit (while he checks all the stats and such from basketball games the night before), then does his reading while on the stationary bike. After wearing black leggings for his Shakespeare play at school, he and the other boys wear them (sport leggings) now, with shorts over them (as many basketball players do to help ward off floor burns). 

That's the Blackham update!
JenB and da boys

Monday, February 15, 2016

I forgot to forward my letter to Landon to you all last week. With the Superbowl, I didn't get around to writing until Monday morning and then I just forgot. So here is two week's worth:

So - the week before last ...

Monday, I was on "dinner duty" for the high school team. Before every home game the parents feed the boys dinner. One of the other ladies stepped up and planned it; meatball subs. I brought rolls and salad and I was surprised at how many of the boys ate salad. Ranch was the most popular dressing, followed by Olive Garden Italian (which is Callahan's favorite).

Callahan had a game Tuesday, against West Jordan. They won, but varsity lost. Colton had a game Wednesday at Olympus Junior, which wasn't as far out as I thought. Just above the old Cottonwood Mall. I noticed Ocean City was now "The Egg and I". Thursday I just sent Keaton to his game, it was at Churchill Jr at 6:00 and I didn't feel up to fighting the traffic, and I needed to get Cooper to his practice anyway. Then I took Colton to his game, but I'd gotten the time wrong. We went expecting a 9:00 game but it had been at 8:00. Poor Colton, he played for a couple of minutes and I could see he was struggling to keep his emotions in check. Once we got into our car, he burst out sobbing. He was so sad he missed his game. I felt terrible!

Callahan had a game on Friday at Cottonwood ... I went to watch. I think I only went to ONE game back when I was at school there! Kind of fun to walk the halls again.

Saturday Keaton has the only one who had games ... and he ended up missing them because he was quite sick. He'd hit 102.3° in the night, and was alternating between chills and fever and was absolutely miserable.

For Superbowl Sunday, we'd been planning on our usual smorgasbord of steak, chicken, mashed taters, but Gray was also not feeling well. So, we'll postpone that yummy dinner. I still made the football shaped sugar cookies and the boys did watch the game.

This past week ...

Keaton asked me "Did you know there are 52 weeks in a year?" ... it seemed a bit of a random fact, but then he said "this is our 52nd letter to Landon!" I've loved having the boys write each week, seeing what was important or memorable enough to make it into the missive. 

Monday, we went downtown to see the Harlem Globetrotters. Even I went, although I also would have been fine staying home. The boys enjoyed it, and I enjoy seeing them smile.

Tuesday Copper Hills played Bingham, and they lost again. The first game was close ... this one not as much. Not a great game. But I still made a video, because I can still make it look good by just showing the highlights ;)

Colton had games Wed and Thursday. Practice Tuesday, but that was his last, as Junior Jazz wrapped up this week. His 4th grade team isn't going to play Spring, so we'll just go ahead with his 5th grade WOLVES team.

Keaton had a Thursday night game. When we got to Bennion Jr I realized I had forgotten my video camera! Not a huge deal, but I actually feel lost without it. Dad brought it out to me and stayed and watched the game. It was a good one, we won by a few points, but it was close. Keaton is also playing in a President's Day tournament. So two games on Saturday, and one today. They got squashed both of the first games, but today's game should maybe be a decent matchup. Keaton also played churchball Saturday and I went to watch. It was pretty casual, I think Cooper would have been okay playing in that one. Everyone was being nice and supportive to each other.

Cooper had his last game (and I mean LAST game as he says he's not going to play on a team again) Saturday ... and he didn't want to go, and I didn't make him. I'd gotten a team picture last game thank goodness!

Callahan had another game on Friday against Taylorsville. I hadn't made it to the first matchup, at T-Ville, but heard it was an easy win for our boys. This time, not as much (although they did get the win in the end). Four of the players on the other team were boys Callahan had played with years ago on his Utes team (5th and 6th grade) so it was fun for me to see them again (and even recognize them after all these years).

This week I went to the elementary to watch Cooper's play. He did good, I think he could have handled a bigger part. Some of the kids were impossible to understand (Shakespeare is hard regardless, without soft voices or mumbling). One odd result of this, is now Cooper wants sports leggings! And as I spoil my kids, I got him some. Now he wears them and shorts. Who knew what Shakespeare would do? I went to the elementary again on Thursday as Cooper received a "Principal's Pride" award. 

