Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mommy Daughter Date Night.


The post was originally written and posted on August 23, 2008.

It's hard to fit five people in a "self" shot!



It kept coming at me over and over and over, "I'm bored... I'm bored." 

And it wasn't even the kids saying it! 

I was utterly and uselessly bored out of my mind. Our house was spotless, the errands were done, I'd already read most of the day away, and I could think of nothing to do.

"Alright girls get some nice clothes on we're going on a date to a restaurant!" 

This is the fun part of having all girls. Matching cute clothes, doing hair, and since it was a very special occasion, we all put on perfume and lip gloss. To Applebee's we went in all our girl glory.



 And then, being as it was just we girls we went shoe shopping, and of course, topped the night off with Baskin Robbins. 

What would I do with out those girls to keep me sane? 

Though in the same breath, by the time we got home and I was ushering them into pajamas, they were completely driving me insane! 

Casidee put it best, though, when she declared, "this was the best night ever!"

I couldn't agree more.  Where would I be without those girls in my life right now?

Personal Survival Kit. And Man Crates.

Have you guys heard about Man Crates yet?  Man Crates is trying to become the ultimate resource of gifts for men.  I think their idea is brilliant.  It's like a gift basket full of awesomeness.  But delivered in a wooden crate.

With a crowbar to open it.

For example, the zombie survival kit for the Walking Dead enthusiast in your life?


I think the best bet for The Man would be the Slaughterhouse Crate.

Because, meat.

What else?


They have a ton of options and the fact that they have to be opened  with a crowbar has my brain thinking this is something I need to be ordering for The Man's birthday.

(Since I forsee Man Crates becoming huge, I'd like to steal a second of their time and suggest a crate for that motorcross, four-wheeling, razor riding enthusiast.  The type of which I have living at my house.)

Man Crates wanted to know what I would keep in my own personal survival kit.

I thought of 5 daily things I need to survive the schedule of working mom who's also going to school.

1. McD's Coke.  Say what you will about soda pop.  Say what you will about drinking said soda pop in a styrofoam cup.  This stuff is my happy place.  


An even happier place?  Make it a Dirty Coke from Sonic.



2. 3x5 index cards.  I know, that's a bit strange, but honestly, I use them for everything.

Weekly menu planning
Shopping lists
Flashcards for studying
Notes to kids' teachers
To Do lists
Lessons and talks in church
Devotional and Firesides even.  All written out in idea segments on 3x5 index cards.

Guys, I keep a small stack of them in my purse, just in case.

Take a solid look at this picture of the shopping list we have hanging on our magnet board for the kids to add items to as we run out.

Let me know when you see it.


I live in a house of comedians (And no, I'm talking about the fact that we apparently really need more ranch dressing).

3. Sunglasses.

The sunlight... it burns... it burns...

4. Younique 3-D Eyelashes.  It's like eyelash extensions in a mascara bottle.  And it washes off like regular mascara.  I don't leave the house without it.

Unless I've just had Lasik and am not allowed to wear it for a week, and let me tell you, that was a harsh week to make it through.

If you haven't yet, find yourself a consultant (google it, there are a million of them) and get yourself some of this stuff.

Better yet, if you want to order some, let me know and I'll get you hooked up with my consultant.  Seriously though.


5. A John Grisham book.

The man is a literary genius.  I don't care what you say.  Want to borrow one?  I own them all.  Luckily Grisham feels the need to publish a new book every single fall.

This makes Christmas shopping for me an easy task for The Man.

Speaking of easy Christmas shopping, I need to go place an order at Man Crates.

*Man Crates did contact me to write a personal survival kit post, but I did not receive anything for doing so.  My opinions and words are all my own.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

First Day Of School. 2014.

It begins.


I officially I have a high schooler.

I officially only have one child left in elementary school.

I officially have four kids in middle school.

I didn't take individual pics this year, mostly because it was raining, and I had just blown my hair dry, and had already stood in the rain on the front sidewalk, waiting for my kids to quit fooling around and stand still.

One picture and this mom was done.

I didn't want frizzy hair from the rainfall.

