Friday, October 23, 2009

Mikalla's Wedding

The kids' first cousin and our first neice was married yesterday. What a beautiful couple and lovely wedding! Jared's oldest brother Brian raised his family across the street from the home where Jared grew up so Mikalla was like a little sister to him. Jared got a little teary remembering how Mikalla used to come give him a big hug at the end of all his football basketball games in high school. And now she's home from a mission and married. Are we getting old or what?

Brian and Karen's great kids


I love the Logan temple - the rough-hewn stones, the castle-like architecture,
the fact that my grandparents on both sides and
my parents and Jared's parents were all married here.

After the wedding in Logan, we came up here to Ashton, ID for the reception and it's so fun to be here in the fall with all the leaves to jump in and the muted fall colors that are so different from what we see every summer and winter when we're here. We love Ashton. Tonight we get to go to Mikalla's brother Marks big football game that could take them to State. Jared will get to relive his glory days as a high school football star via Mark - should be fun - and COLD!
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Petroglyphs


About 10 minutes from our house, there's this beautiful little hike that leads to amazing views and some pretty amazing petroglyphs. We discovered it a while back and went back in the last couple weeks with two different sets of friends. First we went with the Kohlers (above) and they introduced us to "letterboxing" which made the hike way more exciting for the kids than it had been previously. As well as finding all these fun and interesting petroglyphs, we had a print-out that gave us landmarks to look for so that we could find a "letterbox" where we all got to sign our name and see the names of everyone else who has ever found that letter box. What a fun idea! There are lettterboxes to look for on great hikes all over the country and "letterboxing" makes a hike into more of a treasure hunt, making it infinitely more exciting for the kids. Check it out if you want - http://www.letterboxing.org/

As well as finding the letter box, the kids were so excited to find ancient petrogyphs as the scrambled around on the rocks - that was like a treasure hunt in and of itself. I'd love to know what these symbols meant to those who placed them there so many years ago - or if they were just a bunch of teenagers doing some graffiti!

The view from the ridge where the petroglyphs are - so beautiful!

With our friends the Harringtons from CA - we took them there the week after we went with the Kohlers.

Good stuff!
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Transformers have Transformed Oliver and Silas

Ollie and Si have been quite obsessed with Transformers ever since their cousin Mason brought all his Transformers to the farm last summer. Ollie and Si played with Mason for hours on end while Mason patiently explained the finer points of each Transformers personality. A couple weeks ago, Transformers were on their mind for some reason and they asked if I would take them to the store to get some. I told them they could earn some Transformers if they wanted to. I helped them make a chart where they could color in one blank box for each job they did. They decorated their Transformer goal charts with pictures and put them on the fridge and quite suddenly went through their own transformation into the best little workers in the house. They were so excited every time I had a job for them. They put laundry in the dryer, cleaned up toys they didn't leave out, cleaned floors, cleaned walls, dusted baseboards, emptied the dishwasher, straightened all the shoes in the mud room again and again as they worked towards those Transformers. Typically, Ollie and Si have not been great helpers. They take the typical younger child role of wandering off when they were asked to do something, in hopes that no one will bother to make them come back and do what they were supposed to do (and that hope is far too often realized). Given their work history, I thought after a day or so of doing extra jobs happily, the twin would tire of the whole thing - but they didn't. Filling in those boxes on their chart was so very gratifying that their eagerness to do jobs didn't go away.

After about 2 weeks, Ollie and Si had all their boxes filled in and they were SOOOOO excited! The very next day after the charts were done (which was luckily one of our few non-visitor, non-crazy schedule days), I took them to Walmart. It was like Christmas morning when we got to the toy area and saw a whole new shipment of Transformers stacked up there! They knew exactly which Transformers they wanted but I'd warned them that you never know what they'll have at the store. But to our great joy, Oliver found Optimus Prime and Silas found Bumblebee and they were these new "gravity assisted" Transformers that are great for little kids (Ashton had insisted they'd break the regular kind of Transformers the first day they got them and would be so disappointed). The looks on their faces when they had those long-awaited and hard-earned Transformers in their hands was priceless!

We checked out and opened the packages right up and the little guys were in heaven. They haven't let their Transformers out of their sight since then (except that they can't bring them to preschool so Oliver and Silas are so cute about standing their robots on the counter in the laundry room where they can "watch" the door and "see" the twins right when they get back home.

