Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sometimes people just die...

I just got a rather shocking email from a friend telling me that her son-in-law passed away.  I just met this son-in-law, Karl and his wife Julie a couple weeks ago when they were visiting their mother in St George and needed to borrow some camping equipment.  Karl and Julie seemed to be such cool people.  After we chatted for a few minutes and handed off the camping stuff, Jared and I talked about how we wished we could get to know them better - too bad they live on the other side of the country!

The obituary said Karl died at home of an apparent heart attack.  He was 40.  He sure seemed to be in great health.  He was a wonderful father and husband and scout leader.  He was an amazing high school English teacher.  He was in his prime.

Then he died.  Unexpectedly.  Randomly.

I can't even imagine how his wife and three kids must feel.

I need to cherish my own amazing husband so much more.  What if today were somehow the last day we had together?  I wasn't that nice to him today.  I got bugged with him about several dumb little things.  I didn't hug him or kiss him at all today.  I dragged my feet about the camping trip he set up for us last night.  I didn't tell him how handsome he looked in the campfire light.  I was busy with the kids.  I was tired.  

I don't think he really knows how great I think he is. 

Thanks for the wake-up call, Karl.  Thank you thank you thank you.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Love Languages

Silas and Isaac are my huggers.  I can count on them for like 100 sweet hugs a day.   Eliza's my gift-giver.  She regularly presents me with beautiful drawings, kind notes and beautifully wrapped presents containing different things she found around the house and thought I'd like.  Oliver tells me "I love you" all the time.  But Ashton's never been very demonstrative with his love.  He stiffens up when I hug him.  He doesn't complain a bit if I forget a goodnight kiss.  He's never been a note-writer or a gift-giver.  And he's not one to initiate an "I love you."

But I guess Ashton's found his "love language" - it's electronic.  He'll write me the occasional email telling me that he loves me.  And that post he must have put up before he left for school today - total heart-melter.

It's nice to be loved.  Very nice.

my mom is awe some

Hey, this is Ashton. I just wanted to say that MY MOM IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She always plays with us, makes food for us, and takes us to awesome places. So...
SHE IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Where did my babies go?

My babies just graduated from preschool yesterday.  They graduated last year too.  But this time they really are done.  No more Ms. Bowen and Busy Bee Joy School.  Can this be real?  Can they really be so big I can scarcely hold them on both on my lap anymore?

When they turned four, I wrote this article (you'll like the photos) about how crazy that felt.  But now that they're 5 and a half and headed for kindergarten, it's all the more unreal.

I've been working all morning on various details for our Power of Moms Retreat (we've got just a couple spots left if you want to come!)  plus I had a planning phone call with April and I've spent some time with the cable modem guy trying to get our Internet up and running again (the last couple days have made me realize how much of my life seems to revolve around the Internet!).

But now I'm going to go on a bike ride with my babies who really are going to be gone in the blink of an eye.

OK - now it's nighttime.  Just for total reality sake, I thought I should share a little about what happened after I saved what I have above and headed out on the bike ride the twins had begged for when I was writing the post.

I happily announced that I was ready for the bike ride now and Silas gleefully strapped his helmet on while Oliver put on his grumpiest face and said he wanted to play on the rocks across the street instead.  What do you do when you have two kids who want to do mutually exclusive things and neither one wants to budge?  It was a beautiful day - perfect 70 degrees - perfect for a little bike ride and I thought we should stick with the bike ride plan.  Oliver got on his bike but was NOT going to be happy about it.  I told him I'd race him (usually works). Not interested.  I told him he could be the leader for the first part of the bike ride (usually totally works).  Not interested.  I finally told him that there's be treats for happy bikers after the bike ride and that did the trick.

We had a great bike ride and I let them trade off being the leaders.  We stopped to smell my favorite flowers (Have you smelled sweet broom?  It's amazing).  They sang as the biked and everything was just perfect.  Until Silas somehow ran into a prickly rope that was roping off an empty lot and got a little welt on his arm which made for some pretty good weeping and wailing.  Then we headed home.

