Friday, October 30, 2015

there's no place like home

On Thursday morning, I woke up and began packing to come home.  Aylabelle woke up and came into my room and immediately got this concerned look.  I said, "Grammie's going to go home today.  I am going home to see Grampie and Auntie Zee.  She got the poutiest face and said, "Ooooh, nooooo."  It was as cute as could be but made my heart just break!

We spent the morning with Liza packing up some of the baby clothes that Aylabelle has outgrown and other baby things.  She'd asked me, before I went down, if we could store some of Aylabelle's things in our home, so that she had room in her closets.  I remember the bother of storing so many baby things... you can't get rid of them because you may need them again, but keeping them is a pain!  I told her that we'd happily help, since we already have so much still "stored" in our garage until Doug builds whatever it is that he needs to build to store all of our camp stuff.  She packed box after box and we were both stunned at the amount of things we loaded into the Subaru!  Seven boxes and three storage bins!!!  Plus, I'd taken my Cricut and all of the crafting things.  That car was packed!  So much that we put my luggage, cooler, computer bag and purse in the front seat!  We laughed at how packed it was!

While I was packing, before breakfast, Aylabelle enjoyed playing in my things.  I'd brought my gypsy costume because Liza wasn't sure if we'd be dressing up for the Trunk or Treat.   Aylabelle and I had fun entertaining Liza with my scarves.  She's such a ham.

Once it was packed, we played games and enjoyed our last hours together.  We made what I call 3:00 specials because the first time I made them was while having a friend sleepover, and we got the munchies at 3AM.  I was 15. The rest of the world calls them "no bake cookies".  Love them!   Aylabelle helped, as always.

Dale's friend, Erica, had made this cute little hoodie dress for Aylabelle's birthday.  She looks adorable in it and just loved it.  I took several pictures of her in it and each time I'd snap the picture, she'd say, "Let me see!" then "Ooh, it's good!" or "Cute".  She's so funny!

We had leftovers for lunch since we couldn't fit into the car to go anyplace.  Aylabelle put the ziti pasta on her fingers like rings and kept us all entertained during lunch.

 I didn't want lunch to end because naptime was coming and my leaving would follow. I told Aylabelle that when she woke from her nap, Grammie would be gone.  ouch.  After she was down, Liza and I spent a few more hours playing alone and I didn't leave until 3:30.

I'd also been watching the weather all day long, hoping that the rain would be behind me.  Sadly, it was behind me, in front of me, on me, under me, around me, the entire trip!   I'd also been watching out Liza's front window for the FED EX truck to arrive.  I really didn't want to leave until it came because I'd ordered two surprises for my girls.  Sadly, I waited until the rain began and the package had not arrived.  We said our goodbyes and I didn't cry, however, because, like we said, we are close enough now that I can be there in a half a day anytime!

I hit Sonic and was on the road and the rain began while I was gassing up in Cedar City.  Cold wind and rain!  The drive is five and a half hours to Logan from Liza's door.  My plan was to meet Marilyn in four hours.  It was four very un-fun hours! The rain, was constant and steady, with the tops of each summit being the worst.  I was surprised not to see snow on the roads, but the roads were slippery and slick and it was no fun!  At one point, I called Doug and asked the family to gather and say a prayer for my safety.  A few minutes later, I had 45 minutes of the best part of the drive!  Prayers answered!

The highlight of my drive, however, was chatting with Liza after Aylabelle woke up from her nap.  Aylabelle came straight into the guest room and said, "Where's my Grammie?"  Sad face.  They went downstairs for Aylabelle's afternoon treat, then were just visiting with me when Liza said, "Wait.  There's someone here.  It's the Fed Ex truck, hold on a sec."  She thanked the guy who left her two packages and said, "Did you order something for us?"  They opened their packages and discovered the book that Liza had checked out so many times from the library for Aylabelle and I'd bought her a marble rolling pin.  I did this on Monday after making the rolls for the sister missionaries.  Liza had handed me her wooden pin and pointed out that she would love a marble one like mine.  Now, she has one.  She started crying.  It was a good way to end the day of my leaving.  I was, suddenly, glad that I'd left already when the surprises arrived.

I got to SLC at 7:45, had a bite to eat and Marilyn called to tell me that she was home just about the same time I was heading up toward her home.  We've not seen each other face to face in over two years.

It was great to catch up, to see the changes that she's made to her fabulous home, and just to feel her happy soul!  I love this woman!  She'd redone her guest room and it is so full of color and personality just like Marilyn!

check out this pillow!  It's such a wowswer!

 I hadn't even brought in my bag and we were busy making cute festive little Oreo "mummy" treats for my kids Halloween party.  We gabbed until very late and called it a night after making a plan for Friday.  I was so embarrassed that I slept until 8:30!!!  I was exhausted from the drive and apparently, my body needed the rest!  Sleeping in a quiet home is a rarity in my life!  It was divine!

Once up, we got ready and made a project for Marilyn's Young Women on my Cricut, then we headed to town for pedicures, divine pedicures plus hot rock leg massages!  The best!  I was glad that I'd shaved my legs!  ha!

After a tasty lunch at Trio near Cottonwood Canyon, we went for a fun dessert at a donut shop called something like "Beyond Glazed."  Lunch was pretty tasty.  Panini and salad and a fabulous rosemary flat bread with goat cheese and garlicky tomatoes. MMMM!!!

However... Oh my word! This donut! Marilyn insisted that I try her favorite, Maple Bacon.  Seriously, I was astonished at how delish this was! Whodathunkit?

We gabbed some more and drove through the beautiful city looking at the leaves and foilage and snow-covered mountaintops.  It was a beautiful autumn day!  I was so happy to not have to drive another day like the day before!

