Saturday, July 30, 2011

Summer Camps

Julianne spent the 2nd week of July at Utah State University attending Retreat for Girls. Similar to the EFY program that is run by BYU, Retreat for Girls is sponsored by Deseret Book (the same program that puts on those Time Out for Women events.) Retreat for Girls is obviously an all girls week. And also unlike EFY, you only have to be 12 years old to go rather than 14 which is why my 13 year old Julianne was able to attend. She headed off on her trip with 3 other friends, Taylor, Lizzie, and Jessica...and the 4 of them had a fabulous week filled with classes, lectures, concerts, games and crafts. Julianne claims it was the most spiritual of highs she has ever experienced.Lizzie, Taylor, Julianne and Jessie all checked in and anxious to settle into their dorms.
Julianne and her counselor, Sandy aka: Sydney. The counselors all had nicknames like Bubbles or Miss Piggy, etc. Part of the week's fun was to try and guess the counselor's real names by the last day.

Clockwise from top left: Julianne, Lizzie, Taylor and Jessica

The very next week (after unpacking Julianne, doing all her laundry and then packing Rebekah with many of the same sharing, a nice perk to having a sister very close to you in age and therefore size) Rebekah left for a week of AFY. Yes, I typed it was not a typo. I did mean AFY, not EFY. AFY stands for Adventures for Youth and is part of the EFY program. It's held at BYU Idaho and along with the classes, lectures and devotionals that are part of the normal EFY program, the kids also go white water river rafting and do a ropes course. Seeing as the AFY group is on the smaller side of your normal EFY group, they also get the opportunity to do Baptisms for the Dead in the Rexburg Temple.

Brianna, Casey, Bryant, Rebekah and Jenny all bright eyed and bushy tailed (where DOES that phrase come from anyway??) before their long drive up to Rexburg.

Rebekah and her counselor, Jamie.

The same week Rebekah was at BYU Idaho attending AFY, Brandon was doing his own summer camp at the University of Utah at the G.R.E.A.T. (Graphics and Robotic Exploration with Amazing Technology) summer camp. Brandon heard about the camp at school. A scholarship opportunity to lessen the cost of the camp was offered and Brandon decided to jump on it. An essay was required detailing the reasons why he wanted to attend this science/engineering camp. Brandon wrote about being interested in science and picking his dad's brain each day with dozens of questions. He wrote that his great-grandfather, who is named after, was an engineer building roads. He wrote that his own grandfather is also an engineer designing and building automated storage and retrieval systems. His essay won him a scholarship and a spot at the camp. And although the camp wasn't anywhere near as expensive as the girls' Retreat for Girls and AFY were, I think the fact that he had worked for the spot, worked for the tuition...made it that much sweeter. Just a day camp, Brandon spent a few hours each morning learning a design program and then writing his own computer games. The camp wasn't exactly what he was expecting but he had an awesome time all the same. Despite the fact that he practically lives and breathes gymnastics this summer, Brandon's other passion is science. Right now he is especially interested in molecular formulas and spends hours discussing chemistry and physics with his dad. But computer programming just gave Brandon one more thing to discuss, one more way to be "just like Dad" seeing as Bryan is a computer guy.
He's already planning on attending again next year....

I've already briefly mentioned Brandon's other summer camp....the men's state summer gymnastics camp. Six hours a day for four days of non-stop, intensive but "wicked fun" gymnastics. This camp in addition to his normal five days a week workouts all summer! But he loves it. And I love watching his passion, his excitement, his drive when it comes to gymnastics. (I wish he had that much drive when it comes to cleaning his room....)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Favorite Photo Friday: Brandon's footwear

May 2008

Brandon is rather particular about shoes...and he goes through phases. Right now, he refuses to wear anything but heavy duty athletic shoes. No slip-ons, no flip flops, no crocs. He only grudgingly wears dress shoes on Sundays because we insist. Back in 2008 Brandon was obsessed with cowboy boots. He'd wear them till the the stitching was coming un-stitched and the soles had holes. And then insist on another new pair just like the old ones....despite the fact that there were other footwear options still in his closet. So when I told him to grab his shoes and head to the car in preparation for a trip to Grandma and Grandpa's house I shouldn't have been surprised to find that even though he was wearing shorts and a tank top, the black cowboy boots completed the outfit.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Summer boredom. Julianne contracted it yesterday. After recommending HGTV, reading a new book or calling a friend as an antidote to said boredom and being turned down, I started suggesting vacuuming, laundry, and cleaning bathrooms. I still don't fully understand why she turned those down? I mean, seriously....could there be anything more fun than scrubbing toilets?
And then I had a brilliant idea. Brilliant, I tell you! (Of course, I didn't realize just how brilliant it was until after it kept Julianne boredom free for quite a few hours.) What is this incredibly brilliant idea? I introduced Julianne to Picasa. Here are some of the results:
I'll categorize the idea as downright genius if Picasa proves to be the antidote to summer boredom more than just this once.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What's summer without a family reunion or two?

