Sunday, June 30, 2013

post camp wrap up

Camp was a great experience.  Really.  We had many camp miracles and lots of laughs.  I want to jot down some notes to myself so I will remember.  Where to begin.  I don't even know. The hours of preparation, the prayers and the planning on both the wards and the stake level are tremendous.  Then you get there and hope it goes well.
 Last year we had the derecho that lead to an eventful evening spent in the shower house waiting for the storm to pass, this year I did not want a repeat.  Although bad weather threatened we were spared.  More than one storm cell split in half and went around us, giving us a pretty good shower but nothing severe.  The first three days were terribly hot and humid, hot like slipping my pants off and on in the potty felt like tugging a wet swimsuit up and down.  Sweat literally ran down our faces and backs.  Despite this we had only a few heat related problems. I myself didn't feel nauseous or drained, two common effects to prolonged exposure to high temps.  The girls who did feel bad were able to be treated with rest and hydration and only two girls went home.
On Thursday, our COPE day, severe storms were expected.  It turned out to be wonderful weather. Cool and overcast, with an occasional shower.  All the girls and many leaders got to try the different elements and it was so nice.  I got to go on the zip line and had  very fun ride.   At the end of the day it got very overcast and that lasted throughout the evening.  Around 10pm though, literally at the time we wanted to start stargazing the clouds cleared and we were able to see perfectly.  I saw the rings of Saturn.  So amazing. 

We had some wonderful people helping us this year.  Brother Shane Johnson came up to do our stargazing evening and he gave a wonderful talk.  He told a story about feeling God's love and knowing that God was mindful of him. He was flying a U2 from Hawaii to South Korea, was 70,000 ft (miles- idk) up at the very edge of space, all alone, enjoying the flight when his temperature regulator broke.  At first he felt pretty good but within a few hours he was freezing, literally.  There were ice crystal forming in his pee bag(not its technical name) , his feet were numb and he was growing concerned.  He had been through the check list many times without success and was at the point where he had to decide what to do. If he landed at midway he would be delayed in his mission and would not make it home for his nephews wedding. He said he felt very alone and small.  Then after another heartfelt, sincere prayer the thought came to him to go through the check list again. He did and that time, miraculously, it fixed the problem and he was able to continue. He said he knew that God knew him and where he was and what his needs were.  There was a powerful witness of the Spirit as we sat out under the stars, quietly listening to him speak.

Patriarch Talbot came up to give a devotional one day.  He answered many questions and shared a wonderful testimony.

Bob Turbyfill, the coach of the US National Orienteering team came and did a 3hour long workshop for our 3rd year girls on orienteering.  They said it was wonderful.

Will and Sam were our cooks, ice men, water shleppers, trash emptiers, weather monitors,etc.  They were so sweet and worked so hard for us.

We had four COPE course instructors from our stake who spent all day out in the field, every day, and they were so encouraging, so tireless.

Bishop Reed is now our high council advisor so he was with us all week and we worked him to death.  He was on COPE, he was on trash duty, he gave blessings, council, watched the weather. It was such a comfort to have those good brethren, those worthy priesthood holders there to watch out for us.

The women who were there were incredible as well.  Each ward had terrific leaders who sacrificed a lot of time and effort and who were prepared and lead so well.  Of course there were some problems here and there but for the most part it was smooth.  Our stake leaders too were amazing. It was such a privilege for me to be there with them.  Pres. Volk said we had assembled the dream team and he was right. Never have I laughed so hard or so much than with those dear sisters.  Besides the fun though they each are faithful and strong and the conversations we had and the work we did will always be in my heart. It was such a treat to get to know each of them better. 

Our YCL's have been trained for 9 months on how to be leaders and they stepped up to the plate and did an incredible job.  They bore testimony, lead by example, organized, worried, helped, loved, laughed, prayed for and taught their girls. This week they were not just young women, they were leaders.  I loved watching them and I know their influence was felt and made a difference in the lives of the younger girls.

We had a beautiful YCL lead devotional and a fun wedding devotional. 

