Sunday, August 27, 2017

August stuff...

On the day before girls camp, Liza texted and said that Buddy's great-grandmother has passed away at the ripe age of 101 and that they were coming to Utah for the funeral.  They arrived the day before we came home from camp and stayed five days.  They came over for Sunday dinner and the evening and then we went to lunch the day before they left.  We were so excited to see them for even a little bit!

Even if they come for five minutes, Gramp has to push Aylabelle on her swing!

This man loves his family!  I love that he does!  There's nothing better than a man who loves his family with all his heart!

And this beautiful girl, I couldn't love her any more!  She's reading ZJ's book from the LHS kids!

Enough pictures, already, Gram!

That tree that fell last spring has finally died.  Our sweet friend, Dallin, came over and impressed us with his climbing skills.  Ten minutes later, it was gone!

When we came home from the ranch, a cooler filled with Zee's favorite treats was waiting on our doorstep with this sign. She's going to Homecoming!

And last but not least... Grace has been dating Ben for the last half of the summer.  She's been having the time of her life with Ben.  They have so much fun together and we all love him, as well.  We've never seen Grace so happy and loving life so much!  

They've shared some seriously fun dates!  Including going shooting and worrying me to death!  I wasn't worried about Grace getting shot.  I was worried about her shooting Ben!

Lots of hikes!

They talk for hours and laugh a lot!

Going to church!

He's taken her to Idaho to meet his family.

They shop together.  They pray together.  They play together.

This boy brings out the best in Grace!  He's definitely the best guy she's ever dated!

It's so fun to see them growing together.  I told them a few days ago that if this continued on like this for another year and they went their separate ways, I would forever be grateful for the joy that they've experienced together!  "Happiness" defines their dating.

Life is good!  August was GREAT!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Girls Camp ~ last day

The girls woke up on Saturday morning at about 8:30.  None of us were in a hurry to get up, after such a late night.  It was 2 before I'd come in and gone to sleep.  The girls were still outside and going strong when I came inside to get some sleep.

Once they were awake and dressed, they all got busy very quickly getting their jobs done. They cleaned bathrooms, vacuumed, laundered the bedding and towels, unloaded the refrigerators and freezers, hauled everything out to the trailer and helped Doug reload it.  This took a couple of hours and Val prepared a delicious breakfast of granola-yogurt parfait and breakfast pastries that were meant to be eaten on the way home, but the girls all sat outside and enjoyed them on the trampoline.  Everyone wished that we could stay another day longer!

After a closing devotional and final prayer, the other leaders and girls headed home.  Doug and I and out girls stayed behind to remake the beds and make sure that things were all ship-shape for the next family member who uses the cabin.  WHAT A GIFT the ranch is!

We didn't get home until after 5 and then Doug and Zee unloaded the trailer.  I texted the girls and they all came over the next few hours to our home to gather their belongings.  (It's a month later and I still have a sleeping bag, a t-shirt and a camp chair that are unclaimed!)

Camp was a joy and a blessing!  The girls were wonderful.  There was very little drama.  The Kindness projects were great.  The girls really tried to be harmonious.  I feel so good about the experience.  A few last photos and thoughts....

Grace actually went to camp as a YACL.  *yackle  A Young Adult Camp Leader.  She created a project for the girls called "Share Kindness".   Each girl had a list of things that they could do, optionally, throughout the camp and for each task achieved, they received a bead in the color of the YW Value that it was associated with.  This was all fun tasks, not difficult at all... sing a hymn or primary song in the shower VERY LOUDLY, offer to help a leader, pick something up without being asked, sit with a girl who might be looking alone...  Grace checked off each task as they did them and at the end of camp, they received these little bottles with the beads they'd earned.  Most girls received all of the beads.  One task was read the cross-stitch of "A Virtuous Woman".  The purpose was, again, to encourage kindness and positive attitudes at camp.  It helped!

Zulu was the camp mascot and got loads of love and attention from the girls!

On Friday morning, since the Bishop was not coming, we had a little extra time, so Doug hitched up the trailer, we through in some foam pads and went for a "hayless ride".  The girls sang camp songs and had a great time!  

I think that this was my favorite thing at camp.  I'd brought a vintage shutter and tiny clothespins for the girls to leave love notes and attaboys for each other all week.  The shutter was no where near big enough after just a few hours, so we resorted to sticky notes.  The sticky notes were a hit and the window and board were filled!  When we woke up on Friday morning, the notes had been arranged into a huge heart.  We all loved the heart and everyone enjoyed reading them throughout the day!

Our service project was originally to move some logs and wood.  However, we discovered this beauty on the satellite dish.  The hornets were all about and it was as big as a volley ball.  To protect the girls, we opted to clean the cabin windows instead of moving wood.

Always one of my favorite things at the ranch is seeing the flag blowing in the breeze.  The girls took responsibility each morning and night to raise and retire the flag.

I heart girls camp!  I told Jen that I really felt that my time in Young Womens would be shortlived.  I said that I felt like I would be released from Young Womens shortly after camp.  I didn't know why but I did.  Sadly, I felt more love for the girls at camp than I had yet felt.  And I was right... a change was on it's way.  Because of this, I've been even more grateful for the fun experience we had together!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Girls Camp ~ Day 3

Friday did not go as planned, but it was all fine and dandy.  We had planned on Friday being "Get to Know the Bishop Day".  Our Bishop was going to come up and spend the day doing silly things with the girls all day.  They see him on Sunday at the pulpit and in his office for interviews, but it's rare that they get to spend time with him just being fun.  HOWEVER.  Our Bishop was so sick!  I'd called him each day while we were at the ranch and he could barely speak.  He coughed and choked and sounded awful! He had been sick for over two weeks and even missed church. With all of the fires in Idaho, we'd never seen the sky so smokey and we knew that it would not help him one bit, so we insisted that he not come!  So, we did what we'd planned but without our good Bishop.

