Off Again

I packed my bags again last night. 

But this time, I kissed my darlings goodbye.

They are staying here and I am off to Girls' Camp.

Can I get a rousing chorus of "Mormon Boy" (he is my pride and joy!) as a send off?

[I asked Caleb.  He said they don't sing any songs about girls at Scout Camp.  I am shocked.]

Word of the Week: Guerdon

guerdon  /n. /  a reward, recompense, or requital.  something justly deserved.  due.  what is coming to one.  accolade.  prize.  plum.  comeuppance.

guerdon  /n./  1.  A week or so ago David and I watched the National Spelling Bee on television and saw Sameer Mishra win the whole thing by spelling "guerdon" correctly.  Of course it became my next word-of-the-week.


guerdon  /n./  2.  I've written and rewritten this post about three times, but just can't seem to get it right...the natural guerdon for not writing for a week, I suppose.

guerdon  /n./  3.  I spent the first week-and-a-half of summer doing just about nothing, other than a few puzzles and spending hours and hours by the pool.  The guerdon for such riotous and irresponsible living was that on Monday and Tuesday this week, I had to play catch-up and madly run around town trying to prepare for Girls' Camp.  I am not really a "slow and steady girl"...more of a "full-blaze firefighter," who naps when things are just "smoking."  Apparently I need healthy dose of adrenalin to get anything done. 

guerdon  /n./  4.  About this time of year, when heat stroke is likely to happen at every possible moment, I start to wonder why I live here.  However, the guerdon for living smack dab in the belly of hell is that my parents are quite close by, and this summer this has especially been such a blessing.  My mom started cooking classes with my three older kids this past week and they have been in heaven, learning to make various "lunches" and all kinds of cookies.   I love that my mom makes up for the many shocking blank spots in my children's' life experiences and education. 


Armed with their cookbooks...

guerdon  /n./  5.  I boarded the bus with my young women early Wednesday morning and spent four glorious days with them up in the mountains at Girls' Camp.  This was my third year at camp with these particular girls and probably my hardest one yet.  It seems like I always have more to learn, more to give, more to love.  But, the guerdon for all the hard work and exhaustion is the testimony meeting we have the last night of camp.  Nothing brings me more joy than to hear my girls' tender feelings about their Savior and his gospel.  And it makes me wish for a lifetime more of these experiences.


guerdon  /n./  6.  As some sort of ironic and sadistic guerdon for going to camp, I was asked to speak about our camp experiences in church on Sunday.  It was my usual mess...too loud, too many hand gestures, too emotional, too excited about my subject, way too passionate for Sunday morning.  The congregation just stared at me, and I'm sure most of them were thinking, "What is she getting so worked up about?"  The only redeeming part of the whole thing was that I got to share my favorite quote from East of Eden, which I altered to apply to my girls.  This is, just exactly, the way I feel about my young women, and my own beautiful children.  I only wish I was worthy of the gifts they truly are.

You have not bought these [girls], nor stolen them, nor passed any bit for them.  You have them by some strange and lovely dispensation.

A Grumbly Update

I didn't get to bed until after midnight.  I was still prepping for Girls' Camp.

Ethan woke me at 2:30 with a runny nose.

Savannah woke me at 4:30 with another middle ear infection and I couldn't go back to sleep.

Today I need to be at my cheerful, happy best all day and very late into the night.

There are moments when I honestly don't think I can do both of these gigs.

This is one of those moments.

SPT: Emblem of the Land I Love

This is an SPT on the run.

I've got Girls' Camp in the morning, it's already late, I'm more tired than I should be at this hour, and I still need to pack.

But I did finish 20 pillowcases for my young women...emblem of the land (and the girls) I love.


Our theme this year is "Steadfast and Immovable" and each ward has been assigned a "superhero."  We drew Captain America, and while I never did find any fabric with a large blue man with a target on his chest, I did find this really cute red, white, and blue star fabric, and went with that.


Please just try to ignore the fact that I haven't showered in two days.  Why am I always madly rushing at the end?  Someday, someday, I'm going to pull it together.