So I had a great time with my little guys and focused on them most of the rest of the day. (They had a doctor appointment to see about what they call their "tip toe problem" - they have short achilles tendons and can only walk on their toes - they may be headed for special "boots" or surgery.  Then we made it through several errands together with minimal whining and only one incident - Silas popped out of a clothing rack where he was hiding and just about gave a lady a heart attack.)

Even when I'm in a great mood and we're doing fairly fun things, hanging out with my fabulous kids is never all bliss.  And that's OK.  I'll take this motherhood thing with all it's bumpy patches.  The hard stuff only makes the beautiful stuff shine all the more in comparison.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Being Pecked to Death by a Duck

My aunt had this quote hanging in her house that said "Mothering small children is like being pecked to death by a duck."  As a teenager, I remember thinking that was an odd little saying.  Isn't motherhood supposed to be glorious and wonderful?  And ducks have those rounded beaks - would their pecking really even hurt?  But that quote sure comes to mind on days like today! 

Today started off great.  I got up at 6am (a BIG deal for me) to go walking with a friend.  She didn't show up so I was a little irked but then I went for a run and it was a beautiful morning with all these flowers out everywhere and it worked out to really nice.  I need to get up earlier. But that would mean I need to get to bed earlier - hmmm...

I got the kids to school and preschool, did the grocery shopping, and the twins were great little helpers unloading all the groceries this time (last week we had a little fiasco - Oliver dropped a glass bottle of spaghetti sauce and it splattered tomato stains and glass shards over a surprisingly large portion of the garage).  I went to a neighborhood Board meeting, replied to a bunch of emails and had a great story time with the twins (hasn't been happening enough lately).  Then we had 1/2 hour for a nap before the big kids got home from school (thanks to my good friend April's influence, I've learned that it's actually OK for a good mom to nap in the middle of the day when she's wiped out!  She wrote a great article on it and every so often I just cry "uncle" and lay down for a few minutes thanks to what I've learned from her).  I laid down between my sweet little boys and after a little squirming, Silas interlaced his fingers in mine and we fell asleep holding hands.  Ah, so nice, so sweet to drift off with these sweet boys beside me.

So far it was really a nice day.

But just as we fell asleep I was jolted awake by a leaf-blower outside my open window.  Sad.  I closed the window but by then it was too late.  I was awake.  Luckily the boys stayed asleep - they'd been pretty grumpy.

Then the kids got home from school and I was all excited to tell them the great plan I had for the afternoon - we were making cookies for our teachers for Teacher Appreciation week and then we were all going out to dinner (a totally rare treat - we had a gift card and the kids had been begging....).  As I got ready to make these exciting announcements, Isaac and the little boy we carpool with started begging to have Isaac go over to this little guy's house.  I explained my exciting plan, thinking that would fix things.  But Isaac started WHINING and Eliza started telling me all about the costume she's wearing for her play at school and the carpool boy kept saying, "but WHY can't Isaac come over?"  I was trying to explain everything and stay cheerful but I was tired from my 2 minute nap and couldn't even get a word in edgewise to explain things.  Meanwhile the carpool boy's mom was waiting in her car and Ashton was shoving papers from school in my face.  I just don't like those swimming-through-molasses moments!

We got things resolved there and I had a little talk with Isaac about how sad it makes me when I'm trying hard to do fun things and he's whining about it.  He gave me a big hug and sincerely apologized then got to work on the cookies (he's my best cookie maker lately).  Then I tried to pay overdue bills and fielded homework and cookie questions while Oliver asked me about 20 times to play Memory with him and Ashton wanted to talk to me about how he discovered his favorite band - Green Day.  I explained that I needed to be left alone for a few minutes so I could get a couple things done so we could go out to dinner (in retrospect, couldn't I have paid those bills tonight?  It's sad how urgent whatever I'm in the middle of usually seems - I need to step back and get more perspective more often).

