Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Girls Camp 2015: Heber Valley

Camping with a quadriplegic (I hate this word, but it is accurate) in the mountains is daunting... overwhelming... intimidating... and even scary. I don't think I could have accomplished it by myself no matter how hard I worked. And I worked hard! Having the support of Becca's friends and the other leaders made all the difference. I love working in Young Women with all of these awesome people. We are an incredible team.

Giggling in her bunk. Mom may or may not have been tickling. ;)

When I was packing up, I tried really hard to leave my pride off the list and out of the suitcase. If I was going to be able to do this, I had to be humble. And when it comes to asking for help with Becca, I can be full of pride. I don't usually think of it that way, but let's call it what it is. There's no use sugar coating it. I have a really hard time accepting and asking for help. And just because I tried to leave it out of the suitcase, doesn't mean I didn't still have some left mixed up in the lint in my pocket.

It turns out that the girls LOVED helping Becca. Miss Rockstar must have toted her up and down the hill between mess hall and camp at least as many times as I did and when the two of us did it together... watch out! Her swimmer muscles make her really tough! Her Sidekick was often nearby to help, too. All of the girls took turns feeding her. Her tube used to intimidate me, too. She got it when she was 6 and it was such a blessing to know the calories were getting in without the struggle it was to feed her with a spoon. But these girls were 6 then too, or younger and they have not been doing it for the intervening 9 years. They are brave to do something that doesn't come natural. They were so willing and you should have seen the smiles Becca gave them in thanks! She loves it when someone other than Mom steps in... it's fun and different!

Getting sprayed during the missionary parade. I was waving so they would soak us!

The ropes course was the very first day. There were several areas. I'll have to let my Lofty Little Lady tell you about her experience there. I only got to watch them do the zipline. Some willing missionaries took us up there in their Rzr. Becca and Bishop Mott and I sat in the backseat and we bungeed her wheelchair into the back cargo area. She liked watching her friends do hard things and succeed!

While being hooked by belay to another person, they climbed up a pole that swung back and forth. Then, they had to let go and step onto a rope that was parallel to a rope they held onto with their hands. They sidestepped to a platform where a Senior (she didn't LOOK very senior!) Sister Missionary was waiting. Then she switched the belay so that they could zip across the zipline. The girls said the two hardest parts were stepping from the pole to the ropes and jumping off the platform on the zipline. They did so great! I was so proud of each and every one of them!

We needed a meadow instead of a trail for Singing in the Trees, but it was a beautiful concept. Our twinkling lanterns swinging from our hands, we headed up a trail, grouped together with our ward. We were the last on the trail so the wheelchair didn't have to go as far . They started singing at the other end and the rest of us remained quiet, straining to hear the other wards sing. We heard the 3 or 4 wards before us pretty well. It was fun to sing our song together and it created a really neat spirit to end the first day on. Here's our Song.

Tuesday was a lot of downtime. We did certifications in the morning and I'm ecstatic to report that our girls got so many things done! I hung out with the second years and we talked about purifying water and telling directions with the sun and the stars and what different kinds of clouds mean. It was fun! I'm proud of them for signing so many things off. We also did crafts.

Skit night is such a fun tradition. This year we had a bag of props and a picture of a MormonAd. Ours was an elevator button with the saying, Elevate your thoughts. Our skit was Becca on an elevator with her sister, Lofty Little Lady, and a friend, let's call her Debbie Devilish, voicing her thoughts as a shoulder angel and a shoulder-not-so-angel. Each person that got on, had judgments made about them. As the elevator went up, the thoughts got better. Let's see how many elevator patrons I can remember...

There was LLL's twin who was broken up with via text by a thoughtless boy. She was wrapped in a sleeping bag with a sleeping mask across her forehead. Besides her dramatic tears over "Bob" she got a great laugh as she scarfed her kettle corn in despair.

Three of our newBees portrayed a Grandmother and her two rowdy granddaughters. They poked, pinched and annoyed others on the elevator and even their own grandma!

Miss Rockstar and her Sidekick were the Queen Bee and crony, respectively. They only wear hot pink on Tuesdays and offered to take Becca shopping to help her with her look.

