Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spotlight on Eliza

I've promised Eliza that I'd do her spotlight for months now.  I'm finally sitting down to do it!  With her birthday last Saturday (the 13th), this seems like an extra good time to spotlight my wonderful little girl.

Eliza is everything I could ever ask for in a little girl - affectionate, beautiful (she's got such a unique beauty with her "platinum hair and violet eyes" - as my dad puts it and her freckles and dark eyebrows), graceful, smart as a whip (she writes whole essays on her own - because she feels like it - and can read chapter books already), musical (always singing some cute song in Spanish from school or something she heard once on the radio and already knows all the words to), artistic (she produces about 5 major works of art a day - collages, watercolors, sketches, artistic arrangements of items in a room, you name it...), kind (she gives me the sweetest notes almost every day and is almost always so kind to her brothers).  She's full of spunk and style and I love seeing the outfits she comes up with.  She's into everything girlish from nail painting to dolls to mothering everyone younger than her.  She's also highly dramatic and emotional - but that keeps things exciting!

While being "all girl," she's still tough and adventurous and athletic.  She's a great little hiker and can go for miles and miles (she complains when we say we're going hiking but she loves it once we're out there and we don't hear another complaint from her).  She's also a great biker (got 3rd in a mountain bike race) and rock climber.  She's my only child who'll do the Jillian Micheals 30-day Shred with me from beginning to end.  I love that Liza is such a great combination of so many things!

Here's Liza with freshly painted finger nails and one of her snazzy outfits.  Below are a couple of her lovely, colorful art pieces.  Lots of kids simply eat their Halloween candy but Eliza decided to celebrate all the candy she ate by creating a collage with all the wrappers.   

Sorry this one is sideways - I tried and tried to get it turned but had no luck.  When I was on the phone one time after promising to take Eliza and the twins on "a loop" around the neighborhood, Eliza got sick of waiting for me and rather than interrupt my phone conversation, she wrote me a very frustrated note.  Here's what it says in case it's hard to read sideways: "Cum! un!! now!  You !! sed! we!! wr! goin! to go! arawnd The lup!!"  I got off the phone pretty quick after this polite but firm reminder!
Here's the front and inside of a card Jared and I found on our bed:

And here's Eliza ready for her birthday tea party with her beloved Christmas doll, Tasha (in the new princess outfit the twins got for her for Eliza's birthday) and the tiara and sash she dug out of somewhere.  This is a girl who dearly loves dressing up!  Every year, Eliza has insisted upon a proper tea party (with cucumber and peanut butter and banana sandwiches as well as lots of fruits, veggies and treats - but just apple juice for tea) as well as sugar cookie decorating for her birthday.  She was so cute about helping to set the table and arranging the food nicely on trays.

These are Liza's best friends - with no sisters, friends become extra important - Olivia, Hattie and Grayce

Can you tell how much these boys love their sister?  They couldn't ask for a better one.  And she's so good to them (most of the time, anyway).  Liza's got a little tomato soup (we had her favorite grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup for dinner) on her face - even a princess can be a sloppy eater, I guess.

I love you Liza Loo!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Happy Birthday Krawnchie Boo!

Krawnchie Boo is our house. The twins came up with this lovely name a couple years ago and somehow it stuck. Today was Krawnchie Boo's birthday and the kids came up with this for our celebration: clean the house ("Krawnchie Boo hates to be dirty"), make and eat cookies, have a dance party where we dance through every room in the house and top it all off with our favorite dinner (green chili chicken enchiladas) and a game night. It rained all day and we all loved just staying here and celebrating this wonderful house that we get to call home.

On February 6th 4 years ago, we moved into this house. The twins had just turned 1, Eliza was 3, Isaac was 4 and Ashton had just turned 6. The month leading up to moving into the house was sheer craziness with 4 preschoolers (two of them wild babies), one 1/2 day kindergartner, a hard deadline for getting out of our rental house and into our new house that really wasn't finished at all. A couple weeks before our move-in date, I remember telling one of the subcontractors that we were moving in on February 6th to hurry him along and he looked at me in credulously and said, "This here house ain't gonna be ready." I told him ready or not, we'd be moving in. What else could we do?

