Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Happy Birthday Isaac

Isaac turned 13 a couple days ago. Wow. I've got TWO teenagers now!

What a blessing it is to be Isaac's mother!

Here are 13 things I love about this wonderful young man:

1. Isaac is kind. His whole life, he's always loved sharing and helping and making people feel better when they are sad. When most toddler's favorite word is "mine," Isaac was insisting on giving a generous portion of anything he got to his big brother ashton and his baby sister Eliza.

2. Isaac is a worker. He embraces hard physical things like mowing the lawn or running cross country or helping build things.

3. Isaac has a beautiful smile. And he uses it frequently.

4. Isaac has a natural and genuine love for babies and little kids. He knows how to make them feel comfortable and special and their adoration for him is quite obvious.

5. Isaac has worked hard it get great grades. He's smart and he's figured out what it takes to get the grades he wants.

6. Isaac has my favorite brown eyes and I'm jealous of his long thick lashes.

7. Isaac is friendly and happy to be friends with everyone. I love hearing from teachers about how he's befriended kids with special needs and been kind to kids that others aren't so kind to. And I love seeing him go right up and talk to anyone new, looking them right in the eye and taking with them in such an easy way.

8. Isaac is fiercely loyal. Don't even think about doing or saying anything remotely unfair or mean to anyone in Isaac's presence.

9. Isaac is popular with the ladies. When I happen to see him in the lunchroom at school, he's sitting at a table surrounded by about 8 girls who quite obviously think he's pretty awesome. And when he's had parties at our house all these cute,  nice girls who show up. I love that he had great friendships with girls and doesn't get caught up on the silliness that so many kids his age are prone to.

10. Isaac is confident in who he is, what he believes, and what is right.

11. Isaac likes going for unique and cool stuff. Like learning to ride a unicycle and riding it in the 4 th of July parade. Or trying and enjoying octopus and sushi.

12. Isaac is loving. I love that he's still fine with hugging his mom in public. And he still calls out "bye, love you!" When I drop him off at school.

13. Isaac is happy. He knows how to find joy in everything he does.And his happiness is contagious. He's great at making other people happy.

I love you, my wonderful Ike!

Here's a glimpse at the birthday celebrations we enjoyed last Saturday:

Isaac got a new bike!

We did a lot of playing in the water, Isaac and I sat out on the raft and talked about life as the waves rocked us, and Isaac did some impressive wakeboarding (but somehow I don't seem to make it out to the boat with my camera...). Plus there was plenty of playing in the sand:

 We had Isaac's favorite - fish tacos - for dinner. Yum.

We finished the day with a big party. Here are all the kids who were here (Eliza organized all the cousins to help make the great banner):

And here's everyone including most adults who joined in the festivities (nice face, Isaac!):

We played a few rounds of Reverse Charades. Here's the boys' team:

And here's the girls' team (we won - just fyi).

Then we had cake - banana nutella cake - and everyone shared what they love most about Isaac. Everyone had such nice things to say and I felt so glad to be the mother of such a boy as Isaac and so happy that he's surrounded by so many people who know and love him so well.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Eyrealm Reunion Official Video - 2014

Eli and Julie were this year's reunion chairs and they did a phenomenal job. Organizing food and activities and t-shirts and clean-up for 45 people is no small feat! And on top of all that, they made this great music video - cajoled all of us into creating video clips at our favorite places in our hometowns (Boston, NYC, Orange County, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, San Francisco, and of course, the illustrious Ogden) and put them together into this year's reunion video.

Click HERE to watch.


(if you want to see the original video that ours was loosely modeled after, here it is.)

And in case you want to see last year's awesome reunion video by Noah and Kristi, here it is.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

4th of July and Bear Lake - 2014

After a great few days celebrating the 4th of July in Ashton, Idaho with Jared's family, we've been here at Bear Lake for the past couple of weeks with my family.

In Ashton, we had a great time watching/riding in the 4th of the July parade (the kids decorated their bikes and rode in the parade this year - Isaac rode a unicycle the whole way - pretty impressive!), participating in the Ashton watermelon-eating contest (Jared won the adult division and the kids all came in near the top in their age divisions), waterskiing, tubing and wakeboarding out at the reservoir (Ashton surprised us all by pulling right up on on ski and immediately doing all these impressive cuts as he whipped in and out of the wake - wow!), and laughing and talking until late into night. I sure married into a great family.

