Camp Rucker

Earlier this spring an unfamiliar number showed up on my caller ID. As I usually do, I let it go to voicemail…call me suspicious but I just like to know who and what I am dealing with when I answer. You feel me?

Well lo and behold It was a member of the stake high council asking me if I would be available for a week in July to be the girls’ camp nurse. I’m pretty sure my first thoughts went a little something like “oh h-e-double-hockey-sticks-no. A week of camping? And sick young women? And dirt and bugs and campfires?”. As I am sure you have put together by now the great outdoors are not my forte – and most definitely not for anything longer than a 48-hour time window.

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While all the terrors of mountain living were prancing across the stage of my mind and laughing at the knot in my stomach, I vaguely remember hearing myself answer “well, yes! Of course! Count me in!”. It would appear that I am my mother’s daughter – no just isn’t a commonly used word in my vocabulary.

As the months passed and my dreadful fate loomed on the horizon…I started to actually get a little excited. I mean the girls in my ward are awesome. I love chatting with them and soaking in all of their teenage-girl enthusiasm and gossip. Who doesn’t love a good love-triangle drama? Especially when it isn’t their own?

IMG_3666 IMG_3664 IMG_3663Then July 22 came and I found myself packing tin cups, bug spray and other unfamiliar camping paraphernalia. We met at the stake center for a little debriefing and lice-screening (seriously) and then we were on our way to Rucker Lake. Three hours, a bag of peppered jerky and a cliff bar later we arrived. Sky-high trees, a lake of the deepest blue and framed cabins made me feel a little like I had traveled back in time. This was no ordinary camp ground…it reminded me an awful lot of the camp in the Parent Trap. Quaint as can be.

Well the week passed without too much of a hitch. Two trips to the hospital, a couple hundred bug bites and an unfortunate break-out of head lice were the most serious incidents. The food was fabulous – the kitchen staff aka “cookies” slaved away and my hips are about 10 pounds happier. Early morning dips in the lake earned me the “polar bear swim” badge. But the best part – getting to know the girls and women in the stake. All in all it was pretty fantastic. My testimony was strengthened and my moral batteries were recharged.

Shockingly, I have already volunteered to go again next year. What can I say, I value unpredictability. IMG_3658IMG_3660 IMG_3659

 

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In Which New York Steals Our Friends

IMG_3921The very first friends we met when we moved to the Bay Area were Dale and Elyse Beard. They invited us to Six Flags one weekend and even though my crazy shy side was nervous as can be and really feeling uncomfortable/nauseous about spending a whole day with people I had never even met, it turned out to be pretty fun. We got to know each other over amusement park pizza (gross) and bonded because of our mutual appreciation for the boss that is J.K. Rowling. The rest, as they say, “is history”.

IMG_3916Over the past two years we watched them become friends we consider special. Vivian was born and I observed and learned as Elyse became a wonderful mother. She listened as I cried about struggling to find a job. Dale and Ryan commiserated over long work hours and the various random that is Deloitte.

We explored San Francisco together, ate way too much food, shopped a lot and they even taught me to enjoy camping. While we didn’t always get to spend as much time with them as I would have liked, they were the first ones to make us feel at home here.

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Now they are moving on to bigger and better things in New York. Before they left a bunch of us had a little going away bash for them…complete with food, friends and an awesome polka dot photo booth.

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D and E – We are so excited for you guys! Go show those east-coasters what you are made of. But know, you will always have a place here.

Love you guys!

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1936 Tangled Vine Drive, Wesley Chapel, Florida 33543

IMG_3527When I was roughly eight or nine years old my family sort of adopted an elderly man in our ward. He was the sweetest guy, that Brother Dorough – when I picture him I think of soft white hair and deep creases around shining eyes. Basically the epitome of a jolly grandpa complete with a cane he liked to shake at people. He had sass, so we got along just swell.

One evening after dinner he pointed at the house numbers on our home and said “1936…that’s the year I lost my thumb!” and commenced to scar me for life by waving his mangled hand in my face. After that I always pictured blood and guts whenever I told people where I lived. Slightly morbid, no? But a surprisingly effective way to memorize my address. It was pretty much burned into the back of my eyelids.

IMG_3530This past spring my family decided that we had better take one last vacation with the whole clan before my brother leaves on his mission. (Speaking of his departure date…it’s two weeks from today. Don’t mention it if you see me. I am pretty much a chasm of ugly emotions about it right now. My eyes seem to be constantly springing leaks.)

When planning a destination, it seemed appropriate that we would venture back to the good ol’ South and visit 1936 Tangled Vine Drive. Florida kind of raised me, you know? My memories consist of throwing rocks at lazy alligators, swimming for the Meadow Pointe Manta Rays and dancing with my mom and siblings in the afternoon downpours. Humidity, yellow sun and chlorinated water combined to produce a freckle-faced, wild-eyed girl with an overly healthy imagination and an intense love for books. The Sunshine State did well by me.

So one saturday in the heat of July my family all departed from various airports around the U.S. and flew into Orlando. We spent a wonderful week at Summer Bay Resort where we slept-in, barbecued, swigged pool-side pina coladas and played intense rounds of catch-phrase.

IMG_3818 IMG_3837 IMG_3583We made it down to Tampa one day and managed to take a few pictures outside of our old home and visit some dear family friends. That afternoon we all stood and looked at the pond where the alligator we affectionally nick-named “Bubbles” used to hang out. I remembered that one time I broke my arm flipping a Razor scooter and laughed about how bad-a I thought my cast was. I’m pretty sure I always picked blue so it would match my middle school pep rally t-shirt. Apparently I have always been a little OCD.

IMG_3616One of the absolute highlights of the trip was visiting  Harry Potter World at Universal Studios. From the Hogwarts castle, to the Hogsmeade shops (think Dervish and Bangs, Ollivander’s, Honeydukes and more!!) to trying cornish pasties and butterbeer at The Three Broomsticks, I was quite literally in nerd nirvana. If you know me at all you are well aware that I am secretly a little distraught that I will never actually be a legit Hogwarts-trained witch. I should probably be ashamed that I am admitting this to the vast internet, but I most definitely bought a wand at Ollivander’s. I mean really, can you blame me? Afterwards I may have spent the rest of the night trying to “accio” various items from across the room. Ryan was appalled, I was delighted.

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On the whole it was a little bittersweet to realize that this was our last family vacation with just “us”. Babies and spouses and crazies will all more than likely be added in the two years that Brent is away; I’m so glad we got the chance to go together before everything changes. While I was certainly excited to go back, I didn’t anticipate just how much like home Florida would feel. Those moss-draped trees and slow ponds sure rooted themselves pretty deep in this wanna-be southern girl’s heart.

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