Friday, June 30, 2017

a few ups and downs

 I thought I'd take a minute, and just update a few odds and ends that I've left out from the month of June.  It's been crazy with Liza's visit, bridal showers, Grace's graduation (which seems ages ago), our trip to St. George, Doug's health scare, and life, in general... it's been just plain crazy!  But, so good!  It's been a wonderful summer with a few hiccups, but it's all good!

A few ramblings...

I took Kelly to lunch for her 37th birthday.  Kelly was in a car accident last month and broke her foot.  She is still on crutches and hopping around, but she is hopping around.  An update on her... she and her soon to be ex-husband have been apart for well over a year now.  He is no longer in the state, which is probably best for all involved.  She's working and trying to keep out of trouble.  We had a nice visit.  So pleasant that I suggested we do it again soon.  We don't see much of her.  But, she does text on occasion.  She has a boyfriend, who I've said we will meet when she has a divorce and a wedding date.  We do not want to meet anyone until it's serious.  The one time we did that, the one man we just loved, and then she ended it... we are still grieving over, so I told her she will have to hold out on us meeting anyone again.  But, she looks good and is in good spirits.

Last fall, the girls had a strange scare with a young man walking to our home, ahead of them, and they went to Layne and Julie's.  I blogged about it then.  Within days, we figured out who the boy/man was.  He has not been seen since.  On the night we came home from St. George, he was sitting on our lawn eating breadsticks???  Go figure.  Grace and Doug talked to him for a minute, told him he needed to go and came inside.  The next night, we were in the middle of one of the bridal showers.  I had twenty women sitting in the den and looked up to see him standing in the den doorway.  He'd walked into our home, on his own, and asked for Grace.  I firmly told him that we were in the middle of a party and that Grace was not available.  I was told by another guest who has known his family for years, that this boy needs serious and firm instructions to stay away or he will just walk in anytime...whether we are home or not!

Later that night, at 10PM, the doorbell rang.  I thought it was my sister-in-law, Aleece, coming back for something she'd forgotten.  I grabbed my robe as I answered the door and it was him.  I was shocked!  I reacted!  We preach "Act, not react", but I failed this time.  I said, "YOU may NOT come here again!"  He said, "Can you explain?  I'm autistic."  (I've been told that he uses this as an excuse to get away with his improprieties, but it is not the case.)  I said, "Yes, I'll explain.  You do NOT walk into our home EVER.  I had a room full of guests and you walked in uninvited.  That is NOT acceptable!  It is 10:00 at night.  You do NOT ring someone's doorbell at 10:00 at night EVER!  You may not come here again.  Do you understand?"  He stood there for several seconds before speaking a word and then turned to leave.  The girls were behind the door, with Doug.  I closed the door and they thanked me. Then they said, "Creeeeeeepy."  They are barely over the experience from last fall.

Grace saw the boy at Church on Sunday and he asked her, "Was your mom really having a party?  I don't think she was."  That was what he was most interested in.  Strange.  Life with two beautiful teenage daughters can sometimes be challenging. We have not seen him near our home since.  Just sayin'. wink.

I have been busily trying to put together a wonderful "Hump Day" package for Quayd.  He's half-way through his mission in two weeks.  I'll share more about it soon.

 It's been trying and very challenging for him, but he's persevered.  Quayd has faced things that we would never imagined.  Missions are hard.  Very hard.  There is the daily and almost constant rejection from total strangers.  There's living with a total stranger 24/7, whom you may or may not connect with or even like. (Thankfully, he and his current companion are getting along great!) There's the challenge of leaving home for the first time in your life and being away for two years, missing all that is "life" to them.  And on top of that, there are new things to be discovered over two years of living in a world you never imagined, away from family support.  It's hard for them all.

Here's a picture of his Zone at Bonita Falls on their Prep-Day.  I'm still trying to figure out where Quayd got those blue Nikes!  I'm grateful that they have one day a week to do something "different".

You often hear, "My mission was the best two years of my life."  I think that more correctly stated, it would be, "My mission was the best two years FOR my life."  Quayd is growing through these challenges, but a few of them have been physical challenges that we have no control over.  We continue to pray for his strength and tenacity.  He's a hard worker, but he gets discouraged when his physical issues slow him down, and he gets frustrated with himself. He loves the work, he loves the service, he loves the people of California, he loves his companion, but he's pretty hard on himself.  It's hard when he can't give himself a break for things that are out of his control.  Prayers for Quayd would be appreciated.

