Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Sacramento River

OK.. so it was not entirely true when I said that parents were not allowed at Grandma's Camp! We were allowed to join the kids on the day they went to the Sacramento River (Sacrament Riber-according to Ryland).
It was a PERFECTLY hot day to enjoy the water AND the kids and Grandpa were on the CHANNEL 3 NEWS that evening, as they were running a story about the new law that requires everyone to wear life jackets at the river! Dacie and her 'ladies in waiting' (the Aunts) floating at the river
Yeah,Ryland's life jacket may be a little girly, BUT we were obeying the law & he had allot less fear with swimming!
The cousins playing in the sand to their hearts content
IF you look closely by the trees, you can see base camp w/ the whole gang who enjoyed a day in the water, sun and shade!
Sterling took to the water...never to come out the entire time!
Dacie getting some missed nap lovin'
There were some guys there shallow surfing and Colton thought he would try it out!

Happy Summer Days!!!!

While the Kids are Away the Mom's (and baby's) Will Play!

It was a unique situation this summer for Grandma's Camp! Almost my entire family besides my brothers (Chad and Kelby) and I, are in Sacramento--they either live there or are working there for the summer. Since us 3 (of the 9) are the ones with the kids--we all were traveling to Sacramento for Grandma's camp, OR my brothers Eagle Court of Honor. We just happened to ALL meet up at one point. The ones who were around for the week of Grandma's camp played while my parents entertained the grand kids (except the diaper babies). So played we did!
(I can't help myself from kissing all these babies! I LOVE LOVE LOVE chubby cheeks... hanging w/ our cool SIL Beth, who braved it without her hubby!)
We certainly swam! Which continued to be a trend after Grandma's camp as well. With 2 sisters that live in apartments w/ pools and work-out rooms-we capitalized on their amenities! I did get a day in the fitness room child-less as well! My boys would NOT need swim lessons if we had access to a pool any hours we wanted as we did there! They progressed by leaps and bounds, and would play for HOURS in the pool!

Dacie certainly got the attention she desired-she had me and a plethora of Aunts and Uncles to give her complete attention!

(Dacie excited to be included in on the fun w/ her own dice and Crazay hair!)

We ate at the cheesecake factory, gave each other pedicures and watched a chic flick (at Mindy's apartment) one night!

(Brother Shaun getting to the best part!)
Then the next night we met up at my sister Amberlyn's town home and had a girls game night (like Pokeeno). We made up our own version of pokeeno (Bingo) by having a blank bingo sheet and filling in names of our family members by answering questions -the worst driver in the fam, next to get married, best dressed, etc.! Then we went around and answered until they got BINGO! OF COURSE we all brought $10 prizes and could win or trade them as the night ensued. My sister Amberlyn made us and Argentine dinner that she learned to make on her miss, and it was YUM!
Probably one of the funniest things about the evening is Dacie's super BIG aversion to Dolls that open and close their eyes. My sisters room mate had a doll that had eyes that opened and closed. Dacie is a fan of carrying around dolls...but when the eyes moved on this one she FREAKED! She scream and threw the doll-it was really quite funny. So being the nice gals that we are...we tried to get the same reaction on film and the results are below...not quite as drastic as the original reaction, BUT she certainly wants NOTHING to do with the doll after poking the eyes. At one point she even slaps the doll-ha ha ha check out the videos below

(This is a classic picture of my sister Mindy-she is absolutely passionate about what she talks about, I think she was trying to explain the game that someone was NOT getting-ha ha ha-Mindy you got busted!)

The third night we met at Cara's apartment and had ice cream Sundays (bring your most creative topping!) and played games!

Of course my family has to find something to destroy or play with and they had a night of pyro's with my sisters candles she had lit...we're so weird!(The beloved game of Dominoes Busted out! )
We had a week of it for sure--Now on to the Crazy Weekend!!!!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cali-Fornia Here I Come!!

... Right back where I started from! (not really)

As many of you know I claim Maryland as my home, as I spent a majority of my life there. However, the summer I got home from my mission (to Northern California) my family re-located to the Sacramento area. Even though we were so sad to leave our East coast world. It has been beneficial for my children having them closer to both sets of family as we are a days drive from ANYONE!

So once a year my mom does what we call "Grandma/Grandpa Camp". As with everything, my mom goes ALL OUT. She chooses themes each year and goes crazy!!!!