Here's a glimpse of what I posted on Instagram about our good times in Ashton (for more, click here and scroll down a bit.):

After our good times in Ashton, we headed straight to Bear Lake. We enjoyed some pre-reunion fun and reconnection with many family members who showed up around the same time we did, then our official family reunion was July 9-13 when all 44 members of the family (we added Charity's fiance Ian this year - so happy for them! - and we sadly were missing the oldest cousin, Max, this year - he's doing an internship in China) were here. Here's a run-down of some of the stuff we did (thanks to Eli and Julie for being the reunion chairs this year!):
  • The opening bonfire - tradition on the first night of the reunion, we get to hear the official reunion playlist where everyone contributes one song - and guess whose song is whose. Plus we threw in a great dance party at the end this year.
  • The annual Eyrealm meeting (where we discuss which charities we've helped support this past year and listen to proposals for grants for this upcoming year - the Eyrealm Foundation is a small non-profit where my parents put most of the money they make from speaking these days and we all get to help decide which family-focused non-profits to donate to each year)
  • lots of water sports - the older grandkids are into wakeboarding lately, the adults mostly slalom ski and work on perfecting their cuts, most kids like crazy tube rides...
  • the third annual Fear Factor - participating kids eat crazy things and when they come to something they can't eat - they're out. They started with olives, pickles and mushrooms (which got LOTS of kids out - mushrooms were the hardest for most kids...). They moved on to sardines, roasted rattle snake (the dads shot, skinned and roasted an errant rattle snake a couple days before the reunion), toasted and flavored worms and bugs (you can get them on Amazon). Eliza came in second place and Ashton came in fourth. We have some crazy good eaters!
  • the second annual Eyrealm Relay Race - a 12-mile race where we divide into teams and everyone of every age - other than non-walking babies - runs 1/2-mile to 1-mile legs
  • tons of really excellent food -despite the fact that we've had tons of salads and generally really healthy and delicious gourmet foods and I've been doing some serious swimming, paddle-boarding and/or walking and running every day, I think my waistline is expanding a bit thanks to late-night cookie baking and the urge for second helpings!
(For some specific info on how we do reunions, check out this post I wrote last year:  Three Keys to a Great Family Reunion)

At the end of the reunion, quite a few people had to head back to work but most people stayed on for more fun in the sand and water and fun, Grammie Camps (where my mom takes a few kids at a time off for a special overnighter and teaches them about their ancestors, about music and about the beauty and importance of hard work - they LOVE Grammie Camp!), plently of spectactular-sunset-watching and scenery-enjoying, kids' driving lessons (my brother Jo taught Ashton to drive the boat and many adults here have been nice enough to give the older kids fun driving lessons on the beach in the old beat-up Moneros we use to shuttle stuff and people around on the big empty beach - perfect place for kids to try out driving!), lots more late-night discussions about stuff like women and the priesthood, marriage advice (in honor of Charity and Ian's recent engagement), parenting issues and ideas, my parents' new book (The Turning), and my brother Talmadge's really interesting insights from the Masters program he just finished at UPenn (Positive Psychology). Plus we've laughed a lot and played games and enjoyed really catching up with each other in a way that being together for days on end allows you to do. The cousins have all had so much fun together and it's been so fun to see the interactions between big and little kids, peers, aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews, etc.

It seems like we're pretty much always cleaning up or cooking and the logistics and noise involved with so many people sharing space for so much time can sometimes feel a bit daunting. But it's worth it. For sure.

(If you want to know more about how we ended up spending time at Bear Lake every summer, click here for an old post that explains it all.)

The internet is slow here (when I can get it to work at all) so it's hard to upload photos to this blog. But I've put up a few photos each day on Instagram and they show what most everything I wrote about above actually looked like. If you want to check them out, just click here and use #eyrealm2014 to get to all the photos of our time at Bear Lake this year (and a quick overview is in the collage below). 

Thursday, July 03, 2014

June Overview - Mostly in Photos

Instagram makes it so easy to just post along the way as we go about our summer - so that's mostly how I've been recording what we've been up to. My goal is to do a blog post a week here, then post an Instagram collage with a link every so often so that the day-to-day happenings can be easily accessed through this blog and directly through Instagram.

Here's the latest collage Instagram made of all the photos I've been posting there (click HERE to get details on any of these photos and check out more photos of our latest adventures.)

June was a good month. I've enjoyed lots of great hikes, bike rides, reading, day trips, etc with these fun kids of mine and we've had some great times with family and friends. Power of Moms is humming along pretty nicely with just a couple hours a day of work from me (as I've learned to let some things wait and let other things go in the interest of really enjoying my kids and staying sane - for the most part . . .).

The kids have generally done a pretty good job on their goals and "must-do's" (the twins made this podcast with me about goals HERE - love hearing them explain how it all works). I have to keep reminding myself that they're kids and they have a long way to go when it comes to will-power and stick-to-it-iveness when they get off track and when they seem to find it so difficult to do the list of things that I give them that seems so short and simple to me (what looks like a mole-hill to me can sure look like a mountain to them...). They may not be getting everything done that they're supposed to do each day, but they're definitely getting more useful and productive and meaningful stuff done than they would be if there weren't any goals or "must-do's" going on.

I got some projects done around the house. We got a lot done (I'm finally putting a finish coat on all our doors that were stained but never varnished - it's a big job but wow, the doors sure look good when they're done! And I've been doing some re-painting of the windowsills I just painted last year - grrrrr - I used the wrong type of putty and now I have to scrape down and repaint after just a few months!)

And now, after a couple days of laundry and cleaning and sorting and packing, we're heading up to Jared's home town for the 4th of July and the weekend then we head straight on to Bear Lake. Let the summer travels and time with relatives begin!
And happy 4th of July!

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Beautiful but Frustrating Hike - and a Metaphor for Motherhood

Last Friday's hike was sort of a metaphor for motherhood.

We'd planned all week to do a big hike on Friday. We ate a quick breakfast, packed up water and snacks, found everyone's socks and shoes, and headed out. But then it started raining. Hard. Really hard. And there was lots of thunder and lightening. We hadn't gone far when the rain started up so we just looped around and ended up back in our driveway. It was raining so hard that we figured we'd listen to an audio book for a while (we're listening to Maze Runner and the kids are so into it) rather than getting soaked trying to dash into the house (yes, it was really raining hard enough that we'd have been drenched to the skin if we'd tried to run the 15 yards from the car to the house). Our thwarted plans made into a pleasant experience - listening to the rain beat on the roof in our cozy car while listening to a good story. Not half-bad.

When the rain let up, the blue sky peeked through and a quick check of the weather on my phone said the rain should be done so we headed out of the driveway again, parked at the trailhead nearby and headed up the mountain.

It was gorgeous - perfectly cool hiking weather, lovely droplets on bright green rain-soaked leaves, wildflowers, cloud-capped peaks, the deepened colors and clear air of after-rain.

Isaac and the twins wanted to go ahead, as is often the case. That was fine. Eliza, Ashton and I hiked together at a brisk but slightly slower pace. As the gap between our two groups widened, I worried about the younger boys getting too far ahead of us, especially since I tried calling Isaac and found that he wasn't answering his phone - he must have left it in the car or at home. Darn. I really really don't like it when I don't know where my kids are and they might be in danger and I can't see or reach them.

I tried to hurry my little group along so we could catch up with the others. But the hurrying wasn't sitting well with certain people. I ended up by myself in the middle of two groups and sort of frustrated and worried. I had high hopes involving enjoying the beauty together and having some good talks while hiking. But there I was, yelling to the group in front (and not getting an answer and getting increasingly concerned) and feeling increasingly frustrated with those lagging behind (despite repeated explanations and pleas from me regarding the need to catch up with the advance group). I wasn't having fun. The laggers weren't having fun.

Turns out the advance group was having lots of fun - but on the wrong path. They'd decided to follow a lovely stream for a bit, then thought they saw a "short cut" and wandered far enough off track that they were lost. Thanks to a switch-back, they finally ended up in shouting distance from me and were able to make their way back to me, full of appologies about leaving the path (they KNOW the rules . . .). In the end, the laggers made it to the top quite a bit ahead of me and the youngers boys. And when we all made it to the top, I was ball of nerves and things just weren't very happy.

We had a good talk up at that summit about staying together on hikes, making sure we had our phones with us, staying on the path, that sort of thing. And then we had a really fun and lovely hike down, waiting for each other, staying together, laughing and talking. So the hike ended on a happy note.

