July 29, 2013

Summer Reading Updates

Remember that post I did, once upon a time, that had to do with my summer reading list? Yes, no, maybe so? Well link here to the post. But the point is, I finished it! Here are my critiques of said books;

The Summer We Read Gatsby, by Danielle Ganek - I really did love this book. It's very different from what I had in mind though. You know how you sometimes read the title of the book, and then assume things about the plot/characters of the book? Well the title of this book, for me, evoked ideas of a tragic summer romance, possibly set in the 40's? That is VERY far from the truth however, so reading it was kind of a shock. But only because it was so different than what I was expecting. The plot goes something like this; two sisters spend the summer at their dead aunt's house in the Hampton's  and stumble on several strange adventures.
That's it. The end. Done. Part of me was really disappointed that there wasn't something more substantial to the plot. It seemed a little slow-paced and detached, however that also gave it the feel of being a very summery kind of book to read. Because generally that's how I feel during the summer; slow and slightly detached from real life.
The genre, I believe, is technically romance (or at least that's what the cover art lead me to believe), but mainly I think it's a book about sisterhood. There is a lot of time spent exploring the two main sister characters, Cassie and Peck, and their relationship. 
It was a good summer book because there was that element of romance, a lot of sister-sister interaction, some strange adventures, and an unexpected ending. I would say give it a try if you're list isn't already too full!

The Diviners, by Libba Bray - Sweet mother of pearl I loved this book. It's set in the 20s, and the story revolves around a cast of characters who have special powers, who we slowly come to recognize as "diviners." A lot of the book is very dark, like, very very very dark. This is not for those of weak constitutions. The antagonist scared me out of my wits, and at that moment I was really glad I have a room mate so I'm not downstairs in my basement room all alone. 
I don't want to give away too much information, so let me just touch on some details; Number One) The more you read, the more you understand. At the beginning I almost felt like I had stumbled upon the second book in a series, and not the first. But I promise this is the first in *hopefully* a new series by Libba Bray. So don't feel confused or wary when things are happening that don't make sense to you, because they will. Eventually.
Number Two) Do not read this book at night. Just don't. Please take my advice on this one, because it can be a seriously scary book. Personally, I preferred the very sunny, crowded, and chaotic pool at the middle of the day. Partly because I could tan and read at the same time, and partly because the noise of the pool helped distract me from getting too into the book and potentially dying of fright.
Number Three) Don't let the things I'm saying about how scary it is prevent you from reading it! Honestly I tend to exaggerate, because I'm just a naturally dramatic person. And I'm playing up the scariness level for you, so that when you read it you're like, "oh it's not that bad! I can handle this!"
Number Four) After you read it, I can promise you that you will have an overwhelming urge to start saying things like, 
"the chin wiggle is..." 
"and how!"
"That's the cat's pajamas!"
and "cash or check?"
Because I did. 
Overall it's definitely a must read for your summer lists! Especially if you love adventure, romance, and a little bit of the supernatural.

That about sums it up I think! Currently I'm reading The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas. I used to watch the movie all the time with my grandpa, he's totally into that kind of thing. And with all the swashbuckling romance, how could I resist a blast from the past kind of book? I'll let you know how it is as soon as I'm done reading it!


July 27, 2013

Last Week Picture Dump

Basically Girls Camp summed up in a bunch of pictures, that don't even cover a fraction of what happened at Camp. But from them, you can get the general idea of what we do. Which is basically be crazy awesome.

This is how we do.

Service Project swag

Journaling! Holla!

Let's go crazy

My ward is pretty awesome

THE WHOLE CAMP! We're all just silly

The granny's be rappin'

The gorgeous granny's

Polynesian dancing lessons!

All of the girls and leaders

These are our leaders. They're kind of crazy.

See? Everyone loves girls camp!

I have no clever comment for this one. It just is.

Our bones are aching!

Handing out t-shirts

Lots of love and hugs

What happens at girls camp, stays at girls camp

In the pictures you can see what camp is like. We play volleyball, we dress up weird, we laugh, we journal, we have meetings, we take silly pictures...

This year we had different themed days; Hick day, princess day, superhero day, nerd day, and dr. Seuss day. So that's why I'm wearing my prom dress from two years ago. Because it was princess day! And I pulled out all the stops for that one.

The most amazing part of camp (in my opinion) was the service project this year. Normally we do pretty cool things for service projects, but this year was especially awesome. Throughout the summer, the Relief Society of our stake has been sewing feminine pads out of flannel, for girls in Africa. This week all of the girls had the opportunity to sew a bag, and pack it with the supplies. Plus a note from us, and a picture with us holding the bag. In the fall, our Young Womens leader will be traveling to Uganda with her daughter to hand out these bags to the girls in poverty there, where she will take a picture of a girl holding our bag and she'll send it back to us! How amazing is that? These bags and supplies allow girls to stay in school, where they would usually have to skip school for the week when they had their periods. By staying in school they can keep up on their education, instead of dropping out, and make a huge difference in their community. For more information on the project, watch the following video (it always gives me chills), and click this link to the website it mentions.

