Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My day at Girls Camp

Tuesday was a very special day for me. I had the wonderful opportunity to attend one day of my church’s annual girls camp, for girls 12-17 yrs. It’s known for being one of the best weeks ever for the girls. Tons of fun, silly songs and skits, friendship making, and spiritual growth. I was burning out from motherhood trials, and this day was just the dose of medicine I needed. I count it as a tender mercy from the Lord that he gave me Tuesday. So thankful for Shaun being home with the kiddos.

I was asked to be the photographer, and as always, I love my job. It was so much fun to capture so many funny and beautiful shots.

The last time I went to this particular camp was back in 1991, when I was a little spunky, socially clueless, tomboy 12 year old. As I walked down into that camp, I vaguely remembered the same mountains, rocks, and surroundings from so long ago. What a turn of the tables to now be one of the camp leaders, and see all these cute 12 year olds around me.

I want to share some glimpses of this day:

My “Dances with Wolves” roots kick in whenever I see one of these:)


Such a neat view when you’re laying down on your back pointing the camera up!


Me looking like a goofball papparazi, with my friend’s camera, along with mine, around my neck.


Rounding up all the girls in the big arena, with the older girls down on the floor, singing silly camp songs and having a blast.


Here’s to give you an idea of the amount of girls at camp! Pretty large crowd of fun. (Thank you, Jessica for helping me get this shot! I know your reading this, ha ha:)


Wonderful, spiritual lessons from kind church leaders, out in the beautiful woods. Does it get any better?


Some of the awesome chefs, totally goofing off and being so darn cute!


The wonderful head chef made these darling aprons for her crew. Each year, she plans and prepares  amazing meals for the mass amount of girls. I heard she baked 200 bread bowls for soup night. She’s amazing.


Now this is a very special part of the day that I just had to share. There were a few little spiritual talks that the girls went to hear. We split up into groups, and rotated around. This particular talk was incredibly well delivered, and so very, very touching and spiritual. The girls were asked to come up, and put blindfolds on. They were then told various commands, such as ‘stay standing if you’ve ever walked out of a movie that was inappropriate’ or ‘if you’ve asked someone to stop swearing’, or ‘if you’ve ever ate lunch with someone sitting alone at school’. Those who had not done these things would take their blindfolds off, and quietly go sit down.




As the crowd slowly diminished, and a few girls were left standing, the leader would ask them how they were feeling, to which they replied ‘Alone’, not knowing how many girls were standing up there. The leader emphasized that sometimes when we make the right choice, we feel alone in the world.

The leader said ‘Stay standing if you’ve ever gone to church alone without your family’, and only one girl stayed standing. Another leader brought up a stand, and placed that beautiful picture of the Savior there. The leader continued to speak about how when it feels like we are alone choosing the right, there is always one person who will be by our side. She then told the girl to take off her blindfold, and see how that person was. Oh, writing this now makes brings the spirit again of that wonderful, teaching moment. So tender.


The rest of the day was just as fabulous. Knowing that it was my only day that I could come to camp made me treasure each moment greatly. If only I could take that attitude with me each day, and I could have much better mothering days. That is my goal.

After the classes, the girls had some ‘grove time’, time to find a place in nature, open your scriptures, take notes, and be still. Listen to the spirit speaking softly to you. Feel the love your Heavenly Father has to you. Feast upon the word. Knowing that this was a quiet moment of studying that rarely happens at home, let alone out in nature, I grabbed a chair, and ran for the hills.

I was so thankful I had scriptures on my phone, and I sat for a bit and was able to read and ponder them. I was reminded of how good it felt to truly read the scriptures, to search the footnotes, to slowly read a verse out loud, and let it sink deep into my soul. I think that’s how you have a real scripture study, and it leaves you feeling so enriched. I stopped and listened to the birds and sounds of the mountains, and thought about my sweet husband and kids back down in the desert. I walked away from that moment with renewed strength to be a more patient and loving mom.

