Thursday, July 31, 2014

What's Better....

What's better than finding an awesome new group of homeschoolers to celebrate pioneer day with?  

For Ellie, it's making a great new friend in the process!  



What's better than being silly with the missionaries when they drop by? 

For Adam, it's discovering that there's no need to "grow a foot or two" before his mission, since he's already the same height as Sister Wright! 


What's better than yet another day of non-humid summer weather with temps a good 10-15 degrees below where they normally are?  

For Lara, it's yet another whole week of it!   


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Lemonade Stand to Raise Money for Childhood Cancer Research

As part of the Alex's Lemonade Stand Leadership Conference that Cami is participating in this week, they are hosting a virtual lemonade stand to raise money for childhood cancer research.

Anyone who knows our family well at all, knows that this is a cause that is near and dear to our hearts and I invite you to take a moment and donate to the cause if you can.   Even a small amount makes a difference!

Because cancer is much more common in adults than children, only about 4% of cancer research money  is earmarked for helping children with cancer.  But it's because of childhood cancer research that there are  types of childhood cancer that are highly curable.  Spencer's form of leukemia (AML), however,  was very aggressive and even 10-years ago his chances for survival would have been much lower than they already were.    Even now, well less than 50% achieve long term survival.    Together we can make a difference and improve those odds even more!

Make a donation at: 


Cami's Trek to Villanova

Early Sunday morning we picked up Cami from the airport after taking the redeye from California.   
We had her home for about 36 glorious hours, before we jumped in the car for a trek to Philadelphia.  
A few miles outside of Philly is the  beautiful campus at Villanova University where we said our goodbyes to Cami and sent her off for yet another adventure!  
This adventure entails a Leadership Academy sponsored by Alex's Lemonade Stand, one of the biggest supporters of childhood cancer research.   I think she was a little sad to be leaving home again so soon, especially still being so jet-lagged, but she definitely was excited about the opportunity to be there! 

After dropping her off we walked around the campus for a while longer, 

then we drove to nearby Valley Forge where we explored for a couple of hours.  We're studying American History for social studies this year, so it was fun to get a little head-start on learning about the amazing people and events that made our country what it is today!  

After that, we headed for a family Philadelphia tradition....dinner at Ruby's Diner!  

The kids got hamburgers and hot dogs...
 while I was good and ate a salad.  

 Now I am in process of planning round #2 of  Philadelphia adventures for when we pick her up from her conference later this week!  


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Every Fish's Worst Nightmare

Meet Adam.

You may know him as the eleven-year-old Lego building, bird-watching, appliance deconstructing, math whiz kid... 
but did you also know that with his dad's help that he is turning into quite the avid fisherman as well? 

Last year Adam's scout troop signed up for a fishing derby.   Glen's always loved to fish and the idea of a contest got him and Adam rather excited.   Despite never having participated in an event like that  before, they ended up finishing 6th place (out of over 100 participants) overall!    

They had such a good time and were tantalized by their strong finish, so Glen immediately marked the 2014 fishing derbies on his calendar and started taking the kids fishing more often!   The kids loved the fun outdoor activity and were immediately hooked (pun totally intended) on the newfound ways to spend  beautiful evenings!   We usually end up fishing at Burke Lake or Lake Fairfax, but a few weeks ago we even went out towards Luray and fished in the Shenandoah (where the above pictures were taken) just to practice for the derby! 

Then on Saturday morning while Emma and I were still at girls' camp, Adam, Ellie, and Glen headed to the lake early and staked out their spot for the July 2014 Derby.    34 fish later (mostly bluegill), Adam was named grand champion of the day (and Ellie was 41st)!    

They were a tiny bit disappointed that the grand prize wasn't an all-expense paid fishing trip in the Chesapeake Bay like it was last year, but he got over $500 worth of fishing gear and lures, so no one at our house is complaining!  

Way to go, Adam!  

Monday, July 21, 2014

YW Camp 2014

I just spent this past week attending YW Camp with this beautiful group of about 140 Young Women and another 40 or so leaders.   

There were  21 girls there from our ward, including 2 nonmembers.   Another several girls could have come, but opted not to for a variety of reasons. 

