Sunday, January 31, 2010

January is OVER!

I am so relieved to be done with a long hard month. January is always tough. The store is still busy (thankfully) but I have to complete my quarterly and end of year books for the accountant. There are also quarterly and end of year forms to turn into the IRS. Which always makes me nervous. One of our employees got married at Val Vista Lakes, beautiful and so happy for him but it left us shorthanded for two weeks In the midst of it all we had three funerals to attend of people we loved. Mrs. Miller and Grandma I wrote about. Sister Keller was the other person we lost. I wasn't super close to her but I was to her children, especially Lucinda. Her kids were in the youth program in Central Ward when I served in the stake and ward Young Women's origination. Those kids were incredible and I wanted my kids to be just like them, musical, smart, kind and strong in the gospel. I watched their family closely as a young mother and many of my parenting decisions were based on those observations. My kids have them to thank for our lack of TV watching. (even though I am pretty sure they are not very grateful for that now, I hope they will be someday.)

The photo above was take after grandma's funeral. This is Ron's parents family. It was so good to see many of Ron's cousins who live out of town. Ron has 36 first cousins. When Tyler read the obituary he was so cute. There are 109 great-grandchildren. Tyler read that out loud and then said "Oh, I thought I was special!"
The funeral was so nice. Grandma had a pretty pink coffin. The stories they told of her in her life history showed off her spunky personality and her kind heart. They had on display a scrap book she had kept of all "her boys" while serving as a scout leader. They mentioned how much she loved those boys. She made them birthday cakes and kept in contact them as they grew up. Amazing for anyone but especially for a mother of six children and an Indian placement program child for seven years. It really inspired me to want to be better about letting the kids I work with know how much I love them by keeping track of them and the important things in their lives.
After the funeral and luncheon, we stopped by the Military Vehicle Club's show/fundraiser for military families at the Papago base. It is down the street from grandma's church. Ron belongs to the club and usually takes his Pinz down and volunteers. I thought this was quite a sight. Michael climbing the rock wall in his church clothes.
Amber and Tyler tried out and made Regional Choir. They found out last night, so that was a happy ending to a sad day.
Our family sang "Love at Home" in sacrament meeting today. So glad we did but more glad it is over! Ironic because during our practice Saturday afternoon Amber was upset that it was infringing on her social life. I think it sounded like we had only practiced it 3 times but that is all we dared because of the crankiness.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hippie Chick

I don't know how people who live in cold places keep their kids in pants. I only have to pull it off for a few months before the kids are back in shorts. It feels like someone has grown out of something almost everyday. When Aubs got a hole in these pants she begged me to mend them. This seemed like a huge waste of time because they were too short. So I got the idea to add strips at the knees and add a few inches. But by the time I got it sewn up they were too tight. So I added strips along the side. But they were too short again. Aubrey was having a huge growth spurt. We just kept adding strips until the pants fit. I had planned on embellishing the pants when I was done but I like them as is. They remind me of some of the clothes the teenagers wore when I was a little girl in the 70's.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Continuous Bias Tape

I love bias tape but have never been brave enough to make my own, until NOW! My mom tried to teach me. Mrs. Hancock, my high school sewing teacher, tried to teach me. When I saw it all spelled (drawn) out at I felt brave enough to take the plunge. I had to ignore all of that math and concentrate on the pictures.
I think it is darling. What is cuter than polka dots! I will never go back to boring, one color, prepackaged bias tape again!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dinner in Honor of Grandma

Grandma was a great cook and we thought we would have a few things with dinner tonight that she loved to bake and we loved to eat. Homemade bread of course and her oatmeal (bacon grease) cookies. I put in the left over breakfast oatmeal into my bread and forgot to cut back on the water. I had to keep adding flour. I thought it might go over the mixer before I was done. But it turned out excellent.
As a newly wed I found out grandma put bacon fat in her cookies. Yes they were good but I was so grossed out that I did not eat them for years. Several kids later it seems nothing can gross me out. They are the best oatmeal cookies ever! I quadruple grandma's original recipe and substitute half the bacon fat with butter. Hopefully that is a little more heart healthy. But I add an extra egg so maybe not.

One more grandma memory I would like to put down before I forget...

