Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Enjoying

Oliver's sitting here next to me singing the cutest song to his new stuffed pet pug:  "Puggy I love you yes I do, I love you, yes I do, I-I-I-I-I loooove you."  Now he's reading Puggy a story.  I think Santa brought a good gift.  And Silas is eagerly awaiting his chihuahua while Oliver lets him hold Puggy every time he asks. They'll both be so excited when the chihuahua shows up (today hopefully).  I can't get enough of these cute little kids lately!

We're back home and it's like Christmas all over again as the kids play with the fun presents they only had a few hours to play with before leaving them behind and heading up to Ashton for more presents.  I love the day or two after a Christmas trip when the kids are so totally enjoying their new toys and I can get caught up on some work in between some nice games and stories with the kids.

We're all a little sick and that's getting old.  Oliver came and slept with us last night.  He woke me up to tell me "I think I just swallowed some germs because my head is hot and my throat hurts."  Even at 4am, that was pretty funny.  I don't sleep well with a kid next to me - their squirming makes it hard to sleep and makes me worried about whether Jared's able to sleep because he's been going on very little sleep lately.  I love the idea of snuggling up and sleeping with a sweet little child but somehow it never really works out.

I'm so grateful for these few days to enjoy time together in our cozy new house.  The tree's still going strong (I think I'm a Home Depot tree convert - we got the most beautiful, freshest tree there this year!) and we've still got plenty of Christmas books to read together.  I'm with the Europeans - Christmas should go through the beginning of January at least.  We're doing a little outing each day to keep us all sane (the art museum down the street yesterday, the library and a few present returns today).  But mostly we're just enjoying each other and our home and our fun new things.  I've got SO much that needs to be done on this Power of Moms book and I was able to get a post done for our Motherhood Matters blog at the Deseret News.  But mostly, I'm trying to put off and delegate all that I can to enjoy this time with my kids - this time that will never come back.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Overview of Christmas

I'm sitting here at my husband's parents' house in Idaho. The boys are happily playing in the snow and Eliza went with all her girl cousins and some aunts to see the movie Tangled (she and her cousin brought their new Tangled dolls with them and were so thrilled about the whole thing). There's a half-assembled train set mixed with candy wrappers at my feet and my pants are feeling too tight thanks to all the treats.

Christmas was wonderful. We were tight on our budget thanks to all the expenses of moving, but it felt like everyone got everything they wanted and more (when your family comes from two huge families - Jared and I each have 8 siblings- there are always quite a lot of presents even if you buy almost nothing for your kids...).  Plus really, the best parts of Christmas don't have to do with presents - they have to do with treats.  Just kidding (sort of).  The best parts have to do with being together with the people you love and enjoying good times with them while you count your blessings.

Over the past week or so, we've played tons of games, opened a plethora of presents, attended a couple nice Christmas events, had great times with lots of relatives on both sides of the family, played in the snow, fed cows, participated in a couple Nativity plays, enjoyed catching up with tons of loved ones via Christmas cards and emails, and generally had a wonderful time. Sure, there were late nights involved and sure there were a few tears (what's Christmas without someone crying?).  But I think we all agreed that this was the best Christmas ever.  It's been a hard, hard year in so many ways and the past couple months have been truly crazy.  I guess the hard stuff makes the sweet stuff all the sweeter.

Here's the story of all our major Christmas activities in photos with a little explanation:

Movie Night
We kicked off the Christmas season by going to the wonderful new movie, Narnia with my parents and grandma (my dad read us all the Narnia books when we were kids so it's extra special to go with him).  We all LOVED the movie.  And we love that we're closer to Grandma Great now - we went to visit her in Logan a couple days after the movie and loved doing all the puzzles she made for her kids 60 years ago while talking about long-ago memories (she's lost her short-term memory but her long-term memory is great...).


Children for Children Evening
Our Children for Children evening turned out great.  We had 3 families come to our house and enjoyed watching some videos about orphans in Bulgaria and in Ghana (one of the families is adopting 2 little girls from  Ghana), enjoyed some great treats and all the kids pitched in money they'd earned from doing jobs around the house or selling stuff they don't use (One family had the great idea of taking extra stuff to Kid to Kid and giving the proceeds to the orphans).  We raised about $100 - not a ton, but it'll go a long way in Bulgaria and help make the orphans more comfortable this winter.  And it was great to see the looks of compassion on the kids' faces as they watched the videos and asked questions about these unfortunate kids.  I'm so glad we made the effort to at least do something little this year and spend an evening really focusing on those who are less fortunate.

