Stott Sphere

The entire world in one small home.

Family Update: 1.28.18 January 28, 2018

Filed under: Daily Life — Jen @ 8:46 pm

Dear Family,

The news of this week has been sick, sick, sick. Robb spent Thursday to Tuesday in Indianapolis, and when I picked him up from the airport on Tuesday night, he was in bad shape. He started getting sick Sunday night, and as I am writing this, it has been a solid week of him laying in bed, with fevers and packed sinuses. He was supposed to turn around and go on another trip on Thursday, but he talked someone else into doing the trip for him, which was good, because he would have been useless. I’ve been spending my time trying not to contract what he has, and bringing him eggs on toast and ice water.

Ryan was sick too this week. He started feeling sick Monday afternoon. He came home from work, went right to bed, and slept straight through to the next morning. He missed two days of work, and is still not 100%. On the bright side, I don’t think his strain is the same as Robb’s, and he’s in better shape than Robb.

The hens are in full egg-laying mode these days. We are collecting about 5-6 eggs every evening, and our fridge is getting very full. If you’re ever in the area, PLEASE feel free to drop by with an empty egg carton and we will fill you up! They’re pretty happy little creatures, although when it is time to lay, they make A LOT of noise. It’s a bit embarrassing, actually. Our compost floor system in the coop is working amazingly well. If it starts to smell bad or get moist, we just put down a fresh layer of carbon, usually dry leaves, but sometimes wood shavings, straw, or even paper from our shredder. The smell disappears and the hens have a fresh, sanitary environment again.

Our niece, Keilee, opened her mission call today. She’s been preparing for this for a long time. She has had some medical problems, so it took quite a few doctor appointments to get the paperwork completed. But the happy day finally came, and in another 6 weeks, she will belong to the people of the Washington Vancouver mission. We are thrilled for her, and pretty relieved that she will be not too far from home! Watching her hit this milestone makes me so nostalgic about the year she and Ryan were born.

We struggled with last week’s photography assignment, but this week we will be getting rid of background noise in our pictures and in our lives. Focusing on the goal and clearing out distractions is a skill that requires patience and attention.

Documentary of the week: The Parking Lot Movie is an indie film from SXSW. I won’t say it was the most entertaining thing I’ve ever watched, but the themes of class envy and how we treat people and what we are (or are not) entitled to are worth some thought.
Meal of the week: I tried a new recipe for homemade alfredo sauce and it lived up to the hype. I think this will be my standby from now on.
Song of the week: Don’t watch this unless you want to feel like killing yourself. And don’t say I didn’t warn you. This perfectly describes life with Brooklyn. She thinks the strangest things are hysterical, and will not stop singing this song until it is firmly stuck in my head. It reminds me of my mom’s story about vacuuming while singing “The Polka Dot Door” when Andy and I were little.

Love you all!
Until next time,


Family Update: 1.14.18 January 14, 2018

Filed under: Daily Life — Jen @ 8:41 pm

Dear family,

I had this email all written out last week and forgot to hit send. So… I guess you’re getting last week’s letter today! Not much exciting happened this week anyway.

Now that we’re a week into the new year, we are almost ready to get going with it. My first week back at work was a long and busy one. Robb’s was fraught with problems. Ryan’s was hard thanks to the sprained ankle. Brooklyn had several big tests. I’m really hoping a rocky start makes for a strong finish.

Quinn is excited to start school this week. He will have two classes at two different campuses, and only a few minutes to travel, so we hope he can manage it well. He got a drawing tablet for Christmas and has been using it non-stop, creating anime characters and practicing his drawing technique.

Quinn had this great plan to put a desk in his room, so he can do homework and drawing there, but he was thwarted by our long-standing rule that computers are not allowed in bedrooms. Being the very mature age of 19, he thinks the rule is ridiculous, but graciously moved on to plan B… putting a desk in the front room. After I agreed to this, I had to do a good amount of cleaning in that room as well as purchase a small desk. I got rid of a lot of old music books, which was a little emotional, but it’s good to have it cleaned out.

Quinn and Ryan tag-teamed the assembly of the desk I bought at Ikea. It was fun to see them work together easily, to have the common sense to understand the purposes and workings of the different parts, and undo and redo work that wasn’t quite good enough. In the end, and 46 steps of success, only the final step, step 47, defeated them. The drawer doesn’t quite fit right and it’s a bit tight. But it works now and the job is done.

Now that the gratitude project is over, we’ll kick off the new year with a photography project, with specific assignments each week. Today we read Genesis 1 and talked about the holiness of the creation. We’ll take pictures of something we’re creating.

Book of the week: Brooklyn is reading the classic Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. She’s the first in our house to read it.
Baked good of the week: Robb made fresh bread today. It’s been ages since I had it and it was every but as good as I remember.
Documentary of the week: I try to watch one every Sunday. I found today’s selection about Pilgrims on Amazon Prime. It was a good step up from my high school history knowledge.
Nostalgia moment of the week: I found some photos of Ryan’s baby blessing. I expected Ryan to look young, but I was shocked at what babies Robb and I were!

