Friday, October 24, 2014

Born To Be A Scout

For the last 17 years or so Allen has continuously been involved in our local scouting program.  He has been a scoutmaster, a Varsity Team leader and Venture Crew advisor, our local unit's Chartered Organization Representative, a member of the scout committee and has attended Wood Badge training. He is a counselor for a good variety of merit badges and has attended every annual week long summer scout camp since becoming involved, either as a leader or a father or just because they needed more adults there.

Allen is not only involved in scouting, he lives it. Have you ever heard of the Scout Law? It says, A Scout Is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent. That pretty much sums up how Allen lives his life. He is all of these things and then some. He has to be one of the most service-oriented, generous and unselfish people I know.

Because of Allen's dedication to the scouts he works with and to the scouting program overall, he has received a couple of awards, too. He is never excited about getting these awards because he is definitely not in it for the recognition, but he is very much deserving of them. He has received the District Award of Merit, the Provo Peak Award and, most recently, the Silver Beaver Award.

I know what you're thinking. What the heck is a Silver Beaver Award?

The Silver Beaver Award is the council-level distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts of America. Recipients of this award are registered adult leaders who have made an impact on the lives of youth through service given to the council.The Silver Beaver is an award given to those who implement the Scouting program and perform community service through hard work, self sacrifice, dedication, and many years of service. It is given to those who do not actively seek it. (That last sentence is an overstatement as far as Allen is concerned.)

The award ceremony was held on a Saturday afternoon in September. Allen was planning to be there but he had also committed to go on a backpacking trip with Cowgirl and a group of young women from our church that weekend. The plan was that would make it home in time for the ceremony but eventually we realized he wouldn't be back in time. 

I didn't want to skip the award ceremony altogether, so I told All-a-Boy to get dressed in his scout uniform and we'd see if he could accept it on Allen's behalf.

They were happy to have him do so and he enjoyed wearing the Silver Beaver Award until Allen came home later that afternoon. Unlike Allen, All-a-Boy loved the attention.

I have mentioned before that Allen is a much more private person than I am. I hope that if he is reading this he is not embarrassed by all of this. However, because this blog is where I write about the goings-on in our family and it is the only organized record we have, I thought that this was important enough to be included. Also, I am kind of proud of all the good he does and I love that he was recognized for it.

Besides, it's not so bad to have to own your awesomeness every once in a while.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Jokes For Kids: Halloween Edition

Halloween is definitely a favorite holiday around here. That means Halloween themed jokes in lunches for October! Here are our favorites.

Q:What is the problem with twin witches?
A: You never know which witch is which.

Q: What do you call two witches that live together?
A: Broom mates.

Q: What's a witch's favorite subject in school?
A: Spelling.

Q: What did the witch do when her broom broke?
A: She witch-hiked.

Q: Why didn't the skeleton go to the dance?
A: It had no body to go with.

Q: Who won the skeleton beauty contest?
A: No body.

Q: Why didn't the skeleton cross the road?
A: He didn't have the guts.

Q: Why can't skeletons play music in church?
A: They have no organs.

Q: Why did the skeleton cross the road?
A: To get to the body shop.

Q: Why can't ghosts tell ies?
A: You can see right through them.

Q: What does a ghost call his mom and dad?
A: His transparents.

Q: What do you get if you cross Bambi with a ghost?
A: Bamboo.

Q: Why don't ghosts like rain?
A: It dampens their spirits.

Q: Why do ghosts like to ride elevators?
A: It raises their spirits.

Q: What happens when a ghost gets lost in the fog?
A: He is mist.

Q: What do you get if you cross a vampire with a snowman?
A: Frostbite.

Q: Why was the vampire hard to get along with?
A: He was a pain in the neck.

Q: Why did the vampire flunk art class?
A: He could only draw blood.

Q: How are vampires like false teeth?
A: They both come out at night.

Q: What's a vampire's favorite fruit?
A: A necktarine.