One spring day 5 to 6 years ago the kids and I planned a day to visit two of the grandma's. My mom had recently planted a Passion vine in her yard but she had no butterflies yet so the kids and I had gone out that morning and gently harvested lots of Gulf Fritillary (agraulis vanillae) caterpillars off my Passion Vine to take to her. On our way to Mesa we stopped by Great Grandma Johnson's home to do yard work. We spent the morning raking leaves, digging grass out of flower beds, picking up pecans and various other little tasks.
As we were leaving Grandma said to me "That plant you gave me is growing really well. But there are these little worms that keep eating it." I was very excited and replied " Oh grandma, those are caterpillars. They become beautiful butterflies!" Her response was "Well, whatever they are they are eating my plant so I go out every morning and I squash them!" All of us could not contain our horror. There was a collective gasp/shriek. My kids were kind of shell shocked. Eyes wide mouths open. We composed ourselves and got in the car. We spent most of the drive to Mesa laughing at the irony of our caterpillar relocation plan to one grandma while the other was murdering our little friends.
Gulf Fritillary visiting my home on Mother's Day 2009

Monday, January 25, 2010

Grandma Eva Johnson

This morning at 6:23 am Great Grandma Johnson passed away. She had a massive stroke Wednesday. She will be so missed. She was my grandma for over 20 years a few months shy of how long I had my maternal grandma. We are all taking comfort that we are a forever family and she led an amazing life for over 91 years. The last eight she spent wishing she was with grandpa.
I spent the first decade of our marriage hearing "you should be a pioneer woman like grandma" every time I asked Ron for help with something physically hard. I haven't heard that in a while so maybe I am getting close. But she has always been tougher than me.
Some of my favorite memories include...

Her visits to my home on 9th ave. On one visit I realized I had only ever seen her in a dress and pumps. I was a new mother and had given up on heels and lipstick. But there she was with her hair done, lipstick on, wearing a dress with matching pumps and handbag in her 70's.

Aubrey had a class assignment this year where she had to interview the oldest person she knew. Grandma won hands down. When asked what was the best invention in her lifetime she said electricity. Why? "It made all of the difference in the world!"

Touring the dairy, now bed and breakfast, where she grew up in Prescott. The owners were very gracious and it was nice to have grandma give us the grand tour. We got to hear and see where grandpa kissed her when he brought her home from dates.

Groom Creek...will always be synonymous with grandma. When Ron and I went to see her Friday she couldn't open her eyes or communicate that well but she managed to ask if there was snow at Groom Creek, pronounced Groom Crick.

The time she almost got in a fist fight at the parade. We were in Holbrook. Two women were being very rude and came and stood in front of our chairs. Grandma was so mad and was trying to get Aunt Maralynn and I to jump in the fray. Luckily Aunt M would have nothing to do with it so I hid behind her.
Doug and Eva Johnson with Amber and Tyler January 1994.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Spelling Bee Queen

It is hard to believe I contributed any genetic matter to a kid who could win a school spelling bee. I never made it out of the classroom for one of those things. The picture above was taken after winning her school spelling bee. The bottom picture is from the district spelling bee held on Jan 14th. Our district includes jr. high schools so she was bumped out pretty quick. Aubrey is one smart kid. I have warned the older children they will be working for her when she takes over the world.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What happened!

Look at what someone did to my baby boy!
The picture on the left was taken after he was blessed. The picture on the right is after he was ordained a priest in the Aaronic priesthood. I held it together the day he was ordained. I kind of forgot what that meant until the next Sunday when my baby sat up on the stand. I teared up through the whole sacrament. Then again in primary when the kids sang "I Know My Savior Loves Me" To top it off Jonas, our primary's very autistic kid jumped up from off the floor and started squealing and doing his happy dance when we started singing I am a Child of God. He was testifying in the only way he could and I felt it. It ended up being a very sniffily day for me. I talked to his teacher later, I was so surprised that he recognized a song. She confirmed that his reaction had nothing to do with what he was doing on the floor. Then I talked to his mom. She said they sing that song every night at bed time. There was no reaction this last week when we sang it again. So now it really feels like a special treat.

You only get to live in happy teary land so long before your kids check you back into the reality of motherhood. Amber leaned over this last week as the sacrament was beginning and in a mocking tone said, "Are you going to cry again?" I was sure I did not!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vegas Baby

Ron and I spent two days in Las Vegas. I have very few pictures for proof, because it was a business trip and we attended the Shot Show and the ANME (Army Navy Military Expo). Not the most exciting photo subject material unless you like dead animals or thousands of guys in camo. Actually it would be a great place to meet men if you were single. A 1 to 1000 ratio. This year we skipped the main floor and concentrated on law enforcement, tactical and military distributors. It still took the entire two days but thankfully I was spared seeing video after video of hunters shooting cute deer and elk. I needed therapy after the last Shot Show.
This year it was fun and very productive. It was good to see our very nice vendors, touch and feel their new/upcoming products and place a lot of orders. But I always wish it was a craft show.
This was the cutest thing I could find. Chuck Taylor reproductions (I wanted to buy some but they are no longer made) O.D. converse were standard issue during WWII. The only other thing that was pretty was the ballrooms. Part of the show was in the Venetian. One of the prettiest Hotels on the strip. Beautiful rugs, embossed wall paper, chandeliers, gilded everything. The bathroom is the prettiest one you will ever go in. All of the above and they pipe in classical music. Total luxury, I wanted to take a pic of that but I thought the bathroom attendant would think I was out of my mind.
I wish our big craft show in Phoenix next week would take notes. I am not looking forward to the stinky state fair setting.