Isn't motherhood a lot like the story of this hike of ours? We go into things with great and happy anticipation. And even when there are false starts and "weather" that gets in the way, we're often good at keeping a positive outlook and pushing on ahead. Our plans may be solid, the scenery may be lovely, and joy may seem to be well within our reach. But more stuff happens. The weather holds, but new challenges come up. Some of the people involved in our plan (our kids, other family members) inevitably want to take their own path. And some people (yep, it's usually the mom . . .) are overly focused on keeping everyone moving along at a good clip. It's hard to really see the beauty of it all while we're trying to keep everyone safe and moving forward on the right track. Everyone wants to go their own pace and do their own thing in their own way - but we often have to stick together. So people get grumpy. And sometimes there's yelling.

But in the end, we have good talks and realize some things we should do better next time. And we can get some pretty spectacular views even in the midst of hard times if we remember to really look around us. Plus there are plenty of beautiful moments to be enjoyed if we can tuck away our frustrations and trust a little more and worry a little less.

Monday, June 16, 2014

On Thinking and Worrying Too Much - and building in more time to just be

It's been a good summer so far. We've been busy and productive and we've had a lot of fun. For the most part, the kids are doing a good job with their "must-do's" every day (reading, writing, doing a job around the house, working on one of their summer goals for their "practice" point, that sort of thing - they have a chart to check off this stuff every day). It's like fingernails on a chalkboard for me to see my kids lazing around in front of a screen unless they've accomplished a few things that feel somewhat productive first so these daily must-do's not only help the kids to get some good stuff done each day but they also help me relax as they enjoy a bit of recreational screen time and a whole lot of just playing with friends and jumping on the trampoline and that sort of thing once the "must-do's" have been accomplished.

But I'm feeling pretty frazzled way too often. Between running kids around to the few things we've signed them up for this summer, helping them set and work on the goals they've set for the summer, overseeing those "must-do's," trying to keep on top of the added laundry and grocery needs that summer brings, and dealing with unanticipated needs of our ward (I'm in the primary presidency and Jared is the Bishop), I've only had a hour or two (taken in haphazard 5-15-minute snatches) to work on Power of Moms stuff. I've been able to get to the most urgent things. And I've felt good about letting non-urgent stuff wait in the interest of focusing on motherhood. But every couple days, I get super overwhelmed as I realized how much I'm putting off with Power of Moms and wonder how I'll ever catch up. Plus I keep noticing new things I need to do sooner or later - the paint on our windowsills that we did just last fall is already chipping off and needs attention. Our neighbors are getting some work done on thir house that we also need done on our house but the company working on their house that gave us bids simply won't call me back and it would be so nice and easy and perhaps less expensive if we could get him to do some of the same work on our house while he's doing work on the house next door.

Right now, Eliza is sitting by me doing some artwork after getting back from basketball camp and the twins are jumping with a friend on the trampoline after finishing all their "must-do's" but the older boys are likely lounging around a bit and I've asked them to do some stuff that I don't think they've done but I'm so tired of trying so hard to keep everyone happy and productive. I'm also tired of having so many "must-do's" in my own mind all the time and feeling like I'm always running and never arriving.

Anyway, some days things seem great and I know I need to take the way I feel today with a grain of salt. It might just be the time of the month or the fact that my jeans are feeling too tight and it makes me feel grumpy to be reminded that I've been eating a bit too much lately and should change that. But I've definitely realized that I've kept up an un-sustainable pace for many years and that I crave more opportunities to really enjoy motherhood and less responsibilities related to running a website that helps other people enjoy motherhood. It's a fine balance. I love Power of Moms and know it really does help me be a better mom and person. But I've got to do a better job of compartmentalizing my life, planning what is most important to do, doing those things, and leaving a lot more margin in my life where real living can happen.

I loved this article on Power of Moms:

It helped me realize how simple motherhood can be. I need to simply be present sometimes. I don't have to have a big activity planned or be actively teaching the kids something wonderful. I just need to be there. I bet if I just go sit out there and read a book (the book the twins are reading and that they really want me to read with them - Mysterious Benedict Society - I do love reading but always feel like I've got too much to do to sit and read - but they say kids really need to see their parents' reading to be great readers themselves...) while the kids' jump on the tramoline, they'll want to show me some cool new tricks and I'll enjoy looking up from my book to watch. I bet if I ask my daughter if she wants to play duets together, she'll enjoy her practicing time and I'll get a chance to play the violin myself - something I do way too seldom. I bet if I go find Ashton and just sit by him, we'll end up talking about something interesting. I bet if I go tell Isaac he did a great job vacuuming out the car and ask him what he feels like doing this afternoon, we'll nave a nice talk (and we can bury the bad feelings that we had towards each other as he was being super grumpy about vacuuming out the car and I was feeling angry that he felt so put-upon to do this small job when I do so much...).

