Saturday, May 28, 2011

School's Out

Quite suddenly, school is out.  In the midst of Retreat details over the last couple of weeks, I guess I sort of lost track of the fact that school was going to be out right after the May Retreat was over.

Usually we've had pretty solid plans for June once school gets out (I did day-camps for the kids and all their friends for a couple years, we've had lists of fun activities and learning adventures drawn up, we've had swimming lessons, etc.).  Then we go to Ashton Idaho to spend time on the farm with all the Looslis and enjoy the wonderful small-town festivities for the 4th of July there before heading up to Bear Lake for my family reunion that starts around the 6th.  Then the kids and I stay on through July at Bear Lake with Shawni and Saydi and their kids plus whoever else can fit extra Bear Lake time in their schedule.

But this year, school got out before we made June plans and Jared and Ashton will be in DC for the 4th of July for the wonderful cousin-fest that Jared's sister Michelle does for all her nieces and nephews in the vicinity of 12 years old (and a few sibling chaperones - Jared and his brother Brian get to go this year).  So we're trying to figure out the 4th of July plans for this year for the rest of us and working on how to make the most of June.

I had these big plans in the back of my head that maybe this would be the summer that we'd drive across the country to see all the church history sites and visit all our family on the East Coast (this trip is on our family vision board and we've all talked about it for years).  The kids are at such perfect ages and Jared's work schedule is very flexible which is rare.  But finances are tight and with the DC tickets already bought for Jared and Ashton and my family reunion happening soon after the 4th, the drive across the country thing just isn't going to work out this year.

Anyway, we did some brainstorming this morning and came up with some fun ideas for making June wonderful and we'll probably extend a lot of this into July when we'll be at Bear Lake.  Here are our basic weekly and daily plans and we brainstormed a long list of exciting activities to go with the daily themes.  We all got excited.  This will be a wonderful summer!

General Weekly Schedule
  • Make-it Monday (arts and crafts, make up a play, build stuff with legos and k'nex, etc)
  • Take-a-Trip Tuesday (field trip - everything from walking to the pioneer museum downtown to biking to a fun water park nearby to taking the train to SLC to go to museums there)
  • Wet Wednesday or Wacky Wednesday (swimming, sprinklers, or something crazy and fun)
  • Thinking Thursday (read-a-thons, science experiments, do fun math, play thinking games, look up stuff from our "wondering list" on youtube)
  • Friend Friday (get together with friends - schedule play dates)
Daily:

  • physical activity (biking, walking downtown, running, playing sports at the park a block away)
  • reading (30 minutes each day)
  • write in journal
  • practicing a skill (piano, basketball, etc)
  • 15-minute cleaning of one area of the house
  • make dinner (each child has a day to plan the dinner menu and actually make it with my help - they're so excited about this)

Big trips:
St George to visit friends and Zion National Park
Arches National Park (never been there with the kids)
Bryce Canyon (went a couple years ago and the kids keep begging to go back)
Camping (as part of some of the above)


Someday we'll make it across the country - maybe - but as we brainstormed all the day-trips and weekend trips and daily activities we can do around here, we realized we've got scores of awesome things to do right in our own backyard.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Late on Purpose

Today the kids were late for school. This happens more than I really care to admit. But today, they were late on purpose.

You see, it was the last day of school and given that it wasn't raining and was over 30 degrees (seriously, what's up with this "spring" weather?), we decided to ride bikes to school.  When Jared found the kids some new (used) bikes a while back, they got all excited about riding bikes to school a lot before school got out. But the weather and the challenge of getting ready for school earlier to make time for bike riding has prevented their plans from materializing. So today was the last chance. And even though a flat tire and various other little issues held us up a bit, we were bound and determined to bike to school - and to enjoy it - even if it made us downright late.

It was a beautiful ride. The trees finally have leaves - fresh new bright green ones. The grass is vibrantly emerald thanks to all the rain. The bike trail runs along a river and it was beautiful in a crazy way with its nearly-overflowing rushing water.

I watched my sweet children riding along behind their dad in a duck line with me at the end and felt so full of joy - for the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of my kids, for the fun of zipping along on a bike, for the beauty of the moment. Today we choose enjoying over promptness. And that felt good.

Sometimes, as moms, we need to re-order our priorities and be intentional about mixing things up a little. Yes, being on time is generally a good thing. But every so often, other things are more important.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Spring - sort of

So it's still been pretty cold and rainy for the most part but we've had a few scattered days of sunshine and everything is doing its very very best to bloom!

Isaac was needing a little one-on-one time the other day so we walked over to the Rancho Market together to get some milk (we've got 3 Spanish markets within 2 blocks of our house - lots of nice fresh produce including  lots of cactus and peppers of every shape and size - plus plenty of pigs feet and tripe!).  We took our time and Isaac helped me find some really beautiful hints that spring really is sort of here.  I love how Isaac always points out beauty to me.  And I love it when I remember to slow down and notice when my kids need some undivided attention - and when I slow down enough to notice the beauty that can always be found when I really look for it.


It started snowing the day we moved here in November and there have been maybe 3 or 4 nice sunny days since then. Six solid months of winter has seemed a bit much - especially after living in places where winter hardly exists for 12 years.  I can't believe the kids are getting out of school this week and they've only been able to wear shorts a couple times this spring.  But wow, these blossoms and flowers and the bits of sun we've had have been so incredibly beautiful thanks to their rarity.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Retreat

Last weekend's Retreat was beautiful.

Here's a glimpse at what we experienced. Our great Retreat photographer, Rebecca Walters, did such a great job capturing the sharing, pondering, listening, connecting, discovering, love and energy involved in the event. Here are a few of her photos:




Lunchtime discussion rotations - so many wonderful ideas from so many wonderful moms

I like this candid showing me and my sister Charity standing ready for our next part.
I'm so grateful that Charity and I got to work together on these past two Retreats.
I love how you can also see Tiffany (in the pink towards the right) -
she was such a key part of running this Retreat as well as the Trainer session at the end.


Here are some of the key presenters.  Charity, me, April and Allyson Reynolds.
Emi Edgley and my parents are in the collage above and another presenter, DeAnne Flynn is below.
Such a great team of presenters.

I'm totally exhausted and totally energized at the same time.  Strange combination, huh?

Preparing for a Retreat means 100's of hours of planning the agenda, coordinating topics, analyzing what attendees said they needed most on their questionnaires, figuring out where to put all the chairs and getting them set up, making sure the food and the parking and all that is squared away (with lots of help from my dear sister, Charity).  It's a LOT.  Then keeping my wits about me through so many hours of presenting and coordinating and listening and tying things together and keeping an eye on logistics is extremely mentally and physically exhausting.  And it would probably be impossible if it weren't for the support and help of so many wonderful women and of my Heavenly Father. 

But in the end, I think I get more than I give.

This weekend, as the palpable energy and goodness of 100 deliberate moms filled my parents' house, my heart was full.  I felt the kind of joy you can only feel when you place your best efforts in the hands of the Lord and then watch beautiful things unfold.

I'm so grateful that I get to be a part of all this.  I'm so grateful that I get to be a mother and that I have a mother who has been such a shining example for me. I'm so grateful for the chance to share the experiences and ideas that I've been been blessed with with others while drawing out and learning from their experiences. I'm so grateful for my partner April and for all the people who prepared excellent presentations, set up chairs, helped with food, drove shuttle cars to get everyone to my parents' house where there's no parking.  And I'm so grateful for each and every attendee for coming and for bringing their great ideas and their earnest desires and their beautiful spirits to the event.

I hardly want to think about this right now - but we are offering another Retreat June 11.  More on that once I've fully caught my breath and spent some time enjoying my family and putting what I learned at the Retreat into practice!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Final Leg of Spring Break - San Francisco and Easter

Better late than never!  It's been a month since spring break and I'm finally getting the last segment of the trip up on the blog.  I actually had this done a week ago but the photos kept going weird when I posted and I had plenty of other things to worry about so I just saved it as a draft until I could get a few minutes to finish.

Anyway, we love the Bay Area.  I've always been enamored with San Francisco and was about to move there before Jared and I decided to get married and that would mean another year in Boston.  So Jared treated me to a wonderful honeymoon in San Francisco before his final year at MIT.  Our job hunt during that last year took us all over the country but when an opportunity arose in the Bay Area we jumped at the chance to create a permanent honeymoon in such a great place.  We spent 6 years there.  We bought our first home there.  All our kids were born there.  We explored the redwoods and the coast and the city with lots of babies and toddlers in tow.  We try to head back every chance we get!

We loved the chance to enjoy time with Jared's sister Kathryn and her husband MJ plus with my sister Charity.  Nice to have two sisters in the area.  Kathryn and MJ let us all stay at their lovely home in Oakland/Piedmont (a home that felt like a second home to us the whole time we lived near them - we spent lots of time with them and their great kids who've all grown up and moved on now).  And we got to see Charity's really cool house that she shares with roommates and have her as our personal tour guide of the city.


My amazing sister Charity now lives in San Francisco and it was so fun to enjoy her favorite spots which turned out to also be some of my favorite places. This is at Coit Tower, a spot Jared and I grew to love on our honeymoon.

At the old Ferry Building, we enjoyed the fabulous Saturday market and all the great samples of both food and interesting people. We were all quite entertained by wonderful street performers and by a little group of naked people riding past us on their bikes!
We went to a pancake breakfast at the church by the temple for Kathryn and MJ's ward. MJ was the master of the fluffy pancakes using the recipe their son Will perfected as part of his science fair project that won him an award on the state level.
Charity showed us a glass elevator that offered wonderful views of the city out to the bay.
We rode up and down again and again. Great times!