Life is good, even when some moments aren't.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Shower Fun

My three showers are done!  Over!  Finis!  Happiness!  I'm now in full wedding mode for my favorite niece Lexi's wedding this week.  I thought I'd post a few details about the showers.... Since they were going to have many of the same guests, I wanted them to be different and unique, but I also wanted to keep things a bit more simple than usual.  Being the wedding planner for Lexi, dealing with one arm and foot issues, being in YW with girl's camp coming up soon, as well as dealing with Liza's visit and move..."Keep it Simple" has to be my motto right now.

Heather's shower... I did not take one single picture of Heather's shower.  And it was so pretty!  Dangit!  I don't know that anyone did.  Double dangit!

The shower was a "Pantry Shower", along with a tasting table. Each guest brought a prepared dish, the recipe, a tool or something used in the preparation and dry goods for the dish for Heather.  She got so many fun gifts.  A crock pot with canned goods for a pot roast that we all got to taste.  Delicious salads, breads and muffins and baking pans and even a KitchenAid mixer to go with!  Fun night for everyone to try new recipes. Heather and my favorite nephew Jake got a pantry stocked full before they even had to cook!

Lexi's shower was a "Favorite Things" Shower.  Each guest was asked to bring a gift that is something they can not live without, in hopes that Lexi won't be able to either!  We had so much fun sharing everything from furry blankets to can-openers to kitchen gadgets.  Our food was more of a traditional shower meal... I prepared a chicken pasta spinach salad that was a hit!  Along with the salad, a sister-in-law made heavenly rolls from a foreign recipe book.  WOW!  I still need to get the recipe for those!  Zeej made pizzelles for us and filled strawberries with chocolate cream cheese frosting.  Oh my!  The food was fun and after we'd all eaten and Lexi had opened her gifts, we had fun and lots of laughs sharing marriage advice.  And we did laugh a lot!  Lexi is my favorite niece Lexi and I love that I am her favorite Aunt Sophia!

One really fun part of the shower, a little surprise from Doug's sister,Anne.  While we were talking wedding advise, she shared something that tied things together.  No one in the room was even aware of this little handmade Korean doll given to Dale, Anne and Doug's dad, while he served in the war.  He had given Anne this priceless gift when she was a little girl.  She shared the story of this doll and how she's treasured it her whole entire life, along with a beautiful spiritual thought.  She shared the story and printed off a copy of it for each of us.  I will share the story, with her permission, in another post, but it was a tender moment... one of the things you can always count on when you are around Anne!

Here's the recipe for the tasty chicken spinach and pasta salad....
The first time I tried this recipe was at Miki's baby blessing dinner. Wendy's sister Kris made it and I fell in love...with Kris and the Salad! It makes a LOT of salad (two big salad bowls) and is great for a large crowd.


Blend in blender until smooth:

1 c veggie oil (Kris used 1/2 c olive and 1/2 cup canola)
2/3 c White wine vinegar
2/3 c teriyaki sauce (Kris used kikoman teriyaki marinade)
6 T Sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Cook 12oz Bowtie Pasta. Rinse and drain.

Add to dressing and refrigerate 2 hours or over night. When ready to serve add:

4-5 Cooked chicken breast
1 bunch chopped green onion
3-6 oz cans mandarin oranges
6oz craisins
6oz honey roasted sliced almonds
spinach 28-32oz

Toss all and serve immediately (You can toss all except spinach a head of time, refrigerate and add spinach right before serving.) Enjoy!

One gift that I loved was Liza's.  She gave Lexi a cooler filled with travel games, crossword puzzle books and a few other things that could be taken on road trips, as she and Buddy love to travel.  It was unique and creative!

Erin's shower theme was "Around the Clock". Erin is marrying my favorite nephew Dillon.  Each guest was invited to bring a gift that would be used around the specific time assigned on their invitation.  So, if you got 10AM, it might be a cleaning tool or supplies, if it was 6PM, it would be a dinner prep or servingware, if it were 10PM, it might be bedding or anything used late at night.  Erin received some seriously fun and creative gifts!

I'd asked Valerie, who I serve in the Young Womens with, and who made our beautiful cupcakes for Young Women in Excellence, if she would make cupcakes for the shower.  Val happens to be Dillon's aunt too.  She's Dillon's mom's sister.  Doug is Dillon's Dad's brother.  So, I love that I'm getting to work with and know Val after by serving in the ward with her.  Val was happy to oblige and made the fun cupcakes.  Aleece made wonderful fruit kabobs and I made the best punch I've ever made!  The Costco Kettle Corn was also a hit.  Totally simple but FUN! We had a great time visiting and munching!  The best part of the shower was, again, the wedding advice!  We laughed pretty hard, as we all commented on each other's comments.  I love that at any bridal shower!