Q: What kind of girl does a mummy take on a date?
A: Any old girl he can dig up.

Q: Why do mummies have so much trouble making friends?
A: They're all wrapped up in themselves.

Q: Why don't mummies take vacations?
A: They're afraid they'll relax and unwind.

Q: Why do mummies make excellent spies?
A: They're good at keeping things under wraps.

Q: Why is there a gate around cemeteries?
A: Because people are dying to get in.

Q: Why are graveyards noisy?
A: Because of all the coffin.

Q: How do you fix a broken jack-o-lantern?
A: With a pumpkin patch.

Q: What do you get if you divide the circumference of a jack-o-lantern by its diameter?
A: Pumpkin pi.

Q: Why did the cyclops close his school?
A: He only had one pupil.

Q: Why did the scarecrow win the nobel prize?
A: He was out standing in his field.

Q: What happened to the cannibal who was late for dinner?
A: They gave her the cold shoulder.

Q: Why do you always find demons and ghouls together?
A: Demons are a ghoul's best friend.

Q: Why wasn't there any food left after the monster party?
A: Because everyone was a goblin.

Q: What happened to the guy who couldn't keep up payments to his exorcist?
A: He got repossessed.

Q: Did you hear about the zombie that lost his left arm and leg?
A: He's all right now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Bear

I think that the majority of the posts I write about Hubba have to do with his shenanigans. I wanted to make sure that the good things he does are equally represented. Take last week for instance... after a year of hard work (okay, mostly fun for a 9 year old boy), he earned his Bear badge in cub scouts.

When I asked what his favorite part of being in the Bear den was, he said that he loved day camp, especially making their own foam swords. He also loved having a Mentos party, where the scouts all got to make geysers with Mentos and soda. Hubba was excited to pass off the entire Family Fun section on our family trip this summer. The hardest thing he could think of in earning his badge was having to walk to scouts instead of getting a ride. That cracks me up since his scout leaders both live about a block from our house! He couldn't think of one requirement that he didn't enjoy - and I credit his awesome scout leaders with that.

Way to go, Hubba! We are so proud of your hard work!

 Does everyone do crazy cheers at pack meetings? We do.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Our Little Free Library: Z Library

I heard about Little Free Libraries a couple of years ago and immediately knew it was something I wanted to do. I researched how they are built, how they work and where they are located (all over the world!). The more I discovered about them, the more I loved them. I especially loved the thought of having it be in memory of my friend Jason who was an amazing teacher with a contagious love for learning and books.

My sweet husband was the designer, architect and master builder of this beautiful piece of art that now stands in a corner of our yard. When I let others know that I was going to do this and mentioned that book donations were welcome, the response was overwhelmingly awesome. There were so many people who dropped books by or mailed them to me and I am so thankful to each one of you for your generosity and thoughtfulness! I ended up with 14 boxes full of a wonderful variety of books for kids, teenagers and adults.

Our friend Marc created, printed and donated book labels for every book. Whenever I told him we had run out of labels he would print more and bring them over. Thank you Marc!

Once Allen saw how many books were donated for the library he decided that two shelves were not enough. Instead of the typical library he designed a library with shelves in both the front and back.
I took pictures of it along the way, although not as often as I wanted.

And here's the view from the back of Z Library:

The only thing the library was lacking was a bench to make visitors feel even more welcome. Well, last week, by a series of small coincidences that could be a post in itself, we were given a bench for free by a total stranger. Allen has refinished it and it now sits beside the library for people to sit and peruse the books when they come to visit.

If you live nearby, please come visit our Little Free Library! Take a book, leave a book when you can, and don't forget to sign the guest book so we know you've been here. If you live not-so-close, we would love to have you come visit when you are in town or join the Z Library group on Facebook to stay updated on what's going on with our Little Library.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Idaho Times Two

Julia recently left us to attend college. The thing that makes her departure different from Allen the Younger's and Elle's is that she left the state. I'm proud of her for gaining some independence and leaving everything she knows and is familiar with but a teeny part of me just wishes she was still around to quote movies in every other breath and bake us cookies every other day. Okay, maybe a huge part of me. It was like taking her off to kindergarten all over again... but not really. Words aren't working right now, so let me tell you about our trip(s).