I realize I've been over-thinking and over-worrying. I need to think more about what needs to happen in the present moment and less about the things things on my to-do list that are looming large and feeling overwhelming. I've got to come to terms with the fact that I'm just not going to get a whole lot of new things done as far as Power of Moms stuff this summer. I'll keep up on basic things - but my ideas for new things and my hopes of doing the projects on the list will just have to wait. I need to be here - really be here - with these kids - for their sake, and for mine.

So there are my rambling thoughts for today... I'm off to hang out with my kids and follow their lead for a while.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Inspiration for the Week

I stumbled across this quote today and it put into words an important truth that I already knew in my heart - but that I don't really do much about.

I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes that weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspirations; I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming. 

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

What power we have as mothers! For good and for ill. We determine the atmosphere in our homes to a great extent. And the more we focus on being that durably calm, kind, patient, loving and inspirting mother that we want to be, the more beautiful our home life can be. It's so hard to be in a good mood when we are tired and everyone wants something at the same time and there are worries in our minds. But we can set ourselves up for success as we prioritize our sleep and personal time, say "no" to things our heart tells us we should say no to, build in one-on-one time with our children, and fill our lives with beauty and peace in place of hurry and worry.

Monday, June 09, 2014

First Week of Summer Break - and Instagram Info

I'm realizing that Instagram is a great way to record our family's daily adventures this summer. I can do it right in the moment and I don't have to find a good-sized chunk of time to compose and upload pictures like I do with this blog. I'll still be posting here about once a week when I have something to record and share that goes beyond some fun pictures and thoughts. But if you'd like to keep up with the non-particularly-thought-provoking goings on of our family this summer, feel free to follow us on Instagram.

You can check out all my Instagram posts by clicking here anytime:
When you get to that page, click on any picture you want to know more about and the description will come up along with a larger photo.

Or you can follow me on Instagram - if you've got Instagram on your phone, just go into "Explore" (it's the icon that looks like a star or a compass or something like that) and click on the search icon at the top (looks like a magnifying glass) and type in "sarenloosli" then you can find me and follow me.

I've got lots of pictures there of our first action-packed week out of school. We got into our summer routines, did a major clean-out of kids' bedrooms as part of moving the twins into the same room together and the big boys into a shared room (for years, we've had Silas and Isaac in one room and Oliver and Ashton in another and everyone was ready for a change), helped out with a lot of random little and big ward needs, went on a beautiful hike, got all the kids' school projects stored in digital photos or tucked away in binders, went to a water park, researched, bought and built a beautiful new pergola plus a new outdoor table for the backyard (we love a good family project and these kids are really helpful these days!), and enjoyed a fabulous neighborhood party (plus had 1/2 the neighborhood in our backyard for a good part of almost every day - so grateful for wonderful neighbors).

Plus I had a chance to conduct a training for our Power of Moms trainers on Saturday and enjoyed a lovely few hours with some great ladies who'll be putting on some really meaningful trainings this year. And since I had to be in SLC first thing Saturday morning for that training and we were there Friday night for the water park, I stayed overnight with my mom and we had a great slumber party - talked and laughed until almost 2am. I sure love my mom.

And sure, there were some hard times and bumps as we adjusted to our new schedule and dealt with lots of unexpected stuff. Plus I'm way behind on Power of Moms work. But life is good.

Here's a glimpse of some of that from the collage Instagram made for me:

Go to http://instagram.com/sarenloosli/ to make the photos above clickable . . .

Friday, May 30, 2014

Last Day of School 2014

Today is the last day of school.

I'm very glad.

I'm so ready for a more relaxed schedule and time to just hang out with my kids. I feel like our lives have been way too rushed, way too busy for a long, long time. Sure, we've had beautiful adventures and have accomplished good things thanks to all that busyness. But it feels so good NOT to be taking off on a cross-country road trip like we were at this time last year. We're ready for a mellow June full of simple un-planned fun combined with our "Loosli Adventure Camp" (read about that here if you want). I'm excited to just hang out with these fun kids of mine and follow our interests and whims a lot more than we have in a long, long, time. I'm scaling back on Power of Moms stuff and other committments so I can work with Eliza on Violin, read with the twins, go on walks and hikes, spend individual time with kids as much as possible, take a few day trips, and really live in the moment.

