Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

by Stephanie Black

A huge thank you to Anna Jones Buttimore and Gale Sears for guest blogging for me while I was off partying in Utah. I had a great time at my family reunion. There are 33 of us now—two parents, six kids, six spouses, and nineteen grandchildren. Two families flew in from the east coast (Virginia and Pennsylvania), three came up from southern Utah, and two from elsewhere in the west (Arizona and California). We all assembled in Aspen Grove and proceeded to entertain and amuse the heck out of each other.

This involved a lot of us grown-ups sitting around in camp chairs and chatting and eating junk food, while the kids were off being entertained by energetic young BYU students. Occasionally a family member would extend him or herself to do something physical—for instance, my husband and my sister-in-law did the ropes course, which involved scaling a rock wall and other things that involve actual muscles. I would have done the ropes, except that climbing would have required me to set down my fistfuls of Twizzlers and peanut M&Ms. (Okay, actually, I wouldn’t have done the ropes if you paid me. I am a complete wuss, with no upper body strength whatsoever. No lower body strength either. In fact, I’m almost completely devoid of strength, though I think my left pinky might be able to bench press its own weight). My husband and one brother-in-law put their muscles to work as well, climbing Mt. Timpanogos.
Ha ha! Better them than me. Not only did this involve leaving at six in the morning, but it included strain and pain and rain and took pretty much the whole day. But they haven’t learned their lesson—my brother-in-law will be in town next month and e-mailed my husband asking if he would be interested in hiking Half Dome in Yosemite. Strangely enough, my husband had just mentioned that he wanted to hike Half Dome. Personally, I think they’re nuts. Sure, it would be a pretty view from the top, but isn't that what Google Images is for?

I discovered that some of my siblings are very good at Boggle, and I am not. You’d think that being a writer, I’d be good at a word game, but no. I’m finding words like “cat”, while my lawyer brother is noting his sixty-seven points for “sesquipedalian.” I didn’t do any better in the game of family Jeopardy created by my other brother. The game was a blast, and taught me that I don’t know nearly as much of my family history as I should. My team was getting creamed for most of the game, but we came back in Final Jeopardy—The meaning of the family motto, Virtutis Gloria Merces. No, I didn’t know the answer, though it was printed on the front of my family reunion T-shirt, but two of our team had fortuitously looked up the meaning the day before (Glory is the reward of valor).

We were able to attend the Provo Temple, and what a blessing to be able to be in the temple with all my siblings, their spouses, and my parents. My seventeen-year-old daughter kindly volunteered to come hang around outside with my youngest nephew--a nursing baby not quite three months old--so my sister could attend the temple session. For this, she received many blessings, including lunch at Tucanos.

The family talent show was awesome, including everything from a romantic song sung by my brother to his wife (it was their wedding anniversary) and some beautiful artwork displayed by my daughter, to magic tricks, the Purple People Eater, Once There Was a Snowman and, from a very young participant, locating his belly button. Our contribution included a movie made by my children and edited by my oldest daughter, entitled "Stephen and the Ninjas". They started making this movie over spring break and finished it up for the reunion. It involved a lot of ninjas. And Bear Grylls. And teleporting.

Unfortunately, all good parties must come to an end, and everyone had to head back to real life. I postponed the real life thing a bit longer by going to hang out with my parents in southern Utah for another week, where we could swim and relax before we hopped in the car for the twelve-hour trip back home, which turned out to involve a great deal of desert, some embarrassing incidents at Subway, and Weird Al. (And I'm very grateful to report that my car worked. Rob, I'm glad you made it home).


At 8/20/2008 4:45 PM, Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

Ahem. Your brother-in-law completed the high ropes course and one of your sisters put down the M&Ms long enough to attempt the course. She successfully climbed the pole.

Let's give credit where's it's due.

Mmmm, M&Ms. Yum.

At 8/20/2008 5:42 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

So sorry. Apparently I was too busy eating M&Ms to remember who did what.

Maybe we could start a family feud over this.

At 8/20/2008 6:02 PM, Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

If there is going to be any feud, it will be over the unfair distribution of m&ms. I've been robbed!

And we should have paid for Amy's meal. We're slackers.

At 8/20/2008 7:49 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

I want to hear more about Weird Al. =)

Also, Tucano's is the best! Mmmm, Brazilian Lemonade. And so much meat that I have yet to have room for dessert. I work within walking distance, but we only go there for special occasions - usually when one of us is moving to another job. =(

I am King of Boggle (though my wife can always beat me at Big Boggle) Play Fowl Words / Chicktionary and you'll learn a lot of the little obscure words.

Here's a writer's task - how do you represent that sound that you make by clamping your teeth together, opening one side of your mouth and then doing a staccato intake? Here's my best attempt: tchk tchk.

Robison: Is this what Hugh Laurie means when he says someone "sucked their teeth" ?

At 8/21/2008 12:14 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Evil, that didn't even occur to me. But you can send me large wads of cash if it will assuage your conscience. Don't consider yourself limited by the actual cost of the dinner. Send piles of money!

Jon, singing along to Weird Al songs is good for road trips, especially when you've been on the road for a loooong time. I don't know if my husband would agree--he has more dignity than I do--but he wasn't with us. He'd flown home a week earlier to get back to work.

And yum, Tucanos. That's the first time I'd been there.

At 8/21/2008 2:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You were in Utah and you didn't stop for a visit. I'm upset.


At 8/21/2008 2:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not that I actually live in utah, of course.


At 8/21/2008 11:14 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Ly, I'm so sorry! How could I have neglected to visit you in Utah, in the event that you live in Utah, which fact cannot be verified?

At 8/21/2008 8:23 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Well, I guess traveling from CA to UT, you wouldn't have visited...

The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota!

... but perhaps you sang about it. =)

(Or, Albuquerque?)

At 8/21/2008 8:59 PM, Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

I want to go see the twine ball. I even served my mission in MN and I asked my mission president for permission to travel there and he said no. *sob*

At 8/21/2008 9:00 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Yep, the Biggest Ball of Twine was on the list.

I don't have Albuquerque. I need to buy it. It would be perfect for our next trip. The first time I heard that song I laughed like crazy.

At 8/22/2008 8:47 PM, Blogger Janet Burningham said...

Ahhh...I am so jealous, I LOVE Aspen Grove family reunions. Unfortunately we haven't been for several years, but want to go back soon. Thanks for the memories!

At 8/24/2008 4:13 PM, Blogger Josi said...

I've heard about Aspen Grove before, but this sounds awesome. To I have to convert my heathen family members in order for them to attend?


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