We rode the old streetcars that go up and down the Embarcadero.  I love how they recycled old
streetcars from around the world  - there are cars from Italy, Chicago, St Louis, all over.
The kids think riding on public transportation is about the coolest thing ever.

Driving across the good old Golden Gate is always a thrill and sharing the joy of so many favorite places
with my dear sister who loves it all as much or more than me was so much fun.

So Oliver wasn't happy and my hair looks weird.
But we we did get a family photo at the Golden Gate! 

We had a great time dying eggs with Jared's sister Kathryn and her husband MJ (the Pritchetts).
They were the perfect hosts, as always - amazing food, lovely accommodations in their beautiful
old house, excellent conversation, such kindness to the kids.  We miss living near them and it was
so great to be with them for Easter again after we were together for Easter each year while we lived
in the Bay Area.

Easter Morning egg hunt in the lovely Pritchett garden
Love those calla lillies - miss them.  We had so many of them in our yard in San Jose.
Love how everything grows like crazy everywhere in California.
A rose in the Prichett garden - I miss all the rose bushes we had at our house in CA.
Nothing like a perfect rose.
So Isaac doesn't look his best but this is the only photo I got of the Santa Clara ward building.  It was great to go to our old ward in Santa Clara for Easter Sunday. So fun to see so many familiar faces even though it's been 6 years! Such fond memories of this ward where I got to give service like crazy as Relief Society president and got to receive service like crazy when our twins were born and we had 5 needy preschoolers including two newborns. So many kind and wonderful people. That building feels like home big time.

This was our little house in San Jose. Jared and I bought it for what seemed like an astronomical price at the time ($349,000) when we were pregnant with Ashton. We sold it almost six years later for $725,000. As well as proving to be a great investment, it was a dear little home (and it's a lot cuter on the inside). We brought each of our kids home to this house after they were born at the hospital right down the street. We loved its big windows and hardwood floors and fruit trees and nice big fenced backyard, and perfect floor plan for a young family. We put in a new kitchen ourselves - tiling like crazy at midnight with sweat dripping (no air conditioning) as we raced against time to get it done a few days before Isaac was born. The bushes we put in, the trees we trimmed, the flowers we planted, the play structure we built in the backyard - it's all still there - they haven't changed a thing - but everything's sort of overgrown. We ran into some old neighbors and it was great to get caught up on the neighborhood.
This is at the cemetery down the street from our old house where all the kids learned to ride their bikes and where we'd go for walks all the time - such a lovely, peaceful place and no traffic to worry about.  Driving through there, I could almost see myself pregnant with the twins, pushing the double stroller with Isaac and Eliza while Ashton rode along on his bike. Behind the kids is what they always called "the tree tunnel."
After our jaunt to our old stomping grounds in San Jose, we headed back to Kathryn and MJ's
 for another Easter Egg hunt with the local missionaries and MJ's niece and two nephews.
Gotta love an egg hunt - especially when these eggs had been blown out and filled with
 fruity pebbles cereal - fun surprise, Aunt Kathryn!
We enjoyed a truly delicious and beautiful Easter dinner with the Pritchetts, the missionaries
and some of MJ's family.  Great people.  Great times.  Thank you Pritchetts!
So it was a wonderfully action-packed spring break and I'm so glad I finally found a few minutes to capture at least a bit of our good times in the Bay Area.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Monopoly

I've been sitting here working on details for the Retreat this weekend and Oliver and Silas have been happily playing Monopoly.  They started off playing the regular way, making up a few rules here and there but pretty much buying properties and collecting rent like normal.  They were doing a great job at counting out money and were very cute in helping each other figure out change that was sometimes somewhat accurate.

Here are some snippets of their conversation:
  • It says "collect one hundred dollars" - yesssss!
  • Oh no!  You're almost to go in jail!!!!
  • Do I seriously have to give you money just because I landed on your thing?  Mommy - is that fair?
  • I'm in fat city now, baby!
But now they've taken Monopoly to a whole new level.  They've set up the game board into some sort of 3D structure and they've come up with quite a complex and imaginative world of Monopoly.  Here are some snippets of the conversation I'm hearing now:
  • How about these are just special cushions so if your guy falls off the top, he's OK (holding up a stack of money)
  • "Receive for savings 25 bucks" - I got this card in the mail because I jumped off the top and people paid me for it.
  • Oh no!  This is bad!  The bad guys will totally buy this property while we're gone.  Silas, hide those cards in your money pack then the bad guys won't get them.
  • Oh, all the chance cards are sinking into the sea!  
  • But remember, chance cards can actually float so it's OK.
  • But Oliver, it's a space ship now - look if we just put the board this way!  Yeah!  That totally works!
  • OK so this piece is my spaceship and you can ride on it sometimes.
  • Oh, I'll just connect up my spaceship to yours.
All this with a monopoly board, monopoly money, chance cards and playing pieces.  It's been going on for 2 full hours.

