Thursday, July 28, 2011

BYU-I Report

I've been swearing to Brandon for the last several weeks that I wouldn't do this again next year because it stresses me out so much in the days (weeks) leading up to it, but now that I'm here again and enjoying the process of teaching my classes and interacting with the good women who bother to show up and listen to me ramble, I'm already thinking about how maybe next year our family could combine my three day teaching spree with a trip to Yellowstone.

I can see the Tetons out my window from Saren's in-law's farmhouse in Ashton, Idaho--about a half hour from the university. That's where I'm staying in the evenings with Saren, her family, and her Swiss sister-in-law who came along for the ride and the conference. (I've had so much fun getting to know her! I wish I could hear the life stories of just about everyone I meet. There are so many fascinating "ordinary" people in this world. No one is really ordinary though, right?) It's such a peaceful place to be in the mornings and evenings--here at the farm--before running around campus all day long. It reminds me of my childhood and the farm in Iowa. The sounds, the smells, the pace of life in the country. I can hear the cows lowing outside my window just now, and the wind blowing through the trees. I wished I had a camera tonight as I watched the fiery sun melt into a completely flat landscape. And I wish I had just one more day to "stop by" Yellowstone myself. Old Faithful is only about an hour and a half from here.

But back to the conference.  I have 3 classes for the youth, and 6 for the women as part of the "Mom Track"-- classes especially for mothers, with the additional perk of allowing mothers with nursing infants to attend. (None of this mothers and babies banned to the hallway business!) And every class has mothers with babies in attendance-- it just warms my overly sensitive heart. Mothers with babies in arms need support and a place to stimulate their mind and soul more than anybody!

The classes went well today, though the moms took more work loosening up than the youth. I had a blast with the youth! So interactive, which is what I like. I can't handle lecture style. It makes me nervous and uncomfortable, and I'm just sure everyone is trying to stay awake if I'm the only one doing all the talking. I really like to get people thinking and talking. It's just so stinking fun! To have an idea I'm excited about, a venue to communicate my thoughts and ideas, and people equally excited to show up, listen, and give me positive feedback? It's a weird little high for me.

I need to go to bed. 3 more classes tomorrow. Wish you were here! Maybe next year. (We'll be going to Yellowstone after . . .)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lemonade Stands

Speaking of lemonade stands, here's the one Elizabeth begged to do for weeks:

We are constantly joking with the kids about how they will end up dancing on a street corner holding a sign for a business if they don't do well in school. I guess Will figured he wasn't old enough to be beneath that kind of job yet, because we found him on the corner by our house "dancing" on his ripstick with a sign for the lemonade stand. We put a kabosh to that shortly after taking this picture, motivated by the image of him accidentally bashing into the side of a turning car:

The girls delivering an order to a customer. (Mom and Dad nearby making sure they don't get kidnapped--we really know how to take the fun out of everything.)
They got really got organized a couple of days later and set up some shade, packed ice, and the muffins they were advertising. (Kate and I made the muffins--this is a really good recipe that calls for plain yogurt which I was out of, so I substituted ricotta cheese of all things, and they were delish!)
I like to indulge my kids in any and all activities that I deem "quintessential childhood moments" because I already know all too well how soon kids grow out of such activities. Note the absence of Kate. Here she is just a few years ago in California. Same table and tablecoth:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Little Entrepeneur

Do your kids like to try to make money in the summer? Mine have done multiple lemonade/baked goods/used toy and book stands over the years, along with a few adventurous souls wanting to peddle their homemade wares, but I was impressed a couple of days ago when Rachael's FOUR-YEAR-OLD neighborhood friend offered me this Wild Wild West floral arrangement for a buck fifty. What would you do? 

It looks better than the fake thing from Target that is usually on my counter . . . .

Kate started filing at Brandon's office this summer to earn money, and I've FINALLY instituted a  work/allowance program in our home to teach my kids work/responsibility/money management that I think all of us can actually stick with. (That's been the biggest problem in the past--mom being able to stick to the program.) I'll blog about that "later" too . . .