Jo and Aja helped out a ton and my Mom and Dad came down for a few days to help us push through the craziness. The twins spent quite a few hours fussing and whining in their pack-and-play set up on the front walkway and we tried to engage the other kids in somewhat helpful little jobs to keep them out of trouble while Jared and I painted and urged contractors along and dealt with one problem after another (the wrong baseboards were sent, several doors were wrong, we had to fire one set of painters and bribe a new set...). Plus we had to pack up the rental house. I felt like I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and Jared developed some sort of odd pain that felt like appendicitis and we spent the one evening that my parents had the kids so we could work like crazy on the house in the ER instead. We never found out quite what the pain was but he literally could barely move - might have been a kidney stone that broke up, might have been acute stress... I look back and have no idea how we managed to stumble through.

But somehow we did actually move in here on the target date of February 6th. One of the missing doors was the front door so we lived here for a week or so with just a piece of plastic for a front door and the first two weeks of living here involved living with a mess of contractors and projects. Plus we had the silly idea of showing our house during the Parade of Homes so that we could maybe get some homebuilding and interior design clients so we worked like crazy to make our house not only liveable but "showable" (the home show was mid February). As I write this, I realize we took on way more stress than we should have - but somehow at the time, this seemed like a good idea. So along with installing baseboards, finishing some painting, and the huge job of unpacking (not to mention taking care of 5 kids), we were hanging pictures, putting together crates of furniture we got wholesale through some connections and shopping for lots of odds and ends we needed to stage the house. In the end, even though the home show didn't result in many clients, it was very nice to have a deadline and push through so much stuff so that we could get on the business of living our lives again - and be able to do it in such a lovely and mostly-finished house.

October 2005

February 2006 (2 weeks after moving in we got the landscaping in)

Spring 2007 (I love all the flowers in the spring!)
February 6, 2010

Krawnchie Boo was a great house when we moved in. But four years later, Krawnchie Boo is so much more than a house - it's a beloved home. We've celebrated Christmases, Easters, Halloweens and tons of birthdays here. We've read 100's of books together and had over 200 Family Home Evenings and almost as many family movie nights, dance parties and game nights. We've cooked and eaten thousands of meals and made countless batches of cookies. We've hosted lots of little get-togethers and some great parties (our favorites: adult Halloween parties each year and our Children for Children concerts each Christmas). We've had literally hundreds of house guests. We've prayed and cried and celebrated and fought and laughed so much here. We've worked through big decisions and dealt with hard problems and had so much fun together within these walls. I've taught Joy School to 4 different Joy School groups here and hosted summer classes for the kids and their friends. We've cleaned every Saturday and we've gotten to know every nook and crannie. We've done piles of homework and piles and piles of laundry here. Jared and I have made a couple websites right here and sent them out to the world. We've seen our kids go from little babies to fun people who we love to hang out with.

We thought we'd build this house as a spec house - make it really nice so it would make us some money when we sold it after living in it for a couple years to avoid capital gains taxes. But we fell in love with this place - and since the house values went down, we're quite happily stuck here.

The once-pristine walls that we painted so carefully are now banged up, the cork flooring we had to drive to Vegas to pick up due to a shipping problem is now faded and worn, the furniture is a dinged up, the pricey maple doors and woodwork that we agonized over now has plenty of dents. But Krawnchie Boo doesn't really mind - so much living and loving is bound to leave its marks. And can a house really be a home without a few scars?

This afternoon, after doing a ton of cleaning and photographing the house so we could always remember how it looked at this point in our lives, we were celebrating with a smoothie when Krawnchie Boo talked to us. It was pretty darn cool. Through the speaker system built into the house, Ashton had this "text to speech" program he found on the computer say "Krawnchie Boo here, thank you for cleaning me. Can you please sing me Happy Birthday now?" The kids got these incredulous looks on their faces then broke into huge grins. We all sang happy birthday. Then the house said "thank you so much. I love you guys!" I was pretty impressed with Ashton for coming up with this! After that, Oliver and Silas kept everyone on their toes by saying things like "hey, don't make a mess! Krawnchie Boo hates messes!" or "We need to talk nice because Krawnchie Boo hates loudness and meanness." I guess having a house that talks and probably has feelings can be a good thing for your kids' behavior!

Everyone got a candle in their cookie and ice cream to blow out on behalf of Krawnchie Boo.