Ah, the triumph of high achievement! Ah, the joy of seeing your kids get what they want because they earned it! And even though Ollie and Si aren't actively working towards any particular toy right now, they are still great little helpers - the Transformer chart seems to have helped them get into the habit of working and I think they like all the positive reinforcement they get - even if it's just a "great job" or "you're such a great helper" instead of a Transformer that they get for doing what they're asked to do.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

When Things Get REALLY Busy....

I end up being late and stressed out a lot and I start forgetting things.

I'm feeling a bit frazzled (to say the least) after a month of visitors (4 sets of visitors who we thoroughly enjoyed - Jonah and Aja and family, then Jared's brother and family, then my parents, then some dear friends from California) and a couple simultaneous weeks of deadlines (an application for Education Week, the kids' Reflections projects, some Power of Moms stuff...) and big events (the St George Marathon that Jared ran, the Senior Games for my Dad - lots of great tennis matches to watch, the school carnival, parent teacher conferences, the book fair, a joint YM/YW activity I was in charge of, the first meeting of a new Moms' Group I started, the Reflections Open House at the school that I somehow ended up being in charge of and another fun trip to the Instacare to have Oliver's chin stitched up yet again - he thought he'd try walking along a ledge with his eyes closed and learned a lesson about how important eyes are!).

None of these things were huge or particularly stressful in and of themselves (well, a guess a couple things were) - but somehow they all converged on the same part of the calendar and I feel like I've been running my own marathon for weeks with hardly a minute to catch my breath or to plan the best way to tackle what needs to happen - so things just keep happening helter skelter. When I go days (or weeks) without time to do the little daily cleaning jobs and emails and kid stuff that I usually do, everything starts to pile up quite alarmingly and tensions run high. I'm tired of being late and being stressed out and forgetting things - and I think the kids are tired of it too!

Today I was late for:
  • family scripture study by 10 minutes (we were up late talking with our guests and I was so wound up I couldn't sleep well last night and getting up is always hard for me...)
  • school by 2 minutes (we're always SO close but those last few minutes always get away from us!)
  • preschool by 5 minutes
  • volunteering in Isaac's class by 8 minutes (and then the teacher didn't really need me today and that was pretty frustrating - I don't think she could really have any idea how precious my time felt today with the million things I've had going on!)
  • Eliza's Parent-Teacher conference by 5 minutes
  • Ashton's Parent-Teacher conference by 20 minutes (because the teacher was running late - this one wasn't my fault)
  • Isaac's Parent-Teacher conference by 20 minutes (because of Ashton's conference starting late)
  • Isaac's soccer practice by only 3 minutes even though we'd had to leave the school so late with the late conferences (we skipped going home to get Isaac's clothes changed and would have been right on time but drove 10 minutes out of my way to pick up a child who didn't turn out to be home - I'm sure they tried to call but...)
Today I forgot:
  • to remind Eliza to wear her glasses and to put cream on Eliza's scar.
  • to say goodbye to our houseguests as I ran out the door to take the kids to school - I just took off and realized after I went into the school to volunteer that I never said goodbye and I wouldn't be seeing them again. But I called them and said goodbye and it was OK.
  • to call a neighbor I'd told about our ward park day tell her we'd changed to a different park - she went to the wrong park and I felt so bad!
  • to check on the Joy School CDs the twins' teacher ordered a long time ago and still hasn't received.
  • that it's NEXT WEEK that we're heading up to Idaho for Jared's niece's wedding so I can't do an FHE with some friends that I thought would work or bring the twins to a neighbor's birthday party that I'd promised we'd attend. Had to make some apologies when I realized my mistake. I've got so many dates in my head that I keep doing stuff like this lately!
  • to put together a flier for the neighborhood party that I helped to plan and that is now just over a week away
  • to feed Isaac dinner before scouts - so the poor hungry guy didn't get dinner until like 8pm. When he came in from scouts complaining of a stomach ache (he's been complaining of stomach aches a lot lately), I finally put it together that his tummy aches are probably hunger pains since they do seem to coincide with when he should be hungry - should have figured that one out a while ago!
  • to carefully count the kids as I left the park where Isaac's soccer practice was. I loaded up 7 kids but I was supposed to have 8. After getting Isaac's friends home and dropping off Isaac at scouts, I dished up dinner and had one too many bowls of soup. I'd left Eliza at the park! I frantically called Jared and he hurried to get her. Knowing her tendancy towards the dramatic, I was so worried she'd be freaking out and worried whether she remembered her phone number and worried that she'd be so hurt that I'd left her or that she could be kidnapped or something. Jared found her sitting on a bench, calmly waiting for someone to come back and get her. She said she was getting a bit worried and a bit hungry but she said a prayer and she knew we'd be back soon. What a good girl! What a bad mom!
My life is generally pretty busy and crazy but in contrast to the last few weeks, my "regular" life is feeling quite manageable and pleasant! I've resolved to plan things out better and say "no" more. And to pray more. I get so busy I don't pray and that really messes things up.