I personally had several sweet experiences that made my heart fill with gratitude for my Heavenly Father and the help He gives me.  One was how I was unbothered by the heat.  A blessing from above.  Another thing is I am not a night owl, nor am I a high energy person.  However all week I stayed up very late, was very busy all day, got up very early and I felt great.  I know I was sustained and enabled to do that which the Lord has called me to do.  I know it.  On the way home it hit me though, the work was done and I was on my own.  I had to pull over on my way home and nap because I couldn't safely drive.  Then when we got home I napped again. 

I was asked to speak a few times and prepared.  Those went well and I was really happy for the inspiration and guidance I received.  I often pray with an apology, I am sorry for my weakness and that I am not all I should be but since I am who you have (for now) please bless me.  I never want to miss out on a spiritual experience for one of the young women, or miss the chance to lift and help a leader because of my flaws and shortcomings.  So I am ever grateful when things go well. Then there were a couple of surprise talks to give and I was given the words to say. I am so humbled to be an instrument in His hand, and so thankful for His enabling, sustaining, guidance.

We had a gorgeous hike.  We had the chance to be addressed by Elder Lansing of the quorum of the 70. We had wonderful, fun crafts and skits.

I shared time and stories with the elect.  Truly faithful, Christ-like, consecrated people and I came away better for it.  I know the power of the Atonement better.  I saw it in action this week and this weekend.  It changes people for good.  The atonement is absolutely necessary for our progression and happiness and how happy I am for that blessing.  The unmerited love and support and example of Christ.  Words are inadequate for the feelings of my heart. 

So the fun is done but hopefully the memories will last. Hopefully the girls felt the Spirit and were strengthened.  I know I did.

Sunday morning

Checking out our pumpkin patch this fine morning. Looking forward to going to church, I love the Sabbath.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

what everyone else did

While Hannah and I were at camp everyone at home stayed busy.  Dad and Grace did some fishing! Tomorrow night we will have dinner of things we caught or grew exclusively.  Should be fun!

Grace went to horse camp.  She loved it.  Ethan played outside.  Ethan and Abba watched lots of smashlab and mythbusters.

Grace got to play with some friends. Everyone swam.  Dogs got walked.  Laundry got done.

Nana and Abba held down the fort, for which I am very appreciative.


This last week was girls camp.  It was ton of fun.  Our theme this year was "Can You Imagine".  We went to camp Snyder in Haymarket VA.  It was awesome!  We had a wonderful time. We had a lot of great activities to do: archery, bb guns, a lake with boats, a COPE course, a beautiful hike, devotionals, crafts, skits, songs, food, bugs, rain, hot hot weather, a YCL late night froyo run, a service project, swimming and more.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


It's hot! It's buggy! It's sweaty! It's fun! That is all.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


last night we went out to eat at  new place.  When I was the long term sub in kindergarten the teacher I worked with, her husband is a waterman.  We had time to talk each day and we talked about his job from time to time.  I asked her where he sold his crabs and she said lots of places but often Jerry's.  It's a bit of a dump outside but great inside and the food was terrific.  When we told them it was our first time they brought out a sample of stewed tomatoes and kale.  I hate stewed tomatoes, in fact when I make a recipe that calls for them I always substitute diced, anyway I LOVED them.  The calamari~ excellent, the stuffed mushrooms~ mmm-mmm!!, the halibut~ delish! Everything was so so good.  We went with Pete and Katherine and had a lot of fun.

In bad news I hurt my back moving some furniture on Friday.  I am so upset because camp is tomorrow and that is a lot of work and my back still hurts. Annoying!

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Little Lu is on her first ever trip with Abba and Nana, alone, without the rest of us. She was very excited to go and was really looking forward to a couple special days. They've been having a good time together. Here is Grace with the Dragons mascot. Cute girl!!

Which do I want more?

a body like Dr. Cam or chocolate chip cookies..... (Big, sad, sigh)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Real time

Rob is back from his 6 day trip to Ohio. Lu is still there with Nana and Abba. Today is the last day of camp so we grabbed the kayak and pedaled/sailed out to watch the regatta. So fun! Now R is fishing and I am enjoying the birds and water. It's nice to have him home...he's good for pedal power!

