Friday, May 13, 2011

Rockin' Out

Mark is so much cooler than I am. He broke out the guitar the other day and had a jam session with his boy. I happened to walk in at the right moment with my camera. Can't you see the admiration on Milo's face? Hopefully, he will have this much enthusiasm when we're completing his Eagle Scout project...
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Saturday, May 7, 2011


Of the 24 hours a day, Milo spends the majority of his waking hours in someone's arms. Yeah, we're spoiling him, but he is by far my most cuddly baby and being my last, I want his little fingers trailing along my arms, or reaching out to grab my face as much as possible

He is so content to just hang out. He will sit in his "boinger" or "space shuttle command center" (the exersaucer), for a short stint, but then is usually picked up for a cuddle.

So I ask, who is the one really being spoiled?
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mighty Faith

On April 14th, my nephew, Stephen Merrill, shattered a vertebrae in his neck, leaving him paralyzed.  During the last 20 days,  I have witnessed miracles in his recovery as his family and friends have joined in prayer, asking for his recovery.  Stephen had just accepted a mission call to serve in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and was wrapping up a successful freshman year at BYU.

Stephen maintains the most optimistic attitude and gives every ounce of energy to his rehabilitation.  After 12 days in a Utah Valley ICU, he returned to Barrow's in Phoenix.  Mark has spent time in the hospital with him, helping to give much needed time off to Spence and Genny, his parents.   I visited him on Sunday and was left feeling so optimistic.  The road to recovery will be long and hard, but I have no doubt Stephen will receive the blessings he has been promised.

Many of my friends have graciously prayed for Stephen, and we ask you to continue to do so.

His mom, Genny, updates a blog daily:
and he has a group page on facebook: We Love Stephen Merrill

You will witness a miracle.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


To those of you who complain about HOA's (including us sometimes!) Without the protection of an HOA, this could be your neighbor!
This fellow happens to live across the street from my brother-in-law. This is his front yard! Apparently, it was a LOT WORSE until he tidied it up a bit.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Alexis Merrill is going to PARIS!

(Note to reader:  This post is purposely told in the third person)

Alexis Merrill opened up her email today to find the following:

Okay, it is hard to read so Alexis will just tell you!

Alexis is going to Paris, France on May 16th!  

This was a total surprise!  Can you believe how romantic and spontaneous Alexis' husband is?  This was not even on her radar.  She was a little thrown off because there is no companion listed on the reservation, and what about her son, Milo, who will only be 6 months at the time of departure.  Nonetheless, PARIS BABY!

Alexis burst into the living room, where her husband was on his computer and politely inquired what he had up his sleeve.  He played coy for a while, then 'fessed that he did not know what Alexis was yammering on about.  Alexis led him back to her computer and showed him the email.  He swore up and down that he did not do it.  Alexis reread the email a bunch of times and saw that it was certainly not spam.  She even logged into the Airfrance reservation portal and saw that it was a real ticket.  In the interim, Mark got on the phone with AMEX, the credit card that the ticket was booked with and there was no transaction with AirFrance.

While gazing at the reservation, Alexis noticed a phone number and realized that maybe, there was another Alexis Merrill who is the one going to Paris.  Maybe the two Alexis-es have similar email addresses and this is a mistake.

(Back to first person, since it is obvious that I, Alexis Merrill, author of this blog, am NOT going to Paris.)

So I rang up the OTHER Alexis Merrill and she was so not excited to talk to her name-twin.  She explained that her boyfriend made the reservation and forgot her middle initial in the email address.  That teeny-tiny letter separates our cyber-lives and for one day, we were connected.  Blah.

Okay, so there is another person floating around with my name.  BUT, my former moniker, Alexis Tappen, has to be totally unique, right?

Of course, I had to do a quick Google to find out.

This is what I found!
This is a photography studio's preview of portraits taken at a dance recital.  I am pretty sure this is a girl with her hair pulled back but the outfit, make-up and pose are soiling my good name!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Welcome to the Promised Land!

About a year ago, Mark informed me that I was not a "true Mormon mom."  Whaaaaat????  Okay, I don't have vinyl lettering in my house, nor do I tote those file folder quiet book things around, but I make my kids take piano, have the Mormon minimum of 3 kids (actually I surpassed that minimum!), and I recently acquired my first piece of stamped jewelry with my family members' names on them, so how was I lacking?

