Friday, August 23, 2013

What I did with my summer vacation or new and exciting ways to drive oneself to the brink of exhaustion

Look around people, Summer is winding down.  Many mothers look forward to the start of school with the anticipation of a convict being granted parole, but this year I am not one of them.  Why you ask?  Well, it might have something to do with the fact that I will once again have a child in early morning seminary.  I have had a year long hiatus from this blessing.  Hence the fact that we have been sleeping in until 8 every day,  will mean a teeny tiny adjustment to our alarm clocks.  It may just be me, but 5:50 in the AM is pretty darn early in the morning.  I suppose that is why it is named early morning seminary.  That won't feel drastically different than 8 AM, now will it?  In other news I had a fabulous summer that was full of tripping all over the countryside.  Sometimes in planes and most times in cars.  Sometimes as a family and sometimes with only my husband or even by myself.   Here is my back to school essay.

We started off the summer by driving 8 hours to New Mexico to spend Memorial Day weekend with my husband's family.  This was a long drive, but everyone really had a blast and it was totally worth it.  Plus when  you have a driver and self contained children, long road trips equals quality reading time.  Pretty much a win/win.  The kids all had a great time together.  Marion got to play games all weekend long with his brothers and nephews.  We even made homemade ice cream which is always one of my favorites.  We haven't all been together like that for a long time and I was glad we went.

The girls.
Most of the whole Hammond gang.
Dog pile!
He who makes the ice cream gets to lick the paddle.
Three weeks after that trip, we flew to Seattle for my parent's 50th wedding anniversary and a family reunion.  This event came off pretty well thanks to so many helping hands.  We traded 105 degree Vegas temperatures for 60 degrees in Seattle.  A good trade in my book.    There was even this strange water stuff falling from the sky when we landed.  We managed to feed all who showed up at each meal and pretty much squeeze more fun into each day than a fat lady putting on a pair of skinny jeans.  It doesn't get better than that my friends.
Yay for Pinterest! What ever did we do with out it?
All because 2 people got married 50 years ago!
The photo booth was a huge hit with the young crowd.
The help at the reception.

We spent 3 glorious days at one of our favorite places, the Church Ranch, located near Ellensburg, WA.  I have so many fond memories of this place, as it is where we would go for Girls camp each year.  It is hard to say what our favorite part of this place is.  Each day you can choose the slip and slide, canoes rides, the creek, painting rocks, riding horses, the hay ride, and of course all the yummy food that always goes along with camping.  And to be honest there are more bedrooms at the cabins there than there are at my parent's house, so that is an added bonus.

The kids spent hours sliding down the hill.
I made this collage one morning when I walked up to the flushable toilets.  So much beauty all around.  I especially liked the gate made from horseshoes.
We look forward to the hayride every year.  We love to sing songs and the kids all rotate around so that everyone can get a turn to ride up front with the driver.  The sights are magnificent as you drive around the ranch.  I have lived in the dessert for so long that every time I visit the Northwest I just stare at the greenness everywhere.
Three girls
We be serious canoe paddlers!
The great bear hunt of 2013!

We spent one whole day in downtown Seattle.  A visit to Pike's Place market was in order and some great sea food down by the water.  We wore our matching reunion shirts, although the chilly weather caused many to put jackets over their shirts so you can't really tell.
A sea creature sculpture downtown by the waterfront.
No trip to Seattle would be complete with out a trip to Pike place market and the gum wall.  We also had seafood down on the waterfront.  So yummy!!!!!
Here were a few of the things that caught my eye while we were driving around downtown.
Pike's Place Market

