Saturday, September 30, 2017

good things and what I learned - { september }

Swallow Ridge at the Beginning of September

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cheesy iPhone pictures – I’ll try to get some with my big girl camera next time

What I Learned:

~ Drywall likes to go before stucco, but roofers like to go after stucco. But. . . .drywall can’t go before roofers because of the threat of rain damage. This creates a fun little catch-22 that gets subs irritated with you. I learned to just choose what seemed best to me, and darn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

~ Check all your windows with code requirements BEFORE ordering! Our inspector found 5 windows that have to be replaced with tempered glass, costing us more than $1000. 

~ It’s okay to have to reschedule people. And then reschedule them again. And then again. I was feeling like a major annoyance to my roofers – and maybe I am – but I am paying them quite a lot of money, and it is not my fault that other trades are taking longer than we thought they would. Now I try to just cheerfully call and update them. “Yes, it looks like it will actually be in another decade or so. Sorry about that!”

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~ This house still feels like an albatross when I think of the money involved. It is really hard not to get into the If-Only trap of thinking. But since I am saying what I learned . . . . I would definitely do more research on who should draw up plans. An architect would have been a much better choice for us and saved us lots of money, way more than what we “saved” by hiring a draftsman. Oh, well. Since we are ending up with a bigger, fancier house than we had set out to build, it helps me to think more of the comfort we will be able to provide to our family and visitors as well as the years of happy memories I hope we will make here. I also like thinking of all the blood, sweat, and tears we will be putting into it ourselves once drywall is done. It makes me feel all pioneerish and awesome.

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Good Things That Happened with Swallow Ridge in September:

~ Rough-in was completed for our hydronic baseboard heaters, our electrical, and our plumbing.

~ We scored a cooktop and dishwasher that will work well in our kitchen on Craigslist for $225! For both!

~ The roofers came back and fixed the dry-in with cap nails so that hopefully it doesn’t start blowing off again. I was grateful for the individualized help we received from a friend of my parents, who has retired from roofing but is expert in that field and who came and watched, making sure it got done right.

~ My mom has been a huge help translating for our stucco guy and me. Her Spanish is amazing and she is friendly to boot!, so not only are we able to communicate but she makes it fun.

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check out that Cutie in the sunset light – can’t wait to sit on our front porch together :)

~ Most of the first layer of stucco is on! Woot! It took most of the month for two workers (only :() to install the lath. But once they started putting the cement on it seemed to go much faster.

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~ My parents have some old, but solid wood salvage cabinets in storage that they are willing to give us. I will need to clean them well and refinish them but I am so happy about the money saved on cabinets. Woohoo!

~ All the exterior doors were installed without anyone getting hurt (see August’s post when it comes for an injury story). Also I never have to work with that sub again, which is a relief (just one of those personal things – some personalities are more pleasant to work with than others!).

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the result of much communication between me and multiple framers – woot!

~ Our electric company has been on the ball. They got our design approved and all the easement paperwork to us. They’re waiting on us now to get the trenching done and conduit laid (can you believe they leave that up to the homeowners? yikes). Power is scheduled to be connected on 11/4.

~ Framers came back and fixed many of the little problems still hanging on, also got it all set for drywall. They even did some of the blocking for our kitchen cabinets for free.

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looking up at that sweet chimney chase

~ Trenching was completed on the last day of September. Our backyard looks like a war zone, but it was a huge blessing that an excavator was enough to get through the solid rock – we didn’t need to use a hammer hoe, which would have cost more than double. Now what to do with the stacks of boulders sitting on what is supposed to be our backyard lawn!? lol

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trench through the backyard

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Swallow Ridge at the End of September

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Monday, September 11, 2017

I’m not complainin’!

So blessed. So grateful.

I apologize for the negativity that came through my last couple of posts. I think that I will do better to focus on the good things that are happening. Building a house is stressful for anyone that takes it on, but what an incredible blessing to be able to do it!

I have worked through some (most?) of my more complicated feelings about the mistakes I’ve made and I’m ready to continue the process with a better attitude!

Here are some of the things that have helped:

**Realizing that this house will be a place of joy for us. We will have many joyful moments there and create lots of good memories.

