Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Isaac's Birthday

Isaac's birthday was on the 19th.  We headed down to Salt Lake for the day so Jared could go to some meetings and we could do some fun stuff with just our family for Isaac's birthday.  Usually we're here for Isaac's birthday with all the cousins and relatives which is very fun since it was Isaac's 10th birthday, we wanted to make it different and special so this trip worked out great.

We started off the day telling Isaac all the details of the day he was born (we always do this with the birthday kid).  Isaac was my fastest, craziest and ultimately easiest delivery and recovery.  He was born 30 minutes after we got to the hospital and the amazing endorphins and empowering feeling of his birth got me hooked on natural childbirth.  Wow, that was a crazy and beautiful birth.

Then we visited the Beehive House and learned more about what life was like for the early settlers of Salt Lake City.  The woodwork carving in that house is amazing - I guess it's because Brigham Young was a carpenter by trade - new little fact for me.  The kind missionaries who led the tour seemed to be new and didn't have a lot of answers so I reached way back into my memories of touring that place long ago and was able to fill in some details.  Sometimes it's interesting how much you remember about random things.

We wandered through the beautiful Joseph Smith building and showed the kids the lovely ballroom where we had our big dance party after our wedding and the banquet hall at the top of the building where we had our wedding luncheon.  Plus we watched a few happy couples come out of the temple where we were married.  It was fun to take a little walk down memory lane with our kids.  And we enjoyed a birthday lunch at a table with a perfect view of the temple a the top of the Jospeph Smith Building.  The food wasn't great but to Isaac it was very fancy and very special and as tasty as can be.

Then we headed back to Bear Lake to celebrate with all the cousins and aunts and uncles.  They'd made a beautiful banner for Isaac and everyone popped out to say "surprise" and sing him happy birthday while some  uncles and aunts hoisted him up in a chair and danced him around the room.  We had a delicious dinner of Isaac's favorite burritos and then I had to go do a webinar with my parents for an hour while Shawni and Jared led all the kids in the always-exciting Candy Bar Game.  (The webinar went great.  I felt so bad leaving the party and was kicking myself for agreeing to do this webinar on Isaac's birthday - but as it turned out, he was plenty busy with the candy bar game and wasn't remotely phased when I told him I needed to leave for an hour - as usual, my guilt and worry was overblown...)

Sorry it's a bit blurry but I had to capture the moment quick!

Dance party and the banner all the cousins so lovingly made
Isaac with his favorite dinner - bean and cheese burritos
We finished off the day with brownies for a cake.  As is always with cakes I have anything to do with, the cake wasn't pretty - not even close.  But it sure was tasty.  When I asked Isaac what he wanted for a cake this year, he said he wanted brownies and said, "Mom, your cakes don't look very good but they are always super yummy and I think the taste is more important anyway."  Glad he appreciates my strengths.

I'm so grateful for Isaac.  Here are my top ten favorite things about this boy as he turns ten:

1.  Isaac thrives on hard work.  He was out there helping Jonah, Jared and Jeff work on the boat for hours on end when we first got to Bear Lake and never got tired of getting them what they needed, holding things for them, etc.  You can always count on Isaac to help anyone who needs help and stick with a job.  Plus he loves mowing the lawn - big bonus for us.

2.  Isaac has a kind and empathetic heart.  If someone is hurt or sad, Isaac is right there helping in any way he can.

3.  Isaac loves adventure and is always up for anything.  Want to go for a bike ride up a steep mountain? Sure!  Want to take care of your little cousin so her mom can go feed the baby?  I'd love to.  Want to try a 360 on the wakeboard?  Of course!

4.  Isaac is wonderful with little kids.  He's always had this natural love for babies and is amazing with all his little cousins around here.  He gets what they need and knows how to sooth and entertain them very well.

5.  Isaac gets along great with everyone - kids his age, grown-ups, babies, anyone.

6.  Isaac is very friendly and has a natural social sense.  He pipes up to add good points to grown-up conversations.  He has no fear of asking people at restaurants or stores for information.