Every day, there's some sort of exciting adventure going on for Oliver and Silas. They run a training school for dogs one day, they create a palatial fort another day, they save their stuffed animals from bad guys or transform the house into a boat on a crazy river the next day.

We make cookies together

They play constantly with their beloved dogs - Choochoo the chihuahua and Puggie the pug
They do puzzles a lot - one day they made what they called a "puzzle art gallery"
I love these little guys SOOOOOOOO much and I'm feeling really sad that I've got only a few more days where they'll be home with me in the mornings while the rest of the kids are at school - then I'll have everyone home for the summer and then everyone will be in school all day next fall.  After having them in full day Kindergarten in St George, I've loved having them back with me for 1/2 a day here in Ogden where they've had 1/2 day Kindergarten.  They're so much fun to have around these days.  We bake bread and cookies together, we walk down to the library a block away and indulge in the plethora of books there, we look up cool videos about penguins or pandas or monster trucks or pea-shelling factories on YouTube to answer their questions, go on bike rides and walks - and I listen to their imaginations run wild while I get stuff done on the computer.

I'd have much preferred to send them to school when they were 2 and caused amazing mess and stress on a daily basis.  Now that they're so fun and easy, I'd like to keep them around longer!  Sure, they pinch each other and suddenly need me desperately and loudly when I'm on the phone.  Sure, they get into little tiffs about random stuff a lot and still make messes and have a problem with whining about almost everything I ask them to do lately.  But I'll keep them.  Forever and ever.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Notes to Self

So lately I've been stressed too much and haven't been feeling like the mom and person I want to be all that often.  I've got quite a few things figured out that I really need to remember:


Things I've been doing pretty consistently that help me keep stress and hurrying under control and that make me feel like a pretty good mom.  Keep doing these things:
  • Set out kids' clothes and check backpacks the night before.
  • Keep a spray bottle, hair brush, hair clips and elastics by the breakfast table so I can do hair while the kids eat.
  • Be ready with some sort of snack after school and ask kids two questions while they enjoy their snack "what did you learn today?" and "what did you do for someone else today?"
  • Take one kid on a special "date" each week.
  • Take care of emails and little tasks that will likely take 2 minutes or less immediately rather than putting it on a "to do" list (in my mind or on paper). Especially do the things that I really don't feel like doing - just do them quickly and they're not so bad.

Things that really work for me when I remember to do them; things I know I need to do so I can be more of the mom and person I want and need to be; things that I mostly DON'T do very well right now:
  • Pad all time estimates for how long things will take by at least 10 minutes (saying "hurry" and "we're late" to the kids so much isn't good for anyone and trying to quickly finish one more "little" thing on the computer before putting kids to bed just doesn't work)
  • Say "I'll have to think about that" or "no" more often to other people.
  • Say "yes" more often to my kids and husband.
  • Stop trying to make everyone happy all the time. Accept that sometimes a "win-win" isn't going to happen.  Learn to prioritize better.  I was SO stressed out all day on Saturday because I was trying to figure out how to cram in a visit in SLC with the family of one of Isaac's best friends from St George. They don't speak a lot of English and I don't speak any Spanish and trying to figure out how and when to meet up via phone calls proved to be a big mess.  Rather than enjoying the beautiful weather and our first bike ride together as a family this year, I was stopping on my bike to try to call these people on the cell phone again and again and while it was good for Isaac to see that I really tried, it kept me from being present and put us on a tight timeline for the bike ride and in the end we never did figure out how to meet up with them.  I need to recognize losing battles quicker and leave them aside.
  • Don't try to get anything done on the computer while the kids are needing help with homework and when dinner needs to be made.  It might seem like they'll be fine working on homework once I get them started and that it's a good time to get a few emails taken care of.  But they always need help and I keep saying "just a minute while I finish this quick email" and that minute gets stretched out and then they ask again and I'm mad they're bugging me and they're mad I'm not helping them and the dumb thing I'm working on really could wait.
  • Make a short list of the most important things that need to be done the next day each day before going to bed (then I sleep better and can be way more targeted and feel more accomplished the next day). Include things on that list that I want to do for family members (i.e. work with Isaac on his book report or take Oliver on a little one-on-one bike ride around the block or really listen to all that Eliza wants to say about her day)
  • Read scriptures every day - at least a verse or two. Pray before reading and ask the Lord to teach me what He wants to teach me as I focus on the scriptures for at least a few minutes a day.
  • Write a nice email to someone I've been thinking of at least a couple times a week (something I've noticed, something I'm grateful for that they've done, etc.).  It makes me feel so happy when I press "send" and anticipate someone else's little boost from my email!
  • Don't eat after 8 o'clock (I have weird dreams and wake up the next morning feeling bad about myself.  I gave up eating after 8 for Lent this year and felt so much better - but then when Lent was over, that resolution dissipated...).
  • Don't eat so much chocolate - it makes me anxious and on edge and it's not good for me (even if it's in my favorite trail mix full of healthy sunflower and pumpkin seeds).
  • Get outside every day - even if it's just a walk around the block or eating lunch in the back yard - even if it's cold - even if it's a big pain to get kids out the door. Just do it (it's OK if kids are in pj's, wearing random shoes and don't have their hair brushed!)
  • Buy more socks.  The kids are always out of socks and doing laundry just for the sake of the socks is a frustrating time-sucker.
  • Go to bed on time.  
  • Get up when the alarm goes off.  Seriously - that extra 10 minutes of laying there doesn't help anyone.  Mind over mattress!
What's on your list?  What do you know you need to do to be the mom and person you want and need to be?  Can you make yourself do it?  I'll report back on how I do this week.  I'm sure I won't do everything but I'm picking a few things I will do this week, no matter what.  And when I decide to make a change and do it successfully, I feel so good about myself.  Which is an end in and of itself!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Favorite Blogs?

