Sunday, June 28, 2015

Kat's Visit

With Karisa off at girl's camp and my sister in town it was time to party!  We spent the weekend getting Karisa ready to leave.  Kat was only here for a week so we had to fit everything in that we could.  She made it to church with us on Sunday and was a real good sport as she was the only girl in YW on Sunday in her age group and still went to class!

On Monday we dropped Karisa off in Albuquerque so she could get a ride to girl's camp and then Kat and I went out for sushi.  She said she'd never had it and wanted to give it a try.  I don't ever really need that much of an excuse to go out for sushi.  She said it was better than she expected but I don't think she liked it all that much.

The rest of the week was filled with swim team in the morning (with Kat sitting around for two hours at the pool watching the little kids play, reading a book or occasionally talking to the Moms that were hanging out there) and then other activities the rest of the day.  We went bowling, played miniature golf, went hiking, swimming, to the natural history museum, and had picnics at a couple of parks in town.  When we went bowling we played two games and she beat me in one of them, even though I'm not a good bowler she surprised me.  I beat her at mini golf though so I came out ahead for the week.

It was so much fun getting to visit with her, she was born about a year before I moved out of the house so we never got to hang out all that much and I've been living in Utah and New Mexico, far away from her, for the majority of her life.  We miss her so much already and wish she could have stayed longer.

On Friday we dropped her off at the airport and watched her go through security.  We came home and crashed and then at 10:30 I got a text from Karisa saying she was going to be home early.  I drove down to Albuquerque to pick her up and we stayed up until 3:00 or so catching up.

She seemed most excited about the salmon rolls but tried everything (although she did pick off the tuna from the top of the rolls on the right).

Charlie seemed to do well, even with his unorthodox grip on the putter.

We got there early and it wasn't too crowded.  Leia and Charlie took turns with their ball.

All done!

This was at the end of the museum and the kids weren't feeling very cooperative, Charlie is off screen pouting and Leia is complaining that she's hungry and doesn't want to be in the picture.

On top of the world.

Sam grabbing a geocache while the rest of rested.

Charlie: "In tree!"

Freaky mutant tree captures pretty girl, she's never seen again.

The entire group heading back down the mountain.

Charlie got lots of compliments on his walking stick and grinned at everybody that noticed it.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Evan's Party

Practically on my way out the door for Girls' Camp, I realized I needed to have a birthday party for Evan since he would turn nine while I was gone.  I finally decided on a pig theme since I had seen this mud pig cake going around the internet.  I couldn't find the right frosting recipe, and my sister wouldn't answer her phone so it didn't turn out quite right, but tasted fine.  I think Evan really liked it!
He, Sam, and I made the pig-yata.  It was filled with pink bubble gum and army guys.

We played Grunt-Piggy-Grunt, ate breakfast sandwiches with bacon, and had a very relaxed, fun party.  I was going to make everyone eat their mashed potatoes dinner out of a trough but it didn't happen.  Chalk that up to being distracted with so much else going on.   I was trying to finish tons of school work so I could go to camp, plan and prepare the food I was supposed to take up, pack my stuff, just so much craziness!  Aaagghhh!!!!!!!!!!!!

Evan is a bear now, so we gave him the Bear scout book, a bear slingshot, some clothes, and a CD player.  He likes to listen to books and can now do that in his room.  I think he really liked it! 

Evan just finished the first wave of swim lessons for the summer and had a great time.   Other than that, I can't think of anything else to say besides that he helps me at home a lot and is a great kid.  Just the same Evan as always.  He and Sam have been really thankful lately.  He always says thanks for buying me this or thanks for making me that.  It's really thoughtful.  I asked him how he feels now that he's nine and he said, "Everything's the same, except now I have more things."

Pat's sister Kat had come to visit him while I was away at girls' camp, we picked her up at the airport the day before the party so she got to celebrate Evan with us, it was great.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

GC 2015

Just got home from Girls Camp.  Our theme this year was the scripture below, so we decided to do a nautical theme.  Every ward was a different boat or ship.  There was everything from the Starship Enterprise, to the Black Pearl, to the Yellow Submarine.

We camped up at El Vado lake, all the way near Chama.  It was BEAUTIFUL!  I should have taken so many more pictures; wild horses, streams and rivers, lakes and ponds, trees and hills, mountains!  New Mexico people!

Crafts with Misty, and Tera

This picture was outside the porta-potties to remind us to not fall in.
Where we did flag ceremony every morning.
Some of the crafts and charms
I want this sign up big in my boys bathroom

Here's all of us stake leaders.  We were on the yellow submarine.  Inside the submarine are the camp directors and leaders of each level, or age group, of girls.  The rest of us helpers are all over the flag.  I'm in the top right corner.  Everyone had a chance to do cheers and skits.  For example, one morning we just yelled, "T-Bone, Sirloin, Rib-Eye, STAKE!"