7.  Isaac is a good friend to those who really need a friend.  He spent this past school year helping an autistic boy in his class with all his assignments and helped him to have fun at recess.  At parent teacher conferences, his teacher raved about what a good helper and friend he was to this boy.

8.  Isaac is stubborn - in a great way.  He knows what he wants and works hard to get it.  He doesn't easily take no for an answer.

9.  Isaac is loving.  He's always got a hug and an "I love you" ready for me.

10.  Isaac is very sharing.  He's always happy to give away almost anything to anyone who seems to need it.  Whenever he gets some money or candy, he offers to share it with anyone who's around.  When his cousin came to visit and didn't have enough money for an activity everyone wanted to do, Isaac immediately offered to give him $20 of his hard-earned money.

We love Isaac!!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Halcyon Days

Halcyon: [hal-see-uhn] –adjective 
1. calm; peaceful; tranquil: halcyon weather.
2. rich; wealthy; prosperous: halcyon times of peace.
3. happy; joyful; carefree: halcyon days of youth.

These are halcyon days - days of simple pleasures, rich conversations, and the peace that comes from slowing down and really enjoying your surroundings and activities.  These days are so healing to my too-often over-worked brain and stressed-out soul.

I love swimming in the lake.  There's a buoy way out in the lake and I swim out to it most days.  There's nothing like reading or chatting on the deck in the sun until you're just so hot you can't stand it anymore, then heading into that wonderfully cool water for a nice long swim. And after the swim, it's heavenly to dry in the sun - to feel each little hair on my arms and legs pop up as it dries, to feel my body go from shivery cold to toasty warm over the course of a 1/2 hour or so.

While I still can't say I love running very much, I do love the feeling of accomplishment it gives me and those moments when a great song comes on and I get a burst of energy and feel like a real runner as a conquer a hill at a good pace.  And I love indulging in great food and tasty treats with the calorie deficit running gives me on my side.

I love that I've had a chance to read almost a whole book here.  Reading a good book is such a pleasure to me.  And reading that good book while enjoying the warm sun and gentle breeze while my kids happily play on the beach in front of me is extra pleasurable.  I'm almost done with the book "Half Broke Horses" and it makes me think of my tough strong school-teacher grandma who raised my mom and her sister here in this unforgiving farming country much like the heroine in the book who is the grandmother of the author.  I've been reading the book during the day and telling my kids the story of the book as I tuck them in at night.  I love telling my kids stories - especially a rich good story I'm uncovering in a book I'm reading.

And I love being outside so much and enjoying the beauty that surrounds us here.  We've had breathtaking storms roll in that bring out vivid colors all around and sometimes result in a brilliant rainbow.

And the sunsets.  You just can't beat the sunsets here.

Most evenings, as we finish a late and tasty dinner after a long day of work and play together, someone calls out "wow - look at the sunset" and everyone goes out on the deck to watch the colors of the lake and sky go brilliant.  God creates a new, dynamic masterpiece for us every night.

Halcyon days.  I love these halcyon days.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Few Announcements

1. April and I are doing a totally free webinar tomorrow night with my parents on their new book - The Entitlement Trap.  Check out the details and register HERE if you like.

2.  I spent a little time making this blog a little more user-friendly.  My son Ashton helped me figure out how to make those links at the top of this page under the banner header - About This Blog, About Me, About My Family and Tried and True Ideas.  I'm so glad to have and 11-year-old who can answer my computer questions when my computer-guru husband Jared isn't around!  I hope these new features will make it easy for you to find the specific information and ideas you might be looking for.

3.  After getting lots of requests, we're offering our first-ever Couples Retreat where moms AND dads can come together to learn and share exciting ideas for building strong families.  I just finished the registration page for this event on September 10th at my parents' house in Park City and wanted my blog readers to get the first opportunity to register.  Click HERE to read all about it.