Priorities.

This year Casidee is a freshman at the high school.
Jayme is ruling middle school in 8th grade.
Brynn is in 7th grade.
Sean and Tayler are in their first year of middle school.
Cali has hit what has always been "big kid status" in my mind, 4th grade.

4th grade has always been "big kid status" for me since I was in elementary school.  We had a big kid recess, and a little kid recess.  Kindergarten did their own thing.  1st thru 3rd went to the little kid recess.  4th thru 6th went to the big recess.

I remember thinking on my first day of 4th grade, "I'm a big kid now!"

Apparently that's stuck with me because I see it in all of my kids when they hit 4th grade.

I don't have any "little" kids at my house anymore.

Things to be excited about this year?
Casidee: well, high school in general.  I mean, come on.  But also her first year of seminary.
Jayme: higher level of art class.
Brynn: dance class.
Sean: doesn't get too excited about school in general, but I think he's happy to know he has friends in his classes. And he decided to be involved in the PTSA this year.
Tayler: involvement in the PTSA as well as another season of soccer.  And art class.
Cali: she's going to try her hand at learning to play the violin in the school orchestra.  And probably choir too.  This is also the year that's gong to determine grade and citizenship wise if she can tryout for student council in 5th grade, so she's excited to prove that she can be responsible.

We have good things ahead of us this year.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pre-First Day Of School.

They day dawned gray and heavy with the promise of rain, but that didn't damped the spirits around our house.

Today Tayler and Sean headed to their first day of middle school.

And everyone in the house got up early with them.  Which I don't understand, if it were me not going to school yet, I would relish my last day of sleeping in.

Our middle school starts the 6th graders a day before anyone else with a half day of school to give them a shot at running through their schedule and using their lockers before they're swarmed by 7th and 8th graders.




More on the upcoming school year tomorrow, when the rest of them start and it's the "real" first day of school.

And also, moms go to school to.


Sadly I'm not at the University of Utah anymore.  Their schedule has absolutely no flexibility in it.  One of my pre-req's was held at 11:00 in the morning.  And only at 11:00 in the morning.  Being a working mom, flexibility is huge for me, so I've transferred to the University of Phoenix to finish my bachelor's degree online.  Today is my first day, and I'm excited to keep pushing forward with this.

Since we seem to live our lives on a school year schedule, here's to a new year!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Over The Weekend.

The summer is coming to a close with school starting for a couple of my kids, and myself, tomorrow, and for the rest of the kids on Wednesday.

The plan over the weekend was to get everything ready for school, which is no small task when you have half a dozen kids, but we got it done.  Done enough, anyway.  There's still a few straggling things I'll have to pick up with the next paycheck, but for the most part we did it.


We got the haircuts done and got the kool-aid dye jobs done.

Tell you what, I can't wait for that fad to be over with.

The kids are excited, and that's a good thing.  We have our first high schooler this year, four middle schoolers, and only one in elementary.

This school year is going to be busy with three different schedules, and who knows what activities, but I have a feeling it's going to be a good one.

Over the weekend The Man and I attended a sushi making class at Rice Basil.  I bought a groupon for the class back in February and had given it to The Man for Valentine's Day.


If you have a spare afternoon, and a groupon, we would highly suggest the class.  We learned a lot about not only the art of making different kinds of rolls, but the art of eating raw fish and not getting sick.

Did you know wasabi counters the raw fish?

I didn't.

I think I should stop skipping it.

Granny Suzann called and invited us to see Footloose at the amphitheater.  So we grabbed the kids who were home and went with her.



"Now we are like Kevin Bacon!" Guardians of the Galaxy Reference.  And also, I can't keep myself from calling it Fooxloose in my mind.  Youth Conference reference (here).

We've taken to rearranging the basement.  We had the three older girls sharing a bigger room, but the bed situation was a little tight on the top bunk.


We also had an issue of keeping the bedroom clean and how exactly to monitor that.

So we've spread the girls out in the larger basement area (pictures to come later) and took all the storage and craft items from the larger area and put it into the room.

I'm claiming it as a craft room.



