Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Faith to Conquer Fear

Once every four years, the youth in our church congregation gather together to do a reenactment of the pioneers crossing the plains.   It's meant to be a meaningful experience that teaches them not only about the hardships that our pioneer ancestors had to face, but it also gives them the opportunity to see that they can overcome hard things in their own lives as well.   

They call the experience, "Trek."  

There were 180 youth and 50 adults divided into Trek "families"...

Everyone dressed up in period clothing from the mid 1800's...

and together pulled their belongings in handcarts for 11 miles in 2-days.

They forged the  Rappahannock  River and trekked through the beautiful rolling hills of central Virginia.

The scenery was lovely...

as were the participants.

I played only a small role there, but enjoyed immensely the time I spent with these fantastic youth.

I loved seeing their friendships strengthen.... 

and although the task of getting two girls completely outfitted for a pioneer trek beforehand proved to be a little more stressful than I anticipated...

it was a delight to see what a good experience it turned out be for them.  

They worked really hard together...

and learned the value of hard work, working together as a team, friendship, and keeping a positive attitude.   

I enjoyed walking with them for the last mile of their trek.  In addition to seeing more glorious vistas like this...

I couldn't help but smile as I watched their exultation at finally reaching the end of their journey.  

I know firsthand that a ton of work goes into activities like this, but I also know firsthand the growth that the participants experience is absolutely amazing.  I am grateful for  all those who help make it happen.   

Facts about this year's trek:  
180 youth participants
50 adults
held at Marriott Ranch in Hume, VA 
scheduled to last 2-1/2 days
ended a night early because of predicted floods on Saturday
I ran the branding station again.  
we branded about 250 leather bracelets as a Trek keepsake
average family size was about 14 people
Emma was a part of the Palmer family
Cami was a part of the Calderwood family
the theme was "Faith to Conquer Fear"

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Not This Time

During an afternoon storm last week, we looked out the window and saw this rainbow that looked like it was meant just for us. 
  From our angle it looked like it started at our next door neighbor's house and arced its way to the house across the street from us.   We were hoping that with how nearby the ends of the rainbow appeared to be that we might be lucky enough to find a pot of gold, but alas not this time.  

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Cami's Graduation Day!!!!

June 19, 2015.   

The long awaited graduation day was finally here and Cami couldn't have been more excited about it.  She left bright and early for what was not just the culmination of four years of hard work for Cami, but, with as much planning as she'd had to do for it, it was also the satisfaction of a shorter term job done as well.   She was heavily involved in planning the graduation ceremony,  helped arrange the senior gift, had spent hours and hours polishing her speech, and  had even chosen and invited the guest speaker to give the convocation speech.     

A few hours after Cami left, we headed for the  ceremony  at the GMU Patriot Center.   We took up almost an entire row with our family, Pete and Mika's family, and Cami's friends, Matt and Katy.   

We had warned the kids that the ceremony might feel a little long, especially during the part when they were calling all the graduates' names, so Ellie came prepared with a little neck pillow just in case she needed to take a nap.   

With Cami's name on the program as many times as it was though, there was no falling asleep in our row!    Cami introduced a couple speakers, presented the senior class gift, and gave a valedictory speech.    

Cami wants me to point out that, although what she gave was technically a valedictory speech,  our district  does not officially name valedictorians.   They had chosen 2 speakers from among the 16 graduates who achieved over a 4.0 GPA.   Whatever you call it, it was still quite an honor for Cami and she did a fantastic job delivering it.  

Glen has been right in the middle of a HUGE project at work, which has had him working 80+ hours per week for the last couple of months.     Everything with the project was coming to a head this weekend, which meant leaving work to come to Cami's graduation was actually quite a stretch for him.   He came late and left early, but he was there and I have photographic proof! 

Cami and the other 3 graduates who played a part in the program were saved for last in actually receiving their diplomas.    

She had her own excited cheering section when they heard her name called! 

After that, they tossed their caps into the air and exited the arena as official high school graduates! 

Cami was so excited that she could barely contain herself.  

Everyone in the family wanted their turn to pose with the happy graduate...

including siblings and cousins! 

We are so thankful for Pete and Mika (and family) for sharing in this happy day with us.  

After the ceremony we went out for dinner at Cheesecake Factory, then on to the National Theatre to see Newsies.   The singing and dancing were delightfully AMAZING and we are now hooked on the soundtrack!  

And in a funny story for another day.... we were a little shocked when we realized when we got to the theater that Ellie was totally shoeless.   Thankfully not many people seemed to notice her shoelessness, and  I am happy to say that she didn't contract any strange diseases walking through the streets of Washington DC barefoot.    

It was a wonderful day and we couldn't be prouder of our Cami Rose!   

Monday, June 15, 2015

Weekend in NUMB3RS

I had 13 kids at our house most of the weekend, including 9 that slept over here on Friday night.

Cami was getting paid to take care of 5 of the kids overnight and for most of two days.

4 of the kids were my nieces and a nephew that Ellie had been begged to have over for a night.

3 of the guests had fevers.

I  fed bowls of egg noodles in broth to 2 kids who are allergic to eggs.    Thankfully neither reacted to it.    The mom suspects that it's because the noodles only contained egg yolks and not the more allergenic whites.  I feel majorly horrible, especially since I pride myself in being uber  careful about people's food allergies.   I think I was thrown off because the kids were sick and not eating anything else I served.    

Cami had 1 cupcake order and 1 tutoring job during her babysitting stint, which is why I was feeding kids without her around.

Glen and Spence both completed legs of a 70-mile relay.

Glen ran about 10 miles, Spence about 14.     Two friends did all 70-miles themselves.

I worked on the yard for 2-hours in the heat of the day, mostly to escape the noise on the inside of our house.  The kids found a beautiful white-marked tussock moth caterpillar, while I found that I have the capacity to sweat A LOT.

It was 1/2 hour before the evening session of stake conference was supposed to start and I realized that I hadn't showered, I was wearing my grubbies, still had 13 kids at our house, hadn't made dinner yet, and was covered in grass stains from working on the yard.   I opted not to go.

I spent 20-minutes cleaning up after a little blender "incident" that one of my children had (see picture below).   

 I was fine most of the weekend and it wasn't really until the next day that I got a little overwhelmed....mostly after  viewing the aftermath of this weekend on our house (see a glimpse in the pictures above and below). 


Here are a few pictures of our crazy weekend...you know, so I can look back at all this with nostalgia someday!

Did I forget to mention that my brother is back from his nearly 3-month European tour and is hoping to find a job here?    

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