This edition of “Peeps I Know” is a bit different. It’s EXTRA-special, too. Because this post is not about someone I met on-line. It’s about someone I know-know. Like in-the-flesh.
Not that I don’t love all my online Peeps. You guys are awesome, too. But the lady I’m going to tell you about and I go WAY back. She knew me even before I was ToadMama. Heck, even before I knew there was such a thing as a personal computer.
I think we were about 13 when we met. Our families attended the same church in a Baltimore neighborhood called Armistead Gardens (aka “The Gardens”). Tracey didn’t live in The Gardens, but her Grandmother did. In fact, her Gran lived on the street behind my parents’ house.
I could tell you all about the fun, wholesome things we did together as wee lasses. But I won’t. ‘Cause I like to keep this blog real. (Although we weren’t altogether horrible children, we did have a bit of a wild streak.)
If someone would’ve told me, back in the day, that I”d be sitting here one day writing about “Granny” Trace, I would have laughed hysterically. For serious. Back then, I couldn’t imagine any of us as adults, much less parents or, God forbid, grandparents.
There were actually four of us who hung out together. Carol, Laura, Tracey, and me. Carol is the oldest. She’s a full year ahead of me. Laura is six months younger than me. And Tracey is six months younger than Laura. Which, if you do the math, means Tracey is a year younger than I am. We were some crew, I tell ya. Carol, being a whole year older, wasn’t with the three of us all that often. And of all of us, it was Laura and Tracey who spent the most time together.
When Tracey got pregnant at 16. And then married, we sort of grew apart. At that point, I was busy being a kid and she was busy being a very young mother. We didn’t lose touch completely, but we did drift apart. We just didn’t have much in common. I mean, I was a total tomboy. I’d never so much as baby-sat a kid by myself. The only babysitting I did was when I accompanied Carol to watch her nephew. And that wasn’t because I loved kids. It was because her sister would supply us with beer and a place to drink it. While we watched her toddler. Smart, huh?
We did see each other periodically. But several years passed and before I knew it, Tracey had three children. Laura, who had gotten pregnant and married six months after Tracey, ended up with three kids, too. But hers came one right after the other. Tracey’s are at least a couple of years apart. Carol never did have children. And I managed not to get knocked up until I was a whopping 22.
That’s how old my son is now. He’s the only kid I gave birth to. I earned Shannon and Amy by marriage. (I said “earned” for a reason. Step-motherhood takes work. Trust me.)
Anyway… as you’ll discover after you visit her blog (which I really, really hope you’ll do), Tracey is not your average woman. The guy she married at the tender young age of 16? John? He’s still her husband. They just recently celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary. Between them, they’ve managed to build quite a family (three children and three grandchildren). John, who started out as an apprentice carpenter all those years back, is a very successful, high-level foreman-type (I’m sure he has a fancier title than that) for one of the biggest commercial contracting companies in the area. While he was busy building his career, Tracey was tending the home front. You know, being all domestic. Raising children, cooking, baking, sewing. The whole nine yards. She was a stay-at-home-Mom for many, many years. She did daycare for a while. And she worked VERY HARD for far too many years at a grocery store.
Why did I tell you all that? Because her story deserves to be told. Marriage is hard. Parenthood is hard. To start at 16 and build the kind of life she and John have built together is nothing short of amazing. There was lots of blood, sweat, and tears along the way, trust me. But they persevered. And now Tracey is starting to realize her dream of owning a farm (albeit a small one). She always loved being a mother. She LOVES being a Granny. She loves raising critters (she’s been referred to here previously as The Chicken Lady). And growing stuff. And making things. Not just food stuff either. Tracey is far and away the craftiest person I know. (She’s the one who taught me to sew. Yep, I can make quilts (simple ones) all because of Tracey.)
She’s said for years that she’d love to have her own craft shop. And she totally could. She’s very talented. She could sell baked goods, and crafts, and homemade granola (that was awesome, by the way). She’s the one who baked those brownies filled with double-stuff Oreos. Oh. My. God!
When we were at the WV Place for our girl getaway recently, I asked her if she had an Etsy shop yet. She didn’t. But she’d been thinking of setting one up. I told her she should make a blog. Honestly though, I know she’s no techno-savvy Mama. And I really didn’t think she’d go for it. But she did. It’s not rocket science really. And she’s most definitely got more than enough material to blog about. Before I knew it, she was buying her domain name. and Granny Trace Scraps & Squares was born!
I’m not trying to take any credit here. I just prodded a teeny weenie bit. But I really am very proud of her. Really. She’s got so much to be proud of. So much to be thankful for. None of it was handed to her either. Not a single, stinkin’ thing. She worked for all of it. Which is why I think her story should be told. I admire her tremendously. We don’t spend nearly enough time together. Heck, we barely communicate during the course of a normal year. But that’s just because we both live different lives.
How different? Here’s Tracey’s new ride. A tractor with a wagon. She likes driving it slowly, in circles, repeatedly through the same field.
Not quite like my new ride. We definitely couldn’t ride together. 🙂
That’s one of the reasons our annual girl getaway is so important. It gives all of us (we’re down to three) time to catch up. To just be girls again for an entire weekend. You have no idea how refreshing that is.
I still don’t know if she set up that Etsy shop. But I do know she’s up to 35 followers. And she’d really like to hit 50. Really, really.
I’d like her to hit 50, too. Because she could use the encouragement. She’s a very special, very talented lady. (See Trace? I bet you never thought I noticed!)
As an added incentive, she’s giving away some of these awesome little chicks she makes out of vintage wool.
So, if you are at all into crafts, or baking, farm life, or sewing, go visit her blog. Perhaps you know some folks who might be interested in one or more of those things? Tell them to go visit Granny Trace’s blog. And be sure to let her know that ToadMama sent you.
For the record, I never refer to her as “Granny Trace.” I really don’t mind getting old. But calling your girlfriend “Granny” is just weird! Even if she’s really proud of being a granny, and you’re a granny yourself. (No one calls me that, though. I’m just G. It’s very easy for all the grand kids to spell.)
And since we’re talking about records… I don’t know who shot that picture of Tracey on her new ride, but I LOVE it! I totally stole it from her blog. But I couldn’t help myself. Besides, we’re friends. We share stuff.
He were are about a month ago. I can’t wait to see what the next 30 years will bring!
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UPDATE: I just had to add pics of some of my Granny Trace creations, i.e., gifts she’s made for me.