Jun 30, 2013


I just returned from five days at girls camp with my young women.  What a fun week!  My amazing parents watched the kids while I was gone, so I didn't worry about a thing at home and just focused on my girlies in the woods.

Here are just a few photos to document my amazing week.  When I say "my girls" or "the young women," I'm referring to 22 teenagers from my ward.  Five other adult leaders from my ward were there, too, plus our great bishop. We had such a good time together!

We stayed at Camp Joseph near Rye, Colorado.  The Church owns a great facility there. Although we camped in tents, they were on flat ground.  The stake leaders cooked for us (320 girls and leaders from 11 wards) in fully functional kitchens, and we ate under a huge pavilion. We met a few times in a large amphitheater. We used flushing toilets, running water, and electricity in the bathrooms.  I got to take two (very short) showers.  Pretty posh, right?  Camping there was still very, very, very dirty.  SO MUCH DIRT!  Haha.

Our ward theme was "Joy in the Journey," which was a great companion to the stake's theme of "Stand in Holy Places."  We decorated the ward pavilion with simple white lights and and turquoise and yellow paper fans and lanterns.  We loved the simplicity of it all. Garry designed the yellow "joy" graphic for our t-shirts, key chains, signs, and other things.

Girls camp is designed to be super fun but also spiritual and character-building. The stake leaders planned excellent activities to promote teamwork and friendship. We took hikes in different age groups. We also enjoyed daily devotionals, a musical program, video presentations, symbolic journeys in the woods, and opportunities to share testimony. Because I didn't/couldn't take pictures of all of the spiritually significant things (and for me, there were many), these are some of us just having fun.

These are from the hike with girls in their second year of camp.  We (six girls and I, plus dozens of other girls and leaders from other wards in the stake) had a blast on our six-mile jaunt up and down a mountain.

I was impressed with our girls as they worked through cooperative games.  I observed parallels with Christ's atonement as they helped each other do things that one person alone could not do.  They also performed a skit based on Dr. Seuss's story about the Star-bellied Sneetches.  It illustrated our individual worth but was also very funny.

The girls (and Bishop Groe) made crafty things like duct tape purses and flowers, friendship bracelets, fabric head bands, and button bracelets.  We soaked our feet in a pool, lounged in a hammock, ate a lot, and played games (my favorite was Pterodactyl).

On the last day the girls all pledged to "stand in holy places and be not moved," which means to stick to high standards and create holiness in our hearts and in places all around us.

Although I love my girls to pieces, I also treasured time with the other young women leaders.  I will always remember tender moments and hilarious moments with these lovely ladies.  I'm already having withdrawals from so much grown-up time and conversation!

I hope I'm lucky enough to go to camp again next year!

Jun 24, 2013

Jun 14, 2013

Happy feet

Have you ever walked into a shoe store and found EXACTLY what you were looking for? Like exactly what you pictured in your head, and exactly how you wanted them to feel on your feet, and exactly the price you were willing to pay?  That happened to me today.

I have been looking for white sandals for months.  I have not made an intensive search or anything, but I usually walk through the shoe section of a store I happen to be visiting. Granted, Costco, Target, and Walmart aren't exactly shoe stores, and I don't usually find footwear at Dollar Tree or in a medical building, but white sandals have been on my radar since summer shoes hit the stores.

A pair of white sandals has been in my closet for a long time.  They are actually pretty cute, with flowers and sparkles and a cork insole, plus they are comfortable.  Why replace them?  Well, I'll tell you.  Every time I put them on--literally, every time--I think about being pregnant.  I wore these sandals during the long, hot, vomity summer before Kate was born.  They were one of two pairs that I could shove my fat feet into at the very end.  I got rid of the other pair long ago, but I held onto these because they are so cute.

Guess what?  They are not cute anymore.  They are not sentimental in a happy sort of way.  I suppose this is the PTSD talking, since I'm a little fixated on sandals being the trigger for mental unrest.  But today, when I walked into DSW and saw my new shoes twinkling on the shelf, I knew I was ready to say good-bye.

So good-bye, silly sandals.  We've walked a lot of miles together.  May we both rest in peace.

Jun 13, 2013

Lexi's last days of preschool

Lexi finished preschool on May 23.  Just like the boys, she had a number of year-end adventures.  One was the Bear Creek Nature Center debacle.  Another less traumatizing event was a Mother's Day brunch, where the kids sang little songs and Miss Rachel shared surveys the kids had filled out.  Lexi cried through the song portion, but everyone laughed at her survey answers, so we'll go with that.  I'll share the best ones.