When I got the top-priority bills paid, I saw that the place was a mess and decided to squeeze in 10 minutes of clean up so everyone could "earn" going out to dinner just a bit. And I had to ask each kid to do each little thing like 5 times.  Sometimes a quick clean-up with a reward at the end works great.  Sometimes it just doesn't work.  With more yelling than I care to admit, they did finish a few little tasks and we got everyone in the car and headed to the restaurant.

We got there and while the twins played in the exciting revolving door, I realized Isaac's shirt was covered in cookie dough and Eliza's hair was a mess.  Plus Jared wasn't there.  I herded everyone to a table and fielded 100 questions and requests while helping everyone understand the menu options and having Oliver cry that I wasn't playing tic-tac-toe on his menu with him (I really should have played Memory with him earlier...).  Jared luckily showed up before too long - he thought we were going to pick him up at his office nearby and didn't quite get the message to meet us at the restaurant until I got pretty frazzled and called him.

Dinner was actually quite pleasant and the kids were so excited about eating out - especially when the kind waitress brought kid cups of ice cream to all of them, whether they'd ordered a kid meal that came with ice cream or not.  I loved the look on the twins faces when she set their ice cream in front of them - great moment.

On the way home, everyone was talking at once and asking me questions and as soon as I'd start answering one question, someone else would ask me another one or start telling me about some awesome thing they wanted me to know.  I've probably said 1000 times - "I can't listen to you when I'm in the middle of telling you something!"  and "I can only listen to one person at a time!"  Ashton wanted to tell me that he'd called the radio station this morning to vote on his favorite 80's song (must have been when I was in the shower) and he got to hear himself on the radio - great story and I wanted to hear more but at the same time, Isaac was asking me if we could stop for some Dr Pepper for his teacher since that's her favorite (she'll just have to be happy with the cookies) and Eliza wanted to tell me all these cute things our little neighbor boy had said to her.  Plus Oliver was singing a preschool song and Silas complained - "Oliver, that's EENOYING me!"

By the time we got home I was feeling quite "done" for the day.  But we still to make cards for the teachers and do the whole bedtime thing and Jared had to take off (he's usually so helpful at bedtime and I do rely on him!).  I was trying to keep being nice but as each child brought up more and more things they wanted to say and do before hitting the sack, I was getting pretty eenoyed (as Silas would say).  Kids just don't naturally have a big sense of urgency when it comes to bedtime.

When everyone is saying or doing or asking something all at once it's just pretty hard to enjoy all the cute and funny things they're each saying and doing!  In the middle of brushing his teeth, Silas put his toothbrush in the air and declared himself the Statue of Liberty while Oliver sat on the toilet and said "Mommy, remember when we had to catch my pee in a cup at the doctor?" and Eliza started exploring that topic with Oliver while Isaac came wandering on into the bathroom STILL not in his pj's after I'd asked him 10 times.  I finally got the twins to bed and headed downstairs to tuck the big kids in.

Ashton and Isaac started wrestling while they were supposed to be brushing their teeth and I walked into their room to find a big mess they were supposed to have cleaned up this morning. I probably should have just had them get in bed and clean it up tomorrow, but it felt urgent to have them clean it up NOW and I wasn't super nice about it.  Then Eliza got all teary eyed when we couldn't find her school t-shirt for t-shirt Friday tomorrow and she really wanted to show me her latest art masterpiece and I wasn't super patient with her.

We finally got teeth brushed, prayers said, kisses and hugs given and everyone tucked in.  But I'm sitting in the basement outside the boys' room typing this because they kept messing around in there and needed me to sit out here and tell them to be quiet and go to sleep quite firmly several times.
There are certainly lots of really frustrating and hard things that pop up in my life.  But mostly, there are just lots of little things that keep coming at me.  And many of those little things are good things.  My kids say cute things.  They give me hugs.  They want to tell me things and show me things.  They want me to play with them and help them with homework.  I LOVE these things about motherhood.  But when they all happen simultaneously and I find myself having 3 different kids talk to me at the same time while I'm trying to keep straight which ingredients I've already put in the dinner and the phone rings and another kid starts crying in the next room and I have all these other things on my mind - well - I start feeling "pecked."  If everyone could just need things at different times, it would be great.  But it generally doesn't work out that way!

