1. I am SO grateful that my baby sister Charity and her husband Ian are almost for sure OK. They are trekking in Nepal so the news of yesterday's earthquake was pretty scary. Thanks to research by my siblings and helpful reports from kind strangers on Trip Advisor, we've been able to find out that they were almost surely outside the danger zone during the earthquake. There's no way to reach them until they get to the next village with wifi (our new Trip Advisor friends say that'll be in about a day based on where we estimate she'd be right now). So that's a bit unnerving. But we all feel at peace that she's OK (for more details, see my sister Shawni's post here.) Can't wait to hear a direct update from her, though!
In the process of trying to figure out if Charity's OK, I've come to know more about this particular natural disaster than most. I now feel a greater sense of connection and thus a greater sense of sorrow concerning this earthquake. What terror and tragedy for so many people - people who were already struggling to feed their families while living in crudely-built homes that were no match for an earthquake. I'm so grateful for the good people who are doing all the can to help those in need and I imagine that Charity and Ian will help in any way they can.
2. I'm SO grateful that my newest nephew has arrived safe and sound. My brother Eli and sister-in-law Julie had their baby day before yesterday. After the scary and slow and careful breech birth of their first child, Zara, this little guy shot into the world just 40 minutes after they got to the hospital (after a crazy rush-our cab ride through NYC where they live).
They sent this photo of their wonderful little family:
And it reminded me so much of this photo of our first two children:
Where has the time gone???!!!
I'm so so so grateful that all our children arrived here safe and healthy - we sure had some crazy deliveries (I got pre-eclampsia with Ashton and had to be induced early with him, Isaac came 1/2 hour after we got to the hospital, Eliza came out entirely blue and looked dead but she was fine, almost lost the twins when the placenta started separating itself from the uterine wall at about 14 weeks of pregnancy, did modified bedrest - with three tiny kids who needed me - for a couple months and thankfully, the placenta healed, then Oliver was born quick and easy but Silas got stuck and I had to have an emergency C-section...)
3. And while I'm on siblings, I have to say that all this extra interaction with my family due to worry about Charity and communication about the new baby has just made me so extra grateful for all my siblings. I love that we share a crazy wanderlust and that we feed off each other's excitement about travel. I love seeing Charity and Ian's posts from around the world and Tal and Anita's pictures of their new home in Switzerland while seeing Jonah and Aja and their five kids take off for a new life in Spain while planning our family's trip to Bulgaria and Italy while talking to Saydi as she plans her family's Europe adventure. I'm so grateful for the love of travel and learning and adventure that our parents blessed us with (even though, I have to admit, there are times we all feel like this love can be a bit detrimental - we pretty much all have itchy feet and a serious appetite for adventure which usually means there's a lot of stress and expense involved!). And as it's Jonah's birthday today, I just have to say I'm SO extra grateful for him and his example of marching to the beat of his own drummer. When I first met my brother Jonah, he was a 3-pound preemie in an incubator who was given a 50/50 chance to live. Now he's one of the strongest guys I know - spirit, mind and body.
Here are a couple shots from last-year's amazing trip to Bali:
4. And while I'm on family, I have to say that I'm extra extra grateful for my wonderful mom. It was her birthday this past week and I can't imagine where any of us would be without her. She is the kindest most Christ-like person I know and she somehow makes time for SO many people and helps everyone feel truly loved. Check out my tribute to my mom here if you want (lots of great old photos):
Happy Birthday Mom
5. I'm SO grateful for the chance I've had to serve in our ward's Primary presidency. For the past three and a half years, I've spent pretty much every Sunday with a whole slew of kids ages 3-11 and I've come to love each of them dearly. I've been able to share the simplest and purest truths of the Gospel with them during the Sharing Time lessons I've taught and I've so enjoyed their sweetness, their energy, and the genuine and original (and sometime hilarious) thoughts they've shared. Our presidency was released today and we will be turning these kids over to a truly stellar new presidency. It's time. It's right. But as I greeted each child today the way I have every Sunday, I felt so much love for them and some real sadness that I won't get to interact with then in quite the same way anymore.
6. I'm SO grateful we've FINALLY finished most of the key details of our itinerary for Bulgaria and Italy. There are SO many choices and SO many wonderful things to see and do! We've got our full itinerary of orphange visits ALMOST finalized, we've got our places to stay firmed up, we're finalizing our rental cars (wish we could just do trains but it's way more expensive that way with 7 of us). It's hard to know where to draw the line between fitting in enough of the many many amazing things we'll be close to and really enjoying and soaking in at least a few things. It's been pretty crazy trying to get all this set up while helping with this Primary transition, finishing our new Family Systems eCourse for Power of Moms (been working on that for a year - just a couple more places in our special intro group for the course if you're interested), finishing the updated Joy School lesson plans (stay tuned for more info on that), and getting ready for our big Power of Moms Retreat this coming weekend. Now if Isaac's passport will just show up in the mail in the next few days, I can stop stressing about that.
7. I'm SO grateful for YOU. It was so touching to see how many of you responded quickly and generously to Ashton's request for donations for the orphanages. It made me tear up to get that great card in the mail with the euros to treat my kids to gelato in Italy (see the post right before this). And I thoroughly appreciate all the comments on my post about teenagers - thanks for your thanks and for your helpful ideas as I navigate what sort of feels like a minefield sometimes when parenting my teenagers. I was so glad to hear from many of you who really appreciate my honesty and from many of you who had constructive ideas for me. Thank you so much.
So that's my top seven for today.
Have a fabulous Sunday.
And if you want to see more of what we've been up to, feel free to check out Instagram where I post a photo almost every day - and where there will be some extra-exciting photos soon as we head out on our grand Bulgaria-Italy adventure soon! Just look for "sarenloosli" on Instagram if you want to follow me. He's a quick collage of some recent Instagram stuff: