Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Camp 2009 (with a few pictures now)

As you know, I was out at Young Women's Camp in DeLand, FL last week. I was the leader over the 12-year-old, first-time campers and it was an experience. I had some real...how shall I say it?..."quirky" girls that made the week amusing, spritual and fun, and not just outrageously sweaty and hot. Plus, I got to hang out with my girlfriends and have a sleepover 5 nights in a row- when do you ever get to do that as an adult, right? (Me and Michelle are pictured at left.) It was a great time. I laughed so hard all week long. There were so many classic moments- most of them are the "you had to be there" kind of thing, but, I will share with you now how truth is stranger than fiction. I brought home a totally true Top Ten list for your enjoyment. (Thanks Erika for the picture!!)

***I do need to say first that despite the humorous intent of the top ten list below, the testimony meeting was very spiritual and the girls really did grow a lot this past week. The testimonies were sweet and touching. Many of the girls got up and bore testimony for the first time in their lives. It was a great success. However, looking back on that meeting Friday night, the only way to describe it is to say that I laughed, I cried, I was on the edge of my seat! Truly this was one for the ages...


10. Mini gangster
9. Crap
8. Hunger strike
7. Spinal cord wrapped around its head
6. Chunky
5. Little balls of joy
4. Cardboard box
3. Wait, pretend I didn't say that
2. The guy with the stones
1. Crying midget baby

I still can't read number one without laughing. It's a jewel. Anyway, camp was a huge success- lots of laughing, singing, canoing, swimming, crafting, hanging out, searching for things that got stolen, attending classes, you know, the usual stuff. We even had a cute little baby gator (Joe) that we got to see pretty much every day out under the dock on the lake. Good times. And Jacob was a pro the whole week I was gone- the kids were well taken care of and totally survived. Even though when I called home on Monday night, Cindy did throw up on the phone while I was talking to her. A nervous moment for me, but she recovered like a champ and a had a good week. I really did have a good week too. I loved being around the girls and I even did get to go running two mornings and swam laps on another. Not bad for being away from home and anything that remotely resembles your own normal schedule! I did not take my camera to camp so as soon as I find out what President Padgett's blog address is I will steal some official camp photos off of it and post them for you. Until next time, campers!

The lake and the dock. Stole this pic from one of my Beehives, Brandi. :)

Monday, June 29, 2009


Cindy and I were up at the Church a little while ago for a girls camp activity and when we finally got home I noticed that the camera was sitting out on the counter in the kitchen. I knew I had not left it out, so I picked it up to see the last few pictures on the memory card. Sure enough, I found this:

Jacob was in the living room playing Halo (shocking, I know) and Luke became very quiet in the other room so when he went to go and find him, this is what he found. Poor little guy was just plum tuckered out :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Now that's a Sunflower!

Whoo-hoo! Cindy's sunflowers have finally started blooming. We went out and measured the big one from tip to root and it came in at a whopping 6 feet. I am totally shocked it grew that big- even though that is exactly what the seed packet said. So they ain't whistlin' dixie about the size!

Cindy was, apparently, shocked by the size too.

"Oh my sweet sunflower, will you be my BFF?"

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Top Ten Rejected Young Women's Camp Themes

10. Bacterium ahoy!
9. Journey to the center of a casino
8. Inside the MTC laundry room
7. Come Follow Me....to Mulberry
6. Hornets, chiggers, and mites, Oh My!
5. A week with Scooter, the Rodeo Clown
4. Oh the pit bulls you'll tickle!
3. A big crappy field and some tents
2. Computer-generated animations of quantum mechaninal phenomena
1. What Would Oprah do?

(I am out at Young Women's camp even as you read this and am I having fun yet??? As Troy would say in High School Musical 2- "Bet on it!"

Monday, June 22, 2009

Triathlon #1- Childbirth is easier than this....

That was the exact thought I was having as I was getting off my bike to run in this triathlon. No lie. It was a killer! Truly one of the more challenging things I have ever done. But, I survived and did much better than I expected. And honestly, I truly had FUN! (What? Is that even possible?)

My official stats are as follows:
6th place for my age group (30-34)
Total time 1:12:57
Swim time: 8:27
Bike time: 28:30
Run time: 29:31

I am happy with those times, but my run time really needs an overhaul...

