Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Power of Moms Retreat

Thanks to plenty of prompting from moms who are excited to secure their spots at our June Power of Moms Retreat in Saint George, UT, we've now got our official registration process all set up. This is going to be a truly amazing event!

April (my Power of Moms partner) and I went and toured all the Red Mountain Spa facilities yesterday (she was here for a stop-over on her way from southern CA up to northern Utah to be with family up there).  The place is so beautiful and restful.  The rooms are so nice.  The scenery is incredible.  The smells in the dining room were heavenly.  The walking trails and swimming pool and fitness center are so nice.  And it was so quiet and serene.  We think the setting will be perfect!

We've done several Retreats before, but this one will be extra special with my mom coming as one of the presenters, the nicest location we've ever had, and some great new workshops.  I'm so excited to meet  and learn from lots of the great moms who comment and contribute writing on our website.

Click below to read about the event and scroll down to find the registration link. Early Bird Registration closes April 30th and places are going fast!


June 11-12 Power of Moms Retreat Information and Registration  

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Uncertainties

Life is full of uncertainties.  It always is.  But right now, the uncertainties in my life are looming large.  We're headed down paths that feel right but we can't see the end of the paths so it's a little scary sometimes.  Most days, I feel really at peace with what we're doing.  But there are those moments when I realize how far out on a limb we are, look down, and panic!

Jared walked away from the trucking company January 1st.  After 3 years of long work days, phone calls from truckers in the middle of the night, and lots of analysis and belt-tightening as big trucking company pricing and changes in the economy made it increasingly harder to have a decent profit margin, Jared and I felt like it was time to move on.  We had some ideas on the shelf that we felt good about pursuing and that we hadn't had time to really move forward with.

So we've now completed 3 months of hard, hard work and long hours building three different businesses, each of which has lots of potential, but none of which turns any profit yet.  With Jared's website skills and my content (plus the partnership of wonderful friends in the case of The Power of Moms), we've completely rebuilt the Joy School and Power of Moms websites and we've seen lots of increased traffic and exciting possibilities there.  Jared has also worked hard to finalize the latest and greatest prototype of this "Cool Cab" invention he's been working on with a partner and it's ready to be marketed to some big trucking companies.

Each of these three endeavors feels like it has huge potential - and each is associated with a cause we deeply believe in (helping mothers have the support and ideas they need, helping provide excellent family-oriented preschools with a values-based curriculum, helping save the environment from trucks idling all night due to the need to run the air conditioner to let the driver sleep in comfort).  But there are no guarantees.  And there is no income right now.

We live on savings (most of which is in stocks which were a lot higher a few years ago...that portfolio is pretty limp and sparse these days...).  We spend as little money as possible and really quite enjoy having a solid excuse not to buy the kids the unnecessary things they ask for.  We use coupons.  We shop less (I hate shopping anyway).  We eat at home more (I love cooking and the kids luckily love rice and beans).  We're together a lot more (we've cut out extracurricular activities and Jared has a more flexible schedule and is able to be much more involved in the kids' lives).  The kids seem happier and more well-behaved with their dad around more and I'm much less stressed when I've got someone to help with the kids so that I can spend adequate time on other projects that I feel compelled to do.  Life is simpler in many ways than it ever has been.  It's almost strange how peaceful I feel about all of this.  But there are those moments when I look down and panic.  I just need to not look down!

I do hope that all our hard work will result in hundreds of thousands of families and children - and truckers - being helped.  I also hope that all this hard work will lead us to having an income again before things get uncomfortably tight around here.  But I'm learning to live with uncertainties and keep moving forward, prayerfully and diligently.  I keep thinking of the quote my parents had me memorize as a child:
"I said to the man who stood at the gate, 'Give me a light that I might step forth.'  But the voice came back to me: 'Step out into the darkness, and put your hand in mine, for that is better than a light - and surer than a known way'."

And I just got this quote in my Daily Gems email today that finishes this post off nicely:
"The scriptures speak of [the Lord's] arms being open, extended, stretched out, and encircling. They are described as mighty and holy, arms of mercy, arms of safety, arms of love, 'lengthened out all the day long' (2 Nephi 28:32).  We have each felt to some extent these spiritual arms around us."

