Friday, January 30, 2009

Reflections on Being Nine

So I have a 9 year old. That makes me feel weird. I totally remember being 9 myself. My family returned from three years of living in England just before my 9th birthday and we were living in a half-built A-frame cabin at Bear Lake (we had to do the dishes in the bathtub since the only running water was in there and every time we had to cook something in the old garage-sale oven we had, there was a terrible stench since mice had built a nest somewhere deep in the workings of the thing - crazy stuff!).

For my birthday that year I got what I'd been wishing for for years - my very own cat. I remember going to this house where they had free kittens and having my pick of the litter. There were a bunch of black ones and one fluffy gray tiger striped one. It was love at first site for me - I just had to have that little gray one - and luckily for me, it was a boy - my parents said I had to get a boy cat - no litters of kittens to deal with. I immediately named him Geneva. Yes, I knew it seemed like a girl name, but when we'd visited Geneva, Switzerland on our mad-dash tour of Europe before returning to America, I fell in love with that name and vowed that I would name my first cat Geneva. So poor Neva got called a she his whole life. Oh, how I loved that cat! I swore he could read my feelings and that we had this very special connection - he'd come sit on my homework and cheer me up when I was struggling with my math. He'd curl up against my legs on my bed each night. He was my best friend for a long long time.

Anyway, back to what I started out to say - I really remember being nine. I remember my teacher Mr Waldhouse (or Mr. Bald Mouse as kids called him behind his back - for no reason other than it sounded funny). I remember my friend Alyssa asking me one day at school why I always wore the same yellow (and often dirty) dress to school and quite suddenly realizing that I was actually the only kid who did wear pretty much the same thing every day (it was my favorite dress and I don't think my mom quite noticed my clothing choices in the midst of so many little kids). I remember learning to do tricks on the monkey bars at recess. I remember walking home from school.

I remember Mr Waldhouse bringing in the cutest little beagle-mix dog that he'd found in a traffic jam and asking if any of the kids wanted to adopt it. I asked my parents and they said we could have it for Shawni since she was due for a pet and Shawni and I walked home from school with our new little dog, Cane Socks, that very day. I remember we thought we were being very original with coming up with "Cane" as a name. Cane was a girl. Geneva was a boy. Whatever. It was much later that I learned about the story of Cane and Able in the Bible. Oh well. We later got another dog and named it Able to help balance things out.

Here I am at nine with Geneva and Cane (and my brother Jonah)

So again, back to my original point. It's crazy that I have a nine year old. I really feel like I was nine myself not that long ago. How did this all come about?

I do love looking back to how I felt and what I did and what I loved when I was nine as I get to know my own fabulously interesting and fun nine-year-old. I couldn't ask for a better son or better first child. Ashton is so bright and his mind yearns to learn. He can't pull himself away from the internet - he's always researching something like robots or space or even current events so he's always sharing random facts about all sorts of things. if he hears or reads something one time, he locks it right in and processes the information and is able to see how it relates to other things he's heard or read in a remarkable way. He loves reading and has a hard time putting away a book and turning off the light and going to sleep when it's time. He's so good to his little brothers and sisters (for the most part) and is always so excited to see the twinswhen they're so excited to see him after school. And he's becoming a great babysitter. He can entertain the twins and keep them safely and busily occupied better than any other babysitter we've hired. He's always got an idea to go with any situation. He's fun and funny - kids at school gravitate to him thanks to his fun recess game ideas and his clever comments. He's fun to talk with - always has very intelligent questions and really gets whatever subject is at hand. He has his little flaws, of course - he can't seem to get a simple little job done without being reminded about 10 times. Focusing on the task at hand can be hard when you've got so many ideas swirling in your head!

We sure love this boy of ours. We're excited to see what he'll become some day. And we're treasuring the chance to see his abilities and personality unfold as he becomes more and more of a peer to us and less of a little kid.

