Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Day

We all agreed that this was the best Christmas yet. All the kids were at the perfect ages to really understand and get excited about Christmas - and I'm not just talking about the getting presents part. They really "got" the idea of giving to each other as a way of giving to Jesus, the real reason for the season. They were SO excited about doing the "Children for Children" concert with their friends and raising so much money (see post about this for more details). We all loved visiting a huge display of nativity scenes from around the world and going to the Live Nativity play at Tuachan. The twins were enamored with anything about "Baby Jesus" and put on a Nativity play with their little Joy School friends for their parents (see photos in previous post). The kids were all SO excited to pick out presents for each other. Liza and Isaac insisted on spending quite a bit of their hard-earned money to buy a Rubiks cube for Ashton (which has proved to be his constant companion). Ashton and Isaac snuck away from me at the store to pick out some decadent dark chocolates for me (my favorite) and did the check out on their own to ensure I wouldn't see what they'd picked out. They were all so excited when it was time to GIVE their presents, not just get them.

The kids managed to sleep (or at least stay in their rooms) until 7am and then sang to us on the stairs to wake us up. We joined them to open their stockings and share in the glee over candy and toothbrushes and all that good stuff.

Ollie and Si got reindeer antlers in their stockings which gave them quite a thrill.

Then it was time to head into the living room so they all lined up:
The first big surprise of Christmas was SNOW. We actually had a white Christmas! Something we may never see again in St George! What a fun surprise for everyone to come into the living room and find not only their hoped-for prizes from Santa but also the world coated in white outside. Check out the scene as we entered the living room!
The kids had SO much fun with all their Santa gifts.

We all stayed in our new Christmas PJs all day long and played, played, played - with an occasional break for eating. Here they are with the traditional eggs benedict:
Ashton and Jared spend ALL day putting together Ashton's cherished "K'nex Motorized Madness Ball Machine." I have to say it's quite an impressive machine! Really fun to build, really fun to watch, REALLY lot of little parts (2000+)! I can see why it was the hot toy of the year and was being sold on ebay at 3x its regular sale price. Thanks to Jonah for helping Santa find an affordable one!
Isaac roller bladed with his new gear from Santa (and new roller blades courtesy of a great DI find by Jonah and Ana) in the garage thanks to the snow outside and had a great time helping the twins with their new airplane set and his own little set of K'nex that Santa gave him as a bonus.
Eliza used her new art set non-stop all day - and every day since then. She can't get enough of drawing and painting and using stickers and coloring. And she was thrilled that presents from her grandparents and cousins seemed to magically fit her art theme - playdough, coloring books, etc.

Ollie and Si absolutely loved their new Geotrax airplane set that connects to their beloved Geotrax train set from last year. All the boys had fun switching the tracks around and creating a whole Geotrax world. Then when they opened a huge new tub of Lincoln Logs from Grandma and Grandpa, they added in a town of log houses around the thing. So fun!
I think my favorite part of Christmas day was watching the kids give their presents to each other - great anticipation on the faces of both giver and receiver as the present is opened then big hugs and thanks once the wonderful object has emerged from the wrapping.
Silas so pleased about a slinky from Isaac in his favorite color - blue

Oliver excited about giving some pretty cool little airplanes to Ashton

The twins were so happy to find some puzzles to give Isaac -
he LOVES puzzles lately and they remembered that.

Liza thrilled about moon sand from Ashton and Isaac
(they were so excited when they saw it at the store - said they'd heard her talking all about it)

The number of gifts worked out just right this year. Every year, I think I'm being careful not to buy much but every year, the kids really seem to be done and happy after just a couple gifts and want to just play with a couple things. This year, I think we got it right. Each kid got one wish of their heart from Santa, a couple fun little dollar-store items and candy and oranges in their stockings, an item or two of clothing that they needed from me and Jared (not that thrilling - other than for Liza- but fun to open), a new game for the whole family (Connect 4), a present from their grandparents, a present from a cousin (all the Loosli cousins draw names), and a present from each of their siblings (but some kids went in together on things so they could get something better so that cut down on the # of gifts. So they got like 8 or 9 presents each which made for LOTS of stuff under the tree and felt like a LOT. The kids kept saying "wow - this is more presents than ever before!" Which actually wasn't true - but it felt that way to them since they got to really play with each thing after opening it rather than being urged to open the next thing. We were opening presents, playing with presents, opening presents, playing with presents until quite suddenly it was bedtime and we didn't even have time to play with the last round of presents until the next day!