The girls did crafts galore... 

Zeej walking from the cabin to the loft garage, where we kept the crafts set up for the entire camp.  The girls could craft anytime they wanted... and they did!

Painting jars with flourescent paint so that they would glow in the dark at night.

shrinky-dink art




These two darling girls just moved in next door to us.  They are from Canada and Denmark.  They'd never heard a thing about our church and yet were excited to get to know the girls in the neighborhood.  We had a wonderful time getting to know them and they've been coming to our fun activities since we got home too!

fifteen girls.  Two bathrooms.  (Again, I was happy to be in the loft!)

They kept things pretty neat the whole time they were there!

ZJ's nook!

Lorna embossing the metal disks for bracelets.

job charts, schedules and rules.

"just ask" banner

Some of the girls chose crafting and some left to float the river and jump off the bridge.
Doug was the lifeguard.

Zeej put on multiple floating devices and pretended to be a turtle.  Okey-dokey then.

another craft was decorating their camp shirts.  These turned out so fun!  Bleach in spray bottles made things look like the universe.  Since our purpose of waiting until August for camp was to experience the meteor shower that night, the shirts were perfect!  Another hit from Valerie, our secretary!

Playing Tenzi in our downtime!

The last night of Girls' Camp is always the highlight.  Doug prepared that meal... Dutch Oven BBQ chicken and Dutch Oven potatoes au gratin.  The girls made the rest.  NUM!

Seriously, Val fed us like Queens every meal, including delicious infused waters every day.  I didn't even drink Diet Coke for 24 hours!

The sight of all these shoes in front of the cabin door has always warmed my heart.  I have a photo from when Dale was about six and all of his cousins shoes at the same door.  It says home to me.  (Funny though... I HATE shoes at the front door at home!  NO bueno!)

 After dinner, came the best part of camp.  The Faith Walk.  We have no photographs of this experience but it was a magnificent and spiritual experience for the girls.  After dark, at about 9PM, we gathered the girls in the great room of the cabin and explained a bit about what they were going
to experience and gave them some directions.   We then blindfolded the girls, had them line up in a row with a hand on the shoulder of the girl in front of them and walked them over to the other side of the homes, about a city block.   They were then led to their seats, which we had waiting.  Each seat was about five feet from the next, in three rows.  We had everything prepared in advance and waiting.
We had told them that they were going to experience the birth, life, death and resurrection of the Savior through sound, touch, smell and taste.  They would be blindfolded for the entire experience.  They listened to the music that was on downloaded and played on a Bose dock and experienced His birth by holding a weighted baby, smelling Frankenscense and other things.  They felt a crook, felt leather sandals, and other things that represented His life.  There was six minutes of thunder where they each felt a nail poked into their palm and heard the hammering of a nail into a log. A crown of thorns was placed on each girls head.  (I tear up everytime I think of this.)  Then, they partook of bread and water and felt linen cloth.  The final song was about the fact that He LIVES TODAY!  And when their eyes were uncovered by the leaders, a spotlight was shining on a beautiful painting of our Savior.  The painting was placed in a grove of Aspen trees.  After having been blindfolded for almost an hour, this was the first thing that they saw.  It was a powerful experience for us all!

But, the best part of the experience for me,and the other leaders, I'm pretty certain, was that it had begun to pour the rain as we prepared dinner. We were concerned that this experience would have to be moved inside and that would just not work.  We, the leaders, and Doug, gathered into the bedroom and knelt to pray that the weather would cooperate for the evening.  Within twenty minutes, the skies were clearer than they had been all week long!  As we walked the girls over to the faith walk, the clouds returned.  There was thunder and lightning in the distance and it was moving closer by the minute.  We were all silently praying that the weather would hold off for just another hour, even if it meant not getting to see the meteor shower later that night.  At one point, Jen looked up to the heavens and said, "Please, Father, stay the storm."  Literally, there was a parting of the sky above us.  We could see one star through the open spot in the clouds.  The thunder continued.  The lightning continued and the winds were fierce.  I literally sat near the painting of the Savior and held it until just before the girls were unblindfolded to keep it from blowing over.  The wind would stop and be silent just when we needed to hear the music.  When the times were appropriate, the wind would pick up.  It was as though it were being orchestrated by the heavens.

There are no words for this experience.  The girls were in tears.  The leaders were, as well.  It was a perfect perfect experience.  When we were done, the girls sat in silence and thought about their experience until it was time for Doug to lead them over to the campfire, which was all pre-set with camp chairs, blankets and ready for our testimony meeting.  I LOVE THIS NIGHT!!!!

After the testimony meeting, a funny thing happened.  The girls were making gourmet s'mores when the sprinklers came on!!!  At midnight!  Onto the fire! and their blankets and shoes and coats!  It was hilarious!  And I was so thankful that it hadn't happened an hour earlier during the testimonies.  That would have been a wee bit of a distraction!  Just sayin'!

The girls all wrapped up and we watched the stars until about 1:30.  The clouds were coming and going, but mostly, the moon was so bright that it was probably the worst meteor shower in our 38 years of watching it each August!  I think that I was the only one who was disappointed!  The girls were having too much fun to notice!

Girls camp is awesome!  really and truly, it is!