Friday, July 31

I Hate this Phase

As a parent I always seem to be discussing my children's unpleasant behavior in terms of phases.... the not sleeping phase, the teething phase, the throwing phase, the picky eating phase, the stubborn phase or the "don't worry it is just a phase" phase. I think I like the term phase because it gives me hope. A phase morphs into something better...something that is not a phase.

When your child is trapped in a phase you desperately want them to "grow out of the phase" or reach the "next phase". Yet as fate would have it when they finally do grow out of a phase they only grow into a different phase.

A phase is never pleasant. What mother wants an adorable phase or an obedient phase. You never want them to grow out of good behavior. When you start calling good behavior a phase you know things are desperate. The undesirable behavior has taken over and the good behavior has become temporary. Hence "phase" shall remain in my vocabulary to remind myself that the not so nice behavior will end and my children will return to their adorable and obedient selves.

Oh and speaking of phases....

(Lets hope she grows out of it soon:)


My good friend Mary is moving to UT (we will miss you guys) so I watched three of her children the other day so she could get some packing done. I was fortunate to have Sarah and Bentley,two of my Young Women, stop by and I put them to work. The kids had tons of fun "camping" and I had a great time watching someone else chase six kids.

Thursday, July 30

Young Women's Virtue Hike

This year the General Young Women's Presidency added VIRTUE as value to the Young Women's program. The Presidency climbed Ensign Peak in UT and unfurled a gold banner calling for “a return to virtue.” They called for young women across the world to "arise and shine forth as a standard to the nations"

In the last Young Women's General Conference Sister Dalton recounted "Recently I heard of a group of young women in Peru who climbed a mountain and unfurled their banner to the world. Another group of Young Women and their leaders in Virginia wrote their testimonies and, like those in Peru, unfurled their banners to the world. I have received pictures of so many of you from California to Costa Rica who have made a commitment to remain virtuous and who are leading the world in a return to virtue."

She also shared how when she was a Young Women her leaders had her choose a symbol that would represent the life that she would live and what she would strive to become as a daughter of God. "I chose the symbol of a white rose because roses become more and more beautiful as they grow and blossom, and I chose the color white for purity." explained Sister Dalton.

Inspired by this great message our Young Women each chose a personal symbol and we created our own "Virtue Banner". On Wednesday we hiked to the summit of Mount Wachusett and unfurled our banner declaring the Gardner Ward Young Women's "Return to Virtue"
Ready... Set... Hike!!!

View from the Summit

Laura (carnation) was a real trooper.
She twisted her ankle half way up the trail and kept going all the way to the top!!

Enjoying a rest and lunch

Laura (gold star)
After lunch we gathered at the summit and unfurled our Virtue Banner. Each of our Young Women signed the banner with their name and their own personal symbol of purity. Amelia chose a water drop because "it is clean and pure". "The gold heart is for virtue and the pearl is for purity" explained Megan about her symbol of a bracelet. A white wedding dress was Bentley's choice, "You wear a white dress when you are blessed as a baby, white when you are baptized and a white dress when you go to the Temple." I chose a diamond ring for my symbol. Every time I look at my ring I remember the choice I made to remain virtuous before marriage and the covenant I made in the Temple to remain faithful to my husband.
Jana (wreath) Sarah(point shoe) and Megan(bracelet)

Jane(soccer ball), Laura(gold key), Dianara, Amy(white cat)

Bentley(white dress), Amelia(water drop)& her friends Bethany & Abby

I pray that each of my Young Women will remember this day and the commitment they made to be a Virtuous Daughter of God.
Carrying the Banner Home

Lake View

Well Deserved Popsicles

Monday, July 27

First Swim of the Summer

The girls where so excited to be invited to L..y and S....e's home for swimming on the lake. It is hard for me face the fact that cold rainy weather postponed our first swim of the summer until the 20th of July!!! We hope we will have more summer weather so we can swim again. As you can see we had tons of fun....

My cute girls!!!
J....h learning to swim on her own and loving it!!

Three Little Fish

Biddy's first dip in the water

No Tears

She even giggled a few times!!

We moved up to the baby float and got 1/2 a smile

S.....a gave up on swimming and didn't want to wear her suit so I changed her into panties and a cover up. Later she decided to swim some more but did no want to put her suit back on so.....

Best Blackmail Picture Ever!!!
Farewell Lake. We hope to meet again soon on another fair weather day....

Saturday, July 18

The Secret About Adventures

I grew up with a Mom who loved to go on adventures. We knew it was dventure time when we woke up to Mom packing a cooler while Dad sat at the table with the maps.
The mysterious smile on our Mothers face sent excitement rippling through the house as without a word we would run to our rooms to get dressed. We didn't need to ask where we were going. It was an Adventure and the destination was not important. Places like Delta, Heber, Eureaka. Logan and Wendover never sounded exciting by name and in reality where not that exciting to visit. What made these trips special was the enthusiasm my Mother shared with us, the family unity which these Adventures inspired and the memories they created.