What is your mom really good at?  Doing letters.

What do you love most about your mom?  When she does my nails.

If you could buy your mom anything, what would it be?  Trips.

What does your mom do while you're at school?  Go to the Y.

My mom likes to go to the store and buy broccoli.

She is really good at writing.

My mom is special because she likes to go to the mailbox.

My mom is as pretty as a butterfly, sweet as a heart, smart as writing, and as special as resting!
Lexi did a couple of art projects at home that I'd like to preserve.  She also wrote her name on a school paper.  We really need to work on that this summer.

On the last day of school, the kids met in the park for snacks and a scavenger hunt.  The only problem: It was 40 degrees and raining (on May 23)!  Miss Rachel led the kids in a quick scavenger hunt, and then we ate snacks at her house.  Lexi was happy to get a picture of her little friends before the day was done.  Every child in Lexi's class is coming back in the fall, which will be really fun for her.  

Hooray for Little Miss finishing her first year of school!

Catch-up: Part Two

Here's the second half of my catch-up effort.

At the youth garage sale last month, I picked up this little picnic table during the "everything's free!" phase of the sale.  It needs a couple of screws, but is otherwise perfect for our little kids.  They love to eat lunch in the shade of our apple trees.

In stark contrast to this scene, one day was super cold (in the 40's) and we dressed for winter when we went to Walmart.  I have since put away the winter gear in protest of any temperature below 75 degrees.

One day when Zach and Tyler had friends over, we all went to the boys' school playground.  All seven kids had a great time!  The picture of Kate and Lexi is my favorite.

Gavin and Lexi are taking swimming lessons.  Lexi refused the first day, but has since acclimated and loves the water.  Gavin is a little fish!  I'm so happy that he is safer in the water.  Having three non-swimmers is a huge challenge for me.

Gavin and Lexi are mischief makers, too. One day they drew all over the front of the house with a pencil.  A 2'x2' area was covered in gray scrawls.  I made them clean it off eventually.  The shaving cream incident below is very mild compared to the incident involving raspberries and my white bedding.  The Littles now have a blanket ban on red foods, and I have been much more vigilant about monitoring their food sneaking so no snacks leave the kitchen.  Little stinkers.  Fortunately, after a few days of soaking, the stains came out of the bedding.

Kate eats oranges like the plague is coming to destroy Florida fruit trees and all natural sources of vitamin C.

If we aren't already eating dinner, Kate begs to go outside and greet Daddy when he comes home from work.  Her favorite thing is pulling into the driveway in Dad's car, or climbing into the front seat two seconds after he opens the door.  It's cute.

Lexi continues to wear her dress-up gown all over town.  It's getting a little silly.  And don't worry, I didn't let her pump gas for long.

For the talent show at youth conference, I pulled out my balloon tricks.  Since then, the kids have been begging for hats.  I finally took the time this week, and they were thrilled.  I wish I could find bigger bags of balloons than Walmart carries.  It was fun to entertain the kids for a while.  Oh, the days of ballooning...

We still don't have a living room couch.  However, I am pleased to say that I have ordered one!  It's a great little couch.  Here's a shot of our still-empty living room, along with the fabric that will be on the couch, and also some deer we saw across the street from Sofa Mart.  The couch won't be here for six more weeks.  Haha.

I am learning to French braid.  This is an essential life skill, I think.  I'm not great at it, but hopefully some of my (teenage) girls can teach me more at camp.

You've probably noticed that I haven't posted many pictures of Zach and Tyler.  I spend the majority of my time with small people who demand more attention.  Every day they have to complete the "Daily Five" (clean bedroom, brush teeth, read scriptures, say prayers, and read for 20 minutes), plus an academic activity and a job around the house.  We have a no-electronics-until-11 o'clock rule, and one week we had a ban on TV and computers.  Electronics are always turned off by the end of Kate's nap.  The greater restrictions have done a lot to improve attitudes and decrease drama (although there's still plenty of both).

We have entered the brave new world of children who are independent enough to be left home alone, babysit their siblings, and ride their bikes to parks and the YMCA (not all at once).  Zach and Tyler (but especially Zach) have friends over all the time or go play elsewhere.  They swim at the Y with friends in the afternoons, and often swim while the Littles have swimming lessons in the morning.  

The next big things in our world are trips to Canada for us and Frisco, CO for the kids, and then girls camp for me.  We'll close out June with big adventures...and then I'll have lots more blogging to do.

pass it on!

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