4.  For those who've been wishing they could attend a Retreat but distance and cost have been prohibitive, we're working on some great online workshops using footage from our Retreats.  We've got a great videographer who's helping us create video clips that will be used in conjunction with worksheets and reflection questions so people can participate in their own little personal Retreat right in their own home.  Of course, the energy, synergy and fun of attending a Retreat in person can't be replicated, but I'm excited that we'll be able to some great content to moms and dads around the world through these new online workshops.  I don't know when exactly we'll get them done.  I've stopped making promises on timelines because I've realized deadlines are deadly when you don't know what a project will really entail and when you're trying to keep your family's needs on the top of your priority list.  But sometime this fall is feeling realistic.

5.  If you can't make it to the Couples Retreat in September, maybe you can make it to BYU Idaho Education Week in Rexburg July 28-30.  I'll be presenting on Family Systems, Educating your Children and Taking Care of the Person Inside the Mom. My good friend Allyson Reynolds who's one of our Power of Moms Trainers will also be presenting as part of the "Mom/Family Track" that we helped start at BYUI last year. BYUI does a great job with Education Week, so if the dates, location, and price appeal to you, come!  You can find all the details HERE.

6.  Lest you think that Bear Lake is an idyllic paradise where everyone shows nothing but love for each other and joy abounds constantly, I think I should mention that while love is thick around here and we're blessed with lots of good times, we've got our fair share of hard stuff too.  The clean-up is often a bit overwhelming with twenty some-odd kids underfoot - and the question of who should be cleaning up what is sometimes an issue.  Planning and sharing meals generally works out great as everyone's great about pitching in - but as supplies run low, there's some negotiation and coordination involved in getting food from the nearest town 40 minutes away that doesn't have great options or getting someone who's coming up here from Salt Lake to bring food with them - the right food in the right quantities.  The kids have their little issues with each other and have developed a serious case of selective hearing (they've become very adept at tuning out adult voices asking them to do something).  Plus the kids have started trying to get what they want by asking a series of adults until they get an answer they like and we've had to squelch some of that.  Even though the batch of babies and toddlers we have this year are uncommonly mellow and sweet and fun, there are babies crying and toddlers and little kids making all sorts of messes quite frequently.  And even the best kids get pretty un-fun when they're short on sleep which is often the case around here.  But I'm not complaining.  Not a bit.  I'll take the over-worked bathrooms and the 10x/day need for sweeping the floor and the near-constant noise.  The relationship-building and fun is worth every little inconvenience and more.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Latest Bear Lake Adventures

So the official reunion is over but as usual, everyone in the family who doesn't have anything totally pressing to do in July has stayed on for as long as they can. We've had people come and go for work obligations and time with other friends and family but we've still had between 20 and 40 people here every day. We've had extended family and friends drop in and have enjoyed some precious quiet days when it's just been me, my sisters and sisters-in-law and our kids.  Here's a bit of what we've been up to:

Shawni, Saydi, my mom and I have had fun making more podcasts (to see our podcast series from last year, click here).

The twins and all of Group 4 have been engineering dams for hours every day in the sand.  They work hard to build a dam then turn on the hose to try it out, then squeal when the dam breaks, then plan out how to build a stronger dam next time.

The wind picks up each afternoon and my dad takes the kids out sailing.  Nothing like a good little sail.
And we've been doing a lot of waterskiing.  Isaac and Ashton have become experts on the wakeboard and Isaac and his two "group 3" buddies have had a great time skiing and wakeboarding all at once behind the boat.  Eliza got up on waterskis for a couple seconds and Silas gave it a few tries but wasn't thrilled with the process (to say the least). 

Liza got up on skis and I was so excited about it that I didn't think to take a picture until she was almost to fall!

Silas wasn't exactly thrilled about trying to waterski but he felt really good about making a couple good attempts.
Ana, Isaac and Grace had so much fun out there together.
Isaac and Grace had a few little bumps but came out smiling.

Ana and Isaac reached over and held hands for a while.

