Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

Every year I love getting wonderful photos and letters from dear family and friends in the mail. I feel sort of like a free loader that I'm not returning the favor. But I just can't quite find the time or money to send Christmas cards out in the mail now that our list of good friends and family has topped 400 people (8 siblings each, friends from college, grad school, Boston, DC, San Jose, various jobs, etc.). So I do emailed cards.

It still takes plenty of time composing a letter and making a collages of photos that represent our year plus I have to track down a lot of missing email addresses (if you didn't get an emailed Christmas card from me and would like one, please put your email in the comments section and I'll get one right off to you!). But we really do love to connect with the people we love. I hope people don't think I'm terribly cheap and tacky for skipping out on the labor of love that I admire so many people for when it comes to Christmas cards. But I hope our dear friends and family will accept our humble attempt to reach out and share with them via email each Christmas. And my hat is off to those who still manage to get lovely cards in the mail!

Anyway, for anyone whose email I don't have, our Christmas photo collage is above and our Christmas letter is right here:
Merry Christmas from the Loosli Family
2009 has brought the Loosli family LOTS of:
Hiking and biking: Zion Narrows was a highlight as was a 52-mile bike ride around Bear Lake, the kids and Jared got involved in mountain bike racing and loved it
Community involvement: Neighborhood Board, volunteering at the kids' school, and leading mothers' groups for Saren, entrepreneur groups and business councils for Jared, working with the youth at church for Saren and Jared
Running: Jared ran the St George Marathon and I'm always running somewhere and usually running late...
Music: Ashton's learning the guitar and violin, singing in the school choir and playing percussion, Isaac's learning piano, Eliza and the twins are constantly singing, we've learned a hymn a week
Trips to the ER: Oliver had stitches in his chin 2x and butterfly bandages on his forehead, Eliza had 14 stitches in her forehead, Silas had stitches in his chin. Three of these incidents were within a 9 day period. Really, we're not abusing our children!
New ventures: Saren launched powerofmoms.com and worked to get The Joy School Company really rolling. Jared got an exciting new invention to help trucks be more energy efficient off the ground plus came up with new software to streamline things at his trucking company. Now we've got to figure out how to get some of our new ventures to turn a profit. This year has been about hard work and no pay...
Family events:

  • Funeral: Sadly, Jared's dad passed away in February. We enjoyed celebrating his full and rich life with all the rest of his great posterity.

  • Weddings: Last fall, my brother Talmadge married Anita and our niece Mikalla married Brett

  • Baptisms: Isaac and his two cousins Grace and Aniston were all baptized in Bear Lake last summer; cousin Michael was also baptized

  • Missions: My sister, Charity got home from her mission to England and we've got a niece and a nephew serving in Poland and a niece headed to Cincinnati next month
Pioneer stories and experiences: Jared and I headed up a youth group on a Pioneer Trek last summer and we learned so much
Pets: We had a horny toad, a really cool gopher snake, and several frogs and lizards. The rule is that if you can catch it, you can have it for a pet (for a few months). Right now we're pet-less but the kids are working on catching a rabbit – there are about a million wild rabbits around here right now.
Travel: NYC for my brother Tal's wedding and our 11th anniversary, the Bay Area for Spring Break, Bear Lake and Ashton Idaho to be with family for family events and a big chunk of the summer
Art: We visited several museums and did quite a few art projects, exploring different mediums. Eliza won the Reflections Art Contest for her watercolor of a sunset at the regional level and we'll see how she does at the state level now.
Visitors: I think we're up to about 100 house guests this year – if you count all the kids and all the repeats. We love it – mostly!
Uncertainty: After a couple hard years of trying to ride out the storms that the flailing economy has thrown at Jared's trucking company, we've come to the realization that we need to move on. As of January 1st, Jared's officially done with MG Trucklines. We've got lots of ideas, contacts and projects to pursue but we're gearing up for some uncertainty for a while. Should be an adventure!
We're excited (and nervous) about all that 2010 will bring!
Thank you for your friendship and examples. We're so grateful for all our family and friends. We wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
The Loosli Family
Jared, Saren, Ashton (10 in January), Isaac (8), Eliza (almost 7), Oliver and Silas (5 in January)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

