Jul 26, 2015

These Women... My Besties

About thirty years ago these two women moved to Palmdale CA and into my heart.

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APRIL 4, 2014
Stuart & Stephanie's wedding
Pauline moved to Palmdale in March 1985. She found out I was pregnant with twins and decided right then that she wanted to be my friend. I'd never had anyone *choose* me for a friend before, let alone someone who was prepared to help me through a very difficult situation... three babies in 21 months.

Holly moved in before that in 1984. She had a tiny boy, Tom, just 3 months older than Spencer. She lived just around the corner and we were walking buddies.

We had our yearly Christmas Eve party at Auntie P's house, worked together at church and were there for each other through all of the highs and lows that come to everyone. We were the constant for each other in that changing sea of life. We've seen the good, the bad, the ugly... and everything else in between!

Pauline, Holly and Sonja all have birthdays at the end of the year and started having a yearly November girls-get-away. A couple of years later they invited me to come along. If our friendship needed more cement, this was where it was formed.

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Fast forward to this last week. My besties, sans Sonja, came for our girls old-lady get together (we don't have to get AWAY anymore!). We had the most delightful time. These wonderful sisters-by-choice loved on my babies, who now have their own babies.

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JULY 24, 2015
Provo Temple to Temple 5K WALK/run
Holly said it best just before she had to leave for home.

"We have history!" 
We love each other! 
Now and for the next 30 years!

OMSH! I am so blessed to have this once-in-a-lifetime sisterhood with these marvelous friends and SISTERS-BY-CHOICE!!

Jul 20, 2015

Through the Garden Gate

Don't you just love it when a finished project exceeds all of your expectations? Boy, I sure do! As I was looking for fence ideas I ran across a gate on Pinterest. The minute I saw it I KNEW that was MY gate!!

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It was one of those pins that make me a little nutty. It is to someone's blog in general rather than to a specific post. But, no worries, I knew we could pull it off even though this was all I had to go on.

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You see... I have a secret weapon! My Kevin can build anything! And it's a bonus that his triplet brother, Ryan, normally joins the project! These boys men work together very well.

I wanted an arched top, but no arched bottom (too much temptation for a little dog). I traced the hearts and Kevin used his grandpa's old jig saw to cut them out with precision.

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I'd like to say that this project went really fast. The actual building did but I didn't have everything as rounded up as I thought beforehand so there were some last minute errands to get those lose ends.

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And what did Nikki and I do while the guys were gate building? I had a project of my own and Nikki is always glad to help out.

Thursday night was a Relief Society activity where one of my neighbors taught us how to make pizza on the bbq! OMSH was it ever yummy! And since this Sunday is Grammie dinner I knew I needed to do a repeat! I hussled up and found some unglazed terra cotta tiles at a local tile store to use on the grill as pizza stones. Compare them at $3.50 per 12"x12" tile to Williams-Sonoma's $29.99 for 4- 4"x4" tiles!

But now I needed the individual sized pizza peels. I asked Kevin if he had the tools to cut them out. Silly me, of course he did. (grandpa's jig saw!) So after a demonstration on technique I took over the cutting. And sanding!

Gordon insisted that I use a dust mask ("I don't want my baby to get sick") and I'm glad he did. For good measure I added my ear plugs.

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Nikki did over half the sanding of the 18 pizza peels.

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We made the dough earlier and by the end of our work day we were anxious to try out our newest creations! This easily rivals any restaurant pizza I've ever had!

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And look at my beautifulness! I am so very, very pleased with my completed garden fence and gate.

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Jul 13, 2015

Play to My Weaknesses

Now I know what you are thinking, "There goes Joanie getting all *dylexical* again and mixing up sayings!" I know that the saying is Play To Your Strengths, but this Grammie has learned how to accommodate her weaknesses!

Twenty months ago, as winter was closing in, I knew I needed to get Fernando off the street for the winter. I cut down two sections of fence that went along the sidewalk so I could park him on the large expanse of concrete that, in a former life, was a basketball court. As I put up a temporary fence I told myself that, come spring, I would get my boys over here to help me build a new fence.