The swim was 200 yards shorter than my previous triathlon race and that was such a bonus. I could actually tell it was much shorter. Although this time I was running into people left and right! Mostly kicking people and getting kicked, I couldn't get a clear shot at the bouys. And to make matters worse I totally sucked in a gigantic faceful of water right at the beginning, so I had to stop and tread water for a minute to catch my breath. (Improvement spot #1 for next time) But I got over it and kept on going. As Dori says, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."

Then it was bike time. After a scare with my bike tires the night before the race, I got Lightning in tip top shape and he was looking like a champ. Lightning did great on the ride, it was the rider that needed a little work because there were some HILLS around that place that kicked my fanny! Holy cow, I was not prepared for that. But I did make all of them without walking, including the one at the very end that was, just as the lady riding right next to me said, "A very mean trick." (Although you can't argue with the speed you get by going downhill right afterward. That is an awesome feeling.) At the end of the bike part, I saw the dismount area and it took me a minute to get off because my thighs were completely numb. I could hardly lift my legs over the middle bar of the bike without falling off. I thought I was a dead man and there was no way I could now run 3 miles. But like a robot, you just keep moving and don't think too hard about it.

So I was off on the run. It was in the hot, direct sunlight of the morning along Lake Minneola (which is a beautiful area of Clermont). Every time the run feels sooo long. I always think they measured it wrong and I am actually running into the next county. Good thing my friend Davina was a few minutes ahead of me and so when I ran past her on her way toward the finish, I knew that the endpoints were not too far ahead. Davina even came back and ran with me at the end making me sprint a little faster. That was great- I appreciated that a ton :)

So as my new countdown clock indicates, I am due up to do this again in 20 days. Same triathlon time, same triathlon channel. Wicked! I am totally stoked to see if I can make any headway in my time. My goal now is to place in the top three by the last one in August. It might be a stretch, but having a goal is way more fun.

So here are the pics you have been waiting for....

Body marking and check in. This time I got the big 30 on my leg. Ouch.

Finishing the swim

Me, Susie and Erika. Girl power!

Finished at last!

Look at us, we rock!!!

The best part of a Triathlon :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Your turn, Dads!

NAME: Michael Bingham
HOMETOWN: Somewhere, CA
AGE: Born in the 50's (you do the math)

UNKNOWN SUPERHERO POWERS: The ability to always have breath gum with him somewhere, have any cat love him more than my mom, and the ability to sense when my mom has a $5 bill in her purse

HOLDS THE RECORD FOR: Owning the most surf music held in a private collection within North America

WHY WE LOVE HIM: Hard working, funny, gracious and kind, optimistic, helpful, never complains, killer of spiders, roaches and creepy crawlies, unequaled bedtime storyteller and top ten list writer, certified Eagle Scout maker, and he has some mad omelette-cooking skillz

NAME: Karl Sweeney
HOMETOWN: Somewhere, TX
AGE: Unknown, questionable if he was ever a child ;-)

UNKNOWN SUPERHERO POWERS: The ability to almost never check a piece of luggage when flying, cooking the most perfect Japanese rice on the planet, and the power to walk in during the only inappropriate part of a movie that anyone is watching

HOLDS THE RECORD FOR: Whitest grout in Polk County

WHY WE LOVE HIM: Generous, smart, focused, hard working, Stake President extraordinaire, great public speaker and fearless leader, gardening guru, fair and wise, thrify, and can analyze a cash flow statement like nobody's business!

Well, not only do I have two amazing Moms, but my good fortune continued and I have two Dads that are second to none. They are the best! We love you and Happy Father's Day :)

(p.s. Triathlon Results and photos tomorrow afternoon :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Freaking out....a little