Because we are the farthest away from my parents, and because gas is so expensive, and because it is a pretty traumatic drive, even in one day w/ 4 kiddos.--We only make it out to there about once a year. It becomes a summer priority for us to visit my family.

This years Camp theme was "Discovery" and the kids were IN heaven. Colton Sterling and Ryland attended w/ their 2 other boy cousins-my parents are CRAZY!!!

Since it is a LONG drive (I had to fly my Dad out to PHX to drive with me on top of the gas, since Dan had to work), and since parents are NOT ALLOWED at Grandma's camp-- I always have to find alternative sleeping arrangements for that week. My older sister is in Sac. w/ her hubby installing security systems for my brother this summer, their apartment became Dacie and I's 'pad' for that week. Since I only get out there once a year as well, I stretched the trip out for another week hoping to get in some quality family time as well!

From what I gathered about Grandma's camp the boys went to about every museum in the area, made PB play dough, home made strawberry ice cream, did fireworks, went to six flags discovery kingdom, went to the river to swim, did about every science and craft experiment possible....and you get my drift!

The next couple of posts will re-cap some of the fun we had (including my sweet Colton's 7th birthday).

BUT before we do that, here are some things I learned on this trip:
1. I really appreciate having a working car. As our minivan's fly wheels separated, located right by the transmission, the car was in the dealership for a majority of our trip (getting the transmission out and in) AND my poor family had to drag, borrow and steal MY family around in a variety of cars. Try driving a car without power steering-I got some SERIOUS muscles-- it is not the turning radius on the steering wheel that is the problem, it is how stiff the stinker is! The Hutchings are well known for driving around 'ghetto' cars! Thank goodness we have a great warranty too-
2. Vacations CAN be a good time to 'wean' your kids. Ryland lost his extra pacifier and I found it right before we left, BUT I let him believe that it was still lost. He had a hard night the first night BUT did not ask for it the rest of the 2 weeks...until he got home to his bed (we are sticking to our guns). Because we were running around with so much fun in the evenings Dacie fell asleep most nights without a bottle-so I stuck to that routine, even when we were not busy. There has been no bad side affects! We are now PACIFIER and BOTTLE-LESS! It felt liberating to pack these items away when we got home!
3. I now know what happens IF you do not pull over for a police officer. While dropping my car off at the shop my BIL and I were driving right next to a guy that would not pull over. He was not speeding away or anything...BUT I learned that does not matter. Within a few seconds US and that other car were surrounded by officers in all directions with guns pulled (we just happened to be in the wrong place, they were able to cut off all the other cars) on a major street. I scream and drove off as fast as I could (with help from the BIL as I was frozen in fear)! Just PULL OVER next time!

4. As if 12 hour car rides are NOT traumatic enough with four kids, getting stuck in traffic (in the HOV lane in LA ) with a boy who has to go to the bathroom-- and NO DVD player (it broke somehere before the return trip) is HORRIFIC. I am sad to say that I think LA is the WORST place to drive (granted it was my fault for arriving there around 5pm), and that the results of the boy having to go to the bathhroom did not end pretty (the back of our car taking the brunt of the 'accident'). If someone invents a quick way to help little boys in the car while continuing to drive I will buy the car for that very reason, AND how on EARTH does anyone drive now-a-days without a DVD player...for the LOVE!
This is just the tip of the ice burg on adventures! Stay tuned....

Friday, July 11, 2008

Week Synopsis 7/7-7/11

Monday July 7th-It was hard to come back to work for all of us after a LONG 4th weekend. The kids are learning about preparing and becoming missionaries. So for FHE we asked the kids where they wanted or thought they would serve their missions, here are the results: Colton was somewhere Spanish speaking like Mexico, Sterling said Hawaii because that is the most fun mission, Ryland said Phoenix and that Dan and I would have to drive him there. I am keeping this for when they open their calls! ha ha ha --We played a fun game with fill in the blank statements about ways they can prepare now to serve a mission when they get older. The boys wanted to know how you get called and the whole process with the MTC. It was kind of fun walking them through the whole process.
We had heard a loud bang in our garage Sunday night and went out there to find the problem--we could not see a thing. BUT when I tried to open the garage to pick up Colton from swim lessons I realized that it had been the huge garage door spring breaking in half! Our car was trapped. Luckily I called the pool and got Colton a ride home, while I got a garage guy to come fix it. It was working by late afternoon 200 dollars later!