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NOVEMBER 9, 2013

Somehow that never happened with babies being born and people getting married so I decided to take on the project myself (said the Little Red Hen!) I started thinking, measuring, drafting a plan, shopping out options and thinking some more!

The last week of June into July was blisteringly hot... everyday was in the high 90s to low 100s. Well, I may be crazy... but not that crazy! I don't do well when it gets that hot. Very fortuitously, on Monday-last the weather turned overcast, cool  and with daily thunderstorms! I headed out to Home Depot to buy my posts, 2x4s, cement mix, rebar and various fasteners.

Weakness #1-
Even though I've lost 25 lbs and walk daily, I'm not all that strong.

I ASK FOR HELP! These two young men cut my rebar into the proper lengths. Thank you James and Andrew! I also got help loading my 2- 4"x4"x8' posts, 20- 2"x4"x8' and 4- 60# bags of cement mix (no way could I handle 80#ers on my own!). Incidentally I asked these fellow if they were in the witness-protection program before posting their faces! But beard-man looks a little sketchy to me!

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The first thing on my agenda was to dig the post holes.

Reference previous weakness-

I knew I couldn't use a post hole digger with my rocky ground. I soaked the area the night before and then used my shovel.

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I remembered that when Kevin and Ryan built the fence in the background of this photo they staked the posts in the holes to keep them level. I'm a quick learner! I mixed up the cement and carefully filled the cardboard sleeves (thank you, Brad, for that idea)

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While the cement cured I reworked the sprinklers and added a couple of new heads. Sadly I had to take up part of the rock path... that is another job for another day!

I decided that I wanted to go with 34"x16' hog panels but that meant I'd have to cut those panels to fit on my own. I bought the panels at Cal Ranch but not before I got a bolt cutter and went outside to make sure I was strong enough!

Yay little-Grammie! Your arms aren't so weak after all!

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My next problem was how to fasten these fatty-hog panels to the frame. Fastener fail #1! I couldn't use my new pneumatic crown stapler! (Return pneumatic crown stapler)

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What to do? What to do?

I needed a way to hold the panel in place while I hammered in the fencing staples by hand. So I cut some shims to hold the panels up while I hammered in the fencing staples.

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But what happens when it is an awkward angle? I've never had good hammer skills!

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I used some of the dandy screws that Kevin used to mount 2x4 brackets when I built the other fence.

I started by the path and worked steadily *around the horn* to the shed. It occurred to me that I would want a second gate over by the shed that I hadn't originally planned. This time I was in the process of loading cement mix at Home Depot into Fernando by myself  when a female worker called someone to help me. I really could handle it. I was surprised at how my strength had increased in the 5 previous days of work!

I was feeling quite happy that I hadn't encountered any rock-a-dons in digging the previous holes... I got smug just a little too soon!

This was rock #1!

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This is his happy *little* companion! And they both came out of the same, now quite large, hole! Are ya kiddin' me??

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Each day the thunderstorms drove me inside for a brief respite... I was grateful for that! Saturday's storm was a true East-cost downpour!!

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When I went back outside I notice that this poor dragon fly hadn't managed to get out of the storm! Poor baby! I pick him up with my gloved hand and put him safely in the currant bushes.

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When dusk fell Saturday evening I had all of the posts in and panels hung except a tiny piece that spans the breach between the raised garden and the shed. I was tired but oh-so-pleased with my week's work.

Sunday was a much appreciated day of rest. This morning I built the tiny section seen here and added all of the small pickets and top header.

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As I was returning a tool to Dennis another neighbor stopped to talk. When he asked what I'd been doing I showed him my fence. He couldn't believe I built it all by myself.

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Yes, it did make me feel good to see his admiration. I'm so grateful for parents who taught me and a sweet son-Kevin who also teaches me how to be a good builder. And I am ever so grateful for my strong and healthy body! I count my good health as a dear blessing.

You will have to come back (or perhaps sneak over to Pinterest) to see what I have planned for the gates. I am so very excited to build them!!

Jul 4, 2015

Bonneville Shoreline Trail

I discovered, quite by accident, one day that the trail referred to as the upper canal trail is actually a portion of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. The happiest part of this part is that it's only a short UP-hill jaunt for me access it.