After two weeks of fun, it was time to fly back to Vegas.  We had a rather eventful Airport adventure from the drop off at the curb, to the actual boarding of the plane.   We got to the airport and were checking in our bags.  Diana was bringing home some of her rocks from the ranch.  We brought one of the big suitcases that Trent took on his mission,  so we put most of the things in there.   When they put it up on the scale it weighed 13 pounds too much.  We also had another suitcase to check, but it was pretty full.  They had already checked that one in and it was on the conveyor belt, but hadn't gone away yet.  So I opened the suitcases and started taking things out.  I put a bunch of things into our bags that we were carrying on, like the curling iron and hair dryer, as well as the rocks.  The plan to make our carry on bags as light as possible went out the window at this point.  The suitcase still weighed too much.  Next, I took a bunch of clothes out, like a whole armful.  I could barely hold it all.  In fact I am sure some things were falling on the ground.  Then, I  opened the first suitcase and tried to put everything into it.  There was not much room and once I put everything in, it was about 10-12 inches from being able to close and zip up.  The airline employee said "I don't think you are going to be able to close it."   But I was determined to not pay extra for a heavy bag.  Diana of course was mortified and wanted me to stop making a spectacle of myself.  Ignoring her pleas to desist and give up, I forged ahead to make it happen.  I forced the top of the suitcase down and climbed up on top like a cowboy roping a steer.  I knelt on it and bounced up and down and scrunched it down until wouldn't you know it, I got it to zip up.  I felt it quite a victory, but restrained from any celebratory dancing or high fiving.  Diana tried to pretend she wasn't with me.  The airline employee seemed a little surprised and maybe impressed.

Next we proceeded to go through security, where I was asked to step to the side and let them examine my purse which was now full of rocks.  The security guard said they just needed to visually look at what was inside.  After the inspection, they ran my  purse through the camera one more time and we were on our way.  It was at this time that we realized we had left our portable DVD player at my mom's house.  I called and my Mom ran it back to us. I left Diana in the food court with our bags and my purse full of rocks, while I ran out and picked up the DVD player.  I had to go back through security but wasn't stopped this time without the purse full of rocks.  It was after this bit of excitement and craziness, we made it on the plane and got home safely.  I don't know why things like this tend to happen to me. 

We made it back just in time for the Fourth of July and it was a very quiet small celebration with just Marion, Diana, and I.  And then of course we celebrated 7-11 day with free Slurpees.  We went to 5 different stores all with in 2 miles of our house.  I love spending time with these two crazy girls.

We were home from Seattle for a little over a week, before we all piled into the van and drove up to Utah.  Trent wanted to tour the University of Utah and Utah State before he went off to boot camp for the National Guard.  There is too much red at the University of Utah, but it will be a good education if that is where Trent decides to attend.  I liked Utah State better, but it is not my decision.  Utah State did hand out free ice cream which may have helped sway my opinion.  

Leaving Las Vegas for boot camp with the Utah National Guard
We made it back down to Provo in time for Diana's birthday.  We had a special surprise planned for that night.  We took her to see a taping of Studio C at BYU.  It was so much fun and she was totally surprised when we finally got there and she realized what we were doing.  She is a huge fan and let me tell you if you ever get the chance to attend a  taping, I would highly recommend it.  I laughed and smiled so hard that my face hurt before the evening was done.
Fun times stalking the cardboard cutouts
My sister and sister in law took the kids bowling while we were taking campus tours.
And there was a morning spent out on the boat, always a good time.
Dropping Trent off in St George
We dropped Trent off in St George and drove back down to Vegas that Sunday night.  He flew out to Fort Sill in Oklahoma the next day.  He seems to be really enjoying boot camp and is very happy with his decision to serve in the Military.  Diana is enjoying the perks of being an only child.

The next week was the Trek for our stake.   We had not done much in the way of preparation due to all of our other activities.  Finally the day before she had to leave, we made it to the fabric store.  I started sewing her skirt and apron about 10:00 pm and was able to get it all mostly done.  It was a bit stressful and crazy but I got her to the Stake Center by 5:00 am the day of the trek.  She had a wonderful time and was very glad that she went.  

Here are a few of the girls from the ward
There was a family reunion for my Dad's brothers and sisters in Flagstaff that happened while Diana was on the trek.  It was strange to not have any children with us.  But strange in a wonderfully stress free way.  We had a great time catching up with everyone.  And that was only a 4 hour drive.
 Here is my niece doing her best shoulder Angel impression.  My sister asked how she got up there and she said "Uncle Marion was laying on the ground and so I climbed on."  All the little kids loved to wrestle with him and I love how you can see a kid hanging onto each of his legs.
 Here I am with my Aunts.  I love these ladies so much and am so grateful for all they have taught me.  I feel truly blessed to be a part of their family and it was so fun to get to spend time with them.  Especially time in the kitchen, that always leads to delicious things that need to be eaten.  We had cooking demonstrations on pie crust, Lemon Meringue Pie, and cinnamon rolls.  It was awesome.
Here I am with my niece who is so very kind to bring me sticks shaped like "Y"'s.  She knows how much I love BYU and loves to help feed my passion.  It is so sweet of her and I love her for it.   We made it back to Vegas just in time to pick Diana up from Trek.  She had a great time and it was a wonderful experience.