When Studio 5 featured Power of Moms as one of the top blogs/websites for moms, that got me going again on something I've slacked off on for some time - reaching out to other bloggers. We've had several wonderful bloggers get involved as writers on our website plus help us spread the word about Power of Moms. Some of them have become my dear friends. And I'd like to gather more great bloggers to our website in various ways.

So what are some of your favorite blogs? I'd love your help identifying all the great blogs out there that go beyond the "fluff" to offer deliberate moms concrete ideas and inspiration. We'll check out the blogs you suggest and reach out to them to invite them to become writers on our site and get involved in other ways. If they live on the Wasatch Front, maybe I'll even invite some of them to attend our Retreat next weekend - we've got just a few spots left.

Sorry my posts have been so Power of Moms-focused this week. I've got great photos from the last part of our spring break trip (San Francisco) plus Mother's Day that I'll put up when I get a chance to download them - I'm sure you can hardly wait!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Power of Moms on TV

Along with the great emails and posts forwarded to us as part of the Mother's Day Giveaway we did (that I talked about in my last post), the Power of Moms has been featured twice this week on the TV show, Studio 5.  When it rains, it pours!  Wow, recognition is nice sometimes.

April and I recorded a segment with them a while back featuring a Learning Circle and it aired on Monday. Here's the 2-minute clip. Thanks to Amanda Wilkinson for being so strong and sharing her inspiring story!: 



Then I just saw their show from yesterday while I worked out (I've been recording their motherhood segments all week - they're doing 10 shows on motherhood in honor of Mother's Day) and it was a very pleasant surprise to see that we were chosen as one of the top 4 blogs for moms! (we're featured at about minute 5 if you don't have time to watch the whole thing)




I hope this will bring lots more great moms to our site where they can find the comfort and inspiration they need! Thanks Studio 5. And THANKS to all the great moms who help us to run this website and all the wonderful writers who help us present so much great content.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's worth it

We designed our Mother's Day Giveaway to be a nice way for moms to give other moms the gift of great motherhood resources for Mother's Day.  And many wonderful moms took the challenge and used emails and blog posts to shareThe Power of Moms with all their mom friends who were surely most grateful for the information.

But as I just read through the beautiful emails and blog posts that moms submitted as part of the giveaway (ended last night), I realized that April and I actually gave OURSELVES one of the best gifts ever through the giveaway - the gift of knowing that what we're doing really is worth the sacrifice of pretty much all our non-essential-mothering hours and sometimes a portion of our sanity!  It made me cry such happy tears to read email after email about how our website and programs are really helping so many moms out there.

Here's just one wonderful email a mom sent out as part of this little giveaway:

Hello Friends!

Okay - so I am sending this e-mail out to a very diverse group of you. I got an invitation in my e-mail today to invite/tell at least 15 other moms about this amazing group I have found called The Power of Moms. Some of you already know that this baptism by fire intro to motherhood in the last three years has really thrown me for a loop. I have struggled with the whole shebang: knowing how to take care of them, how to teach them, entertain them, tap into their souls, discipline them, FEED them, get them to sleep, socialize them, play with them, etc. The only thing I have not struggled with is loving them - though in the midst of all of the other things, I have struggled with really showing it and not getting so caught up in the daily grind of meals, dishes, laundry, cleaning, tantrums, time-outs, routines, etc. that it gets lost in the mix.

So five months ago, my dear friend Amanda introduced me to the Power of Moms, just one month before Heavenly Father called her 20-month-old home very suddenly in the middle of the night. After his funeral, she expressed to me how much their Learning Circle program had prepared her to have a FABULOUS and PERFECT day with that baby boy before he was called home. And that whole experience rang a cord in my soul. I wondered when, in my childrens' eyes, we had last had a perfect day with no regrets that left all of us feeling loved, appreciated, on top of the world, at peace with ourselves and each other.