Pineapple Punch

1 bottle Pina Colada Mix (in the mixed drink area of the grocery store)
1 frozen pineapple-orance juice concentrate
2  2-liter bottles 7-up or Sprite
1 bag of Pebble Ice (Sonic or your meat department probably sells it)

Mix and then add water to taste. It's pretty sweet, so at least 2 quarts of water.

These showers have consumed my thoughts since April.  It is a great feeling of accomplishment to have them behind me.  Truthfully, I did less for all three of these showers combined than I normally do for one.  However, with help of my sisters-in-law and my three daughters, I was very pleased at how things fell together!  I announced that I will host the last four bridal showers over the next few years for the remaining nieces and then we are turning baby showers over to the next generation.  It's time.  Strange to think that we are talking "next generation", but it's time!  I hosted showers for my sisters-in-law when they married into the family and now down to the last niece.  It's time.  We talked about some of the showers after Lexi's and it was just fun to remember and to feel appreciated.

Life is good!  So is checking off big things on your to-do list!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

adios St. George and ;( family

We met at Cracker Barrel for a birthday breakfast for my mother at 7:30.  Of course, Mom called at 7 to say that she was already there.  ha!  We arrived at 7:30, as planned.  We had to load the car and double check for leaving anything, plus get a three year old and a baby ready, as well as ourselves because we were heading home immediately after breakfast.

We had a short and sweet birthday breakfast and said our goodbyes.  Zeej was so excited to be wearing her overalls.  Mom said, "You look like a farmgirl."  Then, she turned to Grace and said, "And you look like a beautiful princess."  Thanks, Mom.  But, the funny thing was that Zeej felt like two million dollars in her overalls from the DI and she didn't care one bit!  I love that they know they don't need others approval to feel good about themselves!

We had a very uneventful drive home.  The fires in Southern Utah caused the skies to be cloudy and grey.  You could barely see the outlines of the mountains in the distance along the I-15.  It's so sad at this time of year when so many acres of our beautiful state burn for days.

We stopped for a potty break and didn't get lunch until we only 30 minutes from home, at Sonic drive thru.   We just wanted to be home, and we were, before Doug came in from work!  We had unloaded our bags and were settling in when Doug walked in.  I sat in my Lazy-Boy to rest my shoulder and recline, he kissed me hello and I woke up two hours later! Doug had a temple event with the YSA and he got home after nine.  I am thankful for that hello kiss because by 8:45, I was in bed, under the covers, asleep until the next morning.  I never saw him again that night!  I was in pain and exhausted!  Honestly, the heat.  The drive.  The lonnnnnnng time sitting up.... I won't be making any road trips for a while again!

Saying goodbye to Liza and the girls was so hard.  We hugged and said goodbye, then we hugged again and started over several times.  With them in Phoenix again, it will be more like annual visits instead of bi-monthly.  Sadness.  I get tears thinking about it.  And Little Miss A.  Oh my.  She had a pouty face and said, "Grammie, I'm going to miss you so much."  Then she said, "Come tomorrow and we can go to story time!"  Then, it was me who had the pouty face.  I am so blessed with these sweet girls in my life!  Liza is such a phenomenal mother to watch.  Aylabelle is so smart and Edie is just the happiest baby ever.  What a blessing to be their mom and gram! 

My own girls were delightful on the entire trip.  Grace was so helpful in the front seat.  She raised my arm up and down to keep it from seizing up.  She lifted my drink for me and gave me treats to keep me awake and kept the music on the right songs.  I was thanking Grace for her help while I drove, after the fact. She said, "I prayed that I could be of service to you on our trip, Mom.  So, Thanks!"  It was so appreciated!  She did well!  Zeej was in the back seat and kept us entertained with her stories and tales.  Her singing and "dancing" with her arms are entertaining to watch all the time!  We just had fun.  Period.  They were both very thankful and appreciative for every little part of the trip.