Julia had never been to BYU-Idaho, so Allen, Julia and I made a weekend trip to get familiar with the campus and community before the whole place is swarming with students. And I'll tell you what, THAT PLACE IS FANTASTIC. I want to go to school with her!

We were having such a grand time that I forgot to take pictures of the campus with its gardens and beautiful buildings and apple orchard and open spaces. But I came around once we were headed back to Idaho Falls for the evening.

We were told that we needed to go get some of the world's best ice cream at Reed's Dairy, so we did.  And it was.

We decided to take the long way home the next morning...

so we could see the Tetons...

and travel through a place that is dear to our hearts - Afton, Wyoming.

We had to stop at a playground behind a school where Allen's grandma used to live so he could play on the merry-go-round that has been there as long as he can remember.

I sure love these two!

Everything about the drive just spoke to me of the beauty of this earth. The weather was perfect and the scenery was gorgeous.

About a month later, Julia, Little X and I packed our 15 passenger van with her boxes, bags, suitcases, groceries and bike and made the 4+ hour trek once again. This time for real. My cousin Brenda let us sleep at her home that evening so we could get to the dorms first thing in the morning. It was so great to just sit and visit with Brenda and her daughter Katie and ask questions about what to expect for the first day, week and year at BYU-I.

I love both of these pictures of Brenda and I for different reasons. We both look nice here.

But this one fits our personalities better. I could just sit and laugh with her all day!

The next morning we fought the traffic heading into Rexburg (HOLY COW!) and found a parking spot about 2 blocks from her dorm. It all worked out for carrying everything in to her new place because there were so many random people just wanting to help! Little X and I got to meet Julia's roommates and their parents, help her with unpacking for most of the day and then turn right around and head back home. When it was time for her to go she gave me a hug, told me she loved me and then said, "Don't cry, Mom!" as she walked away. Well if that wasn't going to get the tears going I don't know what would!

And now, here we are with life continuing to happen all around us.  Julia's doing awesome and totally taking on life as a college student with all that she's got and loving every minute. She's an amazing human being who is a light everywhere she goes and I am a lucky, lucky human being to be able to call her mine.

Rock it, Julia! Remember to make each day your best day, ever.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Truth Is Out There

I love shopping at our local thrift store.  I especially enjoy finding interesting things there - vintage dresses, unique picture frames, books from my childhood or... Sasquatch.

You read that right.  A few months ago, Sasquatch was hanging out at a thrift store. He just stood there, frozen, not sure of what to do with all of these gawking locals.

If he was just going to just stand there, we did what every person would do with such an opportunity! We took pictures.

And then, to help him feel welcome here in our hometown, we found some props and did a little photo shoot.

We left him with some company when it was time for us to head home.

When we went back the next day to bring him some cookies, he was gone.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Bicycle Lesson

clipart from here

I got an extra assignment at church recently. Now, in addition to working with the leaders and young women age 12-18 in the stake I get to help plan fun activities with the girls who are age 10 and 11 in our ward. A couple of weeks ago we took the girls on a bike ride.

Everything started off great. The girls all showed up with their bikes and we rode in a mostly single-file line toward the lake. After a couple of blocks one of the girls, who had started at the head of the pack, was falling behind. "We're going too fast!" she would tell me. "Everyone needs to slow down!" 

When we first gathered I had noticed the nice road bike she was riding. It was a little old school, but it definitely looked like a more serious bike for riding than the mountain bikes and beach cruisers that the rest of us were on. As I watched her ride I began to notice that her feet barely reached the pedals and she was really having to work to make the bike move. So when we stopped in order to re-group I suggested that she and I could trade bikes. I moved the seat on my bike to the lowest position to fit her better and I could comfortably reach the pedals on her bike. Problem solved, right?

