Usually I get a digital Christmas card out every year. But this year, it just felt too overwhelming to sit down and try to capture an overview of 2016. There was so much - so much beauty, so much adventure, so much learning and growth, so much heartache and exhaustion and stress.
I've recorded the highlights and some of the less-heavy lowlights pretty thoroughly on Instagram here so for a while I thought I'd just leave it to my Instagram feed to share the story of 2016. But then I decided that I really want a written overview of the year combined with some of my favorite photos of the year.
So here it is.
Above is our traditional on-the-stairs Christmas photo of the kids and below is an overview of what each of them have been doing this year.
As I held my new baby niece the other day, I marveled that my babies are now so darn big. Sometimes I really miss my babies and toddlers and those sweet, funny little people that my kids used to be. Then I count my lucky stars that I now have children who can dress themselves (even if they don't choose outfits I love all the time), go to the bathroom and bathe by themselves (even if their bathrooms are always so much messier than seems necessary), drive themselves places (even if their driving can be pretty darn scary sometimes!), make their own choices (which sometimes results in stressed-out parents and kids learning from mistakes...), and teach me so many new things (about technology, music, drones, football, skateboards, cross country running, track, basketball, Minecraft - and parenting - wow, do they teach me a lot about parenting which in turn teaches me a lot about myself!).
We live in a community where there are quite a few families who are in need of help with their children for various reasons. At least once a week all year, our kids have cheerfully and excitedly taken on the challenge of caring for several small children at our house for several hours at a time. They read stories, play games and have fun teaching the kids new things. They genuinely love these little kids and have never complained or asked for compensation when asked to watch these children. I've found such joy in seeing such beautiful relationships develop between my kids and their dear little friends.
We did a ton of camping and hiking this year and Jared and I were so impressed with the way the kids handled the inevitable tiredness and discomfort. They were great about pitching in to do whatever was needed and about keeping on going when they were tired and hungry. These are some tough kids!
They've certainly had their moments (which sometimes stretch into days and weeks) when they haven't gotten along and sometimes haven't liked each other much. But for the most part, I'm so grateful for the friendship and support the kids show each other and show to me and Jared.
While there have been times over this past year when parenting has been excruciatingly hard and we've all had to learn some things the hard way, we are so grateful for each of our children and for the wonderful people they are becoming.
- Turned 17 on Jan 3 - but everyone guesses he's more like 21; so strong - can bench press more than his weight
- Doesn't like to smile for pictures
- Junior at Ogden High School
- Earned his Eagle Scout Rank this year (which allowed him to get his driver's license...)
- Worked really hard at football and got quite a bit of time on the field, made lots of friends and was a completely devoted team player
- Honed his videography skills - created some excellent videos on his You Tube channel here, was the videographer and video editor for a self-help website (you can check out the videos he did here), and is now working on a video for each national park we visited last summer as part of the guide I'm writing (will be available in March). Is taking things to a whole new level (literally) and capturing some amazing stuff with his new drone.
- Was a star employee at McDonalds for much of the year and sure learned a lot there (decided it's high time to move on and is looking for a new job now)
- Taking AP US History and AP Biology plus honors English and math as well as a business development and mobile app development class at school. Working hard and getting excellent grades.
- Excellent snowboarder - likes to crank up his music and do his own thing on the slopes
- Fixes my computer, helps me figure out my phone, helps Jared fix our car issues
- Keeps me up to date on the news and has solid opinions and ideas about so many things plus he has a great sense of humor
- Found a cliff to jump off into a river or lake in just about every national park we visited this last summer (and just about gave his mother a heart attack - again and again!)
- Got his Eagle Scout award last spring
- Can do absolutely anything he sets his mind to do
- 15 years old; grew about 6 inches this year
- Sophmore; First year at Ogden High
- Turned a corner with his academics and has become such a diligent and successful student; taking AP World History and honors math and English plus enjoying learning new skills - mobile app class with Ashton and a cool technical design class where he got to 3-D print a car design he came up with
- Part of the swim team last season and enjoyed his first year on the high school cross country team this fall, worked hard and made lots of great friends
- Close to getting his Eagle Scout rank
- Just got his driver's learning permit (after months of trying!)
- Excellent skiier - loves skiing with friends and family
- Came in first for his age category for the Olympic distance at the RAGE Triathalon
- Favorite fun friend to so many babies and little kids in our neighborhood and ward
- Really funny - often without meaning to be - good at laughing at himself
- Very social and has lots of great friends who he wants to be with a lot
- Is hard-working and determined
- 14 years old (as of Feb 13th); as tall as her mom
- 8th grader; second to last year at Ogden Preparatory Academy
- Taking all the honors classes she can, great Spanish speaker, worked extra hard and got straight A's the past two terms
- On student council at school
- Does lots of community service through her membership in the Junior Junior League
- On the junior high basketball team - both JV and Varsity(super fiesty player) and cross country team (super fast runner - got medal after medal) plus runs for another Junior High's track team.
- Placed in all her Ogden High mountain bike races this fall.
- Great skier who loves skiing on her own or with friends and family.
- Favorite babysitter to many families in our community and always willing and happy to babysit
- Working hard on the Personal Progress program at church and is almost done
- Determined and hard-working, loves to be involved in everything, such a good friend to so many
(I tried to write up individual lists for each of them but the lists overlapped so much it just didn't make sense! They are such great friends and really love doing everything together but are OK to do things separately if it works out that way.)
