Sunday, August 26, 2007

Blessings

We have so many blessings. I've felt worried and overwhelmed quite a bit this week, but after a trip to the temple, the last couple days I've been feeling so extra grateful. So this post will recount a bit of what's been going on with us in the context of what I'm grateful for.

First, I'm so grateful for Jared. He's just so amazingly patient and supportive. He's always willing to do whatever it takes to help me do all the wild things I take on. This week he watched the kids while I ran around helping teachers and meeting with our own kids' teachers at Back to School Night, made smoothies for me and my client (and Jared's good friend) Dave while we went over floor plans on the house I'm helping with, helped me figure out how to get payment from this lady in the Philippines who wants to start a Joy School there and who can't just send a check like everyone else, helped me figure out how to transfer my parent volunteer database to something they can use on the school computers (and he helped me set up the database in the first place a while back), did a bunch of cleaning and kept the kids focused on Saturday jobs, helped deal with Eliza's ongoing middle-of-the night bedwetting incidents, gave me a back rub at the end of a long day, listened to my woes and worries a lot, and suffered through Fiesta Fun (this crappy place with lots of token-operated games) with me since the kids really wanted to go and they'd earned a lot of money on their points this week. And there's way more but I don't want to bore you. What a guy! We went to the temple together yesterday as I looked at him across the way, my heart was so full of love and gratitude for this super handsome, worthy, kind, patient, smart and wonderful man I call my own.
View I see when I wake up each morning (wetter than usual thanks to last night's storm!)
View from my kitchen (on a rainy day)

I'm so grateful for the view outside my window each morning - when I wake up at 7am, the red hills are lit up by the sun that has just hit them - they glow in an other-worldly way against the azure blue sky and make my heart glad every single morning. And the view as I stand in the kitchen, passing out food to the kids seated at the bar is really amazing - lava rock with the tired golds and soft olives of the plants poking through the rock, then the red hills, then the blue blue sky - colors varying by time of day and occasionally by some cloud cover. And the sunsets - different colors every night. Last night it POURED with rain and the thunder was so loud it woke us all up a lot of times and the lightening was beautiful. There was a big river in the wash this morning and the kids were so excited. The wash looks so different and the colors are so deep with everything soaking wet. I'm so grateful for the beauty of nature and for the way it's ever-present in this house - and I'm so excited for a little cooler weather so we can get out there hiking again.
Eliza's first day at Little Einsteins Preschool

I'm so grateful for Eliza. She stared preschool and gymnastics and Joy School this week and she was so excited and cute about everything. She's got this cute preschool class with three boys and three girls and she's told me pretty much every single thing they've done so far (so opposite from the boys who generally can't seem to remember anything they've done at school). I watched her at her first gymnastics class and she was so excited to try the balance beam and the uneven parallel bars and all the stuff they did - and so happy to be there in her leotard surrounded by other little girls. She's always so observant and loves trying to figure out how everyone and everything works. At Bajio for dinner yesterday, she pointed to some people at the next table, "Mommy, that can't just be one family because there are three ladies and one man and in a family you just have one mom and one dad, right? Oh, I see, that lady looks like the grandma and maybe that other one is an aunt or something" (I didn't bother explaining about all the polygamists there are around here). She loves to get up behind me on my chair when I'm at the computer and do my hair or scratch my back which always feels so good. And she's generally so sweet and good to the twins, "reading" them stories and helping them with fun games. And when she hugs my arm with both of hers and tells me she loves me while she looks at me with those deep blue eyes, her lips so red, her funny teeth with their big gaps, a scattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks, a sweep of her platinum blond hair across her forehead and the rest in its cute little pig tails, I think to myself that I've got the prettiest, sweetest little girl in the world and count my lucky stars.









Ollie's before and after pictures - his first haircut

Then the twins. I think I've talked about their wild antics so much that I haven't really focused on writing about all the sweet little things they do and say all the time lately. I cut their hair this week and they look so cute and so much more grown up with their new haircuts. Oliver sat so still for his haircut - very interested in the clippers and quite solemn about everything. Si kept saying "All done now, Mommy!" and wanting to get down - but he did a pretty good job staying still. I took them both to Costco this week and with just them and not Eliza or the big kids it was actually fun. Si asked "What's that?" about every single thing in the store and I wasn't in a huge rush which was so nice so I took the time to tell him the answers and to explain to Ollie and Si what a lot of things were and what they were for. They really really wanted to try some dog food that was out at one of the sample tables ( not sure why, really) and we had a good talk about how they are not dogs, they are boys and people. Then they thought it was so fun to play this game where I say, "Are you a dog?" or "Are you a cat" (repeat with any animal) and Si would say "No, I boy! I person!" and Ollie would say, "No, I Alber" (Oliver).