Jared got some thrilling new clothes and much-needed running shoes plus a CD mix from me and a robotic arm like the one he used to have a kid (the kids loved using it with him) - you've got to get a toy for Christmas, even when you're an adult. Oh, and I think his favorite gift was a "Ped-Egg" - he's been gleefully showing me his newly smoothed out, once-cracked and horrible heels. He did get a little carried away with the thing and had to tiptoe around a bit (like the twins) after shaving off maybe a little TOO much skin on those heels.

I got exactly what I asked for - not that much. I just really didn't need anything or want much. Christmas is really about the kids for me. But Jared surprised me with some thoughtful items I really needed but didn't really know I needed and a marvelous list of 100 things he loves about me. That was my best gift. I love "made" gifts so much more than "bought" gifts.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Eve

I'll let the pictures do most of the talking here - this was the first time we've let the twins stay up and participate and they were so cute about it. With 7 people, we can put on a Nativity with a pretty complete cast! All the kids were so excited to dress up and use only candles for light so we could all imagine that we'd gone back in time to Jesus' day. We ate foods from the time of Christ as we discussed the journey Mary and Joseph (Liza and Oliver) were about to make to Bethlehem and Ashton stepped in as Mary's know-it-all big brother to explain a lot of the whys and hows of the events around Jesus' birth. I love seeing everyone in the candlelight in their Nativity garb and imagining together what events and feelings must have surrounded that Holy Night so long ago. So it was all quite holy and lovely - when it wasn't crazy and chaotic!

We finished the evening with new PJs for everyone and tucked some very excited kids into their beds and Jared and I actually retired before midnight - now that's a first!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Gingerbread House

We did our gingerbread house on the Monday before Christmas. The kids had been begging to get going on their gingerbread house since Thanksgiving and we finally made it happen. We just did a kit this year. Coming up with our own templates and making it all from scratch definitely proved NOT worth the bother last year. But even with the pre-made kit, it was crazy stuff with all these little kids and their little hands grabbing and knocking over walls that needed to set! Everyone had different opinions on what candy should go where and it sure makes your hand ache to squeeze out all that frosting and makes my brain ache to manage the hands and the excitement and the opinions. I began to wonder whether gingerbread houses are quite worth the trouble - I mean do they really MEAN anything related to the real meaning of Christmas? Maybe not, but the kids LOVE this tradition - there's something just so exciting about creating a little colorful house you can actually EAT. So I think this tradition will continue. And the whole process got a lot more enjoyable for me and for the kids once I gave up on trying to control the project much. It's their house - who cares if it appeals to my own sense of aesthetics! With me backing off a little and exercising more patience, they all did a good job and it was awfully cute seeing their pride at the finished product!

Monday, December 22, 2008


This is what I saw out my window when I woke up last Thursday morning.We woke up to a winter wonderland! After packing the lunches and loading up the kids, I called my friend to offer to pick up her little girl and found out that school was canceled. Snow day! Who would have guessed this would ever happen in St George! The kids played in them snow for hours - built snowmen and snow forts and sledded down the empty lot on a snow/ice/mud sledding run. What a fun day!

Check out Isaac's bread-bag boots and new smile with his newly lost tooth!

All over St George, front yards were sporting new snowmen and there was a sense of wonder and joy in the air. It's especially easy to love snow when it comes so seldom, doesn't really settle on roads or walkways, and doesn't last long!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Children for Children and Joy School Nativity

The finale of the concert - everyone who participated was in a Nativity scene
starring Ashton as the narrator, Isaac as Joseph, Liza as the angel
(who insisted on saying her part just as written in the Bible) and Ollie and Si as shepherds

On December 15th, we did our "2nd Annual Children for Children Concert" to raise money for orphans in Bulgaria (I went there on my mission and work with a non-profit that helps provide for destitute orphans there). The kids and their friends (with some help from me and two of my young women from church) practiced and prepared a nativity play, some Christmas songs played on chimes and some individual musical numbers to present to family and friends and we asked attendees to make a donation in the amount of their choice to help provide for the orphans. We raised $550 and that will go a long way to help so many sweet little orphans that I've personally met and held and that need so much! Our kids were SO excited as we counted up the money and we're all so happy to think of those little orphans having much more of what they need thanks to generous children and their generous friends and relatives.
We packed the downstairs with every chair we could find and filled them up!