Time spent with Marilyn is always uplifting and inspiring.  She's happy!  I love that!  She's creative and right-brained and always coming up with wonderful ideas.  There's never a dull moment with Marilyn and her quick-wit.  It was a delightful visit!

We said our goodbyes and I was on the road by 3, with a goal of being ahead of the rush hour traffic in the city  andbeing home at 5 to make dinner. My drive home was eventless, and I didn't hit the rain until Sardine Canyon, just before Logan.  The kids all called during my drive, to see when I would be home. (I think they wanted to know how much time they had left to make sure things were in order at home.  It was perfect when I arrived.)  I walked in the door at 4:45 to lots of hugs and help, unpacking the car.  I made dinner and started laundry, we watched all of my Aylabelle videos and pix, then we watched a movie together.  Reality, being home, kicked right in.  I got into the hottub while Doug went to get Quayd.  They both joined me as soon as they got home.  Grace went to the Aggie Game with Layne and Julie and the boys, and Zeej spent most of the evening downstairs writing one of her stories.  It was great to be home, great to be in the hottub with pretty fall toes, but, mostly, great to be with my family.

   It has been such a delightful week with Liza and Aylabelle.  She's such a mini-Liza.  Liza sent me a few videos of them at the football game with Aylabelle watching the half-time show and the marching band.  She was intrigued.  I am intrigued watching Liza parent and Aylabelle grow.

I feel blessed to have a husband who understands my need to be both mom and wife at home, and mom and gram visiting Liza.   I am blessed with amazing friends in my life.  I feel blessed to have such a beautiful place to call home.  It's Halloween today.  November is here.  Next week, I have YSA Home Evening Dinner, I'm going to Bunco in a new group and I'm hosting a siblings dinner. There is much good in my world.  Life is good!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

ST. gEorge...last day

I am just crawling into bed after a very long drive through downpours, wind, hydroplaning freeway traffic and darkness.  Thankfully, I am crawling a warm, beautiful and fabulous bed at the home of my sweet and dear friend, Marilyn's for a wonderful visit.

 How perfect to end my trip to Liza's with a nice visit with one of the most upbeat and uplifting people I know!  More to come, after a good night of sleep!  Life is good!

St. George... Day 4

My foot hurts.  Just sayin'.  The drive was hard on it, even with cruise control.  But, Liza's stairs and being busy following a two year old makes for a long day!  And not having my hot tub to take away the aches and pains!  I do miss that.  BUT.  I'm not complaining!  I'll hurt every minute of every day to be here with my girls!

This morning, Aylabelle woke me up again, calling from her room.  I slipped in and got her while Liza slept and we climbed into my bed and watched an episode of Mickey Mouse something on my iPad/netflix.  After that, we went downstairs and I started some breakfast for us.  Liza came down and was surprised that we were up.  She'd had a rough night herself.  I love the alone time with her in the mornings!
Last night, Liza promised Aylabelle a carousel ride today.  I was more excited than she was because she's told me about it while we facetime.  When she talks about it, I always scoot up and down, up and down, on the screen like I'm on a carousel, which always gets a good laugh from her.  So, this morning, we went off to the library to return some books and then to the carousel. Liza has been reading Aylabelle's favorite book ever to her and renewed it a few times.  It needed to be returned.  (So, I ordered her a copy from Amazon and it should arrive just as I'm leaving.)

So, as soon as we got dressed and returned the books, we drove to the carousel.  It's beautiful! She wasn't quite sure about riding with me and not her mommy, at first, but she warmed right up and loved it by the end.  I was in heaven, as we said, "Up and downnnnnnn, uuuup and dooowwwwwn" over and over.  Have I mentioned that I'm nutso crazy over this child?  She is my little mini-Liza!  How could I not be!?

I told Liza to take a hundred pictures of us on the carousel and I believe she did, but this was my favorite!  I was pretty pleased with the photos because the carousel was moving faster than any I've ever ridden and I kind of expected them all to be just a blur.   The operator explained to me that since we were the only two on it, it goes pretty fast.  The more weight, the slower it goes.  Good to know.  I was holding on and balancing all I could so I could make sure Miss Aylabelle was safe and sound!

She got used to having her Grammie instead of Mommy holding her and started to love it pretty fast! I was so glad that she relaxed!

I have mentioned that my Zagg iPad keyboard/case has a mind of it's own.  When we got to Chili's for lunch, I opened the iPad to see the photos that Liza had taken.  There were LITERALLY 594 pix like this, taken between the carousel and chili's.  I'm guessing it's the sky, but can't figure out how it got that in the car without some sign of it being a car.  Shoot me now!

In the afternoon, while Aylabelle napped, we finished up with our Primary Projects and cleaned up the mess we'd made, then I took a nap too while Liza tended to some of her responsibilities.  She woke us both up, just in time to get Aylabelle dressed and into her costume for some Trunk or Treating at Dixie University, where Buddy works.  She was the cutest little chicky around and watching those little tail feathers wiggle back and forth as she walked made everyone giggle.  So cute!

Each athletic team was treating, and they were competing for best costumes as a team.  There were some fun "group" costumes.  The soccer teams were all "Sandy" and  "Danny"from Grease, with the music blasting. Very cute.  Lots of Star Wars, action heroes and Aylabelle's favorite was the princesses, who were the student body leadership.  VERY cute.

It was a perfect night for such an activity!  The weather is amazing in St. George.  I could get used to that but not the 100plus temps in the summer... no thanks!  And Liza says St. George is cold!  She's definitely an Arizona girl for life.

After the Trunk or Treat, we went to dinner at Wingnutz.  Aylabelle cracked me up, when she took her menu and started to study it like we were.  She is so grown up!  It really is funny!

