Monday, August 30, 2010

I faced my fears...

Thanks so much to all of you who offered support, ideas, and encouragement in response to my post about our family's ongoing state of limbo!  I love knowing that I've got some great cyber sisters out there ready to jump in and help as needed.  Isn't the blog world amazing?

We went up to SLC last weekend to be with Jared and to go to a family reunion and to check out Ogden.  I faced my fears head on and found out that, as usual, once you really learn about something, it doesn't seem so scary anymore. 

We spent a chunk of Saturday exploring Ogden and you know what?  I like it.  There are lots of great areas and a really fun revitalized downtown area.  The mountains around there are beautiful.  The university brings a lot of vitality and diversity.  It seems like a pretty darn good place, really.

The kids' thoughts on all this?  Ashton saw the indoor skydiving place in downtown Ogden and quickly went from "I NEVER want to move" to "I think this would be a great place to live."  Oliver said "I weawy don't think it would be that gweat of a idea to wive here because cowyn (Corinne) doesn't wive heaw and I would miss hew and hew dog too much."  Silas saw the plethora of old trains by the old train station downtown and yelled out in glee "I want to live hew!  They have twains!"  Isaac thought living where there would be lots of snow would be totally awesome.  Eliza said she didn't want to move - not one bit.

All in all, we're feeling much more positive about the whole possibility of moving - at least most of us.

But the process of moving - that's NOT sounding one bit fun.  Packing?  Finding a new house?  Finding renters for this house?  Finding time for one more tiny little thing in my crazy life seems totally overwhelming - let alone finding time for a big fat thing like moving.

But hey, it'll all work out.  It always does.

Jared's loving his new job so far but it'll take a few weeks to know for sure whether this is what he really wants to do long-term.  So we'll hold off on serious moving thoughts for a while and live in limbo land a little longer.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cancer Sucks

My cousin's little girl, Cami, has Acute B Cell Lymphocytic Leukemia. She's only four. My cousin's dad (my uncle) died of cancer a few years back and now Cami, who was perfectly healthy and happy just a couple months ago, is undergoing all sorts of treatments that have rendered her listless and frustrated and puffed up with steriods to the point that it's hard to smile.

It's not fair. Cancer sucks.

But my cousins have been the most amazing examples of resilliance - first with losing their amazing dad so suddenly and now with rallying around their sweet little daughter and niece.

A couple weeks ago, sweet Cami kissed all her hair goodbye - it was falling out in chunks and just wasn't working out. Her family and lots of kind friends decided to make a party out of the occasion.

A lot of things about life just aren't fair.  But we can make good things out of bad things.

Check out the beautiful photos taken of the event here:
http://jenheremphotography.blogspot.com/2010/08/cuts-for-cami.html

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

limbo land

Jared's gone - for a while.  He's starting a new job and sadly, it's not a local job.  A promising company in Ogden wants him as their new Chief Technical Officer and the job is a great fit for him.  So he'll be up there for a couple weeks, getting going on new projects and learning more about what this job will entail on the day-to-day.  We're planning on some combination of telecommuting and working on site in Ogden for the first few months.  But there's a good possibility we may need to relocate at some point.  Hmmmm.....

Jared's been our fabulous webmaster for Power of Moms for the past several months and his help was invaluable as we redesigned the website and launched several new programs.  He's really enjoyed learning cool new stuff about programming (he's got quite a bit of tech geek in him) and has been able to do complicated things that our little Power of Moms organization couldn't possibly have afforded to hire out at the going rate.  The kids and I have been so spoiled having him work from home the majority of the time since Christmas.

But Jared has always been poised and ready to jump into a new challenge once the right one emerged.  And this job looks like a great fit for him. 

But it's in Ogden.

I love Saint George.  I love the red rock.  I love the kids' school and the fact that they're learning so much Spanish.  I love our friends.  I love our house.  I love the beautiful swimming pool here in our development.  I love the open space behind our house where the kids play.  I love the proximity to Zion and so many super-close, super-beautiful hikes and bike rides.  I like being settled and being involved and feeling like we're really part of the community here.  I like church here (even though they just asked me to be in the presidency of the children's organization at church and that threw me for a loop when I had so much else already going on - but I'm loving it).  I love having mild winters and being able to go outside every single day.  I even love the heat (I get chilly when the temperature drops below 85...).