I came home and gave thanks for these wonderful women in my life!  I truly am blessed!  Doug was happy to have us home and I reminded him how blessed I feel to have his support on anything I want in life!  He's amazing too.  I love my life!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

St. George Day 3

When we woke up on Tuesday, we were determined to get some work done for Liza to help with her packing and move preparations.  Welllllll.... it was a good thought.  Liza made nummy german pancakes (gluten free pan for Grace) with fresh fruit! Such a great breakfast!  We sat around and gabbed until noon.  Then, we decided that we would go out for lunch.  By the time we got ready and out the door, it was after noon.

We went to Red Robin for lunch and had the best service we have ever had anywhere in St. George!  We sat Edie in the high chair for her first time, but she's so tiny, that even sitting up, it was too huge.  So, she ended back in the sling and carseat.  Liza picked her up for a bit and she barely managed to swing her arm and catch Liza's full strawberry lemonade glass and dumped it.  The manager must know that sound because there were a crew of them helping within seconds! They were awesome before and even after! 

Honestly, she smiles like this 90% of the time!

We had a nice lunch and decided to go do some things to kill time and then go for a frozen yogurt after our lunch had settled.  Again, in separate cars because of car seats, Liza made a turn into the Deseret Industries (like Salvation Army).  I'd mentioned that I'm always on the lookout for an old sewing machine with the foot pedals, and without letting me know, Liza stopped for me to check.  Little did I know that we'd spend an hour in there.  The girls were finding treasures and Aylabelle found a Christmas Snowglobe that plays Silent Night.  We had a fun little time until our food settled.  I laughed at Zeej.  She had "the happiest moment in her whole entire life" (I said it must not take much) because she found a pair of overalls.  She's been trying to find a pair for two years and she was in heaven!  Okey dokey then.  She could hardly stop talking about them.  It's the little things, I guess.
After lunch, we stopped for fro-yo at a place called Menchie's or something like it.  They had loud music playing and a huge wall chalk board.  Aylabelle could not decide if she wanted to eat her for-yo, dance to the music or write on the chalkboard.  We were there for an hour enjoying the cool air.  It was 112 degrees out!  This was sweet!  Aylabelle heard "Shake it Off" and she danced and danced and danced.  We laughed and laughed and laughed.

Edie wanted to try fro-yo too.  Because of allergy concerns, Liza introduces her to one food at a time.  While Liza nurses her babies, she has to be dairy-free.  So, she got a fruity non-dairy fro-yo.  Edie wanted that spoon bigtime!

She can't wait to eat and I was dying to feed her!

taken from a video of Aylabelle "shaking it off"

We missed Quayd so much.  We always miss him but some things trigger it even more.  Seeing these "Captain Underpants" cups on the fro-yo made us talk about Quayd a lot!  He loved the books when he was a little boy and even got into trouble for doing some of the things in the books!  So, we had to take a few pix for him.  Then, later, I decided not to send them because he would be sad that he was missing the fun... that's always a fine line... deciding how much fun to share that he's missing.

After fro-yo, we headed home to get serious about the packing.  The girls took Aylabelle outside to the pool so that we could help Liza and Buddy get ready for their big move.  Liza packed and did a little cleaning and box-building.  I took Edie in the stroller out to the pool and we sat in the shade and watched the girls.  I misted EdieAnn every few minutes to keep her cool.  It's so dang hot there!  And they are moving to even hotter weather!  UGH!!  Please pass me a nice beautiful blizzard anyday!

After dinner, sandwiches and salad, and after Aylabelle was down for the evening, the girls helped Liza pack a few boxes and we called it a night by 11.  We planned on a birthday breakfast for my mom at Cracker Barrel at 7:30 before we left to head home.

Another fun day, lots of sweet memories made.  My favorite thing is Aylabele telling me, "Grammie, I probably love you."  She tells that to Liza and the girls, as well.  I love that word, "probably".  She's too cute!  That's all there is to it!  I'm going to miss them so much!!!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

St. George Day 2

We slept in until about 7:30.  I opted to sleep on the sofa downstairs instead of in the guest room.  The girls shared king size bed in the guest room.  So, Aylabelle woke up and came straight downstairs to where I was sleeping (keeping my eyes closed to see what she'd do).  She tip-toed around me and got right in my face.  Then she stood there for a sec and took a deep breath.  Then, she picked up her purse (a coin purse from Nana) and shook it with it's change inside, right in my face.  She obeyed her mom and didn't wake Grammie up... the coins shaking "woke me up".  She was quite proud of that!  We cuddled and talked for a bit until everyone else was up and downstairs.