I usually only walk a small portion but THIS-day I wanted to explore uncharted territory. And can I just say how much I love Google maps? I love knowing where I am on the map! (You know... the little *You Are Here* circle?)

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I successfully maneuvered the transition from my regular route to the continuation of the trail. Last fall I got off on the wrong trail and had quite the mountain goat adventure.

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And Harley? Oh yes! He is my partner in crime. He loves our daily walks but he especially appreciates THIS route because it is the only time I let him off the leash to explore. I talk to him like he's a little child, "You stay where you can see me or you will have to go back on the leash!" Interestingly enough, he seems to understand and only rarely goes beyond my sight.

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Several times this trail merges with the power line road. But for the most part it is narrow like the photo above.

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I spotted this happy little face brightening up its little corner of God's masterpiece. I'd never seen one of these before (except in my niece's photos from her nature walks).

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The first hour we were in the shadow of the mountain and it was quite comfortable. Soon we emerged into the hot July sunshine.

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These are my new *trainers*. I absolutely love the Go Walk by Skechers!  They have saved my poor plantar fasciites feet.  I credit this wonderful shoe, in various colors and styles (*if the shoe fits, buy it in every color!), with helping in the healing of this last bout (well, that, and losing 23lbs!)

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We hiked 2.6 miles north-west along the trail when I could see that the trail was diverging more from the houses just below and the next opportunity to get off the trail wasn't until 970 N. Since I didn't want to make that long trek back through town we turned around and started back the way we came.

I knew there was a shortcut back down to the houses so we alternately took deer trails, and did some slipping and sliding down the dried grass hills to the street.

Oh Snap! I knew wrong! See all of the squiggly streets about a third of the way down the trail?

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Yeah, let's get a close up of that! I was shooting for Spring Creek Dr instead of Spring Oaks Dr. I didn't want to go up that step climb again (You can even see how steep it is on the map!)

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We (read Grammie) just didn't have the energy to take that long asphalt detour so we mountain-goated it again... only this time I slipped on my bum (hey, not so bad) and then another slip that pulled a muscle in my thigh! But, not to worry, I still had over a mile walk home so I worked that stiffness right out!

The happy news about this alternate route is that it got us back down to sprinkler water. Our water was all drunk up! Harley drank his fill and I filled my water bottle. (Note to self... take your camel-back next time!)

We were both glad to get back home and take a bath; well, Harley not-so-much. It wasn't until evening, when I saw him licking his front paw and investigated expecting to see a fox-tail I'd missed in the bath.

What I saw was...

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I've only seen this once before on a dog when we took Amber to Vasquez Rocks and she wore blisters on her little padlettes on the sandstone!  Poor Harley! I felt so bad!

By bedtime these were MY stats for the day...

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Harley easily did one third more with all of his up & down and  back & forth. Poor boy had to take a rest day today...

but no rest for the Grammie. I had my 10,000 steps by noon.

Jun 30, 2015

First Tomato for Daddy

Today is my Daddy's 118 birthday! Happy Birthday Daddy! I thought it was only fitting that I should eat this year's first tomato in his honor!

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My Daddy was quite the story teller. We used to love to get him going on his stories.

He told us that he was a sickly little baby- kind of scrawny and puny. Back in the day folks in North Texas believed that raw tomatoes were bad for you (sad, I know!). His Mom had a bushel basket of tomatoes stilling on the porch and little Jake managed to get at them and EAT THEM! Rather than making him sick he started getting better almost right away. He always credited fresh tomatoes as the reason.

Jack "Jake" Homer and Francis Amy Caraway about 1897 taken by Fischer portrait landscape photographer

Jun 14, 2015

Baby Emmy June

Early this morning, 4:46 AM to be exact, little Emmy June made her debut! She is 19.5 inches long and weighed in at 7 lbs 2 oz. Emmy June is Stuart and Stephanie's first child. We are so pleased to have her here safe and sound. Mama and bebe are doing fine! Stephanie had an easy time (if labor can ever be called EASY!)

We could hardly wait to meet this tiny little girl!

