Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Mass Exodus

Apparently it's customary for members of the Church in this area to make an annual pilgrimage to Utah for several weeks in the summer.  Some are former Utah residents.  Some have friends or relatives living in Utah.  Some have children attending BYU.  Some just want to get out of 100 degree weather.  (We fall into categories 1, 2 and 4.)  Either way, the wards here are very sparsely populated in the summer.

Our trek back to "Zion" begins July 2nd.  Do you know what I'm most looking forward to about being in Utah, specifically Cache Valley???

3.  Fry Sauce  I know you can make it yourself, but it's not the same unless it comes from somewhere in Utah.

4.  The Goldfish Outlet Do you think I can fit a year's supply of cookies and goldfish into the van on the way home??

5.  Pelicans I LOVE LOVE LOVE these birds!!  They're peculiar, unexpected, and totally beautiful, and every time I see them, I have to stop the car.

6. Mountains  I had no idea when we left Utah last year how much I would miss the mountains.  Yesterday, on the way to Girls' Camp, one of the girls in my van said, "Look!  I think those are mountains!!"  But when we all looked, we realized they were just really low-hanging clouds...HUGE disappointment!   

7.  Taffy  Do you know that they don't have huge bins of salt water taffy in the grocery stores here??  I LOVE that stuff, and I'm getting some as soon as we drive into the Valley.  My FAVORITE is BANANA!  Then PEAR.  And then the SWIRLY RED AND WHITE one.  (I don't even know what flavor that is.)

I am so excited about all that stuff and the other ten million things on my list.  Each of the kids has a list, too, of many, many other things they want to see, and do, and EAT while we're in Utah.  But the thing we're all looking forward to most about this trip is the chance to reconnect with people we haven't seen in a year.  This will be the first time we've ever gone BACK to a place we've moved from.  The anticipation in this house right now is almost as HUGE as the pile of stuff we're taking with us.   

I'm grateful for the time and the opportunity we have to take this vacation.  I'm grateful for the chance we'll have to be in the car together for two days (yes, really!  I LOVE road trips! and I need to learn those Girls Camp songs!)  I'm grateful that we'll be able to connect with people we love.  And I look forward to joining the countless other Dallas families making the trek across the country this month.  I wonder how many friends from Allen we'll run into while we're out in Utah??

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Girls Camp

A few weeks ago one of the Young Women's leaders in our ward called me to ask if I would be willing to help with Girls Camp this year.  (yikes!)  Regrettably, camping isn't high on the list of things I love to do.  I like to be inside.  I like air conditioning.  I like showers.  I like sleeping in a bed.  I like bathrooms close by.  So I have to admit, when she asked, I wasn't exactly excited about the opportunity.  My initial thought was to hang up the phone and not answer it again until July 2 when Girls Camp was over and we were safely on our way to Utah.  But that's not what I did.

Fortunately, she gave me a few options to choose from:
  1. Drive a few girls either up to Camp or back home from Camp.
  2. Be a designated Treat Mom.  (It's well over 100 degrees for the majority of the day, so they wanted moms to come up every afternoon with some frozen yummy thing for the girls.)
  3. Stay and camp for one night with the girls.
I happily volunteered for #1 AND #2 and opted out of #3. 

So, after two straight days of packing, we met at the church this morning, bright and early at 6:00am to set off on our adventure.  



This is TCD's 4th year of Camp, so she feels like she's pretty good at the whole "camping thing."  (I don't think she realizes yet that there is a HUGE difference between Girls' Camp in Utah and Girls' Camp in Texas!)  

Spell Girl, on the other hand, has been cautiously excited about the trip all week.

The YW leaders had prepared "To Go breakfasts" for all of us, including special sausage-free versions for TCD and me!  Hooray!  I LOVE the women in this ward.

An hour and a half later, our caravan arrived at the park.  

The YM came up last night and set up all the tents for the girls with their cots put up in the designated places.  Isn't that so nice??  (I'm pretty sure no one set up the tents ahead of time for Scout Camp and High Adventure.)