We got ready and headed into town for a little fun at the City Center, near the library.  There is a splash pad and fun water features, but there is also the carousel, which Aylabelle loves!  My girls had never ridden a carousel.  I should not admit that!  There isn't one in Logan and when you go to the county fair, the carousel is the least exciting ride.  So, I was excited to share that with them.   Aylabelle was proud that she knew where to go to give the lady the money and then to wait at the gate.  She has it all figured out.  I loved watching the girls and taking pix while we rode around instead of actually being on a horse.  I didn't want to miss the photo ops!  Worth missing the ride!

Sch a fun place...we didn't come to get wet, we only planned on the carousel, but at 112 degrees, a little water is nothing but wonderful!

After the carousel, we met my mom for a late lunch at Outback Steakhouse.  She volunteers at a Food Pantry/homeless shelter and worked until 1.  Being that it was Mom's birthday, Outback, was Mom's choice.  Liza was determined to keep Grace totally gluten-free while we were there.  Grace isn't determined, but Liza was!  So, we checked everyplace that we ate for gluten-free menu items.  Grace actually ate pretty well!  She had a burger wrapped in lettuce and broccoli because their fries have a flour on them.  Go figure.  Mom did most of the talking and we fed Edie water from a straw which kept us all entertained.  It was a fun visit and we made plans for breakfast on Mom's 78th birthday, Wednesday morning.

I had decided to surprise the girls and buy them new swimsuits, so Liza headed home with the girls for naptime and we did some shopping.  The girls both got cute new suits, both very much like they are... different than the other.  When we finished shopping, Aylabelle was ready to wake up and the girls hit the pool.  It took the girls about two minutes by the pool before three very cute boys were talking to them and flirting.  They told the girls that they had a hundred dollar bet that the girls were twins.  Before the evening was through, they were friends on social media.  These boys were visiting grandparents in Liza's ward.  Such is the life of being beautiful tanned girls in the summertime. ha!

After another yummy dinner, beef and broccoli stir-fry, and getting Aylabelle to bed, we gabbed and played "Heads Up" for a long time. Then we started playing "Would you Rather?" and we played and laughed until almost 1 in the morning.  "Would you rather" is a game where you just think of two options and everyone chooses which they would prefer... "Would you rather bunjee-jump off a skyscraper or go diving with sharks?"  Would you rather eat pizza every day for the rest of your life and never have another Diet Coke or eat cheesecake every day of your life and only drink water?  Silly questions but you learn a lot about each other's fears and likes and dislikes.  Someone asked a question that made us all laugh completely a question like Quayd would have asked... "Would you rather have a green cloud surround you every time you pass gas or have rotten egg breath for the rest of your life?"  Oh my.  That got us to thinking... and laughing.  We played until we were falling asleep on each other!

I can't say how much I loved being with my girls.  Liza is such a gracious and thoughtful hostess.  We went to help her and at this point, that hadn't even begun to happen.  We just played a lot!  All day and all night.  Loved it!

Monday, June 19, 2017

St. George Day 1

We made it!  It was a crazy decision, but we decided on Saturday, quite spontaneously, that we would make a quick trip down to St. George to help Liza with her packing.  Doug and I talked about it and he was all for it.  I didn't want to leave him on Father's Day.  Doug suggested a "Father's Day Eve".  Since I had all of the food bought for Father's Day dinner, we pulled it out and grilled the salmon, cooked the rest of the meal, gave him his gifts then watched a movie together for the rest of the night.  Doug called it "the best Father's Day Eve he'd ever had" and we agreed!

The girls were packed and ready to go by 8:30 that morning, when Doug left for his church meetings and we were on the road before 9.  We arrived in St. George at 3:15, after two stops.  The Honda got great mileage, which was great news!  I think I am going to like driving a "car" for a change.  My foot was throbbing and my shoulder was totally stiff by the time we arrived, but it was worth it to see Liza and family!

When we arrived, Aylabelle was napping.   We played with EdieAnn for a bit until she woke up.  Liza went upstairs to wake her and as she came down the stairs, Liza was telling her that they were going to surprise Nana Ruby and that she had another surprise.  Aylabelle came down the stairs, saw us standing there and her eyes got sooooo big!  She was so happy!  I got the best hug ever! 

this was pulled from the video that Zeej took when Aylabelle saw us at the bottom of the stirs.  

We went out to my mom's in separate cars because of the car seats.  Liza had called Mom to tell her that she was bringing her birthday present from me.  When Mom opened the door, we hid around the corner of the garage while Mom put her dogs away.  While she was away from the door, we all ran up and stood behind Liza.  Mom just screamed, "OH MY WORD!!!!!!  THAT IS A SURPRISE!!!!"  She couldn't believe that we were there!  We had a nice visit and of course, Mom raided her closet and sent us home with a dozen new purses.  Having a mother with a purse fetish is pretty fun.