Then a couple days later, Ollie and Si and their little Joy School friends put on a great little Nativity play for their parents. The kids really got into it, even though they're a really young group. Check out these cute pictures:

Asia and Oliver as Mary and Joseph (Baby Monkey as Jesus)

Silas (Shepherd), Asia (Mary), Georgia (Angel), Oliver (Joseph), Samuel (Wise Man)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Our Christmas Card and Letter

This humbling economy and the busyness of the holidays has led us to focus on what matters most this Christmas. One thing that really matters to us is keeping in touch with our precious friends and family members. So we decided to do a "virtual Christmas card" this year - posted here on our blog and emailed to those whose emails we had handy. We hope that you will understand and appreciate the simplicity and cost effectiveness of this approach!

Well, 2008 has certainly had its ups and downs. But we'll just share the good stuff here. We count our blessings for the many wonderful things we've been able to do and see and celebrate and are grateful for the chances we've had to learn and grow. The kids are all at great ages and having five kids so close in age is starting to seem like a really fun thing. Life is good. God is good.

Here are a few highlights from 2008:
  • San Diego: We took the kids to San Diego for spring break and had a great time at Balboa Park, the beach, Sea World and visiting the Getty Museum. Definitely a trip we'll have to repeat!
  • Caribbean Cruise: In April, Saren and two of her sisters got to join their parents on a Caribbean cruise (her parents were speakers on the cruise so they all got to go for free – can't beat that!). It was heavenly to enjoy gorgeous and interesting places (the Yukatan, Belize, Honduras), good food, and great conversation with some of her favorite people in all the world – and no kids.
  • Triathalons: Jared did a lot of training and completed two triathlons this year. He improved his times quite a bit from one triathlon to the next – especially in swimming which was huge considering that just keeping from drowning was his initial goal!
  • Bear Lake and Ashton, Idaho: As usual, we spent most of July in Idaho hanging out with family, playing in the water and escaping the heat of St George. Saren and Jared did a beautiful 50-mile bike ride around Bear Lake for Saren's birthday this year.
  • 10th Anniversary: Jared planned a wonderful celebration including partial reenactments of our engagement and wedding – he really outdid himself! We capped it off with a second honeymoon to Playa del Carmen Mexico where we had a wonderful time snorkeling, zip lining and repelling in the jungle, visiting ruins, and enjoying that amazing blue water and white sand without any kids in tow. What an amazing treat!
  • Brazil Fishing Trip: After buying new trucks this year from Freightliner, Jared was rewarded with an all-expenses-paid fishing trip to the Amazon. He spent a solid week catching crazy-big fish and hanging out in the wilds of Brazil. He loves fishing and seldom gets to go so this was a perfect get-away for him.
  • Biking and Hiking: Now that Eliza's a good little biker, we've been going on lots of family biking adventures with the twins in the bike trailer. And we usually do a hike every week. The beauty of this place blesses our lives so much.
Here's a quick run-down on each of us:
  • Ashton: got baptized this year, devours books, always researching stuff on the Internet, awesome roller blader, won the school storytelling festival as well as the film contest (made a movie staring his beloved pet snake)
  • Isaac: beloved by all small children, super hard-worker, has become a great writer and won a prize for a poem he wrote, excellent swimmer and biker
  • Eliza: adores Kindergarten, takes wonderful care of her dolls, stuffed animals and new glasses, loves riding her bike, works on her artistic skills in every spare moment
  • Oliver and Silas: love preschool and Joy School, are potty trained (yeah!), actually go to sleep when they're put to bed (yeah!), don't make disastrous messes nearly as often as they used to (yeah!), are growing up so fast (sort of sad), are hilarious to listen to as they chat with each other, are developing such fun and distinctive personalities
  • Saren: loves mothering these amazing kids but doesn't always love the chaos and mess involved, working on a new website for moms (launching in January –, works with the young women at church.
  • Jared: has found creative solutions to move Miller Gordon Trucklines towards profitability in uncertain times, still runs our rustic furniture website, is den leader for Ashton's Cub Scout group, involved with several local business leadership groups.

We wish you a Christmas full of love and joy and hope 2009 will bring you many good experiences!
Love, Jared, Saren, Ashton (almost 9), Isaac (7), Eliza (5), Oliver and Silas (almost 4)

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

It's SNOWING. Seriously snowing and settling on all the red rock and the twins have been giving me an excited report on every new thing that now has snow on it every couple of minutes. I love living in a place where snow is not common. But I LOVE seeing the excitement and beauty that the odd snowstorm brings around here. It's coming down in soft big swirly flakes right now and I can just imagine the excitement at the big kids' school right now. I doubt those teacher are getting the attention they'd like from those kids!