Aylabelle is really into the matching games.  The little 2" cards with Disney princesses on them.  She can match all 50 and doesn't stop until they are matched and in a certain order.  It's adorable, but her favorite word is "match".  She notices everything that matches.  If you show her a picture of Liza, she will point to Liza and then the picture, "Match!"  She notices everything that there are two of.

So, as we were driving today, I said something, who knows what, and Aylabelle made the connection that I am Liza's mommy.  She said, "My Mommy.  Mommy's mommy.  Match!  Mommy match!"  Liza and I  both looked at each other and thought, "NO WAY!".  She's just turned two.  So, I asked her, "Aylabelle, who's your mommy?"  She pointed to Liza.  Liza asked, "Who's my mommy?"  She pointed to me.  We still weren't sure, but at dinner tonight, we asked her, "Where's your mommy?" and then "Where's Mommy's mommy?"  She got it again.  "Match."  Yes, we are!  My favorite moment of the day!

After dinner, we came home and let Aylabelle wind down a bit, then got her to bed.  As soon as she was down, I taught Liza and Buddy the new game that we learned last week at Carol's, called "Fruit Salad."  SO FUN!  We loved it and played until Buddy headed to bed, the Liza and I played Trim for an hour until I was exhausted and ready to call it a night too!

It was a great day!  I'm so excited that I got to see Aylabelle "Trick or Treating".  She was so shy, but loved the idea of the candy...she did get that!  I'd debated all week about staying and watching her on Halloween Night, but this was the same experience.  She doesn't know that I'll be back in Logan at home on the real night.  As much as I love being here, it is always hard to be away from home.  I miss Doug and the kids.

I told Liza today that I am so thankful that we can be so much closer now.  It's still not next door, but I see that Liza is happy in the warm weather, in a bigger city than Logan and watching Buddy as he grows in his career.  That's what matters!  I can drive to see them in a day!  That's lovely!

Life is good!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

St. George with my girls... day 3

Liza and I decided that we would not worry about anything but Primary on Tuesday, and we didn't!  We worked hard at the cricut for most of the day and evening.  I was amazed at Aylabelle's co-operation!  We set up shop in the toy room on a card table and we made a huge mess!  At one point, Liza said, "It looks like there's been an explosion in here!"  Paper was everywhere.  I'd brought another tool called a Cutterbug, I think?  You roll paper through it and it texturizes the paper.  After Aylabelle saw my cricut running paper through it from both sides, I gave her the cutterbug and she rolled that handle back and forth forever.  Off an on, throughout most of the morning.  She was no bother, whatsoever, and I'd worried that we wouldn't be able to get much accomplished with a two year old.  Liza involves her in everything and she doesn't touch what she's asked not to touch.  Seriously, she blows my mind!

We worked until lunch time, then Aylabelle went down for her nap.  I thought we were going to keep working, but Liza had better plans!  We played Hand and Foot and Trim for Aylabelle's entire nap!  We've not done much card playing since she was born, so this was awesome fun! 

As soon as naptime was over, we showered and got ready, then went to my mom's for dinner.  Mom made a really nice dinner with the best potatoes I've ever eaten in a kitchen at home.  They were restaurant delicious.  I asked for details. 

Mom's delicious spuds 

Slice potatoes about 1/2 inch thick.  Cover a baking dish with olive oil and place the potatoes in the dish. Drizzle more olive oil over the potatoes and toss a bit until they are covered in the oil. Sprinkle lots of lemon pepper, garlic salt and parsley.  Cover and bake for an hour at 350.  Remove from the oven and spread shredded cheese over the top.  Cover and put back in the hot oven until the cheese melts.  HONESTLY, the best homemade potatoes I've ever had and there was nothing to them!

We had a fun visit with Mom.  I'd taken my laptop and showed her pix of our new home, of the kids and events of the year.  We talked about all sorts of things and watched Aylabelle play with a new toy that "Nana Ruby" gave her.  We stayed until almost 8PM, which was a lot longer than we anticipated.  It's a very beautiful drive out to Mom's home.  I think that she's doing great.  She misses Boyd, but not the Boyd of the last year, who was so ill and needing so much physical assistance.  She misses Boyd, her man friend, who she shared the last 18 years with.

On our way home, we stopped at McDonalds for a coke, a bag of ice and an icecream for Aylabelle. She was eating it in her carseat and said, "Gammie, more please?  I like it!"  Any guesses where we're stopping in the morning?  Not the prettiest picture, but it sure was fun!

She did not want to go to bed, however.  AT ALL.  Bedtime was not fun for her or Liza and Buddy.  I am in awe of their parenting skills.  Bedtime, is the only time that she's not just absolutely adorable and pleasant.  She doesn't want to miss out on the fun!

While they got Aylabelle to bed, I picked up where we'd left off on the cricut and got most everything that we wanted cut.  I think there may be a few pieces left to finish up, but it's not much, if any.  We'll clean up and play the rest of my visit!

Meanwhile, at home, the kids are feeling better.  Quayd called to tell me that he'd sluffed a class.  I asked why he would do that?  He said "Because I'm 18."  He's not been much of a sluffer and he's not shown a lot of "senioritis".  I asked him what he had done while he sluffed.  He said, "Worked on my assignment for Government."  Okey dokey then.  Don't tell him, but sluffing to work on another class because you are caught up in the class you are sluffing... well, that almost doesn't count.  HOWEVER.  I reminded him that our family rule is "Be in the right place at the right time doing the right thing."  He even debated that he was doing the right thing... just not at the right time.  It was quite a humorous conversation.  

Life is good!  Especially when it means time with your family!