I know very little about Ogden.  I went there one time to do a training when I was working for the Corporation for National Service - maybe 12 years ago.  They had a great little children's museum on the main street of town where I did the training.  The downtown was very run down.  I've driven past Ogden 100's of times on the way to the farm to see the Looslis or Logan to see my grandma.  I grew up in Salt Lake which is only an hour south of Odgen, but somehow I never really heard much or learned much about Ogden.  I know I don't like snow and cold and I'm pretty darn sure that's an issue in Ogden.

I need to learn more about Ogden so it's not such a big fat scary unknown.  But I've been crazy-busy and I almost don't want to get into researching Ogden.  That might make it seem more like a real possibility.  And I'm sort of in denial.

I know that the most important thing is that we be together as a family and that we can be happy anywhere.  We've always said we love it here but that if the right opportunity took us elsewhere for a while, we'd be fine with that.  I guess in my mind, I was thinking that the "right opportunity elsewhere" might involve a move somewhere exciting - to another part of the world or across the country.  I'm always up for a new adventure!  But somehow Ogden never entered my thoughts when I thought of places I'd love to live in or experience some day.

So this is all sinking in and maybe it's a false alarm but I'm looking at this place and appreciating it all the more as I think about possibly leaving here one day...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Nurturing Creativity and Talents

Eliza wanted me to post some of her latest "art."  And looking at the pictures I've taken of her stuff plus hearing her in the kitchen right now doing "arts and crafts time" with the twins made me think about the creativity that I see in my home - and what I've done to nurture it. I don't have it all figured out - not by any stretch of the imagination.  But I have figured out a few things that have worked well for my own kids and their own specific needs - everyone's different - I'm certainly not saying what I've found would work well in YOUR home.  But I thought I'd share my thoughts, just the same...

I've found that when we don't spend much time on TV or game systems or too many structured, scheduled extracurricular activities for the kids - and when we do have lots of basic art supplies and building toys and dress-ups and books around - plus some good outdoor space - kids get pretty creative - each in their own way.

Ashton's still spending several hours a day working on ingenious creations with his beloved Lego Mindstorm.  He also spends time reading.  He's loved the Lightning Thief series (but was pretty disappointed in the movie).  He makes up songs on the electric piano and makes up plays for the rest of the kids to put on with him.  He's also really into photography and catching lizards.  Here are a couple examples of him combining his photography and lizard-catching prowess:















Isaac comes up with great adventure games outside - he's my greatest nature-lover and outdoor guy.  He also loves building with K'nex and he and Ashton had the greatest time making this "armor" out of duct tape and old t-shirts for use in their secret clubhouse in the open space behind our house.  I love that they can come up with this stuff!  They went on to figure out how to make cool duct tape wallets and various other things from duct tape.  Who would have guessed it could be so darn useful...


Eliza spends the vast majority of her non-school time "doing art" and creating fun plays and "school" activities for the twins.  She can find beauty in everything and can come up with such intriguing concepts.  Plus most of what she does has some element of teaching values and expressing love in it - which makes her stuff all the more dear.  Here are a few of Eliza's latest creations (art and theater):
 Eliza and the twins made this for my yesterday.  Liza sent Oliver to find out what sort of snack I wanted and I was eating pepper slices at the time so I said I was good with pepper slices - so Oliver sneaked a few from my plate when I wasn't looking and they came back a few minutes with this nice little presentation.
Eliza said this one was called "The Tree of Peace" and the words say God, Jesus, Love, Faith, Family, Repent, Light, Prophets - I thought it was pretty lovely and insightful.

Oliver and Silas mostly get pulled into whatever their older siblings are doing when they're around.  But when they're on their own, they love making up and acting out scenarios - most of which involve being super heroes or dogs who usually talk in funny squeaky voices.
Here's a "lap top" Eliza made for the twins at their request (out of a cereal box).  They played with it for days, making different "screens" for it.  Liza took the photo herself so it's just a tad bit blurry.


I could go on but really I just wanted to share some of the fruits of the stuff that we've felt we should do in our home - get the TV off, steer clear of gaming systems, stock the house with carefully chosen toys and books and plenty of cheap art and craft stuff, and avoid over-scheduling our kids with structured activities.