So I'll head to bed and tomorrow will be better.  But I wanted to remember this day when I was needed and loved in such abundance - even though it was a hard day.  I learned today (again) that I need to do a better job putting off things that aren't as urgent as they seem so that I can be in a somewhat better position to enjoy the great stuff that's coming at me right and left.  And the stuff that comes at me can feel less like pecking and more like loving if I am in the right frame of mind and I'm not trying to pack in so much.

Now I'd better firmly put MYSELF in bed.

Loosli Learning Adventures Camp

Last year we had a really great June.  We always go up to Bear Lake for all of July (it's heavenly to hang out on the beach day after day with my sisters and all our kids) but before last year, June had typically ended up being either boring or stressful.  One year we tried just lounging at the pool and doing whatever came up. After a week or so, we were all pretty bored.  The next year,  I ran the kids around to a bunch of classes to keep them busy.  Then the following year, I actually conducted classes for the kids and all their friends because I found all the classes from the previous summer to be mediocre at best.  Doing our own tuition-based summer school with classes of 10-12 kids was so fun but SO much work!

So last year, I decided NOT to take the kids to classes all over town and NOT to invite the whole neighborhood over for classes.  Instead, the kids and I came up with our own plan.  We brainstormed all the things everyone really wanted to do for the summer and developed some great activities we'd do together each day (art, "wondering," working on Spanish, reading time, journal writing on fun themes, etc.).  They earned points for doing little activities (group and individual) as well as jobs around the house each day and were able to translate those points into money and save up for something they really wanted at the end of June.  You can read about last summer's plan here.  I loved really following the kids' interests and learning together in a semi-structured way.  Plus we threw in lots of activities just for fun.

Yesterday one our Power of Moms readers sent in a great idea and I think we just might have to steal it to help us with this year's plan.  We'll still do the points and stuff from last year, but I think our "Loosli Learning Adventures Camp" schedule will be based on this idea:
  • Movie Monday (or for us it'll probably be Masterpiece Monday since we love doing art together)
  • Take a trip Tuesday (the park, a museum, a bike ride, a picnic, a friend's house...)
  • Wet Wednesday (a swim/spash pad day/sprinklers)
  • anyThing goes Thursday (a chance to choose from a list of fun activities we'll all brainstorm together at the beginning of the summer)
  • Friend Friday (everyone can have a friend over - nice to do it all at once and protect our family time the rest of the week.  Plus we always have Family Movie Night on Fridays). 
I love being my kids' teacher.  I mean all moms are their kids' teachers in many ways - but it's great to do it in a little more formal way sometimes.  I so admire moms who home school.  While I don't know if I could do it longterm,  I feel like summer's the perfect time set up a "home school" where I can teach my kids about things I really value and love while we really enjoy each other's company.

What are your ideas for making summer fun, fulfilling, interesting and non-stressful?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Power of Music

Growing up, music was a big part of my life.  Most of us played instruments (someone was always "practicing" in our house from before the sun rose until late at night).  My sisters and I sang in performing groups and someone was always singing around the house (especially Saydi who belted out Annie songs all the time).  Plus it seems like we always had background music.  My mom always had classical music playing in our home.  My dad always had John Denver or Sheena Easton or whatever his latest favorite was playing in the car.  Certain periods of my childhood have a distinct soundtrack when I think back on them - Jackson Hole was all John Denver, Lake Powell was the soundtrack to the musical Big River, Mexico was Michael Jackson's Thriller album. 

