Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Year's Card/Overview of 2014

I just sent the following out to friends and family whose email I had handy. But as I'm sure I've missed many people including the wonderful people who care enough to read this blog, I thought I'd post our "New Years Card" here as well.

Happy New Year!

Here's a quick overview of 2014 for our family followed by a photo collage that captures a few hightlights.

Travel. Adventures, and Special Occasions:
  • Great Power of Moms planning trip/family get-away cruise to Mexico in February 
  • Amazing trip to Bali in March with my parents and siblings and spouses - and no kids except one perfect little baby. We've been planning and looking forward to this for years and it was just perfect! 
  • Two great trips to Southern California in May and November for two family weddings (niece Rachel and nephew James) and to meet a new niece and spend time with siblings from both sides of our family there 
  • A few trips to the Loosli farm in Idaho (4th of July parade, snowmobiling, waterskiing, riding around on tractors, enjoying games and laughter with people we love) 
  • July at Bear Lake with all the Eyres 
  • Ogden Temple Dedication in September 
  • Beautiful day trip to the Spiral Jetty 
  • Saren's baby sister Charity's big beautiful wedding in October 
  • Fall Break camping trip to Arches National Park 
  • Lots of hiking and skiing and walks and bike rides (all the kids are now excellent skiiers - with the exception of Ashton who's an excellent snowboarder) 

Jared's main activities:
  • conducting great scripture study sessions in the mornings with the kids and tucking kids in bed with lots of tickles at the end of the day 
  • fixing and upgrading stuff around the house (he's an amazing handyman) and keeping somehow keeping his '97 Mountaineer going 
  • counseling, directing and providing welfare help as Bishop of our ward (congregation) 
  • still directing projects at Tire Company Solutions in Salt Lake (spends almost 2 hours a day commuting and usually has jump into ward duties after a quick family dinner each evening, but never complains!) 
  • skiing, running and hiking whenever he can squeeze it in 
  • is amazingly patient with his crazy wife and rambunctious kids and is the most selfless and helpful man alive 
Saren's main activities: 
  • getting kids where they need to be, overseeing homework and housework, making the most of teaching moments, and really enjoying these great kids (when they're not driving her crazy) 
  • planning neighborhood events - Make a Difference Day trash clean-up, Easter egg hunt, 4th annual Halloween dinner and parade,8th annual Children for Children fundraiser concert at Christmas (plus she helped the school revamp their parent participation this year) 
  • hiking every week with friends - no matter the weather, running a few times a week, needs those endorphens! 
  • helps run the children's program at church and has lots of little friends thanks to that 
  • still co-directing Power of Moms which now offers a top-rated podcast and great new resources all the time to it's audience of hundreds of thousands of moms around the world 
  • After a bit of a rocky year last year (Ashton fully admits that "old Ashton" was really a pain with his grumpiness and moodiness), "New Ashton" has a great year! 
  • really enjoyed playing volleyball on the school team again this year 
  • decided to become a serious guitar player and practices all the time - now has over 150 songs in his reperatoire and made good money playing for tips at the Farmer's Market during the summer, plays for all family events 
  • started a little bread-making business with a friend 
  • got his first 4.0 in school 
  • got up and got himself to his new 7am seminary class on his bike all fall (We offered to pay him $1/day to get himself there on time - and it worked! 
  • "Old Ashton" makes a comeback now and again, but mostly, we're really enjoying this suddenly-so-tall and mature and fun son of ours. 
  • did a great job on the school Cross Country team again this year, even though he struggled with allergies and asthma which we finally got diagnosed 
  • super friend to all the little boys in the neighborhood who love having nerf wars with him 
  • enjoys being on Student Council at school and has lots of great friends (most of them girls, as it turns out), is working hard to get the grades he wants 
  • always up for hard work (helped sand down and paint our porches and do many other household projects this year), and is super good at mowing the lawn 
  • loved soccer camp last summer and has been putting his skills to work as a junior coach for the new neighborhood soccer league for little kids 
  • fighting off the grumpy stage Ashton went through last year - 13 seems to be a hard age for Loosli boys - but mostly, he's still the kind, helpful, solid, hardworking boy we know and love 
  • still loves dancing with Virgina Tanner Dance, participated in a couple recitals this year and is a beautiful dancer 
  • joined Junior Junior League (for girls ages 10-16) and has loved volunteering at community events and learning more about our community in the company of great friends 
  • joined the Cross Country team at school and became a really great runner - was one of the few on the team to go to State 
  • still loves art and is always creating something new and beautiful 
  • enjoying playing violin and can play most anything by ear 
  • has started babysitting for other families and is SO good with little kids 
  • such a fun, smart, tough, adventurous, sweet and helpful girl - with a decent dose of drama and emotion thrown in there 
Oliver and Silas (we try to treat them as individuals and they are still doing so many of the same activities and like the same things so it works best to group them here!)

