Thursday, April 27, 2017

Beehive Camp

A few months ago I was called as the Young Women's counselor over Beehives. I have never served with the young women but always wanted to, so this year has been a bit surreal so far! I love these cute girls. They are so excited about everything we do and have a great spirit and energy that follows them.

At one of our activities, the girls mentioned a Beehive camp that a previous leader had done. They seemed to have really fond memories of it so we said, "Why not?" and planned a sleepover.

The girls came over around 7 and we started the night with team building and getting to know you games. Everybody brought a treat to share which means we had loads of sugar. Teenage girls + sugar = excessive silliness and ear-piercing shrieks and giggles. We also had them reveal their secret sister (which had been going on for a few weeks) and played a couple rounds of reverse charades. Then we settled in for a viewing of--what else?--"Once I Was a Beehive."

I'd thought they might fall asleep to the movie, but that was wishful thinking. They ended up staying up until past 2 am, which means my fellow leader and I also stayed up until 2. It took me several days to catch up from that one night of sleeplessness! The next morning we surprised our newest beehive with breakfast at the YW president's house (who also happened to be her mom). The other leaders and young women had to come wake the girls up for breakfast at 9. To say they were a little tired is an understatement! The crepe breakfast was delicious, and the whip cream games afterwards were the literal icing on a super fun, albeit rowdy and exhausting, activity.

In retrospect, I think a "late-over" would have accomplished just as much (minus the lack of sleep), but despite the challenges, it was a really great bonding experience and the girls are already asking when we can do it again. My answer to that is, "Never, but don't fear, you have girls camp next month and NONE of us will sleep for four straight nights!"

Beautiful Bride

March was a wonderful month. My sister, Paige, married a wonderful man in the San Diego temple. He is a true gem and absolutely perfect for her. Jeff is going to have to fight hard for his favorite son-in-law status. The day before the sealing, Paige received her endowment and all eight original Mackays met in the celestial room for the first time. It was incredibly special and something I will never forget. During the session, my Mom sat on one side of Paige and I sat on the other. We sandwiched her in family love and sisterly/matronly support, and I hope she knows that we will always be at her side come what may.

After many purchases and returns, Paige found her perfect wedding dress in a vintage dress shop. She found the perfect balance of stunning and classic and pulled it off naturally like she always does.

Greg wasn't so bad looking, himself. Such a sharp couple!

And let's not forget Calvin, who is as infatuated with Greg as the rest of us. Poor little guy struggled with the long day.

The reception was intimate -- just family for a gourmet pizza and salad bar. I feel like I really got to know Greg's family because we weren't trying to greet and entertain a zillion other guests. I must be getting old, because small gatherings are definitely my cup of tea these days.

Weddings are always a good excuse for family pictures. We used the exact same location we took our extended family picture 7 years ago. A lot has changed since then! It might be hard to see, but I love Sawyer's face and posture. He's so suave. ;)

Every wedding needs a sibling picture. I think I've solidified my status as the shortest.

And the ever growing grandkid picture. We're up to 13 with another one due any day. Again-- Sawyer with the cheese! What a ham!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Isabelle the Reader

Reading finally clicked for Isabelle this year. We worked our way through two sets of BOB books by the early months of the school year, and after that there was no stopping her. She loves to read and will read anything and everything she can get her hands on. Books, advertisements, street signs, text messages, subtitles... you name it. If it is words, she will read it. I caught her reading in her bed one night like this, and had to take a picture because, well truthfully, I thought the lighting was pretty and would make a good picture, but less superficially, because I love her passion and excitement for words and can't wait to see what life holds for this big spirit in a little body. I hope she never loses this love of learning, and always strives to acquire knowledge and wisdom in all the avenues life has to offer it.

P.S. The day when kids can read their own bedtime story is kinda awesome.

Isabelle Turns *S*I*X*

"Young [girls] should never be sent to bed. They always wake up a day older." -J.M. Barrie 

March 10, 2017

I begged and begged this girl to let us skip her birthday this year. I have loved five-year-old Izzy and I can't imagine her being any more perfect at any other age. But today she woke up one year older and, 12 hours in, and I am loving six-year-old Izzy just as much.