The kids got their new Christmas Sunday clothes the Sunday before Christmas.


The Nutcracker
My parents treated Liza and I to the Nutcracker at the beautiful Capitol Theater in SLC.  Isaac got to tag along since we ended up with an extra ticket and since Ashton's got fun birthday stuff coming up and Isaac needed a little something extra.  We went out for a wonderful dinner and then, as we walked into the theater, a group of high school kids were singing and it totally took me back to the many Christmases when I was part of various singing groups and participated in those pre-ballet lobby shows.  Everything about the theater and the ballet itself was pretty much exactly the way it was when I went to see the Nutcracker as a kid.  I love those moments of deja vu and it was so fun to share it all with my kids.  Unfortunately Isaac got hit with aches and pains and a fever and horrible headache half way through the ballet - the flu.  But at least he enjoyed dinner and the first 1/2 of the ballet!  And luckily this nasty case of the flu proved to be just the 24 hour version.

Gingerbread houses - the easy way
We did our gingerbread houses.  This is not my favorite tradition but the kids just can't bear to leave it undone.  This year we tried making it simple by just using graham crackers and letting everyone make their own so there wouldn't be squabbles over design.  But you know what?  Gluing crumbly graham crackers together isn't that easy - especially when it comes to trying to get a candy-laden roof to not crash down the walls.  But the kids were thrilled with the objectively none-too-artistic but very tasty results.


Temple Square Lights
We headed down to SLC to enjoy the beautiful lights at Temple Square with two of Jared's brothers and their families - we lost a kid or two plus a glove or two in the throngs (found the kids, not the gloves, oh well).  So fun to be with family (although the star of the evening was definitely Connie and Bruce and Rachel's new chihuahua who was nestled under Connie's coat - the twins were SO excited about her).  I was glad to see that the kids remembered going on a tour there a few months ago and it was great to hear Oliver and Silas beg to "go see the big Jesus who wants to hug us" (the big Christus statue in the visitors' center).



We had a great party with my dad's mom and sibling and all their kids and grandkids at the old favorite, Maddox in Brigham City.  Lots of memories of events there as well.  Such great people.  Forgot to take photos.  Oh well.

Nativity
Then my parents came home to Ogden with us and we did our Nativity Scene - always one of my very favorite parts of Christmas.  There's nothing like the loving faces of my sweet children in the light of the Christmas tree as they pass around the Baby Jesus and as we all sing our favorite Christmas carols with love and reverence.

 




Then we opened our Christmas PJs and headed to bed.


Christmas Morning #1
The next morning, we did all the fun traditions I grew up with on Christmas Eve with my parents - the kids sang on the stairs to wake us up (Ashton added the nice touch of recorded accompaniment from the electric piano - they sounded pretty amazing!), we opened the fun presents from Grammie and Grandfather and the kids happily played with their presents while my mom and I made the traditional eggs benedict, and we had each child give their carefully selected gifts to each other (always a favorite part of Christmas for me to see kids delight in giving the things they've saved up for, picked out and wrapped on their own to each other).

Singing on the stairs:


All ready to open up their gifts!


The twins were SO excited about a set of 1700 legos!   I remember my mom saying one time, after stepping on a left-out lego for the 1000th time (those legos are SHARP under bare feet) that legos were no longer allowed in our house.  And here she is giving them to my boys.  Not sure how much I'm going to love those 1700 small pieces all over the house but these boys love building so much it's worth it.

A magic set for Ashton - he's put on about 10 pretty impressive magic shows for us so far.

Tech decks for Isaac (who wanted a skateboard or rip stick from Santa and is so into this sort of thing).  He played with it for like 3 hours straight and found that the ramps work great for launching monster trucks and Hotwheels cars as well.
  
A fabulous magnetic paper doll set for Eliza.

The kids worked for like 2 whole days on this special book they made for Grammie and Grandfather.  They each wrote about some of the special activities my parents do with them, drew illustrations and then we got some photos to go with each section to further illustrate the fun and wonderful things my parents are always doing with them.  They were SO excited to give this gift to Grammie and Grandfather.  And Grammie and Grandfather were thrilled and had each kid read their parts to them.