Monday, June 17, 2013

summer camp

As a kid I would have loved to go to summer camp, it's the thing of every tween targeted summer blockbuster and it looks like so much fun! Full of adventure, romance (as much as children can feel romance), and fun filled out door fun!

Anyway, the children are each going to a camp of their (mostly their) choosing. This week Hannah and Ethan are going to their camps.  Han to sailing camp and E to baseball camp. Both had a fun first day.  Ethan learned that he is not very good at batting, and not so good at pitching but he's pretty good at catching.  Hannah had her capsizing test and her tiller test.  She didn't learn much but she did tell me that the other night she was reading Dani one of her sister's journals and she learned that much like CinderHannah, poor young Dani was over worked as a youngster and couldn't wait until she grew up and had children so they could do all her chores!

In other campy and exciting news Jenna called from her job being a BSA life gaurd, small water craft instructor and swim instructor. She is having a lot of fun. Seeing lots of wild life and getting scars. She said its exhausting, terrifying (teaching scouts to pilot a boat) and so so fun!


Sunday, June 16, 2013


This morning Hannah, Ethan and I went to stake conference.  It was good.  We were a little wiggly and a little tired. The best part was after when we went to the relief society room to watch Randy and Meredith be confirmed.  The place was standing room only and the experience so sweet, so sacred. I am really touched by their humility and willingness to follow what God wants for their lives.  Randy, formerly a Lutheran pastor and Meredith an Episcopalian priest, clearly spent their entire lives serving God, and getting to know Him, being His hands and His voice.  When they heard the whispering of the Spirit they followed and made tremendous changes in their lives. They left their former faiths, their vocations to serve him as ministers,and all they thought was true to add to that foundation the fullness of the gospel.
When you serve there is great joy in that service.  Great happiness comes from doing what the Lord wants and in helping others.  Certainly it is not, at least not in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, sought after, and is most often felt ill deserved as we have opportunity to serve in leadership callings.  None the less with that service comes a measure of gratitude and respect from those you serve.  Your voice and opinion carry with it some weight.  It is a huge responsibility and at the same time it feels good.  It makes you feel useful and trusted.  What impresses me most about Randy and Meredith is that they joyfully and humbly left all that to be the newest, freshly baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Of course it doesn't matter if you are serving as the stake YW president, as a mother and help-meet in your home, as the ward librarian, or the person in charge of printing the program on Sunday (a calling I hope to have some day) all that matters is that we willingly give all that we have, our time and talents and whole heart in faithful discipleship.
I know I was blessed and strengthened today as I was privileged to witness their confirmation.  Judging from the moist eyes and happy hugs around me I suspect we all were.  I am grateful for God's great love for us.  Today I am also grateful for the wonderful example shown me of hearing and doing His will.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Stake Conference

Sweet little Lu was a trooper yesterday.  She was a good traveler and this morning when I talked with her she was in good spirits and looking forward to her week with Nana and Abba.  

While I was at stake conference this evening I got this picture texted to me.  She looks so peaceful, it's strange having her gone for a whole week. I miss her already, dear girl.

Conference was amazing.  The Saturday evening adult session is always hands down my favorite meeting.  So uplifting and wonderful and tonight was no exception.  There was just such a strong spirit and such a peaceful feeling.  Really it was wonderful.

The Bowie ward performed two musical numbers, one was "oh my Father" which has always been one of my favorites.  Music is a powerful tool to invite the Spirit of the Lord.  It was very touching.  One thing I have always wished is that I could sing well.  I would love to sing the hymns of Zion and raise my voice in beautiful song so others could hear my testimony and feel the love of God.  That's what beautiful music does for me.  Sadly I am not a good singer, at all.  One thing I always enjoy about the Saturday night session is the congregational hymns.  Everyone is loud and it's powerful and I can sing and not hear my own voice, it just mixes in with the others.  

So I took a few notes to remind myself about the wonderful lessons taught tonight.

President Sakai spoke about being hopeful and finding hope.  He is such a great and loving man.  I love his talks and his good council.