I just realized why they call stakes stakes.  It's like a stake in the ground.  Here I plant my foot.  Or like saying, in this part of the world there is a stake of believers planted firmly.  I don't know why that never dawned on me before.

I got assigned to help with the food, and it was a hard week.  I keep having miscarriages (early ones), and had one at camp so it was rough.  It started on the second day, and I tried to keep it a secret because I didn't want to take anyone's focus off the girls but it gets out when you have to go to the potty every fifteen minutes and keep asking the nurse for more supplies.  And instead of helping as much as you should, you just have to sit down.  Those that did find out were so kind; so many hugs, prayers, caring and concern- I couldn't help but feel loved.   I thought about going home, but I love the experiences I have at camp and I didn't want to leave our cook with one less helper.

Often we're too busy to enjoy the friendships we have, but at camp there's lots of time made throughout the week.  You get a lot closer when you have to sleep in a tent together too.  And our priesthood men who were there to help and who you might only see at church, open up the scriptures and share their hearts before the breakfast prayer just because they feel like it.  It's so informal, and we're all hot and sweaty and helping each other deal with problems that arise, so all the walls are down and we can really communicate.  I got a lot closer to several sisters and we had a lot of good talks.  I feel the spirit, and the magnitude of the work we are engaged in and the strength we are teaching these girls to have.  I am thankful for the chance to grow closer to the Lord and stronger in faith, for the chance to serve these wonderful girls. I love watching them grow and change year after year.  President Dickerson gave a great talk.  He's so fun, because he's my age and just really one of the neatest people you'll ever meet.  My president and the camp leaders did excellent also, we had fun devotionals and lots of laughs.  Vickers and Twitch were great YCL leaders!

It was my fifth year doing the food and I was done two years ago.  The last two years I was in the Stake YW presidency so I wasn't THE cook therefore it wasn't so much work, but I still spend most of camp cooking and cleaning since I'm assigned to assist the cooks.  This means I don't get to do much with the girls besides watch them.  It can become difficult especially in this place with no kitchen or refrigeration.  It was coolers, a spigot, and camp stoves.  Our cook handled it wonderfully and did a great job, but you try cooking for 50-150 people for a week and you'll know why I don't enjoy this part of camp anymore! 

Though I shouldn't complain, because the other leaders had to help the girls do service projects of clearing trails in the hot hot sun, and they all did 3-4 hour hikes in the heat.  But the fourth years did a 33 mile hike over three days!  That's 11 miles a day, and it wasn't supposed to happen that way (it's usually 15 miles total), but it did.  It was a real difficult thing for those fourth years and when they finally limped into camp I cried.  I always cry.  I just realize that those girls conquered and learned that they could do HARD things.  Not everyone gets along with everyone, and that alone is difficult, but by the end of that hike, they aren't frontin' anymore.  They're praying for water and struggling together and they become closer than they ever would have otherwise.  It is a huge accomplishment and they have so much more confidence in themselves and love for each other after finishing that hike that they know they can do anything.  They have developed this faith.  This particular group of girls I felt something really special about them.  Like their hike "accidentally" was so long for a reason.  They have some pretty tough things they're going to need to do in their lives is the feeling I got.  And they will succeed.

Because we had a gorgeous lake, the girls got to swim, kayak, and canoe.  Can you believe this is New Mexico?
Sporting her beads/charms earned by certifying in many different things and passing off several things.
I love these bracelets the girls made- all with the nautical theme- O ye that embark...
Anyway, GC was pretty swell.  Always is.  Loved it!  The girls learned this song by Jenny Phillips:

For the last time
the Savior is gathering
those who will listen to his words
This is our time to shine
to let our voice be heard

We are faithful
we have been forordained
to take part in this great work
we hear the call to serve
and we respond willingly

We raise our sails
and we embark!
In His service
with all our heart
with all our might, mind and strength
we'll go forth in his name
holding firmly to the rod
we are engaged in the service of
our God

We will be faithful
not caught up in the fallen world
so we can hear the spirit speak

We raise our sails
and we embark!
In His service
with all our heart
with all our might, mind and strength
we'll go forth in his name
holding firmly to the rod
we are engaged in the service of
our God

In His service
Service of our God!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

While Mom was in California

While Karisa and Leia were partying in California we were having a blast here in New Mexico.  We dropped them off at the airport and then stopped at Costco to get what we needed to get through the weekend....cereal and milk.  Well, and some lunch meat and to restock the pantry with other necessities.   We then came home, played some board games and watched several episodes of Merlin.  We usually have to go slow with that show because Leia gets scared with it and the times when the boys stay up and she's asleep are few and far between but we got several episodes in this weekend.