I looked into the Learning Circles and have found in the Power of Moms answers to prayers I have been saying for the last three years! The Learning Circle is a once-a-month girls night/reading group. You have a focus on am empowering virtue of motherhood with an assigned reading attached. Then you have a girls night that is focused on discussing that reading while just plain having a fun girls night out! No kids (unless you're breastfeeding and can't get away from your baby yet)! No husbands! Just you and friends or new acquaintances, all with the same focus: To become more deliberate as mothers. Deliberate is a new buzzword around here! ;-D

I don't know if you've ever felt overwhelmed by the quantity of things that can take you away from your families and got done doing something that should have been a break for you but left you feeling no more prepared to "OWN" the next day with your children than you were before that activity. I have. I have had girls nights even where we watched a movie or went shopping or something and I felt drained instead of rejuvenated. My family felt the brunt of my girls night out instead of the empowerment of it. And I determined that future ventures needed to lift me up and prepare me to return to my husband and children rejuvenated and better rather than just be one more thing to take me away from them.

I have only had one Learning Circle so far - filled with moms from different backgrounds, walks of life, most of whom I had only met once before inviting them to be a part of my Learning Circle (I've only lived here about a year and have been home in Idaho with family things for almost half of it - so I haven't made very many friends yet. I determined that I was going to invite everyone I had a conversation with at a large church event one weekend - and I did!). For our first Learning Circle, we had a chocolate fondue night. And we talked about our individuality as the mothers God wanted our children to have, and therefore the PERFECT mothers for our children. We talked about the need to get out of the zone of comparing ourselves to other mothers - and move instead towards becoming UNIFIED with those "perfect" mothers in our common goals and interests. And we left with a goal that would move us towards accomplishing exactly THAT! It was awesome! We can't wait to get together again next month and learn something new! (Maybe having a picnic at the end of a bike ride or hiking up a mountain and holding our discussion up there - the sky's the limit as far as activities go.) And don't be afraid to invite/include more "experienced" moms. I actually had older moms contact ME and ask if they could join me once they heard what we were doing! SCORE on experience!!!

Why of all of my friends did I send this to you? Because I knew most of you as single women or new moms, and I know you are DELIBERATE women! I have often seen you go and get what you wanted, determined, focused, capable, channeling your talents to achieve your goals. And you are leaders in your own rights/your own circles/your own worlds. I have missed being a leader in my community here and even at church as I enter this new stage and phase of life. And this is giving me an opportunity to lead again, to create, to inspire while being lead, created, and inspired. If this can help even one of you who may be missing that, who may have fallen into the mom trap and need something to help wake you up, then I would be ungrateful to NOT pass it along to you.

So check it out - and hopefully it will fill a need for you to be a part of or even head up some aspect of this program.

One last thing - cuz I know you're wondering what I'm getting out of this/if I get something if you join. And the answer is no -- I mean, even if you told someone at The Power of Moms that I sent you, they would have no idea who I was or why they needed to know that. The only thing I get for sending this to you is to have my name entered into a drawing for a prize. And I guess if I win the prize then they will know my name if you tell them I sent you because there are only five winners. BUT I honestly have been meaning to tell all my friends the details of this program because it really has been a strength to me. So the nudge to do that with the promise of being entered to win a prize was just an added bonus.

I hope you're all doing well!

- Melinda


I just have to share one more short one:


As I wrestled my two year old this morning to get her to eat and then get her dressed, gave another load of laundry to my friend the washing machine, called the elementary school to tell them my 9 year old wouldn’t be coming to school because he is sick….(wondering to myself is he really sick or is this some 9 year old act?!) I thought that I needed to recharge my mommy batteries.

Then I thought of a website that I have been recently following called THE POWER OF MOMS.

We all want to be good mothers and these ladies who created this website, Richard and Linda Eyre's eldest daughter Saren and her friend April, have made it their goal to help other mommies not just survive but THRIVE through Motherhood!

This website, THE POWER OF MOMS, INTRUIGUES me, INSPIRES me, AMUSES ME and COMFORTS me as I read the different posts related to motherhood.

- Amber


I love thinking of the moms out there who are finding support, ideas, inspiration and even some great laughs through what we're offering at The Power of Moms. SO nice to know that what you're doing matters. Our kids help us to know what we're doing as mothers matter them on Mother's Day. And I'm so grateful to all the moms who let us know that what we're doing matters to them as part of Mother's Day this year!