Nacho, Switchy and Blade looked pretty rough on the outside. Sagging and perfecting the gangsta swagger, they turned out to be really sweet to Becca. They shared their pocket taco with her and complimented her. It's the heart, not the image that truly matters.

Our favorite author was busy writing her bestselling book and couldn't be bothered with hygiene, but Becca's thoughts were already raised enough to conclude that her hard work would pay off and that hopefully she would be the recipient of a signed copy.

The last two were musicians. One on the guitar and one on the... funnel. They led us in "If You're Happy and You Know It" before the whole group shouted, "Elevate your thoughts!"

LLL and Debbie, the shoulder angel and not-so-angel, were hilarious! They really hammed it up and had some great lines! And we can't forget the DING! heard on each floor, announcing the elevator's ascension.

Wednesday morning we spent in the pavilion building doing humanitarian aid. Becca felt a little worn down by the constant noise. I wrote letters to missionaries next to the girls using plastic mesh to make baby rattles. Others made beaded geckos and tied fleece blankets.

They allowed an hour for the walk down to the lake. I drove the Becca-mobile with a leader and a girl from another ward who weren't able to do the hike. On the way back, we had more people join us for one reason or another.

When we got to the lake, I was hoping that the missionaries would let Becca ride on the pontoon as we had done before. When they told me no, I pulled my sunglasses back down and wiped the tears out of the corners of my eyes. I kept saying "It's fine" and I wanted to mean it, but I work so hard to include her in everything and it was a huge letdown to be told nothing I could do could include her in the fun on the lake. After a few minutes, the Sister in charge came back out and said that we could indeed ride on the pontoon. Then I cried for a different reason! I'm so grateful that her heart was open and that she could feel Becca's spirit. Lindy and I carried her on and the Bishop and a missionary carried her chair on. She wore her life jacket in her chair which probably felt pretty weird, but she didn't complain!

At first, she just stared at the light sparkling on the water. As more and more people paddled by and shouted up to her, she started looking around and enjoying seeing and hearing her friends paddling and splashing. She LOVED rescuing people, too. We would zoom over to a capsized boat, pull the dripping girls and leaders up onto the pontoon and help them get the canoe drained and back in the water. Our good friend Kyra gave Becca a soggy hug and dripped on her just for the huge smile that Becca gave her. I took about a hundred pictures with Lindy's camera.

The Stake President came up that night and entertained us with his electric guitar. It's gotta feel good to have all of those girls screaming and cheering because you're their favorite rockstar! Becca loved it! And he even played some Collin Raye! Which was then stuck in my head for 2 days... just as it should be.

I worried that doing all of the hiking AND the service project on the last full day of camp would be too much for anyone to handle. It really is a testament to how well we were taken care of that there were still smiles and great attitudes on this day. Lindy and I went on the 5 mile hike while MarKell and Bro G, our priesthood leader, went on the 3 mile hike. Becca stayed in camp with Sherri, our camp director who also happens to be married to said priesthood leader. The hikes were Gorgeous! I forgot how much I love to hike!

One of my Heroes in between two very awesome Beehives. Oh, and the hand of a compulsive photobomber. :D

Testimony meeting has always been my favorite by far. It is such a lovely way to wrap up a great week of hard work, bonding, and spiritual goodness. We started out by going around and sharing who our heroes are. It was the perfect way to bring the Spirit and to move into Testimonies. I talked about Becca being my hero. I really believe that she accepted this life as a calling. Having never been in a body before, her spirit may not have understood everything about it, but I really believe she was given the chance to accept the challenge and she did. My kids and my husband are all my heroes. They have really risen to the challenge it is to take care of their sister and they do it so well! And I couldn't do anything without my Eternal Companion. As crazy as we drive each other, we are the Best team ever! I'm so glad to be Sealed for eternity to this awesome bunch of humans.

Special thanks to MarKell, Lindy, Sherri, Jaime, Sam and Laurie! Thank you for helping me to stretch and for preparing our wonderful girls to give Becca such loving service. Thank you, Bishop Mott for your sacrifice and the love you show our family as well as all of the Young Women who adore you! Thank you, Bro. G for coming up and supporting us and making us laugh. Thanks also to Bro. H for the support and it can't hurt that you got to hang out with your daughter during her very first Girls Camp! A very special thanks to Heber Valley Camp and the inspired way they run their camp and reach out to SO many girls and leaders to truly create a Heavenly experience. And last, but not least our incredibly awesome Stake Leaders, Sisters D, K, M, T, W (and I'm sure a bunch more) who inspired, tickled funny bones and created true heroes for our girls to look up to.