Here are a few pictures from Ashton's birthday (yes, I know, it has been almost a month, but better late than never). We started off with eggs benedict (his absolute favorite - and Jared's too - so it was sort of for both of their birthdays). He had one friend come bowling with us (last year was his big party year) and we had a great time bowling (his birthday tradition). Then we had Cam and Ana and Elsie over for cake and ice cream and it was a great day.
Ashton and good friend Dallin bowing w/o bumpers for the first time - needless to say there were plenty of gutter balls. So they tried on the bumper lane we had for the smaller kids and Ashton got some great points w/o even touching the bumper with his ball! I have to say I won. I got like 130 and beat Jared by a few points. Yeah me. But then maybe that was because Jared accidentally bowled one time when it was actually my turn and got me a strike. But I would have got that strike if I had the chance...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Resolutionary Challenge

Life is getting so much better now that I've got some patterns and systems in place. Actually DOING simple things that I've always known I should do- rather than just feeling bad that I'm not doing them or imagining that I might do them one day - is making a huge difference for me.

I am totally impressing myself (and amazing Jared and my kids) by getting up by 7 each morning. 7:00am probably sounds pretty wimpy to lots of people but it's quite an accomplishment for me and enables me to work out and get ready before 8am when I need to get the kids ready and fed so we can get out the door at 8:45. Just a little extra time in the morning goes a long long ways towards making my days go better – it's so nice to start out the day somewhat ahead rather than behind. And I'm really studying the scriptures for the first time in many years. I've usually read at least a verse or two before bed – but now that that I'm reading in search of something God wants to tell me that day and writing down what I find, my reading has become infinitely more meaningful. I'm making sure that I eat more fruits and veggies and drink more water and that makes a huge difference in my ability to feel more “even” and less easily anxious and stressed. And I've been limiting my time on the computer working on various worthwhile projects (that have previously been too consuming of my time) and ensuring I do quality activities with my kids each day (more playing cars with the twins and reading with all the kids and taking time to do great after-school snacks while asking them details about their day at school – and really listening to their answers). This makes me feel much less pulled in different directions and makes me feel much better about the job I'm doing as a mom. And there's more – but I'll spare you the details!

I have to say that a huge part of all this good stuff is thanks to the “Resolutionary Challenge” that my sister Saydi put together. A bunch of people from my family and some friends all put $20 into a pot and designed their own list of things they committed to do each day or each week to earn points. After 12 weeks, whoever has the most points will win the money – and everyone will hopefully have some well-established habits by then. I'd like to think I'd do all these things I know I need to do whether or not I was doing this challenge – but added incentives certainly help. Once you tell someone else you're going to do something and know that you'll have to admit if you didn't do it, you're just plain more likely to do what you set out to do.

So thanks, Saydi! One week down, 11 to go on the challenge! And hopefully after this 12 weeks, I'll be ready to challenge myself to do some more new things since these things will be totally ingrained.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Looslis in the News

Last week both Jared and Ashton were featured in newspaper stories - Jared for winning this big "Concept to Company" contest for seed capital for innovative technological ideas (70 ideas were entered and Jared and his partner Bill were the winners) and Ashton for the film he made (starring his pet snake) for the PTA Reflections Art Contest that won at the district level and is going on to be judged at a regional level. I'm so proud of these amazing men in my life!

Here's a link to the best of two newspaper articles written about Jared's big win:

And here's a link to the article with Ashton in it:

I had the privilege of going to Jared's presentation before the judges a couple weeks ago - he was one of 8 finalists that each did a 30 minute presentation on their concept. Jared and his partner Bill Gordon have been working on an exciting new product that uses the refrigeration unit on truck trailers to cool the truck cabs so that truck drivers no longer have to idle their trucks in order to have air conditioning as they sleep in their trucks at night. This invention would save LOTS of money on gas and be great for the environment as well. Since saving money and saving the environment are hot topics these days, the time seems perfect to get this "CoolCab" contraption on the market.

Jared did a truly wonderful job with his presentation - he was so comfortable in front of the judges and explained everything so well with the help of very professional and targeted visuals via his powerpoint presentation. He handled the judges questions like a pro and every judge was nodding along and looking totally engrossed. I sat there feeling so very proud of my amazingly smart, handsome, capable and savy husband!

After that finalist presentation, Jared's product was selected as one of the top 3 and then on the twins' birthday, I went to see him do one last presentation for the general public as part of the Southern Utah Economic Summit Conference and at the close of that meeting, he and Bill were awarded first prize. Yeah! This means they get $10,000 in cash and $10,000 in services to move their idea forward - plus they have lots of new connections and potential new investors thanks to the publicity. Good stuff!