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

St. George Day - 1 and 2

After Trace and Ann's party, I came home and my brain was in high gear because I planned on getting up and loading up to head south to St. George to see Liza and fam!  Liza has been called to a new calling in their new ward, to serve as the Primary Chorister.  She's never done this before, and Liza, being Liza, takes her callings very seriously and wants to do her best at everything.  I thought that I could use my right brain and my Cricut and toys to help her make some fun prompts and games for her music calling.  SO, I loaded up half my craft-stuff and headed south, as soon as I could get out the door on Sunday.

I listened to LDS music and conference talks on my iPod until my battery died (I hadn't planned on bringing it, then drove back around the block after our goodbyes to grab it.  Do people even use iPods anymore? Mine stays on my dock and entertains us throughout the house. I hadn't taken it off the dock in forever! I was glad to have it for a while and will definitely charge it before heading north to go home.)  Just after my music died, I had a lovely call from Ohio friend and kindred spirit, Susan.  We talked from Provo until I pulled into Liza's driveway!  That made for a very short three last hours of the trip! When I arrived, I discovered that I had about a dozen texts and calls that I'd missed because I hadn't even heard the beeps and dings while talking on speakerphone.  Liza and Doug were both wondering where I was!  Oops! I'd packed a sandwich, so I didn't even have to stop and eat along the way.  The weather was perfect and lovely.  The car ran like clockwork.  I was alert and I made great time!  Liza and Buddy were surprised to see me 45 minutes sooner than they planned on.

Aylabelle was napping when I arrived and I was anxious to see her!  Liza was walking out the door for a Primary Meeting, but Aylabelle woke up just a few minutes later, so she, Buddy and I sat on the floor playing a match game with Disney Princess cards for 45 minutes.   She's amazing!  And I think she's going to be OCD like her mommy and gram, because she likes to have everything very organized!  I was so thrilled that she just comes running right to me and knows me!  I'm SOOOOOO thankful for Facetime!!

Liza came home and we did "presents", which you have to do when you visit, right?  There were a few surprises that I'd brought.  One was the electronic Fur Real Cat that was ZJ's years ago.  Aylabelle had been intrigued by cats when I was here in August, so we thought she needed this cat, who she's named Cat and Meow, depending on the moment.  It purrs and meows and lies back and paws at you.  She likes when it lies back the most and says, "Lay down, kitty.  Please.  Lay down."

There was a melt-in-your-mouth roast and veggies in the crockpot, waiting.  Dinner was great!  We visited and played until bedtime.  I took a few selfies and pix of Aylabelle.  She's a ham!  Oh my word, I adore this child!  Liza and I even had a moment of silliness and took a few selfies, even though we were both looking like the end of a lonnnnnnng day!  We didn't care, we're together!

Monday morning, after breakfast, we headed to town for a few things.  They'd been asked by text on Sunday evening to feed the sister missionaries dinner at 5 on Monday, so I volunteered to cook!  Liza, Aylabelle and I hit Michaels for a Cricut supply, and then needed a few grocery items before dinner.  Liza had never let her ride on the end of the cart, so Aylabelle thought that was pretty cool...much cooler than her mommy did.  But, isn't that what Grammies are for? 

Aylabelle is so vocal and speaks amazingly well.  She's got the best manners ever!  She just blows me away over and over.  During breakfast, I offered her a bite of my muffin.  She, matter of factly, said, "No, thank you, Gammie. Sowwy, I don't like it."  It was as plain as day.  My mouth just dropped!  
We called my mother to see if she wanted to meet us for lunch, but she wasn't feeling well, so we went to the mall and had a bite at Aylabelle's favorite place, Pizza Pie Cafe.  It's a buffet style restaurant chain in Utah.  She loves the pasta.  So, Liza and I would take turns getting our salad, and each food, saying to Aylabelle, "I'll be right back."  As we were ready to leave, Liza let her out of her little high chair.  She stepped to the ground, turned to us and said, "I'll be right back."  She doesn't miss a thing!

We came home and got dinner ready while Aylabelle took a nap and did a few other things that needed done.  We didn't even think about the Primary project.  There wasn't time!

The sisters came for dinner, one from Equador and one from Louisiana.  We had a nice visit and a nummy dinner of garlic-parmesan chicken and spinach over pasta,Carol's go-to cheesecake jello/yogurt/fruit salad and fresh rolls out of the oven.  I was happy to cook and they were very gracious guests. They left a short message and were out the door and back to work.

We spent the rest of the evening until Aylabelle's bedtime watching her.  Oh my word, we were, literally, laughing until we had tears running down our faces.  Liza was singing, "Ring around the Roses" while Aylabelle ran around in circles and would fall.  Somehow, though, she got the idea that she needed to "wind up" before Liza could sing.  Liza would start to sing and she'd put her hand out in a "stop" motion,  "Just a second, Mommy!  Wait!"  Then she would hold her arms out to the side and wind them around and around in circles, then say, "Okay!" and Liza would sing.  She did this over and over and over.  Tears were rolling down our cheeks!  She's a card!  I videotaped it from the top of their stairs and watched this morning, still laughing hysterically!

BUT.  My favorite moment of the day... Aylabelle knocked on my door to say good morning, then we went downstairs for breakfast.  She was eating and in her own little world while Liza and I were visiting.  Out of nowhere, Aylabelle smiled this big big smile, kind of chuckled and said to herself, out loud but softly, "Grammie's here." followed by this little "hee-hee-hee".  It brought tears to my eyes!  I don't think anyone could ever match those words and make me happier!