- 12 years old (as of January 14th)
- 6th graders - last year of elementary school
- Working hard in school and getting good grades (other than that C in music that they both are pretty confused about...)
- So excited that they are now ordained deacons at church and that they can now participate in all the youth activities with their big brothers and sister
- Always reading big fat books - mostly fantasy. They enter their own little worlds as they read and it's hard to get their attention!
- Really into Minecraft and Geometry Dash (often found sneaking a little extra computer time...)
- Always climbing something - trees, rocks, walls, you name it.
- Always building something - snow forts, K'nex roller coasters, a clubhouse in the backyard
- Mad trampoline skills
- Have more energy that probably any other human being and are always up for any sort of adventure
- First year running on the cross country team - got better and better throughout the season, Silas got to go to the regional meet
- Super skiers - love the double black diamonds and powder, often making their own trails, they can not only keep up with Jared but lead the way with him these days!
- Peacemakers - these boys are so loving and are always ready with a hug or a kind word when things get tense around here
- Positive - they can always see the good in everything and are great at giving compliments and expressing thanks
|Yosemite National Park (at the top of the tallest falls in North America!)|
I spent a lot of this past year running kids around to where they need to be, helping with homework, having important discussions with kids about all sorts of things, keeping up on housework and laundry, feeding people, all that good but often taxing "mom" stuff. I also did lots of Power of Moms work (weekly newsletter, weekly podcast episode, special webinars from time to time, overseeing our great team of volunteers) plus I co-hosted the online Mom Conference again in October and it was awesome to see over 80,000 moms attend this time. Another big project was preparing for, executing and writing the draft of a guide about our month-long camping trip to 12 National Parks (more on that below).
I love the chance I have to help moms and families but I've felt a real need to cut back on the hours and heavy brainwork that goes into projects that help the larger world so that I can focus more on the little world right around me that matters the most and needs me the most.
For many years now, I've understood, theoretically, and have taught others that it's important to learn to say no to some things so you can say yes to the things that matter most and that moms need to prioritize self-care as you can't draw water from an empty well. For many years now, I've said I need to cut back and I've learned to simplify some things and say no to some things. But over this past year, I've more fully realized that I've been burning the candle at both ends for way too long now and that I need to be serious about cutting back and accepting that I can't do it all and that's OK.
I'll share more about this later but that's good for now.
Jared is still working for ARI, managing software development. His company is in Salt Lake but he works remotely here in Ogden now and is so glad he no longer spends 2+ hours in the car commuting every day (but he is a little behind on his podcasts now...). In addition, he's taken on some interesting side jobs this year and has helped many companies (including the Mom Conference I co-hosted) have the websites they need to best do their work. He is smart and quick and knows how to find a solution to any problem that arises.
Jared has now been the bishop of our ward (congregation) for 4 years. He's helped so many people and has done so much to cultivate an atmosphere of love and acceptance in our very diverse ward. He has so many crazy stories and touching stories! He's a great leader, a wise counselor, and has learned how and where to say no and how and where to say yes to people who need assistance with financial issues and personal problems.
As far as what he does outside work and bishop stuff, Jared has a great time skiing with the kids or on his own every chance he gets and he's gotten really into crossfit this past year. He won the RAGE Triathalon for his age group this year and had so much fun competing with Isaac there. He's a very loyal Jazz fan (lots of yelling coming from the TV room when a Jazz game is on!) and we've gone to a couple live games as a family this year. Jared spends a lot of time fixing things around the house and fixing our cars, usually with one of the kids at his side, learning and helping. He's the kids' most loyal fan and has spent a LOT of time this past year at their football games, basketball games, and cross country meets.
Jared is amazingly selfless and hard-working and never complains. I'm constantly impressed by Jared!
My parents were kind enough to take care of Oliver, Silas and Ashton and they sure showed them an excellent time.
More pictures are here
More pictures are here
Podcast about why we went and what the trip did for us here - "Why Families Need Nature"
I got to go on a special trip to London with my sister Saydi to help our baby sister Charity (who lives in London) prepare for her first baby (and have fun together in a city we all love so much!)
More photos of the London trip here
In addition to those three big trips, we had some great little trips and loved our traditional time in Ashton, Idaho with Looslis and at Bear Lake with Eyres.
As usual, we spent the 4th of July in Ashton Idaho (Loosli family fun run, kids riding in the parade, watermelon-eating contest, water sports out at the cabin, tractor rides, etc.). This year was extra wonderful as EVERY member of the family was able to come and celebrate Jared's mom's 80th birthday as part of the 4th of July gathering.
As usual, we spent most of the rest of July at Bear Lake with all the Eyres (well, almost all, my baby sister Charity was in London with her husband, giving birth to their first baby). Our family was in charge of the reunion this year. We worked hard and every kid was in charge of a different activity and they did a beautiful job! Eliza ran the family relay race and the sand castle building contest. Isaac ran the Eyrealm Olympics as well as the dam building contest, Ashton managed the photo contest and slide show plus the bonfire and made the playlist with everyone's favorite songs for the year on it. Oliver was in charge of the talent show. Silas took care of the secret service challenge. Jared and I just helped the kids and ordered the t-shirts (oh, and I coordinated all the food which is no small feat...). Everything turned out great! But I'm glad it won't be our turn to run the reunion again for 9 years!
More pictures of Bear Lake here.
Thanks for caring enough to get to the end of this! Here's to a great 2017!