**Thinking of the house as an asset we can use to help other people. To invite family and guests and have it be a place of refuge and comfort for them.

**Getting a clearer perspective of what seemed a mountainous trial to me. It is after all, just a house. And if my decisions have caused us financial strain, sometimes that is just part of life. I need to move on and learn from my mistakes, but not grind myself into the ground over them.

**Thinking of Houston. And Florida. My prayers are with the people of those areas destroyed by the hurricanes!

**Talking, talking, talking. With DC, the best man in the world for me. My true and loving friend and companion.

**Church! I wish we had it every other day instead of every 7 days. After our meetings yesterday I came home feeling strengthened and refreshed. Joseph Smith had it so much harder. So many awesome people have had it so much harder. They kept fighting through their challenges and I want to, too.

I’m going to retrofit some posts (builder-talk :) about the building process of this house, including photos, things I learned (so hopefully my mistakes can help someone else!), and good things that have happened along the way. . . .stay tuned. :)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Overzealous to inherit

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Bending under the weight of wholesome prodigality,

Heavy with red lovelies of liquid crunch,

This improbable desert bounty needs props.

Lacking foresight and common sense,

Over-eager to bring forth good-natured fruit,

It ran ahead of its strength.

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Never mind the obvious result when you

Just put too many apples on one tree.

Maybe some can be spared for that darn rabbit.

Many will fall and ferment.

Maybe the strain will be too much.

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Next time -- if there is a next time --

Do plan ahead and tally up your apples

Before the buds come on, for goodness’ sake.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Day 68 – { the price of an education }

Things are very well here. I feel incredibly blessed. Not only are my children healthy and doing well but we get to build a house. Not only do we get to build a house but it’s right next to my parents’ home, in a beautiful, quiet place. DC has a good job, we have a son serving as a missionary, we live only a few minutes from a temple. . .I could list blessings for a really long time.

Lately, though, the stress I have been under as general contractor of this house we’re building has started to kind of squash me. Unluckily I planned to wean myself off my antidepressants this summer, while there was plenty of light and the house was supposed to be done, but everything took much longer than anticipated and I am facing the most amount of stress right now, just as I am nearly off my meds completely.

The pressure includes all of the normal parts of overseeing the building of a house—hiring and communicating with subcontractors, making about a kapillion decisions, figuring out how to resolve the problems that come up nearly every day—but also the financial pressure. Without being an expert in this field, I have done my very best in designing and planning this house. I studied books and websites and thought hard and changed things around and tried always to find a happy medium between luxurious and stingy as I decided what this house would be like.

The truth is, you can’t really know what a house is going to cost, until you actually build it. Or at least you can get a good idea from bidding every single thing out and doing all the shopping in advance for all the materials and fixtures. But, by the time you’ve done all that, a year’s gone by, and most of the prices are now out of date or the materials you chose are no longer available, etc. We didn’t have a year to do that, anyway. Another huge blessing is that we’re living with my parents right now, and while that is wonderful, we know that they don’t plan on our staying for long. In fact, it’s already been more than twice as long as we told them it would be.

So I’ve tried to work quickly as well as prudently and thoughtfully. The result is that we are about 2/3 of the way through building a really lovely house. . . .and we have run out of money.

This week I realized how stuck that makes us.

We can’t go forward or backward! The plumbing and electric rough-in are nearly done. It needs wrap, which needs to be lath for stucco, since that will be our siding later on, but the roof is dried in. Way too late to back up and change the design. On the other hand, the money that is left from our private construction loan will get us about up to drywall. No drywall, no flooring, no appliances, no cabinets. It’s not going to be livable yet.

I feel like I have gotten us into the hugest mess of our lives. The only thing can compare it to is when DC failed his Level II fieldwork while we were in Fort Collins. That was a disaster. Emotionally and financially it set us back so much. DC felt truly awful. Here we had sold our house in Arkansas, moved the family across the country, gone into tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and now it looked like it might be for nothing. How grateful we are that it was only a bump in the road, and ended up being a blessing in disguise. It gave us another year in Fort Collins, a wonderful year. Exacto got to finish his senior year without changing schools again. We got to see the beautiful temple finished. DC got another year of time to try to learn this new profession that was like another language to him. It’s all working out just fine.

