"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

watson's wealth, and another cheesy long video

When we were kids, we reunited with our plethora of cousin at my grandparents farm. There were 63 cousins from seven siblings.

We considered our wealth to be in children and dubbed our gathering, "Watson's Wealth".

Now, our reuniting has spread far and wide and our own little branch is only getting started with 23 grandchildren, one on the way and a bunch of younger siblings yet to start.

This year, Mom and Dad couldn't make it, Newel was in Germany .. again ... and my sister was mid-move. It looked like things might fizzle.

As the time approached and the cyber-banter began, I felt that familiar pull. Taking a deep breath, I snagged my sister's three oldest in the early morning hours and plunged into the ten hour drive to accumulate the wealth.

It couldn't have been more gratifying.

As a mother of growing teens, I spend so much time worrying about the needs of my children. Watching teenagers with friends. Observing choices. Considering strengths.

Sometimes a mother's heart reaches out for answers in how to bring those children just a little bit closer to home ... and I don't just mean that as a location, but more as a grounded sense of who they are.

I stood in the kitchen of my brother's St. George home, taking a moment to soak in each of my children's smiling faces as they beamed up at aunts, uncles, and cousins they adore. In that moment they were awash in family culture. They were reconnecting with common beliefs. They were being held on to by righteous traditions. They were, once again ... home.

I don't suspect that any of my siblings or their spouses realized the effect they were having. They may not even know that their individual efforts within their families are helping to strengthen mine. That they add their wealth of expertise, their wealth of conviction to gospel principles, their wealth of faith ...  to ours.

I knelt in mass family prayer at the day's end. I stood in for a blessing given to an ailing sister by valiant brothers. I sat on a packed church bench with little ones vying for space by favorite cousins. I gathered to sing songs and hear stories sung by beloved grandparents gone by.

Tongue in cheek, we laughed once upon a time, at the numbers of children being our wealth because families our size didn't have much else.

I hope the generations who have gone before can feel my gratitude and know the Wealth was and is, so much more.

And thank you to all my siblings and the amazing folks they've married, for deepening our sense of home.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

grant is nine

We've only been in school a few days and the morning rush is falling so that my one elementary kid has me all to himself for a chunk of time in the morning.

Yesterday morning, Grant and I put together an introductory "All about Me" poster.

It so happened to be his birthday ... so I probably mom-blasted it with too much nostalgia.

I pulled out this picture of this big brother who said nightly prayers for a little brother. He was a six year old who felt swamped in sisters.

I didn't realize how much they look alike from then to now. And a flood of their absolute connection to one another through these years, washed over me.

I wish I had a picture of those two boys pushing, drowning, chicken fighting each other in the pool last night at our family party after school. Instead, I hopped in with them and tried to seal in my mind each of their faces as the setting sun reflected off the blue water in their eyes.

I'm grateful every day that he came to us and that he completes our family.

Christian would be lost with out him, just as Grant is lost without Christian. When either/or are at home alone for any amount of time, I hear a constant whine, "When is he going to be back ... ?"

We love this crazy, sensitive, playful, hilarious, escape artist of a kid.

Happy Birthday, Grant! You are the best brother a family could ever ask for and I'm loving every minute of my time with you.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

senior portraits

On the first day of school last week, I was not prepared for the air to feel crisp like fall in the dim light of the morning.

Neither was I prepared for the friends of my children to start calling for senior photo shoots.

Nonetheless, it was fun to spend a little one on one getting to know them even better though it hurts my heart that the remaining time is so short.

Most especially with this guy ...

Monday, August 12, 2013

guardians of virtue girl's camp

Way back here, I served as the ward camp director for girl's camp in our church. I've already raved about how awesome it was and the credit is due to fantastically creative and amazing women.

There was some internet searching to spur creativity. However, the cyber world of girl's camp sharing is a desert, so I thought I'd share for others who may be looking in the future.