Mom and I made the Eggs Benedict - or cholesterol extravaganza as my mom likes to call it.  Worth those calories though - yum, yum, yum.  Made me appreciate my old large kitchen but we made it all work in this lovely little new kitchen.

The kids so carefully picked out thoughtful gifts for each other with their hard-earned money at the dollar store. 

The heart-felt "thank you's" and hugs are so beautiful.

Liza used all the points she earned for doing well on stuff at school to "buy" this special book for Oliver called "Ollie's New Tricks" - she was SO excited that it said his name on the cover and that it was an easy reader so he could read it himself.  She just couldn't hold back from helping him open it.

My parents gave us the very exciting gift of a Kindle!  I'm excited to be able to indulge in one of my favorite activities a lot more without having to find the time to get to the bookstore or library to get books.

After opening most of our presents, we packed up quickly and headed up to Ashton, Idaho to be with Jared's family for a lovely Christmas Eve dinner, another fun Nativity scene with cousins, and all the fun of Santa presents and stockings the next morning in the beautiful winter wonderland of Ashton (after all the blizzards when we first moved in in Odgen, there wasn't a bit of snow for Christmas so we were glad to get up here and have the white Christmas we'd been hoping for).   The kids were delighted with their presents from Santa.  Sadly, one of Silas's presents from Santa fell off the sleigh on the trip and it'll hopefully be waiting for him when we get back to Odgen.  There were a few tears shed before we successfully redirected Silas to the exciting train set he and Oliver requested from Santa.  I guess with all those presents Santa has to transport, there's bound to be a few casualties.  Silas was really pretty understanding about the whole thing.

A fun Nativity play with cousins in Ashton.  So great to do it all again with new people.

Christmas Morning #2
Ready to head up and see what Santa brought!
 Santa's offerings for the year:

Ashton got a "totally totally awesome dune buggy that can go 0-60 in just a few seconds."

"Best stocking stuff ever"

Oliver got his own pet pug that never has to be fed or taken on walks.  He promptly named him "Puggy Huggy" and kindly shared him with Silas who only cried for a few minutes when he saw Santa's note explaining that the stuffed chihuahua that was meant for him had fallen off Santa's sleigh and would have to be delivered to Odgen in a couple days.    



Since Silas's own chihuahua didn't show up, the twins were extra glad to have Lilly to play with - that sweet little dog was so patient with them!

Santa brought Isaac the rip stick he'd been dreaming of - and he's already almost mastered that tricky thing - even though he could only practice in Grandma's kitchen thanks to all the snow.

Eliza got the very Madame Alexander doll she's been admiring and named her Susan.  She hasn't left her side since Christmas morning.  I love that I have a sweet little girl who enjoys dolls just like I did when I was little.


The twins got the train set they've been talking about for months and all the little boys played with it practically non-stop for days.



Lots of fun with cousin Logan's new DS: 

The girls heading out to see the movie Tangled with Aunt Michelle (and others who wouldn't get in the picture!): 

The kids did lots of snowmobile riding and playing in the snow.  We were so glad to get ourselves a white Christmas!  Crazy that after being dumped on like crazy when we first moved to Ogden, there was hardly any snow to be seen on Christmas Eve there.

Along with the Santa gifts, the kids got to open their presents from Grandma and from the cousins who were here with them.  They got some really great stuff and all the cousins had so much fun playing all day with all their new things.  We ate tons, played games, I downloaded lots of exciting samples on our new Kindle and had a great time helping the twins put together cool stuff with the new building toys they got.  I love just playing, playing, playing and being right down on the floor with my kids.

A big highlight was heading out to feed all the cows.  It's a Loosli family tradition to take care of all the feeding of the cows during the holidays so that the farm hands can have a break.  We sit on top of huge hay bales on a trailer pulled by a tractor and toss out chunks of hay to all the eagerly following cows.  Wow, it's beautiful riding out over those fields.  And the deep red of the cattle with their nice furry winter coats is so pretty against the snow.  Yeah, we all get covered in hay dust which isn't totally pleasant, but it's all good.I'm so very glad we've got this farm to come to!

  




Here in Ashton, we've eaten tons of good food and played lots of great games.  Everyone played "Minute to Win It" together until late last night and we had some great laughs watching people try to do everything from stack cups to get a bunch of jingle bells out of a tissue box strapped to their rear end by dancing around like crazy.  The Loosli family sure knows how to have a good time.

