Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Winding Down

With less than a month left in this great country, we're doing all the requisite prepping that an across-the-world move for a family of seven entails. It's stressful. And sad. Tears keep slipping out of my eyes. But we're Focusing On the Positive here and so let me take a break from the madness that is my house (perpetual-cleaning/purging/organizing-frenzy-zone) and share a few glimpses of the last couple of months. All these moments stacked up over our time here, as captured in photos, hold the promise of more tears as we reminisce and look back on this blessed little chapter in our lives.

a promising support team

Seriously, we need to get Miss Kenna into some gym classes, right?

Will got voted Class Captain this year. Funny guy got sort of pressured into it last minute and credits his win to a cool, smooth speech (didn't have time to get nervous and prep for it like the other kids!)
The Three Stooges. They like to copy everything he does (pb on the face - some sort of Instagram silliness). And recently he discovered that magic that is a CAKE MIX. Easiest gig ever! Been spending plenty of time soaking up the last rays of summer in the neighbor's pool and having dance parties on their drive. Got real acquainted with this water scorpion that wouldn't leave and the blue tongued lizard that lives in our back yard wall.

Cockatoos at Eddison Park
Enjoyed a few friends' dogs lately. The littles are completely enamored with Kathryn's pups and I nipped my dog craving by watching the Swann's dogs over one weekend. (Sidenote: trying to walk three large dogs and a toddler, alone, with a baby on  your back is no bueno - especially when the "naughty" one wriggles out of its leash. Now that was a shot of adrenaline! I haven't run that fast in a decade.)

Kenna also got a surprise 2 minutes into another walk when running the same one downhill in the bush (she's fast!) as a sharp stick skewered through the sole of her shoe. (Also no picnic treating a bloody emergency while trying to wrangle poor dogs back inside their fence with scared toddler in tow!) Great dogs though - we had fun. Just not ready to take that kind of crazy on at this stage.

The little kids so desperately wish they could ride to school with the bigs. Sending them off is freaking adorable.

And ample Sorenson dress up (or undress) time galore!
St. Patty's Day snuck up on me and I didn't notice until my Instagram feed lit up a half hour before the kids returned from school. Luckily Summer had dozed off so I scrambled around throwing out rainbows and clovers, dying milk and hiding treats and clues just in the nick of time. Phew!

Did a impromptu and memorable game of Truth or Dare one night with the older kids. Dad came up with some good dares (raw onion, soy-soaked rice bubbles, or spoonful of vegemite, anyone?) and they learned a few things about us old folks!

Had angels watching over us one day as I accidentally bumped on the burner on our way out the door (melting the blender cord and a bag of granola) then had a near collision with a semi on slippery roads in a round about. It's shocking how such harrowing experiences can happen in mere seconds.

"Family #2" is in that wonderfully magical stage of discovery these days. Constant heart-melters.

Easter is celebrated with a four day weekend in Australia, which is a delight. We got a lot of move stuff done but also enjoyed ample Dad time. Even enjoyed a feast and game night with the Sorensons (our virtual "cousins" here.) I was a bit distracted to pull off our week long celebrations but we did cram in the Jerusalem dinner, empty tomb cookies and some Messiah music along with our Easter discussions. We've done it enough years now that things are really starting to stick - they get the true meaning and enjoy reviewing Christ's last week. I love this holiday! We use THIS BOOK but I'm sure there are many beautiful resources out there.
Easter Bunny had Des: totally traumatized, Sum: in ecstasy, Annie: excited, Kenna: chill, Will: seriously, Mom?
 Puddle jumping gone wild after school one day. They were in Heaven.

 Daddy's morning goodbye committee. (I don't know how he ever leaves.) And yes, the mullet. It must be documented. It's amazing. I just can't bring myself to cut those golden baby curls off!!

I attended my last Stake Relief Society Camp and went out with a bang. Honed some new archery skillzzzz and snuck out for a midnight dip with besties.