First Bike Ride

So a couple weeks ago, Silas decided to join the ranks of official bike riders in our family by putting away his training wheels. He was a natural. Check him out here:

And here's his interview with the press following his triumph:

Oliver was a little less excited about the whole no-training-wheels thing. It took him a while to warm up to the idea. Then yesterday, he decided he was ready and after spending a few minutes outside with Jared, he came bursting in the house to tell me he could do it and demanded an "Eyre Fire" on the spot (our family cheer that we got from the family I grew up in). I went out and watched him and he did great! He insisted that we all do the Eyre Fire cheer several times while watching him ride his bike. Somehow, it didn't occur to me to record his first bike ride. What kind of mom am I? But it looked pretty much exactly the same as Silas's first bike ride so if you saw that video, you're all good.

Oh these little guys are so much fun!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Concert Success!

After all my moaning and groaning about all the work and stress involved in the Children for Children concert and all my worries about whether I was stressing other families out asking them to participate in a fundraiser this year when they're already strapped financially, our concert on Monday night turned out to be the best ever.

Ashton started things off and did a great job explaining the purpose of the concert - that kid is good on his feet. Then we watched a beautiful music video that fit the evening perfectly - all about making room for the Savior at Christmas and doing all we can to serve others (thanks for sending me this video, Jo! Click here if you want to watch it). We had lots of cute kids share their talents (everything from singing Silent Night with sign language to doing lip synchs to playing chimes). The Nativity play at the end turned out to be quite lovely. The kids remembered their lines and did everything on cue plus our neighbor kindly allowed her newborn baby girl to star as Baby Jesus and having a real baby made it extra special for the kids and the audience.

I love how the kids are so focused on Baby Jesus in this one

While the kids went and enjoyed their refreshments at the end, we showed videos of the orphans in Bulgaria and photos of the kids in India and Africa to everyone who hadn't had a chance to see this stuff at the kids' rehearsal the night before. There weren't a lot of dry eyes. What beautiful little children who need so much!

Anyway, there was such a feeling of caring and sharing in our home. What a beautiful evening.

When everyone left, the kids were really excited to unwrap the donation box and see how much money they got for their "friends" in Bulgaria and India and Africa. I told the kids we probably wouldn't get that much this year since most of the people we know are having hard times - but even a couple hundred dollars would be good (especially since it would be matched by the Eyrealm Foundation so anything we raised would be doubled).

But as we pulled out lots of $20 bills, we started getting excited. Maybe we'd have a pretty sizeable donation after all! Then Ashton pulled out some checks - one for $50 - yeah! Then one for $150 - wow! Then wait, hold everything, no way - one for $1000! We all had to read the check several times to make sure we'd read it right. Yep. $1000. The kids' eyes were huge and round and sparkly and we just sat there in silence for a second. No way. We raised almost $1500 this year!!!

There was pure glee in the air as we talked about all the warm blankets and good food this money would buy for the orphans and all the wells we could build for the kids in Mozambique and all the great stuff my sister Charity would be able to do for the leper children in India with this money when she goes there next month. The kids had to call Charity right away and tell her how much money we got for India (and she jumped up and down and squealed with glee, much to the kids' enjoyment). They had to call Grammie and Grandfather (my parents) who made up the idea for this Children for Children concert back when I was a kid. They had to call my sister Shawni and her kids who were doing a Children for Children concert the same night and see how their concert went. (It went very well - click here if you want to check it out.)

I wish the wonderful people who put in the $1000 could have been there to see the excitement and joy they provided to my family on Monday night. And I wish all the kids and donors could see the wonderful things that this money will do for children in such destitute conditions. After our donation is doubled, we'll be able to give $1000 to each of our three causes. And I was hoping for maybe $100 per cause this year...

OK, OK, I got the message, this is worthwhile. This is the highlight of our Christmas. I'm not going to complain about doing this concert ever again. There's nothing in the world like seeing your kids genuinely rejoice about something that someone else is getting. There's nothing like really making room for the Savior at Christmas.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Concert Prep Craziness

So tonight we had our rehearsal for our 3rd annual "Children for Children" concert where the kids and their friends perform a concert for their parents and other friends to raise money to help needy children. I had 25 kids (most of them small boys) here for a practice for the Nativity play for the finale of tomorrow's Concert. I've mostly lost my voice trying to talk over them all to explain the needs of the orphans and the kids in India and Africa and somehow wrangle them into some semblance of a non-wrestling-focused Nativity scene. Why do I get myself into these things??? Hopefully tonight's crazy rehearsal will make tomorrow's concert somewhat more manageable than it would be otherwise. But wow, I'm totally drained. And I've got to get myself psyched up to pull off the concert tomorrow!