As we started to ride again, she was thrilled. "This bike is so much easier to ride!" she told me. "We should go faster!" And now I was the one falling behind. Not just behind, but a substantial distance behind the rest of the group. The pedals were difficult to rotate. The brakes felt like they were constantly on and the gears were stuck in one position. It felt like I was riding through thick tar.

We eventually ran into the other leader's husband, who was able to completely disconnect the rear brakes for me. We thought this would solve the problem, but there was no change. I didn't want to make everyone return home because of this one bike, so I kept telling myself that I could stick it out. The girls were so excited about this bike ride and I felt like I would be the one to ruin it if we had to turn back so I kept saying that everything was fine and worked like crazy to keep up with the pack.

When we finally returned to our neighborhood I was able to ride my own bike back home from the activity. I was amazed by how easy it was to work the pedals, how quickly I could accelerate. It almost felt like flying, the difference between the two bikes was so extreme. I thought, why did I stick with riding that bike? In the beginning, when it was obvious there was a problem, it would have been so much easier to just turn around and find a different bike to ride. I was so worried about disappointing the girls that I had held on to something when it would have been so much easier to just let it go.

I had a thought just then about how much that can be a parallel with life.  How many of us carry burdens and weaknesses with us when it would be so much easier to just let them go? Why is it so hard to let go of things that we know we would be better off without? On the other hand, how many of us see others struggling along with something that appears to us to be easy and make a judgment when we have no idea of the whole story?

Let's be willing to ride a little slower if we need to so that no one gets left behind. Let's offer a hand when we see someone with a loose chain or a flat tire. Let's not make assumptions on why someone is lagging behind - we need to remember that there are often things going on that we can't see. If we each do all that we can to be kind and offer support and encouragement to others then it will be that much easier for everyone to enjoy the ride.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Quick Quips

(on the way to dropping kids off at school) 
X: Can you play Boots and Cats really loud?
me: Boots and Cats isn't on the radio, just the internet.
X: Just find it! I need some bootsncatsnbeesbeesbees to dance to!

(In case you're not familiar with Boots and Cats, here you go! Elle shared it with us before she left on her mission.)

(Car conversation with All-a-Boy)
Me: I'm going to stop at the store really quick before we go home to see if they sell those super-absorbent underwear with plastic on the outside.
A-A-B: Wow, Mom. TMI, but okay.
Me: Wait, I'm not buying them for ME, they're for X! For potty training!
A-A-B: That suddenly makes a lot more sense.

One day when I was using my wheat grinder X covered his ears and then went out in the garage and brought back two sets of ear-protection and told me, "Put on yours headphones mom! Your ears is breaking with that noisy!"

X: Mom, can you sit under my lap?
Curly: I asked Little O what time it was. He looked at my clock and said, one hundred. (It was 1:00.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pizza And Chips

I don't have a picture of our local missionaries, so here's Allen the Younger a year ago.

We got a call last week asking if we would mind having the local missionaries over for dinner. That is something we never say no to!  Especially with all of the awesome people in Texas and Louisiana who have fed Allen the Younger on his mission and are still feeding Elle.  We are always happy to share a meal with the Elders (or Sisters) in our area!

I called the Elders a couple of days beforehand and asked if they had any requests.  The Elder who answered told me that they are grateful for whatever they are fed, but I insisted that there had to be something they hadn't had in a while and would enjoy. With some prodding he eventually admitted that he would love to have pizza and chips because it had been a long time.  That seemed like a kind of odd combination, but I was excited to honor the request and so I made a plan.

I decided to purchase four different flavors of chips, each a different brand, so there would be a good variety. I also planned to buy a couple of specialty pizzas and make a few more simple ones at home. I threw together a large salad to balance out the meal and planned on brownies and ice cream for dessert.