We had two sisters speak about raising good families.  Both were excellent.  What a wonderful responsibility we have been given to rear God's children, to teach them about Him and how to return to Him someday.  

Randy and Meredith were called up, shot gun Sunday style, to bear their testimonies.  They were baptized yesterday and their testimonies were so moving, so powerful.  Theirs has been a neat story to watch unfold.  One thing Randy said, in his very former Lutheran Pastor style, was that grace is the unmerited love of God.  I have always thought of grace as divine means of help and strength, which it is, but it really struck me as he was talking about this that His love, unconditionally given, undeservedly received is really a  key part of grace.  God helps us because He loves us.  Amazing.  Aah-Maze-Ing!   And what does He ask of us? To love one another.  So tender and sweet.  Loved it.

President Williams spoke about the need to protect our homes.  To be vigilant in keeping them safe from the influence of Satan.  

Protect our homes, don't let Satan find a way in.
Make homes a safe place, conversations need to happen in a safe place. Children need to feel safe in bringing questions and situations to parents. Be open and clear. Always be awake when kids come home.
Homes need to be a place where we teach and learn.
-pres. Williams

Patriarch Talbot, who was just set apart as a sealer, spoke about the sealing power and using the priesthood.  He is a humble, sweet man and so wise and good.  He spoke about spending time in Israel working with the dept of agriculture and an experience he had visiting a garden of Gethsemane.  He spoke of the Saviors great great love for us.  The spirit spoke to my heart and I felt so grateful and joyful.  He said among other things that the Lord calls ordinary men to do his work, if we are humble and call upon Him then  He will raise us up to the level that makes us able to.

Our concluding speaker was Elder Jack Gerard of the 6th quorum of the Seventy. He was great, they were  all great.

He spoke about:

The Lord loves his children and desires that they all return home.  Our sacred responsibility is to teach our children how to come back to him, and to share the good news of the gospel with others and help them come back.  Teaching, helping, being a good example.  That's kind of what it boils down to.

He talked about how as parents we often feel like we are not getting through to our children but that there are Defining moments, the few minutes they are paying attention. You can't schedule them or force them but as we are there day by day they add up. They make up the fabric of our testimonies, our characters, our beliefs.

He told a couple of stories.  The first one was the Grilled cheese sandwich story.  He and his wife are the parents of 8 children.  The youngest two are twins, boys adopted from Guatemala   On Saturdays when he is not travelling on a church assignment he takes the two boys to breakfast at their favorite little deli.  The boys always order a grilled cheese sandwich, chips and an orange soda.  Clearly the breakfast of champions.  One morning after breakfast was done little Sam made a break for the parking lot and out he dashed.  Elder Gerard called after him to stop, when he caught him he said you can't run in the street, you'll be hit by a car and die.  Sam looked at him and said I'll be resurrected then.    Sam, too young to spell resurrected and not really old enough to understand what it means was taught at his mothers knee and he knew that she knew it was true.  That was good enough for him.  Powerful stuff.

He talked about all the hard stuff in life and that those experiences and trials  make us better.  

All these things shall be for thy experience and shall do they good.
Alma 7 11-12.
Jesus suffered for all our sins, but also for all our weaknesses, hurt feelings, hard times, insecurity   He suffered it all so he would know how to succor his people according to their infirmaries.

Lastly he said he attended the National Prayer Breakfast. One of the talks was given by General Mullen who told the story of being a young commander.  He and his unit were under attack and had taken shelter in some rocky terrain.  As the night wore on and he was trying to keep his troops safe he often ducked behind a big rock, then would come out and give his orders.  This happened repeated throughout the night.  Eventually they were pick up and one of his men asked him what he was doing behind the rock. He answered he was asking himself three important questions.

What am I doing right? What am I doing poorly? and how do I make up the difference?
It would be good for us to adopt a similar train of thinking and then find a 
Joyful happy hopeful way make up the difference

Helaman  5 12.

When the conference was over it was so fun to see friends from the stake. We couldn't help but greet each other with hugs and smiles.  The spirit was just so strong and so great was our joy at being together and being uplifted and edified.  What a great night.