We got our tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving - got a permit and chopped one down in the mountains above Cedar City and I have to say we got a really good one this year. We happened across the "Storybook Calvalcade" parade in Cedar City on our way to the "rain forest" (as the twins kept calling our destination - guess the most recent forests they've heard of are the rain forests of Brazil where Jared was) and stopped to watch for a while. The kids were so excited to see all their favorite princesses and superheroes and other characters march on by and give them five.
Once we got up in the mountains, we wandered somewhat dejectedly for a while amongst some trees that proved to be the kind you can't cut down (blue spruce) and finally, as it was starting to get cold and dark and the kids were crying and numb from playing in the snow with no real snow gear, we found a really beautiful tree. It was too tall - but at that point we didn't care. We chopped that sucker down and cut it to size and it's perfect. When Jared got to the car with the tree, cold soggy Silas (who was waiting in the warm car) called out - "Daddy - is that our tree?! I want to hug it!"
Driving up into the mountains - so pretty!

full view of the tree

So the tree is up and decorated (so fun to have kids old enough to really help and get excited about each ornament from our different travels and memories) and we've been busily getting a few gifts (trying to keep things simple and cheap this year!) and going to or hosting plenty of parties and events. My favorite thing so far has been reading Christmas stories each night with the kids by the lit Christmas tree. My favorites this year are "Great Joy" by Kate DiCamillo and "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus" that tells of the kind little boy Nickolas who turned personal tragedy into giving and joy as he grew into the jolly old man we all love. There's nothing like seeing the kids' eyes shine as we talk of giving and loving in the midst of stories of the magic and mystery and real meaning of Christmas.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Here I sit with my tummy hanging over my pants after two days of Thanksgiving dinners. Not that I even really like Thanksgiving food that much - but it would seem wrong not to feel somewhat over-full at Thanksgiving. And that turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy and a little corn mixed in, poised together on my fork - it's good stuff - once a year anyway.

We had a great Thanksgiving at Jared's brother Joel's house in Riverton. We ate an excellent meal with Joel and Barb's family, Jared's parents and some neighborhood friends. Then Jared's other three brothers and their families converged there and it was so fun to be all together. The 5 brothers don't get to be together that often. The kids loved the time with cousins and Si and Ollie decided Joel and Barb's cat was their new best friend (I'm afraid the cat didn't share the love). What a great day. (Sorry, no pictures here - camera still on the bottom of the Amazon)

Then on Friday, we had Thanksgiving #2 with my parents and my dad's whole family. My mom and I worked away all day making the feast while Jared and Grandfather had fun taking the kids to a movie, going for a hike, looking for the lense to Eliza's new glasses (well - that part wasn't fun - on her second day wearing her new glasses, Isaac threw a snow/mud ball at Liza and the lense popped out and was never to be found again. But the good news is we got it replaced for free). It was great to see many family members I haven't seen in ages and enjoy Mom and Dad's lovely new house that works so well for a crowd. On Saturday and Sunday we were so lucky to have some special time with my parents all to ourselves. (Stole these pictures from my parents' blog)

While we were up there, Jared and I also took the kids to the zoo and to see the lights at Temple Square and took Ashton to see the amazing exhibit Body Worlds while mom and dad were nice enough to watch the other kids. We learned so much about the human body and were so impressed to see how beautifully it's made, how ingenious each part is, how amazing it is that it all works so well, how sad it is when it isn't properly cared for. Ashton had a little notebook and wrote down some of his favorite information: "The nerves carry information 250 miles an hour!" "The heart pumps 1600 GALLONS of blood a day!" It was great to have some special time with Ashton.

So this Thanksgiving we're extra thankful for our amazing bodies, for all our great relatives - especially our parents, for all the animals at the zoo, for good food, for a great home, for money for gas to go on trips like this one, for the gospel that makes everything so much more beautiful, and for fun kids who are old enough to be really good on long car trips now (and play the alphabet game thinking of 100's of things we're grateful for that start with each letter of the alphabet).