On the way home from Fiesta Fun last night (I'm NOT thankful for that place with all it's broken machines and half-hearted air conditioning and grungy everything!), Isaac lost the little plastic snake he bought with his tickets and was complaining about it - Ollie was sitting next to him and holding his own plastic snake. After some consideration, Ollie handed the snake to Isaac and had the cutest pleased look on his face when Isaac took it and happily said "thanks Little Guy!"

The twins love to help Ashton and Isaac empty or load the dishwasher and I don't think there's anything cuter than seeing the big boys and little boys work together, both parties so proud of themselves and each other as they get the job done. Ash and Ike are great about sweetly explaining to little guys what to do and cheering them on in their efforts and Ollie and Si look like they've just won the lottery when their big brothers help them accomplish something and applaud their little achievements.

At bedtime, Ollie and Si insist on saying their prayers, having me and/or Jared sing them Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Gentle Shepherd and Hushabye (or the "Horsie Song" as they call it) and then they want to be sure to give me and Jared multiple hugs and kisses and really like doing nose kisses and eye kisses (butterfly kisses) and blowing kisses at the end. There's nothing like their little arms around my neck and their sweet kisses on my cheek and their little noses rubbing against mine.

I'm so grateful for Ash and Ike. Ike just walked in and gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek and said "I love you, Mommy" like he does at least 10 times a day. Often he hugs me right at a bad time and ends up sort of tripping me - but it's all good. And Ashton has become a great little babysitter. On Friday, I took the Dawsons (my clients and good friends) out to look at houses right around here (so I could start to get a sense of what direction they want to go with this new house) and the twins were sleeping so Ashton worked on the computer and listened for the twins (with the phone next to him to call me if they woke up). It worked beautifully. Ashton's great with entertaining the twins and he even took it upon himself to change Si's poopy diaper the other morning and was SO proud of himself that he did it (and he actually did a pretty darn good job). Isaac helped hold up Si's feet and gave Ashton some pointers on what to do (apparently Ike had to remind Ashton to wipe the bum, not the diaper - I guess Ash got a bit mixed up at first and thought he should wipe some poo out of the diaper!). And the boys made cookies together the other day, for the 2nd time - did it totally on their own and they were GOOD cookies. Life is good - I now have kids who can change diapers for me and make cookies for me - on my way to a life of leisure I guess.

There are plenty of bad and sort of bad and just mundane and annoying and worrisome things that also happened this week - but wow, my life is rich and wonderful and I've got the best husband and kids in the world. So I wanted to dedicate this blog to my blessings and set off into the new week with gratitude and optimism and joy.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

School has Started

First Day of School

Well, we're back into packing lunches and doing chore charts and running carpools and getting out the door on time in the mornings - and it's good. Ashton and Isaac have had three days of school and it looks like its going to be a great year! Both kids have great teachers. Isaac has Ashton's teachers from last year (Ms Cahill for English and Ms Bosworth for Spanish) and he's really liking them so far - they're wonderful ladies with lots of experience. Ashton is excited to have a boy teacher for the first time (Mr. Garcia for Spanish) and has a very nice English teacher (Ms. Hammond). Everything's so much better this year - the kinks in the bilingual program seem to have been largely worked out as they launch into year II and so far the new parent participation program I've been working on seems to be off to a good start - it's been very gratifying for me to see a lot of parents in the classrooms right off the bat.

Here's what Ashton likes about school so far: "seeing my friends again"
And Isaac: "staying on green" (If you're not good in class, you get off green and onto yellow, then red, then they call home. Last year, Ike got on yellow a lot - especially at the beginning of the school year - so he's been SO excited to tell me every day that he stayed on green!)

Eliza's SO excited to start at her new preschool on Tuesday - she'll be going with her best friend Olivia and most of the other Sunbeams at church to this cute new preschool in a lady's house near here - plus she'll be doing one day a week of Joy School with the same group as last year - it was such a fun, cute group that we decided to keep it going. Liza's been such a great helper with the twins while the big boys are at school, "reading" them books that she's memorized, helping them play fun games. It's remarkable how much easier things have seemed with the boys in school - two less kids to feed lunch to, two less kids to be contributing to the bickering - and Eliza's delighting in being the big kid for much of the day. We all miss the boys though and the twins have been especially excited to see them when they get home from school.