 The Scout Master's contribution to Girls Camp.

All the girls had to do when they arrived was find their names on their tent, drop off their stuff, and change into their shirts...color coded by year of Camp experience.

 1st and 2nd Years

 3rd and 4th Years


After they put all their stuff in order, we met the rest of the girls from the Stake for a devotional and a group picture.

I lingered until around noon to help with a few last minute things at camp and then snuck out before the girls finished with their morning classes.  TCD was already getting a little irritated that I was hovering.  

I have two confessions to make...
  1. Today was my first EVER Girls Camp experience.  Since 1993, I have served a combined total of 9 years in YW in nearly every calling, but each time Girls Camp came around, I was either very pregnant, had a newborn, or was in the middle of some major transition (like moving across the country.)  So until today, I had never participated in any way in Girls Camp.  With all three of my girls going to Camp next year, it's probably inevitable that my days of flying under the Camp Radar are over.  I can feel Girls Camp in my future.  Next year, I'll probably have to stay longer than 6 hours.   But...
  2. I kind of loved it today.  And I kind of didn't stink at it.  I was a pretty good helper.  I wasn't afraid of the bugs.  I found my way in and out of the park twice without having to call for help.   And after a short briefing on the phone from the Scout Master, I helped the other two leaders set up the camp stoves!  (That might sound less than remarkable to some of you seasoned campers, but it's HUGE for an indoor, high maintenance girl like me.)  Next year, you might see MORE pictures from Girls Camp because I might volunteer to go up and STAY overnight!  
I love it when things turn out better than I expect!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Backyard Camp Outs

The Scoutmaster set up the tent in the backyard last night to clean out all the dust and dirt from Scout Camp and get it ready for its next trip...GIRLS CAMP on Wednesday.  So, of course, the kids felt like they needed to try it out!




Backyard camp outs are my favorite because I can be part of a family activity without actually sleeping outside!  And even though I'm not out there with them, I know they're safe and happy.  So after liberally applying bug spray to all three of them, I went inside and slept soundly knowing that they were just a patio away! 

Sunday, June 26, 2011


This weekend TCD got to participate in the most incredible multi-stake youth celebration.  

Eleven stakes.  2500 kids.  Missionaries.  Testimonies.  Music.  Workshops.  Amazing!

I had the opportunity to drive a handful of kids from our stake down to the Garland Convention Center and stay to chaperone a few of the activities on Friday.

I assembled sack lunches.  I herded kids from one venue to the other.  I sat in on a few classes.  And I got to eat lunch with TCD and her friends (that was more thrilling for me than for them, I'm sure.)  

 All the classes and meals were in the high school, and all the practices were in the Events Center across the parking lot, so periodically we would herd the large group of youth between buildings.
Each stake had a designated colored t shirt.  We were lime green.
TCD and a few of her friends
 And that cute boy is my future son-in-law! (more on that later...)
The culmination of the 3 day event (and many, many months of practice) was a 2 hour singing and dancing extravaganza!  All 2500 kids performed in three different shows on Saturday.  There is nothing more emotionally overwhelming for me than watching a huge group of teenagers singing about "Standing Together as One" especially when my daughter happens to be one of them.  I was amazed watching all of their hard work come together.  

There is incredible talent in this area.  There are kids who are accomplished musicians, gymnasts, singers, and dancers who were able to show off their skills.  But the thing that was the most inspiring was watching the collective effort of leaders and youth working toward a common goal.  

Tonight, TCD attended a Youth Jubilee Fireside to bring the three days to a conclusion.  Even though she did not bear her testimony, she LOVED hearing the other kids talk about the things that touched them the most.  One boy said that he had been struggling with wanting to leave.  He felt like he didn't belong in the group, like no one would notice if he left.  But during one of the lunch breaks that everyone took together in the high school gym, a couple of the full time missionaries stood in the center of the gym and started singing some hymns.  Gradually a few other kids joined them.  And eventually the whole group was singing.  And then they asked all the kids to sing the EFY Medley As Sisters in Zion/Armies of Helaman.  By the time they finished that song, everyone (including TCD) was in tears and the boy had changed his mind about leaving.  He said participating in that song and feeling the Spirit made all those feelings of insecurity leave him. TCD said that the impromptu singing was one of the best parts of the whole weekend for her, too.  