I'm thrilled to be here but, always miss Doug and my babes.  ZJ had been in school for twenty minutes, when she texted to say she felt barfy and dizzy, so Alan and Jill picked her up and took her home to rest.  Someone always gets sick when I am gone!  She ended up missing two days because she stayed home today too, as did Grace.  I'd had that same thing just last Thursday, so I was somewhat surprised that no one else got it before now.  The girls texted me several times through the day and Quayd called.  Doug and I visit every break that he gets. It's good to feel missed! I say often that the hardest part of having six kids in two different sets is trying to be there for everyone... wife, mom of bigs, mom of babes and gram all at the same time!  I'm dying to be in two places on Halloween... more this year than ever!

I'm excited to be here in Southern Utah!  The plans for the rest of my stay are to work on Primary stuff, have dinner with my mother, play lots and lots with Liza and Aylabelle and get teased lots by Buddy.  We're going to a Halloween Trunk or Treat and I hope that Liza and Buddy will have a date night while I tend Aylabelle!  Life is good!  So is being able to see my girls!

Monday, October 26, 2015

a festively fantabulous evening!

Saturday night, we were invited to join Trace and Ann for their family annual Halloween party.  It's something that we've heard about for years! We were so excited to go!  Ann went all out on every detail! FABULOUS!

Since the kids were at Youth Conference, it was just Doug and I who joined them and WOWSER!!!  So fun!  Ann's home was decorated to the nines for the season...fall and Halloween. It's always above and beyond beautiful, but this was just as festive and fun as could be!  Here's a few pix from the evening....

First, the hosts... Trace and Ann and their welcoming ghoul...

Here's Doug and I... or should I say, Indiana and Gypsy Rose, before dinner.

Ann is the most amazing hostess.  She had everything planned to the minute and things worked like clockwork.  Dinner was homemade soups, cornbread, some of the best guacamole I've ever tasted and lots of very festive foods...bats, pumpkins and caterpillars...

... and these tasty little treats... eeeewwwwwww to the eyes, heaven to the taste!

After dinner upstairs and down, we split up into adults and kids.  The kids all filled their bags with treats and gifts while trick or treating to all of the doors in Trace and Ann's home.  They made three rounds throughout the house and loved every second of it, coming away with quite a stash of fun prizes and treats!
While the kids were trick or treating, my part of the evening was making homemade donuts in Ann's downstairs kitchen.  I'd prepared the dough at home, just before we arrived, and it just continues to grow until they are all cooked.  These, if I do say so, were some of the best donuts I've yet to make!  I only ate a couple of holes, but everyone was very happy to go home with a big bag of them, after making almost two hundred!  Literally!  I did one and a half times the recipe.  From now on, one batch!  I loved visiting with all of the helpers while making the donuts!  The only thing missing was Carol, who was with another sister on a trip to North Carolina. 

Once the donuts were done and packaged up to take home, the games began.  The kids had some fun science experiments upstairs, as well.  I was totally sick just watching the kids eat the gross Harry Potter Jelly Beans... skunk spray, barf, boogers... literally tasting like the nasty titles that they had.  There was a competition in heats until the last "man" standing... he was ten, but for the $20 grand prize, the last two boys were toughing it out until the end!  WOW!  And dangit, I video-taped the boys gagging through it, but didn't get any still shots!

Following the kids games, they all went upstairs to watch a movie (and we never heard a single sound from them), while the grown-ups did a few minute to win it games and then a very fun game called Hollywood Game Night.  SO FUN!  We played that for over and hour.  It's a box game, which we will definitely be adding to our game collection soon!

The evening was just perfect in every way.   I sent a thank you to Ann late that night, after we were home, hottubbed and climbing into bed, telling her how wonderful the event was, but even more, how I felt about what was really happening there...  Honestly, the party was fabulous.  She's the most amazing hostess I know!  BUT.  THAT wasn't what impressed me nearly as much as the fact that Trace and Ann had three of their four daughters there, most of their grands (elementary age to married adults), a sister and part of her adult family there, plus Doug and I.  And everyone was genuinely thrilled to be there.  Everyone participated!  Everyone was totally enjoying every minute.  Everyone was getting along and willing to help, be a part of the games and activities, to help clean up, to visit and laugh with everyone else.  THIS was the accomplishment of the evening.

 To see a family so close and getting along so well is a rarity in today's world.  These siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, grands were one.  What a gift!  And, to Doug and I, that was a statement of a loving couple who have raised a wonderful family in a way that they want to be together.  There's nothing better than that!  NOTHING at all!
I've hosted probably twenty-five Halloween Parties in our thirty-eight years of marriage and attended probably just as many, but this was the best we've ever attended... and it really and truly wasn't the fact that it was the best, and it was, BUT, it was the feeling that we had when we left!  We felt edified and excited about family...which is really what life is all about, right?!

Life is good!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Youth Conference and a few other ramblings

The kids have Youth Conference this weekend.  It's a "stay at home" youth conference.  The kids didn't understand that when they first heard because the only other YC that they'd been involved in was at a college in Central Utah.  But, our stake doesn't do anything small and I knew that they would not let them down!  When I drove by the Stake Center earlier in the day and saw a boat parked in the front of the building, I knew that I was right! 

I dropped the kids off at 4 yesterday.  They came in at 10 last night, laughing and gabbing away, telling all of the tales of their afternoon and evening.  The Pauni family had prepared a Hawaiian feast for dinner.  Zeej, who is currently a vegetarian, even ate the meat!  They said it was the best ever!  Pauni's were the Tongan family that Extreme Home Makeover built the home, here in Cache Valley about ten years ago, and I was very involved with it.  Part of their "gift" from the extreme team was a second professional kitchen in the home, as well as a motor coach/kitchen to do their business in.  They've done well!  And their food is divine!