So I am hoping that somehow this is just another bump in our road. That it will end up being for our good. I feel like an absolute fool—that I should have realized that I was building too big / too nice of a house. But in my defense, I had a variety of estimates given me as to what it costs to build here. And the design drastically affects the cost. My draftsman made mistakes, too, that have been expensive to fix. So it’s not all completely my fault and all along I have prayed over this house, pleading with heaven not to let me make any disastrous mistakes as I took on this responsibility.

It will be rough ahead. The only solution I see is to try to find another private lender to give us just enough to finish and move in, probably leaving lots of work for us to do ourselves. This will require me to take on some part-time work or piano students (or maybe we can do fostercare? that is something I have considered several times since moving here. there’s quite a foster care crisis here in AZ). This also will require us to learn a lot of skills we don’t currently have.

I see us setting our own doors, installing our own stone veneer, building our own closet shelves, doing our own flooring and painting (at least we’ve done those before :), all the landscaping, installing sprinkler and drip systems, etc. I can see cheap or free light fixtures and appliances in this beautiful home, being grateful to have what we need until we can afford what is pretty or nice.

It’s going to be okay. Right?

I have started (out of necessity) to incorporate mediation into my daily routine. I’m already exercising and trying to eat well, and still feeling the anxiety get to me lately. So yep, meditation. I really love a Christian mediation podcast I found recently. It’s done by a hospital chaplain who uses the KJV of the Bible. It’s really beautiful and very helpful.

Today I meditated on the story of Christ asleep on the boat as the disciples start to panic with the storm threatening to overwhelm and sink them all. I have been feeling like the disciples, that this is more that I can handle, but that Christ will help me if I call to Him. Then along with my study of Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear, I can see that He does not want me to be afraid. He does want to change my heart. I feel that if I look to Him and do my very best to live like Him, putting my faith in Him, that this storm too shall pass and soon we will see what this experience was for. I hope.

I am grateful for what I am learning.

100 days of gratitude tag

Thursday, June 15, 2017

building a house is fun to do, fun to do, fun to do

Adapted from a letter to Elder Baker dated 6/12/17. His birthday is 6/15 so this was his birthday letter.

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9 - A hike past the dome house

The Week in a Nutshell

2 - Tucson!

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We went to Tucson! We hiked partway up the trail to Wasson Peak, but Rosebud petered out after about 5 minutes and after dragging her along for a while we decided maybe it was a great time to go visit my old house. It was interesting to see the purple garage again, which was further enhanced by the teal trim. We visited Uncle Charles and Aunt Alba in their home for the last time. So many memories there. It felt like going back in time 30 years to sit and have lunch with them at that table where we had so many birthday celebrations and holidays. They accompanied us to the Tucson Temple Open House.

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3 - With Aunt Alba and Uncle Charles

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The tour began at the Tucson North Stake Center, which is where I was baptized! Also my 1st grade year was there and we peeked briefly into my classroom. :) They showed a video there then had us board charter buses to be taken about 5 minutes away to the temple. I loved seeing the Tucson Temple, especially the baptistry and all the unique and Christ-centered art. It is amazing to think that if I were still there growing up, I would be able to go do baptisms every week. What a blessing to the Saints there!

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4 - Just after the tour

5 - The best picture we got, unfortunately

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We visited my cousins W and R before leaving for Mesa. They attend a day program for disabled adults. R was having a hard day, but W smiled and I was able to hug him. I hope their transition to living in Houston goes well.

The house. Oh, the house. It was one of the more frustrating and stressful weeks. Communication problems with the framer, who rarely answers my calls or texts and who sent only 2 people to work for a few hours each day. Finding out from one of those two that there was a drop in the floor of two of the attic bedrooms. Following up with the truss company, it was revealed that it was a 12-inch drop! And in Fluffy's and Ham's room it went right across the middle! I still can hardly believe that the truss company thought this was a great idea. After many conversations with various people, including one over email with an architect, it is looking like we will need to use rafters and joists on those two bedrooms instead of trusses. This is fine but I have lost my confidence in the remaining truss design and want to have a structural engineer review it and make sure all is well.