We didn't stay late because Liza had dinner waiting at her house.  It was almost 8 before we ate
dinner, but she'd prepared a nummy Father's Day meal for Buddy earlier in the day before we arrived, and she made plenty, so that we could have leftovers when we got there.  Spanish Rice, Chicken Burritos, fruit... soooo nummy!

After Aylabelle was down, we played more with Edie and just visited until about 11.  We were pretty exhausted after the long day and I just laid flat on her sofa to rest the shoulder.  We made a plan for Monday and called it a night.  A perfect day... the car functioned, we were safe upon our arrival, Doug was happy at home and even got in a Father's Day nap in the silence of our home and got to bed early that night, and we were together with Liza and her family.  Prayers answered!  Life is so good!!!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

a new "flavor" of fun

Last night was Bunco night.  Staci hosted and WOW!  What a great evening! She served a wonderful salad and an "oil and vinegar bar" with artisan bread and then, fresh fruit mixed with more infused oils.   Staci's sister owns this fabulous little shop, Oil and Vinegar Junction, in Park City, Utah.  I can't wait to make a trip down and experience it firsthand! It's incredible! I can not say enough about this fun and delicious "experience"!  It really was an experience. 

Staci had so many flavors of balsamic and oils... sweet and savory...everything from coconut, pineapple, strawberry, basil, citrus combinations that I couldn't even remember.  Oils in flavors that I could have never dreamed of!  The blood orange infused olive oil mixed with a citrus balsamic and the coconut and pineapple mixed with... I can't even remember what...we mixed and matched.  Fabulous!  She had a dozen balsamics and as many infused oils.  We just mixed and matched and tasted and  dipped in each other's mixes and, oh my, it was delish! I didn't have my phone handy during dinner, to snap a few shots.  So I am lifting these first two pix off the website. 

 Everyone went home with a flavored salt.  Here is the Hawaiian Lava Sea Salt that I brought home!    I'm anxious to try this sea salt on some fresh corn on the cob, as recommended on the website. Check it out!  I see that you can order online! Honestly, there were no losers last night at Bunco!  

I feel a day trip to Park City coming very soon!  Life is good!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Liza and the girls visit... week 2

My heart hurts!  Literally!  Liza and the girls left yesterday. We were spoiled after twelve days of Aylabelle climbing in bed with me in the mornings.  I've been looking at the photos and what a wonderful visit we've had. The time flew by much too quickly! The fact that this will be their last visit home before they move back to Arizona was pretty emotional for both Doug and I.  They are not leaving for a few more weeks from St. George and we are hoping to see them one more time down there.  However, I still have one more bridal shower and am the wedding planner my niece's wedding.  We have found three three day windows, but with a six hour drive each way, that's only going to leave us wanting more!  We will see what happens over the next few weeks.

Here's a few highlights of our week...

We went to breakfast at Herm's with Denise one day and lunch at Firehouse with Carol another.  Stott and Wendy came over to visit with Liza.  Kristy dropped in to say hello.  Layne and Julie welcomed her.  As a matter of fact, I think that Layne has a new second favorite baby.  He held EdieAnn through Sunday School.  Liza said, "I barely know Layne, but he's one of my favorite people I've ever met!" He and Julie are such great neighbors.  Lots of visiting!

We spent most of Tuesday getting ready for Lexi's bridal shower.  I'll share more about the showers next week in another post.  Liza was so happy to get a chance to visit with her cousins and aunts.  Perfect timing!

Liza went to visit with her in-laws on Wednesday morning for two nights.  While she was away, I went to lunch with friend Kara, who's son, Tyler, is coming home from his mission this week!!!!  We had lots to talk about and we probably won't have much opportunity for lunch until August with all that we both have going on.  One thing I love about time with Kara is that we can get together and never run out of things to talk about!  But, even better, we laugh!  Hard!  I was driving home from lunch and remembered several years ago when we'd met for breakfast at Village Inn.  Not realizing that my mom (during the time she lived in Logan post-cancer) was out having breakfast alone, she came around the corner and said, "I recognized those laughs!"  That's a fact.  We can be heard laughing whenever we are together.  I heart her!