  • first year in different classes at school - amazing how well they do together or apart - either way is just totally fine for them 
  • loving legos - they can't get enough and are so good at quickly building really complex things and making up their own cool stuff 
  • great helpers to their dad on all his household projects 
  • loving stuffed animals - the older boys think they're getting too old for their love of all things fluffy and cute - but they're devoted to their furry friends! 
  • playing soccer (Isaac helps coach) 
  • great readers - when they aren't bouncing off the walls and running around like crazy outside, they've got their noses in a book. Silas finished the Harry Potter series this year and Oliver finished the Percy Jackson series 
  • still working on their "r's" in speech therapy - getting better and better!
  • Oliver is learning drums (and is really good!) 
  • Silas is really into cooking and can make lots of treats and meals really well on his own 
  • still the most loving and sweet guys around, and still have boundless energy and enthusiasm 
We hope 2015 brings you beauty and learning and joy!

Love, Saren, Jared, Ashton, Isaac, Eliza, Oliver and Silas

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

September and October Happenings - 2014

So I wrote this at the end of October. But when I wrote it, I didn't have time to finish putting in the photos so I set it aside for a while - which turned into a long while. It's been in the back of my mind forever that I needed to finish this post. So I finally got it done. Old news. But good news.

Since school began, life has been about kids' sports and book reports and church duties and Power of Moms work and house projects with a good measure of fall leaves and pumpkin cookies and that nice slanted sun you get at this time of year. Sometimes things feel way too busy and rushed. But cross country season and volleyball season are almost over and keeping up this crazy pace is realistic for these short seasons. The kids are loving this involvement so much that it's worth the effort.

Isaac and Eliza were both on the Cross Country running team at school. They practiced after school M-Th until 4pm and had meets every Tuesday.

Eliza LOVED running. I loved seeing her beautiful smile as she ran.

She got faster and faster as the season went on and developed a beautiful stride.

Here's Eliza speeding on past some of the older girls on the team:

And here's Isaac (don't have as many great photos of him since all my best photos of Eliza are courtesy of my friend Emily who was there for the girls' races but not the boys')

Lining up at the starting line:

 There was a serious downpour during one of the boys' races. It ws so cold and so wet! But Isaac got one of his best times:

Grammie was there for that super rainy meet. What a lady to come support Isaac and Eliza even in the pouring rain!

 The whole team at Cross Country Regionals:

Eliza qualified to go to state and was so excited about that!

Here she is running at State:

Isaac had a rough year - serious breathing problems while running. At the close of the season, we finally got him into an allergy and asthma specialist.

Sure enough, he's got some pretty intense allergies plus a little asthma so we've got him medication to try and we'll see what happens. But he was great about cheering his little sister on even when he wasn't able to perform the way he'd like and his times weren't what they've been in the past. Hopefully this medicine will help and next season will be better!

Isaac had a wonderful time on a school trip to Havasupai. He was away for a week, hiking, jumping off waterfalls, camping and learning about geology from his wonderful science teachers. We missed him and were glad to get him back.

Ashton has been practicing a ton on the guitar and getting REALLY good. He's been playing his guitar every Saturday at the Farmer's Market downtown and earning great tips to go towards the trip to Spain that his school is doing at the end of the year. But now he's a little bit on the fence about whether or not to go on that trip - it's so expensive and he's just not sure it's going to be the right thing for him. It's been great to have discussions about making decisions and earning money and pros and cons of opportunities that come our way. One way or another, it's been great to have something to work towards.

Ashton made the volleyball team again and practices M-Th until 5pm and has two games every Monday and two games every Wednesday. Here's a glimpse at that:

That's Ashton jumping for the ball in the picture below:

Such a great group of kids and wonderful coaches:

Ashton has also been attending Seminary this year and has been amazing about getting himself there every morning. He takes off from home on his bike in time to be at Seminary by 7am and has been so good about getting himself up and getting there on his own. So proud of him! Then it's been great that he has his bike there at school so he can get himself home when volleyball practice ends at 5pm (otherwise I'd be driving back and forth to the school all afternoon long!)

And... drum roll please... Ashton has started getting ready for church on time without being nagged - had to capture the first time with a photo:

Eliza ran for Vice President of her school - and won!

Plus she and her best friend Rachel worked hard and received their Faith in God awards at church on the same day. So proud of them.

Eliza has also become a serious Ogden volunteer. She joined the Jr Junior League with a bunch of other great neighborhood girls and has loved being an official volunteer at several great events downtown including the Ogden Temple Open House, National Cycling Championships, the XTerra Triathalon, and the Harvest Moon Festival. There's always something great going on in downtown Ogden.