Until next time,


Family Update: 12.25.17 December 25, 2017

Filed under: Daily Life — Jen @ 8:47 pm

Dear Family,

Merry Christmas! It was fun seeing such a big crowd of Ropers at Christmas Eve this year. It’s been a while since we were able to join you, and we really enjoyed it.

My December has been crazy. Our office takes off the week between Christmas and New Years, which is really nice. I believe the tradition started back when most of the employees were salesmen, which makes sense because there’s not a lot of B2B sales happening the week of Christmas. But for those of us who provide fulfillment services, it basically amounts to cramming 4 weeks of work into 3 weeks, so it felt very busy. It’s fortunate that we hired an extra person recently (she sits right next to me) and we have kept her very busy so far. The sales guys were prevailing on me to ask for even more days off, but I was worried I wouldn’t finish my own work, so I refused!

Robb was expecting to make 3 trips to Ohio and Minnesota between Thanksgiving and Christmas. They ended up being able to do the bulk of the work remotely, so they canceled the first two trips. But he still went on the third trip… during the week of our anniversary. Between that and the busy-ness of December, we decided to postpone our anniversary celebration until next month. After 22 years, that stuff doesn’t bother me much anymore.

Our backyard chickens seem to be enjoying their life in the yard. The chicken coop is doing its job beautifully and all the systems Robb put in place work perfectly. He made a little ladder for them to use to exit and enter each day, so all he has to do is open the door each morning and close it each evening. When it gets close to dusk, they just head into the coop on their own and bed down for the evening. We haven’t had any eggs yet, which has Robb quite distraught. His sister’s hens have given them at least a dozen so far. Her hens have extra light on them though, and ours don’t, and that is the differing factor. We might get a light, just because we are anxious to try the eggs. The reports we hear from Robb’s sister is that the eggs are deliciously rich and dark… just what we wanted!

Quinn has received a new responsibility at work. He has been trained to open the store. I don’t think he loves the 7 am time frame, but he has keys and the code to the alarm, so he feels trusted, which is nice. He is so anxious to start his classes next month, he can barely wait. (Ryan, on the other hand, tells us, “Oh. Yeah. I should probably register for classes.”) We’re hoping it turns out to be an exciting year for him.

Our gratitude project has kind of fizzled in its final days. But this week, I made the kids participate in a tradition my mom started several years ago. Each Christmas, we write letters to one another, which give us an opportunity to express what we appreciate and love about our siblings and parents. We read them before we open gifts, and it sets a really nice tone for the celebration. I figure my kids are old enough to participate, and this is a tradition worthy of some expansion, so we had them write letters to my parents and also to Robb’s mom to express their love and gratitude.

Movie of the week: We saw the new Star Wars, and it did not disappoint. If you’re a fan of the series, I’m sure you’ll see this one.
TV series of the week: If you haven’t watched “The Crown” yet, I highly recommend it. It’s historical, it’s clean, it’s fascinating, and it is really, really well done.
Podcast of the week: I’ve been enjoying one called “Rational Faiths” and its series on Mormons and sex. The concepts governing the righteous usage of sexuality are so beautiful, I wish we could talk about them more openly at church.
Funny video of the week: If you just need to smile, this one had me dying laughing.

Love and appreciate you all!
Merry Christmas!


The One Where the Car Insurance Costs More than the Car March 26, 2016

Filed under: Fun Days — Jen @ 3:59 pm

We bought a new car this week.

And by “new,” of course I mean, 13 years old with 140k miles on it. But in far better condition than the old Nissan.

Don’t get me wrong, the old Nissan has served the measure of its creation, and done it well. We bought that little Nissan from uncle ElRay for $700 some years ago, and well, it looks like a $700 truck. It’s rusty. The starter doesn’t work. The windshield wipers are broken. It has no power steering. The speedometer is eternally stuck at 0, and the odometer has read 165,000 for years now.

But Quinn is happy to inherit it.


We had been searching for a new truck for Robb for some time. It’s tough to find something that is between the $700 variety that we have now, and the $12,000 variety which is really more than we wanted to spend.

Our neighbor had a FOR SALE sign in the window of his green Ranger, and we decided to talk to him about it. A couple days later, the truck was ours. Robb is excited to drive it, but there is just one problem…

One substantial problem…

The cost of the car insurance.  We already thought our $340/month insurance bill was outrageously high, but adding one more vehicle means we now have 4 cars and 4 drivers, 2 of whom are teeneage boys. And when you have 4 cars and 4 drivers, every driver gets listed as a primary on one of the cars. Which is particularly expensive with teenage boys. Especially when one of those boys has a speeding ticket.  (*cough* Ryan *cough*)

When I told Robb that the new car insurance monthly bill would be close to $500, he lamented that, over a year, it would cost almost as much as the car itself. Which is ridiculously expensive.

I asked the insurance guy about it, and he suggested that if we could convince one of the boys to go on a mission or go to college, our insurance costs would decrease dramatically.  Which sort of made me want to scream, “WHAT DO YOU THINK WE HAVE BEEN DOING?!!” because convincing those two to implement a life plan is getting a little frustrating.