We ate dinner at KOKOMO'S. It is super swankified. The waiters walked around with towels over their arms and there was a wine bucket at every table. The picture of us above was taken by a photographer working in the restaurant. I forgot to take a pic of the dessert. It was a chocolate torte. I am not one for chocolate cake. But it was amazing. Normally we would skip an expensive restaurant and just grab something to have more time to see the sites. But it was part of a dinner and show package. We thought we had tickets to Mystere as part of out hotel package at Treasure Island but our trip fell on a black out night. Ron in his desperation even looked to see if we could go to Donny and Marie ( I have been hinting about them for months.) They were blacked out also, whaaa! So he got this package, dinner at one of the Mirage restaurants and tickets to Terry Fator. Terry Fator and his opening act, Ben Harris were both so fun. We have avoided comedy acts in Vegas for obvious reasons but luckily it was clean.
This was by far the highlight of my trip. What an honor to meet (and get a hug from) Ed "Doc" Pepping of Easy Company 506th Parachute Inf Reg. 101st Airborne Division. He served as a medic during WWII. He took part in the Normandy Invasion on June 6th 1944. The Book and movie "Band of Brothers" are about his company's experiences. I have not seen the movie but I now have a signed copy of the book!
I always love meeting WWII vets. It is the best part of my job (next to hanging out with Ron all day.) Two weeks ago a Navajo code talker was shopping in my store. I had a wonderful visit with him and wish I had the guts to ask for a picture. The WWII vets are sweet gentlemen who remind me of my grandpa.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I have been in a cleaning and purging frenzy.
I found my student ID from my senior year in a mystery box in the garage.
Except for the big black splotch on my face I think it is a cute picture. My kids were unimpressed. First they didn't know who it was, which is very insulting because I think I was kind of cute back then. Next they didn't know what it was, apparently student ID cards have evolved so much retro ones are hard to identify (am I really that old). They could not believe how "ghetto" my ID was. "It is just laminated!" I think as punishment I should take all of my music back. No more Michael Jackson or Boston for anyone under 35!

Obviously I survived high school and I had some great teachers and good friends. And unlike a lot of my friends by the end of high school I really liked my parents and enjoyed being at home. I feel blessed to consider my parents and siblings my best friends. Isn't that what we are really suppose to learn in high school?

Saturday, January 16, 2010


These were intended to be Christmas gifts for the kids but of course I missed that deadline. I have been practicing free motion embroidery and was finally brave enough to put it on something other than ratty cabin towels.
My main purpose was to cut down on laundry. I am hoping the kids will hang up their towels after their shower. It is very frustrating to walk into their bathroom after they have all gone to school and find a huge heap of terry cloth.
My Aunt Linda is a real inspiration and has embroidered several of my kids really cute baby things over the years. I used octi-hoops and had to practice a lot but I think I am finally getting it. Just don't look to closely.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Saturday continued

Buddy's 16th birthday party was Saturday night. It had been postponed due to Mrs. Miller's memorial service.

I counted over 50 kids but it was like counting cats so I wasn't real sure what the number was.

They played guitar hero and ping pong.

DDR and basketball.

There was an impromptu marshmallow stuffing contest.

The evening ended with Tyler being pushed in the pool.
Several kids had asked me if they could throughout the night. He a was a great sport

and went around hugging everyone still dripping wet.

boys and mom included

After it had mostly cleared out a small group went TPing getting a girls house about two blocks away. They were only gone about half an hour but came back to find someone had TPed us! Silly kids.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Saturday is a Special Day

The Young Women went up to our cabin for a Book of Mormon reading challenge reward. I tagged along to do some pre-camp certification. We were pleasantly surprised that the snowfall from three weeks ago was still on the ground.