The Lord is there, reaching out, leading and guiding.  Everything will be OK.  I just have to further relinquish my need for control and keep walking forward with prayer and hard work.  

Monday, March 29, 2010

Family Testimony Meeting

My parents started this great tradition - every Fast Sunday, we'd come home from church and straight into the living room where we'd hold our own little family testimony meeting. Even though everyone was hungry and the wonderful smell of Sunday dinner in the oven would be wafting into the room and most of us likely started off the meeting hoping it would be over quickly so we could get on to eating, those meetings usually ended up being quite long. As each person stood up to express their feelings about the gospel and about each other, there was simply a lot to say. And a lot of people to say things (11 people in the family makes for a fairly long testimony meeting any way you look at it!). I think all of us have such warm feelings as we remember those Sunday afternoons with love so thick in the air it covered up that dinner smell quite nicely.

We've started this same tradition in our home now that our kids are old enough to stand up and bear their testimonies and listen to each other. Often the testimonies from the kids are very short and basic. But Jared and I love the opportunity to formally tell our kids what we believe and how much we love them and love each other. And once in a while, one of the kids will come up with some really precious stuff in their testimony. Here's Oliver's testimony from yesterday:
"Today I want to talk about how Jesus helps us. He will always help us but we have to help too. He won't do everything for us. He wuvs us a wot. He helped me yesterday on the hike so I only got a wittle owie and not a big one but if I don't be careful then I'm not doing my part of the deal. I wuv Jesus."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Easter Week Ideas

Last year, Easter was really really great.  We figured out a great schedule of meaningful and fun events to do each day leading up to Easter to really make Easter the big-deal wonderful holiday I think it should be.  I blogged about everything we did that really worked.  I just sat down to look up that blog and remind myself of what I want to be sure to repeat this year - and I thought you might enjoy looking at it as well:

Loosli Easter Week Ideas

Please comment and share your own Easter ideas - the more ideas, the better!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Loosli Bull Sale and Park City

OK.  We're home after 2 weeks of travel and adventure.  I've worked my way through tons of mail and email and lots of laundry and unpacking.  I'm working up the courage to check all the voicemail messages that arrived in our absence and deal with them and I need to respond to the many great emails we received when we sent out a list of new Board Positions at The Power of Moms (It's so exciting to see that so many people want to be involved!  April and I have been feeling really excited but also QUITE overwhelmed with all that needs to be done as our website grows and we can use all the help we can get!).  But first, I wanted to share some photos of the final couple phases of our Spring Break.

Look at these beautiful Red Angus mamas.  I love the color of these cattle.


We were up in Ashton, ID for a 3 days - the kids were playing in the snow and riding snowmobiles and loving all the great construction toys at Grandma's house.  Jared (and Ashton and Isaac sometimes) worked with Jared's brother Brian and family to help with the annual Loosli Bull Sale - they loved the chance to jump in there and help with everything from tagging and vaccinating bulls to welding parts of a broken fence to wiring up the Sale Barn so that people could bid on cattle over the Internet.  I helped all I could with the food (feeding lunch to the 150 people who came to the sale is no small task) and tried to keep Jared's mom off her feet when I could (she's really suffering with some knee and hip problems right now but she's so tough - she just kept going).  It was so fun to chat with Jared's mom and hear her talking on the phone with various friends, offering rides and comfort and help and friendship to so many.  And the kids loved all the extra attention and great food from Grandma.  She's one great lady.


The kids were so excited about the food at the bull sale, the fast-talking auctioneer, and the twins were enamored with all the "cowboys" in attendance plus they thought that climbing around under the bleachers was very fun (they came out covered in dirt and manure - does it get more fun than that!).



Here's a little glimpse of the actual Bull Sale:



All the kids loved seeing newborn baby calves as they took their first wobbly steps and learned to eat from their moms.  Those baby calves are about as cute as a baby can be.  The three big kids and Jared and I even got to see a calf be born - and that was probably the kids' favorite thing about the trip.   There's nothing like the miracle of birth.  There was such a sense of reverence as the kids quietly and respectfully watched that mama cow struggle in that holy-feeling, dimmly-lit late-night barn.  They worried that she was pushing the baby out into a wall and were so relieved when she moved.  They were in awe when that baby finally emerged and loved seeing how the mama knew to lick her baby off and how the baby knew how to eat.  Birth is such a miracle and it was such a bonding experience to be there with the kids.