Kim and I were the only leaders from our ward that stayed the entire week, but on Friday Cindy, Kelly, and Rochelle came up to help drive girls to the ropes course in Front Royal.  

Kim and I were not disappointed when one of them brought a bag of chocolate to share with us! 

Emma absolutely loves camp and the opportunity it gives her to participate in cool activities like rock climbing at the ropes course.

She also loves the opportunity it gives to spend lots of quality time with her friends! 

I, personally, didn't get to spend a lot of time with Emma during the week, since most of the activities were done by level and not by ward, but it was fun to steal a few hugs here and there.    

The girls love this "tweet" line along the dining hall wall where they can leave notes to one another!

Another favorite activity was karaoke singing.  I was pretty skeptical when I first heard what we were doing that night, but it actually ended up to be quite a fun activity that evolved into more of a group singalong than actual karaoke. 

Even the adults got into it too! 

After the karaoke singalong, we distributed 3 glow sticks per person and turned out the lights for some glow stick dancing!  I had fun trying to capture the movements of the girls without turning on my flash! 

I was in charge of 12 crafts over two afternoons.  I felt that all of the crafts were fun and mostly successful, but  making these magnet boards was probably the favorite of the craft stations   

The table of nail polish and emery boards also turned out to be a hit.   It was cute to see how excited some of the girls were to freshen up their camping visage with a bit of nail polish!   Katy and Ashley really missed having Cami there! 

We had Ward Time for two of the days where all the girls from our ward got to gather together with me for a devotional.   On Wednesday we had an object lesson about not speaking ill of others, then I had the girls wear signs and walk around and write compliments onto other people's signs.   All the girls seemed to enjoy the activity, but it was especially sweet to see how excited my first years were about it (and everything else at camp too)!

One of the most memorable and spiritual parts of camp was the "Tree of Life" activity.  Based on the account of Lehi's dream in the Book of Mormon, the girls walked through mists of darkness (the dark woods with leaders trying to tempt them to leave the path) and were eventually led to a rope railing for them to hold onto to bring them to this "tree of life".   It was powerful imagery about how easy it is to feel lost and afraid on our journey in life, but if we hold strong to the principles of the gospel and to God's word, we can be led to safety and joy!   We sang songs and  had a short devotional at the end to bring the experience even more meaning.  

I absolutely love the opportunity camp gives for me to spend time with these lovely young women.  They face so much on a day-to-day basis, but they are graceful, beautiful, and shining examples of goodness in this world! 

Katy is a veteran girls' camper, one of Cami's best friends,  and  a YCL extraordinaire, but she was still excited when her dad and mom came for Bishop's night.   The Harrison's are a wonderful family and I am grateful to  know them!

The 2 girls (on either end) were in Emma's home preschool group back in the day.  It's amazing to see them all grown up now! 

It was so cute to hear the girls pondering in the car on the way home from camp about what they thought that next year's camp would be like!  

I came home on Saturday and completely crashed.  I had a lesson to prepare for Sunday, but other than that was totally useless.  In fact, I came home from church yesterday and crashed again---both emotionally and physically.   I was almost as big of a mess as my house was, but after lots of sleep and some home cooking, I am feeling much more chipper and normal today!  


A few more tidbits about YW camp 2014:

Theme:  Journeys

Location:  Lions Camp

Weather:  AWESOME!    A good old fashioned 'polar vortex' swept into the area on Tuesday and made the temperatures and humidity levels well below normal.  It was a tender mercy as far as I am concerned, since normal July weather in Virginia is highly unpleasant and even more-so when you don't have access to air conditioning!

Accommodations:  I was in a tent with Kim, behind the third level cabins, Emma was in a second level cabin with Elena and the rest of her group

Emma's YCL's:   Haley, Whitney, Mad

Emma's group:  Southern Belles

Favorites:  Ropes course, Tree of Life, crafts, the weather, karaoke singalong, the opportunity to "get away" from real life, being with the girls

Least favorites:  bugs, lack of sleep, the shower situation, being far away from the bathrooms, being totally out of touch with my family

Shirt colors:  leaders--red, first years--blue, second years--orange,  third years--pink, fourth years--green, YCL's--yellow

Sleeping:  Three of the nights I actually got a little cold during the night.   It was much chillier than I expected it to be and I had to stay curled up in my sleeping bag, with sweatshirt and socks on to stay warm.  The last night we were there, the temperature was absolutely perfect for sleeping.  Too bad the girls were up so late!   One night we were woke up by a strange howling sound right outside our tent.  It was a little disconcerting, but when I did some research when I got home I realized that it was only a barred owl call.  