And so, until we decide on the cheapest car insurance option, this new baby will be staying in the driveway.

People always told me that teenagers are far more expensive than babies, and I guess I didn’t really appreciate the fact until now. Between the car insurance and Quinn’s upcoming graduation, we’re feeling the sting.

We just keep saying… It’s lucky they’re so cute!



To Brooklyn: It’s imperative we find an appropriate name for the Ranger. Immediately.
To Quinn: He gets to start driving the Nissan, so INDEPENDENCE!!!!! He can barely contain himself.
To Ryan: Maybe he’ll have fewer chauffeuring duties now.
To Robb: He finally doesn’t have to be embarrassed of what he is driving. Also, his knees fit in this truck.
To Jen: Robb is a hard man to take care of. Finding this truck and convincing Robb to buy it basically makes me an awesome wife.


We Love Spring!

Filed under: Daily Life — Jen @ 3:26 pm

Robb loves planting and gardening, and he is always so excited when spring comes around. He gets lots of plans, usually far more than he can accomplish in one season. But we’re giving it our best shot.

Last weekend, I decided it was time I class up our front porch with some plants, and I went the nursery in search of something porch-worthy. Unfortunately, every nursery was empty.


Completely empty.

Except for pansies, which don’t count.

This weekend, we found a better place to shop, and came away with $60 worth of plants and fertilizers. I filled a couple small pots for the porch, and Robb made big plans for the clematis.


The front porch will still need some filling out, but it’s a good start, consider it’s not even April yet.

We didn’t stop there. We also trekked to Lowe’s, where we scored a couple big black garbage cans, which, after some strategic hole-drilling, are perfect for composting.


Well, we hope they’re perfect for composting. It’s a new experiment Robb’s been reading about and has never tried before. Wish us luck.

Monster looked on with jealousy at our ability to walk untethered around the front yard. We keep hoping he will learn to stay by us in the yard, but he is just too curious.



Dreaming Fights and Fighting Dreams March 21, 2016

Filed under: Daily Life — Jen @ 5:12 pm

I noticed that my last post was nearly a year ago, when I began my job. I have had a tough time adjusting to the schedule, and trying to fit everything in, and unfortunately, this blog has slipped between the cracks.  But after Quinn told me he had been reading this, I remembered that my teenagers are as entertaining now as they were 10 or 15 years ago (maybe more so) and I want to remember this time of my life too.

Quinn gave me a great story to share right away. He told me he has sometimes had dreams that woke him up. I was thinking of the dreams that have woken me up in the past, and they usually involve me running and trying to scream, but no sound comes out. Terrifying stuff.

Quinn’s dreams are different. Quinn never runs. In his dreams, he is fighting someone, and wakes up kicking and punching the air. When he was on the bunk bed, he sometimes even hits various body parts on the ceiling.

And true to form, Quinn is always disappointed when he wakes up from such a dream, because those are his favorite!


Gainful Employment April 12, 2015

Filed under: Daily Life — Jen @ 7:38 pm

During our 19 years of marriage, I have never had an actual job. I’ve taught piano, helped run the family lawn business, and grown my own food blog from nothing to the masterpiece *cough cough* you see before you now.  But I’ve never had a job which required me to leave the house, fill out a W4, and collect a regular paycheck. I count myself fortunate.

However, the growing children come with growing expenses, and with missions and college on the horizon, I was starting to feel quite nervous about our future financial position. I told Robb I thought I should get a job, and while he is definitely reticent about my not being home with the kids, he has been super supportive of my desire to have a career. I told him that at 40 years old, I didn’t really want to start my working life with a minimum wage job, but with my extremely empty work history, I wasn’t sure what I could find.

Robb pointed out some of the things I have learned through my last 3-4 years blogging, and he suggested quite strongly that there would be several businesses out there that would consider hiring me to do manage their blogs, their social media, etc. That thought really piqued my interest, and I immediately went searching for such an employer.

I felt very nervous and apprehensive while creating my resume, but I sucked it up and sent it out to 5 or 6 companies, and went on a couple interviews. Things really seemed to fall into place after that. My first choice job called and offered me a position, at a salary higher than I expected. Ryan got his car that same week, and is now able to take over the afternoon carpool duties. Brooklyn has a new after school activity that makes it so she can’t ride the bus (she is helping out the track team), but a neighbor offered to bring her home every day, since she is out there anyway. Robb has started working from home occasionally, and can take care of a few of the things that will be tough for me. And my new job has hours that are light and flexible. All in all, it is the best possible situation for the family. I am thrilled.


So I’m proud to announce that I am now working as the Director of Digital Content at Be Locally, and online marketing company. I manage several contract writers and editors, and the blog posts and articles for dozens and dozens of small businesses.

This will certainly be a big adjustment for the family. They have been kind of apprehensive about me having a job, and not being there when they might need me, but they have also been very supportive and understand the position we are in. I’m hoping this will work out for the best for everyone!