This little guy on the right is just taking his first steps.  How cute is he!

We brought Jared's mom back with us to SLC so that she could see her knee doctor and we were glad we'd been there to help and support her during a hard time.  But as she does some physical therapy and works to get those joints working better, she'll have some more hard times ahead of her, unfortunately.  Portia will get through this.  She's got the strong will and spirit she needs to plow on through and come out stronger than ever.  We just wish we lived closer so we could help more.

As the final leg of our trip, we got to hang out with Shawni and family and do lots of sledding and be with beloved cousins at my parents house in Park City.  These cousins are so cute together and couldn't get enough of each other.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pinewood Derby


So it's been a couple weeks - but the Pinewood Derby was quite a crazy fun thing this year.  Jared, Ashton and Isaac decided to really get serious about their cars this year year and with this very helpful guy in our stake who is very generous with his time (the boys spent like 5 hours in his garage), really knows his stuff and has every possible tool known to man, they were able to build some pretty awesome cars.  The boys were thrilled with all the extra attention they got from their wonderful dad and enjoyed working hard to create something beyond mediocre this year. Plus it was a great bonding thing for these two great boys of mine who hadn't exactly been getting along all that well before the Pinewood Derby came along.

You might notice that these boys don't have any badges on their shirts.  They have earned lots of badges for various things, most of which goes completely over my head since their dad is the official Scouts parent and I'm a bit clueless.  My main job with Scouts is to get those badges onto those shirts.  I'll get around to it - someday!  I really love so many things about Scouts but finding time to sew is a real challenge for me and they have this new glue stuff - but somehow I haven't quite found the time to get to the scout store and buy the glue stuff.  Plus I actually did sew a bunch of badges on Ashton's shirt - then he lost it - and I just haven't felt up to  buying the badges again and going through the sewing process again with his new shirt.

I'm so proud of these big, strong, smart, kind boys of mine.  And so extra glad that they seem to be liking each other so much more lately. 




Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Learning

To me, life is about learning and progressing - and about learning to love learning and progressing.  I'm sure my kids will pick up all sorts of things from me (hopefully a good dose of faith, some manners and respect for others and for nature, and strong work ethic, among other things).  But perhaps my top hope is that they will be launched from our home and into the next phase of their lives with a passion for learning and growing and making every day count.

As I sit here working on some Power of Moms stuff, my sweet Oliver just came and sat by me.  He said, "Mommy, I think I need to do some werning today.  I didn't do any werning yet."  What he was really saying was that he wanted my permission to get on the computer and play learning games on PBS Kids.  So now he's happily playing on the other computer next to me.  But I hope that deep down, maybe Ollie's already getting the message that learning is something wonderful and great and that there can and should be an element of learning and growth in virtually every activity - every day.

Isaac just came over and sat quietly next to me.  I think he wants some lunch and it's that time so I need to be done soon.  But I asked Isaac, "What do you think about learning, buddy."  Without hesitation, he said "Fun. Very fun.  Can we eat soon?"  Yeah!  They're getting it!  Let me try Liza.  "Hey Liza, come here.  When I say 'learning' what do you think of?"  Liza: "Easy and fun."

To Isaac and Eliza: "What have you learned in California and up at the Farm this past week?"

Liza: "I learned how they make those sculptures out of that metal at the Getty Museum.  I learned that the green rocks are called emeralds and they're really really rare.  I learned that baby cows can stand up and walk when they've only been alive for a few hours."

Isaac: "I learned how to sketch - I liked how you can look at the lines and shadows and do shading and be like a real artist in that special sketching room.  I learned that if you have your seat belt on and you're going really fast and you crash you won't die from that crash test dummy at the science museum. And at the Bull Sale I learned that auctioneers talk really really fast and that they use cow poo to make the soil better to grow potatoes.  Weird but cool.  I learned about how they give cows shots and saw how some cows have such big muscles that they break the really thick needle when they give them shots.  I learned that baby cows can come out when their mom is standing up and they're OK even though they fall on the floor when they get born - the hay was soft.  I learned that baby cows get born in a sack and their moms lick them off.  I learned how their mom pushes them over to go by her belly where all the milk things are so they can eat."