That said, I want to clarify that I'm not totally against TV and computer and game systems and extra-curricular activities.  We do a movie night every Friday and the kids do watch TV on occasion (all we have is the major networks and PBS kids - works out great).  The twins have found great ideas for little plays to put on and have learned to read thanks to various PBS Kids shows plus we all love a good movie and deliberate TV time has a lot to offer.  I think Wii is great and we've all loved playing Wii games with friends and relatives.  But I love that we don't have it in our home and it's absence has helped the kids have time for a lot of other great things (some families do a great job with having such things and limiting them nicely but I have one particular child who would NOT be able to leave such a thing alone and I don't want to fight that battle).

Maybe we've overdone it on limiting extra-curricular activities - the big boys do scouts plus they do choir and drums at school.  Eliza's doing soccer.  Isaac and Ashton will probably do basketball this winter.  I occasionally teach them piano lessons and Jared does a guitar lesson once in a while for Ashton who's really quite good on the guitar and probably ought to have lessons from an outside source at some point.  That's something I struggle with - figuring out how to make sure they get to try what they're interested in while protecting time for them to be creative and figure out their own interests to some degree.  Plus we really want to protect our family dinners and Saturday hikes and bike rides and other family activities that we so enjoy doing together - those things get squeezed pretty hard when we're doing soccer games and basketball games with so many of our evenings and weekends...

So I sure don't have it all figured out.  But one thing I know for sure, kids come with some beautiful creative tendencies and talents that we, as parents, can and should help nurture.  They may have talents that most common extra-curricular activities don't address (sports and dance are wonderful but there's so much more our kids might be good at that might be best nurtured right in our homes!).  Of course, the most effective methods for nurturing the seeds of our kids' potential will be different with each family and with each child.  But we don't have to "go with the flow" - we can be deliberate in determining how we'll nurture our kids' creativity and help them develop their talents.

Plus I think that childhood needs to be protected - and that essential elements of childhood are free time (w/o much access to TV and video games), easily-available raw materials (art supplies, building toys, etc.), open space and lots of praise for their creativity. 

Just my thoughts for today...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Table

I like neatness.  I like things to be simple and clean.  I like a dining room table that's always ready for family dining without having to be cleared off first.  But this is what I have:


And you know what?  I'm OK with it.  When my table looks like this (which is most of the time), it means that the kids are doing creative, useful things and that they want to do those things near me while I'm in the kitchen or my office off the kitchen.  They don't want to be downstairs where there's a nice table set up for just these sorts of projects.  They want to be by me so they can show me things and ask me things.  And it's precious to be needed and to be part of their little world - even if it means a few extra minutes to clear off the table before dinner.

For a really great post about clean homes, check out this post from a blog listed on the Power of Moms "Best of the Blogs." 


Thursday, August 19, 2010

On the way home...

I wrote this a while back - finally finishing it and posting it!

On our way home from Bear Lake and the Farm, we got to spend a day in SLC with some of Jared's siblings and families plus we got to go visit Jared's mom at a rehabilitation center there - she had back surgery a couple weeks prior and after many months of horrible debilitating pain, the surgery really seems to have helped - but there's a lot of recovery still involved.  Jared spent a good chunk of July with his mom (while we were at Bear Lake), trying to help her get through the last hard part before the surgery could be scheduled.  It was a real blessing that Jared had a flexible enough work schedule to be able to spend some time helping her and helping his brother who runs the farm a little as well.  You know, having 9 kids sure comes in handy when you need some help later in life.  It's been great to see how each of Jared's siblings has stepped in to help out at different stages of his mom's difficult last few months.  What a lot of excellent people I inherited by marrying Jared. 

We had SO much fun at Aaron and Michelles house.  They were wonderful hosts and treated us to great food and tons of fun.  My kids think their house is about as fun as it gets - they have kids their ages, a great backyard with a super fun play structure, all kinds of bikes and scooters, a Wii and Michelle had such a fun idea - the kids loved making roads out of construction paper - so simple and so creative and fun at the same time.  The kids spent hours making crazy roads and loved it.



The twins were so busy having fun with their cousin Logan that this is pretty much the only time the three of them were still enough that I could take their photo - how cute are they?  I love that the twins have such fun boy cousins their same age on both sides of the family.  They wish Logan could be their neighbor.



Michelle also had a great idea for a simple but very cute banner the kids could all help make to brighten up Grandma's room at the rehab place.  I wish I had more abilities when it comes to thinking up stuff like this.  Here are Liza and Ike with their beloved cousin Abbie.