The kids spent 45 minutes out roaming the neighborhood with all the neighbor teens, following the YC.  We'd told them to be home at 10:45 and at exactly 10:45, a motorcycle, a Razor, a T-bird and about 20 kids convened in our front yard.  The kids love our new neighborhood and the kids in our ward.  Our move to this home - best move ever! 

They were up at 7:00 this morning, getting ready to head back to YC.  Grace has to take a break in the middle of the day to work.  We're hoping that her lunch shift will not last very long, so that she can be back and be a part of the big service project.  Tonight, a speaker and dinner at the Logan Country Club.  Tomorrow, more speakers after church.  They are really loving it!  We have such great people in leadership positions and they go all out to make things great for the kids!  LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!!

Doug is working today and I've got about four projects in the works! All will be interrupted so that I can get Grace to and from work and YC.  But, it's a good day!  A productive day!  Halloween costumes to be completed, homemade donuts to be made, a social gathering and I'm preparing for a visit to see my southern Utah girls!  HAPPINESS!!

Aylabelle and I were facetiming last week and she asked, "Grammie coming?  Grammie coming tomorrow?"  It melted my heart.  It's time!

A few rambling thoughts...

"We" answered Quayd's cute invitation to return the Yes Rock for Sadie Hawkins dance with this cute little basket, filled with about 5 pounds of Tootsie Rolls surrounding the Yes Rock and a card that said, "I'd love to "Rock and Roll" with you at Sadies!  Thanks for asking!"

I am loving my chalkboard!  Doug is even suggesting things to write on it!  I love that it's two-sided and I can just flip it if I'm in the mood!

Last night, while the kids were at YC, Doug and I went to dinner with Stott and Wendy.  We had a great visit and good food at Cafe Sabor!  It's always good to get together with them and hear stories about Miki, who's loving school and dreamed that she's getting married because she has a boyfriend, but it's a secret.  Too cute!

After dinner, we ran a few errands and Carol invited us to come by because Madi was in town.  We went over and visited for about an hour before getting Doug home early since he had to work today.  Carol taught us a new card game called "Fruit Salad", played with Rook cards.  Oh my!  Fun and Crazy game!  I can't wait to teach it to Liza and Buddy!

We came home and had time for a soak in the hot tub before the kids got in, had family prayer and called it a night by 11.  This life... it's crazy busy and crazy fun most of the time!  I'm thankful for the good times, as well as the bad.  Not all are good.  We have our cranky moments, our sibling spats,  and "Who made this mess and didn't clean it up!?" moments.  But, for the most part, I wouldn't change a thing!  I've got a great husband who makes me laugh, who leads us spiritually and who supports me in everything I do.  I've got great kids, who most of the time , are pleasant, helpful and making great choices.  I have a beautiful home with amazing friends and neighbors in this beautiful valley.  Most of all, I have the gospel in my life, which really is a part of our life, every moment of every day.  What more could I ask for?  Life is good!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

fall break...the rest of the story

On Friday morning, we woke up and I made pumpkin waffles for the kids!  Their favorite!  Doug and Quayd went fishing for dinner, but came back empty handed, which was more than fine with me!  We planned to cook fish for the men and burgers, steaks and hotdogs for the women anyway!

Our plan was to have a Back to the Future Marathon on Saturday, along with this big feast of a barbecue.  We watched Back to the Future 1, then grilled, then watched Number 2.  We had a blast watching it together, since the kids had never really seen them.  We were amazed at the futuristic items that are a part of our day today!  However, the girls were really glad that we don't dress like  they predicted we would in 2015.  (I thought that there were a bit of similarity because who'd have ever imagined that we would wear striped and plaids and polka-dots together!)  It was a fun activity for the day, to just chill at home together, since we'd been playing so hard the first two days of the break!

We took a break from the movies, however, for Doug and I to go to the wedding reception of our good friends, Jamie and Ryan's daughter, Rachel.  Rachel is also the niece of Carol and the granddaughter of Trace (Bishop Skeen, YSA) and my friend, Mary Ann.  So, attending this wedding was total fun to visit with all of our favorite people!  The reception was held at the Old Rock Church in Providence, where Carol's mother attended church as a little girl, but today, it's a fabulous reception center!   Everything was absolutely beautiful and it definitely is no secret that those "Skeen Girls" have the gift when it comes to decorating and making things exquisite!

My favorite thing about this wedding however was the fact that Rachel was wearing the wedding dress that belonged to her great-grandmother Mary (Carol's mom that we play cards with).  Mary had worn the dress, Mary Ann had worn it, Jamie had worn it and now Rachel.  They had a display of the four brides in the dress... 1947 to today.  Wonderful!

I'd love to share lots of pix of the wedding, but they aren't mine to share!  I did want to share this one of  the bride and groom... I don't think that Jamie would mind!  A beautiful couple indeed!

Doug and I stayed at the reception for about an hour.  The dancing had just begun when we slipped out and back home to the kids for our last movie, Back the the Future 3.  We loved telling the kids how we'd gone to see it on Opening Night at the old theater in Logan and how the crowd cheered when it began.  That seems so long ago!

As the movie was ending, Carol came over, after she'd helped with the reception clean up, for a soak in the hottub with Doug and I.  The kids were so excited for Saturday that they went straight to bed when the movie ended.

On Saturday morning, the kids were up and out the door to the Fear Factory in Salt Lake with Layne and Julie and fam.  Their day was full!  They went to Julie's mom's first to help clean up her garden for the end of season.  They called that a short service project because of the weather, but then had a lasagna dinner (which ZJ said was second to mine and asked why no one else can make it as well as I do. My response, "Because I'm your mom.  Everyone's mom makes the best lasagna to them.  True stuff.)