Then in July we'll be at Bear Lake most of the time and in Ashton, Idaho part of the time.

Day before yesterday I sat shivering (what's up with over-air-conditioning???) on a hard metal chair through a LONG awards ceremony at the middle school (I've got a few ideas I'm going to pass on to the administration about how they could improve this very tedious event that I think could be a fun celebration of what the kids have done rather than a 2.5 hour reading of names...). Ashton got an award for getting a rare perfect 30 on his writing (he's really a great writer) and Isaac got a Presidential Award for academic excellence. Plus they were recognized for being on the volleyball and soccer teams. But it was hard to see some kids get recognized again and again and again and others not get recognized at all. I sat there feeling frustrated that I didn't know about some of the different things Ashton and Isaac could have been involved in - why weren't the boys pro-active about getting involved in more things? Why didn't the school make sure parents knew about more of this stuff? Am I being as involved as I should be? What am I doing wrong to make it so my boys didn't get more awards? Are awards a good thing anyway? I took notes on things to follow up with the boys about and realized I need to be more pro-active in encouraging the boys to be more pro-active when it comes to school activities. Those are just a few of the rambling thoughts I had while sitting through that long long assembly - I had plenty of time to think.

Here's the only photo I could get that sort of showed Ashton and Isaac - they were both up there to get their awards for being on athletic teamsq (I couldn't get them to look my way...)

Eliza's school's award ceremony was yesterday and it was thankfully much shorter and most every kid seemed to get an award for something - much more positive experience for everyone, it seemed. Here she is getting the Presidential Award for academic excellence and an award from her beloved science teacher, Ms. Singleton:

Eliza happily looked my way and posed for pictures frequently (the diference between her and her older brothers - is it an age thing? girl/boy thing? personality thing?)

Presidential award - see her there on the back row, seventh from the right?

Science award:

Yesterday Ashton had a bunch of friends over for a party - trampoline jumping, playing guitar and singing together, watching a movie, eating pizza, talking and laughing. He's developed some great friendships this year - and has had a chance to go with many of these kids on awesome school trips to Havasupai (last fall) and Southern Utah (last week).

This year, Ashton's had great teachers and has learned a lot (quite a bit of it the hard way) about getting good grades. He's grown a whole lot this year in so many ways. As he gave me a rare hug last night and thanked me for the party, I couldn't believe that my little baby is now way bigger than me.

Today I did one last story time in the twins' classroom and it was hard not to be emotional as I looked at all the beautiful 3rd graders I've known since Kindergarten. They're getting so big! I love that the twins still have to give me big hugs when I get to their classroom and when I leave. I love seeing their faces light up when I walk into the room. I love knowing and loving many of their friends.

After my storytime, I got to see the kids learn to do the Flamenco from their teacher who is from Spain. It was pretty cute watching them.

Next year they'll be in different classes for the first time and they'll be switching around classes a lot more rather than being with one teacher the vast majority of the time. My babies are really growing up. Forth graders are seriously big kids. I remember forth grade - really well. How can it be that my youngest children are already at an age that I feel like I was at not so very long ago?

Then Isaac and Eliza had their end-of-school parties today after school - one party right after another.

Eliza and her friend jumped on the trampoline, made artistic arrangements out of flowers and leaves and had me judge them, had chips with guacamole and smoothies, played hide and seek and giggled and talked. Such cute girls.

Isaac's still got his friends here. Only girls showed up. But Isaac didn't seem to mind one bit. These are some great girls. They've been jumping on the tramoline while spraying each other with the hose (it's HOT!), eating the delicious cookies Isaac made for the occasion, playing with the neighbor's cats, and playing some pretty tame truth or dare (one dare was to give me a compliment - which really wasn't half bad...). Plus Isaac has been showing off his unicycle skills and helping is friends try out that crazy thing.

Next week, I'll be sitting down with each child to go over the piles and piles of stuff they've brought home from school - deciding whether each piece should be trashed, photographed and put into their digital "special things folder" or saved physically in the special things folder they each get for every 2 school years. Trying to be cheerful about this upcoming task...