After our fun at Aaron and Michelle's and our doctor appointment for the twins Achilles tendons issue (wrote about that before), we headed over to spend some time with Grandma (banner in hand).  It was SO wonderful to see her looking so much better.  She had really been doing poorly when we'd been up there at the beginning of July - and she's usually so energetic and vibrant - it was so scary and sad to see her in so much pain that she could hardly do anything at all.  She stood up for us and walked a little and we were so happy to see her looking so much happier and stronger.  It's still a long road to get her strength back, but she's one tough lady and she's getting better each day.


By the time we finished hanging out with Grandma, it was a little late and we were too tired to drive back to St George that night so Joel and his family (another of Jared's brothers) were kind enough to let us crash at their place that is right near the rehab place.  The kids loved playing with their chickens and cat and cool teen-age daughters - and squeezed in a little Wii there as well.  They want a Wii so bad.  But I keep telling them it wouldn't be nearly as exciting if we had it right in our own house....  Plus we've got a couple kids with somewhat addictive personalities and having a Wii in the house would involve issues I just don't want to deal with right now...

Better late than never - there you have it - the final leg of our big fat fun summer trip!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Lesson from Pez Dispensers

I took the twins with me to the grocery store this afternoon.  I though I was done with taking kids to the grocery store now that all the kids are in school.  I felt a little nostalgic about that fact.  But since I wanted to use all the twins' school time to get work done, I figured it would be a fun field trip to take them with me to the grocery store when they got out of school at 1:15 and then be back to pick up the big kids at 3:30.

Can you guess where this is going?

As usual, the twins kept trying to ride on the side of the cart (almost tipping it over again and again - especially when they both decide to try riding on the same side) and skipped and twirled around the store, nearly careening into quite a few people.  Of course, they had to ask whether they could have about 1000 different random things that looked oh so appealing.  And unsurprisingly, Silas had a sudden huge need to hit the restroom when we were about as far away from the restroom as you can get.  It was hard to keep my train of thought with all their antics but I stayed calm and we made it through with considerably more grace than we were able to muster up back when I had to shop with 5 preschoolers a few years back.

Then, at check-out, Oliver and Silas found these Wall-E Pez dispensers that they thought were the greatest things ever.  They begged for their 1000 and 1st thing.

But before throwing out yet another line about not needing or wanting the item in question, I pulled myself back a bit and really looked at these adorable boys of mine and their hopeful, pleading little faces.  I realized I'd been entirely too focused on my shopping - which really doesn't matter as much as enjoying time with my cute kids.  I decided it was about time to really entertain one of their requests. We checked the price - $1.50.  Pretty reasonable.  I remembered how cool I thought Pez dispensers were when I was a kid.  I remembered that they'd earned $1.50 each from doing jobs around the house on their star charts - they're saving up for more Transformers.

I got the rest of the stuff on the conveyor belt, bent down to really look into their sweet little faces and asked them whether they wanted to use their money on the Pez - it would mean it would take a little longer to earn enough money for the Transformers - but it was their choice.  They considered - for about a second - and then started jumping around in glee - "We can get these?  Really?  We can?"  When I said it was their money and it was up to them, Silas did a cartwheel (just about knocking out all the check-out candy) and Oliver announced to the check-out lady - "we get to buy these things with our own money that we earned!"  The lady was very cute about it and congratulated Ollie and Si heartily as she rang up their dear Pez dispensers and handed them their prizes.


Oh, I love these boys of mine.  They are so full of energy and light and love and exuberance.  I'm annoyed with myself that I spent too much of my little "date" with my boys sort of cursing their energy and exuberance in my mind as I struggled to keep my train of thought and get things done (and keep accidents from happening).  Some of the very things that I love so much about them can be hard sometimes - but that's OK.  I'll take the hard with the good - I have to - they're inseparable.  And it's up to me to decide whether to focus on the positive or the negative - and to decide to enjoy the moment more and worry about the task at hand less.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ready for a seriously amazing weekend get-away?


In between reunions and travel and fun at Bear Lake and getting the kids back in school, I've been working with some great local organizers to finalize details on TWO great Power of Moms Retreats.

I hate "selling" stuff but you know what? These Retreats really really work and I want to be sure that as many moms as possible hear about these opportunities. You can get a lot from mom-blogs and chatting with other moms when you get a chance - but there's nothing like a weekend of facilitated learning and sharing and laughing with other moms who take the profession of motherhood seriously.