As the afternoon went on, they went to the Gateway Mall and got on a Ghost Bus to ride out to the Fear Factory.  This was, absolutely, one of those experiences that they will remember when they are 80 years old!  This old abandoned factory is one of the largest spook alley type event in the state.  Layne and Julie had bought VIP passes for them, so there was no waiting in line and they were given "the full experience", which ended with stepping off a four story building, tethered to a cable.   All three of our kids did it and they are still talking about it!

Quayd said that he wasn't frightened to step off the edge.  Grace figured that it had to be safe since everyone else was doing it, but she thinks she may have fainted while going down for a split second.   ZJ loved it, but screamed the most through the entire evening, which only brought her to the attention of more ghouls that stalked her.  They loved it!  It was 1:15 before they got home.

Speaking of getting home, I was texting with Julie, so that we knew that it would be late when they got in.  We went to bed and I was going to entertain myself on Pinterest until they pulled in.  Apparently, that didn't last long... At 4:30, I woke up, leaped up and said, "The kids!!!"  I looked across the street and saw that Layne and Julie were home, so I went downstairs to make sure everyone was safe and sound in bed.  By then, Doug and I were both wide awake and it was 6:30 before we could fall back to sleep.  When they woke up, we had a little visit about waking us up, no matter how late, no matter what.  They were trying to be thoughtful, but they got it.  We were so glad that they had such a wonderful day and end to Spring Break!  Layne and Julie really are AMAZING friends!!!  Our kids can't get enough of them!!  They truly feel like family!

Sunday was filled with church meetings, fireside, Ward Prayer, hot tubbing and lasagna.  (I didn't know that Julie's mom was making it!)  The kids, especially Quayd, loved every minute of the Fall Break!  Now, it's been a busy week, back to normal life.  I love having everyone home!  It's the best!  Next break is Christmas break!  Can. Not. Wait!  Life is good!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

a few surprises

Monday afternoon, the doorbell rang.  I was in our bedroom and saw a cute girl running to a big blue pick-up truck, hop in and it drove away.  We knew that this probably meant an invitation for Quayd to the upcoming Sadie Hawkins Dance.  I called his name and he took forever to come upstairs because he'd laid down for a nap.  By the time he came upstairs, we were all five at the door waiting for him to read the invite.  

And with the note were two rocks... one was so heavy that Doug literally could not lift it.  It's still on our front doorstep.  The other was a small hand size rock.  The large rock had painted on it, "No" and the small rock said, "Yes".  The note had a bag of Pop Rocks attached to it and was taped to our front door.  VERY CUTE!  We'll be answering her tonight with a YES! in a fun way.  Quayd was excited, but very sleepy!

Grace is still trying to decide what to do about Sadies. She'd like to ask a certain someone but she needs to find out about work schedules and such.  We'll see what happens!


Last night, Doug, Carol and I went to see "The Walk".  Oh. MY. WORD!!!!  This movie!  It's absolutely IN.CRED.IBLE!!!!  A MUST SEE at the Big Screen and if possible, in 3-D!  WOWSWER!!!!!!  We hadn't heard much about it, but it's about the french man who attempted to walk across the World Trade Center Twin Towers as they were just being completed in the 70s.  This movie is fascinating!!!  I still don't understand anyone being that driven about something that could possibly end his life, but Oh MY!  It was so good!  There were several times in the movie that our stomachs turned and you, literally, are on the edge of your seat for half the movie!  It's amazing.

HOWEVER, I must say this.  I was broken-hearted, for most of the movie, knowing that the towers are no longer there and why.  Having been to Ground Zero last fall, touring the museum there, was a life-changing experience.  It brought, to me, a reverence that could not have been imagined before witnessing it first hand.  So, it was a very emotional movie.  I broke down and bawled when we got home, just thinking about 9-11.  And the movie has only one line in it that alludes to would happen in the future, but, it's there... that heartache is not something that we can or should ever forget.  VERY emotional evening!  See the movie!


Liza has been called to serve as the Primary Chorister in her ward.  She's very excited about this new calling!  She's never done any musical calling in all her years, so this is a fresh new challenge for her!  She's very happy!  If anyone has any fabulous primary tips, please, please email me!  Thanks!  I'm feeling a "need" to take my Cricut and a ton of paper down and spend a few days building her some "tools" for teaching music.  I'm overdue for a visit with my girls anyway, right!?


On Quayd's birthday, ironically, two of my lunch bunch lady friends lost one of their parents...Jeana's mom and Lynne's dad. Yesterday, I attended the funeral of Jeana's mom, who I've known almost twenty years, since serving in the Relief Society Presidency with Jeana.  She was a sweet, kind and simple woman.  Her funeral was very much like her - simple.  There was poetry and music and each of her children sang or spoke, telling tender stories of lessons they'd learned from their mother.  The granddaughters and greats sang "I am a Child of God" at the end.  It was beautiful.  I came away feeling thankful to have known Sister Alder and reminded that life doesn't need to be complicated and over the top all of the time!  There's much to be said about enjoying the simplicity in life too.  It was a sweet hour.  I love funerals, mostly because I love the reminders that there are so many family members waiting for us on the other side of the veil... as Doug calls it... "when we graduate."


Today, as most people are aware, is the day that Marty McFly went "Back to the Future" in 1985.  That's so amazing to think that I was a married woman with little kids when the movies first came out.  Now, those kids have kids!  2015 seemed sooooooo far away!  We watched a marathon of all three Back to the Future movies on Saturday... watching, stopping the movies, talking about it and laughing to think that these things seemed so foreign back then and most of them are today...just the norm in our lifestyles.  They were pretty accurate!  The cellphone really seems to be the biggest "futuristic" call... it's changed our lives!  FUN!  GOOD TIMES!