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6 - The dadgum house

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There was some small progress otherwise. I decided on and hired our electrician. Vent blocks were installed and the walls poured for the areas with crawlspace. Also I was able to build a tentative schedule for all the remaining work. I project that the house will be finished in mid-October. Building a house is not for the faint-hearted!

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1 - Russell driving in The Valley

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In happier news: Fluffy got his driver's license! The next day Fluffy went on his 2nd date! And then the day after that Fluffy took the ACT! I imagine he will tell you about all those things in his letter. It was a big week for him, and I had some growing pains as his mother. Especially about the date. But I think that it is very good for him to develop friendships like this and feel that it's part of the plan Heavenly Father has for his life.

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8 - Date with Daddy

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Daddy and I had a fun date while Fluffy was on his fun date (Sweet Honey Ham babysat Rosebud and they had fun, too :). We used a gift card to eat at Burger King, then walked on the golf course trails around the temple. There is so much grass out there! And a lovely pond. Then we used a gift card to get pie at Trapper's and sat on one of those Taylor benches that they have all along main street. We were sitting on one at Main Street and Center Street. Cars were zooming by us as we ate our pie and in between the zooming we could hear a livestock auction going on at the rodeo grounds. It was cool. Then we crossed the street to the museum and found a gazebo with a picnic table and trees all around! (Guess where we'll eat next time? :).

Yesterday was a beautiful day. I was blessed to feel more peace about the situation with the house and just felt a lot of joy in being able to go to church and be with the family. Bishop B had asked Grandpa and Daddy to bless with sacrament with Russell*, so I played the organ for the sacrament hymn. As I heard Russell and then Grandpa bless the sacrament, and saw the three of them reverently administering the bread and water, with Hyrum passing it to me near the organ, I felt so much gratitude. For each one of those worthy men / young men, for the restored gospel and how it has blessed my life since birth, for the ordinance of the sacrament itself, and for the Atonement of our Savior!

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7 - Sunset


"And now, my son, I trust that I shall have great joy in you, because of your steadiness and your faithfulness unto God. . .I say unto you, my son, that I have had great joy in thee already, because of thy faithfulness and thy diligence. . . ."

Alma 38:2-3

I love you, Clyn. How grateful I am that you came into our family 19 years ago! You are so bright and good and fun to be with, and you have brought me and Daddy so much joy. I hope your birthday is happy and memorable, with lots of service and also treats. :)

Love,

Mommy

Quotables

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The T’s were visiting us, and after breakfast Ena (age 3) had sticky hands.

Nana: "Ena, do you need some wipes?"

Ena, at the top of her lungs: "EAT some WIPES?!" and then she laughed very hard.

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After Becky sat on the floor so as to be near Baby S while folding a blanket, he crawled away and I came in, surprised to see her sitting on the floor with a blanket on her while everyone was doing their chores. I looked at her quizzically and she explained the situation and said: "Fickle, thy name is baby!"

Saturday, June 10, 2017

first week of summer and “large, or to exceed all”

Adapted from a letter to Elder Baker, dated 6/6/17. . . .

Last week was a nice one, being the first full week of summer vacation. We have worked out a good routine, I think, with Daddy being in charge of the cute ones in the morning while I work on the house, and then in the afternoon I am in charge of the cute ones while he works on various things. Super Kid makes breakfast every weekday morning, and the other two make dinner. There is lots of frolicking with kittens, chasing lizards, visiting the fish, working for Nana and Grandpa, etc. Rosebud has begun a 4-week tumbling class that meets 3 times a week. She is learning a lot! She can do a tripod, bridge, and tuck roll, and is really improving her cartwheel.

It was another big week for the house! Framing done in the basement and floor joists for the main level in. Excavation for the garage and master bedroom done, footings dug and poured, walls laid. I started bidding electrical and stucco.

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footings dug for master bedroom and bath

basement framing

Mariah comes to inspect

footings poured for master bedroom and bath

pouring footings for garage

prepping for garage slab pour

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Monday was Memorial Day. We had a nice picnic at Pioneer Park (Nana and Grandpa were gone still to OK, so it was just us 5). The cute ones brought their rollerblades, and Rosebud brought Moana, who did not have a good time. Afterward we went to the Taylor Cemetery and found 8 of our ancestors who are buried there!