A week later we celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary.  I really can't imagine how it has been that long and yet looking at us we were indeed much younger than we are now.  My husband bought me lovely flowers to celebrate.
This same week my class was holding my 30 year High School reunion up in Seattle.  I had known about it all summer but didn't plan to attend.  Several friends from High School started talking to me on Facebook and telling me I should come.  When I looked at the list of the people attending, I started to feel curious and excited to see these people again.  And when I realized that I could use miles I had to get a free ticket, it seemed like there was no good reason not to go.  It was a very crazy spur of the minute decision and 24 hours later I was on a plane back to Seattle.  I was there for just about 36 hours.
I love this group shot from a fall dance.
It was so fun to catch up with old friends.  I have been completely gone from Seattle for all these years and I really haven't had any contact with any one.  I was very glad that I went because who knows where everyone will be in 10 more years.

Here is a picture of all the Mormon kids who graduated.
And here is a picture of most of us again 30 years later.
Here I am with Marianne Diehl

After the main reunion, our group was hungry and so we went to Denny's.  It was so nostalgic, just like after dances in High School.  Only back then we went to Farrel's.  It was very fun to catch up with everyone a little bit more.  I didn't get back to my parent's until almost 2 am.  I needed to get up at 4 am to go to the airport.  I was worried I might not wake up, so I just stayed up all night.

Here is a before and after picture of me.  This was my senior picture, and here I am well I guess 31 years later because my senior picture was taken at at the beginning of the school year.  Kind of fun to see that I haven't changed all that much,  at least on the outside.  Thank goodness the inside me has changed quite a lot.  Good thing or all the trials I have been through would have been for nothing. 

Any of you still reading deserve a medal.  That is what you get when you run a marathon, right?  As you can see it was a very eventful couple of months.  I hope that the school year will feel like a vacation from all this vacationing, but somehow I don't think that will be the case.  I feel very blessed to have been able to spend time with so many wonderful people who I care so much about.  My life is so much better for having all of you touch my life for good.  

Monday, May 6, 2013

These are a few of my favorite things about Women's Conference 2013

For seven straight years I have attended Women's Conference at BYU.  Gonna have to face it, I'm addicted.  Totally and completely.  Really no choice about whether to go or not.  And not once have I regretted the decision or sacrifice to go or had anything less than a fabulous time.

 It would be hard to say what my favorite part of the conference is.  It might be the amazing feeling of sitting in the same room with 20,000 other women who love the Lord as much as I do.  Who face struggles with children, and laundry, and what to make for dinner every day.  And yet arise each day with the resolve to try a little bit harder and be a little bit better.  And when sometimes you forget this, attending this conference helps you to remember that resolve.   I love the feeling of being one as we sing the songs of  Zion, especially my favorite - How Firm a  Foundation. 
My favorite part might be spending time with my sisters.  This year only two of them could make it, but we had a great time.  Having this time with no husbands or children is kind of precious and something that is hard to put into words.  There is something about a sister that is such a blessing in my life.
My favorite part might be the food.  Whether it is the warm spiced almonds or the world famous mint brownie, I am just here for the food.  The kettle corn is pretty awesome and this year I tried a fresh fruit parfait thingy in a waffle cone that  was both healthy and delicious.  Here is my brownie that I posted on facebook with the caption "The breakfast of champions."  This picture is amazing with the way the light catches the frosting and makes it look like it was a soft as a pillow.  The brownie was just the right amount of moist chewiness and the minty filing in the middle is just the best thing ever.
My favorite part might be the opportunity to give service at the group event that happens every Thursday night.  It is unbelievable what 20,000 women can accomplish in just 2 hours.  And I am proud to be part of the Lord's secret weapon army of sisters who serve.  We helped assemble cold care kits that had socks, gloves, a hat, and a blanket, all in a nice little bag.  We all know how much I hate to be cold, and the thought of giving the gift of warmth to those that are needing it, makes my heart warm inside.
 My favorite part might be the chance to rub shoulders with members of the General Relief Society presidency.  I was so excited when we ran into Sister Burton last year.  I hurried and got my picture with her, but the wind was blowing and I felt like I smiled too big and for the past year I have been kicking myself that I didn't get my sisters into the picture.  I pretty much lost my mind and figured I missed out on a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Here is what last year's picture looked like:  It is not bad and I do love the BYU car in the background.  But still, regrets.