On Saturday we decided to drive to one of our favorite pools in the area, the Rio Rancho Aquatic Center, about an hour drive from our house.  We packed up, Evan came in and said he was going to put our bag into the car, we finished getting ready and then left.  We got to the pool and discovered that Evan had just moved the bag to the living room, Charlie and I were without swimming suits.  We sat in the car for a minute or two and then went to Target and bought diapers, wipes, two swimming suits and some swimming diapers.  Our quick trip to the pool just got $50 more expensive.

Every time we've gone to the pool Charlie gets scared, he doesn't like the noise or the water.  I was determined to get him into the pool this time.  We spent about 20 minutes near the start of the zero entry pool with just our feet in the water, where it was about 8 inches deep.  After a while he started splashing with his feet, then his hands.  Before I knew it he was climbing in and out over the edge into that 8 inch deep water.  We started taking walks through the shallow parts of the pool and by the end of the day he was going down the frog slide, splashing and having a great time.

After church on Sunday we decided to go for a hike and a picnic.

Starting on the trail.  Charlie had found a walking stick to be like his brother.  He was hilarious with this short stick...take a step, poke the ground, take a step, poke the ground.

We tried to find four geocaches on this hike, the one on top of this ridge is the only one we had any luck with.  Hiking this canyon our GPS is terrible and keeps jumping around showing us in lots of different spots.

Evan climbing to the top with his brother.

We can almost see our house!

Looking back the way we came.

Dallas and Charlie waiting at the bottom.

One really neat thing about the mountains by our house is that the rocks are really, really, really old.  Fossils abound in a lot of the rocks, you can't see it very well here but this one has a sea-shell showing.

Goofballs at a rest break.

Every time we hike this canyon the boys try to climb this boulder that sits in the middle of the path.  Sam finally conquered it on this trip.

Charlie was really, really excited about our picnic...and the birds that kept coming by to visit us.  We heard a woodpecker and saw several robins and blue-jays.

The stream that runs by the picnic grounds.
I've always been of the opinion that the more children you have the easier each successive kid is.  I still believe that is true to some extent but I had to re-evaluate that as most of what we did with Karisa gone we couldn't have done with one parent and Leia along.  The hiking and swimming would have been too hard with one adult.  We had a very, very fun boys only weekend.

Charlie decided to party a little too hard though.....

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Stephanie's baby shower in California

Kim with her fantastic ice-cream cake as we sing to Stephanie.

My sister was having a baby shower for her long awaited and hoped for baby.  I planned on missing it, since if I was going to pay to fly out, I wanted to see the baby not just the shower.  Then my mom got me a ticket so I wouldn't have to miss it!!  It was awesome, since this day has been a long time in the waiting.

Since my mom instigated it, (and I'm so glad she did), I decided pay to bring my girl to come too so she could have a chance to play with her cousins Elle, Emme, and new baby Eila!  Kim and Jeremy just welcomed that sweet girl a couple months ago and I had not been able to see her yet.  Wow, they have the cutest kids.  Kim didn't even look like she'd recently had a baby.  She and Jeremy managed three kids like a pro; they are great parents.  It was really nice staying with them.  They were kind enough to put this whole party together, and it really turned out wonderful.  Did I mention it was my sister's birthday party too?!  I don't know if I've said this before, but that was the best trip back home ever.

In fact I started looking at homes in the Livermore area the morning I had to leave as I sat crying on Stephanie's couch.  I can't stand living so far away and not getting to see these girls grow up.  I love my family so much.  And now a fourth niece on the way!  I can't stand it.  I already miss everyone so much.

I found a home on 3 acres, a little run down, but big and full of green grass and trees for less than $200,000.  Then I realized it was Livermore, Maine.  Once I got the right state I found only small crummy houses for $400,000 or more.  Curse you California.  I don't know what to do.  I love where I live and feel happier than ever with my friends around me, but I've never wanted to move back home more.  It's so confusing. 

Other highlights from the weekend:

Had a most wonderful pizza for dinner and I forgot how plentiful GOOD restaurants are in my hometown.  Every tree, bush, flower, and the lawns made me so happy because they're all so beautiful.  Of course my brother lives in one of my favorite places.

Stayed up late with Jeremy and Kim making a chocolate cake and decorating; that's all I remember.  Good times.

Got back to work early the next morning finishing up the rest of the food and decorations. Kim's mom was in and out helping a lot, which I thought was really sweet.

