I spent last weekend in heaven. I was with eight of my very favorite women enjoying great conversation, warm sunshine, beautiful scenery, art, music, dance, relaxation, great food and lots of laughter. Does it get any better than that?
Every year, my wonderful mom gathers all her daughters and daughters-in-law for a weekend of what we call MFME (Mothers and Future Mothers of Eyrealm). We meet in a different place each year (we've done San Francisco, St George, Park City, Virginia, NYC, and even Italy). Mom plans great discussion sessions on topics that help us explore how we can be the best mothers, wives and people that we can be. We eat great food (and always have some chocolate chip cookies - Eyres are huge cookie fans). We talk about the best things and hardest things about our past year. We often discuss a book we all read before coming (this year it was The Good Earth by Pearl Buck). We usually have a nursing baby along (and that baby gets lots of extra attention!) and someone is usually pregnant. We visit art galleries and usually go to a cultural event (I love how my mom shared her passion for art and culture with us and now we all enjoy these things so much together - gladly all our sisters in law seem to enjoy this stuff also - probably at least partly because my mom's love for art and music and culture was passed on to all her children so her sons naturally picked women to marry who also appreciate these things...).
So past weekend we met up in southern California for three and a half wonderful days of MFME. We visited the Getty Museum (I've been longing to go there with my mom and sisters ever since I first went there many years ago - I LOVE how that place combines amazing architecture, beautiful gardens that showcase God's best art, and lovely smallish excellent collections of just about every sort of art.) We went to see the Bolshoi Ballet perform lovely and thought-provoking pieces with amazing talent. We went running on the beach and did yoga overlooking the ocean. We talked about creating more margins in our lives and take better care of ourselves that way (thanks, Saydi), how to take great care of our husbands, what books and movies everyone ought to read and see, our patriarchal blessings and how they've affected our lives, the beautiful diversity of our church and how we can help foster more understanding on small and larger scales, and each of our biggest disasters and greatest joys from this past year (plus lots more). We ate leisurely meals with no kid interruptions. We sat by the pool and drank in the sun.
We even somehow found ourselves driving down Rodeo Drive late one night with "Party in the USA" cranked up and all of us hanging out the sun roof and windows of Kristi's brand spanking new minivan dancing around and laughing so hard we were crying. I'm sure we were quite a sight - a bunch of moms, one of them totally pregnant (Saydi), showing a distinct lack of dancing ability, singing loud but forgetting most of the words, and hanging out of a minivan. Wow. We are awesome.
Anyway, it was a truly wonderful weekend. I'm so grateful to my mom for starting this tradition and somehow plowing through the complications of 9 different schedules and needs of women who live in 9 different parts of the country and have 20 young children and 100's of different opinions and needs (lots of chiefs and very few Indians in this group...).
Here are some photos of the weekend. Other people took lots of other pictures but we haven't all shared photos yet so there are lots of things that I don't have in photos yet - but I'm sure my mom and Shawni and Saydi will post more photos on their blogs if you want more.
Look familiar to anyone? We held our Power of Moms September retreat at this same location. Randomly, when my mom was looking for a good deal on a nice place to stay, Aja found a special at this hotel and they got it booked. When they announced the location I was so excited to go back to such a great place - and not to have to be in charge of training and creating a great experience for 30 other women this time - so great to go back and just enjoy the place.
Power of Moms Retreats pretty much grew out of MFME. As we saw the rejuvenation and power that resulted from us getting together for MFME each year, we wished all moms could have an opportunity like this. So my mom and sisters and I plus some friends started running Retreats for friends and friends of friends back in 2005 and the concept has taken off. Now Power of Moms runs Retreats and we've got 4 Retreats set up for this spring (so far - I'm sure more will be planned). We've got twenty-two certified Power of Moms trainers setting up workshops and Retreats across the country (and around the world - we're working on training some trainers in Japan and Australia...). I wish for wonderfully fun and meaningful weekends like I just had for all the moms out there - and I'm doing all I can to help make that wish come true!