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Memorial Day

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Tuesday evening we enjoyed playing Sorry and Trash together, and we watched the Great British Bakeoff. We watched GBB nearly every night this week. :)

Wednesday evening Fluffy and Ham had a combined activity at Caldwell's pond, and walked all the way home afterward, across the highway and through the desert, with their trunks and flip-flops on! Rosebud went swimming with Daddy, and I sat and read nearby. Well, not much reading because Puffball came, too, and thought he needed to be right in my lap and be petted the whole time. 

Thursday Puffball and Mariah finally started to get along. Before this she would hiss at him and chase him like a whirling dervish into the woodpile. Now they have some sort of truce and Puffball is allowed to be within a foot or two of her. Fluffy took a practice ACT and did very well. We watched the championship round of the National Spelling Bee and of course some more GBB.

Friday I went to the 5:30am session at the temple. It was a beautiful, strengthening experience to be there. I was so grateful to have been able to go and be attentive in spite of the early hour! Nana and Grandpa had gotten home late the night before, but we only got to spend a few hours with them before leaving for the Valley for Fluffy's BD wish.

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Fluffy, meet Esmerelda

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It was a fun evening with the Ws. Fluffy and Ham babysat while Uncle Daniel and Aunt Becky went on a double date with us. We ate at a Thai restaurant and then did some scavenger-hunt type challenges for each other at Kohl's.

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double date - Thai restaurant

scary sight at Kohl's

The truly alarming thing is that there were also ties and pants to match.

Saturday we all went to the Mesa Temple Visitors Center and got to see the two new movies the Church has produced, Days of Harmony and A Day for the Eternities. They tell the story of the translation of the Book of Mormon from Oliver Cowdery's perspective and then David Whitmer's perspective. They are both excellent! As I watched the portrayal of April 6, 1830 I felt deeply grateful to be a member of the restored church of Jesus Christ! To have been able to make covenants and receive Priesthood ordinances and partake of the Sacrament every week my whole life -- it is wonderful!

Later we went swimming at a city pool with a slide and then watched Blackbeard's Ghost back at the Ws.

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Sunday I fasted for you and also for E. It was lovely to attend meetings with the Ws and the Van Baileys. Aunt Becky taught Sunday School -- I loved her lesson about the Kingdoms of Glory. Baby S fell asleep on my lap. <3 :)

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The evening was idyllic in the Ws' backyard. Did Ham tell you about the bunnies the Ws got for free for him?A family in their neighborhood had gotten bunnies in two consecutive Snowflake rodeos and those ones had babies and two girl ones were now grown up and needing a home. So the Ws have been keeping them in their yard until we could come get them! One is white and one is a lovely light brown. They are ripliancum* bunnies with double chins.

Ham working on knots

*Ham’s term for very large bunniesimage

heavenly evening at the W's - lucinda near box

Ham and Uncle Daniel pioneering

Uncle Daniel helping Ham pass off some rank advancement requirements. #bombdotcom

When I was reading in D&C 138 this week I was especially struck by the verses toward the end, including verse 56.

Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.

I love you, Clyn!

~Mommy

Quotable

At the dinner table, we were remembering when we watched you open your call.

Rosebud: He was still at BYU?

Me: Yeah, remember we webcammed with him.

Hummer, correcting my verb: Webcome.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

adopted by ranchers and Fluffy’s first date

When a man is kind to dumb animals, I always say he has got some good in him.
Owen Wister, The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains

Adapted from a letter to Elder Baker, dated 5/29/17. . . .

I will try to tell you briefly about an eventful and interesting week. On Monday, we had Fluffy's BD dinner and party. Rosebud fell asleep right after school and slept for several hours. Between that and work on setting up the bunny palace and planting the big evergreen, the celebration ran really late but it was so fun! Rosebud gave the sweetest FHE lesson spotlighting Fluffy, and the strawberry meringue cake was a smash hit. Also we played a game and he opened presents.

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1 - Russell's BD cake

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Tuesday we had an adventure with Grandpa's red truck. I used it to pick up the kids from school so that Ham could bring home his aquarium from school and so we could go to Hector's Hay and Feed and pick up 3 bales of straw to stack behind the bunny hutch (wind shelter, hopefully).