Ps - if the video isn't working on the blog, click this link for the one on youtube.

July 26, 2013

Return to the Son

This past week I unexpectedly found myself at a Girls Camp for my church - and when I say unexpectedly I literally mean it. I called my leader Sunday night and was like, "Sooooo can I come to Girls Camp tomorrow?" to which to said yes. So I packed in about an hour and left for camp the next morning. And it was one of the best decisions of my life.
The theme this year was "Return to the Son", so the camp was decorated with tons of sunflowers, suns, gardens, etc. And the weather at camp was beautiful. Each year for camp we go up to Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, so it was amazing. The beach and forest in such close proximity it was awesome. 
I really felt that the theme this year was inspired. They all are of course, Girls Camp is always a special spiritual place. Literally separate from the world, a place where the girls can come and feel peace and the stresses of the material world just melt away. It is one of the most precious weeks of my year, and I can't believe I almost didn't go this year!
Because I've graduated high school and will be leaving for college in August, this was my last year of Girls Camp, which means that I'm considered a "granny". There were about 10 of us granny's; girls heading off to college in the fall. We are basically leaders for the girls, we organize activities, plan devotionals, give lessons, etc. And it was SO MUCH FUN! Being an older girl at camp, we each really had the chance to see these girls as Christ sees them. My heart was just opened with a new found love for them all. I could see their struggles with different eyes, being someone who has gone through a lot of the same experiences, it put all of us granny's in a unique position to really give advice to the younger girls. Advice to help them learn to rely on Christ and his love through their individual challenges. I didn't really get the chance to say everything I wanted to say to them, so the rest of this post is dedicated to my girls. 

Dear Ladies,

How I love you! You have NO idea. There are so many things I want to share with you in this mass letter. So many things I want to tell you about high school, and boys, and family, and the life you will be living for the next few years. Hopefully I can speak with the spirit as I write this letter to you all and whoever reads this. Girls Camp is an amazing experience, nothing could ever be like it. At the hardest times in our lives, we have the opportunity to escape the world and come to camp. To be with each other and our Savior Jesus Christ for one whole week! How unique is that? We can feel the spirit so strongly at camp, that we feel invincible. The problem is, that eventually we have to go home. We have to come back to the world and it's struggles. But hopefully by now you know you are not alone. You are never alone. Christ is always with you, and always will be. Your leaders are always with you, your parents, friends, fellow young women, and granny's! We are always here with you, we will be your rock.
But it's hard coming back from such an indescribable experience, because we often find the world is not like camp. Even though we oddly expect it to be. I want to be absolutely sure that you know this, we can take camp with us wherever we go. We can take that spirit of peace, and love, and charity with us. It is up to you to take it into your homes and schools and make a difference with it. 
At camp I talked a little bit about how important it is to have a testimony of the gospel. It is so important. Do not wait until sore trials come upon you, do not wait until the mists of darkness threaten to destroy. Be your best self right here, right now. Read your scriptures every morning or night. Say your prayers to our Father in Heaven with a sincere heart each day. These little things do so much to strengthen your testimony, so that when you do feel alone, when you are in despair, you can react naturally by turning to our Heavenly Father, and brother Jesus Christ in prayer and fast so that they can comfort you. Please please please remember girls, Christ is always reaching out towards us. And now that we've been to camp and talked about what we must do to reach towards him, he would be devastated if we dismissed that counsel and didn't let him into our lives. Remember to turn to the Son! He is the one!
I want to touch quickly on a topic that was mentioned at camp. Technology. I love what our leaders taught us; we are not represented by how many likes, repins, retweets, or comments that we get through our social media. The world makes it seem that we are only worth something if it recognizes us through those technologies. But we are so much more than that. We are daughters of God, we stand for truth and righteousness. We know our divine nature comes from our Father in Heaven, because he is the King and he has made us, his daughters. And so we are his princesses. There are more than a billion people in this world, and not everyone can like your instagram photo! And I promise, that no matter how many likes you get, or retweets you get, your worth will not change in the eyes of those who matter. 
Now comes the time for some advice. Don't get sucked in to temptation. What a broad statement! But it applies to lots of things. Take modesty for example. Even I struggle with modesty. Often I don't think it's that big of a deal, or even care too much when I wear something immodest. But it does matter. I've felt the difference in the way people treat me when I'm immodest versus modest. I know it's hard. And it's made more difficult by the fashion of today! With sheer shirts and high-low blouses and skirts. Many of us struggle to find clothing that fits us well and looks cute! But the struggle is worth it. I promise. Especially in high school when you may feel left out because you're not wearing what everyone else is wearing. But honestly, you don't want to be like everyone else. You want to be YOU! Because you are what Heavenly Father created and he loves you just as you are, so who else matters?
I love you all so much. Please stay strong, be your best selves, and feel free to talk to me if you need someone to talk to! I would love to hear from you. But don't forget, that so would He. 
Lots of Love,