I'm not gonna lie, my last triathlon in October totally scared me to death. I had no prior experience to prepare me for such a thing and I didn't know what to expect at all. So this time around I thought I would be way more calm about the whole thing, but I am still really nervous! Wednesday night's dream had me walking the run part of the race and we were all carrying gigantic camping backpacks, complete with rolled up sleeping bags and dangling canteens- but, I digress.... Anyway, I just spoke with my soon-to-be sister-in-law and triathete extraordinaire and she says I can just wear my real biking shorts the whole time. Suh-weet! No horrible mismatched hodge-podge clothing for me! Because as we all know, how we look while doing this is the most important part. Ha! I will most definitely put the results on here by Sunday and then come Monday morning I am off to Young Women's camp for 6 days! But alas, never fear! I got your back. Through the magic of Blogger's "Post Options" feature, it will be as if I never left! So check back in often (your regular 4 times a day is just fine) and I will have just as much earth-shattering, crucial blog fodder as normal. I gotta go pump up some bike tires and find that helmet I never wear....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Experience #12- Learn to play a song on the piano (with both hands)

I do not play the piano. I have never taken lessons or leanred notes. I have plunked around on pianos all my life, a little "Happy Birthday" here or "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" there, but that is the extent of my musical knowledge. So I decided to challenge my ever-aging brain and learn a song on the piano that required two hands. Something I have never done! So after a little research on YouTube (Is there anything greater than how-to videos on YouTube?? I think not...) I found the perfect little 2 minute song I could learn. So, Misty- this one's for you: (Oh and Ellen! this is a much better version for you...)

1. I do not read notes! I can't read notes! I learned this song completely by watching a guy on YouTube. Don't shoot the messenger.

2. This definitely may not be the exact version, with the exact notes, straight from the Twilight sheet music, but again, I was at the mercy of the guy on YouTube so I think it sounds close enough. And it was simple enough for me to learn, which was the more important pre-requisite.

3. I need to thank Cindy and Luke for their endless patience in going to the church with me day after day so I could practice there and learn this song. I also need to chastise Cindy for being a total maniac when I filmed this- she was throwing chalk, crawling down by my feet, making noises, etc. It is a miracle I was able to film this at all. Also, if you have noticed my car at the church at all hours of all days- this is the reason why. The secret is out- Enjoy!

Jessica plays Bella's Lullaby from Twilight

P.S. At the beginning I was saying "Take 3,222" and Cindy says, "Kidding?" It was a long evening....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Experience #11- Make a Souffle

I like to think that over the past 3 years or so I have really come into my own as far as cooking goes. Looking back at when I first got married, it is a miracle Jacob didn't take away my oven and ban me from the kitchen. I knew how to make about 5 things and they were all marginal, at best. At that point I always wondered how it was that there were people out in the world that could just cook something from scratch, "eyeballing" everything, and have it turn out completely tasty. How did they do it??? Impossible, I said! But I now know that it just comes from good old-fashioned experience. So 8 years later I can now make basic white sauces, soups, pies, meats, etc. from scratch with no real recipe. And I am shocked that I can do this! But there is one culinary concoction that I had never yet attempted (more so because I have not made a concerted effort to do so rather than because of fear or intimidation) and that is....(dum dum dum!) the Souffle. I chose an easy recipe from FoodNetwork.com and they turned out excellent.

Part of me didn't really know what the consistency of a souffle is supposed to be, however, (cakey? gooey? in between?) but they looked great and puffy, and that much I knew was right. I used the See's brand chocolate chips that DeAnne gave us (thank you!) for my semisweet chocolate, which helped it taste all the more amazing. So cross this one off the list- I came, I saw, I souffled!

Ah, my sweet souffle, you were gone too fast...

(Yeah, yeah, no makeup, looking a little rough, I know. But it was after working hard all day outside in the heat, so I earned it :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Happy Birthday to Daddy

Yesterday was Jacob's 31st birthday. I don't want to dwell too much on the number he turned because, for one, he looks even better now than when we were dating and also because, according to the Internet, his "RealAge" is 23 (and if it is on the Internet is must be true). So I did decide to at least do a cake for him, but to do a Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake. It was rated five stars and it WAS five stars :) Just FYI, chocolate chip cookies are Jacob's favorite dessert.

I ended up taking the 3 candle from Cindy's cake two years ago and the 1 candle from Luke's cake last year, and voila! 31.

Luke was a great helper in trying to blow out the candles. We had to hold him back and sing really fast, but he finally got his moment.

Happy Birthday, Jacob! You just keep getting better :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Almost there....