Hmmmm. Now what shall I make for dinner? We were going to do pizza but Ashton wanted that for his party last night so we all had pizza. I want to do something special and celebratory. But Jared's getting home from work late and I'm just tired. Going out to eat might be the right answer. But then maybe that takes more effort than just eating something quick and easy here...

Southern CA for a Wedding and a New Baby

We spent a lot of Memorial Day weekend driving. And it was actually very pleasant. The kids read a lot (the twins can't put down Harry Potter and Percy Jackson these days and Eliza and Isaac had great books to read as well). Ashton worked on a couple really wonderful videos about the Southern Utah Science trip he just returned from. I edited the curriculum for our new Year III Learning Circles manual. Jared listened to podcasts. Plus we had plenty of time to talk about summer plans. Plus we played the alphabet game and found licsence plates from all over the country. Plus we listened together to two audio books (The Cay and The Maze Runner- didn't finish that one but got a lot of the way through it). Everyone was nice to each other. No one complained. Wow. We've really got this road trip thing down!

The trip was to southern CA where we had great times with both sides of our family. We attended Jared's neice Rachel's beautiful wedding and had a great time with a large portion of Jared's very large family playing on the beach and having a fun game night after the wedding. And we got to stay with my brother Noah and sister-in-law Kristi and their wonderful kids and meet their newest addtion - miracle baby Shelby who was born with a very rare and very serious heart condition and they were geared up for the worst but thanks to excellent doctors, innovative proceedures, and lots of faith and fasting and prayers, little Shelby Grace is doing remarkably well and is home and happy with her family.

Here are some of my favorite moments from the weekend - in photos and in words:

Rachel's wedding was absolutely beautiful - the setting, the ceremony, the bride, everything.

Rachel and Andrew seem like a wonderful match and it was so great to be with them and so many loved ones for this very special day.

Here's Jared's mom and 7 of her 9 children (sadly Joel and Jayne couldn't make it)

And here's the family with spouses included:

I'm so blessed to be part of the ownderful Loosli family.

After a lovely luncheon, we met up at the beach for a chilly but gorgeous afternoon.

The twins ran right into the water - 62 degrees seems like great beach weather to them.

Ashton, Isaac and Eliza joined their uncles and some cousins for a good volleyball game.

Here's the cheering section:

I went for a walk up and down the beach with the twins, checking out kelp and seashells. There's so much wonder at the beach.

And I played in the waves with my boys, running back and forth, following the receeding waves down and then running like crazy to see if we could keep the new wave from touching us. I loved running and laughing together and enjoying the ocean - the feel of the wet sand under our feet, the sound of the waves, the cool surprise of the water slapping your legs - it never gets old for me.

Then we grabbed burgers at good old In and Out and stayed up late playing Pounce and chatting at Bruce and Connie's house. Games with Looslis are aways a really great time.

On Sunday, we had a great day with Noah and family plus my sister Charity who came down from the Bay area for the weekend. We went on a nice long walk all over their lovely neighborhood and the kids played and played and played.

The most important part of our time with Noah and Kristi was meeting their new baby, Shelby Grace, who came into the world with a heart that wasn't really functional but who is doing miraculously well thanks to lots of faith and prayers and great innovative ideas from smart and devoted doctors. It was wonderful to meet her and hold her after we've all been fasting and praying for her for so long!

We got to see how she takes her special heart medicine. But other than medicine and the likelihood of further proceedures down the road, she's a normal, beautiful little baby.

And we had big-time fun with cousins. My kids can't get enough of these fun little cousins of theirs.

I got to hang out and have great talks with some of my favorite people - Noah and Charity

And Kristi

Noah and Kristi have always been some of my biggest heroes (along with all my great family members on both sides of our family). Their stalwart faith and peaceful attitudes and solid hope and love have been beautiful things to watch through this whole crazy process with sweet Shelby.

Isaac taught Shelby a bit about Instagram:

Ashton and Bennet had big time fun together:
And Eliza and Lyla can never get enough of each other:
These three muskateers are SO cute together, coming up with all sorts of imaginative games and ideas, playing with Pokemon cards and making up Pokemon plays to act out, and spending a reasonable amout of time on the Wii.

Goodbye! (Bennett had to run after our car a for a bit, trying to give Ashton one last high five...)

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