So I guess they are learning a lot.  And it seems like they're liking it.

This is my favorite thing about motherhood - seeing my kids' surprise and delight as they learn new things and being right there to point things out and expose them to things and experience it all with them.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring Break Extravaganza

It's Spring Break and we're packing in work, travel, family and adventure.  We're in Park City right now with my parents and sister Charity who just got back from working in a school for Leper children in India - amazing stories (my brother Tal and his wife Anita are still there...).  Before that we were in Irvine CA with Jared's brother Bruce and sister-in-law Connie and family enjoying their great dog, the super tasty bakery where Connie works (she gave us a tour and samples of tons of amazingly delectable treats and Ashton declared it "the best day of my life"), the California Science Center, Natural History Museum and my all-time favorite, the Getty Center for Art (the kids were seriously SO into each of these museums - so fun!).  Before Irvine, we were in Corona, CA staying with my Power of Moms partner April Perry and her family and planning Power of Moms stuff like crazy (more on this in the next post) while our collective 9 kids played amazingly happily together for 3 solid days (we threw in a beach trip and lots of fun stuff - it wasn't all work - but the work is fun when you've got partners like April and Eric!).

Today we played in the snow and saw Alice in Wonderland in 3D (I really liked it - lots of underlying thought-provoking stuff to keep me happy and plenty of action and whimsy to keep the kids happy) while Jared went skiing with some of his old fraternity brothers and had an excellent time.  Tomorrow we're headed up to Ashton Idaho to be there for the big Bull Sale and help with whatever we can help with (I'll post the great website Jared put together for the sale - I'm sure you'll LOVE checking out all those beautiful Red Angus bulls and heifers).

By the time we return home next week, we'll have driving a LOT of hours, visited a LOT of relatives, and learned about everything from Lewis Carrol's whimsy to gem stones and dinosaurs (Natural History Museum) to illuminated manuscripts and sketching and how to make a bronze statue (the Getty) to homeostasis and crash test dummies and solar energy (California Science Center) to auctions and stud bulls to what it would be like to be homeschooled and talk to trees and have your mom get cancer (we listened to Ida B in the car - excellent book - all the kids loved it).

So here are a few pictures of our Spring Break adventures so far:

With the Perrys at Laguna Beach

With the Perrys at the Arboretum


Playing Red Rover in Naples where April grew up (it's the coolest place - gorgeous little houses and canals sort of like Venice)



Checking out the walk-in freezer and tempting treats at The Layer Cake Bakery where Aunt Connie works. 



Connie is now the favorite aunt.
 

The Getty Center







My all-time
favorite
museum - the architecture!  The views!  The art!  The gardens!


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Crazy Fun Power of Moms Planning Weekend

April and I are sitting here in April's kitchen planning tons of exciting things for The Power of Moms while our collective 5 boys are playing Monopoly and our 3 girls are making up a play - complete with props and dress-ups.  April's sweet little two-year-old is (thankfully) sleeping, and our husbands are chatting about various business ideas (we're so glad they're such good friends!).  We're getting lots of stuff done, even though we get interrupted with kids needing things or announcing that the play is almost ready from time to time.  I wish you could see this crazy and crowded - but busy and happy scene - here's a glimpse:


IMG_1106.JPGWe took our families to the beach and tide pools and went to a great arboretum (where we filmed the 100,000 moms video on our home page while our husbands tried to keep our kids out of the background of the video!).  We've fed 9 kids and 4 adults lots of meals and had a double-family dance party.  But crammed in between all the kids' needs and great excursions, April and I (as well as our husbands who've added lots of great ideas) have been talking talking talking and planning planning planning.
IMG_1109.JPG







We've got lots of exciting new ideas, and armed with the feedback we've received from so many thankful moms (check out some of their great comments here), we're committed to "going big" and doing all we can do to help this website reach all the moms who could benefit from it.  We're not in this for the money (our "salaries" are deep in the negative numbers right now) or the fame (I can't tell you how embarrassed I was when I watched myself on the 100,000 moms video we made!  Cameras are NOT something I like to be in front of).  We're in this because we need this and we hear again and again how much other moms need this community.  We've reached the point where we can't NOT work on The Power of Moms.