So that's what has been going on with the Blackham Bunch!
Jen and da boys

Sunday, January 31, 2016
Cooper has been very into football for a while now! Now that Superbowl Sunday is on our radar we better prep for it. We usually have a big Grayson bbq. 

I have updated Landon's blog ... he doesn't write much, and I haven't received any pictures in a few weeks. He mentioned changes in their transfer meetings ... they used to meet all together, but they aren't going to do that anymore. I'll miss it, because there were usually pictures taken there (of new companionships and such) posted to the mission facebook page. I always enjoyed looking through the posts and seeing if I could find my boy. At least I finally caught up a bit in step stats  this past week. Olivia  (Gray's sister) has continued to come out to some of my Zumba classes, and last Monday, Maga came too (which also meant Amare was there). Picture will be attached.

I was a busy week. Dad had derbies on Tues/Wed/Thurs and Sat. Callahan had a game on Tues, Colton had one on Wednesday, Colton and Keaton had Thursday games (so I had to miss Keaton's, and as he wrote, it was a nailbiter!). Saturday games for Cooper and Keaton. Friday night Colton had practice at SLCC. I usually have him snag a ride with a teammate, but as I didn't have anything that night, I offered to take a turn with the practice carpool. Rather than heading home (it's a two hour practice, but SLCC isn't super close) I worked out at the gym there. 30min each on upright bike, elliptical, recumbent bike then treadmill.  It's only $2.25 to use the facility. Gray has an activity card there (so he gets in for free, it's where we'd go for r-ball, if we were playing r-ball), as he has taken classes there in the past. I'll have to have Callahan check into it too, as he's planning on taking some concurrent enrollment classes next year. NO early morning seminary for him next year (he slept in twice this past week). He'll fit it into the day schedule.

Besides derbies and basketball ... not sure there was too much else going on. It does dominate life! We dropped NBA TV in favor of League Pass. They'd had a free trial of it, and we liked it. Cooper likes being able to watch games downstairs, so he can be on the treadmill. This helps out with that (as while we have cable TV, it's only on the main TV in the family room, he can watch League pass on the Roku). He did go to practice and his game this week. I was glad about that, that he could overcome his anxiety. I grabbed a team picture (attached).

Time to flip the calendars ... January is done, and onto February!
Jen B and da boys

Sunday, January 24, 2016
This week was a bit off schedule ... Gray was in Vegas for the Builder's Convention, the kids didn't have school Mon and Friday, so that throws things off just a bit. 

Monday was MLK day.  Grayson left early as usual, worked part of the day and then headed to Vegas with the gang. He took the Suburban, he would have liked the Durango, but the Burb is bigger. So Cal "got" to drive Daddy's truck. He's not quite as into it as Landon was. He said he had to drive home Monday without lights because he couldn't find them. He called me in a panic on Tuesday saying he couldn't get the key in (I guess the steering wheel was locked, he got it figured out), then Tuesday night ... it had a dead battery and although he called a friend over they couldn't get it to jump. So, we just left it there until Gray got home on Thursday night (and he jumped it easily). 

Monday at home, I was on chauffeur duty much of the day, taking boys to Gene Fullmer for basketball (we'd bought a month pass for Christmas Break and it was still good!) and such. Keaton had a tournament game in the evening. Tuesday, Olivia came to my Zumba class. It was fun to have her there, and she came again on Thursday and is planning on hitting tomorrow. Cal didn't have his usual Tuesday game, it was on Wednesday, which conflicted with Colton's game (I went to Colton's as he needed a ride and Callahan didn't). 

We'd finished up Cooper's science fair over the weekend. They were having them all on display over at the school on Thursday morning. I had to rush over straight from Zumba. Cooper had done his project almost entirely on his own (picked out the topic, did the research, wrote the paper and all the display sheets ... I helped run the little experiment once, then he repeated it and took pictures. I helped cutting out the volcano,  but then he glued everything into place). He'd helped out on another friend's project too (as a test subject, about practicing basketball to improve).  I even got a blog post up about it that very day ... I'm never that prompt. 