When they came over and we started in on the meal I asked, "Which one of you requested the pizza and chips?" Elder C raised his hand. Allen knew that Elder C was from the U.K., so he asked him, "When you asked for chips did you mean the kind we have here or the French fry/potato kind of chips?" He answered that he meant the French fry/potato kind, but that these were great. So I asked, "Do we have the kind of pizza that you were hoping for when you asked for pizza?" And you know what he said?

"Did I ask for pizza?"

He then quickly tried to backpedal and make it sound like pizza was exactly what he had been hoping for. But suddenly my mind was replaying our phone conversation when the strange request was made, and I remembered that the kids were being noisy and I was having a hard time hearing the call and understanding his words. And suddenly it dawned on me that he had probably not asked for pizza and chips at all, but FISH AND CHIPS. He was hoping for a little taste of home, and I heard him wrong.

So instead he got Papa John's and Doritos, you guys.


My only consolation is that I'm thinking this will make a great story for him to tell when he writes home.

Plus, we did have brownies and ice cream for dessert.

(Does anyone have a good recipe for fish and chips so I can rectify this? Better yet, where's the best place to buy authentic fish and chips locally?)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

MIA Shalom YW Camp 2014 - Anchored in Christ

My friend Laurel is the best camp director, ever!

I got to go to Young Women's camp at MIA Shalom again this summer.  I can't even remember how many years I've gone but I want to keep doing it, forever.  I love being up in these mountains and feeling a little closer to heaven. Oh, my heart. There are no words to describe the beauty and feeling of this place. You have to experience it for yourself.

My current assignment at church is to work with all of the young women age 12-18 and their leaders in our stake. Young Women's Camp is my favorite part of what I get to do. As a stake, we work with Youth Camp Leaders (young women who are usually around 17 years old and ready to start their senior year of high school) to plan and run camp each year. This year we had a small group of 8 Youth Camp Leaders (we call them YCLs) and they were so impressive.  They stepped up whenever needed and just took care of things on their own.  This group of YCLs was beyond awesome.

The theme they chose for this year was Anchored in Christ.

Camp usually runs from Tuesday through Saturday but we chose to take the YCLs up a day early to get things set up, have some training and just enjoy the quiet of MIA Shalom before the entire 230 (or so) young women and leaders from our stake would arrive on Tuesday afternoon.

When we turned onto the road that leads into Shalom there was a whole family of potguts waiting there to greet us. I wish I had my camera, because I know you don't believe me, but they kind of stood there on their hind legs like potguts do, watching us drive by, and then they scurried away. I could almost hear them calling out to all of their potgut buddies who live on this mountain, "FOOD'S A-COMIN' GUYS!"

Here's a picture of the crew that were there to help set up on Tuesday:
 And a more accurate picture of what we were like:

These are the missionaries who live at MIA Shalom all summer long (I'm so jealous!) and help with the stakes who are assigned to the area we were in.
They were so great to work with and so cute to see together. They passed along important information such as: they caught a 300 pound bear in our area the week before so we needed to store our food well and travel in FOURS to use the Biffy (that's the name of the camp bathroom). FOURS, you guys. As in, wake up three of your friends if nature calls in the middle of the night. They also let us know that the water situation was pretty dire so we needed to "flush" the toilets with lake water, and only when it was, you know, really needed.  So the men who came up to be with our stake at camp all week got to do a lot of this:  
Aaron's pumping lake water into trash cans for us. He's the best. 

One thing that happened every day, without fail, was RAIN. Which I love, but it put a damper on some of the things that were planned for the week. After setting up camp and waiting for the rain to stop we took the YCLs to the Confidence Courses to do some training on how to run each activity there.

We had some more trainings and a devotional that first day and just did our best to stay dry.

The next morning we went on a sunrise hike up around the rim of the camp. See what I mean about being closer to heaven?

 At Lone Pine

Due to injuries that happened before camp, these two YCLs got to ride in "The Limo", a 4-seater ATV, on our hike.  