But to make all our hard work and best intentions translate into wonderful things for all those who could benefit from it, we need YOU to let all your friends know about The Power of Moms.  Almost everything on our website is absolutely free so you don't have to feel like you're "selling something."  You're just sharing a resource that quite possibly could change someone's life for the better.

So take a minute (right now so you don't forget!) and forward a favorite article or write a simple email to all your mom friends and let them know about The Power of Moms.  OK?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Reinventing Dreams

Sooner or later the vast majority of us will see one of our cherished dreams die (or at least experience a serious illness).  My sister, Shawni, experienced the death of one of her dreams last year when her sweet little girl, Lucy, was diagnosed with a rare syndrome that causes obesity, heart and kidney problems and blindness. She dreamed of a life for her family and for Lucy that is not going to happen in quite the way she'd envisioned.  But Shawni and her whole family have offered amazing inspiration to me and to so many others as they've moved on from mourning the death of one dream to embracing a new reality and building a new dream full of challenge, learning, growth - and beauty.

Shawni wrote a beautiful article about her experience on Dare to Dream (the website of one of our Advisory Board members, Whitney Johnson).  Click here to read Shawni's post and to ponder Whitney's great questions about reinventing dreams.  At the end of the article, you'll see some easy ways that you can get involved in helping Lucy and other children like her.

To read more about Shawni and Lucy, you can read Shawni's article on The Power of Moms website: When Your Fears are Confirmed.

You Can't Always Get What You Want

In our family, all of us (including me) often have a hard time accepting the basic but sad fact that you can't always get what you want.  One day, as I found myself telling the kids "I'm sorry, but we don't always get what we want" again and again, a certain song came to mind.  Since then, this song has become somewhat of an anthem around here.  

Whenever someone's having a really hard time with not getting what they want, we break into this little song and it helps dissipate the tension.  It's great hearing the big kids sing it to the little kids when they're on the verge of a meltdown - and to hear the little kids sing it to the big kids on occasion as well! I'll admit that there are times when kid facing some disappointment yells "I hate that song!" at the singer.  But in general, it works pretty well.


I really try to make sure people gets what they need most of the time and they want quite a bit of the time around here.  But we just plain can't get what we want all the time. And the sooner we can all accept that fact and learn to live with it, the better! 

There are lots of things I want.  I want more time to read great books and go on beautiful bike rides.  I want a husband who is just a tad more romantic at times.  I want laundry that does itself and kids that never whine.  I want floors that don't get sticky and covered with crumbs.  I want kids who happily obey me and even do things without being asked.  I want to be with my sisters more.  I want my kids' homework to be more meaningful and shorter and less tedious.  I want the other parents at the school to start volunteering more so that I can feel OK about volunteering less.  I want this saggy baggy twins-tummy of mine to disappear.  I want more great women to get involved with The Power of Moms so that I don't have to work quite so many hours on it to make it successful.  I want world peace.

I can make some of these things happen (to some degree).  But just like I have to explain to my kids again and again, "wanting doesn't make it happen - work and patience can lead to things happening - sometimes." (You've got to include that "sometimes" at the end - only in fairy tales does hard work and patience ALWAYS get you want you want.)  

I can chip away at getting some of the things I want and need.  I can read on the treadmill so I can couple my desire to get exercise with my desire to read.  I can model and encourage the behavior I long for in my kids.  I can work and wait and pray and help many of my "wants" become reality.

But I need to remember the "Serenity Prayer" that my mom had on a plaque on the wall in the house where I grew up: "Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." 

We've got to pick our battles.  We've got to choose our causes.  We've got to decide where to put our time and effort and money.  We CAN really change some things - and it makes me sad to see so many people who seem to give up too easily - or who never even try in the first place.  We CAN get what we want.  But first we have to decide what we really really want.  And we have to learn to accept, with serenity, the things that we can't - or shouldn't - change.

What do you want most for yourself?  For your marriage?  For your family?  Looking at your "wants," which ones are most important to you?  Are there some "wants" that you might need to let go of because they're objectively not that important or because they'd be more work than they'd be worth? What are you going to do to get the things you want and that feel right to you?  How are you going to dismiss the wants you've decided aren't right or aren't worth the effort?

Try singing it to yourself and to your kids - "You can't always get what you want - but if you try sometimes (and really think and work), you can get what you (and others) need!"

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