This weekend I've got houseguests again but it's a whole different deal this time. Jared's taking the kids up to my parents' place at Kolob and I get to hang out with some great women who help with The Power of Moms and relax and enjoy some time together as we do some Power of Mom planning in a kid-free house. So I'll get some perspective and recharge and life will feel much better in a couple of days. Then Jared and I will take the kids off on a road trip for their cousin Mikalla's wedding and it will be nice (and stressful in different ways, of course) to get away for a while.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Mommy Dates

My parents worked in a little one-on-one "mommy date" or "daddy date" with me and my siblings when we were growing as often as possible. Sometimes they'd plan something special, but often they'd just grab one of us when they were heading out on an errand and turn it into a "date" by asking good questions in the car and really listening to us - plus they'd buy us a treat. An errand became a date if it included the treat of our choice and a chance to have mom or dad's undivided attention for a little bit. With eight siblings, these dates were such important opportunities to us as kids. And I'm realizing that with five kids, these sorts of "dates" are really vital to me as a mom.

Last week was pretty much insane. Here's the list of all the things I had to do or be prepared for on Thursday, October 1st:
  • The kids' Reflections projects were due so they needed help with finishing up their paintings, films and write-ups about their projects
  • I needed to help sort projects as they came in and help with the whole Reflections program at the school (since the person who was going to do it had to drop out and since I happened to know a fair amount about Reflections since my sister-in-law Aja did it for years)
  • My proposal for Education Week was due (it looks like Power of Moms may be helping put together a new "Motherhood Track" as part of Education Week at BYUI). Polished it up and got it sent in after finishing the Reflections stuff at the school.
  • It's our tradition to make pumpkin cookies on October 1st to celebrate the beginning of fall. The kids were so excited about this so we crammed it in between everything else and I got like 5 phone calls that I shouldn't have answered plus several people came to the door while I tried to do this special fun thing with my kids - my hoped for "oasis" of an hour or so totally devoted to fun with the kids in the midst of so many other things that day didn't quite work out.
  • I was in charge of a joint YM/YW photo scavenger hunt for our ward that night at 7pm - and I was trying to have the girls assigned to this activity really step up and do a lot of it so it took a lot more effort than just planning it myself. It wasn't the greatest activity but it worked out OK I hear (I had to leave early)
  • I held my first "Learning Circle" (mothers' group) pilot here at my house - it was SUCH a great group - but such hard timing! After I got the youth and leaders sent off on the scavenger hunt, I hurried back to get things set up for these women to arrive.
  • Jared's brother and family arrived that evening so the guest room needed to be ready, the house needed to be half-decent for them and for the moms' group that was coming, and the kids needed to be ready to go with their cousins and dad to a play at Tuachan that night.
I should have said no to a few different things in hindsight - but when I said yes to all this, I didn't quite put together that the epicenter of everything would be on the same day! It all worked out in the end but the stress on me and the lack of mothering all week that resulted wasn't that great. Some weeks will always be crazy and it's hard to say no to things when the answer is "yes" to the key questions of: "Is this something I uniquely need to do?" "Could I do this at a better time?" "If I say 'no' will it really matter that much to others?"