It did occur to me as I was standing in line at Target at 8:30 at night, gathering up the rest of the things I forgot, that this could also be the "emblem of the land I love" since, other than my house,  I spend more time in this square footage than just about anywhere else.


So I'm off.  (Ready or not.)

I had someone come fix my dishwasher today since I knew if I didn't the dishes would be insurmountable by the time I returned home on Saturday.

The guy said it was fine.  Nothing wrong.  That'll be $55.

That's exactly how my life is going.

He tentatively said, "I'll just write that you 'used old soap' on the invoice."  I guess his only other option was to write "Crazy lady" and he was trying to spare me the embarrassment.

RIM was rolling her eyes the whole time.  CIM was desperately wishing she had pulled out the camera on Sunday afternoon when she was wading through the kitchen.

Hey, I know the truth.  And I'm utterly fine with the insanity plea. 

SPT: Something New


This is the "official" self-portrait.

This is the one I like even better.  I had quite a time capturing all this quilty goodness in the camera frame (all by myself!).


5 *new* quilts for my *oldest* young women...ready to graduate and move on to Relief Society.  Something to feather their *new* nests.

I'm feeling a bit *old* today, as all of these girls were Mia Maids (15) when I became their young women's president.  No wonder they're ready for something *new.*

These gorgeous things bring my total to 14 quilts I've made over the years for my sweet young women.  I can't think of a better metaphor for the love and comfort they will find in Relief Society.

30 Miles on the Rim

We had an amazing youth conference on Saturday.  Brilliant in every way.

Our idea was to show the kids what they could accomplish with "hope, perseverance, and strength."  We rode our bikes through some gorgeous country for thirty miles.  The road we were on had enough challenge to really test the kids' resolve, but also with enough downhill to make finishing it possible.  We challenged them to "get tough" when the ride got tough. 


I can't tell you how happy we were to finally make it to the top of this hill and find this sign.

We had breakfast at the top of the trail, an opening ceremony complete with the national anthem, and then lunch at the bottom.  The kids (especially the boys) were absolutely ravenous by the time they reached the bottom and I practically had to beat them back with a stick til we could get the hamburgers cooked.  Luckily we had one of our priesthood leaders go on ahead and reserve the picnic tables and start the coals. 

It took us about three hours to make the ride.  We had some really good bike riders among our young men leaders and they rode up and down the line of youth checking on everyone and being watchful.  We had cars ahead of the kids and behind the kids, warning other drivers on the highway of our coming and I was so grateful for our safe arrival in Camp Verde.


After lunch the kids played in a nearby river for a bit while we packed up and then we all went to a nearby chapel to have a devotional and testimony meeting.  I told the kids that this is the part where we talk about our point (and we did have one.)  The young men's president talked to the kids about biking metaphors like the peloton, a wheel sucker, and what it means to bonk.  He applied these terms to the kids spiritually and it was wonderful.  I spoke about "journeys through the wilderness."  About how they are all on their own journeys through their own personal wildernesses and our ride today was a metaphor for that larger journey.  I spoke about the need to be prepared and having light to help you in the middle of the "deep," using lots of really great scriptures from Ether 2 and 6, about the Brother of Jared

Then we had an absolutely remarkable testimony meeting.  Our youth commented about how they understood while they were riding what we were trying to teach them.  They spoke about how they had had time to think about what we were doing and how much they wanted to finish their tour victoriously.

It was just so wonderful.  I have pictures, but they are all of our youth and I feel a bit awkward about posting their pictures without permission.  I will simply say that it was among the best days of my life.  Really.  I love youth conference and am so grateful for the spirit that attended us and the guiding, protecting hand of my Savior that I felt throughout the day.  As I rode home I was exhausted and worn-out, but felt nothing but absolutely lucky to be a part of such a marvelous event.

Just for comic is a video of me where we first put in, enjoying our breakfast.  Yeah, I'm a big, youth-conference-loving dork.  Through and through.