On Thursday, while Liza was at her in-laws, we were here getting ready for Youth Conference to begin.  Our stake had a marvelous weekend planned for the youth.  This was a service project weekend.  Groups were assigned and went to homes throughout the area, painting, cleaning yards, raking, landscaping, roofing, cemetery clean-up after Memorial Day.  There were so many projects and over 200 twelve to eighteen year old kids volunteered.  They were fed three meals a day, met at 7AM and worked until 9:30 in the evening.  The conference began with an inspiring devotional, where two return missionaries shared their experiences of service while serving on their missions.  The Elder had served in Houston TX, after the record-breaking storm that left six feet of rain in six hours and was followed by a tornado that wiped out over 2000 homes.  The sister spoke of her experiences serving the poverty-stricken areas of Peru.  Beautiful and inspirational messages that ended with "Learn to Serve Like Christ Served" and "Learn to Love like Christ Loved."  BEAUTIFUL!  The kids spent three days in total service and celebrated their efforts with a picnic pool party at the Logan Aquatic Center.  ZJ came home feeling so great about the experience! She'd made new friends and had a blast! We are blessed to live in such a wonderful ward and Stake where the Youth are absolutely the priority!

ZJ and her best friend in our ward, Lorna, keep the YW laughing all the time!  Lorna moved into our ward shortly after we did.  Another blessing... I love our kids friends!  This was as they were leaving for the aquatic center.  They both showed up with the same hoodies.  Unplanned.  She really is a great friend!  These two are most excited for girls camp... the things they are planning blows me away!

On Friday morning, I went to physical therapy and then picked Liza up for a day trip up to the cabin.  She's not been to the ranch in over six years.  It was a beautiful green drive up to Idaho.  The rains have left everything looking as green as green can be.  We stopped in Soda Springs to show Aylabelle the geyser, which she didn't even know the word.  However, as soon as we got there, she said, "I think the water is going to get very, very big!"  She was so excited to see just how very, very big it became. Edie could not stop looking at it! We couldn't get her to look at me for a photo!

We went out to the ranch and were surprised to pull up and see Norm mowing the lawn. Mom and Norm there for the afternoon while . Mom was so thrilled for this, as she called it, "tender mercy".  Liza has so little time when she comes to visit that she never gets to see everyone she wants and seeing her grandmother was a great blessing for them both.  I was excited to catch a few photos of them together!

My goal was to be home in time to have a little "P Party" for Aylabelle.  We had "Pizza, Popcorn" a Picnic watching "Princess Belle and the Beast."   Liza recommended Papa Johns pizza, which we have never tried and we loved it!  My biggest pet peeve, living in Utah, is that we don't get NY or Chicago style pizza here.  We loved it!  Aylabelle and Grace cuddled on the floor while Doug and Edie played during the movie.  Zeej missed the fun because she was working her little heart out at Youth Conference.

As soon as the movie ended, Kristy came by to say hello to Liza and the girls.  We were just getting situated when Liza said, "Mom!"  to get my attention.  She interrupted to tell me that Doug was having a problem.  All attention went to him and he explained that he had lost his vision.  He hadn't wanted to interrupt the visit and took an aspirin, now things were coming back but he had no periphial vision for a bit before it disappeared. We all immediately wondered if he was having a mini-stroke or TSI, as they call them in the ER. Immediately, I said, "Get in the car!  We're going to the ER!"  Strokes and heart problems were issues that Doug's dad and his siblings had and we do not mess around with this.  The most amazing thing happened!  Doug said, "OK" and started getting in the car.  That would be a first in forty years of marriage.  Doug does NOT go to the doctor unless he's dying!  His last trip to the ER was when he had his appendectomy in 1985!

As we drove down the hill to the hospital, I called Doug's sister, Aleece, who is a nurse.  She gave a few diagnostic questions and Doug seemed fine, by all of her questions, but she felt strongly that he should be checked, in case it had been a mini-stroke.  We walked into the ER and I said, "He may have just had a mini-stroke, but he's fine now."  They were all over Doug and had him admitted to the ER immediately!  Dee and Aleece came up to the hospital and Dee gave Doug a priesthood blessing.  The girls were texting almost non-stop until well after midnight.  It was fright for them.  We came home at 2:15AM, following a chest x-ray, blood work, and EKG and an MRI with contrast dye on his neck and brain. Every test came back telling us that Doug was as healthy as could be.  His BP is perfect, his heart rate is perfect, the scans were perfect.  Everything!  The ER doctor visited with us for over half an hour and was baffled.  He recommended that Doug see an eye doctor and have his retinas checked.  The big concern was that he had lost vision in both eyes, not just one, which is indicative of the stroke.  But, all was well!  THANKFULLY!