If you happen to want to know more about the causes we're supporting this year with our concert, we're trying to:
  • help provide food and care for destitute orphans in Bulgaria (click here to see the organization I work closely with in Bulgaria - all the money goes directly to helping these sweet kids that I've actually met),
  • raise money to send my sister, Charity over to India to work with the children of lepers (click here to learn more about the organization she'll be helping and see the cute kids she'll work with - she leaves in January)
  • help to build wells in villages in Mozambique in conjunction with work that my brother Talmadge and his wife Anita are doing there (click here to learn more about the organization and families they're working with).
We've raised $700 or $800 in the past with this little concert (and that money is always matched 100% by my family's foundation -the Eyrealm Foundation- so we actually get to give double the amount that the kids "earn" through their concert). This year, however, we're anticipating fairly slim contributions as everyone is struggling. Still, every little big helps and the organizations we're helping can make a little money go a long long way (they have very little overhead and work in countries where things are pretty cheap). Plus when every dollar given gets doubled, that really helps!

It's great being able to give to worthy causes, but most of all, I guess I put myself through all this stress every year because there's nothing like the look on my kids' faces as we count up the money they've "earned" through this concert. They get so excited about giving to others who they feel they've come to know a little bit through photos and stories, kids just like them who have so much less than they do, kids whose lives they can actually help to change for the better. There's nothing like seeing their eyes go round and sparkly as we add up the loose change and dollar bills and occasional checks in the donation box and talk about all the warm blankets and good food and good times their "friends" in other countries will be able to have thanks to the money they hold in their hands. Caring and sharing - THIS is what Christmas is all about.

I think my favorite moment ever as a parent was as I was tucking Ashton in bed after the first Children for Children concert we did 3 years ago. We'd just counted all the money and talked about how we had earned enough to not only pay for new windows and blankets in a horribly dilapidated orphanage I'd visited the previous year, but we even had enough to buy the orphans some simple Christmas presents. Ashton gave me a big hug (he's not usually a hugger) and said, "Mommy, this is the best day of my whole life! I can't WAIT for the orphans to get our money!"

If anyone out there in the blog world wants to give to a good cause, the ones above are really good places to put your money. And if you want to donate as part of our group, the Eyrealm Foundation will match the money you donate and your money will be doubled which is always nice.

I'll let you know how tomorrow night goes. Keep your fingers crossed and your prayers said that this thing will come together somehow and that it will be a really good experience for the kids (and maybe even for me too!).

Friday, December 11, 2009

Insecure Musings

Do you ever wonder what other people think of you? I used to be quite constantly consumed with this question back in high school and it continued to hop into my mind a fair amount in college. On my mission in Bulgaria, the question faded quite dramatically - it's quite a challenge to worry about what others think of you when you're so busy trying to help so many people with serious needs. Then, while I lived in DC and Boston after Bulgaria, I think I really came into my own and felt pretty comfortable with who I was. I felt good about myself and stopped worrying - and I think that made me a pretty cool person. And while being a pretty cool person and getting lots of good vibes from people around me, I further shed my worries about what people thought of me.

Then I got married and the identity shift involved in that threw me for a bit of a loop. Who was I now that I was intertwined with someone else? What did people think of US?

But before I could worry much about any of that, I became a mother and while working part time and having child after child, I was too busy dealing with 100 things at once to find a moment to ponder what other people thought of me. It was a busy, crazy time but being needed so much is a great cure for insecurity.