Realistically....we don't go to many family reunions. In fact, my mom's side of the family hasn't had one since I was a teenager. But we had a big family reunion this past Saturday and we had people traveling in from Michigan, Indiana and Idaho to be there. (This picture doesn't even do it justice because some people had already left by the time it was taken....)

Lots of family...some I knew, some I didn't, some I only vaguely recognized. But it was great fun to make the connection of how we were all related. We watched old...really, really old...home movies and slide shows. Surprisingly I found myself getting teary while watching video of my great grandparents. Though I haven't seen them since I was late elementary-early Jr. High age I still have memories of visiting them in Brigham City. In fact, I used to write letters weekly to my great grandmother when she was in a nursing home the last year or two of her life. Remember that old church movie called "The Mailbox?" About the cute little grandma who desperately wanted letters from her family and would check her mailbox diligently every day? It made an impact on me when I was 12 or 13 years old. And from then on I wrote my great grandmother without fail. Video and pictures of my own grandmother who died last summer, also had me choked up.

Here's some shots of the day....
The sand volleyball court was used more for sandcastles than an actual game of volleyball....

Lilian and Grandpa

Brandon with his 1st cousin, Dalton and his 2nd cousin, Davis. And if Davis looks's because he is also on Brandon's gymnastics team. The two of them wowed everyone with their back flips, back handsprings, handstands and other such tricks.

Bryan BBQ'd us some yummy steaks. Which tasted especially good seeing as we are BBQ-less at our house this summer.

Sisters: Aunt Jana and Mom

Sisters: Melissa and me

Sisters: Julianne and Rebekah

Bryan set up two slack lines for adventurous thrill Mickey (haha). Bryan's was low to the ground and slack enough that he was able to balance on it while talking on his cell phone. Talk about multi-tasking talent!

My cousin Gwendolyn and her little family drove in all the way from Michigan. (Being 2 months puke-y pregnant and traveling with a 2 year old. Sheer craziness in my opinion, but it was really good to see them.)

Dad and me

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Zoo trip

What is it about zoos that makes people want to take pictures? And I'm not talking about "oh's us at the zoo.." type. I'm talking about the professional photographer wannabe that comes out in people as they take pictures of all the animals. Forget the cute kids. It's the lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) that we want shots of. Are they really that fascinating? Apparently they are because I found myself doing the same thing when I took Julianne and Lilian to the zoo this past week.
Here's a mixture of both...cute kids AND fascinating animals.

The zoo has a Dinosaur theme going on right now....big, ol' dinosaurs all over the place. Most of them moved, growled, and sometimes even spit which meant that I was constantly reassuring Lilian that they weren't real...seeing as they weren't in cages.

Lilian was obsessed with this elephant. Absolutely refused to get on it or anywhere relatively close to it when I pleaded, cajoled, begged for a picture. But from across the path she loved watching all the kids gather around for the spray of water that came from the trunk when the elephant "sneezed." We probably spent more time in front of this elephant that at any other place in the zoo. Go figure.

And here are the REAL elephants. Three of them all together. I could not get enough of the little baby! And when I say "little" I mean comparatively...because that "little" baby seemed all the sudden rather big when she lumbered on over closer to us a bit later.

That's one huge Rhino....

Four tigers all together, this one sat in the water next to the glass wall and stared at me. It was awesome! I have to the past I've not been a big fan of the zoo. I always came away feeling very sad that these once proud animals were reduced to living in a tiny enclosure with people knocking on their windows and staring at them all day. And yes, I know....the animals in zoos are usually ones that, for some reason or another, are not going to survive in the wild. But it still made my heart hurt. Happily, for the past many years, our zoo has undertaken big remodeling projects to made the animals feel more at home. The tigers have a wonderful new enclosure as do the elephants, rhinos and big apes. There is a huge project underway right now for the bears. I'm so glad!

As much as I was enjoying the tigers...I was also a little obsessed with the fact that I could take pictures of my reflection in the glass. thrills.

Giraffes have always been my favorites. They like to come socialize. And their ridiculously long, purple tongues make me laugh.

Um.....EWW!! Just to clarify, the "EWW!!" is for the snake, not my cute Lilian. Although her actions could be categorized as EWW!! This, we were told, is a non-venomous king snake. You can tell because the white stripes don't touch the red. If the white DOES touch the red, then it's the venomous kind. And while that's all good and fine to know...I think that if I see a king snake, I'm not planning on getting close enough to see if the white stripes touch the red or not!

Here's my happy girl. Wishing we could stay a little bit longer. But the crowds were inbound. And the heat was increasing. And, most importantly, it was time to pick up Brandon from his science camp. Looks like I may have to forgo my only-once-a-year-zoo-trip rule and take Lilian back again a little sooner.