Blew my no-sugar thing.  Absolutely killed it.  Donuts, Ice-cream cake, lemon bars, four layer chocolate cake, teriyaki chicken and sweet meatballs; not to mention Leatherby's the next day.  No regrets at all.

Leia and Elle played together pretty much the whole time.  Elle read a lot of books to Leia, and they played dolls and dress-up and ponies, and who knows what else.  Leia loves her!

Aunt Kim did Leia's hair and painted Leia's nails, and Elle painted mine.  She did a great job!  Elle does a lot of dancing and we got to see her in her costume for one of her rehearsals.

Cars started arriving.  I saw my favorite cousin Amy and my favorite Aunt Nancy!

Then I saw my favorite Aunt and Uncle, John and Paula, with favorite cousins Jay, Marcy, Spencer, and Elsie. Such adorable kiddos. 

Then all of a sudden another car opens up with my favorite Aunt Janet, and my favorite Aunt Karen surprising us all by flying in from Utah! Way to make people cry.

Then my mom showed up to the party fashionably late, and they hid to surprise her.  She's hilarious.

We had T's delicious teriyaki BBQ chicken and many other wonderful treats and stayed and talked all day.

Enjoy the pictures. 

We gave Stephanie a big box of clothes that all my kids helped pick out, and this Labor Music (joke) CD.  I first made it for a friend, and knew it had to make another appearance.

This trip was so great because I also got to catch up a bit with my roomie Sandra and find out how our old singles ward friends are doing.  I miss these friends and how comfortable we are/were together.

Gifts from my friend Ruby!
I also made time to see my best high school friend Ruby (thanks to Steph and T for letting us take over their house), and in the middle of laughing about being spies and protectors of the secret 11 herbs and spices, we talked about the things that are most important to me and I got to share with her my testimony of Jesus Christ and God's plan for us on earth.  She just lost her brother recently to suicide and it's so hard and so heartbreaking.  Luckily Steph had a Book of Mormon, so I could give it to her and mark the 40th chapter of Alma.  I hope she reads it and asks the missionaries over to help her understand it more fully.  I loved being a missionary so very much and just loved catching up and actually having time to talk to her brought back memories of when we walked the streets talking to and teaching anyone who would listen.  I love the church.  It's true!  It would be ideal if the people were perfect.  Then people wouldn't get offended and leave the church.  We try to be the best we can, but if we were perfect, we wouldn't need a Savior.  How wonderful that Heavenly Father loved us enough to send His son.  An innocent baby.

Leia's tiny ponytail flipped until it was standing up straight on top of her head.  Kim and I were busting up.

Did I mention it was also my sister's birthday this exact same day?!  I got her this shirt which she paired with that gorgeous necklace.  Kim's helping her play a party game :)

I'm so happy for Stephanie and T.  They will be wonderful parents.  Life will never be the same again, and a lot of that is because things get so much more difficult.  But its worth it.  Families are God's plan of happiness.  "Families are the Lord's workshop on earth to help us learn and live the gospel.  We come into our families with a sacred duty to help strengthen each other..."- Cheryl Esplin, General Primary Presidency

God gave us families to help us become what He wants us to be—
This is how He shares His love, for the fam’ly is of God.
1. Our Father has a family. It’s me!
It’s you, all others too: we are His children.
He sent each one of us to earth, through birth,
To live and learn here in fam’lies.
2. A father’s place is to preside, provide,
To love and teach the gospel to his children.
A father leads in fam’ly prayer to share
Their love for Father in Heaven.
3. A mother’s purpose is to care, prepare,
To nurture and to strengthen all her children.
She teaches children to obey, to pray,
To love and serve in the fam’ly.
4. I’ll love and serve my family and be
A good example to each fam’ly member.
And when I am a mom or dad, so glad,
I’ll help my fam’ly remember:
God gave us families to help us become what He wants us to be—
This is how He shares His love, for the fam’ly is of God.

Someone was asking for the chocolate cake recipe (pictured above) so here it is: (It's a yellow cake with chocolate frosting according to Steph's request.)

1 package yellow cake mix (or yellow butter cake mix)
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup oil
4 eggs
1 small package vanilla pudding

Mix together for about 2 minutes.  Pour into greased 9x13 pan or two round pans.  Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until toothpick test.  I made this recipe twice and made four 10inch cake layers stacked with chocolate frosting in between.  Chocolate frosting is just 1 cup salted butter softened, 3-4 cups powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp vanilla, 1/2 cup of cocoa powder (I didn't measure- do what you like), and then milk or cream to thin if needed.  Beat for a few minutes until fluffly and a good spreadable consistency.