Sunday, July 16, 2017

Aspen Grove- Blad Family Reunion

I did not expect that I was going to love Aspen Grove family camp as much as I did.  It was so much fun.  I would go there every year with our family if I could.
I have been to Aspen Grove on a tour when I was in college.  I thought about applying to work there because your food and lodging comes free, but I didn't think I could swing college classes and driving up there and everything, so I decided against it.  However, my family used to drive past that place all the time when we would go for Sunday picnics at the Theater in the Pines, so I knew exactly where it was.  

Let me tell you, Aspen Grove hires stellar people to be your friends!  My kids LOVED their counselors and all the activities!  The adults didn't have counselors which I thought was really dumb.  I know that we could've schooled all those little twerps at all the competitions.  (Just kidding, in case you couldn't hear my sarcasm.)  Actually, the planned activities were awesome for the kids AND the adults.  Lily did a great job on her blog telling about all the fun experiences she had up there.  Here are the links to her posts:

My experience as an adult up there is a little different than Lily's.  Let's talk food first.  It was AWESOME!  We were never hungry.  They have a large cafeteria, you come at your assigned time to eat.  They say a prayer before they open the doors, then they let you in.  There are 4 main buffet lines with hot food which you could go down both sides (so, 8 lines), and on the opposite side of the cafeteria there was a salad bar/ healthier options buffet (2 lines), and there was another buffet that always had bread, peanut butter and jelly, applesauce, and little kid foods.  You never had to wait in line very long.  And there were fruit baskets always available too.  The staff waited until all guests had gone through the lines before they brought out desserts and put them on the buffet.  Condiments were at a few differing locations.  There was a large wall lined with drink options- soda pops, juices, hot cocoa, water, milk, etc..  

Fajitas (chicken or ground beef), black beans.  Also- Fish and Tomatoes.
Penne Pasta (marinara or alfredo), sausages, breadsticks.  Also- Soup
Pulled Pork sandwiches. Also- soup

Fruit cobbler
Ice Cream Sandwiches

Build your own ham or turkey and cheese sandwich
Hamburgers, chips
and something else I can't remember

(There was also a cereal bar available everyday for every meal.)
(Also available during breakfast- Oatmeal, Yogurt parfait bar, Hard boiled eggs.) 
Pancakes and sausage. 
Biscuits and gravy, bacon

Next, let's talk activities!  The kids were put into groups and were in good hands with a pair of counselors.  They were gone doing activities in their age groups from right after breakfast until lunch.  Then right after lunch until dinner.  We were always together for all our meals, and the evenings were filled with family-togetherness activities.  While the kids were gone, the adults could sign up for sporting competitions, or choose to do another activity like go on a hike to Stewart Falls, check out board games, play pool or ping pong, paint at the craft house, woodwork at the woodshop, climb the ropes course, free swim, or go to classes.  

Some of the things I really enjoyed were the classes given by Hank Smith.  He's a BYU religion professor and his classes that we attended were captivating, insightful, and inspiring.  Alex (Heather's hubby) is actually in one of his classes, and Hank kept quizzing him, which was kinda fun.
selfie with Hank Smith
We also played laser tag with the Blads in the wilderness!  Steve and I were just going to watch, but they let us play even though we never signed up for a time.  I remember just running through the woods and hiding and waiting for anyone to cross my path so I could start shooting.  I was by Amy and she took a wrong step and fell all tangled up in a tree.  I had to break a branch to free her ankle, and she was fine, just embarrassed.  Near the end time, I was trying my best to hit Andrea and Steve, but I didn't get them even once.  I think I took over 300 shots and I had zero hits.  I was hit 3 times.  After 5 hits, you're dead.  Guess my gun skills are not very war-worthy.

Steve and I also took a hike to the falls on Monday, which happened to be Memorial Day.  That was the most crowded trail ever!  We got to the falls, took a picture, and headed back as fast as we could so I could catch another of Hank's classes.  We literally jogged down the trail any chance we got.
We missed half his lecture, but had a great time anyway.