Then the next day, Jared had two of his trucks get in major wrecks which is not a great thing for an already struggling trucking company. But as always, he handled that big mess with calm finesse and things will hopefully be OK. We're hoping to get this new product really going and that will make a big difference for Jared's trucking company and hopefully many others as well!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ollie and Si's Birthday

Oliver and Silas are FOUR! We celebrated with a big pancake breakfast, Joy School combined with a birthday party at our house, mini go-cart rides at Fiesta Fun and burgers and cupcakes to top it all off. They were so cute the whole day - so excited about everything. One thing Si and Ollie have never lacked is enthusiasm! The big kids were really sweet to them and helped make their every birthday wish come true. Here are a few pictures of the big day:
Joy School Party with Samuel, Georgia and Asia

New clothes and scooters

We sure love these wonderful little boys of ours. We still call them babies way too much - can't quite get out of the habit. But they're suddenly seeming so big and grown up! They delight all of us every day with the funny things they say and their infectious grins. I just heard Si in the other room "Come on Oliver - get a book - Mommy said we could read books - come join the fun!" And the other day when I bought those little easy-peel oranges at Costco, Oliver was helping me carry in the groceries and delightedly brought me the oranges saying "Mommy! Thanks for buying these cute widdle adowable oranges! I wuv dem so much!" Sometimes I can hardly get over how "adowable" these little guys are as they snuggle up to me to read books or say some funny thing or give me a spontaneous hug or kiss. There are still those moments when I don't feel totally in love with them - like when they move all the chairs and stools in the dining/kitchen area into a "train" for the 100th time and pull all the cushions off the couch just as visitors are about to arrive - or when they can't sit still at all for family prayer or FHE or church - or when they can't share and keep bugging each other (although this happens surprisingly infrequently) or when they get stubborn or sulky and have a melt down about some little thing (they seem to trade off being very easily offended or very particular - Ollie has several of his crying bouts or silent face-on-the-floor-refusing-to-get-up tantrums one day, Si pouts and gets super offended by every little thing the next...). But it's hard to be mad over the naughty things they do when they shuffle in on their tip-toes and say almost in tandem in their cute little voices, "We're sowy, Mommy, don't get us in twubble!" These little guys are generally so easy going and so sweet and they are more fun every day. I'm SO grateful for them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

They Really Do Grow Up!

Silas and Oliver 4 years ago getting ready to go home from the hospital

Oliver and Silas today - wow do those little preemie outfits look small now!

But as this picture shows, the same outfits were pretty big on the little guys at first!

“They'll be gone before you know it. The fingerprints on the wall appear higher and higher. Then suddenly they disappear.”

- Dorothy Evslin

I remember first reading this quote long ago when Oliver and Silas were newborns and I was overwhelmed with five preschoolers. It seemed like the fingerprints and messes and crying and feeding and spit-up and stinky diapers and constant demands on my attention from several sources simultaneously would be with me forever. But tomorrow my last babies, my twin boys, will turn four. I'm done with diapers and spit up and getting up in the night with babies. The strollers and high chairs and baby swings are sold or given away. The fingerprints are moving higher on the walls (and some of my kids are actually learning to wash their hands so there's not so much grime on everything!). My kids really are growing up!

I'm so happy to be done with the baby paraphernalia all over the house. I'm so grateful to be able to run out the door without having to grab diapers and wipes and bottles – I've been diaper bag free for over a year now! I love being able to talk to and reason with all my kids (at least most of the time). I love seeing them read and bike and dance and play basketball and do so many fun and exciting things. It's so great to be able to take them all on a bike ride or bowling or to a museum or on a road trip and have it actually be a fun experience for everyone including the parents.

But I'm sad too. No more wonder of feeling a baby move inside me for the first time. No more amazing excitement of childbirth. No more snuggling a sleeping baby and smelling that sweet newborn smell. No more seeing those first smiles. No more watching those first wobbly steps. No more hearing that first “mama.” No more watching a big brother or sister marvel over a new baby brother or sister. Oh, I miss my babies!

One era is gone and it was a great one – one I probably didn't appreciate enough at the time. It can be hard to really enjoy the “now” when you're getting slammed by so many hard things all the time. It can be easier to see the beauty in things that are past than in things that are present. As I look back, I realize the need to appreciate the beauty in the present more – to cherish the chances to snuggle my kids, to see them get so excited when I come help in their classrooms, to hear them beg for me to read them the next chapter in our book at bedtime, to have them clamor to tell me about something that happened at school that day. These are the beautiful things that are part of my normal days now – things that will be bright warm memories some day as those fingerprints move up the walls. I need to enjoy and appreciate the “now” a lot more so that I can crystallize these memories and keep them with me always while I find more joy in my daily life.