Isabelle's birthday started with our traditional birthday balloon pop (6 balloons -- 6 dollars) and presents over a coffee cake birthday breakfast. Her gifts this year satisfied very specific requests from the birthday girl - a kindle of her own, a mermaid tail blanket, and the Elena of Avalor movie.

It was pj day at school, so even though these next pictures weren't taken until that evening, she is still in her nightgown. If you ask me, I think staying in pajamas all day on your birthday is pretty swell, and Isabelle certainly wasn't complaining.

Isabelle requested cheesecake (for the 2nd year in a row) as her birthday cake. I splurged on a cool candle and it was worth every penny. The initial flame was a good 12" high and Izzy took off running! But then it lit all the other petals and turned into this lovely flower. A big flame followed by flowery sweetness is the perfect metaphor for our sweet and spunky Isabelle!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Getaway: Seattle Style

Sometimes when I want to go somewhere, I ask Jeff if he needs to go there for work anytime soon, and we turn a business trip into a pleasure trip. Now that his employees span the entire country, I can get to pretty much anywhere if I can be a little patient. That is how we ended up in Seattle in February. I noticed that Rent was on it's 20th anniversary tour, and one of it's stops was Seattle. Jeff needed to do some work there, so we made sure the timing of both events overlapped and bam-- Seattle, here we come!

It was pretty chilly and drizzly, so we kept our sightseeing to a minimum. I can't resist a good farmer's market so Pike's was a must. It is usually a good thing we are traveling when we visit these types of places, or I would come home with armfuls of fresh flowers and produce. As it was, I tried to buy some of the most delicious plums I've ever sampled, but Jeff convinced me they wouldn't last. We did buy a book for Logan at a used book store, but other than that it was a lot of people watching and picture taking.

I really am not sure how this guy was keeping his pants on. I sneaked this picture to document the absurdity. Sagging pants must be a west coast thing because it's been a loooong time since I've seen this.

Cuz you get bigger tips if you wear a cat mask....?

After Pike's we went to relax in a downtown movie theater where we saw the new Star Wars. It was nice to be able to just go to a spontaneous movie without worrying about coordinating babysitters. After the movie we cleaned up and dressed up and met up with Jeff's coworker and her husband. The four of us ate at a super fancy restaurant (we're talking rabbit and parsnips) then headed over to the theater to see Rent together. The show was super nostalgic and just as I remembered it. It is very tied to the era, but that made it even more fun to watch. The late 90s references were abundant, but they were legit because it wasn't a throwback play-- it was just written in the 90s, during the days of answering machines and tight leather pants and the AIDS outbreak.

Sunday was really wet and cold, so we slept in, ate a late breakfast, and caught an afternoon sacrament meeting. I had brought different shoes, but since we were going to have to walk a bit to church, I scrapped them and wore my boots. It wasn't until I looked in the mirror that I realized I looked like a pirate. I took a picture so I could remember this outfit and wear it on the next talk like a pirate day!

After church we took a drizzly walk around some Seattle suburbs. What a beautiful part of the country. It was fun to explore a bit on foot, even if we were very soggy by the time we found a place to eat lunch. After lunch we came back to the hotel and watched the Oscars in their entirety. It was such a nice relaxing day.

I have to be a bit vulnerable here and confess something. Jeff and I got in a pretty heated argument during this trip. In fact, we went to bed pretty upset Saturday night. Sunday morning dawned and we both had calmed down and were able to talk calmly and rationally. We resolved the disagreement, had a lovely day, and came back from the trip feeling like our relationship was stronger for it. Here's the strange part-- this happens almost every time we travel together. It's as though our lives are so busy and chaotic at home that we never have the chance to get things off our chest, but when we get away together, it all comes to the surface! In retrospect, I can laugh as I identify all the trips over the years that have had colossal blowups as part of the trip memory, but we always make up and it's yet to ruin a vacation, so I guess it's just our strange way of having couples therapy?