At our kick off, we received our stake theme and I'll admit, it had me a little worried. Taken from Elder Uchdorf's "Happily Ever After" talk ... which by the way is beautiful ... our stake steered towards a "princess" theme.

I had to respect what they were trying to do. I mean, we want each young woman to know that they have every right and privilege to be treated and act like the daughter of God ... princess of a Royal Father ...that they are.

But all that pink!

And this talk given in 2010 has been the theme of nearly everything since.

And the princess "thing" doesn't speak to every girl.

And though we revere marriage and family so very highly, those goals do not always become the "happily ever after" for every young woman.

Boy, was there ever some prayerful searching on how to make it gel for all of our young women collectively.

First and formost from the stake, each ward was assigned a princess whom they were familiar with from a Disney movie. Ours was Rapunzel. To be accommodating, at our kick off we related our story to hers.

We related life to a tower, waiting to emerge and test our own skills. The safety of testimony in Christ built on another's faith. The testing of that faith out in the world as we forge our own path. Arming ourselves with our weapon of choice like Rapunzel's frying pan. Making decisions, learning to trust in good friendships, following after the light ..... all tie-ins to the familiar story from the movie they'd all seen.

And then from there we took some leeway.

We moved our camp of girls into a more personal theme of being "Guardians of Virtue" from Elaine Dalton's talk here. And based our thoughts on activities from this painting we love.

There was a lot of stake time with EFC's (fireside talks "especially for camp"), planned crafts, games, hikes, songs, service etc. However, we were also given plenty of ward time to do what we wanted to do. We hoped to build a camp site with a draw to it, where the girls would want to be rather than wandering all over camp. And that's where our creative activities came into play.

From the departure in the parking lot at the church, we gave them a necklace with a charm on it relating to their divine nature as a daughter of God ... their very first "Guardian". We explained to them that in our ward's free time, we would be giving spiritual thoughts accompanied by fun activities and each had a charm to go with it.

Were those charms ever magnets!

And they were a nice replacement to all of the little crafty trinkets and toys usually accumulated at camp.

On the first evening, all of the girls in our stake gathered to sing uplifting songs in the starlight. We chose "Guardian's of Virtue" from here. Prior to camp, we burned a CD with the music, glued a cute cover together and tied it up with raffia for the girls to familiarize with.

We were asked to come pre-prepared for skit night. Our girls made a spoof of "I have a Dream" from Rapunzel. I'm posting the lyrics because it was so fun to sit with them and listen to their hilarious creativity bouncing off of each other as they rhymed for the re-write.

The cast of characters were choristers, pianists, missionaries, nursery workers, ward clerks, a married couple, and some scouts, relief society sisters and deacons. We looked like an over-exaggerated explosion ;)

We were responsible for an orienteering activity to serve as a treasure hunt. We turned ours into a relay. Each group was given a scroll with a clue and orienteering directions to one of three locations. Each location held a spiritual thought given by a YCL (youth camp leader) with an activity centered around the armor of God and wielding our strength.

Station 1:  Shield of Faith

Trusting in things that are felt but not seen.

We used dollar store foam kick boards and duct tape to make shields. Dollar store water rockets for "fiery darts"
Game:  Partners use water darts to spray shave cream off the other's hand in a race while using the shield to stay as dry as they can.

Station 2:  Sword of the Spirit

We are not left to mearly defend but to also bear witness and testimony.

We cut PVC pipe and inserted into the middle of noodles cut to sword length and then wrapped the length and handle in duct tape.
Game:  Race to hit a certain number of water balloons against the other team.

Station 3:  Breastplate of Righteousness

We cover our heart daily with scripture, pondering and prayer as our protection.

We took lengths of PVC cut longer than a noodle so as to have a handle and form a lance. Then wrapped the end in duct tape with a cushion of batting for safety. Leg lengths of pantyhose were cut to slide as a sheath over the lance. For each joust, we dropped a small water balloon into the pantyhose leg, then slid down the length of the lance. We also made stick ponies and each girl wore a life vest as their "breastplate of righteousness".