But now that I'm coming out of a very long period of functioning primarily in crisis mode, the question pops up in my mind again here and there. What do I look like to people? Do I look as frumpy as I often feel? Do people notice that a spend about 10 minutes on my hair and makeup (when I spend any time on it at all)? Do people notice my flabby post-twins tummy as much as I think they must? Do other people notice the wrinkles that seem to have quite suddenly appeared around my eyes? What do I seem like to people? What do I seem stressed out and overextended? Do I seem warm and kind or aloof and uninterested? Do people feel like they can relate to me or am the oddity that I often feel I am here in St George? (When it somehow comes out that I went to Harvard, I seem to be put quickly into the "different" or even "alien" category in many people's minds.) Do I seem like a good mother? Do people read this blog and think, "What in the world is she doing going to get a Christmas tree when she's got a sick child?" or "Why does she run websites and do all these things in the community instead of focusing more fully on her kids?" or "Why is she so selfishly focusing on her own family so much when she could be using her talents to help the larger world a lot more?"

I've always been quite introspective and I'm always taking stock of how I'm doing and what I could do better. It's helpful when there are outside influences offering feedback - performance reviews at work, friends and family who tell you what they think, etc. But in my current life as a mom, it's hard to find benchmarks or outside feedback. It's just me and the kids a lot of the time. I get called a "mean mom" sometimes and "the best mom in the world" occasionally. But how do I really look to the kids? Sometimes I get a glimpse of what they see when they look at me - and sometimes I like those glimpses, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I get a friend or neighbor thanking me for something or I feel the need to check myself based on some comment I've heard.

Does it matter what anyone else thinks? I was brought up with the quote: "See how the masses of men worry themselves into nameless graves while here and there, some great, unselfish soul forgets himself into immortality." So is the key to success in life wrapped up in willing yourself not to worry about what anyone else thinks? Or are the opinions of others helpful?

OK, rambling here, I know. Better stop thinking about thinking and go watch the "garage band show" Ashton just announced that he and the twins have put together downstairs.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Christmas Tree Adventure

So we've got a beautiful big fresh-cut Christmas tree standing in our house. It'll take a few days to get it decorated since the lights alone are quite a production on a 12 foot tree. But it's here. And after all we went through on Saturday to get the thing, we're happy with even a naked tree right now.

It's always an adventure treking up to the mountains to cut our tree but this year turned out to be the longest, most complicated and grossest tree expedition yet!

Stop here if you're quite squeamish about throwing up...

Now, you have to know that we've had the stomach flu going on around here this week. Last Wednesday night, Jared and I woke up to Eliza crying over a barf-filled bowl. We were proud of her for using a bowl but a bit confused why she had a bowl downstairs. Oh well. After getting her cleaned up and tucked back in, just as we were getting back to sleep, we heard more strange sounds and thought it was Eliza again. Nope. It was Oliver throwing up all over his bed. Nice. Jared and had a hard time holding it down ourselves as we cleaned up that one. We got him showered up and got his bed all fresh and clean, put a bowl by his bed, explained the finer points of what to do when you get that bad feeling in your tummy (use the BOWL, not the BED) and went back to bed again, wondering who'd be next. But nothing else happened. Everyone woke up feeling fine. We did find out the mystery of the bowl Eliza used being downstairs. Isaac had thrown up earlier in the night (in the toilet, thankfully) and had brought that bowl down there to keep by his bed. He'd used it a couple more times and then left in the bathroom for Eliza to find and use. Yuck. We hadn't heard a thing from Isaac who felt he was man enough to handle his own sickness in the middle of the night. Poor guy.

So I kept Isaac, Liza, Oliver and Silas (he hadn't been sick at all but probably had some germs going on) home for the day. They all seemed perfectly well but we didn't want to spread any germs. We were grateful the sickness had passed in just a few hours for each kid. We played games and read Christmas stories and it was a very nice day. Ashton felt totally great so he went to school.

I got a mild version of this stomach bug and felt a little queasy all day Friday (so we had a nice movie afternoon since that was all I was up for) but it was over quickly. Then when he came upstairs Saturday morning, Ashton informed me he'd been up in the night throwing up. Darn. Oh well, he'll be fine in a couple hours if he's like everyone else, I thought. I had him lay down for a while. Then when Jared got back from the scout food drive, we sorted through all the snow clothes for our mountain tree trek, did a little Saturday cleaning and loaded everyone in the car (along with tons of canned food from the drive) and delivered the food to the food bank.

Then we realized we should really take the other car to the mountains even though the roads were clear. So we went back home and got Jared's car and moved all the snow clothes into that car and reloaded everyone and headed out again.