Word of the Week: Sacrosanct

sacrosanct  /adj. /  very sacred, holy, or inviolable.  not to be entered or trespassed upon.  above or beyond criticism, change, or interference.  blessed.  hallowed.

sacrosanct  /adj./  1.  I wanted to blog yesterday.  I really did.  So much to say, so much to remember, plus a word-of-the-week catch-up.  But my sacrosanct blogging time has become much less so in the last few weeks and yesterday I was doing this:


Digging out from a week of household neglect.

sacrosanct  /adj./  2.   I spent from Wednesday night to Friday night at BYU attending Women's Conference with Tiffany, Kelly and Barb.  I almost didn't go, but the money we had spent on two plane tickets (more on that later) somehow made the trip sacrosanct, and I boarded the plane early Wednesday evening, and met up with my friends at Helaman Halls late Wednesday night.  Can I say how very much I love it that my friends do not change?  Those sacrosanct bonds are still there after all these years, all these miles, all these lifetimes of experiences.  I overheard Kelly talking to another lady about who she was here with, "That's my sister-in-law, and that's one of my best friends."  My heart just about burst.


sacrosanct  /adj./  3.  I love BYU and the memories of my happy, sacrosanct days there are precious to me.  My memories, however did not seem to help us get around campus.  Barb kept reminding us that she was following us because we had spent four years of our lives there, but there were so many changes that I found myself confused more than once.  Kelly and Tiffany and I blamed it on the fact that we had spent very little time on the "athletic side" of campus, but even the bookstore was confusing..."Wow, look at all these books.  I don't remember the bookstore having books before." 


I don't know why this moment was so funny...I was trying to get a self-portrait with "the Y" in the background and hilarity ensued.

sacrosanct  /adj./  4.  We spent Thursday running around campus trying to hit classes and then spent Friday worn-out sitting in the Marriot Center for the day.  I felt filled up in so many ways.  Recharged and ready to do my job again, and do it with more purpose and more love.  I was grateful for the spirit that I felt and the assurances I received from The Spirit that my work as a wife and mother is important, sacrosanct, and possible.  One of my favorite parts was at a scripture reading class when one of the sisters mentioned that her daughter had said, "I want so much for the things I do to be meaningful."  I can so relate to that feeling.  After the conference I feel more equipped to do the meaningful things and to recognize the influence I have.  After I reported to David all that I felt and experienced he remarked, "We need to send you there every year."  Indeed.


sacrosanct  /adj./  5.  I believe in youth conference.  To me, it is one of the best days of the whole year and an absolutely sacrosanct experience in the lives of my young women.   This year was no different.   We took our youth up to the Mogollon Rim and made a 30-mile bike ride to Camp Verde.  There were definitely some hard climbs and a few really nice downhills too (a bit like life), which all worked together to create an incredible, testimony-building experience with our youth.  As I drove home, the tears just streamed down my cheeks, so grateful for the chance to be a part of such an amazing experience, so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life.  We were watched over and protected and I felt so blessed to be there.


I look a little too happy at 5:30 in the morning.  What in the world?  I love youth conference.  My talented and ever-helpful sister, Rachel designed our cute t-shirts.  Aren't they fabulous?

sacrosanct  /adj./  6.  After being quite the absentee wife this last week, I am so grateful for the sacrosanct way that David loves and supports me.  I had to get two plane tickets to Women's Conference because of our youth conference and he didn't even roll his eyes.  I came into town about 10 o'clock on Friday night and he ran for ice and coolers and the hamburger buns that I had forgotten.  This was after his afternoon run to Costco for all the perishables.  And before climbing into bed just past 1 a.m.,  he helped me do a quick Powerpoint presentation for the next day's conference.  He is a wonder.  Mostly because he not only just puts up with me, but constantly and completely supports me in my madness. 