Party on the water!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Airport entertainment

Poor Lucy and her daddy. Honestly the pits to be stuck. They've been spending their time snacking and browsing the gift shops $$

the flight that was not

 This morning we woke up bright and early, as if it was a school day, and drove Dad and Grace to the airport.  Due to our recent bad weather the flight was delayed, then cancelled.  This was a huge bummer for them as they have spent the last 7 hours in the airport, and they are still waiting.  We hung around in Baltimore until we were sure they would get a flight.  We went to the scout shop and got Ethan geared up for his cross over from cubs to scouts, then we went to the inner harbor where we ate cookies, rented a dragon boat and pedaled around, browsed the mccomick store/museum and took the spice sniff test. That was pretty cool, a machine shot a scent in the air and we had to identify the spice.  We went to Barnes and Noble and walked around. We had a fun time!  I felt bad for Lu and Dad the whole time....hope they get a flight soon.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

5th grade promotion

Last day of school. Yay! Of course we are in the basement now with a houseful of kids waiting out a tornado watch.

But this morning we went to Ethan's school and watched him promote. He was awarded the presidential award for academic excellence.
update: tornado watch is over, we survived :)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

on to high school

Hannah with her loving parents
 Our little Maggie Moo "graduated" from middle school today.  The ceremony was actually pretty nice and after we went to Asahi with Colleen and Chelsea.  Hannah's going to do  great things, she's a bright, kind, funny, awesome girl and I am so proud to be her mom!
Hannah & Chelsea and Asa

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Kayak fun

the children don't know it's not really vacation yet...

Arden, Julia, Grace and Zoe
 Last night we had a big storm.  We had a tornado warning/watch which doesn't happen often here.  After the storm blew over E and I went in the back yard to let the dogs do their business.  There were tons of fireflies, lightening in the distance and a symphony of frogs croaking in the woods.   It was lovely actually.  Ethan ran around catching the lightening bugs, his feet sloshing in the wet grass.  Ziva chased him around and the air was cool and fresh on our skin.  It was 10pm but who cares when we were making memories?
 After school today, a half day, all the kids had friends over.  Alyssa, Arden and John came to the pool with us.  The pool was packed with lots of neighbors and friends.  Everyone's swimsuits were bright and new and sparkly.  By the end of the summer they will be tired and faded but right now I have to wear sunglasses to protect my eyes from the blur of neon jumping in and out of the pool.
 After swimming Grace, John and Ethan went out back to the pond to look for frogs and snakes.
the girls read "17".

Then to prove that they have no clue that tomorrow morning we are still getting up at 5:45 to go to school R,H,E and Alyssa took the kayak out starting their journey at 7pm.  It will be a late night.  Summer should be here.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

weekend wrap up

Friday night R and I went to the temple.  It was rainy on the way but it was very nice.  Saturday we did chores.  R and Lu took the kayak to the lake and went fishing, Hannah went to Hannah's and made creme to stuff eclairs with, we went to Ashley Bonnetts wedding then to Ghengis Grill and BAM.

Today Matthew and Hannah came over to make the pastry part for their French project.  They made a mess and some yummy treats!

Daniel came over to play with Ethan.

Tonight the missionaries are coming over for dinner, we are having a blueberry themed dinner: chicken, blueberry salad, blue berry jell-0, watermelon and blueberry pie with ice cream

sum sum summer time!

CUE:  high school musical 2 "summertime".  Love us some summer time fun!!!
 Jenna is in TX. She's going to be lifeguarding in South Padre Island at the scout camp.  She is excited.  On the way down she spent a couple of days at the Blacks.  I haven't seen her with these girls in a long time! Molly, Siara, Jenna, Sofia, and Amy.  Cute girls!
 Here's Dani sporting her new hair color! So cute.  Can't wait til they come to visit and we get to have some summer time fun together.  Tate is getting so big!
 bonus picture: I loved this one, so cute!!

Aunt Sierra, Pen and Tate in the pool.  Si is coming home this summer too! It's going to be awesome!  I am so happy my big girls are doing well and that they live near each other and are good friends.