Shari and Karen (my incredible counselors) and two of our awesome YCLs 

After our hike and a delicious breakfast, the YCLs made some signs to welcome the buses that would be coming later that afternoon.

 Buses unloading

Our opening flag ceremony had to be held inside of this pavillion because of a serious downpour early that first evening.  Thanks goodness for the pavillion! We used it a lot this year.

One morning we had a man from our stake come up and talk with the whole group of young women and leaders. He shared some of his thoughts with us on light and darkness and the effect they can have on our lives. It was very thought-provoking and inspiring.

Each day began with a scripture study and was filled with various activities and devotionals. These included time to work on the skills needed to pass off different certification requirements,

Confidence Courses run by the YCLs,

a time that we call Golden Hour, where each group of young women rotated through three 20-minute mini devotionals on various topics,

and Waterfront, when each ward has time to get out on the lake in canoes (or, new this year - kayaks).

My cute Julia was a leader in her ward this year. 

Unfortunately, because of the rain, half of the wards in our stake didn't get to do Waterfront or Confidence Course time.  But they all handled it like champs and found other fun ways to make the best of it. The ward leaders are, without a doubt, what makes camp run so well for us. Their ability and willingness to be flexible helped things run really smoothly this year.

Every morning and evening we had a flag ceremony to raise or lower the United States flag as well as our camp flag.

 We did a few fun crafts with our little stake group, including making the signs seen below. 

We also spray painted white t-shirts and t-shirt bags (they are SO EASY to make! Just google it!) to match our camp theme or anything else that the young women thought would be fun.

Thursday night was Stake Night, where we all enjoyed some brownies together
and then listened to some thoughts shared by the men who preside over our stake. Later that night we had a program called Singing in the Trees, where each ward is taken to a grove of trees in the dark and then each group takes turns singing a song while shining their flashlights into the trees above. It's probably one of my favorite things about camp. I don't have any pictures because it happens in the dark. But trust me, it's amazing.

Speaking of pictures in the dark, I love lots of things about this next picture but mostly I love that I'm eating freshly fired banana boats while enjoying some conversation with a group of women I am lucky to count as friends.

Shari brought a 'Face-book' to camp.
I don't think I mentioned that the young women do not bring electronics to camp. No iPods, no cell phones, nothing except for actual point-and-shoot cameras. There is no electricity here, either. I think it's part of what makes camp awesome, although I know not everyone agrees with me.  I love how we can leave all of those distractions at home and just enjoy being a part of nature for a week.

Anyway, our camp's Face-book was an actual book with a picture of each of us in it. We could write down thoughts or inside jokes or whatever came to mind on anyone's Face-book page all week long. It kind of became a camp yearbook and everyone got to keep their page after camp.

Here's our stake group a few days into camp.

Each ward usually does their own cooking, but we had a breakfast one morning where we fed the entire stake. It was a lot of work but also a lot of fun.

Jen (our secretary extraordinaire) and Missy (the camp nurse) 

One problem at camp every year is mice and bats in the cabins. Lucky for us, Aaron knows Batman and had him come help us with the bat problem. Yes, that's right, we had Batman at our camp. Be jealous.  

I know this post is way too long but I'll tell you what - I had over 650 pictures I had to choose from and I narrowed it down to the ones in this post.  That was tough! Since a picture speaks a thousand words I'll stop writing for a minute and let you just enjoy some pictures of the people who made this year at camp the best, ever.

 Stake group, last day of camp

The week flew by much too quickly and before we knew it we were loading the buses on Saturday afternoon, headed back home to warm showers, electronic devices and our families.

I already can't wait until next year! But I will wait, and it will be so worth it.

**I need to give a huge shout-out to this guy: 
This is Ken, one of the two men who came up to help out with camp for the entire week! He became our unofficial camp photographer along with plenty of other responsibilities throughout the week. I wouldn't have most of these pictures if Ken hadn't taken them, so thanks a million my friend!