Now let's talk about the evening activities.  Friday they had an opening ceremonies/skit program put on by the counselors and the children.  Our kids went up and performed their skits.  Saturday night was Frontier Night with lots of Western-themed activities.  I took the girls to do some painting with me, so we were a little late for the frontier night, but we have awesome soveniers.  
Amara's cat she painted with acrylics made to look like Smokey.

Lily's plate painted with a glaze.

My cute owl salt and pepper shakers I painted with glaze.

Steve attempting to whip the balloon off
 Sunday night was your choice of a fireside or movie night.  Steve and I attended the fireside and the girls went to the movie night where they watched "Once I Was A Beehive."  Monday was only a half-day, so the family activity was Aspen Follies, a series of short competitive games where you compete against other groups.  They ended with catapulting waterballoons at a crowd and if you caught one, you won a free drink.  Uncle Trent ended up catching a few balloons and he gifted them to some of the little kids.  It was all so much fun!
 Before we ended our time there, we stopped by the ice cream shop and got good ol' BYU creamery ice cream!

We loved Aspen Grove!

Note fore next time- I'll bring a blanket for the evening ampitheater programs!  And if we can afford it, we'll stay in the lodge instead of the cabins for more space, better temperature control, and our own bathroom.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Lily's 12th Birthday

 My firstborn is twelve!  That is nuts!  I remember being twelve, and it wasn't that long ago.  Young womens, girls camp, baptisms at the temple...  It's a great age!

My sweet Lily's birthday also happened to be the same day that our family reunion began with the Blads, and this year it was at Aspen Grove.  In the morning, we did a mini-celebration, then we packed and headed outta town the minute Steve got out of school.

 We made her a candybar card.
To our dear SweeTart Lily, Happy Birthday!  We remember when you were just a BabyRuth and we would kiss your little Butterfingers and listen to your Snickers!  Maybe we're Nerds, but here's 100 Grand because you're 12!  M&M (more and more) we LOVE you! We are your greatest FAN!
 We did her hair all special, and even added some bachelor buttons from our front yard.
 We got to Aspen Grove just in time to get settled in and meet everyone at the dining hall for dinner.
 Our cabin room was small and had 2 sets of bunkbeds which I hit my head on multiple times that it gave me a goose egg.  My dad hit his head on the light in his room, and Heather had a splitting headache because she kept hitting her head on the dang bed too.  That was the one complaint I wrote down on their evaluation forms.  And it was my only complaint because everything else seemed pretty great!
 I'll do a post on Aspen Grove later with more pics, but here's Lily's birthday dinner...
 After the evening activities Lily was showered with gifts from grandma and grandpa Lauret.  Oh!  And they also decorated our cabin with balloons and confetti and a birthday banner!

 She got everything she wanted- a rope, Oreos, Gap jeans and even a shirt!  She loved it all!
 We sang Happy Birthday in our room and she blew out a candle on an app that I downloaded.  There was no cake because I wasn't able to arrange anything with Aspen Grove, but the day was full and fun, and we were together to celebrate.  We sure are lucky to have Lily in our lives!

A few days later we were home for a short bit and the Young Women leaders came over to welcome Lily into Beehives.  They brought her a cool gift that held her personal progress book and other things.  She also got 2 balloons and a candy.

 Her leaders are wonderful.  I love them both and they are so very sweet.  Lily will love going to Young Womens!  Strangely enough, She still hasn't been able to attend YW in our ward because we've been out of town all summer.  We haven't been to our ward in 6 weeks.  We'll finally be there tomorrow, and it just so happens that Girl's Camp is this week.  Lily is so looking forward to it.  I'm excited for her and I think she's gonna love it.  Being 12 is so great!

Lily is growing up so very fast.  She now fits my shoes, keeps growing out of her clothes, and is mature in so many ways.  She's a huge help and blessing to our family.  She is so very smart.  She's definitely a faster reader than I am, and I think she may even be able to beat her dad, and that's saying something!  She's probably the fastest reader I know.  I remember when she was 4 and she asked me to teach her how to read.  I wasn't going to let that opportunity go, so I bought a book, and she was reading at a 2nd grade level before even entering kindergarten!