So now we need to head home and dive into Christmas. I think we have something going on pretty much every night between now and the week of Christmas which we've reserved for just relaxing family stuff.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Interviews with Little Guys

Si just came over and sat by me while I was checking email so I started asking him some questions. Here's the result:

What's your favorite thing to do, Silas?
Getting on a skateboard - dat might make me feel better - but I don't want to get on a skateboard because it's little and it's moving SO I want to get on Santa Claus's deers. Yeah - that would be so fun because they can FWHY! You know that?
What's the best thing about being a Loosli?
Best thing about the Looslis is ME. I am me. Write an S on the computer for Silas and one O for Oliver, OK?
What else do you want to tell me?
You will get sick if you eat too much of Jonah's candy bars - so I don't eat any more candy. I'm wearing my boating shirt. (He's wearing his favorite shirt - got it for $1 - says "A vote today rocks tomorrow")
What is voting?
You go to a building and get a boating sticker. Where is that voting sticker you got, anyway?

Oliver comes over and asks, What are you doing?
Silas: I'm having a innerbue.
Oliver: I want one!
What did you do today, Ollie?
I was just playing the puzzle of Mickey Mouse and we went to the park with the bike.
What do we do at the park?
Ah, we pway and stuff. We pway on the swides with Samuel.
What's the best part of bike rides?
The wheels - I like the twailer's wheels.
What's the best thing about being Oliver?
Wew, the best part of me is my head and my eyes too - oh, and my hair because I wike it so much.
What do you like about me?
Wew, your head and your shoulders and your knees and stuff.
What's your favorite thing?
Bubbles. Now I'm going to dwaw a picture, OK? A picture of bubbles.

Silas comes and takes away the pen Ollie's holding and Ollie falls on the floor in protest, laying there face down, sprawled in a state of deep and silent depression for about 10 seconds. Then he jumps up and takes off after Silas to try to get the pen back. Sounds like they need a little help working it out. Oh, here they are, back at my elbows, friends again - don't know what happened to the pen but it seems immaterial now. Now Si is singing as he flies a paper airplane and Ollie's getting himself a drink of water.

Got to get dinner!

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

Wow, we have a lot to be grateful for. Life is good - hard and crazy and frustrating at times, but through it all, there's so much good, good stuff to be grateful for. Last night at dinner we were talking about all the things we're grateful for and came up with the idea of going through the alphabet and seeing how many things we could come up with that start with each letter that we're really grateful for. We only got as far as K and our list was LONG! The kids had some great things to say and we all had a good laugh over the things each other came up with. It's great when your kids get old enough to have a sense of humor that actually makes some sense to adults! We'll get through Z by Thanksgiving Day.

As I count my blessings this week, I'm going to jot down some of my thoughts each day. So here goes for today:

  • My bike and the bike trailer for the twins. I love riding my bike. I love the feeling of accomplishment (and the great workout) involved in towing about 100lbs behind me (two almost 40 lb kids and a 20 lb bike trailer) up a hill. I love going downhill and feeling the wind and hearing the twins calling out behind me "weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" I adore the scenery and the feeling of the gentle sun on my back. I love hearing conversations between Ollie and Si behind me as I ride - here's one from this morning: "Ollie, are you mad?" "No, I forgive you." "Good. I wuv you, brudder." There are, of course, the occasional fights going on back there in the trailer that lead to the occasional threats from me that they're going to have to get out and walk. But mostly, it's sweetness and light as we bike around together.
  • St George in the fall. It's SO nice here right now - 60's and perfect bike-riding and hiking weather. I love how the twins call out "golden tree!" whenever we see one - fall's really setting in around here. I love the colors of fall in the desert - brilliant deep golds, rich terra cotta soil and rocks, gentle sage greens and soft yellows, all in the slanted light that makes colors stand out better than in the summer. And the sky is SO blue. Every morning I wake up to Red Mountain on fire with the rising sun and my heart rejoices.
  • The new Family Center at the kids' school. I love checking out new educational toys and games and books from there every week and having so much fun doing new and interesting things with the kids. The Family Center has given us a big shot in the arm of family fun and we're all loving it.
  • Jared. It's so great to have him back! Once again, the garbage is out on time for the garbage man, the kids and I have something wonderful to look forward to around 6pm and there's someone around to really appreciate my cooking. Once again, I get awesome backrubs at the end of a long day and the snake has someone to bring it live mice to eat. Once again, the kids get to read scriptures with Daddy who's so much better at it than I am and we get to have family prayer every morning with our whole family. Once again, I have a partner to make the kids' bedtime so much less exhausting and I've got this wonderful guy to talk to about all the things that happened that day as I lay in bed at night, warm and secure in the presence of my sweetheart. We all appreciate Jared more than ever after missing him for 11 whole days! He had a wonderful time and came back with wonderful tales and pictures of caymen (like crocodiles) and catfish and dogfish and so many gorgeous peacock bass. So glad he could go. So glad he's back.
  • Big kids. Now that Eliza's officially a great little biker, we went on a big long (about 16 miles round trip) bike ride out to Kayenta on Saturday. So fun to see those three big, strong, agile kids biking along in front of me and Jared and see our two cute little towheads behind in their trailer. I look at Saydi's blog and tears come to my eyes as I see and read about her little newborn and think about how those days are over for me. But then I think about our fun day on Saturday and look at all these wonderful big kids I have and I feel that I'm truly in my element as a mom now. These kids are just so fun - and it keeps getting better and better as they are all able to enjoy and do many of the same things.
  • The Power of Moms. It's been such a good brain work-out for me to work with my friend, April to revise and prepare this website for a launch in January. It's such a joy to work with such a bright and inspirational and motivated hard-working partner and to participate in the creation of something that can help so many bright, inspirational and hard-working mothers learn from and help each other.
More tomorrow!