Two words...

Homemade bread.

I couldn't bake a proper loaf of homemade bread.  If it turned out, it was by freak accident.  I made very flat loaves, or wrinkly topped loaves, but not the kind that your visiting teacher brings on your birthday!

My mom tried to intervene and bought me a bread machine.  Even following those directions perfectly didn't give me good bread.

Finally, I came across this recipe:

Wheat Bread
1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons instant active dry yeast (active dry yeast will work also) 

1. *Combine first 6 ingredients in a large mixing bowl; stir.
2. Add flours and yeast, and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10-15 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover with a clean towel and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.
3. Punch dough down; knead for a few minutes until smooth and then form into a loaf. Place in greased loaf pan and cover. [more info on loaf pan sizes] Let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. If loaf starts browning too soon, lightly lay a piece of foil on top of the loaf to prevent too much darkening.
5. Remove bread from oven and allow to rest in pan for a few minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cover with a cloth. Slice and enjoy while still warm!

(Courtesy of

I worked on it by hand and found that it was almost failproof.  Then i adjusted for my Zojirushi breadmaker and now I put the ingredients in at night, and we enjoy hot bread in the morning!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cute chicks

Our neighbors hatch a few chicks every year. We admire their cuteness, and talk in a high-pitched squealy voice around them. When the novelty wears off (for them, not us), the chicks are sent to the grandparents' house to lay eggs and probably be turned into a casserole.

Mia and her little friend

Layla was really scaring me with this chick. I was having "Of Mice and Men" flashbacks!!!

Yes, they are cute, and the chickens aren't half-bad either....

Monday, March 21, 2011

How we spent our (spring) vacation

The fam headed north to Utah for our spring break.  Mark's brother and family graciously allowed us into their home.  Their three girls, Erin, Alli, and Jenna, were NOT on spring break, but it was still one continuous slumber par-tay!

The whole goal was to hit the slopes.  Milo was the only one who would not don skis this trip.

Layla kept looking for the rabbits on the "bunny hill."  She liked the traditional snowball fight apres-ski better than actually skiing.  I think the only reason she agreed to try was because her skis said, "Princess."

The girls...and Scott--Erin, Mia, Uncle Scott, Jenna, Ava.  Alli is standing to the left, but I had my mega-zoom lens and I had already hopped out of my skis and walked a little ways down to hill to snap this picture.  I did not want to get too far away from my gear.

The train.  Top to bottom-Unknown skier, Erin, Mia, Alli, Ava

Me and the girls.

The first day we were up there, I had worked so hard to get all the gear into the lodge, Milo set up with Gram Penny, hats, coats and gloves on the proper girl, etc.  I sat down, exhausted, and thought, "This is not my year."  I can do this again in 2 years.  Mark came in and told me to get on the lift for a run.  As I was sailing down the mountain, I was so happy and it was all worth it!
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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chip off the (young and beautiful) block

 Three weeks ago, my friend Mary asked me to come to her home to help her decide if some curtains went in her house. We chatted for a bit, Milo barfed on her, then she said, "Can I carry him home for you?" Why not?

When I arrived back home, my friends and their kids were gathered in my family room.  There were cakes, cupcakes, brownies, and a few candles!  A surprise party for me. 

Now between the fabulous baby shower my girlfriends threw me in October, and Mark's 40th shindig in November, I think we've worn these guys out with Merrill celebrations, but to my total surprise, they revealed that it was all Ava's doing!
She made invitations,

baked the cake at Danae's,

and formulated a plan to get me out of the house.  (You mean Mary doesn't need my "expert" opinion on curtains!) 

That's my girl!

Unfortunately, this marks the SECOND time in my life that I have shown up to my own surprise party in sweats! (Click on the picture for a closer view, there's no way I am going to retype this story!)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Guest Blogger: Ava

For Christmas, my parents gave me and Mia identical hats and gloves, plus ice skating lessons. On the first day, we discovered that we could also go for free any other day of the week.

My teacher was the US champion in ice dancing and even competed in the 2002 Winter Olympics.  We have been watching her on YouTube.  (Al's note:  Google Lang and Tchernyshev)

My friend Hannah has been taking figure skating lessons too.  She sold me her figure skates!

I love ice skating!

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