As I took off on my own in life, I continued to make music a big part of my life.  My main extracurricular activity in college was singing in a small a'cappella group and I spent most weekends touring with that group.  And the soundtrack of my Wellesley education included Abba (a lot of "Take a Chance on Me" going on) and Enya ("Sail Away" was perfect to listen to as I went running on that gorgeous campus).  My mission in Bulgaria had a soundtrack of Vivaldi's guitar concertos and some good old MoTab plus the favorite of all Bulgarian Mormons at the time - "God be With You 'Til We Meet Again."  To this day, when I hear the songs "Glycerine," "Lightening Crashes" or "Living on the Edge," I flash back to running along the Potomac River in DC or the Charles River in Cambridge.  And when I hear "Time of your Life" by Green Day, I'm falling in love with Jared all over again.

But once the kids came along, the music sort of fizzled out for a while.  Ashton wouldn't go to sleep without Enya playing when he was a baby.  We listened to a lot of Jack Johnson and the soundtrack to "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" on car trips.  But for the most part, it was hard to remember to turn on  music (or make music) when the cacophony of our kids was constantly going on.  Sometimes I think to turn on classical music on Sundays and that always brings such a nice feeling into our home.  Once in a while we have a family dance party with everyone choosing their favorite songs.  My violin gets pulled out about once a year when the kids ask what that old wooden case in the closet is.  Ashton's taught himself a few chords on the guitar and I've taught Isaac like 3 piano lessons (that idea didn't quite stick).  We often sing hymns in the car on the way to school (we try to learn the first verse of a new hymn every week).  And sometimes we turn on some fun music while we do our Saturday cleaning.  But music has definitely not been a big thing in our home and I want to change that. 

I'm starting with background music.  Jared insisted on putting in a great speaker system when we built out house - and when I remember to turn on music, I'm so glad for his insistence.  But I forget.  A lot.  So for the last few days, I've made a point of having music on.  I love how Pandora ( lets you put in a favorite song and then it creates your own radio station with similar songs. With the right music on, life just feels better.  When you're making dinner and a favorite song comes on, you can sing along.  When you're doing the post-dinner clean-up and a song with a great groove pops up, you can throw a little dance party into the clean-up action.  When you're making dinner and a lovey-dovey song comes on, a nice kiss with your honey makes the whole evening better (and makes the kids squeal with delight).

For us, classical music right after school works great for homework time (the try symphonic classical station on Pandora or create your own station using a favorite classical song).  Then dinner time works great with a nice mellow beat (I love my Jack Johnson Pandora station for this).  Saturday cleaning works well with some dance music (type in a favorite upbeat song and create your own station).

I love how music makes you feel like you're in a movie sometimes.  I love how it can take the hard edges off things.  I love how good music can bring up good thoughts and good memories.  I love how it can make me feel more tender towards my husband or my kids.  I love how it can perfectly accompany the beautiful scenery outside my window or the sweet hugs from those I love.

Of course, too much music or the wrong sort of music can just add to the stress and chaos.  And silence is good too. It's quiet right now in my house and it feels good.  But we do need more music around here. 

Once I get good at this background music thing, I'll have to get going on actually creating music more often - more singing together, maybe some guitar lessons for Ashton and some real piano lessons for Isaac and Eliza.  But I'll just take this one step at a time.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nice People

Today at Walmart I lucked out.  I got the nicest check-out lady ever.  She didn't just stand out as nice because she was at Walmart and at our Walmart, grumpy checkout people is the norm.  She would have stood out anywhere.  She didn't say anything all that special - but she just seemed genuinely happy and helpful and kind.  She enthusiastically asked how my shopping went and actually seemed to want to know.  She pointed out how cute the shirt was that I found for Eliza and how glad she was for me that I found something so cute for such a good deal ($3!).  She expressed heartfelt excitement about the rain and how beautiful it makes everything (this is probably about the greenest spring St George has ever experienced - it really is so extra pretty here right now).  I must admit, my jaded self jumped to the conclusion that she must be new - Walmart would beat the sunniness out of her soon enough.  But my optimistic self quickly countered with the idea that this woman was just plain nice and that she'd be nice in any circumstance.  I left Walmart feeling really good about life.

Then I picked up the twins from preschool and was in such a good mood, I gave into their desire to go to the Family Center (do you have one near you?  I love the place - there are all these great educational games, toys and books that you can check out for a week at a time).  The twins LOVE going there - and it's not just because the promise of new toys and games and books every week is pretty exciting.  I think one of the reasons they love going there is that the lady that works there is just so NICE.  She really listens when the twins want to tell her about the things they're checking out and what's great about them.  She looks right in their faces and listens and makes thoughtful comments.  Not a lot of grown-ups do that when little kids talk to them.  She always remembers my name (even though I haven't been in there forever - life has been pretty busy).  She always looks so genuinely pleased to see us.  And when we're late bringing something back (yes, it happens more than I care to say), she calls and says something so nice like "I bet you've been really busy and just haven't had a chance to bring those things back so I went ahead and renewed them for you."  I like her a lot - and that's probably because she seems to really like us.  After leaving there today, the twins and I decided we're going to make a thank-you note for her.

Then we went to the bank to make some deposits.  The twins LOVE the bank because there are lollipops there plus there's one of those doors you can open with a button right at their height (perfect for people in wheel chairs and for 5-year-olds).  As I tried to total up the checks I was turning in, the twins devoured their  lollipops, asked for more, played with the automatic door, and messed around with the gumball machine, hoping for a stray gumball to maybe come out.  These little guys of mine have to touch everything, don't hold still and, well, they're just generally exuberant.  Some people don't see to appreciate their enthusiasm all that much.  I felt stressed out about what they were doing as I was trying to add up the checks (I'm not so great with numbers - I really have to concentrate on these things...).  I looked up at the lady behind the counter and was relieved to see that she was watching the twins with a smile on her face.  She said, "When you're their age, automatic doors and candy are so exciting, aren't they?  Your boys are just so cute - look at that beautiful hair of theirs!  You're so lucky to have them."  I agreed and we shared a great little moment watching these sweet boys of mine.

Thank you nice people.  Thank you so much.  I want to be more like you.  And I will thank you more often. You should know that you make a difference - a big difference.

Have you read a book called "Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed" with your kids?  You should.  It's all about how one little good deed can create ripple effects that go on and on and on.  It's a true book.  And there's a great website to go with it here.

Plus I was just looking for a photo to spice up this post a bit and stumbled upon a blog that I love - it's all about celebrating niceness - check it out here:

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Pretty Sneaky....

Jared just got TONS of bonus points.  What a great blog post he put together!  He snuck home from church to do this I guess. Very clever man.  Ah, it's awfully nice to get "spotlighted" myself (the kids love when I spotlight one of them on my blog or when they get spotlighted at church or school - but moms don't usually get that sort of thing).  And it's so fun and interesting to see what the kids and Jared especially appreciate about me.

The kids and Jared brought me breakfast in bed this morning.  Right after church the kids presented me with the little gifts they each made at school and preschool - the twins and Eliza have been hinting about what their presents were for days and they were SO excited to finally be able to give them to me.  Then we took Mother's Day photos (that photo on Jared's blog post was my Mother's Day photo from last year).  Here we are:

We went on a beautiful little hike behind our house.  It was heavenly to just wander, going at the kids' pace and noticing every little wildflower (there are so many out right now).  I love not hurrying and not having a destination sometimes (especially after this last super-packed week).  And now Jared and the kids are in the kitchen making dinner and they've banned me from the room.  Life is good - really good.  A few days ago I was a basket case of worry and stress - so I guess the contrast makes today extra good.

Since I've got a little quiet time to reflect, I thought I'd record some of my favorite things about motherhood over this past year - just the first things that come to mind:
  • Having kids old enough to have real conversations.  They have such great questions and ideas and thoughts.  I love really getting to know each of their unique personalities as they sort of "come into their own."  It's an amazing feeling to get to the point where I not only love my kids with all my heart, but I also think they're interesting, cool, fun people that I really enjoy hanging out with on a whole new level.
  • Reading with the twins.  They snuggle up on either side of me, burrowing their heads up under my arms so that I can just barely reach the book - they're getting big!  I'm so glad they still insist on sitting this way for story time and that they still delightedly run to the book cupboard when I announce story time.  See the photo at the end of this post to see what I mean.
  • Seeing Ashton's love for music along with his musical abilities really bloom this year.  He's so good on the guitar, he's really learned a lot on violin and he's absolutely loved choir and "Orffestra" at school this year.  He's a star bass xylophone player and can play by ear on several instruments.  
  • Seeing Isaac take off with reading and have his moments in the spotlight this year as he won the 3rd grade science fair at his school and placed in a state-wide poetry contest.  Isaac's really our middle child and he needed this!  It was beautiful to see him beaming as he received his prizes and even more beautiful to see his siblings congratulating him.
  • Watching Eliza "mother" every smaller kid around and teach her little brothers so many things in such a patient, sweet way.  See a video of her teaching the twins to tie their shoes here.
  • Having Oliver and Silas get so excited about milestones like writing their own names and starting to notice letters and then whole words in the world around them.  And seeing their big siblings super excited about their little brothers' progress - so often one of them will come to me and say something like, "Oliver is so smart - you know what he just told me?"
  • Sitting at the top of Angel's Landing together - that was an amazing moment that none of us will ever forget.
  • Having Liza scratch my arm and Isaac play with my hair while I read to the big kids at bedtime - the nice glow of the lamplight, the opportunity to talk about interesting issues raised by the book, the snuggly together feeling of it all.
  • Having my totally un-huggy Ashton give me several big heartfelt hugs on his birthday and on Mother's Day.
  • Having a little arm thrown around my neck and a kiss planted on my cheek so often as I type away on my computer - welcome little momentary interruptions that I'm so blessed to have.
  • Seeing Jared baptize Isaac in Bear Lake. I'll forever have snapshots in my mind of that beautiful little boy and his handsome dad hand in hand wading out into the lake, their white clothes contrasting with their end-of-summer tanned skin, the lake blue as blue around and beyond them, the huge smiles on their faces as they emerged, wet, cold and triumphant.  Seeing my dad congratulate Isaac while Isaac wore the very baptism clothes my grandma made for my dad as a boy - generations connecting, goodness and beauty all together, laid out before my eyes.
  • Having a twin on each knee while I reply to an email or two before taking a break to read to them or do puzzles with them.  Loving that they just want to be near me - even if I'm not giving them my undivided attention at the time.
  • Eliza presenting me with some truly beautiful drawings and totally sweet notes complete with very logical spelling on an almost-daily basis.  
  • Watching all five kids up on the stand singing Mother's Day songs today in church - Silas singing at the top of his lungs (not exactly on key) and causing plenty of giggles and knowing smiles cast in our direction from people sitting near us.  Ashton was trying to hide behind Isaac and wasn't exactly singing - but the rest of them were singing with all their hearts and looking right at me.  Beautiful.
I could go on and on but dinner's ready!  How blessed I am to be the mother of these valiant, sweet, bright, beautiful children.

Saren is One Terrific Mom

Actually, it isn’t Saren who wrote that. It’s Jared and the kids and we wanted to let the world know what a great Mom Saren is.
IMG_1435 First, from the time that I first knew her, Saren always looked forward to motherhood. She obviously had a tremendous mother (and grandmothers) and was anxious to nurture kids as well as she was taught growing up. Saren from the beginning of our marriage has always wanted to talk about parenting styles and what our hopes and dreams were for our kids.

Saren can mesmerize the kids for hours with stories of her life, her ancestors lives, or any other great story. Whenever Saren is reading a book, she is always filling the kids in on the story line during breakfast or when they have a moment in the car together. I can’t tell you how many times the kids have all asked her to go read some more of her book so she can fill them in on the rest of the story. And she loves reading to them as well. They all have a love of reading and it definitely comes from her.