My favorite pictures I took. I hope you can see better what I am describing of ‘grove time’ through these shots. Seriously, sometimes life gives you these moments that cannot be bought with money, and last in your heart and mind forever. Thanks for reading this post:)



Sunday, July 8, 2012

The sugar story

Ok, here we go. This is a whopper of a blog post!

Last month, I discovered a healthier way to take care of my hair. Little did I know I would be embarking on a bigger quest; healthier eating, ha ha!

So, it all started 2 weeks ago when I was chatting with a good friend. She and I were talking about how to eat healthier, lose weight, and take better care of yourself. She cut out ‘the whites’, no white sugar or flour. Refined sugar. Deep down, I thought “Well, of course that would make you healthier! Sugar is wonderful tasting, but crap for your body.”

I can’t exactly remember how I came to the decision to try it, but I decided to try cutting out the whites. I started my good old researching at night, and learned a ton. I’ve gotten a lot of interesting responses to my quest. Lots of ‘you’re crazy!’, ‘ I can’t live without my sugar’ , and some from friends who have gone this route. I totally agree on the crazy part. I mean, hello. You all see the fun recipes I share on FB, and we know how much I love that darn good nutella cheesecake.

So, part of me wondered, ‘why am I attempting to go without sugar??’ and the other part of me wondered, ‘Well, let’s see’, because I do want to be healthier, and wouldn’t mind losing a little weight, but above all, it just feels good to be healthy and take care of your self.

At first, I read a lot from Sarah Wilson, this Australian lady who cut out sugar completely. Hardly any fruit, no honey, agave, etc. She had good things to say about the health benefits of no sugar, and the addiction factor, but I like to eat fruit.

That’s another thing. A lot of the articles I read mentioned sugar being as addictive as cocaine and other drugs. Crazy! I don’t know how often we think of sugar in that manner, but I don’t doubt it being addicting.

I read about how eating healthy food gives your body the cue that it’s full, and you don’t gorge yourself. White sugar does not, and if you’re not disciplined, you can easily eat too much of the sweets.

Along the way, I read about the benefits of eating healthy fats, and not sugar fats. Full fat milk and other things don’t necessarily put on the weight; the sugar and fructose does. How low fat things tend to have more sugar in them to make them taste as good as the full fat item. (yogurt and such) So, its really doing you no good to get low fat this and that. Interesting. 

My favorite thing I learned was about beans! I learned, well, was reminded since my Mom did this, that if you soak dry beans over night, it de-gasses them. So, no toots! I soaked a bunch of pinto beans, put them in the crock pot with onions and garlic, cooked for 8 hours, mashed them up with a bunch of cumin, and they tasted great. You can freeze them easily for burritos, bean dip, etc. So, my favorite snack now is chips and bean dip. I’m so silly, but beans are dang healthy for you:) Plus, they tasted ten times better than canned refried beans!

I made a few sugar free desserts, just to try and see. Well, they tasted like crap to me. Even the kids didn’t like them. The brownies were the equivalent to cardboard. It was pretty funny. We went to a friend’s party. Shaun wolfed down some apple pie, thinking it was the last chance he would get sugar, since I got rid of 4 bags of panty food. I saw him doing that and laughed.

The crazy thing is sugar is in everything!! BBQ sauce, ketchup, salad dressings. High fructose corn syrup is worse, and is also everywhere. There’s more sugar in BBQ sauce than in chocolate ice cream topping. I tossed Aunt Jemima’s pancake syrup out. Shaun cried. To explain, I haven’t changed everything. The kids still eat their food, and I kept some jam and Jiffy for Shaun, but I’m trying to cut out the high fructose corn syrup for the kids, and help them eat a little healthier.

I also read about hydrogenated oil. Wow, that was an eye opener. All of sudden, Jiffy peanut butter doesn’t taste so good. Bought a healthier peanut butter quick.