And I've started a little playgroup of moms from the ward so the twins will have something fun to look forward to each week. These little guys get SO excited to go to church or do anything involving going out and being around other people - poor guys, they really don't get out much. They are talking a ton and it's so cute to hear them saying everything from "OK mommy" to "Aston, Izik, Whyza, time for dinner!" They still LOVE Bob the Builder and they use phrases from the show as they push their cars and trucks around - "come on team, let's go!" They've learned to climb up the shelves in the pantry and help themselves to random food when they're hungry - when the pantry door's closed, there's a good chance they're in there munching away on something, sitting in a mess of crumbs and wrappers. But for the most part, they aren't so much the "masters of disasters" anymore - they're full of cute comments and sweet hugs and kisses and it's more and more fun to tell them stories and play games with them as they understand more and more. My favorite thing is seeing them pat, kiss and hug each other when someone is hurt or sad.

Our Dixie Downs Boys

So my big training for all the teachers that I was so stressed out about a while back ended up going really well. I spent 3 hours discussing and doing activities with all the teachers at Dixie Downs to get them all trained on how to effectively involve parents. They seemed very receptive and the principal told them on no uncertain terms that Dixie Downs is now a parent participation school and although it might be hard for them to really involve parents if they're not used to it, they'd better get used to it! I've got a staff person at the school who will be tracking all the volunteer hours and I was totally blessed to find two ladies (one for K-2 and one for 3-5 grades) to help recruit and train volunteers so that I can focus more on the big picture). After working so hard on the training, I was really worried about how to move this whole thing forward - wanted to keep the momentum going but couldn't do all the legwork on my own. So these two great ladies fell into my lap and I see once again how the Lord always provides a way to make good things happen! Monday night is Back to School Night when all the teachers are supposed to really do some serious parent recruiting and training so we'll see how that works. But there's a great energy at Dixie Downs this year and it's been so nice to see things really coming together and some people really catching the vision of what Dixie Downs can be.

While juggling the start up of the parent program at school and trying to get the kids ready for school and doing end of the summer swim parties and school shopping and all that, I somehow ended up signing on to be the designer on a $2 million spec house that some friends are building. It's been really fun helping with floor plans, meeting with the architect and thinking about the exciting possibilities on this house - even in the midst of so many other things going on. I've realized that design is a really good creative outlet for me. This should be a nice project where I can just give suggestions and ideas but I don't have to make final decisions or stress about subcontractors or anything like that. The house is in the development right next door so it'll be convenient and I'll get paid enough to cover babysitting and a cleaning lady and then some so this will provide me with a much-needed get-away here and there as well as a chance to work on a house from the ground up and really help make it gorgeous.

Jared went up to Provo this week to check out a new devise he and one of his partners are working on that will cool the truck cabs at night without the expense of keeping the trucks running to keep the A/C on. It's been fun for Jared to use some of his engineering knowledge to help design this thing and after they try it out on their own trucks, they can market it to other trucking companies. Never a dull moment in Jared's career... MG Trucklines is going well with all the new trucks bringing down the price of gas - but there's always a break down or a new driver needed to keep everyone on their toes!

The biggest news, other than school starting, according to the kids, is that Ashton's front tooth that has been loose forever finally fell out today in church. Yeah! He had this "Nanny McPhee" look going for a while with that wiggly tooth. And now he's got a brand new smile.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Vacation-O-Rama

Sisters and kids at our pool - had a "pre-party" together here complete with a play at the Shakespeare Festival and Grammie Camp for the 6 and up crowd at Kolob before heading up to Bear Lake

We're back from almost a month of travel and family and fun. It's good to be home! There's nothing like a long trip and being surrounded by scores of people to make you appreciate your own home and the comparative quiet and simplicity of just your own family. The kids and I were really missing Jared and missing our house by the very end there. It was a long but thankfully rather uneventful drive home - drove to Salt Lake day before yesterday (got to see my good friend Neylan and her little girls and had a crazy 7-kids-under-7 experience at the Church History Museum and the Lion House for lunch - but good to catch up a bit between kid issues), then on to St George (through SIX major thunderstorms and a fair amount of slow-down due to road construction) yesterday. The kids were remarkably good on the drive and I got home to a nice clean house thanks to Jared hiring a cleaning lady for a birthday present for me while we were gone. Yeah! Plus he got the twins' new bunk beds set up and got those crappy old cribs out of here and fixed the gaping hole in the wall of the twins' room (from all their whacking their cribs into the wall of their room as they rocked the cribs wildly back and forth). What a guy! The twins slept well in their new beds last night and then again for naps today. I'm so glad to be done with cribs once and for all and so grateful Ollie and Si were happy with their new beds - worried they'd be freaked out about the idea.