Jared showed his stuff
Oliver has had absolutely no desire to try waterskiing after his recent waterski attempt in Ashton resulted in him being dragged through the mud on his face.  I really can't blame him for being hesitant.  He did, however, amaze everyone by being one of the first to plunge into the icy water of Bloomington Lake. 

We made our annual trek to Bloomington Lake.  Usually when we make our trek up into the hills to Bloomington Lake (near where my ancestors lived and near where my grandparents are buried), we find amazing green and gorgeous wildflowers around the crystal clear gem of a lake nestled into glacier-packed rugged peaks. But this year we found SNOW - and lots of it.  We hiked in flipflops through tundra-like brown landscape to get to the lake that was about half covered with snow. And the rope swing everyone usually jumps off had been tangled in the tree branches way out of our reach.  But some brave souls (including Oliver, Ashton and Isaac) decided to jump into that frigid water anyway.  It was quite an adventure!  Click here if you want to see last year's post when Oliver became the youngest guy anyone's heard of to jump off the rope swing.  He was bound and determined to do it again and was sad when the rope swing was out of commission this year - but he impressed everyone by taking the plunge into the water anyway.

The kids have been doing lots of crafts and reading when we're not at the beach and each group has done a great job taking care of their assigned duties after meals.  We were all particularly impressed with how group four could get their dishes done when it was their turn - even though they're too short to really reach the sink.

 We've had a few special occasions too.

Jonah blessed his baby Poem last Sunday.  He gave a beautiful blessing and that little Poem is the smiliest, cutest baby - always babbling and cooing.  It was so fun for all the cousins to be there for her special day and for all her Eyre uncles to be there to stand in the circle as Jonah blessed her.

Eli had a birthday and we enjoyed the amazing Thai food that his wife Julie made for all of us plus the kids had fun giving him coupons for everything from neck massages to pedicures to cute Camden doing a pretty impressive dance to the theme from the movie Tron.  They also set up a treasure hunt for him, pooled their money to buy him a special water gun (he's opening it in the photo below), and everyone enjoyed his tasty birthday cake.  Eli's one cool uncle.

But probably the best thing by far that the kids have been doing in the last week has been Grammie Camp.  As usual, my mom has taken each of the groups off for 24 hours of fun and learning.  She teaches them all about their ancestors, takes them to ancestor sites, takes them out to eat, teaches them songs, and shows them a fabulous time. Plus my dad took all the kids over age 8 on a big hike early this morning and taught them "Grandfather's Secrets" as they sat at a lookout point above the lake. His secrets include ideas about leadership, about choosing to be happy, about making decisions, about finding their unique purpose.  It's some good stuff, I tell you.  I'm so blessed to have such wonderful parents.

My dad and mom are always teaching these kids something - in a fun way.
Wish I had a photo of my mom with the kids but she's a moving target!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Those Darn Long Hills

I WAS getting better at running. I've been running pretty much every day for the past three weeks now and I worked up to running 4 miles without stopping – and without hating it that much. But the last couple of days, it's been hard to keep going. My legs hurt. My heart can't seem to keep up. And the hills here at Bear Lake just seem too plentiful.

When I see a little hill up ahead, I gear up mentally, plug along and then feel a great sense of accomplishment at the top. But when I see a long gradual hill (and there are a lot of those around here), it's harder. On those long hills, I often can't see the top. It's hard to keep going towards a goal I can't even see – especially when it's hot and it hurts. The only way I can keep myself going after a logn time on one of those seemlingly neverending hills is to just look down and focus on keeping my feet moving.

During today's run, while trying to keep my mind from reverting to “I hate this,” I got to thinking about how these hills are a lot like the trials and goals in my life. The short-term goals and trials aren't that bad. They can be steep and challenging but as long as I can see the end, I'm pretty good at powering on through to the end.