Keaton and Colton had games Thursday night but they were at 6:00 and 9:00 so they didn't conflict. Cooper's 6:30-7:30 practice still did, but I'd arranged a ride for him. But ... Cooper had an anxiety attack about basketball and says he doesn't want to play on the team anymore ;(  Last week's game was a little challenging (the kids actually argued with the refs!) and it just was too intense for Cooper (even though his team did still get the win). He didn't go to his game on Saturday either. I'm really sad about it, he's been doing so well!  Not sure what to do, he's got a couple games left and I really want to get a team picture and would like for him to overcome his anxiety about it.

Callahan had his game on Friday. I was on snack bar duty ... all parents of players are required to fill in there for a couple of shifts during the season. I did it during the sophomore game as those aren't busy. Varsity games would stress me out! I guess I'll get to experience them next year though. 

Saturday Gray helped make a derby car with Aiden (his derby is coming up next week, Gray is running it). He helped a guy from work and his boys make a car too (also doing his derby this next week). Next week is a big derby week for Gray. Colton's game was at 5:00, Gray took him to it and I took Keaton over to his double header. I need an extra video camera or extra battery for when we have these back-to-back games! I had to stand where I could be plugged in half the time.

Well, that's basically what's been going on here!
Jen and da Boys

In regards to Mom's letter ...

Landon was assigned a "companion" ... another missionary leaving at the same time to the MTC. They aren't supposed to be alone after being set apart.

I love that Mom is worried about our missing "Downtown Abbey" ... I actually haven't been watching it, I figured I'd wait until it hits AmazonPrime and has subtitles and I can watch all the episodes back to back rather than waiting a week in-between. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016
Well, it was a return to the routine this week, back to getting up early and the school schedule. Monday morning actually wasn't as bad as I thought. Everyone was up and at it. Wednesday morning however ... not sure if there was a lag there, but THAT was a hard morning for everyone.

Gray has been working SO hard, putting in extra hours, working Sat/Sun trying to get on top of things. He's been busy around the house too. He bought me a new digi-lock for the front door, so we could have a keyless entry (more like the garage) ... you know him, gadget guy! Got that installed and some other things on the "honey-do" list (like the broken toilet flusher) done. He's a handy guy to have around. I think I'll keep him (and he's CUTE too!) It's Derby Time again too ... Grayson bought new black tables in December and this was his first time trying them out. They look snazzy (I'll include a picture).  Just one derby this week, but FOUR the last week in January.

Monday Callahan had a home game against Hunter. one of their players Rowland hit 10 (out of 11) three pointers in that game! Callahan did good too, with 15 points. Cal had another game on Friday against West Jordan, first region game, it was a sweep (soph, JV and varsity all won)

Colton had three games this week, Keaton had two and Cooper had one. Colton and Keaton's games conflicted on Thursday and Saturday. I went to Colton's on Thursday, and Keaton's on Saturday and had to send the boys with teammates to the ones I couldn't get to. I've been doing pretty good at quickly getting through the clips and making my muvees of the hoop highlights (although I generally have to wait and combine a few games for Colton's crew, as they often don't have quite enough per game).

My new car ... the gas gauge isn't quite the same as the burb. I knew I was low, and had planned to fill up after grocery shopping but forgot, then, I ran out of gas while bringing Keaton home from school. Arrrgggg! We were SO close too. We were going to try pushing, but then the car locked up and I couldn't get it out of park into neutral. I had to run to Maverick, buy a gas can, and then make two trips with it to get enough gas in to start the car. I sure spilled plenty on the road and my clothes too! But it could have been worse ... I'll be more careful paying attention to my gas gauge from now on.

Cooper has had a wristband on since September, from a school carnival. It had gotten really ratty, but he was seeing how long he could keep it on. They made him take it off this week for the basketball game. If you follow him in Instagram, he did a funny "RIP" post for it. 

The boys have been (under duress) writing Landon each week. It's like a weekly journal entry too. I love to see what was important enough to make their weekly report (Cal is a little hit and miss). I do put these on Landon's missionary blog each week too ...

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