She has a natural nurturing personality which brings such peace to all those around her.  She is a natural at singing and playing the piano (her piano teacher is very impressed).  Did I forget to mention she is a really amazing writer as well?  She's got the awards and money to prove it!  She is very creative and I like seeing her perspective in all she creates.

She likes to sit in on conversations with adults and she also likes to go out and play with the younger kids.  She's easy-going and easy to get along with.  I love hearing her laugh and I love our conversations together.  I just love being with my daughter.  She's a true joy and I'm so glad I can home school her.

She loves Oreos, roller coasters, horses, reading, writing, blogging, family, friends, steak and potatoes, Smokey (our cat), swimming, and having fun.

When she gets her temple recommend, she wants to go to the Vernal temple (Aunty April made her promise she could be there), and then go out to eat at the Jade Lion.

She's also started a fund to take our family to the Rockin' R Ranch.  $100 is a good start.  I'm proud of her for saving her money.  She has a bank account and her own debit card now.  See?  I told you she's getting super grown up!

From May: Surprise Tooth Pull, Outdoor Beauty, Gardening Hardening, Photoshoots

 Surprise Tooth Pull

It was supposed to just be a routine cleaning at the dentist, but those loose teeth changed everything.  Poor little Amara didn't want them to even wiggle or bump her loose teeth, but the dentist knew best.  He said since she didn't seem to pull her teeth out soon enough, the adult teeth weren't coming in straight.

The hygienist called me back to be with Amara because she was teary-eyed and not speaking to her.  To say the least, Amara was upset.  When I reached her side she had a huge frown on her face, tears welled up in her eyes and shaking her head over and over saying, "no' without saying a word.  The hygienist told me the news and I could feel Amara's anxiety.  I promised her I would hold her hand through it all and tried to assure her that it wouldn't be as bad as she was expecting.  She would be all numbed up and wouldn't even feel them pop the teeth out.  I really tried to be reassuring, but she didn't really calm down.

When it came time for the dentist, he administered the shots and she screamed and yelped with each one.  By this time, she stopped trying to hold back her anger and tears.  Her entire body was tense and as the dentist used his tool to pop the teeth out, the teeth literally jumped out of her mouth.  She squealed as the pops happened, which only took 30 seconds to pop all 4 out.  When it was all over she was incredibly relieved and admitted that the teeth being pulled really didn't hurt at all.  She was all smiles when the hygienist handed her a necklace with a charm that was a tooth-shaped container that held all 4 of her teeth.  They stuffed her mouth full of gauze and it was all over.

Outdoor Beauty

I can usually tell when the sunset is going to be impressive.  I look for clouds in the sky that will reflect all the beautiful colors.  This one was made better by getting to experience it with the ones I love.

Gardening Hardening

We always have a TON of work to do in May, and gardening is always on that list.  The girls (and I) are learning to be great gardeners, which I believe will be a very useful skill when they grow up.
We've been raising our own plants from seed for the past few years as a part of the science studies the kids do for home school.  This year, we were hardening off our plants with intentions to plant right around Memorial Day.


One last springtime activity we took part in was photographing some of our friends and their puppies, and our home teacher and his family before his mission.  I won't post all the pics here, but I will say that everyone loved their photos and it gave me an opportunity to practice photography.  I'm trying to get experience before my cousin's wedding in September that he asked me to photograph.  
We've taken puppy photos and photos for one of the children in this family, and apparently they were pleased because they asked us to take photos again and to take pics of all their kids and their cousins.  These families are such good people and we had a great time hanging out at this photoshoot.

They not only had puppies, but kittens too!

This next family was a blast to photograph.  The 3 boys are mission-bound.  The one throwing the kick in the photo below was our home teacher and his mom is my visiting teacher.  I volunteered Steve and I to take their family photos before the boys left on their missions, and they were kind enough to accept.

Our hometeacher is really awesome and he brought a sword to take pictures with.  Amara and he posed for some remarkable pics.

The serious sword pics turned out really cool.

And, the mission photos were nice too.

We really had too much fun photographing all our friends and their animals and I hope we have many more opportunities to do this together.  I'm learning a lot!