One other thing that I wanted to make sure to record was that much of the weekend, I was receiving many photos of Zaylee's weekend from her Mom.  Zaylee called me on Wednesday and said, "Gram!  GRAM!!  GUESS WHERE I'M GOING!!?!?"  Amy had picked her up early from school.  Zaylee asked, "Where are we going, Mom?"  (Zaylee's used to being picked up for meetings and such... but no more!  HAPPINESS!)  Anyway, Amy said, "Disneyland."  Zaylee said, "No, really, where are we going?"  "Disneyland."  "No, REALLY?  Where?"  "DISNEYLAND!!!"  "REALLY!  REALLY!?!?!?!?"  She was sooooooo excited!  Amy took her three little ones straight to the airport, calling me on the way, and they were off to see Mickey!  She had a blast!  I loved the pix.  We are so so happy for Zaylee's wonderful little life!

LOVE that toothless smile!

Of all the pix that Amy sent me over the weekend, this was my favorite.  In every pic with her brothers, she is holding their hand, hugging them, touching them.  They are all so close!  This little "brown" boy, like Zaylee, is only 9 days apart in age.  She says he's her "twin".  She is so blessed to be in this family and she's never been happier!  It shows in that smile!


That just reminded me that I never posted the rest of our fall break, Day 3!  Tomorrow!  I was so worried about getting Quayd's birthday interview and we had so much fun with the YSA on Monday, that I never got back to the weekend... and it was awesome!  Tomorrow.  It's a happy day when there's so much good happening in life that I don't have time to blog about it! 


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

a little spontaneity, a lot of fun!

On Monday, it was cold and raining and the wind was blowing all afternoon.  By about 6PM,  the rain stopped but everything was wet and cold.   It was also getting dark quickly.  The Stake (A Stake is the organization of several LDS wards.) had planned for their monthly YSA Home Evening Service Project.  Our three kids asked not to go because of the weather, so we told them that we would go and not stay long, since Doug didn't have any active part in it or any responsibilities. The service project was pumpkin carving hundreds of pumpkins for the Annual North Logan City Pumpkin Walk.

So, we headed up to North Logan and arrived about fifteen minutes after it began.  We walked through the tons of kids... some were visiting, some were eating donuts, some were choosing pumpkins, and they were taking turns at the crowded tables carving pumpkins.  It was almost dark and the spot lights were allowing them to see what they were doing.  It was cold, it was loud and, mostly, it was fun!  Doug and I enjoyed saying hello and chatting with our own YSA kids, as well as others.    We were having a great time visiting!

 I'm talking a lot of pumpkins!  

... and a lot of college students!

As we walked through the crowd, the one thing that I noticed was that these kids were cold!  Some were in shorts, some in hoodies, others had winter hats and coats.  The pumpkins were stored in a giant metal work shop that belongs to the city...a gazillion pumpkins!  But, they were cold, being stored outside.  And kids hands were inside them, digging out the seeds.  Cold!  So, I said to Doug, "What these guys need is a nice warm fire and some hot chocolate!"  So, we made a plan, walked around the group and told three of them that we would be serving hot chocolate when they were done with their activity, at our home...not knowing if any one would even be interested.

We texted our kids at home and asked ZJ to get the water boiling in three large pots, Grace to get the kitchen cleaned (they were eating leftover lasagna while we were gone) and Quayd to hurry and finish eating!  ha!  Doug and I raced to the grocery store and bought styrofoam cups, a couple gallons of milk, two giant cans of hot chocolate mix and two bags of marshmallows.  (I had all of these in storage but this was quicker!)  We got home, just as the water was starting to boil, and we had five minutes before the kids started arriving for Doug to build a nice fire and me to get things set up.

Within minutes, there were college kids (some weren't even in our ward) in our home, shoes kicked off at the door, all over the upstairs.  They took turns playing the piano and I mean, they played the piano!!!  We have some gifted pianists in our ward.  I told them last night that I'm ready to get it tuned!  (It hasn't been since Liza was married because no one plays.) Beeeeautiful music filled our home! They were in the living room, the kitchen, around the table, around the fire, everywhere.  It was delightful!!!

I was so fascinated watching them all and listening in on conversations, visiting one on one with some of them.  Oh my word, I loved it!  It's amazing to me how mature and personable these kids are.  They are truly "champions", as Doug calls them.  They looked at every photo on our walls, studied our book shelves in groups, discussing the books that we have.  They checked out every CD on the shelves, read the quotes on my walls.  They were all gracious and complimentary about our home.  But, most important... they felt comfortable in our home!  It was just fun because they were getting to know us, as well.  And they are truly wonderful kids!  There was music and laughter and discussions of deep thoughts, as well as the trivial! It was just awesome!  And the thing that impresses me the most is that these kids each cleaned up behind themselves and thanked us.  Not hit and miss, they all made a point of saying thanks!

Doug and I were both so impressed with them all.  After they'd left, we took a quick dip in the hottub before bed and Doug said, "I'm so glad that you listened to the Spirit on that one, Babe.  That was inspiration for an extra opportunity to get to know a few more of them a little better."  We both learned a few more names by getting to know them more personally.  I was thinking, "Heck, that wasn't inspiration, that was just my desire for fun gatherings and being around the kids more!" I absolutely love having these kids over, to feel their spirits, and to get to know them better. Sweet!  Our kids were in and out, loved listening to the piano, and enjoyed the laughter too.  This opportunity that Doug is having with this YSA calling is the best... for us all!  We've had a few comments from friends, like, "Doesn't it just take all of your time? Isn't it expensive?  Isn't that calling a lot of work?"  Heck no!  This is good stuff!  We're loving it!  We were the ones who are benefiting the most from this experience, I'm certain!  Life is good!