 I tell ya, every Stake around the world should be in on this, such a great idea. Not just for bonding, good food and late night games/talks, but the classes Saturday are so enriching. My soul friend Kristin, professional life coach extraordinaire, ran one and had us write our faults/regrets/insecurities on tiles then put us all in goggles, and let us hammer them to smitherines!
 Will has enjoyed his own camping/kayaking/hiking adventures with this fantastic Scout Troop. I wonder if he'll ever be in such an intense and accomplished troop again. As the only American participants, these guys even won the Cotter Shield, a weekend competition between the many scout troops in the whole ACT - they are hard core!

 Dad took the kids on a bike/hike up Mount Taylor on Easter Monday and what a view! Sounds like I better sneak over there myself early some morning and check it out before we go.

These gum trees have climbed right into my heart and will stay there forever.
 I tell ya, we're having a hard time letting go of this place...

Monday, March 31, 2014

"Young Womens" Australian-Style

 My assignment at church has been heading the Primary for most of our time here, which is a treat as 4 of our 5 are in there together. But last year I was called into the Stake Young Women's Presidency and it has been such a fun ride. I've sure enjoyed my opportunity to get to know the girls in all the wards beyond my own and plan things on a larger scale. Gosh, those blessed Youth leaders. I'm perpetually amazed at all they devote to these beautiful young souls. So many activities, so much energy, so many lessons and rides and emotions and fun!

We organize everything from firesides, dances, missionary training events, temple trips, service projects and the like, but our big event of the year is always Young Women's Camp. Last year was especially wonderful as we did it over a four day weekend down at the coast at Narooma. The campsite was a stone's throw from the beach and boy did we capitalize on that :)

I was able to bring along Kenna, despite her not being old enough to count as one of the young women, and she had an absolute blast. In fact she hardly wanted to be my "helper" at all, preferring to blend in with the girls and participate in everything.

One day we did an Amazing Race type of thing all along the coast and through the town, gathering clues and doing challenges.

Another hike brought us to some cliffs where we actually got to watch a pod of whales cavorting in the waves for a while.

Australia Rock (Australia-shaped hole)
 There were plenty of activities at the campsite including go karts and swimming, canoeing and trampolines.

The final day I was in charge of a Survivor-type competition that got moved last minute from the beach to the campsite, so I was scrambling to tweek all the challenges, but it was a great, hilarious day. The girls were so much fun to watch.

 We did a few Minute to Win it type challenges, campy games, obstacle courses and a Nephi's Boat contest, but the food challenge was the most impressive.

These tough girls downed quail eggs, dried fish, pickled papaya, jellyfish and much more. They couldn't be stopped!

 Camp happened to fall over a Fast Sunday and it was impressive to see the girls fast together. Their testimonies sharing during Sunday service at the local branch were inspiring, beautiful reflections of their inner selves.

And just spending so much time out in nature, in beautiful Narooma, with the waves crashing in the background. Watching the girls completing Personal Progress goals on a quiet Fast Sunday afternoon... it was a blessing to experience it with them.
now THAT is a jellyfish
mornings on the beach for art and scriptures were a highlight
Sweet Darren was a champ to pull off the four day weekend with the other kids, seeing as he was terribly ill the entire time. He even took them to the circus!

 Then someone found the seeds/grains shelf and proceeded to make their own circus. When I came home and walked in on this scene, I actually turned around a left again (truth be told, to go clean out the gum smeared on the seat of the car as Kenna had fallen asleep chewing it on the way home.)

We were recovering from that weekend for a good two weeks, but it was worth it!

 Later on in the year we had our Young Women in Excellence night, which was lovely and impressive. These girls have got it together, I tell you! I especially love watching them conduct and run their meetings for the most part. What great training and practice they receive through this inspired program.

I went a little crazy on my "rainbow food table" assignment. Reminiscent of those over-the-top-stay-up-all-night-decorating birthday parties I used to pull off for Will and Kenna when they were tiny (before I got too tired/busy.) Sometimes you just crave a creative outlet and sort of get carried away in the "kids" project, you know? Pretty fun to plan/shop/execute all those beautiful colors though and we all went away fulfilled... in more ways than one. I love Young Womens!!