Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Figuring Out How to Enjoy More With Less Guilt

Our Christmas and birthday season is now officially over. After the busyness and beauty of Christmas, most moms get to take a bit of a break as far as their job as the family coordinator of special occasions after they put away the Christmas decorations. But for me, the special occasion planning and execution just keeps on going! Jared's birthday is December 31st, then Ashton's is January 3rd, then the twins' birthday is January 14th. And this year, all four of these birthdays was a big birthday. Jared turned 40 and I wanted to make that extra special. Ashton turned 15 and his birthday was supposed to be sort of low-key with a nice day snowboarding with his dad followed by a simple party with some of his good friends - but he broke his arm while snowboarding and that made the day quite a bit more eventful! And the twins turned 10 which felt like a very big deal to them - double digits and all. Their birthday was on a Wednesday so we celebrated with lots of family stuff and then did their party on Friday evening since weekdays are hard for parties. So their birthday seemed to go on and on. But they were SO excited about it and it all turned out great.

I love all the celebrating. I really do. I love to really make birthdays special and feel like when you've got quite a few sibings, it's extra important to create a real "king (or queen) of the day" type of experience for the birthday person. They have to wait their turn and be patient and eat whatever is served every other day of the year so it's great just one day of the year to pretty much have everything be just the way THEY want it. But that adds up to a LOT of work for me and can feel sort of overwhelming when it comes right after all my big efforts to make Christmas special. I just wish it could all be spread out a bit more! (For a year or two, we tried celebrating 1/2 birthdays for Jared and Ashton since their birthdays are at such a tricky time, but it just didn't work out that way - we ended up needing to celebrate TWICE since they still needed something on their actual birthday...)

This year, right when we got doing with the twins' birthday celebrations, we went into a 4-day weekend which was great but which meant I had to put off some of my holiday/birthday catch-up even further. And then this weekend, we're off to a wedding for a nephew and that'll be another long weekend which I'm really excited about but which will put off catch-up even further.

But you know what? That's just how it is. I've contempted and tried doing things different ways but ultimately, it feels like the right thing to keep making these birthdays really special and to not work very much when the kids are out of school and I want to enjoy extra time with them and to go to this family wedding and enjoy a little family get-away as part of that. I accept the busyness and the overwhelmed moments as part of the life and priorities I have chosen.

I've got lots of blog posts to do to catch up (I really love writing out all my favorite things about each child on this blog for their birthday - makes a great motherhood journal and perhaps one day I'll gather all their birthday posts together into a special book for them - given that I don't scrapbook beyond some half-hearted baby books, I'm thinking this will be a great thing to give them when they head off to college one day).

I've got some exciting new projects for Power of Moms that I've been moving forward every chance I get.

I've got a house that needs to be cleaned and kids that need to be fed and laundry that never stops.

But rather than doing what I've done in the past - pushing my catch-up into afternoons when the kids could use help with homework and support from me on their chores or into time for quality tuck-in's or into the few evenings that Jared and I could spend together - I'm just going to do what I can do during the hours I can reasonably spend while the kids are at school or while we're driving to this wedding this weekend.

I need to be done with holding myself to a way higher standard of productivity than I would ever expect of anyone else and cut myself more slack. I need to spend more time prioritizing and praying about what is most important to do and saying "no" more often - rather than just rolling up my sleves and working super hard on whatever I've committed to (which is usually way too much). I need to commit to less deadline-driven work. I need to prioritize enjoying over getting things done more often. And I need to figure out how to feel less guilty about the "no's" I have to say to put relationships and enjoyment before accomplishment and productivity.

I certainly don't have all the answers. But I know some of what I need to work on. I accept that life will never be particularly simple for me. I've chosen paths that are essentially complicated and busy. I can stay  on the paths that feel right to me without driving myself forward at a break-neck pace anymore. I can put more focus on the paths that matter the most to me (the motherhood and wifehood paths) while still moving foward on the other paths ata slower pace.

So there are my thoughts for today.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Christmas 2015

We had SUCH a great Christmas Eve this year thanks to being able to spend it with family members that we dearly love.

So great to be with THREE of my siblings and their families for Christmas Eve!

My sister Shawni and family came directly from China to Utah on the 23rd and my brother Josh (who lives in Arizona and who we thought was doing Christmas elsewhere) decided to show up and suprise us so we were able to hang out with them and my parents all day on the 24th, sledding, playing in the snow, doing last minute shopping, catching up. Then at dinner time, we were joined by my brother Noah and family for a grand "Jerusalem Supper" and Nativity play.

Here's the story in photos (the best ones, of course, are courtesy of Shawni with her nice camera).

The kids were so excited to see snow at my parents' house at Park City since we didn't have any at all at our house. They headed right out with their cousins for big time fun in the snow.