Here are Michael, Liza and Bruce trying to move a cookie from their foreheads into their mouths using only their facial muscles - good stuff.


We're catching up on sleep a little bit and having a nice mellow day today.  Life is good.  Christmas is wonderful.  Forgetting about everything but fun times and love and eating and sleeping for 3 days is good medicine for a person like me who doesn't do that enough.

Winter is beautiful.  White Christmases with loved ones all around are beautiful.  Life is good.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Our 2010 Christmas Card

Here's our Christmas card for the year.  Thanks for caring enough to read this blog!  Merry Christmas.
Loosli Family Adventures - 2010
2010 brought our family plenty of adventures - large and small.  Good thing we like adventures!  Here's a summary:
New Job Adventures:
After spending the first 1/2 of the year marketing his award-winning Cool Cab project while completely rebuilding The Power of Moms website, Jared got a great opportunity to become the Chief Technology Officer for an exciting nationwide property mangement company in Odgen, Utah.  He's been able to restructure some things and get the company poised for a lot more growth.  He's really enjoying this new adventure.
Weekend Adventures: 
For the first half of the year, we filled our Saturdays with hiking and biking.  We all made it to the top of Zion's Angel's Landing, enjoyed doing the Narrows again, and the whole family had some great times mountain biking (the twins got rid of their training wheels and rapidly became pretty amazing little bikers).  Then starting in August, we spent our weekends traveling to be with each other while Jared worked in Odgen and Saren and the kids were still in St George.
Surgery Adventure:
Sadly, as Jared enjoyed one last mountain bike ride before moving, he took a bad fall and shattered his elbow.  Two weeks after having a surgeon wire bits of bone back together and staple up his arm, he somehow managed the feat of moving his family to a new home using only one arm (with lots of help from dear friends).  His arm is healing nicely and we're so grateful it wasn't worse!
House Hunting and Moving Adventures:
We spent lots of time researching options and ultimatey decided to rent our house in St George and buy a new house (well actually, quite an old house - built in 1896 but completely restored) in Odgen.  As is often the case, everything was way more complicated than anticipated but ultimately we found some great renters, negotiated a decent price on the new house, packed up our house in St George, drove through a horrendous snow storm with our moving truck, and arrived in Odgen only to find that we couldn't close on our new house in the timeframe promised.  But we fanagled a way into the house and finally got all the last details taken care of.
After a couple months of serious stress and packing and unpacking and working on tons of house-related projects, we're now quite comfortably and happily settled. We've gone from rural to urban, from new to old, from known to unknown.  We're embracing change and counting our blessings that we can be back together again as a family.
Traveling Adventures: 
This year's trips included attending the big bull sale at the Loosli farm in Ashton (the kids got to watch a baby calf get born and loved the excitement of the cattle auction), spring break in the LA area (beach trips and museums combined with synergistic business meetings), a trip to New England for Saren and Eliza (we promised all the kids a trip to our old stomping grounds when they get to be 7 or 8 so it was Eliza's turn this year), and our regular summer vacations including great times with scores of relatives at Bear Lake and at the Loosli Farm.
Business-Building Adventures:
Saren spent pretty much every non-kid-focused and non-moving-focused minute working on The Power of Moms (in tandem with her partner, April Perry and with tons of help from Jared) and was able to conduct three weekend Retreats for mothers (in St George, in Boston and in California), recruit and train a great group of moms to help run the site and help conduct trainings around the country, see the Learning Circles program take off, spearhead the writing of a compilation of essays for mothers (to be published fall 2011), help start a new column/blog for the Deseret News, and see the Power of Moms website grow to 40,000 users. She's loved connecting with and learning from other mothers and helping them learn from each other - but she's hoping that 2011 will bring lots more exciting growth for The Power of Moms without requiring so much of her time and energy!
Kids' Adventures:
The kids are all really enjoying their new school and the adventures involved in making new friends.  They had a wonderful first 1/2 of the school year at their beloved school in St George where they were blessed with great friends and excellent teachers.  We'll all miss the Spanish immersion program (especially Eliza who is the most fluent) and the music program at the kids' school in St George but we're excited that the new school offers some Spanish instruction every day and we'll seek out some good music lessons.  The kids are all great climbers, bikers and hikers and we've been so proud of the way they've jumped right into to make new friends and participate in new things at their new church and school.  Here are some individual highlights (sure, there were plenty of issues but we'll just share the good stuff here...):
  • Ashton (10): Inventor, musician, resident technology expert.  Worked HARD to earn $300 to buy a Lego Mindstorm and then spent every free moment building and programming some pretty amazing robots.  Taught himself some great songs on the keyboard and won the school talent contest.  Read all the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books (and about 100 other books - got in trouble for reading too much at school and at home...).  Created an arrangement of the song "What I've Done" by Linkin Park for xylophones and played it with a friend at a school concert.
  • Isaac (9): Hard-worker, friend to everyone (especially babies), always helpful.  Took first in the school science fair for his project on friction.  Finally decided that reading can be fun thanks to the beautiful book Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. Won a state-wide poetry contest and had his poem featured in an anthology.  Did a great job in the school choir and orffestra plus enjoyed playing violin.
  • Eliza (7): Artist, writer, teacher, lover of all things beautiful.  Produced about 1000 works of art and wrote 100's of pages of stories, essays and journal entries in both English and Spanish.  Taught the twins to read and explains things so well to them.  Adored her visit to Wellesley College and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts as well as every other part of her much-anticipated Boston trip.
  • Oliver (5): Dog-lover, puzzle-lover, reader, builder.  Loves to build with magnets and with K'nex.  Can do a 150-piece puzzle in just a few minutes.  Knows all about different dog breeds and insists on petting every dog we encounter.  Loves reading and being read to (like Silas).  Loves kindergarten.
  • Silas (5): Panda-lover, transformer-lover, reader, artist.  Loves to play with transformers.  Plays imaginative games all day with Oliver.  Loves to learn about everything from how cars are made to the habits of panda via YouTube videos.  Gives me about 200 hugs a day.  Loves kindergarten.
If you've made it this far, thanks for caring.  We wish you all the best for the coming year!
May 2011 bring us all less stress and more joy (a Power of Moms tagline) - alongside plenty of adventures!
Love, The Looslis