And in case you're wondering, the winners of the giveaway are as follows:


Grand Prize Winner - Johni Brown (receives a free registration to our upcoming Retreat on May 21st)
Program Winners - Melanie Norman, Tessa Evans, Lisa Barlow, Cheeri Redd, and Jami Petersen (they each receive their choice of a Bloom Game subscription, a Learning Circle start-up kit or our Mind Organization for Moms program)



Monday, May 09, 2011

Reminders and Mother's Day Update

Just a quick reminder that today's the last day to send in your entry for our Power of Moms Retreat and Program giveaway.  I'd love for some of my blog readers to win!  If you haven't already, check out the details HERE and then give your friends a great little post-Mother's Day gift while giving yourself a great chance to win some pretty nice prizes.  And while I'm throwing out reminders, I wanted to let you know there are still just a few spots at our Park City Retreat May 20-21 - perfect post-Mother's Day gift to yourself or someone else you know!

This week I'll put up photos of the great Mother's Day weekend I had.  But here's a quick overview:

On Saturday I got to spend most of the day with my dear mom.  We spoke at a great Mother's Day fundraiser breakfast for One Heart Bulgaria (so many wonderful stories shared there and lots of tears as we thought of these sweet kids who have no moms!) and then I had the rare privilege of going to lunch one-on-one with my wonderful mom. How did I luck out with such a mom?

On Sunday the kids and Jared treated me very very well.  The lovely drawings and sweet notes with all their misspellings from the kids - plus a very nice little poem Ashton came up with (didn't know he had it in him!) and an even nicer long and thoughtful poem that Jared came up with (REALLY didn't know HE had that in him!) - were real treasures.  Jared made me a lovely breakfast and made me and my mom (and my dad and all the kids) a truly delicious lunch (I think I'll go warm up leftovers as soon as I finish this little post!).  The weekend was just a tad bit stressful given that we were flooded with requests for the free podcasts we were giving away for Mother's Day and we're totally set up to deal with quite so many entries!  But it was wonderful to be able to give the podcasts away so so many moms and great to see that so many people were interested...And luckily I've got a wonderful 11 year old son who's very good with data entry and who really needs to earn money for a trip he's going on with his cousins this summer.

So other than the fact that it's FREEZING and raining and it's the middle of MAY, life is good!

Friday, May 06, 2011

New Podcasts


These ladies are my very favorite people in the world.  And luckily for me, they're my mom and sisters.  When we get together, we have SO much fun talking and laughing and learning from each other.  We live far away from each other but somehow we manage to finagle a way to get together a few times a year.  When we're together, life is good.

At some point, we came up with the idea that maybe we should be recording some of the rich, stimulating conversations we were having about motherhood - that it might be nice to share some of what we were learning from each other with a larger circle.

So over a year ago now, we started making podcasts about motherhood whenever we were together (mostly my mom and sisters Shawni and Saydi but we did get Charity in on one or two of the podcasts even though she's not a mother yet - she's the world's most amazing aunt and babysitter and has fabulous ideas of her own).  With all the kids tucked in bed, we'd sit around Shawni's computer (she has a Mac with good recording capabilities) and talk about our thoughts and ideas on various motherhood topics.  Plus we did a lot of laughing and having to start podcasts over again.  Late nights + Eyre women = some delirious laughter.

At long last, we've got our first series of podcasts up on The Power of Moms website.  And we thought it would be fun to share them with all the moms we know for free as a Mother's Day gift.  So if you want to check the whole thing out and get the podcasts for yourself for free, click HERE.  This free offer is only good through Mother's Day.  Feel free to pass on the link to all the other moms you know as a Mother's Day gift to them!

Happy Listening!  And please let me know other topics you'd like to see us cover with future podcasts.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

You Made Your Bed....

My friend Allyson just wrote such a great post for our website and our Deseret News Motherhood Matters blog.  It's HERE if you want to see the whole thing.  She's an amazing writer.  And what she wrote really resonated with me.

Her post talks about a time in her life when she was really struggling with everything she had on her plate and another mother suggested "you made your bed, now you have to sleep in it."  At the time, that was NOT what she wanted to hear.  But she found truth in the statement and figured out how empowering it is to "own" the choices that brought her to where she was rather than grumbling and complaining and embracing the all-too-present and really un-helpful idea that everything that's happening to us is someone else's fault.

I'm working to own my own choices.  I chose motherhood.  I chose the projects I have going on.  I choose how I will react each day to the things that happen that I did not choose.

While sometimes the bed I've made may feel very lumpy, or even like a bed of nails, I DID make this bed.  And I need to sleep in it or work actively to make it more comfortable!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Help Others and Get Free Stuff - Sound Good?

April and I brainstormed all sorts of different fun things we could do this year to celebrate Mother's Day at The Power of Moms.  Ultimately, we came up with something very simple that will hopefully help 1000's more moms find the resources they need at The Power of Moms and offer some great prizes - including a free registration to our almost-full Retreat in Park City on May 20-21st.  Check out the details and get involved  HERE.

We get more and more emails every day from moms who've so kindly taken a little time to let us know what a difference The Power of Moms has made in their lives.  Some moms found just the right message at a key time by reading one of the daily articles on the site.  Some have come to view motherhood in a whole new light.  Some have found the friendship and support they desperately needed through a Learning Circle.  Some have become way more productive in their home and work life thanks to the Mind Organization for Moms program.  Some have seen real progress through setting goals using the Bloom Game.  Their stories warm my heart and make me yearn to get The Power of Moms into the hands of way more moms out there who could really benefit from it!