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This Grammie is just in Grammie-heaven when I get to interact with these precious little souls. I look forward to more bonding time over the coming months.

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Miss Emmy-June has the sweetest little profile. She has perfect little ears, a straight little nose and the longest eyelashes I've ever seen on a newborn!

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She is a very fortunate baby-girl and has avoided the *curse of the Flintstone feet* from her Grammie.

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And Mama is thrilled that all of her heart-burn paid off with this tiny head of hair!

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Daddy-Stu is over the moon for his new little daughter... who wouldn't be? Mama-Steph requested that we wait on the first family photo, and I'm always happy to oblige.

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And speaking of our Stephanie... she introduced a new tradition to our family. When Camille was pregnant with Fiona Stephanie wanted to have a competition on who could guess Fiona's stats most accurately. Very fittingly, Uncle Stu, Camille's twin, won that competition. I find it more than just a little ironic that this time Camille won the prize (wait, what prize?)

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*And just for the record... Camille guessed Liam's stats almost exactly!

May 19, 2015

Happy 39th Birthday Miss 'Manda

Today my little Amanda Ruth would be 39! And somehow I am never ever able to imagine her as any thing other than my tiny girl! She was a going concern from conception! She rarely stopped moving...

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APRIL 1977
She was a constant joy (and trial)... My love for her is unbounded.

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And of the April 15-May 19th month each year her birthday is ALWAYS the hardest.

I want to include an excerpt from journal-

I've suffered in the years since Tony and Amanda's death... usually April through August is difficult and then again at Christmas time. Several Christmas ago I started being able to go through the holidays tear-free. As I discussed this with Ann she suggested that I pray for a lifting of this burden of grief. (Duh! Why didn't I think of that?) So this year I've prayed for a lifting of that debilitating grief. I haven't been totally tear-free but I've been blessed with the ability to feel the joy of their lives and take comfort from the Master of my soul. And as always, Amanda's birthday proves the hardest of the Mom's birthday, Tony's birthday, Mom's death, Amanda's birthday month. I'm so grateful for the blessings and love that I feel from my Savior! Without His atoning sacrifice I could not continue! Truly He knows how to succor this child!

I've had a few tears but all in all most of them have come because I am so grateful for the lifting of this burden of grief.

Last fast Sunday with Bekah's family I bore my testimony about this great blessing. Then during Relief Society I kind of lost it during the opening song. Bekah was conducting and sisters that I don't even know reached out to comfort me. I was so blessed that my sisters in Spirit, who don't even know me, would offer this love. I am so GRATEFUL for the tender mercies of the Lord.

"I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Often, the Lord’s timing of His tender mercies helps us to both discern and acknowledge them." Elder David A Bednar

May 3, 2015

Grammie's Boys

I realize that I have another blog post with this same exact title... but that is what these wonderful boys are! There is no other description.

These are the boys that taught me that I am no longer the Mommie-Enforcer... I am the Grammie-Spoiler-Lover. That is such a liberating concept.

I have more photos, at home in Springville, of this wonderful threesome but sitting here tonight in YLP this is the earliest photo I have access to (I think I will come back and add the others when I get home. If for no on else but me!)

This was the second cruise Grammie-duties trip. Look how small they are! Odd how fast children change in 6 years.

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MARCH 27, 2009

Fast-forward 4 years and now 2 of the 3 are taller than their little Grammie. That was when I knew that I needed to start needing these pictures WITH my boys instead of just OF my boys.

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APRIL 21, 2013

Not even a year later and look how they have all shot up! This photo has been the wallpaper on my phone for the last 15 months...

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FEBRUARY 2, 2014

Until this one took over. OMSH!! Man-sized people who are their Grammie's boys! I am so pleased with the young men they are. Good, good people!

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MAY 1, 2015

My next Grammie and boys photo will only be with two boys! Tadhg will serve the Lord for 2 years. He leaves on June 24th to serve in the Scotland/Ireland Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am so grateful that he has made this righteous choice. I pray that he will be guided and protected as he shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I love that he is returning the land of his forefathers to share his love of the Savior. I'm sure he will find cousins (whether they know it or not). I am so grateful that this love of Jesus goes back many generations... because that is what is all about.