I'm sure there were lots of other amazing things that I missed and that I haven't yet heard about, but four straight days of running like crazy makes a 14 year old grumpy and not so chatty.  I'm hoping to get more details in the next few days.  I know she loved it, though.  And I think she understood that it was less about the perfect musical performances and more about the strength of a collective group of people.  The power and energy in that group radiated through the whole building.  I'm so grateful that TCD not only felt it, but was able to be one of the pieces of it.  I'm grateful that she had the chance to be part of something this big and that it was meaningful and uplifting for her.  We continue to be amazed at how abundantly blessed we are to live in this area.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Course Correction

It's amazing to me how many weaknesses I don't realize I have until they're brought to my attention in some unsuspecting way.  It's occasionally frustrating that just as soon as I feel like I can cross one of those weaknesses off my list, there's another one lurking around the corner...sometimes it's the same one.  Do you think there will ever be a time when they don't hound me??  Probably not.  

But this latest one, (although initially knocking me off my feet for a second), reminded me that I'm getting better at this whole "refining process" that insists on happening in my life.  This time, instead of reacting in my usual way (which is irrational and destructive), I was quiet long enough to think, "OK what can I learn from this?"  And here's what I remembered...

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."  Ether 12:27

Most of the time I stick pretty close to my Life Rules and I try to be where I'm supposed to be and do what I'm supposed to do, but every now and then I blaze a different trail.  Every now and then, I forget where everything comes from and I think that I'm smart enough to just figure stuff out on my own.  Every now and then I think that I've got this "life thing" down.  When I'm over confident, when I stop listening, when I forget my perspective, there are inevitable consequences.  

I definitely needed a little course correction and humbling this week.  And it worked.  It was difficult and messy and not the way I would like to be reminded to be humble in the future, but it was effective.  And hopefully next time, I won't have to be COMPELLED to be humble...I'll just remember to be humble on my own. 

I'm grateful that Heavenly Father provides not only weaknesses but ways to turn them into strengths.  I'm grateful that He loves us enough to let us fall sometimes so that we can figure out how to get back up.   I'm grateful for the knowledge and understanding I've been given and for the comfort and guidance that it is in my life everyday. 


Wednesday, June 22, 2011


There were a million little plastic forks in our lawn tonight.  Apparently this is some wacky Texas sign of affection.  It's way better than toilet paper!! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Finished Rooms

It just occurred to me this morning that we leave NEXT Saturday and I still have TONS to do before this house is finished (and Jubilee and Girls Camp will take up 5 of those days!...yikes!!! )  I know it will all still be here when we get back, but wouldn't it be nice to have everything in the right places before we go?  It's always nicer to come home to "finished" things instead of "waiting" things.

So while the internet/cable guy, spent several hours here this morning reconnecting us to the rest of the world, I frantically tried to unpack and organize a few things.  

And then after he left, I took pictures of all of it!  :)


There were a couple of cabinets that I had just stuffed things into, and the counters have been covered with miscellaneous stuff since last Monday.  Now everything has a home and I can SEE the counters!  And this kitchen is big enough to fit two barstools at the island so that little helpers/tasters can sit up there while I cook.

Piano Room:
I just hung that picture and put a few things on the bookshelves.  It's possible they won't look like that the next time you see them.      

Living Room:  
It's hard to get a good feel for this room from this picture because I took it right into the sun coming through those windows, but it's not quite as cavernous as it appears.  Next time, I'll show you the fireplace/TV on the other side of the room, but right now they're still way too messy.

Master Bath:

Master Closet:

I finished the closet last week, but that was BTC ("before the camera"), so I thought I'd post pictures of that, too. 

The kids are happy to be back on the internet, and I'm much more relaxed knowing that we can all enjoy the upcoming events now that a few more house things are done.