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3 - Puffball inspecting the construction site after hours

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Wednesday was Daddy's last day of work until the end of July! Woohoo! He is going to look for some non-contract work but for now he's free as a lark for the first time in years. It is so nice! Uncle Duff and Aunt Lori and B and A arrived in the afternoon -- they came to visit for Lori's sister's HS graduation. It was so fun to hang out with them and Nana and Grandpa treated us all to dinner at Eva's.

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2 - Benjamin, Nana, Puffball, Abby

7 - Uncle Duff teaching Daddy how to do Magic Eye

. uncle duff (in his last year of optometry school) teaching DC how to do magic eye :).

Thursday Uncle Duff offered to take the kids to their last day of school, and that was a fun bonding time for them (especially regarding having the radio on). Little B and I helped my Dad to plant the garden and it brought back delightful memories of Tucson childhood days. Rosebud's caterpillar hatched! She named it Swirl. Nana taught me and Uncle Duff and Ham a new card game called Trash (it’s kind of therapeutic, actually). Nana and Grandpa left to fly to Oklahoma. That evening Fluffy sang in the seminary choir for Snowflake Stake Seminary Graduation, held in the Main Street Chapel for the first time since about Nana's graduating class. :) We stayed up very late visiting afterward.

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4 - Rosemary's hatched butterfly Swirl

5 - Basement walls done!

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Friday the framing on the house began! It was pretty chaotic out there because the concrete guys were still working on the outside, waterproofing and installing the french drains, so very loud, and the wind was crazy-high, blowing dust like you wouldn't believe. It was happy, though, to see so much progress going on at once. That evening Daddy and I had a very fun date, playing tennis at a park in town until the sun set, then having a yummy dinner at El Cupidos, then watching some Great British Bakeoff and having ice cream.

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6 - Waterproofing and beginning of framing

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Saturday was zauber interesting. It was the Flakes' day to do calf-branding, and at the service auction we had purchased the opportunity to help with it and have lunch afterwards. There was a bonus attached -- Rocky Mountain oysters -- but all of us declined that (ew). It was truly amazing to see real cowboys at work and to get to "help." They let us try everything we wanted to. We tagged ears, gave shots, and branded. Fluffy, Ham, and Rosebud rode horses, too.

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8 - Russell branding

9 - Rosemary riding

10 - Me branding

11 - Hyrum riding

12 - Hyrum giving a shot

13 - Russell riding

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In the evening Fluffy went on his first date! With me! It was so fun! He had planned it very well, and was a perfect gentleman, opening my door every single time we went in or out. Also he was very fun to talk to. We ordered a pizza, then drove on Taylor's Lovelake Rd (near where you were baptized, I think) while we waited for it to be ready. We ate at a park – Fluffy had planned ahead and brought plates and water bottles. Next we went to 5-Mile Draw and hiked down into the canyon while the sun set. We saw a beautiful caterpillar that I've never seen before. Then we drove the temple and sat by the waterfall and talked and talked for a long time. And last we went to McDonalds and Fluffy bought us chocolate-covered ice cream cones! So happy!

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15 - Russell's first date!

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Sunday was nice but I was groggy all day because I slept in too late. :( Daddy played in sacrament meeting to accompany R Flake singing My Heavenly Father Loves Me. It was really lovely. I had a spiritual experience in choir practice after church. We are singing Sally Deford's setting of The Lord is My Shepherd, and Bro. Flake had Daddy pull out his violin and play the obbligato while we rehearsed it. The words of the last verse touched me so deeply. I felt how much the Lord has blessed me, and how much the Savior loves us all!

Thy mercy will follow me all of my days,

And in thine own house thou preparest my place,

With blessings unmeasured my cup runneth o'er,

Oh, what shall I ask of thy providence more?

I feel so grateful for the care He has always given me. He truly is my shepherd. I want to serve Him better!

I love you, son.

Love,

Mommy

Quotable

Ham talking to our cat Puffball: "You want to go outside? In your glitterbox?" (Unfortunately this is the sandbox, as opposed to a regular litterbox).