We are blessed to be connected to some of the most beautiful places and most wonderful people on earth. Bear Lake seemed especially lovely this year - we had some wild thunderstorms which brought out colors and smells. I can't get over how many colors the waters of Bear Lake can be - navy, aqua, saphire, brilliant sparkly light blue, rich blue-gray... and the sky - soooo many colors. The sage brush smelled heavenly in the rain and the colors on the hills changed so beautifully with different light and different weather. And Ashton, ID - don't even get me started. Those green green fields of peas and potatoes mixed with yellowed alfalfa with the Tetons in the distance. The light at both places seems so especially pure and the sunsets and magnificent.
Bear Lake at Sunset after a Storm
Twilight across the street from Jared's parents' house

And the people - can't begin to say how grateful I am to be related to so many wonderful people - such individuals, so many different talents and interests and passions and personalities - but all of them so devoted to family and to the gospel. I had great talks with so many people and loved the luxury of time to really talk to quite a few of these many many people I'm related to (the Eyre reunion was 32 people this year - 16 kids and 16 adults - and the Loosli reunion was 47 people). There were certainly some crazy times with too many people sharing bathrooms and getting in each others' way in the kitchen and finding places to bed down and dealing with cranky kids and trying to get herds of people out the door and into cars to go places and trying to make so many people with differing needs and wants happy... But the great stuff always outweighs the inconveniences and stress involved.

Eli and Charity did a great job with the Eyre reunion this year - highlights from the reunion and our time hanging out at the Bear Lake afterwards for an extended sister and cousin time:
(Shawni has all the best photos of this stuff so this section will be a bit weak on photos)
  • BONFIRE: wonderful bonfire night as everyone "lit the Eyre within" by passing around fire from sparkler to sparkler, each sharing the best and most surprising things in their lives from this past year while their sparkler burned
  • FAMILY FAVORITES CD: great CD (made by Eli) with everyone's favorite songs of the year - we've listened to this mix non-stop on all our long drives!
  • SAND AND WATER: neverending fun in the sand and shallow water for Liza and the twins along with best buddy cousins Hazel, Claire, McKay and Charlie