It's those long-term trials and goals – the ones where the end isn't in sight – that really get me. It's so hard to keep up my pace and keep moving forward with the annoying repetition involved in helping my kids learn things they don't really want to learn that are important (being polite, doing their jobs around the house consistently and well, that sort of thing). It's hard to keep moving forward with big, long Power of Moms projects that require so much revision and coordination and thought and take way longer than we could have guessed (like the book we're writing that has turned into a way bigger project than we anticipated). It's hard to keep working hard on relationships when I don't really see what I can can or should hope for in the end. My life is full of these long-term issues and trials and goals with no real end in sight – things I don't feel I should give up on but things where my ongoing efforts just don't seem to be getting me to the top anytime soon.

I'm realizing that when it comes to these long hills in life, I need to do what I've learned to do with the long hills in running. I need to focus on taking one step at a time and I need to stop looking up to see when it's going to end. There are periods of time in our lives and goals we're working towards that are just plain long and hard and sometimes painful. While seeing the end might help us pick up our pace and feel more hopeful, that's not always possible. So we have to learn to keep on keeping on when we don't know how long it might be before we'll get to a place of accomplishment or relative comfort.

So there's what running taught me today.

Now I've got to deal with the long long slow uphill climb involved in training for this ragnar relay! But for this goal, there IS an end in sight. August 20th. I just have to keep up all this running until August 20th. Then I'll need a new hill to climb to keep me going on physical fitness!   

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Ahhhhh. Bear Lake.

Bear Lake means home to me perhaps more than any other place. Growing up, we moved a lot. But summers at Bear Lake were a staple we could always count on growing up. And now Bear Lake is a constant that our kids can count on as they grow up. (For more about the history of our family at this place, check out my post from last year HERE.)

The annual Eyre family reunion started on Wednesday night. This year's reunion has been much like all the others and the sameness is so wonderful. In my current life of moving things forward and fielding so many new opportunities and needs that pop up all over, it's so nice to plan on a period of comforting repetition of favorite activities with favorite people.

Bear Lake is about water and sand and boating and swimming and tennis and eating and talking and playing games and enjoying beauty – and it all adds up to great relationship-building.

Explanations of these photos below
The kids play for hours each day in the sand – engineering dams and castles and simply exploring what happens with various combinations of water, sand and rocks. We usually get a few more grandkids up on waterskis each year and enjoy watching the amazing waterskiing feats of all my siblings and most of the inlaws (somehow I think I missed out on the waterskiing genes). This year there was a bit of a panic involved when we found that our 18 year old boat wasn't working and seemed hopelessly broken. But my brother Jonah somehow resurrected that thing with his amazing mechanic skills so the waterskiing can still happen. The same people generally make it to the finals of the family tennis tournament (and I'm not one of them) and the occasional temper flare is to be expected with tennis (which is often quite amusing). We have amazing meals (each family takes a turn – and often makes the same favorites several years in a row) and someone bakes cookies pretty much every day (Eyres are all about cookies).

Storms roll in sometimes in the afternoon and Shawni and Saydi snap tons of pictures to make the most of the “amazing light” until it gets serious and we all frantically gather everything from the beach then watch the amazing display of intense colors that storms bring out on the lake.

My dad always wears crazy outfits using outlandish combinations of clothes that have been laying around at the lake for the last 30 years and he's the sunscreen and life jacket police. No matter how much everyone else helps or urges her to sit and relax a bit, my mom is always running around finding ingredients for whoever is cooking (there are 3 kitchens involved and ingredients always seem to be at the wrong kitchen) or helping with clean up or doing something else to make life more comfortable and happy for everyone else.

First thing in the morning, there are always some Eyres out running (and I'm with that group this year – such a lovely place to run - and I'm getting better – slowly but surely). In the evenings there are always games going on – speed scrabble is a staple each year and this year we've started playing “reverse charades” (there's an iphone app for it but basically one person on the team guesses while everyone else acts things out – pretty hilarious) and we've been playing “Just Dance” on the wii quite a bit (watching my parents slap their rear ends while dancing to “Ring my Bell” was quite a highlight).