Friday, December 17, 2010

Traditions that Matter

Wow, there are a lot of really fun traditions you can do at Christmas!  But, wow, they can really take over your life and sometimes the very things that were planned to bring more joy to the season can become joy-suckers. 

I'm grateful to have a pretty good excuse to keep Christmas simple this year.  We just moved in.  We don't know a lot of neighbors and friends here who might hope for or deliver Christmas goodies.  I haven't had time to shop for anything other than shelving and hardware and curtains and now that the kids are out of school, I don't think there will be much shopping going on. 

In general, we're blessed with pretty easy Christmas lists anyway.  Both of our families draw names so Jared and I need to get one present for someone on each side of our families plus our parents - that's always the hardest - and the kids each buy for one cousin plus saving up for dollar-store gifts for each other.  Santa brings one gift plus stocking stuffers.  The kids get a gift from each grandparent plus a cousin.  I used to get them a few gifts each but then they get too much and can't even seem to enjoy that much at once.  So now Jared and I just give them some clothes that they need and they still get 4 toys (one from Santa, 2 from grandparents, 1 from a cousin). 

Most of the people we love won't get presents from us this Chirstmas - or probably any Christmas.  I hope they'll still love us and I hope the heartfelt emails we'll send off will help them know of our love for them plus we'll give gifts and do acts of service for those we love throughout the year - does it really have to be at Christmas?  I have friends who really love doing Christmas gifts for friends at Christmas, who have a real knack for coming up with perfect gifts, who are talented with crafting lovely things, who find joy in preparing and giving wonderful gifts.  But that's not me.  I'm a terrible gift giver.  I analyze and worry nonstop about each gift and all my misery and the time-pressure involved doesn't seem to result in gifts that really matter much to anyone most of the time. 