I can go on and on about Saren, but I’ll let the kids go on and on about her. Over the past week, I have been quizzing the kids about the things they love about their mom and I just thought I’d list a few of them here (in no particular order):
  • She makes really good food that's good for us and yummy
  • She reads the scriptures to us
  • She plays with us
  • She gives us hugs and kisses
  • She takes care of me
  • I love when she makes enchiladas (these kids are good eaters…they went on about lots of things Saren makes)
  • She makes our house look really good
  • She lets me watch TV (a rarity around here, so it’s a big treat for the kids)
  • She lets me play Starfall (a phonics game for the twins)
  • She lets me turn on the popcorn popper (we love the weekly movie night and popcorn tradition)
  • She helps me earn puzzles and Transformers (the twins have loved having goal charts they can fill in when ever they do little jobs around the house to earn the things they want to buy)
  • She brushes my hair so I can look good
  • She always takes pictures of me when I do things
  • She makes sure that I have my lunch for school
  • She helps me with my homework
  • She learned Spanish so she can help me with my homework (the kids go to a dual immersion school)
  • She helps a lot of other moms
  • She teaches in my class (Saren volunteers in the kids' classrooms each week)
  • She takes me on mommy dates (a prize to have some one on one time with mom…usually to run some errands, but all the kids yearn for that)
  • She helps me learn about cheese (often when the kids ask a question about something, she heads to Youtube and they watch a little documentary about making cheese, how cars are made, constructing buildings, or whatever the question may be)
  • She makes great cookies
  • She taught me how to cook
  • She reads us really good chapter books at bedtime (big kids)
  • She lets us pick lots of books for story time (twins)
We love Saren and are proud of everything she does not only for our family, but for all the other mothers of the world through The Power of Moms and her work in church and the community. Have a great Mother’s Day!

Your adoring family

p.s. Thanks to my brother-in-law Dave for giving me the blog hijacking idea

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Mother's Day Videos and Gifts

At The Power of Moms, we had a video contest for Mother's Day and we got some great stuff!  You'll love the 2 finalists in our Mother's Day video contest. Watch them (they're each about a minute long), vote for your favorite, and forward the link on to all your friends - makes a great little Mother's Day pass-along!

Mother's Day Video Contest Finalists

I feel like I'm back in college doing finals - only with 5 kids in tow.  This week has been crazy busy with Power of Moms stuff in preparation for Mother's Day!  But we've been blessed to get more done in a week than we really thought possible.  I finished the front end and Jared has the complicated back-end of our Bloom Game 99.9% done (he's really amazing with what he can do and he's been sitting in front of his computer for over 12 hours a day getting this taken care of).  I'm so excited to play this game myself!  It's basically a fun way to set balanced goals and experience more accomplishment, balance and serendipity in life (I got the accomplishment going on but the balanced and serendipity are sorely lacking for me lately!).

And that's not all.  We also helped April launch the amazing program she's been working on so diligently - Mind Organization for Mothers (M.O.M.).  I'm excited to implement that program as well in my life - I need its promise of less stress by organizing and prioritizing time better.

And that's not all.  We also launched a fun new section on our website called the "Question of the Week" and there's a quick, fun Mother's Day question you can answer to enter a drawing for a great prize.   

So consider all this your Mother's Day gifts from me.  My greatest desire in life is to be the mother and wife I can be and need to be.  And right next to that in my heart is my desire to help other mothers do the same.  I dearly hope that all this intense and hard work will translate into mothers around the world finding more joy and purpose in their lives.  

So as MY Mother's Day gift FROM YOU - would you please take a few minutes to write an email to the moms you love and share some things from The Power of Moms that they'd love?  
Thanks and Happy Mother's Day.  Thanks to all of you who are such wonderful examples of motherhood to me.

Love, Saren


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