July 19, 2013

Harry Potter Party

Yes Yes, I know, bad blogger. Feel free to slap me on the wrist.
But I am about to make up for it! Because you see, I have here this little gem of a DIY. Host your very own Harry Potter themed party! My little sister turned 11 two weeks ago. And as my fellow potter heads know, 11 is like, a big deal. A really big deal. So of course we had to throw her the most extravagant Harry Potter party there ever was, in honor of such an accomplishment. I mean really, making it to 11 years old without doing herself or other great harm? That's pretty impressive. 

 Basically the set up was; the kids came through the front door/platform 9 3/4 where they met Professor Trelawney (aka me) who helped them pick a "vault" at Gringotts, with some Galleons in it to spend at the party. 

(to decorate Gringotts, we just took a computer hutch that we had, emptied it out, and found tooooons of shiny items around the house that were gold or silver. And a lot of stuff from Goodwill that we just spray painted gold, then placed in the hutch)

Next they were ushered to Mr. Ollivanders to purchase a wand. Lincoln dressed up as Ollivander and did that station. Basically Quincy had made tons of wands to choose from (using this tutorial), so Lincoln would act all crazy like that mysterious wand maker and tell them to try this wand by "giving it a wave", when they waved the wand he would pull a string surreptitiously tied to his leg that would pull down a picture from behind him. To which the kids would gasp and Lincoln would go, "Oh dear oh dear. Not your wand my good fellow. Not your wand at all." And then let them pick the wand they wanted. And of course, in return for his services they paid him one galleon. 
Once all the kids had arrived, they sat in our living room for the sorting. When their name was called they'd go sit on the chair in the front, don the witches hat, and mom would call out what house they were in (it was all previously organized on a list). Then they got a sticker with their house seal on it for the Gringotts box, and went and sat with their house. 
Next they split up into stations, depending on what house you were in. 
The first station was, of course, a horcruxe hunt! My aunt had hidden horcruxes all around the backyard for them to find. The snake, the locket, the ring, the cup, the diary, a pair of harry potter glasses, and the diadem. Whoever found all of them first got a reward of galleons and candy!

Station two was Potions with Professor McGonagall, because Snape was on a much needed vacation. We had all sorts of bottles (all from Goodwill) filled with different liquids, powders, dried leaves etc. And they combined them in their cauldrons and poured them into little vials that they could wear around their necks. They had to buy certain ingredients with their galleons of course, because that stuff don't come cheap!

Third station was my station, I was Professor Trelawney of course - and as you can tell, I was super awkward and weird. True to character - and therefore I was set up in the gazebo with a diviniation station. Mom told me to basically bs my whole way through the 20 minute session and make up prophecies/read palms. Yeah that didn't work out so well. So I ended up giving a quiz instead, and they had to pay me a galleon just because. Then when they left they got a prize of their choice; bubbles, silly straws, or a slinky. 

Last station was of course, Quidditch! Because no Harry Potter party is complete without Quidditch. Dad, as Kingsley Shacklebolt, was referee. Students had to rent their brooms with 2 galleons. And the point of the game was to get as many balls through the hoops as you could, while Dad was playing Keeper/Bludger. Yes, bludger. He was trying to knock them off their brooms.
During the Quidditch station, Lincoln would run out as a Dementor and attack the kids, who had to cast a patronus charm to fend him off. If they got tagged they had to freeze and wait for someone to help them. After the dementor gets scared away, out comes the chocolate! Everybody got one bar of chocolate to help them regain their full strength (I know. This is epic. I don't even - gah). 

At the end of the rotation of stations (ha! That rhymes!), students convened in the Great Hall (aka our living room) for a counting of all the house points (during that whole time we could award students house points with stickers for doing good things/knowing stuff). The winning house (Hufflepuff!) got to go to Honeydukes first and purchase candy with their remaining galleons. Then everybody got the chance to go purchase candy, and stuff it in their face. 

The meal at the Great Hall was, of course, cupcakes with pink lemonade frosting (they were delicious), and butterbeer. Which my mom and Quincy had made that morning. It's a combination of cream soda, rum flavoring, whip cream, milk, and other delicious stuff. Several kids were addicted to the stuff, and Quincy went so far as to say that "the rum is my favorite!"
Obviously we're doing a very good job keeping her on the straight and narrow.