I decided to try brown rice pasta to solve the white flour issue. Thankfully, it tastes great to me, so we are friends:)

I learned about refined oils, the ones to avoid and why, and the blessings of coconut oil. Check out link here to learn more about that. Reading about canola oil not being so good for you made me think, ‘Does Bobby Flay know this? Because he sure dowses everything he cooks in canola oil!' I’m sure not all the chefs on Food Network are nutritionists.  Hello, Paula Deen!

So, it’s been crazy, but I have been making little changes here and there to our eating. On the sugar issue, I decided that I’d like to really cut back on eating refined, white sugar. Once a month treat. I have been reading a lot of whole food blogs, and that’s what I want to do. Eat more organic, whole foods.  Cut out the processed crap.I decided to try using organic palm cane sugar for the moment. I’m open to using honey and maple syrup for sweeteners.

I also know what I want for Christmas, and it’s called a Vitamix. It’s a super blender, food processor, soup maker, ice cream maker, and more, and it’s perfect for whole food eating. Saw it at Costco this weekend. Oh, man that will be a fun investment someday.

In a way, it just feels like I’m coming home. My mom and grandma ate super healthy like this. Seeing the same brands of health food that I saw growing up is neat. I remember being at my grandma’s house, and looking in her fridge for something to eat. Nothing but tofu, veggies, and weird condiments to me as a kid, thinking ‘Is there anything normal to eat in this house?’ And yet, now I love health food. Eating good food tastes so much better to me. Strangely, I’m not going bonkers to have chocolate and sweets. I read all labels in the store now. Basically, the shorter the list of ingredients in the food, the better it is for you.

Bottom line is this; the first week I was off sugar, I felt good. I had good energy, and my mind seemed to be more alert. I just felt better. It was really neat to see that. I did have a little strawberry shortcake with Shaun on our date this weekend, and I didn’t go crazy and binge. Go, me!

Ok, getting pooped, and need to post some links for you guys below, so I must retire. I still have lots to learn on the food topic, so feel free to share what you’ve learned. I love hearing from you all:) Great blog of a family who quit processed foods. Healthy milk talk The beans! Good food blog Another good food blog

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Brooke’s update

I was trying to decide to either blog about Brooke or the sugar story. Sugar story will be a longer post, and it’s late, so let’s talk about our angel:)

Well, first, let’s get caught up with our adventures. I’m so scatterbrained!

Twice, our air conditioning has broken this summer. The first time, we had a lovely breeze blowing the whole night. We left the windows open, and it felt just fine. It made me remember my time living in Provo before serving an LDS mission. I would leave the windows open at night, and the cool Utah summer wind would blow through my room. Then, I woke up and remembered we were in Vegas, ha ha!

Here’s the 2nd time it broke. Ethan liked all his tools.


More summer pool fun!




Love this!


One massive pizza for a fun dinner!


Best toy in the house; the maze ball. Ethan loves it. It’s addicting and fun.


Getting ready for bed:)


Ok, Brooke! Recently, I noticed Brooke around a few babies her age. Those babies were crawling, sitting up, and moving everywhere. Brooke can’t sit on her own, push herself up on her tummy, or crawl. She can only roll everywhere. I called up Early intervention, and some nice ladies came out a couple weeks afterwards. Turns out Brooke is 50% behind in her gross motor skills, the sitting up stuff. She’s great with her fine motor skills, but a little behind in her speech. They said she should be doing more babbling, and she doesn’t. She does a lot of cooing, and a few good giggles for us. Once she can sit up and improve her gross motor, the speech should kick in.

Of course, any time, she could take off. I’m totally not worried at all. I just know we need to do some physical stuff with her daily to help her get caught up. She’s so tiny and sweet. This is a first for us. The boys were moving just fine, and keep on moving great. They never STOP moving:)

So, we have some work with Brooke. Any of you sweet friends do this stuff with your kids?