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Nights

" . . . tell me more, tell me more" (Name that movie.)

I give up. During the summer months, our kids will not go to sleep earlier than 10:30pm. Resistance is futile. The nights here are so gorgeous. Between 8-9:00pm the whole neighborhood suddenly comes to life with children. It's the craziest thing! The altitude makes the sun especially hot during the day, and the desert climate makes the temperatures drop about 20-30 degrees at night. As a result, night time is play time. 

Here's where we went last night at 8:30. A perfect summer evening:
Dusk is about 9:30 right now . . .

There's that old Beehive theme again:

Kate spun Will so hard on this that he said it felt like his cheeks were going to come off of his face. (He does have some pretty sweet cheeks.) Brandon is in the background talking to a tourist from France who is traveling all over the western U.S. in a motorhome with his wife and young son. How fun is that:
Will getting Kate back:

Hard to believe this was our first family trip to Snoasis this summer season. We've committed to come back as often as possible before summer's end. It really is nothing like your run-of-the-mill snow cone. They pour CREAM over the top for crying out loud:
Flavor of the week for all the Harry Potter fans:
Perfect ending to a perfect summer night:
(Except for poor Will in the background who was so sick to his stomach from all the spinning that he didn't get ANYTHING!)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mom My Ride

This is what happened to my car in a moment of deep frustration for Brandon: 
There was an extremely shrill, whiney sound coming from the passenger side of the windshield during the drive back from Iowa if we breached 70 mph. He couldn't take it anymore, pulled off at the first sign of a store, and reappeared with duct tape in hand. It worked, but now what am I supposed to do with the residue, pray tell?

I think he just wanted to let all the other men out there know I'm taken.  (Explanation here.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Beehive Boot Camp

Wow. Camp was a booty kicker. I can't remember the last time I worked that hard physically. Even my summer as a cook in that fish cannery in Kodiak, Alaska was nothing like this. I think it had something to do with the fact that we were cooking for about 5 times as many people as there were in Alaska. (And maybe the fact that I'm 19 years older . . .)

First off, our luxurious accommodations. That's no exaggeration since everyone else was in tents on the cold, hard ground. There were some perks to being on the cooking crew, like sleeping on an air mattress in the lodge off the kitchen. (And easy access to the fridge . . .)
Setting up shop. The kitchen was kind of a disaster the first day. Okay, most of the time, like most kitchens being used around the clock. It was nice when the massive amounts of food started disappearing meal by meal:
Dear Michelle and I spent a good chunk of the first day cooking pasta for Italian night the next night. We were constantly working ahead: 

Italian night in the making:
When I wasn't boiling pasta that first day, I was cracking 35 dozen eggs for the breakfast burritos the next morning. It took me about two hours. This is just one third of the eggs:

After surviving dinner the first night (pre-made BBQ pulled pork on pre-made rolls, broccoli and pasta salad, and watermelon spears on a popsicle sticks--so cute!) we were up at 5:30am to get ready for our big breakfast. The kind ladies organizing the whole camp (but not officially on the cooking crew) came to help. It was a good thing, because the eggs and hash browns took FOREVER. I brought my ipod and player, so we were dancing to The Lower Lights at this point in the morning, but most of the time it was Brandon's vasectomy playlist - the same one that got me through my drive to Iowa:
Once breakfast was over, I laid out 30 pans of Rhodes rolls to get ready for Italian night. This is one of three tables: 
Halfway through rising, we rolled all 300+ in melted butter, and a mix of parmesan, asiago and Salad Supreme. (Supposedly like Magleby's rolls, for those who know . . .) They were divine, but getting those pans in and out of the oven was a hot job:
We were drowning in rolls:

Diana - Wonder Woman (see the apron?) and mastermind behind the menu planning and recipes. On top of everything else, she also made and froze ahead the BEST chocolate chip cookies I may have ever eaten, and BYU mint brownies for us to munch on behind the scenes. We also had some left over lemon poppy seed and pumpkin breads she made for the welcome baskets the first morning. She's a serious whiz in the kitchen, and I'm sorry I don't have all the recipes to post, because they were scrumptious:
Setting up the food for serving took a ton of time too:
Sure, we could have just put out a big ugly bin of plasticware for every meal, but we're women, so we lined cute little tin cups with nice napkins and sorted it out so we were sure everyone had a knife, fork and spoon:
Can't have Italian night without meatballs:
The logistic nightmare that actually turned out well (though a pain in the neck) was transporting and warming all the food up at a pavilion about 100 yards from the kitchen. Luckily, those nice ladies organizing the whole camp did that while we cooked and cooked. Here we are getting a little glory, and rights to first in line on the last night:  
That's a lot of food! It goes all the way down:

We had to be first in line so we could race back down to the kitchen and get our ice cream bar ready for dessert. Diana rented a soft serve ice cream machine and it was awesome--when it was working:

I was sorry we cut up York Peppermint Patties for the ice cream bar, because I think all 300 people asked me what they were when they came through the line. Try saying "York Peppermint Patties" 300 times in a row:
Just when we thought our backs would break and our feet would swell out of our shoes, it was time to do the dishes! Yippee . . . 
The best part of this job was working with and getting to know all these super fun, hard working ladies that care about the development of our young women. And the nice thing about kitchen work is that it requires very little brain, so we spent hours and hours talking and laughing about all kinds of stuff while our hands were busy. And when our hands weren't busy at the end of the day:
One last kitchen staff pic. You know I had to wear my APS (Alaska Pacific Seafood) sweatshirt at some point:
We did see daylight. A little bit. Like when we were going back and forth to the pavilion carrying stuff, and when it was time to go home. The mountains here are the perfect place for camping:
But we can't forget about the girls! Brandon took most of these pictures since he was up there for about 24 hours of the camp too. He was helping with the zip-line before I could get him a camera, so most of these pictures are just of the girls doing crafts and first-aid certification, but they also did archery and other "campy" stuff along with daily spiritual study time. They're a really sweet group of girls, all "Beehives," the name for the 12 and 13-year-old girls in our church's youth organization, coming from the pioneer days when Utah was first called "Deseret" or the Beehive state. You know, industry and all of that:

Our ward's (congregation) leaders:

Why is Kate the only girl not wearing the camp tee-shirt? Who knows! But it's better than a lip ring if she's trying to be different:


As a counselor in the bishopric (kind of like one of two vice presidents in our congregation), Brandon was in charge of the campfire program and activities one night, and this is one of the games he came up with--something to do with whipped cream and Cheetos. I came right at the end of the game, so I'm still not sure what they were trying to do, but the girls looked like they had a good time: 
It's just so girls camp, right?
The bishop and his other counselor:
Mr. Eagle Scout getting the fire going:

Turns out the bishop and his wife went to high school with our sister-in-law who is from Utah. Mormondom can be such a small world:
Kate has been weaving little bracelets for everyone in our family ever since camp ended 3 days ago:
Hard to believe, but the girls had root beer floats AND smores after our ice cream bar! It was a lovely campfire program and I was so glad I could be there with Kate and Brandon. I've been to many girls camps over the years in various capacities, but this was the first time I went as a cook, and also the first time I got to be there with my own daughter which was extra rewarding:
Harry Potter review to come later. Along with everything else. I'm going to be teaching nine different classes up at BYU-Idaho's Education Week next week and even though it's officially crunch time, I'm not really ready. Blogging (and exercise, and fastidious cleaning, and home cooked meals) is going to have to go by the wayside for a bit. But since I can't put mothering and summer fun aside very easily, we still made a big batch of salt water taffy as a family last night.  More on that later too . . .
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