But anyway, this week I'm trying to make up for last week and so far it's working great. I've read with the twins each day, I've sat by the kids to get homework done and I had a great "mommy date" with Isaac yesterday. My parents are in town and their schedule with the Senior Olympics worked out so that they could be here with the twins at lunch time and I could go grab Isaac out of school and take him out to lunch. I let him pick the place and and let him order whatever he wanted (doesn't happen much when you've got so many kids to feed and a pretty tight budget). I asked him about his favorite things about school and he told me all about the running program he's participating in at recess (he's been running a mile and a half or more on the track every day to earn punches for this fitness rewards program they have - didn't even know about that!). He told me about a kid that's really mean in his class. He told me his friend was bragging that he had some stocks that are worth lots of money and when I reminded him he as some stock that his Grandpa Loosli gave him, he asked all about how stocks work and we had a great conversation about that. We talked about how he needs to eat more because he's grown so tall lately and he asked lots of questions about nutrition. We just chatted and had a great time together - he went off on whatever and I just listened and followed along for the most part. There are usually so many other people around, interrupting and needing something, and Isaac's usually the guy who just goes with the flow and doesn't demand attention. So it was heavenly to focus completely on this great boy of mine.

I took him back to school and before walking him into his classroom, I remembered something my Dad used to do, grabbed Isaac's hand and told him one thing I especially loved about him for each finger on his hand, folded his hand together to keep all those special talents and abilities in there so he could hold them and feel good about them all day, then gave him a big hug and sent him back into his classroom. He was glowing. I was glowing. He felt like a wonderful son. I felt like a wonderful mom. The whole "date" took about 45 minutes. I need to do this more often!

I do "mommy dates" on and off here and there but I'm committed now to doing one mommy date a week - so every 5 weeks, each kid will get one. It's not much - but on the other hand - it's so much and it's so meaningful. Life is busy but if I can cram Education Week applications and Reflections contests into my life, I can certainly fit mommy dates with my precious kids into my weeks!

I'll keep you updated on how I do!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

He Did It!

Jared ran the St George marathon. And he didn't die. In fact, he did better that a whole lot of people who actually trained big time for the marathon. He ran 26.2 miles in 4 hours and 22 minutes and that's pretty darn good. I was a little worried about him since he didn't exactly follow a traditional marathon training regimen. He's been really busy with work lately and we've had lots of visitors so he hasn't had all that much time to train. For about a year now, he's run a three mile loop with some pretty rough terrain a couple times a week. He stepped that up with longer runs over the past month or so, getting up to about 10 miles a few times. And then it was time to run the marathon.

I knew he'd do it. I knew he'd finish that thing because Jared is one tough guy and he can make himself do just about anything physically. But I was just a touch concerned that he might mentally make himself go beyond what he physically could do. Luckily, I was wrong and his physical and mental body worked great together and he finished strong. I'm so proud of him! He ran a mile and walked a minute at each mile marker and said 'it worked out great - just like running lots of 1-mile races!" TWENTY SIX one mile races. That's a lot.

Jared's walking a little like Frankenstein and feels like he's lost all padding in his feet but in a few days, he'll be good as new. What a guy! I'm so impressed. And I think Jared was pleasantly surprised things went as well as they did.

While we watched for Jared at the 23 mile mark, the kids gave high fives to hundreds of runners and loved yelling out "Good job!" and "You're doing great!" at people who looked like they could really use a little encouragement at that point. I have to say it was pretty darn inspiring seeing so many people of all ages, shapes and sizes plugging away after 23 miles. Our favorite runners were a woman in a while outfit with a wedding veil on her head, a girl in a supergirl uniform, a guy who had to be in his 80's, and an amazing guy pushing a friend or brother in a wheelchair (serious tear-jerker there).
Jared quite suddenly showed up before we were really looking for him so we didn't get a photo - darn. The kids and I jumped in and ran with him for a while and it so much fun! We didn't make it that far before Oliver ran out of steam and it was time to hop in the car and try to beat Jared to the finish line. We didn't quite beat him - BAD traffic and parking - but we found him soon after he finished and it was so great to congratulate him and his brother Joel (who'd JUST missed his qualifying time of 3 hours 30 minutes for the Boston Marathon by 25 seconds - so so sad! But WOW - he ran that thing fast!).

It was so great to have Joel and his family with us for a few days before the marathon. Their 4 girls showered attention on our kids and the twins and Eliza were particularly enamored with them. We saw a Tuachan play, had a pretty cold but fun BBQ down at the pool and introduced them to our new favorite game - New World - a Carcassone game. They left Saturday and my parents showed up today. This is visitor season for us!
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