Here are everyone's favorite things about this house: (skip this if you want - I just recorded it for posterity- might be boring to anyone but us. I was sort of surprised by some people's favorite things.)
  • Eliza -I love that our house can talk to us. And on regular days I love that whenever I'm in bed, I feel so safe. I like that there are lots of windows so we can see the beautiful view and I can draw it. I like that I have such pretty pictures on the wall in my room and all the colors look really nice together.
  • Oliver - I love that I have tractor pictures and a drawer for all my special stuff in my room. I like that our roof keeps the rain from dropping on our heads in here. I like that we have a couch for reading books. I'm so glad our house has every food we want.
  • Isaac - I love that we have a movie theater. I like that we can fit lots of stuff in our house and we have lots of cupboards for everything. I like that you can see the red rock mountains out the window and the wash. I like that we have a downstairs and I get to sleep down there.
  • Ashton - I love the view and that we can play in the wash all the time. I like that we're really close to a bunch of hikes. The movie theater is awesome. I like that my room is really big and I have a huge closet and a cupboard for all my inventing stuff.
  • Silas - I love that our house can really talk to us and I love that our house has computers in it and I have tractors and transformers to play with in my room and I have a picture of me and my cousins on a snowmobile in my room.
  • Me - I love the mudroom where all the kids backpacks and shoes can be stashed away. I love the big kitchen and huge pantry that makes cooking so pleasant. I love all the paint colors and how they reflect all the colors of nature outside our windows. I love all the built-in storage. I love the speaker system that makes it so we can have music all the time (and love Pandora for the great mixes of music it makes for us). I love the way I can see the sun hit the red mountains from my bed each morning. I love the basement where the kids can be noisy and messy without driving me crazy and I love that we can have an adult party upstairs and a kid party downstairs at the same time. There are plenty of things I don't love and would have done differently if I had it to do over again - but there's a whole lot right about this house.
  • Jared - He's not here right now but I think he'd say he loves his workbench and tools in the garage, the fact that he never has to mow the lawn (landscaping upkeep in included with our HOA fees), and the movie room (his baby when we built the house). I hope he's pretty darn proud of all the baseboards and casing because he did all that himself - serious big job. And I hope he's pretty pleased with the over all house since he was the general contractor on the house and oversaw every little thing that had to happen to get this house built - plus he worked alongside a lot of the subcontractors. Jared really built this house. I came up with the ideas and Jared made them into reality.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Photo Contest

On our website, The Power of Moms, we're having a photo contest and over the past few days, my email inbox has been filled up almost hourly with wonderful photos of moms and their kids - photos that show joy and love and that have filled up my heart with gratitude that I get to be part of the ranks of wonderful mothers who are changing the world, one hug, one story, one meal at a time.

If you'd like to participate in the photo contest, please send your photos in TODAY! This is the last day we're accepting photos. Click here to see the details of the contest.

Next week, we'll be posting all the photos we received and inviting everyone to come and vote on their favorites. Then we'll be featuring all the top photos on our site, awarding the winners with free Motherhood Book of Secrets books or Learning Circles materials, and using all these wonderful photos to really enhance The Power of Moms.

So if you've got some great photos of you and your kids or want to take some today, send them on in!

Amazing Travels

I'm sure lots of you might already be following my parents' blog about all their amazing adventures traveling and speaking around the world. But just in case - here's the link:

And my brother Talmadge and his new wife Anita are spending their "honeymoon" traveling and doing humanitarian service in Africa, the Middle East and now India (where they've met up with my parents and sister Charity to all serve together at a school for the children of lepers). Here's their blog:

The kids and I have loved participating vicariously in their adventures through their blogs. We've loved learning about people who are so rich they're worried about their kids turning out OK (my parents speak to some high-powered groups of parents as they travel) and we've learned about lots of people who are so poor they're worried about getting their kids the basic necessities of life. We've seen beautiful things (the Taj Mahal, the great architecture and art of various places, the beautiful colors of India, the faces of gorgeous children of all colors). We've seen sad things (the feet and hands of lepers, the humble homes, the dirty streets, the children in rags). I'm so grateful for this chance to give my children a larger view of the world through these blogs and I thought you might enjoy doing the same.

Michael Jackson Sings "Clocks" and "Power Rangers"

Oliver and Silas worked hard on a special show for me yesterday and I thought you'd enjoy seeing it as well. They break into this song that they call "Clocks" all the time but I think it's actually Vida La Vida by Cold Play. And this video also features a new song they made up about Power Rangers - it's snappy, it's simple - sure to be a big hit. They attribute the whole thing to Micheal Jackson somehow. Oh these boys are fun!


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