So please help us to help all your friends and relatives who might enjoy what The Power of Moms has to offer - some links to your favorite articles on the site makes a great (and free) Mother's Day gift to your mom friends.  And feel free to share this blog with anyone who might enjoy it as well.  As long as I'm throwing all this out there, I'd love help getting it to more who might enjoy it.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Mother of the Year

My dear sister Shawni dreamed of being a mother pretty much her whole life.  She's reach out for every baby she saw from the time she could toddle around and she couldn't get enough of each of our newborn siblings.  When someone asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she was always quick to answer "a mommy" with a huge smile on her face.  And when they asked how many children she wanted, she'd say "about 20."

I'll never forget the beauty of seeing her as a mother for the first time. I was living in Boston and she was in DC.  I missed the train to the plane and ended up hitching a ride with a stranger to make my flight and get there asap to see my sister in her glory. She seriously radiated joy as she presented her precious little Max to me. She had arrived. And when her second baby came a little sooner than expected, she took on mothering those two babies with grace, determination and great success.  After the craziness of two kids so close in age, she had to do a little sweet talking to get her next three children.  And when Lucy came along, it became quite obvious that their family was complete.  So she didn't quite get her 20 kids.  But wow, she's a masterfully wonderful and deliberate mother to the five lucky children she's been blessed with.

While I had to be the leader in many things as we grew up (I'm 18 months older than Shawni), it was so wonderful for her to be the leader when it came to motherhood.  By the time I had my first child, she already had two and was able to show me the ropes.  We talked for hours almost every day as we cleaned our kitchens and did our laundry on opposite sides of the country (Shawni in DC and me in California) and we flew out to be with each other and get our little toddlers together a few times a year (can't remember quite how we made that happen - but we did!).  I loved watching Shawni mother and hearing her thoughts about everything as we'd talk on the phone.

Shawni started recording all her mothering thoughts and ideas and methods on a blog and her wonderfully warm and practical writing style along with her compelling story of seeking and finding a diagnosis for Lucy brought thousands to her blog.  She's helped countless moms learn and grow while keeping her family history and her mothering journal via blog.

A few months ago, she was named the Arizona Young Mother of the Year by the American Mothers organization.

Then last Friday, I had the honor of being there to see her named the National Young Mother of the Year at the American Mothers convention in Salt Lake City.  It was extra wonderful to see her get this honor since our mom was the Utah Young Mother of the year 30 years ago.

I'm so proud of my sister.


Here are me and my mom with Jared's mom who's been involved with American Mothers for a long, long time.
I'm so blessed to have these two amazing mothers as examples!

Much Better

Thanks for all the kind comments on that last post.  After I finished writing, I pushed the laundry over to Jared's side of the bed (since he's out of town) and just went to bed.  My mind was running so it took a whiel to fall asleep.  But things felt better in the morning.

Then things felt MUCH better that afternoon when I received a package in the mail from a woman I've never met.  It contained a thoughtful note thanking me for all that I'm doing for mothers through The Power of Moms as well as a lovely necklace featuring a "widow's mite."  The note explained that the widow's mite represents selfless giving.  I often feel that I'm giving all I can but it's not enough!  But this sweet gift reminded me that my best IS enough.  It made me cry.

The timing of this little gift as well as its content served as a powerful reminder that the Lord has his eye on me and that he'll use those around me - even complete strangers - to strengthen me and keep me going when things feel extra heavy.

I keep thinking I'll figure out a system that'll help me manage all I've got going on better and/or that I'll get better at not taking on quite so much.  While I'll keep working on simplifying and organizing and drawing better boundaries, I've come to terms with the fact that there will always be crazy moments and over-stuffed days and sometimes really packed and stressful weeks. And when things are hard, I can choose to focus on the stress or I can:

  • choose faith over stress as I turn to the Lord and make time for scripture study and prayer
  • choose joy over stress as I slow down even for a few moments to notice the beauty that exists right in front of my eyes (the beauty of a child's sweet smile, the beauty of a the new buds bursting on the trees, the beauty of the kind comments and sincere offers of support and help that come from strangers and family alike)
  • choose progression over stress as I pick out just one or two things I can quite successfully accomplish each day and then be content with those simple accomplishments
* The note and necklace came from DeAnne Flynn.  She's written a beautiful book called The Mother's Mite and created a great website to help lift and strengthen mothers - click HERE to find out more.  I'm excited to connect with DeAnne and I'm so grateful she reached out to me.  In the past couple months, it's been so exciting to have several wonderful organizations that share our mission reach out to The Power of Moms.  Now I've just got to find a little time to sort out how to work effectively with some of these other fabulous organizations. 
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