Here's one of my favorite quotes from a Retreat attendee:

"I can't say enough good things about the Retreat I just attended. I came away a seriously changed person and mom. I mean I was a pretty decent mom before - but now I feel like I've got the direction and tools I needed to really become the mom I want to be. Plus it was so gratifying to meet all these other great moms who are as deliberate about motherhood as I am. I would have paid 10x as much for what I got from this Retreat and I'm telling every mom I know that they just HAVE to go to a Retreat if they possibly can. It'll change your life."
(To read more quotes click here. To read a full report of our last Retreat by my sister Shawni - with lots of great photos - click here.)

Our two upcoming Retreats are on opposite sides of the country so most people can get to one or the other with a not-too-long flight or drive. Check out these beautiful locations and click on the links below the photos to learn all the details - and please spread the word!
How beautiful is this Resort?  It's near John Wayne Airport and right between LA and San Diego.  I'm so excited to present with my dear friend and Power of Moms partner April plus some other amazing moms including one mom of 13!  
"Get Organized" Southern California Retreat: September 17-18 (Registration closes August 27 - so hurry!)
***Just for my blog readers, I've created a special page where the 1st dozen people to sign up for the California Retreat will get $20 off their Registration.  Click HERE to register for these limited discounted spots.

This historic hotel on New Castle Island (near Portsmouth and 1 hour from the Manchester or Boston airport) will be such a fun place for a Retreat!  We'll be there at the peak of the famous New England fall foliage (picture all those trees orange and yellow and red).  I miss New England and can't wait to go back for this Retreat (plus I get to present with my wonderful sister Saydi and my great new cyber-friend Sarah Turner).
New England Retreat: October 22-23 (Registration closes September 15th).  

I sure hope that some of you can make it to one of these Retreats - I'd love to meet you! And please help spread the word to other moms who you think would be interested. I bet they'll thank you.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

On Being Consistent

I'm not all that consistent with my kids.  I know that "be consistent" is a big parenting thing - and I am pretty consistent about some things - bedtimes (within 1/2 hour or so - my sanity requires this!), requiring my kids to say please and thank you, making sure they pick up their rooms, having good after-school snacks and chats most days...

But sometimes I start great things and get pretty lax on the follow-through.  Like today Eliza pointed at the dog-eared award on her door and said "Mommy, you said we were going to do awards after dinner every Sunday and we haven't done it in ages!"  She's totally right.  I got this great idea from my parents to do these Sunday Awards that really motivate good behavior and give everyone a chance to share the good things they've done (or the things they've observed other family members do) throughout the week.  The kids loved the idea right off the bat and we always have very positive experiences when we remember to do awards on Sunday.  But we forget a lot.  In thinking about it, though, it's actually more effective to be less consistent on that one.  Looking back, when the kids have reminded me (and it wasn't already bedtime), we do awards.  Sometimes we do them several weeks in a row.  If we don't do if for a while, it's OK.  Everyone's re-excited when we start up again.

And I'm really not consistent with Mommy dates.  My kids LOVE going on little individual "dates" with me and I love it as well.  I keep setting goals to get out on a date with each child each month - and just taking a kid one-on-one on some little errand totally counts.  But still, I can't seem to make it happen very regularly.  When I do get a date in here and there, the kids love it so much and I'll keep setting the goal to do them more often.  But you know what?  Sometimes is a lot better than never so I'm not going to beat myself up about it.

One area where my husband and I are deliberately NOT consistent is in the way we treat our kids.  While the rules are the same for everyone and most basic consequences are pretty consistent (on a good day), the exact consequences and manner or dealing with issues needs to be a little different with each child.  We have one child who melts into tears with a stern look and sincerely apologizes.  He doesn't need heavy-handed consequences.  Another child is stubborn and hates admitting any wrong-doing.  This child needs more discussions about what went wrong and what could have gone better.  One child only seems to change behavior when he gets a monetary fine for things - he's very motivated by money - while another child couldn't care less about money or any other material thing.  Each child is an individual who really needs to be dealt with in a different way.  And as soon as we think we've got something figured out, the next kid meets a similar problem and we see that he or she needs a different solution than what we thought we had all figured out from the previous kid!

So consistency is complicated.

But I think what matters most is that we keep looking at what we're doing and decide where consistency is important and where it isn't.  I think it's all about being thoughtful and deliberate .

And those are my thoughts on parenting for today!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

First Day of School - Happy and Sad


Jared and I delivered all FIVE kids to school this morning.  I haven't experienced life without a preschooler for almost 11 years.  This is surreal.