P.S. Sorry there are no pictures. One sad side-effect of Jared's trip was that our camera ended up somewhere in the depths of the Amazon (or in the belly of one of those crazy-looking fish!). Jared got stung by a wasp and the shock of the sting sent the camera flying out of his hands. Luckily he had a cheapo camera from work that he took along as a spare so he was able to keep taking pictures but he lost some of his best photos and videos with the camera and we lost our lovely little camera. Oh well! The kids certainly aren't complaining that I haven't made them pose for pictures lately!

Monday, November 10, 2008


So Jared's in Brazil fly fishing on the Amazon. He was offered this exciting all-expenses paid trip by the company he buys his semi-trucks from and who could say no to that? He left last Thursday and will be gone through Sunday - 10 days! We're already missing him considerably but we're so glad he gets to go do something he loves (fly fish) in such a beautiful place. He's hanging out with several trucking executives in the middle of nowhere - 250 miles from Manaus in the middle of a totally pristine part of the river and rain forest. Ashton's in the middle of writing a report on the rain forest for school so this trip has been very helpful for his report. Jared's had spotty internet access but he was able to send us a photo of the first fish he caught - look at that beauty! It's a peacock bass. I guess the part of the river where he is has like 2000 different kinds of fish, some of them very rare, so it should be very interesting to see what he catches.

While Jared's gone, I'm having my own adventures here at home dealing with a lot of kids 24/7! The kids were really pretty good for sacrament meeting yesterday (that was the part of Jared being away that I was most concerned about - 2 sacrament meetings w/o him) and we've had a great time together reading lots of books, watching movies and playing games. A new family center just opened at the kids' school and you can check out games and books and movies and the timing couldn't be better for us!

My sister Saydi had her baby yesterday - a girl! They didn't find out ahead of time whether it was a boy or girl so the news was extra exciting. Everyone's happy and healthy and Saydi had a quick but relatively normal natural childbirth - just what she was hoping for after two rather wild previous births. Little Emeline Rose is absolutely beautiful and I especially loved the pictures of her with her adoring older brother and sister. Hearing about it all brought tears to my eyes as I remembered those amazing moments of holding my own seconds-old baby for the first time and seeing my older kids meet their newest sibling. Those are moments I wish I could go back and relive, moments that make all the hard stuff so completely worthwhile.

It's suddenly turned COLD (50's feels pretty darn cold here - with 40's in the morning). I love feeling the crisp in the air and catching a glimpse of changing leaves here and there. The twins get SO excited about every "golden tree" they see. It poured with rain yesterday and brought out the most deep and rich colors everywhere. I love the desert in the rain - the unique smell, the saturated colors - has to be one of my all-time favorite things.

Ollie and Si have been bugging each other like crazy. I think they take their dad's absence harder than anyone else. But this morning they're so cute. They got into bed with me with a book this morning and it was so fun to snuggle and read with them for a while in our cold house. Now they're playing so nicely together. I just overheard Si say "Olber, you are the bestest Spiderman in the world" and Ollie replied, "well, you're the bestest Superman!" Then a few minutes later: "Olber, are you mad?" "No, I'm not mad but can I use that book?" "OK - here is yours and here is mines and now we both have one." If only things could stay this way all day!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Don't Buy Stuff you Can't Afford!