  • FOOD: amazing meals - everyone going all out when it was their turn to cook- my clothes are feeling tight!
  • EYREALM FOUNDATION: meaningful Eyrealm meeting - good ideas from all around, good stuff to fund this year
  • TENNIS: fun for Jared and I to play doubles with Mom and Dad - we got them scared for a little bit there!
  • CHATS: great to snatch some chat time with different siblings, talking about decisions and ideas and kids...
  • DEVOTIONALS: nice morning devotionals talking about different gospel topics - wish we could do this all the time - so nice to discuss the gospel with family members (other than my kids!)
  • MEMORIES: fun memory game spearheaded by Dad - what a lot of amazing memories we have together - got to get a complied list of all those. Eli had made up a CD of songs back through the years that remind us of a lot of the memories we discuss and he gave that to us at the end - perfect way to close a great evening.
  • GRANDMA GREAT: 85th birthday party for Grandma in Logan - fun to see extended family and celebrate this great lady - what a woman! Beautiful drive through Logan Canyon
  • WATERSKIING: Ashton learned to water ski and did several loops, getting up all by himself with no one holding him in the water several times. He also learned to knee board and loved it. Isaac put away his fear of the Big Mabel (after some scary stuff last year) and felt pretty triumphant riding that thing around the lake and Ashton did some crazy flips off of it which he thought were super fun. Liza amazingly felt like trying to waterski - she didn't get up but I was so proud of her for trying! She's like a different kid this year - last year she wouldn't even go in the pool without clinging to me for dear life the whole time and now she's swimming like crazy, waterskiing, riding the waverunners, everything.
When the Eyre reunion was over, we went off to Ashton, ID for a few days of fun and preparations for Jared's parents' 50th anniversary party. It's nice to be one of the younger couples in Jared's family - the older ones took care of SO much of the preparation and work on this big party and we just pitched in at the end - grateful for all their hard work and so nice not to have to be in charge like I seem to be all too often in my own family as the oldest kid. Highlights of the Loosli Reunion:
  • MESA FALLS HIKE: beautiful wildflowers and stunning vistas as we hiked (for entirely too long on a hot day according to the kids) at Mesa Falls on Isaac's birthday. I ended up carrying a sleepy and then sleeping Oliver most of the way but despite the heft and sweatiness, it was fun to snuggle this sweet little boy of mine so much more than he usually allows.
Mesa Falls Hike on Isaac's Birthday
Picking Peas (Isaac and Zoe)
  • COUSINS and IKE'S BIRTHDAY: fun to be with so many Loosli cousins for Isaac's 6th birthday - he loved jumping on the tramp, going on four-wheeler rides, eating a 1lb Big Juds burger for lunch (with help from Jared and Ashton), getting lots of Transformers for birthday presents, eating his favorite dinner (Cafe Rio style burritos/taco salads with lots of guacamole), picking peas, eating chocolate cake... what a boy this Isaac is!
Twins with Loosli cousins in Grandpa's beloved WWII Jeep
  • ANNIVERSARY PARTY: so fun to see Portia and Lynn having so much fun with all their old friends and so many family members at their party. the decor, food, everything was just lovely and everyone seemed to have a great time. I was the photographer and tried to capture a lot of it - so many happy people with so many memories together. What great people Portia and Lynn are! It was so clear to see that so many people are so grateful for their friendship, help, example...
  • FARM ADVENTURES: there are so many fun things to do at the farm. The twins LOVED the huge tire swing, seeing all the cows and horses, riding on a tractor, and getting plenty of love and attention from their beloved grandparents, aunts and uncles and so many older cousins
Twins on the tire swing
Tractor Ride with Mason and Abbie
  • great to play games, learn to bowl and play tennis on the Wii, go on some beautiful walks, read, have some great conversations and just hang out with everyone and see the kids having so much fun together.
Great stuff from our time at Bear Lake after being in Ashton, ID:
  • GRANDFATHER: Ashton and Isaac had a great time making their "treasure chests" with Grandfather and Ashton, Max and Elle submitted proposals for teh $500 each that Grandfather offered to give them for things they'd like to do to broaden and contribute (educate themselves and give to those in need). Their proposals were really cute and their ideas ranged from buying a pet for a learning experience (nixed by parents) to getting a Wii with educational games (also nixed) to going to Boston to visit museums and colleges and historic sites (Ashton and I are definitely doing this) to giving to "kids in Darfur who have totally no food and their own government is trying to kill them" (according to Ashton)...
Newly made Treasure Chests

Horseback Rides with Grandfather
  • FRIENDS AND EXTENDED FAMILY: catching up with my mission friend Deborah (who runs the organization One Heart Bulgaria that I help with) and her family who came up to the lake for a day, hanging out with Chris and Hedy and Ashley and Ben, having our California friends the Harringtons at the lake overnight - so great to reconnect with good people we don't see much. Great time with Aunt Lena and a lot of her kids and grandkids as well as their fun waverunners and nice boat - always so fun to be with those guys.
  • LATE NIGHT FUN: playing speed scrabble, hot tubbing under the bright full moon and talking about people we love, making cookies - lots of variations on the good old standard oatmeal chocolate chip
  • KIDS, KIDS, KIDS: With Shawni, Saydi and Kristi, trying valiently to provide 13 very young and busy kids with some structure and learning activities to go along with all the sand and water and unstructured play; trying to appreciate the fun we were all having and grab cherished moments to talk in the midst of so much noise and chaos
Eyre Grandkids - 16 of them ages 10 and under!
  • BLOOMINGTON LAKE: Enjoying an amazing Swiss-Alps type experience at Bloomington Lake during a flash thunderstorm - seeing the colors pop out with all the rain and marveling at all the beauty that is so different from the East Side of Bear Lake.
Bloomington Lake with Max and Elle
  • READING: The Good Earth - haven't read that in ages and it's soooo good, Angels and Demons - not the best writing but loved reliving my Art History days and trips to Rome through the book plus interesting thoughts on religion vs science. I loved having some time to read and being away from the computer and the phone and the house that can eat up so much of my time.
  • MY BIRTHDAY: my favorite cookies and yummy omlette eggs for breakfast, great banner and notes from the kids, raspberry picking (with a few kids sick and throwing up on the way and a lot of confusion trying to find the place!), a visit to Minnetonka Cave with the older kids, a perfect gorgeous evening on the lake watching Eli and Saydi show their stuff waterskiing - just missed Jared! Everyone treated me so well and it was a great birthday.
Birthday Banner

Raspberry Picking

Minnetonka Cave

And that's all - well it's not really, but I think that's all anyone can stand to read. What a great month!
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