In the morning, I was talking with a sister-in-law, and shared what had happened.  She said that happens to Doug's brother when he gets dehydrated.  Doug slapped his head and said, "HELLO!"  I've had that happen before too!  He had not remembered it and it had never been that bad before.  BUT.  When it happened on Friday night, he'd gotten a drink of water and taken an aspirin and instantly, it was better. He felt quite certain that this was what had happened.   On the good side of things, our insurance deductible will now be met for the year.  And we have nothing else to do with our money than pay medical bills, right?

I will say this and nothing more about it... when Dee and Aleece left and Doug was gone for the MRI, I was alone in that ER room and I completely fell apart.  I felt so helpless!  Since Doug's appendectomy, I've had a hysterectomy, an oophorectomy, my throat surgery, a new shoulder and both knees operated on.  Doug is always the healthy one.  He is my rock.  The thought of anything being wrong with him was overwhelming to me.  Suffice it to say, there were some very sincere prayers said during those hours.  I love this man more than life itself and I am hoping for another thirty years or more together here on this earth and then an eternity together.  We need our health!  I'm fine to be dirt poor, to live in a tent, to eat beans for the rest of our lives together, as long as we are together!!!   It was a humbling evening.  I have much faith in the gospel and the Lord's plan of Salvation, and I know that we have to have faith in His timing, as well.  But, a girl can ask, right?

On Saturday, we woke up, tired from our late night/early morning, but excited for our favorite nephew Jake's wedding!  We were at the temple with the entire family, which is always wonderful.  Doug's mom's joy radiates when we are all together.  I love that!!  The highlight of my day was seeing Liza hug her cousin, Lindsey, who is the same age.  They've been close their whole lives and for the past few years, they seem to cross paths... one is always leaving the day that the other comes to town!  They embraced and there were tears all around from aunts and Grandma who knew how sweet of a reunion that was!  The wedding was sweet and tender, like Jake and his bride, Heather.

There was no formal reception and we decided to pass on the family dinner later that evening, since it was Liza's last night in town, since we'd been up half the night before at the ER, since we wanted those last hours with Liza and the girls.  We went to Juniper for dinner then, just chilled at home and just relaxed together.

Here are some more pix of our second week together...

Aylabelle was pretty excited about her new tee-pee!  I'd planned it for months and couldn't wait for her to get here so we could share it with her!  Doug was as involved in the building of it as I was!  ZJ added the lights, books, pillows and dolls.  Gramp was pretty excited when he saw the furskin blanket/rug.  He wants one too!

Could she be any cuter!? She was showing me her nails that Aunt Zee had just painted!

And this one... she's amazing!  She thought that the teepee was pretty cool too!

While here, she seemed to grow a ton in just that 12 days!

 Liza called this morning and said that she rolled over from her back to her tummy.  She rolled from her tummy to her back when she was two months old. She will be crawling in no time! 

She kind of likes her Grampy and was in his arms if he was anywhere near!

We were in the den visiting when Liza heard Aylabelle singing, "I'm going to win this song" and realized that Grace had introduced her to the Wii Guitar Hero.  She'd never played a video game and Aylabelle thought it was pretty awesome!

The time could not have been more special.  I hated waking up this morning and knowing that they would be leaving.  SADNESS!  When I told Aylabelle during our FaceTime chat this morning, she said, "It's okay, Grammie, you'll be okay."  Okey dokey then.

Liza and the girls left Sunday morning at 11AM and she got to St. George by 8:30 last night, having made several stops on the way.  We decided that Zeej would not go to St. George, after all.  She has so many things happening here with YW, Girls Camp prep, Youth Conference and a few other things.  We are hoping to make one quick trip down to see them before they make their move to Phoenix.

I took one last picture or two of them before they left.  Aylabelle told me, "Don't worry, Grammy.  We'll see you again soon."  It's never soon enough!

I think that this was the hardest time we have said goodbye to them.  Before it's always been just Liza.  But, knowing that we aren't going to be able to be in St. George by dinner any time we want and that Arizona is 13 hours away made it hard.  Saying goodbye to these two sweet baby girls was harder for Doug than I've ever seen.  Edie just adored him.  Aylabelle too.  They love their gramp!  What's not to love!?

It was a wonderful visit!  Wonderful!  Family really is everything!  Life is good.