The Science Fair that Wouldn't End

Oh, science fair. How I love to loathe thee. I'm only two science projects into my parenting career and I would just as soon be done with them entirely. Which is unfortunate because I love science. In fact, I was really looking forward to helping Logan come up with a fun and interesting project this year. We brainstormed for a few days and decided that it sounded cool to grow bacteria in Petri dishes. We designed an experiment to answer the question of which anti-bacterial cleaner worked best. Logan excitedly collected samples and swabbed them on his Petri dishes, then cleaned those sampled areas with two different cleaners and sampled them again. A few days of growing, some observations, and we'd be done! Or so we thought.

What should've been short, simple, and easy quickly morphed into involved, complicated, and drawn out. Our first hiccup was when we read the rules and regulations and learned that all bacteria had to be grown in a lab. Seriously? I scrambled for a bit before remembering that we have a BYU biology professor in our ward. I asked if we could use his lab and he agreed, so I took Logan's dishes with me to work one day and put them in a very legit biology lab to fester and grow into nasty little bacteria cultures.

I had intended to come back after the weekend to check on them, but Dr./Brother Erickson said that would be too long. Instead, he would meet us back there the next day to check on them. I felt terrible because the next day was a Saturday and I didn't want him to have to come in on his day off. But he was super nice and didn't scold me for my poor planning.

Saturday afternoon, Logan and I met Brother Erickson to observe his bacteria. All we really needed was to count colonies and take some pictures, but just when I was ready to toss the dishes and call it a day, Brother Erickson, in his quiet, non-assuming way, asked, "Wouldn't you like to look at it under the microscope?" Then he helped Logan to extract some bacteria with a pipette, put it on a slide, stain it, and look at it under a microscope. I had all sorts of flashbacks to high school biology and was totally geeking out. (Although I did get a little worried when we had some odd bacteria that Brother Erickson had never seen. What are we growing in our house?!)

That was the fun part. Now that he had results, all Logan had left to do was fill out his project folder and put together his poster. And after two weekends of grounding and hair pulling, he finally got it done. All moms of science fair age children united that week in mutual loathing for science fair projects. I was so relieved the day he took his project to school and hoped I wouldn't hear the words "science fair" in our home for another year.

But then.... he won! Logan was selected to move on to the district level. He was super excited, so I was excited for him, but the district competition involved a long evening and-- get this-- redoing his presentation board. Yeah, the school had ordered the wrong size tri-fold boards and so the kids that moved on were given a new board to recreate their project on. Are you kidding me? Round 2 of late night science fair-ing ensued.

Logan dressed up for the district competition and man, he looked sharped. I wish I could get him to wear a tie to church! He brought a book to help pass the hours while waiting for his project to be judged. I had a conflict that night so Jeff took the other kids to the award ceremony at the end of the night. You can only imagine my shock and defeat when Logan came home with an award-- and another advancement.

Round 3 was a regional science fair at BYU. By this point I was cursing myself for having followed the rules so closely. If we had just grown the bacteria at home, Logan would have been disqualified from ever progressing beyond the school level. But Logan was all smiles and excitement. More busywork came with this level-- abstracts, registrations, etc.-- and an entire school day on campus. The judging took place in the same building and rooms that I was drilled in during scholarship interviews 15 years ago. I still get anxiety walking into that place. I worried it would be a long day for him, but he loved it. I hoped and prayed that this would be the end, but of course, we got notified that afternoon that he had won something and we needed to come to the award ceremony later that week. He ended up winning third place in his category, which came with a trophy and $20! He was stoked and finally, FINALLY, we were done. And good thing, too, because the next round would have required a trip to D.C.!

I am so glad it's all over. Next year we will try to create a more mediocre project and be done back in January. But Logan-- I know you're reading this-- congrats, buddy. I'm proud of you for sticking with it and seeing it through. Well done, kiddo!