 And so you can only imagine my exhilaration when I saw her walking around at the service.  I went over to her and she embraced me in the biggest hug.  I felt the Saviour's love in that hug, and it was one of the many tender mercies from the Lord that I felt that day.  And so I was thrilled when I got a do over to get a picture with all three of us.  It is much better, don't you think.  Now my regret is that I didn't ask her for advice about being the 2nd counselor in the Relief Society.  Well maybe next year.
My favorite part might be the concert that takes place after the service.  Even though you are pretty tired by the time this happens, I am never sad that I attend this evening event.  Mercy River performed a hilarious song about putting your kids to bed.  And my favorite this year was listening to Sandra Turley who has performed on Broadway.  She sang "For Good" from Wicked, as well as the most beautiful medley from Les Mis.  It was so moving and I was changed for good for having been there that night.
My favorite part might be meeting up with BYU celebrities, such as the actors from Studio C.  I adore that show and laugh out loud every time I watch it.  I had seen a picture of these life size cut outs and knew I had  to get my picture taken with them.  They were not out in the lobby, but I persevered and asked around until I found someone who would let me get my picture with them.  So funny.  I think my favorite would be the one with Matt.  He seems to be giving me an appropriately strange/ horrified look.  So fun, and one more chance to be on the campus police watch list.
My favorite part might have been the photo booth and the chance to enter all of these pictures in a Women's Conference contest to try and win a free ticket to Women's Conference next year.  I entered the most pictures, go figure.  I am not too stressed about winning because let's face I will be attending whether I win or not.  But it is fun to be in such contests and I think I should win most enthusiastic contestant.

My favorite thing might be posing with our matching tote bags that we only use for Women's Conference.  It is fun to pull it out each year and see what goodies are left from the year before.

We had to take a picture to replace last year because it looks like my arm was amputated and that was just not good.  This year is better with all of our limbs exposed.

And there you have it, just a few of the reasons that I will be going to Women's Conference for the rest of my life, even if they have to wheel me in on a gurney.  Hard to pass up the opportunity to feast spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  (I may or may not have gained quite a few pounds, but it was worth every calorie!)

Until we meet again, BYU Women's Conference.  Next year can't come fast enough.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Water Skiing August 2012 or one more family reunion post from last summer

Am I behind much?  Yes this is a post from last summer and I don't even think it is the last one.  But I am going to persevere and post as much as I can.  Going with the whole better late than never mantra.

So meanwhile back at the ranch, we had a family reunion in Spanish Fork August 2012.
My parents had a boat in Seattle and not many people wanting to use a boat.
There were many people in Spanish Fork wanting to use a boat but not having one.
So the boat moved to Utah and a beautiful relationship was born.
And by beautiful I mean the kind of relationship where you load up the car with
snacks, sunscreen, and a billion kids in swim suits with towels.
Once you get to the lake and go through the lovely process of getting the boat into the water
much of the time, it hasn't started.  This results in complaining from the kids who 
now get to play on the beach and watch the other people with functioning boats
driving past.  But this time apparently the boat read the schedule for the family 
reunion and decided to cooperate.
The kids loved riding in the tubes.  We set up a rotation where different groups with 
different interests and abilities came out at different times.  No one with a camera came
with the older boys who all water skied.

But we did get some great shots of the younger girl groups.
Here are Diana and Raeley
And here they are again.  Uncle Andrew made sure that they all got 
a great turn and then he managed to bounce them off of the tube, which of course was 
their favorite part.
Trent got a turn to drive.  He enjoyed that part as much as being in the water.
Miles was ready for a nap and went ahead and slept through the whole event.
Lizzie, Ali, and Brooklyn
Riding in the front of the boat is almost as fun as being in the tube.
The older girls, Laura, Raeley, Megan, and Diana
Laura taking a turn with the flag.  Way to go on 
a crucial but thankless job!