The girl in the middle is supposed to be Chrissy, not Michelle. I don't remember why she is in this picture against the bathroom wall in Blue Ridge Junior High. I have looked and looked and I can't find a picture with Angie, Chrissy and I. We were inseparable for a long time and I can find no photographic proof. You'll just have to take my word for it.

We moved to Arizona the summer before I started fourth grade. One of my Dad's previous bosses had asked him if he would be interested in managing a time share resort he had in the mountains of Arizona. When we got there, my Dad hired 2 secretaries to help him. Brenda and Juanita were the greatest! Juanita's kids were older. Her brother in law drove our bus. Brenda had 2 kids. Angie was my age and Tim was younger. It didn't take long for Angie and I to be close friends. Why her gorgeous self was okay hanging out with awkward me is still a mystery, I mean, look at that picture! But we loved each other and had a great time hanging around the pool and gym at the Roundhouse Resort and at school. We can talk later about how my definition of 'resort' probably means something smaller than yours. It was gorgeous up on our mountain and I miss it a lot!

Angie moved to Colorado at the beginning of high school and I moved to Utah during my Sophomore year. We used to write letters... on paper, in an envelope, with stamps and everything! Eventually, we lost track of each other. Why couldn't facebook have been invented earlier?!

When I was a young mom, my Mom got in touch with Brenda. That is when I found out that Angie had passed away, leaving a young son behind. Pretty soon, Brenda wasn't returning emails and I found out recently, she passed away only two and a half years after Angie. When Chrissy and I reunited on Facebook, I was the one she heard the news from. It was really hanging on me how we didn't know anything except that she had passed away several years ago. I felt like a little fire had been lit in side me and I really wanted to know more about my friend and find some closure. We Latter-Day Saints tend to have a penchant for family history, so I thought I would start there. Angie, Chrissy and I were all Christians who went to 3 different Churches. So, when I typed Angie's full name into the LDS records database, I didn't think she would be there. She was! I sat there staring at her name and dates and couldn't believe I had found her there! As it turns out, her Dad's family is LDS and someone had entered her in there and left their email address on the record. I emailed the address, explaining who I was and I am now in contact with one of her Dad's cousins. 

I begged for pictures of Angie. The cousin put me in touch with Angie's aunt, her Dad's sister. After a few technical glitches, we have been emailing back and forth and she sent me so many wonderful pictures! I will not share them here out of respect for the family, but seeing her happy and as a Mom has really sewn up my heart. There were lots of sad circumstances in her family, but she was loved and she was happy along the way. 

I am so grateful to wonderful family members that were willing to share with me. If you know me, you know I live my life guided almost solely by my heart. It has done my heart good to spend time finding out about such a good friend. Chrissy and I have had a lot of fun talking things over and remembering and looking at pictures. I am so glad that she is now at peace. No more debilitating headaches. I'm sure she misses her son. I can't wait to hear that her Temple work has been done.

I love you, Angie!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Emily's Teen Trip; Day 4

California Academy of Sciences
Aquarium/ Planetarium/ Museum of Natural History

Jabba the Toad

The beach at the end of Golden Gate Park

Goodbye California! <3 p="">

Emily's Teen Trip; Day 3

Oakland Temple
(Closed on Mondays)

Fisherman's Wharf
Boudin (Boo-deen) Bakery. YUM!!
Mom had clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl. 
Em and Dad had chicken salad and club sandwiches.

Pier 39
Awesomely loud!

Mom's is going to be our new chore chart topper. ;)
Rosie the Riveter Built Me.

Battleship Jeremiah O'Brien
Look how heavy those ropes are!

Emily's Teen Trip; Day 2

We went to Church with Lucie and Dan.
Point Reyes Lighthouse.

Emily's Teen Trip; Day 1

 Leaving home at 4 am.
Emily was glued to the window.
She picked out a blue car that they upgraded to a full size because it was her birthday.

Salt Lake Airport

First stop; Jelly Belly factory!