Girls from our ward:  
first years:   McKenzie, Maeve, Aubrey, Moema, Lola, Laura
second years:  Emma, Elena, Ana, Maria
third years:   Anna W., Mikayla
fourth years:  Miko, Rachel, Courtney (just for Friday)
YCL's:  Ashley, Katy, Kelly R., Maddie M., Annika, Anna B.
leaders:  Lara (me), Kim, Debbie (for Tuesday night), Rochelle (for Friday night), Kelly (for Friday), Cindy (for Friday)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Reeling Me In

My brain is 100% distracted by getting ready for Girls' Camp right now, but I just couldn't resist taking a few minutes to  post this adorable picture of Ellie and Glen fishing in the Shenandoah River last week.

That sexy fishing vest of his made my heart go pitter-patter 21 years ago when he dragged me on his fishing adventures in the Provo River in the name of a cheap date and it still makes my heart go pitter-patter to see him connecting with the kids and passing on his love of fishing to them.

  I may have grown up in the "Land of 10,000 Lakes", but I had never really fished until Glen introduced me to it the summer of 1993 and we've been fishing together ever since!   We don't always catch anything, but the kids love the thrill of being out there with their Daddy and we all love the time spent outdoors in nature enjoying each other's company!
Now wish me luck as I go spend the next five days sleeping in the great un-airconditioned outdoors!   I actually am looking forward to spending the week with the beautiful Young Women from our ward and stake, but am not so looking forward to tent life, biting bugs, and the humidity!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Missing Her

Ever since Cami hopped on an airplane last week to spend time with the more domestic side of the Crain family (see picture below), our house has been quiet and lonely.

Now instead of listening to shrieks of delight that she passed all three of her AP exams with flying colors (AP calculus--5,  AP lang--4, AP world geo--5), I get to listen to Mr. T saying, "I pity da fool..." while Glen wallows in cupcakeless misery and tries to relive his childhood by watching A-Team episodes...

And poor Ellie is so lonely without Cami around that she got a fever.  It's about the fourteenth one she's had in the last couple of months (no exaggeration), but she got yet another blood test today, so at least we know it's not serious.

We miss you Cami!   Have fun in California!

Sunday, July 6, 2014


What's the recipe for a perfect Independence Day?

Well, let me tell you.

First you can start off with a weather that looks like this....

With highs only near 80ยบ and no humidity, it was about as perfect as summer weather gets around here. By the time the fireworks started, temps were in the 60's and a couple of us were wishing we had brought jackets.   It was a far cry from the stiflingly hot weather we usually have this time of year and it made spending the day outside downright pleasant!

Throw a couple of parties into the mix and having it be a fun and memorable day was inevitable!

We started off with a swimming party at the K's house. 

My kids had an absolutely fantastic time running, jumping, and swimming with their friends.  Ellie even took advantage of the small pool to jump off the diving board!

It was hard pulling ourselves away from all the fun there, but eventually we had to leave, so that we could go on to party #2!

At the D's house the kids had more fun with different friends...

The host family  had imported some fun fireworks from Pennsylvania to liven up the evening.  The kids were enraptured by the parachuting toy soldiers that floated down from some of them.

When it started getting dark, the sparklers came out...

as did the cans of soda that their mom never lets them drink at home.  

Eventually they brought out the "big guns" and we saw a real deal firework show, complete with a grand finale.  

We enjoyed the good company and delicious food and thought that we'd managed to completely avoid the crowds and the traffic by staying at the party until past 10:00pm, but on the way home we got caught in the city firework traffic anyway.   Oh well! 

It was a fun day and a great way to celebrate the birth of our nation!  Sometimes I complain about the direction that our country seems to be headed in, but truly I am grateful to live in a land where I can complain and that we as a people still have a say in our government.   

God Bless America!!!!


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