The big kids were excited to see their friends again and pleased with the teachers they got.  Eliza was thrilled about the new school uniform she got to wear (Ashton and Isaac weren't crazy about the idea).   Generally, the big kids were happy.  But the twins were exstatic.

The twins were SO excited to start school.  They've been counting down the days forever.  Ever since they were babies, they've been going with me to the school to do various PTA stuff and volunteer in the big kids' classrooms when I couldn't find a babysitter.  That school has been like a second home to them and they couldn't wait to go to "big kid school."  They've never been one bit worried about it.

Me - I'm the one with a few worries.

Not about how they'll do in school.  Ollie and Si are already reading (not sure how that happened - I think it was from watching Word World).  They know how to sit still in class and raise their hands (in fact they were raising their hands to say things at dinner tonight - pretty cute).  They're really good at sharing and listening and being nice for the most part.

I'm not worried about how they'll do without me - I'm worried about how I'll do without them.

I might have happily kissed them goodbye and dropped them off at school when they were two.  Their constant crazy messes just about drove me over the brink several times a week - sometimes several times a day.

But the last couple years, they have been such a joy to have around.  I've loved hearing them play together nearby as I've done my work at the computer. It's been so great to have the pleasant distractions of snack time and story time and game time to break up my work.  Plus I've so loved having them throw their arms around me about 10 times a day to say "I wuv you, mommy."  What will I do without that?

I have plenty - way more than plenty - of work to fill my hours while they're at school and I'm grateful that I'll be able to get my Power of Moms and Joy School stuff done while all the kids are at school and be able to focus more fully on them when they're home.  I know this is good for everyone and I have looked forward to this day.

But how I'll miss all the sweet little distractions of my beautiful fun little boys!

I can hardly believe I've actually reached this point where I have NO preschoolers (I had FIVE for a while there...).  But there are lots of good things about this too.  Jared and I had a very nice extended date after dropping the kids off at school to celebrate our graduation from preschoolers.  I've hardly seen Jared lately between needing to go separate ways a lot this summer and being ultra busy since getting home.  So it was extra nice to head out together to do some shopping and have lunch with no kids tagging along.

So I'll be fine, just fine.  But for all of you out there who are overwhelmed by preschoolers - just know, they really do grow up!  And if you want a good tear-jerker of a post, read this one I did when the twins started preschool and I had some similar mixed emotions...

How did my babies get so big?  The days sure seemed long sometimes but those years - they somehow flew by... Here are the kids year by year...

January 2005 - our 5 preschoolers at the hospital the day after the twins were born
August 2005 - Ashton at the start of Kindergarten, Isaac at the start of preschool 

August 2006 - Ashton starting 1st grade, Isaac starting Kindergarten

August 2007 - Ashton staring 2nd grade, Isaac starting 1st
August 2007 - Eliza pleased as punch about starting preschool
August 2008- Eliza starting Kindergarten, Isaac starting 2nd grade, Ashton starting 3rd grade
August 2008 - Twins starting preschool

August 2009 - Eliza starting 1st grade, Ashton starting 4th, Isaac starting 3rd
(can you tell who likes school the most and likes having her photo taken the most?)

AND HERE'S one more shot of TODAY
(some day I'll figure out how to keep the background from washing out...)


Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Mormon Women Project

As many of you know, I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (otherwise known as the Mormon Church).  I love my church.  I love what it teaches.  I love what it inspires me to do and be.  But one thing I don't love about being a Mormon is the deceptive idea that all Mormons (especially Mormon women) embrace - or should embrace - some things that really aren't part of our church doctrine.

Our church teaches us the importance of family, but that doesn't mean we all strive for large families.  We're not all conservative - politically or otherwise. We're not all white and middle class.  We don't all sew and scrapbook and bake bread.  We don't dress the same or like the same music or enjoy the same activities. Sharing the same faith, church leaders and ideology doesn't mean we share the same hobbies or get the same answers from the Lord about what is uniquely right for us and for our families.

Anyway, I was SO excited when my dear friend, Neylan McBaine (who helped me start CareerMothers which merged into Power of Moms) recently started a wonderful website called the Mormon Women Project.  Neylan and her team of excellent interviewers have talked with scores of wonderful Mormon Women about their choices, their challenges and their faith.  Each week, a new interview is posted.

I've loved reading about the lives of valiant Mormon women who've faced a huge variety of challenges and made very different choices in their lives while sharing the same religion.  I love that the website seems to say "it's OK - no wonderful - to be different and it's so great to learn about each other and embrace our sameness and our differences."