Word of the Week: Objurgate

objurgate  /vt. /  to express strong disapproval of, to criticize severely.  to reproach or denounce vehemently;  upbraid harshly.  berate.  chide.  scold.  reprove.  admonish sharply.  dress down.

objurgate  /vt./  1.  Most of the objurgating that goes in in my house goes on in my own head.  But these last two weeks I have gone running almost every day, not only exorcizing my exercise demons, but also,  surprisingly, clearing my head of my usual self-chastisement about anything and everything.  Perhaps CIM is appeased by endorphins.


objurgate  /vt./  2.  I am right in the middle of trying to quickly plan a ward youth conference.  Our stake youth conference was cancelled recently, but I could hardly bear to watch the date come and go without doing something with my young women.  I believe in the power of youth conference.  The young men's president and I came up with an idea that we thought would be fabulous, "Le Tour de Vida Eterna" (more details in a couple of weeks) but many others have objurgated almost every aspect of our plans.  Despite these objections we are pressing forward and now I'm only nervous that their criticisms will be validated in the end.  I've had a hard time figuring out which part is the "opposition in all things" and which part is the real and valuable, good counsel.  (Guess I was wrong about definition number 1 after all.  Apparently I can still find plenty to beat myself up about.)


objurgate  /vt./  3.  David and I took Greg and Becca (David's brother and his wife) and Beckie (David's sister) to dinner at Olive & Ivy on Friday night.  Our excuse was to show them the Scottsdale night-life, but my real motivation in going to this particular restaurant was the bruschetta.  Of course.  There is simply nothing to objurgate about this divine appetizer.  I am always tempted to go in there and order about five of these in lieu of my entree.  It's embarrassing how much I love this stuff.


objurgate  /vt./  4.  I rarely have necessity to really objurgate my children, but tonight as we were about to kneel for family prayers, Olivia made the offhand comment that Savannah probably would not do well on her tests in the morning because she wasn't going to bed early enough.  (Savannah's testing week begins tomorrow.  Why can't the school just do it all at once and get it over with?  We are seriously cracking under the pressure here.)  Savannah broke into sobs, completely devastated, and absolutely sure of her inevitable failure on the morrow.  I sternly objurgated Olivia, reminded her of her own anxiety only one week ago, and told her how disappointed I was in her complete lack of empathy.  Grrr.


I looked up from making dinner on Thursday night to find my girls outside in their towels.  Rather than objurgate them for their immodesty I simply pulled out my camera...they said it was an "emergency"...they had forgotten to bring the bunny back in after playing outside with her, and just remembered in the shower.  For heavens sake.

objurgate  /vt./  5.  Thankfully my girls are usually best friends, kind and accommodating and sweet.  They play really well together and usually their only requirement is that it be something "creative."  Their latest idea is "stop-motion" movies with their American Girl dolls.  Admittedly, I did a bit of objurgating when I found out they were using my camera, but was quickly won over when they showed me their creations.  Here is their first movie...entitled "BFF"...yeah Mom, that's "Best Friends Forever."  (In case you can't quite follow it, the story line goes:  two BFF's are walking their pets, then go to school, exchange BFF notes, which makes them so happy they do the splits and a back-flip.  Oh, I love these girls.)

objurgate  /vt./  6.  Though I usually do nothing but querulously objurgate when I talk about the monthly Cub Scout pack meeting, this week's (with all of its usual problems) was such a thrill for me as a mother.  Caleb received both his Webelos badge and his Arrow of Light.  With David's help, Caleb has made great personal progress in his scouting program.  I can hardly believe he's almost a full-fledged boy scout, and wonder how I made it through 34 pack meetings already.  In this case I am relieved and glad that all good things must come to an end.


*Deep Breath*

Just sitting here, taking a deep breath after a very busy Saturday.

I hosted a dinner for all my young women and their mothers tonight at our house and then we went to the YW General Broadcast together. 


Dinner was delicious...I made Barb's Sweet Pork Taco Salad and both of the trifles posted on Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.  (I prefer the berry one.  But had plenty of both, just to be sure.)

My furniture has been put back and the dishes have been done.  A serious accomplishment.

I still have trifle bowls to return and church chairs stacked high in the garage.  But it is mostly done. 