Tuesday July8- We are back in full swing of swim lessons, park/library, and then free lunch. It takes up a good portion of our mornings. Otherwise when we keep the kids home they STARVE and are so bored and cranky wandering around! We saved some money on food last month b/c of free lunches. We are advocates of that institution for sure! Dan took Dacie and Colton, while the other two boys and I went to Prescott to get our car serviced at the dealership, for the upcoming LONG road trip. We were there for three hours and they could not figure out what the new rattling sound in the engine was, could not replace the deflated horn and had to order it in, AND overcharged us for an oil change and tire rotation. I was so frustrated by the end of that trip I did not even feel like going shopping, when this was my one chance! I came home and pouted instead-- I went walking that evening and took a shopping trip to Walmart on the way home! Wednesday July 9- Goes down as a milestone day for Dacie...we got her hair up into a one complete ponytail!!! She looks so cute and grown up with it. I could not snap enough pictures!

Dacie also went on one of her discovery rampages into one of the trashcans and found a soda can. She promptly put her finger in the hole and ripped a nice one on her finger. It BLED everywhere. She was and absolute basket case about me having to wash it and bandage it. You can see her kissing the bloody thing below. It would not stop bleeding for an hour and a half before Dan got home. Dan tried getting me to take her to urgent care after looking at it. BUT I remember all too well the shot they place right into the cut. SO after her ripping off her bandage a few time and bleeding again we 'jerry-rigged' a pretty massive bandage to keep her off of it.

Thursday July 10-We met up with our friends the Hoggards after swim lessons at the park. The kids had a great time in the sandbox, building tunnels, a city and making trees out of pine cones. I was grateful for Dacie's huge bandage---the outer layers were filled with sand. I finally took it all off that evening and it had stopped bleeding-luckily.

Sterling, Emma and Sean showing off their sandbox city!

The Jerry Rigged bandage! above

That evening was once again Pokeeno. We had quite a good turn out for the middle of the summer and vacations! There was so many people there we had to bust out the microphone just to be heard when calling out our cards (as Janae is so graciously showing us above). It was held at one of our friends homes (the Williams) instead of the clubhouse this month. I love Brenda's home and how welcoming they always are to friends!! Of course it helped that I won the very last round and got to take home a candle we have so desperately needed since the skunk incident!

Friday July 11- We have been getting mail, watering squash and feeding cats for our neighbors on vacation. It reminds me that I really need to kick it into high gear to get ready for our trip. I FINALIZED plans for a sub in singing time these next to Sundays. Incidentally one is my sister who is coming here two days to interview w/ her husband as a teacher for a charter school in town.
the boys and I cleaned both the bathrooms and mopped their floors, as well as cleaned windows today. Otherwise I was chasing Dacie around with damage control and First Aid. This evening we had one game against the 'other' LDS co-ed softball team and lost. Then we were able to make up a game against a team that we forfeited too, two weeks ago unexpectedly. Thanks to some of our friends on the other team, we pieced a team together and won! The picture below is some of the gals we play with and against-showing off our guns!
Saturday is going to be serious packing day and my dad flying in to drive with me to California. Sunday will be driving the 12 plus hours to Sac town.
Alicia(me), Janae Gordon, Nicole Gordon, Julie Hoggard, and Patti Kinkade
Well that wraps it up here in Cottonwood-better get going to Cali!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


GiRLs CaMp-2008
Heroes of the HEart
June 28-July 2
Camp LaMiA (West Camp)The whole camp battling it out with the shaving cream!
All right- I was BoRn to go to Girls Camp! I have WAY too much fun (even as a leader).
It was held at church-owned cabin sites up in the white mountains in Pine, AZ. We had the smallest camp available (about 50 girls went, not including the leaders) and it was on some good hills! I got a serious workout (it is too bad they fed us so good). I have had to go through some withdrawals coming home-they fed me, loved me, and the spirit was there! My kids cried having to leave the babysitter (I am not sure that says much about me!) I was one of the four leaders over the YCL's (the 5&6 year camp girls(their last years)-who are leaders in training so to speak). We had the largest group of girls there and they are PHENOMENAL spirits. They helped camp go without a hitch!
Here are some givens about camp:
1. I have RARELY been so DIRTY in my life. After an obstacle course/race gone bad (b/c the leaders WON)--we ended up in a SERIOUS shaving cream FIGHT! With a game of capture the flag (Nephites vs. Lamanites) on a mountain SIDE immediately following (I just let the shaving cream dry in my ears). Add in the constant sweat from walking the Hillsides to our cabins and some sun, as well as shower stalls that only come to your shoulders, and muddy floors. Throw a five mile (5 hour) hike and some repelling in there, and PoOF! You got one dirty momma! But as our girls said-it makes you appreciate your shower so MUCH more when you get home!