Well, the first of my three summer sprint triathlons is a week from tomorrow and actually, I feel really ready for it. Bring it on, I say! I have kept up my training schedule since the last triathlon I did in October, so I usually run a 5K distance around my neighborhood three times a week, I bike 8 miles about 2 times a week and swim laps about once a week. This is by far the best shape I have ever been in in my entire life! Good thing it coincides with being 30 years old; definitely makes it easier to accept. Anyway, the triathlons are in Clermont, which is about an hour from here, so it is going to be some early mornings. But I am excited about improving my time. My strategy is to basically do terrible on the first triathlon just so that improving my time will be a brainless endeavor. Don't want to set the bar too high right out of the gate. My strange pre-race dreams have started up again, though. In the last dream I had to run the 5K in sandals and there was a part where we had to bike up a water slide- not as easy as it may look, I might add. Maybe I have been watching too much Wipeout...

And, because I know you are wondering, I have some 'experiences' I will be working on this weekend, so hopefully you will get three out of me by next week, one even with video. Whoo-hoo!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Pit

When we moved to Lakeland from Miami in 1987, we lived on a street called Strickland Ave. Then about a year after that we moved up the road to a house on Covey Court (and my parents still live there). Now, the coolest part about this street is that it ends in a cul-de-sac and there are only houses on one side. So instead of having across the street neighbors, we had what can only be described as a giant pit that has a baseball diamond in the center (complete with lights, dugouts, etc), a giant open field off to the side, and then huge trees and thick brush all the way up the sides. It is kind of a strange thing to have in the middle of so many neighborhoods, but 'The Pit' (as we have lovingly named it) was good times for us and still is, actually.

This was the place where, as kids, we would fly our kites, practice becoming pro golfers, play army, launch rockets, hide from the cops(just kidding), climb trees, dump our grass clippings, shoot bottle rockets into the trees, chuck things off the edge just to see how far we could throw them...

And we threw a lot of weird stuff down there over the years....

On one occasion it rained so hard and long that the Pit filled with about 3 feet of water. So me and my brothers went down to slog around in it. I came home with ringworm, but, hey, I'm still alive. The Pit is still the place where my dad takes the grandkids to explore and find treasures. Cindy and her cousins even found a giant plastic candy cane yard decoration hanging in a tree out there. (That was an endless source of entertainment for Cindy each time we went over to my parent's house: to check to see if the candy cane was still there.) They do actually play baseball games there in the summer, but most of the time you are more likely to see the Sunday games of cricket that get played in the open field next to the diamond. (No, really, it is a favorite game of all the Indian folk who live around these parts.) Or you might just hear the sound of paintball guns going off from the commandos that use The Pit for a battleground. And of course The Pit is providing entertainment for a whole new generation of kids that live on that street now. A few weeks ago my brother and sister-in-law were visiting and as they were loading up the kids in the car across the street from the hosue (or maybe it was my mom or dad, can't really remember right- but ANYWAY..) a little kid came up over the edge out of The Pit- dressed in full camo with a play gun- and scared the crud out of them. The kid kept it cool by simply sayin "Hey" and moved on like everything was normal. Viva La Pit!

Now where did that S go?

For some reason Luke now pronounces a few words that start with an S, with an H sound. Hence, all day long he is looking for his "handals" and things such as this. I find it mildly amusing, but I really start laughing when he starts playing with his "dino-hores". Classic.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Day in the life of Dora...

Cindy and Luke-(sigh)- LOVE to watch the cartoon Dora the Explorer. I tolerate this show for two reasons: 1. Because it keeps the kids entertained and 2. it actually has taught Cindy to be very interested in speaking Spanish. She even knows most of the colors, the numbers 1-10 and assorted other action words. But the show itself is pretty much ridiculous. So ridiculous in fact, that I decided, What would it be like if my day were like an episode of Dora the Explorer? Hmmm... I wonder...... (insert dreamy harp music here)

(<------And my apologies for how totally creepy that picture over there turned out...)