Here's Max, Elle and Ashton heading out for some fun:

And here's Isaac and Grace in the typical mis-matched odd assortment of snow clothes my parents have on hand at their house:

Ashton played guitar and impressed his cousins by playing anything they requested:

Claire, Eliza and Lucy had big time fun together:

After lots of playing in the snow, we enjoyed our traditional "Jerusalem Supper" brought to new heights by my dear mom.

Ever since I was a little girl, it's somehow been my job to dress everyone up in something or other that looks sort of Bible-era-ish. So I brought my stock of stuff and did my best!

We ate figs and dates and grapes and pita bread and fish and goat cheese - foods they likely ate at the time of Christ - along with other Middle Eastern foods like falafel.

And while we ate, we talked to Mary and Joseph (played by Silas and Lucy) all about their upcoming journey to Bethlehem, about the prophesies we'd hear about, about their hopes and fears, about what this new baby would mean for all mankind.

And here are Joseph's parents who, of course, had to be there to see the couple off to Bethlehem:

The kids did a great job staying in character and my dad, as always, helped steer the conversation in meaningful ways. It was a very holy and lovely dinner.

Then it was time to arrive in Bethlehem and see the Nativity played out.

Silas and cousin Lyla made a great Mary and Joseph (had to keep it fair by having two girls get a chance to play Mary at different parts of the evening). And Jared, as always, did a great job as the donkey.

Eliza kept all the little angels organized. Isaac took care of the kings. And Oliver was the head shepherd.

Baby Shelby was the star of the show for sure as baby Jesus - lots of adoring going on. And she played the part perfectly:

Then my mom told the kids all about the symbolism of the sand dollars we'd always had on our Christmas tree growing up - and she gave them each a sand dollar to keep (google it - beautiful stuff).

After the Nativity, we opened a few gifts (my parents gave us some tennis raquets this year so we can be more ready than ever for the traditional Eyrealm tennis tournament at Bear Lake this summer) and took a few photos before saying our goodbyes for the night.

We got home and opened our traditional first present of PJ's and put them on:

Then the kids wrote their note to Santa and scrounged up some leftover banana pancakes to leave him as a treat since it was too late to make cookies (and, they reasoned, he's surely be sick of cookies when he got to our house and would appreciate something yummy but sort of healthy).

Then it was off to bed.

Jared woke up early because he was excited (and because he's just an early riser - can't help himself). Between him tiptoing around and the kids creaking around upstairs, we were both up before the kids officially woke us up with their singing on the stairs. And once I looked out the window, I got so excited!

Here's what I saw from our bedroom - a full-on winter wonderland with snow still falling like crazy!

Then the kids officially woke us up with their traditional singing on the stairs (accompanied by Ashton on guitar - their wake-up carols are sounding better every year!).

The kids showed us everything they got in their stockings:

Then we watched the snow fall for a while and admired the beautiful winter wonderland God had given us as a magical Christmas gift (it hadn't snowed really at all in December so this was so welcome and magical!).

The kids were nice about indulging my need to have us all listen to a bit of the music from the snow scene in the Nutcraker while we watched the snow fall - but they were so anxious to get downstairs!

Here's what each kid got from Santa:

We played with all our awesome new stuff for a while:

Then we had our traditional Eggs Benedict breakfast before jumping into more rounds of present opening.

And the snow kept falling:

Then we opened more presents:

New clothes are oh-so exciting (not) but the boys were very gracious and happy to try on their gifts for me.

The twins were really excited about these shirts that go with their music passion (and they've worn them like every day since receiving them - brief breaks for laundry):

There's something I just love about wrapping paper all over the floor on Christmas day. I like to leave it that way for a while. And apparently Eliza likes it too:

One of my favorite parts of the day was the kids giving their carefully saved-up-for and lovingly selected gifts to each other.

The twins were SO excited about this game they found at the thrift shop for just $3 - it had a price tag on it for $20 - and they were sure Eliza would love it. They were right!

The kids got great gifts from their cousins (all the Loosli cousins draw names and give gifts to each other)

In the afternoon, it stopped snowing just at the perfect time so that Shawni and family plus Josh and my parents could drive safely here to spend Christmas evening with us. We had a great dinner together (Cafe Rio-style salads that were pretty easy thanks to help from my mom and Shawni - tasted so good after all the candy and heavy stuff we'd been eating all day!). The kids had the greatest time sharing their new presents and playing games while some of us sat around the table having a great discussion about faith and works - love those sorts of deep and interesting discussions.

Then the kids got to open their presents from my parents.


And my parents opened their presents from me and Shawni (we decided to give them a bunch of our favorite games since they don't have many at their house and games are such a fun way to enjoy family time when we all come to visit!).

Then we played some music together (a tradition from when we were younger - fun for Eliza to be able to join in this year on her violin!)

Perfect day. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

So grateful for the chance to be with so many loved ones, for the gorgeous snow, for the abundance of love shown in presents from loved ones near and far and shown in laughter and togetherness, for the means to provide great food and good gifts.

Best Christmas ever!


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