So this was my project on Sunday morning.  And probably every evening for the rest of the week.  Cleaning out all the junk we piled in there to make room for the girls in the big area, and organizing everything else so I can have my own space.

It's been really frustrating having all my craft stuff out where the kids could get into it whenever they wanted. Things have been lost and broken so many times.  I'm looking forward to having it out of reach.

And I can paint the room whatever color I want.

Coming up this week:
School starts for 7 of the 8 of us
My mom goes through surgery for her breast cancer
Another follow up on my lasik (seeing 20/15!)
Dentist appointments times 6

Also, this week I'm back on my schedule of being a better me:
Running before work (ugh, so early!)
Purposeful study of the gospel every night before bed (starting Talmage's Jesus the Christ (here), I can't wait!)
Flylady routines (here) are back on for cleaning/organinzing

I got thrown off with youth conference but I'm back on it.  I do so much better in life when I have a schedule to follow.  Otherwise, I just get lazy and procrastinate and get nothing done.

Okay, Monday, let's do this.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I Can Do Hard Things - Youth Conference 2014

Youth Conference has a special place in my heart.

I probably love it more than Girl's Camp.

I especially love it more than Girl's Camp when Youth Conference is held in a cabin instead of tents.  A cabin with electricity, running water, real live toilets, showers, comfortable beds, and let's face it, the pool table didn't hurt any.

Except it was missing the 8 ball so there are about 17 games of unfinished pool sitting in the background of our minds.

I picked Cas up from Vernal (which loosely means half way from Vernal, but it's still a 3 hour round trip) the night before and then we threw together some last minute packing.  I had my devotional and activities planned already so I didn't feel like last minute packing was going to be a big deal.

Until the next morning when I suddenly had no time left and needed to pick Makenzie and Casey up and get to the church.  Cas had decided to turn her alarm off and not get up so with 15 minutes to go I was also trying to get her going.

As it was, I decided that as long as we had deodorant and toothbrushes, that was all that mattered.

Turns out that all that was forgotten was the whiteboard I had been asked to bring, but we didn't end up using it anyway, so all was well.

We met bright and early (especially for a summer morning) at the church with some smiling faces and some not so smiling faces and headed to the Mt. Timponogos Temple where we started off with a fireside at the park across the street.


Our leaders and friends who couldn't join us for the entire trip were able to join us for this fireside.

We listened to a touching fireside of a lady who had lost her mother to cancer when she was 11 years old and was left to be raised by an alcoholic father.  An alcoholic father who, two years later, took his own life leaving her sister and herself at the mercy of a neighbor family.  A neighbor family who wasn't completely supportive, but gave them a home and introduced them to the gospel.  It was actually a beautiful story about how she could see the hand of the Lord in her life and how it led her to the gospel.  It also set the tone for our youth conference: I Can Do Hard Things.


We had a muffin and juice breakfast at the park after the fireside, said goodbye to those who were heading home, and loaded up for a long drive to the cabin in Brianhead, with a stop at Cove Fort for good measure.

Things I learned in that car with two girls and four boys:

Max M can make the car sway when he "dances"
Max P doesn't like his hair touched
Colton likes to bug Max P by touching his hair
Casey has a contagious giggle
Casidee will make a car full of boys listen to her boy band music
Angel is just as quiet in the car as she is outside of it

We stopped at Cove Fort where we had lunch.  The boys worked out their feeling of being cooped up in the cars by climbing a few trees, and then we met up with our missionary for the tour.



I had been trying to stir up some interest and get some smiles out of some of the grumpier youth by telling them I had a jar of pickles for my lunch and I was going to be passing out rocks to them at some point.

I proved my first point.

(Casidee posts on Instagram with this picture that she took: "'I have a jar of pickles and I'm passing out rocks." This is going to be the best Youth Conference ever.")


Which made them infinitely curious about my second point.  Especially when I didn't drop it.  "Guys!  This is going to be so awesome, I'm passing out rocks later!"  

I had their attention.

We started the Cove Fort tour with a video about the Ira Hinckley family who built and ran the fort.  From there we were led through a tour by the missionaries who are there.