I just found this link on a friend's blog and it made me laugh - while making a great point that seems to have been missed by way too many people in this country!

How did so many people somehow miss the boat on the basic concept that you should earn the money FIRST and THEN buy the stuff. How can the attitudes towards earning, spending and saving be adjusted in this country?

I guess when our government is spending money it doesn't have to do things that may not be very necessary or effective (the Iraq war, many overblown and undereffective government agencies), the practice gets copied. And after the tragedy of 9/11 when the message went out that we could show we "believed in America" by shopping up a storm and flaunting the materialistic qualities that our enemies accused us of, that was a shot in the foot in many ways.

I'd love to see a government that could tighten up every aspect of its operation and set an example of careful and efficient spending. While I think it would be ideal for people to just decide to embrace conservativism with their personal finances, it might take government help to get people going down this road. I'd love to see a government that offered greater perks for saving and greater penalties for spending on "luxury" items so that people would have greater incentive to save and become more self-reliant. I'd love to see more education in schools about saving and spending. I'd love to see more warnings and information on debt - just like cigarette packages have a warning from the surgeon general, credit card applications should offer a warning about escalating interest rates and reminds people to spend only the money they have.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Go Obama!

Does the title of this post shock anyone? After researching both candidates and especially looking into the scary negative stuff about Obama that seemed to be passed around quite a bit in Mormon communities (and finding out that most of it was trumped up or untrue), I had to vote for Obama. And come on, when you heard his speech and saw him up there with his family, you had to feel some excitement. Change has definitely come. We'll have an African American man in the highest office in this country. We'll have someone younger and more visionary than we've had in a long long time. We really needed some clear and obvious change.

This election presented me with a very interesting choice. Should I vote for a career politician without great popularity as a senator, questionable family values, nothing stellar on his resume, a face that would present the world with the idea that America is stagnated and seeped in the same old stuff, some political views I agree with and some I don't? Or should I vote for a very bright man with great energy and vision, strong personal morals, a relatively short political career so far, a seeming ability to bring people together for new solutions, a face that would offer international acceptance and excitement, and some political views I agree with and some I don't? I chose the later.

I'd rather see someone with strong personal morals and vision and some lack of experience in the White House than a guy who didn't offer enough positives to outweigh his negatives. The excitement Obama brings is so important to our country right now. I believe that that excitement will do a lot for our economy and for our important international relationships. And with the checks and balances built into our government and good people in many offices on the Hill, I don't see an Obama presidency leading us into socialism or heralding a solid advance for gay marriage or abortion rights. The president's personal political beliefs don't directly correlate to what policy gets written into law. But the president's personal values and persona has a huge impact on our nation and the world as a whole. And Obama beats McCain hands down in this regard.

So go Obama! May the prayers and hopes of people in both parties help you make good decisions as you surround yourself with smart, experienced people who can offer good ideas and advice. May you inspire us all to be better and do more and be generous and reach out to others rather than pumping up programs that offer hand-outs rather than hand-ups. May you help Americans embrace both charity and self-reliance. May you encourage tolerance and appreciation of differences without allowing the courts to overturn the will of the people (as in Prop 8). May the vision and excitement you bring be something that is lasting and that will lead to real change.

And may we all do what we can do to make our own communities and homes a better place because as Barbara Bush once said - "What really matters is not what happens in the White House but what happens in YOUR house (or community)."

Monday, November 03, 2008

Recent Kid Details

On Halloween, as we rushed around to get out the door to trick-or-treat, I came back into the house to grab something and Ollie was right behind the door and I whacked the door handle right into him. I said "Oh, honey, I'm so sorry - are you OK?" Ollie was silent a second and then stoically said, "I'm OK. Spidermans don't get hurt!" Then later when we were running from house to house, Silas tripped and spilled his pumpkin bucket of candy all over the place. Oliver ran up to him and said, "Oh, Silas, this is terrible!" and helped him pick it all up.

After months of worrying endlessly about whether or not she wanted to have her training wheels taken off her bike, Eliza announced on Saturday that it was time. She's had them off before and learned to ride, but then fell and freaked out about it so she has really worried about trying again and we just let it lie for a long time. On Saturday, as soon as Jared helped her get going one time, she had it and was so delighted to ride all over the place with her little friend Olivia (who's been doing the two-wheeler thing for months). She still looks a bit wobbly - but she's really excited about it and pretty darn good at it. She rushed right in after school today and asked to go out and practice some more on her bike. As she headed out the door, she stopped to explain "Now that I can ride my bike like a big kid there's just two more things I need to do so I can totally be a big kid - read really good and stop being shy." Oh, I love this little girl of mine!