After waking up in the clothes I am going to wear for the day, I make breakfast for me and the kids- who eat every bite and hang on my every word. I then get an urgent phone call from my mami that I have to mail Uncle Brian his super special birthday present (a magical tie) so he can wear it when he meets the President of Spain! I consult my singing map to plan out the best course of action. He advises that in order to get to the post office, I need to go through the CVS drive thru, then through the MidFlorida bank line and then I will be at the Post Office. When I get to the CVS drive through, the Pharmacist is actually an evil Ice Fairy that will only release my prescription if I can answer this riddle: "What does a cat have that no other animal has?" Of course, Cindy and Luke figure that one out in about 3 seconds- "Kittens!" they shout. The evil Ice Fairy curses my name, but I get the prescription and we are off to the the bank. We then break out into song, "Where are we going?" (Clap, clap, clap) "To The Post Office!" Where are we going?" (Clap, clap, clap) "To the post office!" We are almost to the Bank entrance when we realize that there are baby chicks all over the road blocking the way! Oh No! We'll never make it in time to mail Uncle Brian the super special birthday present! But wait, Cindy has an idea! If we sing the chicks a song about their mommies, they will follow her off the road and back into their pen! Cindy begins to sing:

"Los pollitos dicen
Pio, pio, pio
Cuando tienen hambre
Cuandon tienen frio
Bajo sus dos alas
Se estan quietecitos
Y hasta el otro dia
Duermen calientitos."

It's working! The chicks are following Cindy off the road and back into their pen! The road is now clear. We make it into the drive through line at the bank. I send in the check for deposit. But wait, the speaker is broken! We are just going to have to talk really loud so that the teller can hear us. Say it with me "We need to make a deposit!" LOUDER! "We need to make a deposit!!!" LOUDER!!! "WE NEED TO MAKE A DEPOSIT!!!!" Great job everyone! The teller heard us and put the check in the bank. Now we just have to go to the Post Office to mail the super special birthday present for Uncle Brian. As we drive to the post office, we see something sneaky hiding behind the telephone pole at the intersection. Who could it be? Swiper the Fox! He wants to swipe the birthday present! Everyone say, "Swiper, No Swiping!" Yay! We did it! (Swiper: "Awwww man!") As we pull into the Post Office parking lot, it has been flooded by the overflowing Crystal Lake. There is water everywhere AND lots of hungry alligators that want to eat our package! We are going to have to hop from alligator to alligator to make it into the Post Office. When I say "salta" be sure to jump! Ready? Salta!... Salta!!... Salta!!! We did it! We made it past the hungry alligators and into the Post Office. After a 2 minute wait in line, we deliver Uncle Brian's super special birthday package to the magical mail troll, who puts a spell on it and instantly transports it to Spain. Uncle Brian opens the package just minutes before he is to meet the President. And when hen he does meet him, the President decides that on account of the tie, the whole country will be commanded to convert to Mormonism. We all celebrate with impromptu singing! "We did it, we did it, we did it, yeah! When Brian needed a tie and there was no time to cry, yeah, we did it, we did it, we did it YAY! Did we let all that stuff ever get in our way? No! Lo hicimos, we did it, we did it, Hooray!!!"

What? It could happen...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Helplessly, Hopelessly addicted to:

I could eat 4 sleeves of these without thinking... Oh man, I just did. Dangit!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Easy....I've already looked into it for myself...

The other day I heard a radio DJ asking his listeners this question: "If you had a time machine and could go back in time to when you were younger and give yourself any advice, what would it be?" One listener called in to the show and said "I would tell myself to always be nice to everyone because someone you are mean to could one day end up being your nurse or doctor or something." Wise words! When I went to the hospital to be induced to have Luke, I got checked in, got changed, and when I came out of the bathroom to my room, the nurse was standing there and I realized that she was a childhood friend of mine from about 18 years ago. After she and I had our "what-a-small-world!" moment and caught up on all the missing time, she left and Jacob asked me who she was. I just said, "She was a friend from Elementary school." And then, with one eyebrow raised suspiciously, Jacob wisely asked "Were you nice to her?" :) So there you have it, people! Those around you really can and do end up being your nurse or doctor one day! And having been a very nice person paid off too, because she was a great nurse and totally took care of me the whole day.

So anyway, if you were wondering, here are the three pieces of advice that I would give myself if I could go back in time and have a little chat with 10-year-old Jessica:

1. Accept who you are. Sounds so cheesy and trite, but quit pretending. The people in my life who totally embrace their own weirdlyness and quirks are those that I find the most endearing. Don't be embarrassed by what you like or what interests you. If you secretly own a copy of the movie Twilight, admit it. If you really, really want to take adult tap dance lessons, accept it. If you love your Phil Collins Greatest Hits CD, enjoy every minute of it. You are going to spend eternity with yourself so you might as well enjoy the company.

2. Don't be so scared. I think I spent most of my life (well Elementary through High School anyway) living in fear. Fear of what? Oh, I don't know, things like... failure, anyone with an ounce of authority, getting a B on my report card, being abducted, speaking in front of other people, falling down, crashing my car, choking, getting in trouble, thinking that everyone around me was an evil, iniquitous sinner who was secretly plotting my transport to the Telestial Kingdom. It was a sheltered life. I think I didn't do a lot of things I maybe secretly wanted to do (play on the tennis team, for example) because I was just too scared to even try. You miss out on a lot of experiences when fear holds you back. Not to mention that none of that stuff I worried about ever even happened!!

3. Wear Sunscreen. Just kidding! That was from that stupid song back in the day.(Actually, I would warn myself about that in regards to Stake Youth Conference when I was 15- THAT was a bad sunburn...) No seriously, lastly, I would tell myself, appreciate everything. As I grow up and talk to other adults and people my age, I realize what a great childhood I had. It was a fun time, and it is never to happen again! So, embrace it! Enjoy your siblings (who really were and are your friends) and someone else paying the rent! You have it GOOD, sister!

And now I am going to go move my secret copy of the movie Twilight from the bottom of my kitchen drawer and put it out with all the rest of our DVDs. Happy? Me too :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

And now for something completely different.....again

So here are some recent random stories, pictures, anecdotes, updates, announcements, cash donations, food stamps, etc. from my life...

Cindy's Flower Garden
Well, we planted all kinds of seeds, but in the end only the Mammoth Sunflower seeds took root. And they are doing WAY better than I ever thought possible! Even had to put the tomato cages on two of them. Now just waiting for the blooms. I suppose I should ask Cindy to ask them when those will arrive. She has experience in that area, you know.

Thank You, Frucious (The Patron Saint of Grape tomatoes)
Okay, putting those banana peels underneath the tomato plants was an AWESOME idea. It totally works wonders. I am dying for these things to finally turn red so we can start eating them!!!

A Luke Quickie
The other day Luke was over at my mom's house and he noticed my senior picture from high school up on the mantel in her living room. He quickly smiled and pointed to it, saying, "Mommy!!!" Of course my mom has all of the kids' senior pictures right there, so I pointed to the one next to mine, of my brother, Brian, and said, "Who's that?" And Luke was very quick to answer "Jesus!!!!!" Ha ha! We all knew Brian's hair was way long in that picture, but that just confirmed it.

Desperately seeking manliness...

The reason my triathlon time will be 5 minutes slower than necessary....

Curse you, Lamanite Cake!!!! (and chef Jacob for making this!!!)

Rainbow River
This past Saturday was a girls day out trip to the Rainbow River. The river is about 2 hours north of Lakeland and is a gorgeous spring-fed crystal clear river. (And a very refreshing 72 degrees ;) So you grab a floating device of any kind and float on down at your leisure. (I even saw two total rednecks floating down on an inflatable queen sizes air mattress. Ha!) You can also snorkel, scuba, boat, canoe, kayak or whatever if you want too. Absolute heaven! We had perfect weather and a fabulous time. I did not bring my camera- too risky with water, multiple vehicles, etc. So I totally stole these photos off the Internet, just so you would know what I am talking about a little bit better.

And actually, a first for me, we did see an alligator while we were tubing down. He was maybe about 5-6 foot, not too big, and was only swimming right along the shore near some grass. He posed no threat, really, but it did raise my heart rate just a little to think I was in the same water he was. But this is Florida, whattayagunnado?

Cindy had made Jacob and I "trophies" while we were gone running that 5K last weekend. So cute.

Our long summer together is in full swing and the kids are still friends. Barely....