Friday, June 20, 2014

Girls Camp 2014

We went to Malibu, California, for camp this year. What a sacrifice. Ha. I went as a mom, not a leader, and everything was great--our girls are in good hands. Danette, our camp director, chose "Catch the Wave" as the theme, taken from Russell M. Nelson's April 2013 talk about missionary work. This worked out perfectly because it was a great message and we spent every day at the beach.

I absolutely loved these necklaces Danette had us make! The bottle cap says "Come Unto Christ". The white pearl represents the temple, the sea star the parable of the starfish ("it made a difference to that one") and the blue bead the ocean.
Mary caught the wave and brought her friend Nikki to camp. Those two hung out with their other BFFs, Madi and Taya (who is moving next month! Wah!). Since our ward split Sara and Bella are in the other congregation even though we live in the same neighborhood. That was a hard transition for this tight group of friends.

Our car: Nikki and Alexa in the second row, Taya and Madi in the back.
Our first stop was the Los Angeles temple visitors center.

Beautiful temple. A great place to begin our girls camp.

We were the last group to get there after a long detour. Two sweet sister missionaries spoke to us about the importance of families.

Nikki, Mary, Madi, Taya, and I.
After that we all ate lunch outside on the visitor center grounds. Danette said that we stopped here first to "start with the end in mind." She challenged the girls to remain worthy to enter the temple their whole lives. She gave us our necklaces with the first charm, the white pearl.

We then drove down the Pacific Coast Highway for an enjoyable, scenic drive to Leo Carrillo State Park.

After we set up tents the girls walked down to the beach. There was a tunnel from our campground right to the beach!

Everyone loved playing on the beach. And yes, Mary brought her red cape.

We ate like royalty, thank to Bro. Peterson and Bro. McDonald. For example, one night we had hamburgers but they were wonderfully homemade and came with a choice of provolone or pepper jack cheese AND and unlimited supply of super-crispy bacon. Every meal was that gourmet. I had to skip breakfast the last two days because I didn't want to undo a year's worth of good work in less than a week.

Mary's "creepy face"

Girls around the fire--it was incredibly cold at night.
We explored a different part of the beach the next morning.

I took this picture for Mary of the "hot lifeguard" who came to talk to everyone about safety. The waves were powerful and the girls overconfident. Two of them got knocked down and were unable to regain footing. The first girl got herself to shallow water but said it took her so long because she'd lost her tankini bottoms and was not about to crawl to shore without them. She was intercepted by the YW leaders. But the second girl looked fine to us--good thing we had our own personal Baywatch hero on duty. He ran into the waves and pulled her up and out. We hadn't even noticed her distress. The first girl was incensed because if anyone wanted the attention of the lifeguard, it was her!

Um, lifeguard? I think I need mouth-to-mouth.

We started the next day with a hike to the highest peak of the campsite, a mile up. This was Mary's lowest moment and she complained loudly the whole time. I was surprised because last year she did a difficult 7-mile hike, but this one-miler did her in. It was early (for her) and quite hot out, and the incline incredibly steep. She wasn't the only one who had a hard time. I, however, found it quite easy--which I attribute to my regular treadmill interval training and overall increased activity. I was proud of myself.

I didn't take pictures of everything but other highlights for me included getting to know the adult leaders better, watching the girls do their skits (Mary's group did a parody of the Phantom of the Opera), and sleeping in my car. I couldn't stand the snoring and I slept quite awesomely in the passenger seat, for real. I think I may start that way next year.

The girls loved going to the beach store and the owner apparently said he hopes our group comes back again because the girls were great customers. I think that is code for the fact that the girls must have bought tons and tons of junk food. They also were obsessed with all the "hot guys" around, from the beach lifeguard to all the other beach lifeguards to the guy who checked us in (Kevin) and the many, many men between 12 and 32 they saw along the way. They did not seem to be picky and they were obnoxiously vocal about it.

The final night we went back to the beach and released LED balloons that were to symbolize a commitment we made to come closer to Christ.

All of the girls.

The girls plus their leaders.

Then we went back to camp for a very lovely testimony meeting. That is always the best part of camp. The bishop and his wife came up which was a great addition to the night. I like that Danette had everyone take a turn saying something--they could could bear their testimony of the gospel, or just say something that they liked about the week. I thought that was a great way to handle it. Mary said that her favorite thing was making creepy faces at people. I wished that she had said something substantive but I was just glad that she spoke in front of the group at all.

I was very glad that Nikki was there--she is a very sweet girl. She is almost exactly like Mary, which surprised me. I've known her since she was in 3rd grade but I didn't know the extent to which she also loves creepy faces, anime, candy, and avoiding people. However, she was perfectly behaved for me and did indeed participate fully, usually pulling Mary along. Her comments in testimony meeting were that she had never been camping before and she was glad for the new experience. She said that she felt very welcomed and taken care of and enjoyed meeting new people. I thought that was awesome.

As with all good things, camp came to an end. It was a great week and I'm glad I got to go and spend time with some great young women, wonderful leaders, and my favorite Mary girl.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Saving Money

When you can only save a tiny bit each month it is crazy-making to decide where to put it. Vacation? Home improvement? Christmas? New car? Education? Long-term savings? We are finally crawling out of a dark hole, financially.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

First Day of Summer

Mary is homeschooling through the summer. She is totally fine with that. She's not really done with her curriculum for the year (especially since we didn't start on Day 1 of public school). I'm kind of glad that one day melts into the next for her because I don't think I'd be able to handle the enormity of an 8th grade graduation. I don't need that kind of drama in my life. (Yes, this is all about me.) I'm pretty sure Mary feels the same way. She is almost done with Latin I but will do Algebra all through the next school year. The rest of the subjects will be done by summer's end. I wish that Mary wanted to do choir at the high school next year but she wants nothing to do with performing--unless it's for the family in the form of her belting out songs from Frozen.

Tyce is going to get a job and go to community college. We are going to have to whip him on both of those things, apparently. He is super excited to take a sign language class since some of his friends have been teaching him and he is gaining fluency.

The twins are playing summer basketball for the first time. Harrison has some skills and Cameron has a ton of determination. Cam is so spazzy though that after every single move he made in a drill, he did a cartwheel. Two mothers came up to Bryce and me after practice and said how much they loved that about our boy. That made me feel good about our team, that it's not so cutthroat that the parents are annoyed at Cameron's unfocused energy. I am excited for the games to start.

I have my yoga class on Tuesdays and will probably play racquetball with the twins once a week. I've been playing with Bryce about that often and we are fairly evenly matched. Over spring break I took the twins and I realized just how far I'd come; it was hard to endure their inexperience. Haha. I'd like to make sure we swim a lot, too. I even got a new suit.

Ooo la la!

I love planning activities for the summer. I don't know why, since I haven't drummed up a lot of enthusiasm for my awesome schedule. Maybe I missed my calling as a party planner. Well, perhaps the fact that I have Summer Bridge schoolwork on the agenda is one reason people aren't begging me to know what comes next. But trust me, aside from that and chores I have some pretty good things coming up (crafts, painting, sports, library, friends, etc.).

Today the carrot was getting basketball shoes. I looked online and was sure Sears had just what I wanted in stock. You've never seen the boys clean so well. However when we got there the shoes were set to arrive in two weeks. Oh man, you have also never seen such manic desperation--exactly what I was trying to avoid. So we went to several other stores but came up empty-handed and near tears (not me, them . . . this time). Ugh. Maybe I'm not as good at this "fun summer" thing as I'd thought.

(Ordered way-too-expensive shoes online as a consolation prize.)