As a Mother on my own mission to create memories with my young family I am recognizing that Adventure making is not an easy task. More often then naught adventures can turn out to be disappointments. To make sure this doesn't happen you have to know the secret.....
Adventures never turn out like they were planned. You can not have any expectations. Most important no matter what happens you have to find at least one positive aspect and capitalize on it.
Yesterday we headed out on an Adventure that tested all my adventure making skill....
It was free ferry day in Boston and having never been out on the harbor or to any of the Islands I was determined to take advantage of this opportunity. We get free parking in Boston after 4:00 with the Air Force. I planned to catch the 4:30 ferry and have a dinner picnic on the Harbor Islands. We packed our lunch loaded the car and that is as far as we got before things took a terrible turn.....
Mistake # 1 Told J.....h she was going to get to ride on a boat and go to an island.
Mistake # 2 Was unable to reserve tickets so opted for "stand by " option.
Mistake # 3 Used some cash to buy a soda at the gas station.
Mistake # 4 Forgot the GPS.
Mistake # 5 Inevitably got lost in Boston and arrived an hour late.
First Disappointment
We missed all the stand by tickets. J....h was heart broken that the boat left without her.
We found a nice spot by the Wharf to have our picnic. While eating J....h spotted a carousel and saw kids walking around with balloon animals. I thought we might be able to save the day in the end.
Second Disappointment
We were short the cost to buy tickets to ride the Carousel by a $1.50 (cost of the Soda)
Final Disappointment
We were short the amount needed to buy balloon animals by $1.50 (cost of the Soda)

At this point I knew all was lost.....How could you possibly recover from No Boat, No Islands, No Carousel Ride and No Balloons?! With heavy hearts and two teary eyed children we headed back to the van.
Then Burke spotted an abandoned balloon thing in a nearby trash can. To my shock he pulled it out of the trash and handed it to J....h with a big grin. She turned to me and asked "Mommy what is it? I took the balloon and resisting the urge to throw it back in the trash made a few twists her and there. Miraculously I was able to produce a "wand" for S.....a and a "Crown" for J....h.

On the way home we stopped at the Home Depot to return an item and threw the girls in the race car shopping carts. Ignoring all the glares, we raced those carts through the store giving our girls the "ride" of their lives. A bowl of strawberry ice cream at home topped off the evening and J....h actually went to bed with a grin on her face and a balloon crown perched on her bed post. It was an Adventure to the last and one we will always remember.

Wednesday, July 15

Girls Camp 2009

Zions Camp Here We Come!!!!
There were nine girls from the Gardner Ward going to camp this year. Laura D was a YCL so she went up a day early. Everyone else rode on the bus.

Maria, Rylee, Bentley, Sarah

Laura H, Megan, Amelia, Laura M

I was so fortunate to work with the 13 year old level two girls. Five of my own YW were in that group. We had a total of sixteen girls and four leaders. They were an amazing group of girls and I love every one of them as if they were my own Young Women.

The theme at Camp this year was "Be All You Can Be".

The theme was inspired by President Hinckley's nine "Be-Attitudes".

Be Grateful

Be True

Be Clean

Be Positive

Be Smart

Be Involved

Be Humble

Be Prayerful

Be Still

And as you will soon discover, the theme could not have been more perfect for camp!!

"Be Grateful"
There was so much to be grateful for at camp. I was truly grateful to my dear husband for watching the girls so I could go and serve as a leader. I learned so much and formed wonderful friendships with the girls and the other amazing leaders who attended camp. Thank you so much Gladys, Becky, Gene, Jana and others who inspired me to be the best leader I could be.

I was equally grateful that I am a very still sleeper!!
That top bunk was wobbly to say the least!

We were so Grateful for our
We had the largest cabin with a common area,
fridge and microwave.

All the girls had to sleep in tents last year so they really appreciated the cabin and didn't even grumble when we assigned them chores.
When it rained non stop for the first two days the girls were grateful for dry beds and clothes!!!
Laura & Laura

Sarah & Megan


P.S. Smores in the microwave are almost as delicious as ones around a campfire.
We were so grateful for our amazing cooks.
The food was delicious.

No one grumbled about standing in line and after gorging ourselves at each meal we were very grateful that our cabin was up-hill from the dinning hall:)

"Be True"
Being at girls camp reminds us to always be true to ourselves and to our testimonies of Jesus Christ. No matter what your personality, likes, dislikes, habits, etc you are welcomed and loved unconditionally at camp. All of the girls found a friend and no one was left out. All the YW are striving to live righteously no matter where they live, go to school or what their individual circumstance may be. It was an amazing experience to be at camp with such amazing Young Women.
Camp Songs
No matter how silly, how loud, or how long, we just keep singing along!!!

I think the scouts would die laughing if they ever saw what we did at Girls Camp!!!

Amazing Young Women!!!
Rylee, Sarah, Alana, Bentley

Amelia with her fellow 3rd year girls
Katelyn, Lianne, Ali, Laura, Alieha, Marianna

Laura, Bentley, Alana

Could it be Prince Charming?

"Be Clean"
The girls learned why it is important to be clean both physically and spiritually from our nightly visitors the flying squirrels. The first night at camp we emphasized how important it was to keep our cabin free from any open food. We place everything in tight containers and hoped that the critters would stay out. By morning the containers were chewed through. The next night we put everything in the fridge but we forgot to take out the trash and the squirrels invaded. One of the girls finally got brave enough get out of bed and get rid of the trash. The third night we were meticulous about making sure every food item was under lock and key. The squirrels came and we followed them with flashlights until we found the few remnants we forgot that were drawing them into the cabin. They finally gave up and by the last night the cabin was critter free. The lesson was clear; we need remove ALL unclean things for our lives. Even one little piece of garbage will attract the wrong crowd!!
"Be Positive"
The first few Days at Camp it rained all the time. Our girls did a fantastic job of keeping positive. They braved the rain and chilly temperatures to have fun.
Marianna and Barbara after "polar bear"
swimming at 6:30 AM

Swim Certification in the Rain.
I braved the water too and earned Advanced Swimmer Status

The girls also learned how important it was to be positive when they got woken up at 7AM every morning by an overly enthusiastic leader singing "Good Morning" at the top of her lungs. It is rather fun to rouse 16 teenage girls from their beds after they spent the entire night giggling together hee hee hee.

"Be Smart"
In the morning the girls spent their time doing Camp Certification. We learned how to build fires, signal for help in the outdoors, identify cloud formations, sharpen and safely handle a knife, cook on a fire, and our two favorites....
Learn about nutrition by cooking a healthy meal

What could be more healthy then home made pizza!!!

and Learn first aide and receive CPR training

"Be Humble"
To complete certification the girls had to go on a four mile hike. It was smooth sailing for the most part and some of the girls were starting to get a little cocky about how easy it was and what great "hikers" they were. At the 31/4 mile mark the trail took a cut off and the girls faced a steep vertical climb that had them changing their tune. A true life lesson was learned and the best part....The girls helped each other so that everyone made it to the top!!!

"Be Involved"
There were lots of fantastic activities for the girls at camp. I was so proud of all our girls for being super involved and taking advantage of all the opportunities.
Here we are having tons of fun!!!!

Watch out Annie Oakley her comes Sister Johnson!!!!

How blessed we were to have the Sun Shinning on the last two days so the girls could enjoy the Lake in warm weather!!!!

One of the free time activites was making t-shirt dresses. These dresses are shipped all over the world by the Church so that everyone has a beatiful dress to wear to church on Sunday. All of our girls loved being involved in this service project. They felt the joy that comes from doing service.

"Be Prayerful"
Every year the YW have a dutch oven cook off. Each level takes the ingredients from the kitchen and comes up with a yummy meal. None of the other leades in our level had cooked with dutch ovens. We said a prayer as a level before we evan began cooking because we knew we were in trouble from the start. I have watched my Dad dutch oven for years but I have never actually tried it myself and it is a lot harder then it looks. We had over twenty peole we had to feed for dinner and the food was not cooking. We did not heat enough coals and the coals we had were not hot enough. I was praying with all my might to figure out a way to feed everyone. As everyone began putting their heads togeather we came up with a plan. We scooped the soup into pots and heated them on the cook stove until the vegtables were done. Then we built a huge fire in the fire pit and cooked our cake in the fire. We dumped the soup back into the dutch oven to serve and no one would have ever known!! Amazingly our chocolte cake turned out good and with a scoop of icream and cherreis on top no one was complaining about dinner:)
Prayers are answered!

"Be Still"
Zions Camp was an absolutely beautiful setting. We tried to follow President Hinckley's counsel to "Be Still" by not allowing any cell phones, ipods, music players etc. at camp. There was no television, no movies, and no outside media of any kind. We gathered togeather to read the scriptures, pray, sing, and bask in the beauty of Heavenly Father's Creations.
We felt the still, small whisperings of the
Spirit each and every day.
On the last night of camp we gathered at the waters front to share our testimonies. We truly felt the Spirit of the Lord as our dear YW bore testimony of the importance of knowing you are a daughter of God, praying continualy, sharing their love with othes and following the prophet. They are such a shinning example to me of how to be a true Disciple of Christ. I love them so dearly and felt so blessed to be able to spend five very memorable days with them at beautiful
Zions Camp.