Here's Eliza and Rachel volunteering at the National Cycling Championships - they helped pedestrians cross safely when it wouldn't disturb the bikers.

Eliza had a great performance as part of the beautiful Children's Dance Theater production at Weber State. She loves dancing with these girls (they've danced together for four years now) and is still doing Virginia Tanner Dance which we both think is such an excellent approach to dance:

Eliza did a wonderful school report on Bulgaria and put the dress I brought back from my mission to Bulgaria to good use:

And Eliza loves doing my hair while I work on the computer. She gets pretty creative. And takes pictures of her hairdos when I'm not paying attention:

Oliver and Silas both got their Bear awards in Cub Scouts and LOVE Scout stuff.

Not everyone gets to have their Bear award presented by Abraham Lincoln! (The pack meeting theme was "heroes from history" - we have such great scout leaders - so grateful for them.)

And they saved up for a long time and got some exciting new Lego stuff (they are so into Lego):

Silas went for the Delorian from Back to the Future - love that they love movies from my past...

Jared gets pretty excited about building stuff iwth the twins.

Plus they're playing soccer on Monday and Wednesday afternoons - at the park next door - so nice that they can just walk over there. Isaac's been helping to coach this new little soccer program.

And they had to do some book reports. Which really aren't my favorite thing. I like the writing part but why do they always have to involve some sort of a craft? The boys had visions of awesome paper mache masks but in the end, they were happy with the simple paper plate masks that we had time for:

Oliver, Silas and Eliza got to participate in this fabulous new "Music Detectives" program put on by the Ogden Symphony Ballet Organziation. They got to go to a pre-concert talk to learn all about the composers and pieces they'd be hearing, had a special worksheet to fill out during the concert and nice binoculars to use to help them really enjoy it all the more, enjoyed great snacks at intermission with the group, then when parents went back to enjoy the second half of the show, they got to stay in the classroom and try playing lots of different instruments - they called it an "Instrument Petting Zoo." They loved it all so much and are now so excited about classical music. There are three more concerts in the series and we're excited to go to the next one!


Ashton and Isaac got some rank advancements in Boy Scouts. Ashton has to get his Eagle before he can get his driver's license so he'd better get moving a little quicker here!

Jared put in a fun new slackline in the backyard.

And there was pretty much always a group of neighborhood kids playing in our yard:

I sure love this pack of neighborhood boys:

Our garden did better than ever this year and we enjoyed tons of wonderful tomatoes plus some great spinach, kale, beets and swiss chard. Fresh produce is so beautiful, don't you think?

I had this for lunch every day for about a month. Oh how I love fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes!

Jared and I have spent way too many hours the past few weekends repairing, stripping down and repainting our front and back porches. What a lot of back-breaking work it turned out to be! But now the porches can stand up to another winter and we'll be better about doing some yearly painting so that we don't have to do this serious overhaul work again - hopefully.

On September 8th, it was our 16th wedding anniversary. Ashton got up early to make us delicious banana pancakes for breakfast - what a guy!

We celebrated by attending my cousin's wedding:

And re-visiting the place where we had our super-fun dance-party reception with a live swing band (mirrors come in handy when you're trying to take a selfie):

As part of our anniversary, we re-committed to a weekly date night which does wonders for us.

My sister Charity came in town a couple different weekends and Eliza and I had a great time helping her with wedding stuff alongside Grammie:

I've been hiking every Wednesday with friends which is always a great highlight of the week for me. I need that serious strenuous exercise and outside time and beauty so much! Here are a few shots from some of my hikes this fall:

View from the top - how I love that feeling you get at the top of a hard hike!

Did a couple great family hikes as well:

I spent a LOT of time in September and October and on into November on a big site re-design for Power of Moms plus there are lots of other exciting new things going on at Power of Moms. Here are a few links for you:

Free New Clutter Buster Kit (Excellent materials to help make clutter disappear and bring more peace and order to your life)

Free new Family Life Audio Series (10 30-minute podcast episodes with great topics to enhance your family life - features me, April, my sisters Shawni and Saydi, and my parents)

Free "Make Huge Projects Feel Easy" Webinars (April's been doing these wonderful 1-hour webinars that walk you through 4 simple steps to help you actually accomplish the projects hanging over your head)

Please share any and all of the above with friends and families - April and I work so hard on all this and it can help so many people - if they can find it! You can help there.

So we've been been busy and happy. There have been PLENTY of hard things, but this post is just about the good stuff and not-too-personal stuff that happened this fall. It's fun to look back and see how blessed we are and realize that the hard stuff fades away as I look back, leaving just the warm memories and some good lessons learned from the hard stuff.


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