Game:  One hand on the lance, one on the stick pony (so no one has the power to really hurt the opponent), galloping from one end of the clearing to the other, break the water balloon on the opponent.

These were the clues leading to each station:

There are four because the last phrase took us back to our rendezvous point.
At the end of each rotation, the girls received a charm to coordinate. Definitely good fun on a hot day.

For another group activity in our free time, we pulled from Sister Dalton's talk about setting goals of things we will and will not do. We talk about how, as women, we have a tendency to be critical ... not only of other's but ourselves. Those are tools of the adversary seeking to tear us apart but when we strengthen our spiritual muscles, we have the power to defeat such negativity.

We had the girl's write something about themselves that they would like to change and then we put them in a really ugly piƱata and took turns hitting it with the heaviest frying pan in the world .. okay, so a little Disney Rapunzel tie in there, too ;)

And it didn't hurt to add some candy rings ;)

For a quiet craft time, we talked about shielding our virtue and how each shield .. or testimony .. is different. Some grow line upon line. Some just know. Some rely on the faith of others for a time. Each testimony individual, personal, and okay. We aren't all on the same part of the path all of the time.

The girl's made chalk board shields of all different sizes to put their own word's of wisdom and daily quotes on. The shield cut outs were found at Micheal's and spray painted with chalkboard paint. We drilled holes in the top to knot rustic rope for hanging.

Every one was as individually beautiful as it's creator.

We also decided to forgo the traditional secret sister gift giving in favor of a journal for each girl where they could write their thoughts. We prepared each with quote handouts that we would use during camp.

I loved this because on our way out the last day, we circled up for the last charm about being guardians for one another as our paths cross through life. Then took some time to write on the back pages of each other's books, passing the journals in a circle in silence, leaving sweet notes of observations and encouragement.  It was a palpable moment.

And there were so very many of those moments thick with emotion and feeling.

Watching young women experience the quiet of the woods to open letters from parents expressing their feelings to daughters as they became their first "guardians". Taking a faith hike to forge an unseen path. Listening to girls share their thoughts and feelings about their own personal testimony of the Savior.

I couldn't help it ... I had to put all our antics in a sappy and lengthy video to share at a followup/goodbye party to some of those we love who were leaving our circle permanently.

So love each of these beautiful girls and so very pleased to have my own daughters growing beside them.

Monday, August 5, 2013

pinteresting selfie

I don't have a Pinterest.
I'm conflicted about how I feel about Pinterest.
What's not to love about having every imaginable homemade idea right at your fingertips?

Sometimes, I feel like original creative thought gets stifled.
Sometimes, I need a boost in creativity and I think I might find that boost on Pinterest.
Sometimes, I think up something great then hear from my girls, "Oh, I saw that on Pinterest".
Sometimes, I wonder what's the point of being original.
Sometimes, I'm overwhelmed by all that Pinteresty great stuff I might should be doing.
Sometimes, I wish I had a Pinterest so I could be better at everything.
Sometimes, I'm glad I don't so I can just be mediocre me.



I grew up clipping favorites from magazines to paste in scrapbooks and I guess that's no different.

Still ... I like to tease my girls who love Pinterest, that I think they should try to be more interesting than pinteresting as they come up with their own creative ideas.

And .. . whenever I have what I think is an original idea (though I'm pretty sure it's already been Pinterested) I proclaim me, "So great, I should Pinterest myself" in a sing-song voice accompanied by solo laughter and eye rolls all around.

I know.

A pathetic party of one.

BUT!! ...

Today I had such a moment and it was just too good not to share.

I got tired of making sandwiches for the pool.
Let out a deep sigh.
Looked around the kitchen for a solution.
And there you have it.

Pure genius.

And I really am feeling so great I should Pinterest myself ... if I had a Pinterest.  ;)