We made the foil dinners I had practiced with the kids earlier in the week. My kids had no trouble with the activity. But we had a few minor glitches with some of the girl's dinners. Only a couple of them had ever heard of a foil dinner I had to explain in great detail over and over how to make one. Luckily they had no trouble with the hot dogs and smores we ate for dinner. So no one had to go home hungry.
My favorite part of the day was working with the second year girls who had to start a fire. Not really the dealing with them part, this group is definitely cityfied. But after trying to prod them along and listening to things like "lets quit", "I wish my dad was here he can make a fire", "can't we just use the oven?" and "I can't do this." they did it! It took at least half and hour for the fire to get going but they were so proud of themselves when it was finally successful.

They had a great time playing in the snow and doing all kinds of silly things these pics are just a sampling.

And of course this little tag along had a great time. I just love the chocolate lip liner!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


So we have a wrestler in the family. He has only had two matches that he participated in because our Junior High team is so big compared to the other schools in the district. The first match he won with a pin. The second one the other day he lost by one point in the third round. He was moved up to varsity for this match and it was a rough, tough match with three rounds. Mr M is one scrappy kid. Ooh maybe that can be his nick name here, scrappy.
I hounded him a little to join. Funny I know me anti-violent sport mom but this kid needs sports. He kept "forgetting" his permission slip. Finally, one day at the dinner table when it was just Mr M (scrappy), The Big man and I left, Mr M said "I think Buddy will tease me if I wear that outfit." I said "Of course he will, we will all tease you, but we have gotten use to Buddy's speedo I am sure we can get use to your stretchy uniform. At that The Big Man hung his head and quietly said, "I still haven't gotten use to that speedo."

So you can catch me in the stands next week. Screaming for my boy to beat up another boy while they are both wearing lycra. Scary.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Camping out

Well not quite camping out but we made tin foil dinners for dinner tonight. It was fun and I wish I had taken pics of the kids or at least of the dog. We had to leave one man on guard because Charlie or dog kept trying to pull someones dinner out of the coals with his paw!
A very fun meal for the little kids because they got to choose exactly what went in but even my boy scouts who do it on camp outs all the time enjoyed it. Buddy got very creative and added sauces to his meals (yes he had two or three). Worchestire sauce is surprisingly yummy addition.

The brownies were an after thought. The meals only took about 20 minutes to cook and I had a lot of live coals when they were done. It seemed such a waste not to make a cobbler. But it was getting late and I was too tired to hunt in the garage for the dutch ovens or do anything more than mix something (lazy I know). So a little experimentation. I just used the cast iron skillet that lives on my stove top and brownie mix. The only tricky part was balancing the coals on top of the lid, it is rounded. And then making sure to tap off as much ash as possible before taking off the lid. It worked great.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Upcycled Basketball Jersey

I am unable to upcycle anything that still makes a great hand me down. We have been very blessed to have received hand me downs from others and I feel morally obligated to pass it forward instead of cut it up.
I had to really talk myself into this project. This was a basketball jersey in the give away box. One layer of cream and one layer of white fabric. Basically two jerseys sewn together at the shoulder and armhole seams to make one reversible jersey.
There were no rips or stains that would make it crafting fair game. So I justified it by the ugly factor. On the back was the number but on the front was the city of phoenix logo along with parks and recreation department ramblings. Who would want to wear that if they weren't on the team. Right?
I just cut under the armholes straight across to make the skirt pieces. Sewed the two layers together and turned the numbers into pockets.
All the girls loved it and were disappointed it only fit Boo Boo. But Buddy (the jersey's original owner) thinks it is a fashion abomination.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Estate Sale Fun

I don't go out looking for estate sales but every now and then they find me. Saturday was such a day. I desperately needed some retail therapy but had no time to spare. Lucky for me the estate sale fairies dropped one in my neighborhood and I took the time to stop.

The top item on the left is a child's apron. Underneath are two yummy vintage fabrics each a yard in length. The children's sewing book was printed in 1964 and the illustrations on the inside are just as darling as the outside. And the icing on this little cake...the string porcelain poodle lamp. It is so super cute. The shade is hideous and needs to be recovered and I took this pic before I cleaned up the doggy. But I am a antique lamp junkie and did I mention it is pink! My grand total, wait for it....$17.00!
Yeah I know you are saying "But Laurel, there are other 1950's string porcelain poodle lamps in worse shape than yours on ebay going for 50 bucks!" And all I can say is I KNOW!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

We went to a couple of kickin' parties last night. The first one kids were invited. We left early to drop the kids off at home and headed to a grown-ups only party. I must say I like the family party the best. I guess that says a bit about my maturity level.
We came home from the grown-up party to ring in the New Year with the kiddies. We had missed most of the excitement. They thought it would be fun to celebrate by jumping in the pool. It was 44 degrees out side and our pool is not heated. It must have been freezing. Crazy kids but they thought they were very cool.