I was interviewed by MWP a couple months back and my interview posted last week.  Check it out here if you like.  I think they did a great job with it.

Friday, August 06, 2010

The Beauty of Hard Work (and its rewards)

After working hard for over 6 months, Ashton earned enough money to buy the Lego Mindstorm he's been drooling over for ages.  The thing cost almost $300.  He saved all his Christmas and birthday money and did tons of chores around the house plus dog walking and every other random job anyone would throw his way (he made these great "10-year-old for hire" fliers and passed them out around the neighborhood).  He shopped the Internet carefully to find the very best deal.  Then last night, the cherished item arrived on our doorstep!  Oh joy!

There's nothing like getting something you really really want after working really really hard for it! (see proud brother Isaac looking on - sorry I didn't get him in the photo better...)

Ashton's already built several different robots with the set (one that senses colors, one that shoots balls...seriously cool stuff) and all the kids have been totally engrossed in watching him work.  He's been very generous to involve his siblings (while being very protective of every little piece - amazing how well you take care of things you really feel ownership of).  I'm amazed at the complex electronic things this kid of mine can somehow figure out how to build.  He's definitely got a big piece of his dad's engineering prowess in him.


We're all so excited and happy for Ashton.

To read a post on Ashton's blog on how he feels about working for what he wants, click here.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Home

Ahhhhh...  How nice it is to be home!  We missed our Krawnchie Boo.  Our house looks so big and quiet and clean (after sharing a house with 30 other people for a month).  Our own beds feel so wonderful.

The twins had a great doctor appointment in SLC for their "toe-walking" and we feel good about the prognosis - do some "serial casting" and try to lengthen their Achilles tendons by putting on a new cast each week that stretches their tendons just a little more each time.  Then if that doesn't work, do a simple surgery.  They're so darn cute on their tip toes all the time - but it won't be so cute when they get older and they're still walking like ballerinas.  The doctors and nurses at Primary Children's Hospital were so cute with the boys.  I so appreciate it when people are so kind to my kids!

There are like a million things I need to do to catch up (a huge pile of mail, lots of voicemail to respond to, lots of new Joy Schools to help as they get started for the new school year, two new Power of Moms Retreats to finalize...) plus the kids start school next Wednesday so there's school uniform shopping and helping with Back to School Night and all that to do.

But this year, I'm going to be more balanced.  I WILL put more strict boundaries around the time that I spend on this computer and I'm going to enjoy my own motherhood more fully.  I really feel that I'm a much better mother as I think about and teach about how other's can find more purpose, joy and progress in motherhood - but sometimes I rob my own self and my own family when I get going on a consuming project.  I don't even see it happening until the stress really piles up.  I'm going to implement April's Mind Organization for Moms program more completely and do my own Bloom Game more regularly to keep stress at bay and keep myself more balanced in my accomplishments.  And I'm saying this here because it'll make me feel more accountable.  We're always more accountable when we share our goals with others!

So, in keeping with my resolutions, I just took a break and learned all about how they make CD's and DVD's (Oliver asked about this yesterday and I promised we'd look it up today) using this great You Tube clip.  Now Ashton's helping the other kids make a little movie that they'll burn onto a DVD so they can all learn more about how DVDs are made.  I love that they love to learn so much - and I want to be part of it.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Education Week Report


All my nine classes (yes, 9 different classes on 9 different topics) at Education Week really turned out pretty darn well. Of course I can think of tons of things I wish I'd said and done (as always), but overall, things seemed to come off quite nicely. People made great comments and were so appreciative and complimentary.  I met lots of really inspiring moms with great ideas and questions from all over the country.

An extra-cool thing was seeing lots of moms with little babies in our classes. They've always had a "no children of any age allowed" policy at Education Week - but after seeing moms passing off their nursing babies to husbands or friends last year so that they could attend bits and pieces of classes on motherhood, April and I talked to the administration about the idea of having a "Mom Track" this year where nursing babies are welcome (and where all the motherhood-related classes are grouped in the course manual and in one building so they're easy to find). It's so important that there be every possible opportunity for moms to be with other moms, learning, sharing and growing - and if some moms waited to every attend a motherhood workshop until they didn't have any nursing babies, they might be waiting a long, long time.  The idea caught on and it was fun to be part of the first "Mom Track" at BYUI Education Week! 

Here I am with April and Allyson, my wonderful Power of Moms friends who also presented as part of the Mom Track this year. It was great to get a few minutes of time with them between all the classes we were each teaching.




Here's what the kids and Jared were up to while I was off teaching classes:

Much to the kids' delight, Jared helped them build a great new treehouse in a spot where he and his little brother had built a treehouse long ago.  They were SO excited to show me the finished product when I got back from BYUI today.  I'm so glad Jared and the kids had so much fun together.  The kids really missed their dad while we were apart the last couple weeks.  He's such a great dad to them.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Greatest Birthday Ever

Wow. I'm feeling pretty loved. And pretty old. But that's OK.

I've got some very sneaky and NICE people in my family.

So I agreed long ago to spend my big fat birthday teaching classes on motherhood at BYUI Education Week because I really do love teaching and because I wanted to sort of avoid the whole birthday thing. I'd hoped that maybe my mom or one of my sisters might be able to come along to make it more fun. But it turned out that everyone had big things going on.  My mom needed to be there to get the Bear Lake house ready for renters arriving right on my birthday. My sister Shawni had her 20 year high school reunion on my birthday. Charity had her best friend's wedding shower on the 31st. Saydi had her little kids to tend to. Everyone had very good reasons why they couldn't come with me. And that was OK - sort of - I did maybe slightly mention (well, OK, I did get a bit obviously sad about it) that I wished someone could come with me since Jared and the kids wouldn't be able to be with me since I was teaching classes all day....

Well, bless their hearts, my sisters Charity and Saydi figured out how to squeeze in a trip up here to be with me on the big day. They (along with Saydi's kids) arrived here in Ashton Idaho (we've been staying at Jared's mom's house while I teach classes at BYU Idaho Education Week nearby) just as my birthday began (at 12:30am). I was so excited to see them! What a great birthday surprise.

The next morning, my sweet kids woke me up (not too early, thankfully) with a birthday song and cute cards and lots of hugs when I woke up. Jared made me a wonderful breakfast complete with a beautifully set table and lovely flowers and he had everyone go around the table and say what they love about me.







Then Saydi, Charity and I went on a beautiful walk to enjoy the green fields with cows and Tetons in the distance - so fun to share a place I love so much with people I love so much.


After our walk, I was wanting to hurry to get ready to go teach my classes but Saydi and Charity told me I'd better check my email first. I saw a few nice emailed birthday wishes - then I saw that there were all these birthday wishes on blog comments, clicked over to my blog and found the NICEST hacked post along with the biggest tear-jerker of a video ever. The tears are coming again just thinking about it! I've got some seriously thoughtful and kind and wonderful family members. I don't even know who all orchestrated the whole thing but I'm SO grateful. I don't know if I quite deserve so much praise and adoration - but I'll take it! I learned a lot about the specifics of what people think of me and it sure makes me feel good.

After enjoying the video and pulling myself together, we headed off to Rexburg so I could do my classes. Here's how the car looked:


My classes at Education Week went very well (largely due to having Charity and Saydi there on the front row to offer moral support plus lots of great comments that really helped my presentations. I so love presenting with family members!) After my 3 classes (I had 3 to teach each day), we got to go to a great devotional by Elder Bednar and an excellent workshop by my friend Allyson. My dear sisters helped everyone in all my classes know it was my birthday (they had all the people in my classes sing me happy birthday, made me wear a tiara, and my friend April brought balloons for all the class members to blow up and throw at me on cue). When classes were over, Jared brought all the kids (he took care of 7 kids all day - bless his heart - mine plus Saydi's - what a birthday present!) and we went out to dinner and said goodbye to Saydi and Charity who had to head back to Bear Lake.
Here we are happily waiting for our table 
And here's how it really looked and felt as we waited for our table...

After saying goodbye to my sisters, as we drove back to Jared's mom's house, one of my favorite songs came on - 1, 2, 3, 4 by the Plain White T's and the kids all started singing along as we drove into a beautiful orange sunset (yes, we were literally "riding off into the sunset"). As they sang, Ashton said, "Mom, we're singing this to you special for today" and then all the kids started singing extra loud with their cute little voices - "there's only 1 way 2 say 3 words 4 you - I love you...I'm so glad I found you. I love being around you...:"

Perfect end to a perfect day. How amazing blessed am I?!!!

It's SO beautiful here in Ashton right now - the grain is just starting to turn from green to gold.  Here's a shot from today:


Life is good.
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