As I've thought about what to find time for this Christmas and what to set aside, I've realized that there are a lot of Christmas traditions that have snuck in on us over the years that don't really matter and ought to be crossed off my list quite permanently.
  • Taking our kids to Christmas performances (other than the ones their in) is best limited to maybe one really special thing for only the kids who would really enjoy it.  I tried taking the boys to the Nutcracker last year - good experience for them, not one that needs to be repeated anytime soon (they must have whispered to me 20x, "when will this be over?")  Liza and I are going with my parents this year and the boys will be just fine hanging out with Jared.  A ballet every few years should do it for them.  
  • Making a gingerbread house from scratch is a big fat pain (I thought it would be so cool but it actually turned out to be way too much work and a big fight over all the decorative elements).  The kids are way excited to make and decorate their own little houses out of graham crackers this coming week.
  • Taking treats to neighbors sort of happened as a guilt-respose to the treats being delivered to us.  It was fine when we just had a few neighbors we knew but it got out of control over the years.  We love getting treats but we limit our treat-giving quite a bit.  It was refreshing when we started our Children for Children concert tradition and invited all our neighbors and friends to come eat treats at our house and to give a donation to help orphans rather than giving us any treats or gifts.
Children for Children Concert
Speaking of Children for Children, last year was the BEST (read about the prep and causes we supported here and the results here if you want) but I thought that perhaps it might not happen this year.  Even though it's one of our most meaningful Christmas traditions, it's also one of our most complicated and stressful and time-consuming traditions.  But when the kids asked about when we were going to do it and insisted that we do SOMETHING for the orphans this year, I had to agree.  So we're having the 3 families that we've met so far come over tonight to share favorite Christmas treats and watch a video about needy children in Bulgaria (check out the video here if you want - I'm actually in it from when I went to help in the orphanages when I was pregnant with the twins - One Heart Bulgaria was started by my mission companions and donations go directly to really meeting these sweet kids' needs).  All the kids will pitch in whatever money they'd like to donate to help these kids.  And while we won't raise nearly as much money as we have with our big concerts in the past, we'll be caring and sharing and keeping this important part of Christmas alive.

Christmas Stories
Another tradition that we're protecting is reading Christmas stories by the Christmas tree each evening.  And this year, with few parties and committments, we've been able to do it much better than in the past.  There is nothing like cuddling with my sweet children with the Christmas tree lights aglow and reading beautifully written and illustrated books that celebrate both the true meaning of Christmas and the magical fun of Santa.  Each year, I've sought out the best Chrstmas books to add to our collection (and sometimes I've totally scored at after-Christmas 1/2 price sales).  Here are our current favorites (people have asked in the past and I'm finally getting around to this - so this list is my little Christmas gift to you - if you want it!).
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (a short chapter book I LOVE - great for ages 5 and up)
  • Santa Claus by Rod Green (so magical - it shares all Santa's secrets in a beautiful book)
  • A Shepherd's Gift by Mary Calhoun
  • The Christmas Rose by William H. Hooks (this one and the one above are about children who visited the Christ child and they're great for helping kids really get into the story of the first Christmas)
  • The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by Julie Lane (a chapter book that shares a beautiful story about how Santa became Santa - not in print anymore but you can find it used)
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (simplified versions for younger kids, great chapter read-aloud for big kids)
  • Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo (one of my very favorites by one of my favorite children's authors - teaches empathy and caring, has really lovely illustrations)
So anyway, to sum up my ramblings, I'm realizing that if the fun and meaningful quotient of a tradition is lower than the stress, guilt and time quotient of a tradition, that tradition needs to be re-examined, pared down and perhaps eliminated.

So there are my thoughts for the day!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New column and serious POWER for 2011

With huge help from April and our great friend Allyson, our new blog/column on The Deseret News was somehow launched in the midst of my move.  I seem to have this habit of moving stuff forward to a certain point and then getting totally overwhelmed and needing to pass them off to some degree.  But with both this Deseret News project and our book project, great people have stepped up to help in a timely manner and things go forward beautifully even when I can't help with them as much as I'd like.  I love seeing how our Power of Moms work has attracted some truly amazing women who have jumped on board at just the right times to make exciting new things happen!

Anyway, take a minute to check out the new blog here.  This month we're focusing each of our 3 posts a week on one of the "12 Powers of Motherhood" that will become the backbone of the Power of Moms website this coming year. 

Moving forward, on the Deseret News and on our website, we'll be focusing on one "power" of motherhood each month through great articles and resources.  Plus this book we're chipping away at (and that we gathered tons of great stuff for with our writing contest last week) will feature a chapter on each of these powers so it can be used as a 12-month program for becoming the mother you want to be, as part of a Learning Circle group or just on your own or however you want to use the book.