At dinner I told my girls that this was one of my favorite nights of the year.  And it really is.  I love to feed my girls and then go be (truly) fed together.   Tonight I sat in our chapel with eighteen of my girls and their good mothers and gave thanks for the chance to be there with them.  I thought the broadcast was fantastic, particularly Sister Dalton (who asked, "Do you ever feel like you're on "Heartbreak Hill"? And feel utterly alone even though there are people lining the road?"  Oh yes, oh yes.) and Elder Eyring (who reminded us that even though Satan has marked us as a target, we are watched over and protected by God the Father and Jesus Christ...they know us, know our situation, know what forces surround us.  Oh, I am so glad to know that.)  The music was just incredible and I thought I would about bust when they sang, "I'll never, no never, no never forsake!"

This coming week will be mad with preparations for quilt retreat and house guests, and even tomorrow brings BYC, and a baptism preview and, of course, a camp meeting. 

As I sit here I feel myself quietly sitting "in between."

In between the work I just finished and the work that is coming. 

A momentary lapse in to-do lists.

(Surely this is an oversight that the universe will shortly remedy.)

Overdue Easter Thoughts


The thing I love most about Easter is that, for us, it is almost entirely simply a spiritual holiday.  I love that the world and all its materialism hasn't got its meaty little hands into this part of my life.  It is really just about remembering our Savior and all that He did for us.

My parents do an egg hunt in their gorgeous backyard...they always set up and provide the egg-coloring (my mom boiled 5 dozen eggs!) and the hunt.  I don't even have to boil an egg or remember to buy vinegar.  This year Ethan surprised everyone with his competitive angst over finding eggs.  This was no surprise to us that live with him.  He just hates to lose.  At anything.


On Sunday morning I awoke early to attend the annual Easter Morningside that our stake holds for the youth.  This is held every Easter morning at the temple.  An unbelievable way to start this sacred day.  Every year as I arise in the dark and dress, my mind is drawn to Mary Magdalene.  And as I dress, I see her doing the same and in the quiet dawn making her way to the tomb.  It is a powerful moment for me.  And then we spend an hour in front of the temple, remembering that because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can be saved from death and hell and sealed together for eternity.


At church I taught the young women's lesson and gave each of the girls their own copy of the March Ensign which is all about our Savior.  We read parts of it together and sang hymns between readings.  


My favorite moment of the weekend came as we sang the closing hymn together at sacrament meeting, Christ the Lord is Risen Today.  Though none of us can really sing, my family nevertheless really FEELS the hymns soul-deep.  This one was no exception.  As I looked down the bench at my family, they were all singing "Al-le-lu-ia!"  at the top of their lungs.  I was completely undone watching Ethan belting out his joy along with the rest of my children.  And I thought, "Yes, sing!  Sing!  Because of Him you are mine forever."

After church we had a very nice Easter dinner with Tim & Christine, my parents, and Emily and David.

Before I close this post and my Easter season, I thought I would leave something I read last fall, but has stayed with me ever since.  I think of it often and maybe it will bless your life as well.  It was given in a talk at BYU by Thomas B. Griffith.  He said:

In the last revelation Joseph Smith received before he was permitted to organize Christ’s Church on the earth—in what was the capstone of Joseph Smith’s preparation to be an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ—the Lord gave the only first-person detailed account of the suffering He endured so that we would not need to suffer the full effects of our disobedience:

For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; . . .

Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink— [D&C 19:16, 18]

There is something curious about this narrative. Verse 18 ends with a dash. The Savior did not complete His thought. Why? I don’t know, but I am persuaded by the explanation that the Savior might have cut short His description of what He suffered because it was too painful for Him—some 1,800 years after the event—to complete the description (see Eugene England, The Quality of Mercy [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1992], 52). Now what kind of a God do we worship? An awesome God who wants us to know that His love for us is infinite and eternal. A God who wants us to know that His love for us gave Him the strength to suffer for us. Knowing this ought to be enough to move us to submit our lives to Him in obedience and gratitude.

I can hardly bear to think of it and I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me.