I think my favorite part of the Cove Fort tour is when you go into the room where they tell you about how the pioneers didn't waste anything.  They had material for mattresses, and when those wore thin, they would cut out the good parts and sew pants.  When the pants wore thin they cut them into strips and wove rugs with them.  The water was first used to do the dishes, then the laundry, then for baths, then it got dumped onto the garden.  Ashes from the fires were used to make soap.  Nothing was wasted, and everything was used and re-used.

Talk about "I can do hard things."











From Cove Fort we finished our drive to Brianhead and found our cabin.


After unloading the cars we let the kids, I mean youth (I was corrected on that.  They are not kids.  They are youth.)  We left the rest of the afternoon to settling in and exploring our new surroundings.



And napping.

After dinner Makenzie did our first devotional where she spoke about doing hard things and used THIS video of an incredible young woman who was born without arms.  Despite this she played on the soccer team, participated in cheer leading, learned to drive the family tractor, and we watched as she did the everyday things that we take for granted, like brushing her teeth, applying makeup, and putting in her contacts.  It was amazing to watch.

And then we had the youth, which we had already assigned into teams for the purpose of activities and "chores," and morning and bedtime "exercises" (prayer and scripture/thought) make their team flags.

With their feet.







Team "Why MCA."  Which started out as team "MCA" for Max, Angel, and Casidee, but then when I saw "MCA" I asked why and thus began a pretty solid team name.




Team "Foox Loose."  To be said in a Swedish accent, because how else are you going to say it?  Go ahead and try it.  It was supposed to be "Foot Loose" but writing with your feet is strangely hard...





Apparently the "Majestic Flamingo" team has some mad skills when it comes to writing and drawing with their feet.  This would be two flamingos in water with greenery and a sunset being reflected in the water.

Nailed it.

The night ended with a rowdy, and I might add very loud, game of Pit.  And a green Skittles war in which I was pulling out the green Skittles from the bulk bag of Skittles and making a pile for myself on the table, but Casey and Michael kept stealing my pile.

So I bent over and licked the pile of Skittles.  They stuck to my tongue and then fell back onto the table.  
Michael reached over and ate them anyway.

After the shock of that wore off we laughed so hard we cried.

Michael is now my favorite.

About 2:00 in the morning we decided to shut it down and go to bed. The next morning we rose with heavy eye lids, made it through breakfast, and trekked out to find our hike. I've never been in the Brianhead area and it was fun to drive through it. I've also never been to Cedar Breaks, where our hike was.
It was so beautiful.  I felt we had the best of both worlds with the mountains and the red rock.

Our triplets for the day.


The view on this hike was amazing.



"Hey, Michael, take our picture."

We stand there a minute.

"How many do you want?  I've taken like twenty already."


"Twenty?! Why didn't you say so?"

And he had.  I had about 20 of those shots.

Michael also became professional photobomber on that hike.  Stepping into the forefront...


or the background of every picture I tried to take.







Wait for it...



There it is.

Every. Single. Time.



We got to check out a 1600 year old tree.








And play with some panoramic shots.




I tried to take a group shot but was told I needed to be in it.

What other option is there when it's your phone and you're not sure that you have a timer on it?

Group selfie.


Luckily some other hikers stepped in and offered to help us out with a group shot.

And then we returned the favor for them.


We had a pretty sweet devotional from Alma 30:44.




 The hike itself became somewhat of a hard thing for us, not so much because it was hard, because it wasn't, but because of the altitude.  The hike was only one mile in, one mile back out with not much of any incline going on as we just hiked around the edge of the redrock bowl to the 1600 year old tree.  But going from 4,000 ft altitude to 10,000 ft altitude kicked our butts when it came to breathing.

And thus it began, whenever anyone would start to complain about anything, someone else would state, "You can do hard things," like it was a jab.  A challenge.  The complaining stopped immediately and attitudes took on the challenges in full force.  For the entire rest of the conference.




And just for the record, being a leader at Youth Conference is exhausting.  Especially when you're up yelling with the youth until 2:00 in the morning.