I hope that I'll never feel the way Anna Quindlen felt in looking back: “ The biggest mistake I made [as a mother] is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough.”

Kids really do grow up. Hard things really do get better – and then new hard things come along. Beauty really can be found every day. I'm recommitting myself to enjoying and cherishing the present. I do a pretty good job capturing it in pictures and writing but I need to do a better job really enjoying it when it happens and capturing it in my heart. I need to do a better job of pausing in the midst of the mayhem to really enjoy and reciprocate the spontaneous hug from Isaac or to really listen as Ashton tells me another rather long and somewhat disjointed story about something he heard or really look at the 1000th picture Eliza has drawn for me or take the time to really watch Si and Ollie as they imagine and play together or to really praise the great little things the kids do every day. Oh, there's so much to enjoy if I can just get my mind set to slow down and enjoy it!
Isaac and Ashton first meeting Oliver and Silas 4 years ago

Monday, January 12, 2009

Post-Christmas in Park City

The MASSIVE tree at my parents' new house

We had a great post-Christmas time up at my parents' new place - lots of playing in the snow in some pleasantly sunny weather, lots of talking, lots of wonderful presents from my parents, lots of good food, lots of powerpoint presentations (Jared and my dad were both getting ready for upcoming presentations and wanted our input), lots of hilarious and nostalgic viewing of slides of all of us growing up - many that I'd never even seen before, lots of seeing my cousins and the kids loving time with their cousins and extended family. The warmish weather made the road into my parents' place extra slippery with slush so the van often couldn't make it out of there. This meant more time relaxing and hanging out and less time visiting friends or shopping which was all OK in the end. It was so nice to have time with Noah and Kristi and their kids who we don't get to see enough and to have Jo and Aja and Eli and Julie there as well.

Traditional singing on the stairs before present-opening

Isaac and Lyla (Noah and Kristi's baby)
Liza and Lyla - the kids were so excited to hang out with Lyla and McKay!

Silas and Noah sledding with gusto

Grandkids SO excited about their new pony from Grammie and Grandfather -
plus the many other great gifts they received

Zoo Lights at SLC Hogle Zoo - COLD fun times!

I think Jared had a pretty good birthday - it's always hard when it's mixed in with New Year's festivities! He went to a big fancy breakfast buffet with my dad, brothers and Ash and Ike (as most might expect, Ashton and Isaac ate everyone else under the table), the kids made a big banner for him and I took him out for a sushi feast and to do a little shopping for new clothes. Then that night we had our traditional New Years Eve party with my mom's sister and family and laughed a lot and ate a lot and brought in the new year in peace and good company. Goodbye and good riddance to 2008!

Friday, January 09, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

I'm so grateful for the chance to start off this new year fresh. Last year was a hard year in many ways - emotional roller coaster rides right and left. This year, all 8 days of it, is much better so far - party because some hard things have been resolved and partly because I've learned to accept some hard things and work with them rather than working against them. Throughout hard times, I've always tried to "roll with the punches" and look for the bright side and exercise more and get outside myself to serve others - strategies that have always helped me to get through hard stuff. But sometimes last year, I couldn't seem to make myself do those things. I wallowed in some bad feelings and allowed pessimism to take root and then it was way harder to get back on the right track. So this year I'm going to do better and be pro-active and pre-emptive. I've realized a LOT this past year about what I need to do to keep myself on the right track - little things that make a big difference. I'm always realizing things here and there that I need to do or not do - but then actually ACTING on what I've figured out can be a challenge. After such a hard year last year, however, I've learnd that it's not just nice for me to act on what I know about myself and my needs - it's NECESSARY. So this year HAS to be different. Here's my list of resolutions that are going to help me make 2009 a truly great year - and I'm going to look at this list every Sunday and make course-corrections as necessary.

Resolutions for 2009 (not in any particular order)

I won't let a day go by without prayerfully reading the scriptures. Every time I read, I'll read until I feel the Lord has been able to communicate something to me through the scriptures. Sometimes it may be 5 minutes, other times it may be a 1/2 hour. But I will read with a purpose each day. I will offer sincere personal prayers morning and night (and little prayers throughout the day when I'm grateful or need a little extra help).

- ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE: Keep a gratitude journal (on Sundays as well as other times when something comes to mind, I will write down a few top things I am especially grateful for). This will help me view the glass half-full instead of half-empty. We can't choose many of the things that happen in our life - but we CAN choose how look at them and what we make of them.

- TIME MANAGEMENT: Life is crazy and busy with 5 kids, 3 businesses and all that - but I can definitely manage my time better and make more of what I have. Basic daily schedule - I get up at 6:45 and work out/shower (at least 3x/week) or read scriptures and get ready for the day. Scriptures at 7:45. Breakfast at 8:00. Make lunches, clean up, kids ready to leave at 8:40. Park day and bike ride Monday morning, errands Tuesdays while twins are at preschool, catch up on work on Wedesdays while twins are at Joy School, volunteer in big kids' classrooms on Thursdays while twins are at preschool, clean, do laundry on Fridays mornings. ***Quiet time for the twins from 9-10am and 1:00-3:00pm (during this time the twins can watch one show and play in separate rooms with fun toys and books and games that are reserved especially for quiet time. During this time I do email, take care of commercial Joy School stuff, make phone calls, work on Power of Moms and the twins are supposed to do their own thing and understand they are supposed to do their own thing while I do my own thing. When quiet time is done, I will be done with my work and ready to read with the twins and do games with them and give them all my attention for a while. I've realized that it's OK to have some hours when I'm "off" as a mom, it's great to have the kids learn to play on their own, and it's very good for me to have set times when I do other work and set times the kids can plan on my undivided attention.) After school snacks and hearing about school from 3:45 - 4:00 then homework help until 4:30 or 5, then make dinner (I won't try to make phone calls or do other things during this time - this has to be my most "on" time of day as a mom). Dinner at 5:30 or 6:00, everyone does after-dinner jobs and gets ready for bed by around 7:30. Twins to bed by 7:45. Big kids to bed for reading time by 8. Some nights with B-ball or Young Womens, the times adjust - but I'll keep as close as possible to this. Then BIG THING - get me and Jared to bed by 10:30 so there's time to talk and read until we go to sleep around 11 or so. *** Getting enough sleep is VITAL for keeping my postive attitude and being nice to all the people I love!

- QUALITY TIME: Spend quality time with each of my wonderful children and make sure they know how much I love and like them. This will include: taking them each on a "mommy date" at least every other week (usually it will be just to pick up some needed items at the grocery store), adding extra time to the bedtime routine so I can read with the big kids (I've got several great chapter books they are so excited about) and sing a song each for the twins plus give them all plenty of hugs and kisses. Take a minute away from whatever I'm doing on the computer (when it's not quiet time) to go see what the twins want to show me or really listen to what a kid wants to tell me - everything can almost always wait a minute. Have a weekly date with Jared (a nicely planned home-date is fine but try to also do a better job getting babysitters and going out together). Trade off planning dates (but make sure simple plans are fully appreciated and accepted by me!).

: I've realized more and more that the basics of eating and sleeping are vital for me and everyone else in the family and I need to stop letting that slide. I need a good 7-8 hours of sleep to be the sort of nice mom and wife I want to be. I need to get up earlier in order to get myself ready and work out before the day with the kids hits in full force. School doesn't start until 9am so it's really not that early I have to get up if I want to have more time in the mornings. I WILL get up before 7am each morning. I WILL get ready for bed at 10:30pm each night and go to sleep around 11pm (weekends can be a little different). I WILL NOT eat after 8pm (other than fruits and vegetables). When I eat late at night I have weird dreams and don't sleep well plus I feel bad about myself and wake up feeling bloated. I WILL eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day and drink a glass of water before ever getting a snack. I feel SO much better in body and mind when I'm eating healthful foods and drinking lots of water. I've realized I feel best physically (and usually end up losing weight) when I focus on ensuring that I eat enough healthy foods rather than ensuring that I DON'T eat certain foods. When I head to the kitchen for a snack, if I drink a glass of water and eat some carrots, my craving for a cookie often passes. And if it doesn't, I usually only feel like ONE cookie!

So there you have it - my plan for a wonderful 2009. I'm sure I'll mess up on plenty of this but at least I've got a plan and I know what I need to do. Wish me luck!


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