As we were headed out of town, Ashton frantically announced he was going to throw up. Jared quickly pulled over, but since Ashton had seemed totally fine when we loaded the car and since we were in a hurry, we hadn't really thought to put Ashton in a place in the car where throwing up would be convenient. Ashton was in between Silas and Liza in the back seat and as soon as we pulled over, he reached over Silas to get the door open and hop out. Well, Jared's good old car has one door that won't open from the inside and you guessed it, Ashton needed to get out that very door very quickly. While Ashton frantically tried to get the door open and I frantically tried to get my seatbelt off to get out and open the door from the outside, things just didn't work out. Silas and the window and door by Silas ended up covered in throw up before I could wrench that door open and let Ashton out. Oh yuck. Ashton got out and emptied the rest of his stomach and we mopped up Silas the best we could with random snow clothes while Silas wailed - poor guy. No wet wipes - those were in the other car. No extra clothes - we always keep extra clothes in the van. We rolled down the windows and headed back home - for the second time.

I'll spare you the details of clean up when we got home. Ashton and Silas took showers and lots of clothes went into the washing machine and everyone was grateful Ashton hadn't eaten anything that day so there were no chunks involved. Jared's car is now cleaner than it has been in a long, long time.

A while later, we set out to get our Christmas tree for the third time (this time without Ashton who said he felt great but needed a nap). Are we crazy or what? But when else were we going to get this tree? We couldn't go on a week day because of work and school and the need for daylight for this project. The kids were dying that we didn't have a tree yet and the thought of waiting until next Saturday was just too sad. We thought about a tree lot tree and I even considered the beautiful ease of a fake tree for a minute or two - but the expense of either of those options is prohibitive (especially since we already paid for a tree cutting permit) and once you've cut yourself a beautiful tree in the beautiful snowy mountains, it's hard to do anything else... So we headed to the mountains. And it was beautiful up there. And Ashton was fine. The kids loved the snow for a bit and then cried that their toes and fingers were cold since we're all such wimps living in St George. But we found a beautiful tree and it's in our living room and I guess all's well that ends well.

But Jared was sick all day yesterday - that tummy bug finally got him and it got him longer and worse than anyone else. Thankfully, he's fine today and he's on his way to SLC for meetings up there. Silas seems to be the only one who's escaped this sickness. I keep asking him if he feels OK and watching his eating but he really seems fine. Random - but nice that someone made it through!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


We had quite a houseful for Thanksgiving! Two great families - the Ransoms and the Tophams - joined us for almost 4 days of hiking, biking, talking, playing and eating to celebrate Thanksgiving. The weather was perfect and we fell in love with St George all over again as we showed our friends some favorite spots.

Jared went to school at MIT with Derek Ransom who was the best man at our wedding. I went to school with Kim Topham at Wellesely. Janessa Ransom went to Harvard with Dave Topham. We knew both couples, as individuals and then as couples, back in our Boston days. Then the two families ended up living in the same neighborhood in Alpine Utah and it's so nice to have our friends in easy driving distance now. Our collective 14 children thoroughly enjoy each other and match up really well age-wise. We're grateful for good friends and great Boston memories and all the new memories we're building together.

Our Thanksgiving feast was extra grand with the best recipes from three different families coming together. We were all so anxious to eat by the time dinner was ready on Thanksgiving that I didn't snap a photo of the main meal or the beautiful array of food - shoot. But above is a photo of the kids enjoying their pie. We had so much food that we were able to have a full second Thanksgiving dinner the following day. And on Sunday, after our guests left, we were able to make one more meal out of the final leftovers. The kids were delighted that we got to feast for 3 days like the pilgrims did at the original Thanksgiving.

Wii tournament - the four-year-olds were pretty darn serious about the whole thing

Here are the dads (and little Pierce)

Petroglyph hike - always a favorite

Jared, Derek and Dave got some great mountain biking in and we did a big group bike ride to the sand dunes. Kim, Janessa and I went out for a great girls night out - nothing like great food and excellent conversation with bright and interesting women.

We really couldn't have hoped for a better few days. In the midst of plenty of stress for me with getting Learning Circles up at The Power of Moms and way too much stress for Jared as he deals with near-daily crises at work while trying to keep his company afloat, it was nice to drop everything else and just enjoy family and friends and nature and good food for a few days. We're so blessed in so very many ways.


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