But we had one more hike after that.

After a short drive to another trail head, and a quick stop to eat an entire pan of rice krispie treats, we ventured out on another mile long hike to Alpine Pond.

Which as it turns out, isn't really as pretty as you would think.

It was more... promising of murk.  You could see the think bottom and we had no doubt it would suck someone in as quickly as they tried to set foot in it.

Michael, of course, impeded my attempt to take a picture of it.


Max took a long stick out to measure the murk at the bottom.

Turns out it would go all the way up to his armpit.



Casey was offered $52 to jump in.

I told him if he did jump in, he was walking back to the cabin because there was no way he was getting back into my car.


Apparently an 8 mile walk covered in murk wasn't worth the $52 because he stayed dry.

Much to his mom's relief.

It was an interesting day for trees.

We saw one that had been hit by lightning and was still standing.





After the hikes we drove back to the cabin and ate a late lunch and then every single one of us crashed for a 2 1/2 hour nap.

Apparently we can do hard things, but it's going to require some beauty sleep.

We woke them up with some Minute to Win it competition, using the teams and posters from the night before and adding a leader team in as well.

Where "You can do hard things," is also equivalent to "I can do embarrassing things under peer pressure."










By this time anticipation for my rocks was running high as I'd still been goading them about it.

I presented a devotional from Pres. Thomas S. Monson's talk called "Meeting Your Goliath." (Here) I like to try and make the scripture stories come alive for the youth so they can really connect with them and we did that with the story of David and Goliath, with the help from Pres. Monson.  I related to them the 5 stones that he suggests we prepare ourselves with to meet our own Goliaths.
And then I passed out bags of stones with the 5 things written on them.

And then, in the name of doing hard things, I created a menu using things that could be hard for them at their age, and the things Pres. Monson suggested doing in our lives to fight through it.  And with that menu we presented a scrambled dinner.  (You can find how to do a scrambled dinner in my post here).

I'm also posting printable PDF versions of the menu, the ordering card (cut it in half), and the menu answer sheet here so if it's something you're looking to do with your youth you can use it.  This was set up to have four courses, ordering four things each course.  







It was a lot of fun to see their faces when their orders came out.  By the fourth course they should have received everything they needed for a spaghetti dinner with brownie sundae dessert, but after all the ordering was done we let them come into the kitchen and fix a real plate.

Because sometimes caramel sauce and spaghetti sauce don't mix well on a plate, nor does ranch and pasta.
After dinner?

Another late night of games.  This time we played Curses, and it went into the early morning hours with loud cheering and laughing.

And this time Michael and I shared the green skittles, pick them out of the giant Costco bags and eating them until we were sick, but in the end, not leaving a single one.

We ate so many our tongues turned green.

The next morning we packed up and ate breakfast, and then sat down for a "testimony" meeting.  We took turns sharing what our favorite part of the conference was and then shared something we had learned along the way.

It touched my heart to listen to them tell us about the conference from their point of view.
We weren't done with them quite yet.  We had one last stop on our list before we headed for home.

 Makenzie grew up in Minersville and her family runs a dairy farm there.  On our way to the dairy farm we passed through the Parawon Gap and decided to stop and look at the petroglyphs on the rocks.



It didn't take long before everyone quickly became more interested in climbing and exploring.  We discovered a small cave, and a small slot canyon in the rocks.











Finally we made it to the dairy to finish of our travels.



Where we got to see two day old calves.


And have year old calves suck on our hands.

Because "I can do hard things" became a challenge for "I can do gross things under peer pressure."


I'm just glad I thought to remove my wedding ring before hand.


I believe we are all better people for the time we got to spend bonding with each other over late night games and antics.  And for the time we got to spend speaking and learning and thinking about scriptures and gospel principles along the way.  We got to see some beautiful things, and do some funny things, and we came out of it hearing the youth saying, "this was the best Youth Conference ever.  It's truly been a changing point in my life."

I believe we all felt that way.

I believe we're better prepared to do hard things in life.  Because we have the gospel.  And we have each other.
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