Think of the power of 1000's of moms everywhere focusing on one aspect of motherhood each month as they share their best ideas!  I know I do better when I focus on one thing at a time and I'm excited to make this coming year a year of truly growing as a mother and as a person as I focus on the universally embraced themes we've been able to develop - stuff like increasing patience, creating more balance and boundaries, enjoying the moments, embracing more fun, becoming more optimistic...  Check out all 12 monthly themes here if you want.  Get excited!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Old things that have become new favorites

We've been here 3 weeks now.  It's generally gone by in a blur of hard work and errands and driving kids to and from school (I get to drive to the school 3x a day thanks to 1/2 day Kindergarten).  But we're feeling pretty settled and we've got all the most urgent things done - including getting our Christmas tree and decorating it on Saturday.  This house looks so lovely all dressed up for Christmas!

Last week I PLANNED to slow down - and we did, slightly.  But our somewhat short list of somewhat urgent projects ended up taking longer than planned and a lot of late nights were involved.  This week we really can slow down and start really enjoying this great new home.  And I've got lots more great photos to post - sometime - after I get Silas to the doctor for an ear infection, take care of a conference call and treat myself to reading at least one section of the entries for our Power of Moms writing contest tonight after Family Home Evening. I'm still WAY behind on tons of stuff but I'll just chip away at things and do what I can.  And remember my new mantra: Slow down, enjoy, chip away, leave some things undone - and go to bed on time!

Before I forget my first impressions, here are some of my favorite things about this house with some starter photos.


1. New wake-up view.  I miss my glowing red mountain view that I used to wake up to every morning.  But I really love the view of the beautiful steeple of the Baptist church across the street that is now framed perfectly by the beautiful old windows in my bedroom when I wake up.  The church reminds me to pray and it reminds me of New England and it makes me happy.  And I love the patterns of squares cast by the classic street lamp in front of my house onto the walls of our bedroom as we fall asleep at night.  We did finally get bedroom curtains, but I have to keep them open partially so I can still enjoy that steeple and those squares I've grown quite attached to.


2.  I've always had this dream of a beautiful staircase to decorate for Christmas and thanks to this house and my mom's extra garlands, my dream has come true.


3.  I love the stained glass windows on the stairs.

4.  A home for some old "friends."  Much of the antique furniture I begged my parents to buy and even helped earn the money to buy back when I was a kid and was obsessed with old stuff and history has found its perfect home in this house.  Last Saturday, my parents met us at their old house in SLC and helped Jared and I load up a UHaul trailer with furniture that was being stored in that house (the house is rented out now).  It's heavenly to have dressers and my big old wardrobe so we have places to put things.  But more than anything, it's wonderful to have these pieces of furniture I've always loved right here in my home - they're like old friends.  Several pieces we found back when we lived in England my junior year of high school.  Who would have guessed they'd find their perfect home here in Odgen?  

I found this wardrobe at an antique warehouse in London and begged to get it since my room in SLC was closet-less and it was 150 pounds (like $225 at the time).  My dad agreed to get this piece plus a ton of other great stuff including the really nice 300 year old drop leaf table in the photo under this one, a little old pew from an English Sunday School that became our family's "repenting bench" (I'll explain it sometime - but anyone who's read my parents books or heard their speeches about helping kids resolve their own conflicts will understand) and a cool English letterbox that we used as our mailbox for years in SLC.  

Here's the dresser I saved up for when I was 14.  My dad helped me pick it out at an antique fair the day my brother Eli ended up being born.  It makes a great 2nd vanity in the huge master bath that only had one tiny vanity installed (except that those 100 year old drawers don't slide all that well...).

5.  I love all the beautifully restored original windows in this house (lots of examples in the photos above).

6.  I love this one original door knob and the details on the old original window hardware - people used to put so much effort and time into these things!  And I love that there are one or two original doors and the beautiful original carving on the main staircase.  A lot of stuff was totally trashed in this house thanks to many years of being divided into 4 low-income apartments - but I'm so grateful they were able to save and restore some essential details.  I sure wish we had mantles but someday we'll find some that will work well here.




7.  I love that the church across the street plays songs on the bells in it's clock tower on Sunday mornings - it's just such a cool sound.