On the way to school a while back, I was telling Ashton he'd need to ask Daddy about something technical that he'd just asked me since I didn't know the answer. Isaac pipes up from the back of the van with "Mommy, you know, you're like the medium sharpest knife in the drawer in our family, huh? Daddy's like the sharpest knife and you'd be the medium one - like that kind you use you spread the butter." What in the heck! A butter knife! I've got to hand it to Isaac for noticing how very smart his daddy is - and remembering a phrase we learned when we read "The Tale of Despereaux" quite a while ago. But I had to point out that there might be a few areas where I could be the sharpest knife in the drawer - and the kids were kind enough to throw out a few things - "you're the best at making dinner" "you're the sharpest at reading us stories"...OK, I guess I've got some smartness in their eyes!

Ashton has a girlfriend. Her name is Keisha and she emails him about 10 times a day and calls him pretty often. I heard from Katie (who drives the carpool home) that Ashton's always off talking to some girl when she does the pick up and asked Ashton about it. He tried to act all nonchalant about it, but couldn't help smiling when I asked if he was hanging out quite a bit with a certain girl. He said he just likes talking to Keisha and that she's really nice to him but that you can't really have a girlfriend when you're eight - "like what would you do? It's not like you can drive anywhere together or anything?" But they do eat lunch together daily and Keisha asked him to try to wear something that would coordinate with the dress she was planning to wear to the symphony field trip last Thursday since she'd signed them up to be "bus buddies" (he didn't think this was such a cool idea so he ignored it). I went along on the field trip to help the teacher and it was pretty interesting to see Ashton and Keisha interacting. Glimpse into the future?

As I was getting ready for the ward Halloween party, wearing all black so I could be a witch along with all the Mia Maids (we were in charge of a booth for all the kids), Silas walked into the bathroom, looked up at me and said, "Wow, Mommy, you look budiful!" Maybe I should dress as a witch more often! Then yesterday, Si came up to me and said "Mommy, I weawy wike your ball hair" (I had my hair in a bun - like almost every day - but I guess it somehow looked extra good or interesting to him at the time). I like this trend of compliments from my little Si!

Oh, I love these kids of mine! They say and do so many interesting and cute (and challenging) things every day. I wish I could capture it all. I know the day will come when this will all feel like a dream.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


What a Halloween. The kids are all old enough this year to be really excited and we had a party or two for some member of our family every day for over a week! It seems like every year, Halloween becomes a bigger deal with the kids growing up and with Halloween becoming a bigger and bigger deal in general. I mean, they put the Halloween decorations and candy out in stores right alongside the back-to-school supplies these days!

We started our celebrations by hosting a really fun adults-only Halloween party last Friday night - I haven't laughed so hard in a long, long time. Then Jared's parents were here for a few days and they spoiled the kids with all sorts of fun treats and lots of great reading time. The twins like nothing better than sitting by their Grandma and having her read them book after book. Silas was particularly heartbroken when Grandma and Grandpa left. While they were here, we enjoyed the beauty of Snow Canyon Park, went to a concert celebrating the history of this area and had a great time carving pumpkins together.

The kids made it pretty easy with costumes this year - Ashton and Isaac wanted to be a ninja and a pirate again (Isaac upgrading from a basic pirate to a pirate captain this year) and Liza, surprise, surprise, wanted to be a princess and was thrilled to wear the Cinderella dress she got last year for her birthday. The twins were totally set on being Spiderman and Superman and were so cute about it! So despite my problem with finding a decent Spiderman costume (see last post), costumes easier than ever this year.

We had so much fun trick-or-treating as a family. We did 3 different neighborhoods where ward members live and got some pretty darn good loot while having an excellent time running from house to house in gorgeous warm weather. Can't beat St George on Halloween! As soon as we got home, the doorbell rang and we had our first (and only) trick-or-treaters who turned out to be Eli and Julie! The kids were so excited to show off their costumes and their candy and to hang out with two of their very favorite people. After finally tucking some very tired kids in bed, we finished off Halloween night with a nice time down at the pool and hot tub, soaking in the great weather and catching up with Eli, Julie, Jonah and Aja.

School Halloween Parade


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