Janae Gordon helping "cinch" the win in the obstacle course against the girls!

For the obstacle course-We had to quick step it through some tires, jump over a bed of a truck, run through a parachute, shave a balloon and pop it (which turned into push ups)- only to run all the way back through the same way you came! Despite our competitive and athletic Girls (since the leaders aren't-ha ha)-the leaders pulled through with the WIN! Old hurt knees, bad backs and all!
Tandy Taylor (Camp Director) scaling the truck
Her partner in crime-Natalie Taylor (asst. camp director -and the family whom I answer phones for) showing she's still got it after 6 kids and over 40-wahoo!
The high council rep-Charlie Backus- pulling through for the team!
Sister Nickle in the blue shirt (the Gazelle) Leaping over the truck-I don't think she even touched the bed of it!

The girls certifying in the Ramada-passing off requirements for each of their years-- involving first aid, wilderness survival, etc.
My YCL's and I were in charge of getting the 2nd years passed off-we did it!

2. You are never too old to strengthen friendships at camp! It is a given that the girls bond in a way that they really can't anywhere else (unless they get to serve a mission w/ their friends) being with them 24-7 does something to your friendship. Of course, an added bonus to camp for me, was having 2 of my friends (Janae and Nicole Gordon) there as well. I can safely say I feel like our friendships were strengthened at camp somewhere between the 5 mile hike, skits, laughing until we cried, sharing towels (by accident), dancing, taking pictures, playing games w/ the girls, getting NO sleep..... it happens!

Janae, Nicole, and I on the five mile hike
The whole hiking crew

The five mile hike took allot longer than anticipated (5 hours). I have yet to go on a hike at girls camp that did not. I got to be one of the 'sweepers'-helping the girls that were towards the end of the group. I was so proud of them for making it, when some of them were VERY sure that they could not do it! I am not gonna lie... it was a good mountain climbing hike, and I was grateful some of them took it slow.We found this awesome butterfly bush (covered in butterflies), and I think sang this hiking song(Janae taught us) at LEAST 40 times! Left , Left , Left, Right, Left--I left my husband and 42 kids at the brink of starvation without gingerbread...I thought it was right, right-You get MY DRIFT!

The beloved butterfly bush with our little 'pack of characters' we hiked back most of the way with!
3. Young Women are amazing! Like I said, I was over the YCL's and they never ceased to amaze me with their acts of kindness. Each one was assigned a girl at camp that they were suppose to 'keep an eye on' b/c we had so many YCL's, this was easily done. I cannot begin to tell you the kind acts of service I saw these YCL girls do w/ no prompting from us. Nor hear their devotionals, testimonies, and love for one another. The future is in good hands with these girls being the next leaders and mom's. I was in LOVE with them!

Our YCL's performing Zero to Hero from Hercules (with the words changed) for skit night

4. Last but certainly not least, I have rarely laughed so hard or been so tired. I do have to say skits are one of my favorites because I get to 'bust a move' and let loose. I am afraid I did. When we played a game later that evening where the girls were mimicking me-I realized I could be mistaken for a genuine psycho-but as I said, "I can be crazy b/c my kids aren't here!" One day I will be able to embarrass my kids--just not yet!
And since we had 24 girls and leaders in one cabin (that was NOT made for that many) the leaders slept out on the deck under the stars (so pretty!)--however, that was the only place to hang out-so we could not pull out our beds until the hanging out was done. I averaged about 2-4 hours of sleep a night, and I wonder why I still feel like I need naps a week later.

Singing one of our camp songs together w/ the Bishops for Bishops night!
Nacho Libre and Incredi Girl making their appearance at skit night

Girls camp involved so many more programs and devotionals than I have mentioned. It was like every creative and fun idea I have heard of was wrapped up into a few days at camp. The spirit was there. I smile every time I think of camp. I am glad I took my "mom off" vacation days for this-worth iT!

Just a side note: Dan got a bad case of strep throat while I was gone. His mom rescued him and then our friend covered the rest. I was so grateful for his willingness to still go it alone, and others sacrifice w/ the care of my children. It kept damage control to a minimum when I returned to being a mom of 4!!!