8.  I love that we live in such a down-to-earth place.  This place feels "real."  Our development in the Cliffs was so beautiful and well-kept that it felt like a resort - like a place you visit but don't really live.  I did so love it there.  But somehow, this house and neighborhood feels more like a real home.

9.  The people here seem really down-to-earth as well.  No pretenses.  Just nice people from lots of backgrounds who care about this neighborhood and about making the community great.  We miss our old friends a lot.  But we're so happy to have already found some great people we feel comfortable with right off the bat.  The kids have found some really nice friends right here in the neighborhood.  And there's some good people-watching right outside our front windows - there's a slow but pretty steady parade of all types of people waking by - a guy twirling a baton, a girl lugging a huge cello, some shuffling teenagers with their pants falling down, a mom with kids in a stroller...

10.  It's sort of nice to have cold weather.  Never thought I'd say this one since I've never really been a fan of the cold.  But  there's nothing like the warmth of being inside by the fire on a cold winter's day.  And I'm realizing that I always felt pressure to be outside enjoying the weather on the near-constant nice days in St George.  I felt guilty not to be out on bike rides with the kids or hiking when it was nice.  I always feel like I have to make the most of everything.  So here, it's actually quite relaxing to feel like there's no reason to be outside and I can just focus on everything that has to be done inside - no guilt.

11.  There's a gas fireplace in the dining room and one in the living room - really nice ones.  And we can have instant coziness with the flip of a switch in the areas where we spend the most time as a family.  Perfect!


12.  I'm getting tons of exercise going up and down all these stairs.  This house is going to keep me in great shape!  Not to mention all the box lifting and furniture moving.  Plus all the stress involved in moving and the months of not really eating much because there just wasn't time between being a single mom and juggling 100 other things.  I got on the scale for the first time in ages yesterday and voila!  I've lost 12 pounds.  That's a nice silver lining.  I had noticed my pants were seeming pretty baggy.

13.  I love that we have a back staircase going from the kitchen up to the laundry room on the second floor.  I don't know why but I always thought that having a back staircase would be so cool.  And it does make it so nice and easy to run up or downstairs without having to go far for a staircase.



14.  I love the paint colors.  It's uncanny how perfectly all our stuff - our bedding, our rugs, our furniture - matches perfectly with the colors that were already on the walls of this house.  The paint colors are one of the reasons this house just felt like our house already the first time we walked in.  I LOVE color and the colors here are amazingly similar to the ones I painstakingly chose for our house in St George.  But they look so different in this setting and it's fun to see my favorite wall colors in a new setting.




15.  The front doors are beautiful and I love how much light they let into the front entryway.  I love that we have a front entryway - a nice big grand one - always wanted one of those.  Plus I love that we have a nice big front porch.


16.  The kids have their own floor - the 3rd floor has a nice big playroom at the top of the stairs, a bathroom and 3 bedrooms, each painted the perfect colors for the bedding and artwork we already had for the kids.  The kids are so excited about their fun attic area and we're excited they have a place to spread out their stuff and do their own thing.

To keep this real, there are plenty of hard things - here are a few:
  • All those flights of steep stairs can get old.
  • Having our neighbors' houses just a few feet away on either side isn't my favorite thing - I'm not sure why they built houses SO close together 100 years ago - surely there wasn't really a shortage of space back then???
  • The water heater isn't working great so we've had some challenging shower situations.  
  • The beautiful old windows aren't exactly insulated so they radiate some pretty serious cold at times.
  • The kitchen seems to have missed out on some insulation and/or some needed heat vents and it's pretty darn cold in there.  
  • The basement leaks a little.  
  • There's no garage and while I'm OK with cold in some ways, heading out into the backyard to a freezing car covered with snow isn't totally fun.  
  • The storage space is still a little scimpy even with all the dressers and other storage furniture we were able to add and the shelving and hooks we've put into the few closets.  
  • Despite Jared and I putting in many hours a day working on stuff for 3 weeks, there are still tons of things that need to be fixed - some small and some quite huge (baseboard and casing that is missing, an old clawfoot bathtub that needs to be refinished, backyard fencing in serious disrepair, back yard landscaping non-existent, exterior brick needs refurbishing badly, paint touch-up, more curtains to be found and installed, woodwork throughout the house needs a finish coat...)  
But you know what?  This is really feeling like home and we know we're supposed to be here.  And we'll just keep chipping away at things.  Life is good.

More photos coming soon!
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