Throughout each day here at the lake, you look around to see small groups forming and switching out members as all the adults informally rotate to catch up with everyone else. There are discussions about dreams and ideas to help move each other's ideas forward, discussions about kids and the methods, concerns, and triumphs involved with parenthood, discussions about books and movies, worries and fears, and experiences from the past year that range from hilarious to humbling. This year there have been lots of discussions about childbirth and pregnancy since we've got two pregnant sisters-in-law who haven't been feeling very well. There are lots of laughs and always a few tears thrown in for good measure. Plus you can pretty much count on some disagreements and at least one sizeable tiff between a couple of my siblings or one of us and my dad. Some reverting to our years of growing up together is bound to happen.

You also see groups of kids everywhere you look – my dad assigned all the grandkids (there are now 23 counting the two on the way) groups based on their ages a while back and the kids feel pretty serious loyalty to their groups so they're often playing together and talking together with their “group.” But often, you see the older kids helping younger kids get some food or play a game or read a book or build a sand castle. I love watching all the different kid interactions and all the clever, cute and sometimes naughty things they say and do. I loved seeing 6-year-old Camden spontaneously comfort 5-year-old Charlie after Camden won the “group 4” foot race and saw Charlie look so sad at coming in last. I've loved seeing the big cousins baby talk with the babies and the medium cousins read to the toddlers. I loved seeing adults and kids work together in teams on our relay race yesterday, everyone working to find just the right part of the relay to assign to each team member based on their age, abilities and fear factors. I loved seeing Ashton help his little cousin Lucy find her shoes. I loved spying on Oliver, Silas, Charlie and McKay as they sought out and snatched some cookies. I loved seeing Eliza and her cousins Claire and Hazel (group 3) get so excited about matching french braids and finding swim suits in coordinating colors. I loved watching my brother Talmadge coach those three girls as they put together a lip synch to a song from one of our family's favorite songs growing up. I love seeing each “group” work together diligently to clean up after their assigned meal. They've all been extra good about cleaning up and asking adults for jobs they can do so they can earn more badges on their cool group flags that Aunt Aja made for them this year.

One evening of the reunion is always devoted to our “Eyrealm Foundation” meeting where we discuss the income and outflow of our family foundation in the past year, talk about proposals for charitable causes we'd like to support in the upcoming year, and hear reports on what people have done with Eyrealm funding (Eli and Noah and their wives helped install English language-learning software at a school for leperosy affected children in India that Tal and Anita and Charity all worked at the year before, Josh reported on his trip to Ethiopia and the money they need for a pipeline that will bring water to 50,000 needy people). And we always have a talent show that includes everything from lip synchs to somersaults to skits (this year we had a skit that led into a demonstration on how to do the hymlic manoever – highly useful). Another annual tradition is the bonfire where the Eyre playlist for the year is unveiled – everyone (kids included) sends in their favorite song of the year and the reunion organizers (a different family is in charge each year) put together a playlist/CD for everyone. At the bonfire, we listen to the beginning of each song and try to guess whose song it is. The playlist becomes the soundtrack for the reunion – with spontaneous dance parties erupting here and there.  But my favorite reunion tradition is the testimony meeting we have on Sunday. We head to the good old Dingle ward where we've attended church much of the summer ever since we were little kids and put all the kids in primary and nursery then the adults head out to the lawn in the back of the church. The Spirit is thick and the love is tangible as everyone shares a bit about what they've learned from the past year and how their experiences have shaped their understanding of the gospel.

One evening of the reunion is always devoted to our “Eyrealm Foundation” meeting where we discuss the income and outflow of our family foundation in the past year, talk about proposals for charitable causes we'd like to support in the upcoming year, and hear reports on what people have done with Eyrealm funding (Eli and Noah and their wives helped install English language-learning software at a school for leperosy affected children in India that Tal and Anita and Charity all worked at the year before, Josh reported on his trip to Ethiopia and the money they need for a pipeline that will bring water to 50,000 needy people). And we always have a talent show that includes everything from lip synchs to somersaults to skits (this year we had a skit that led into a demonstration on how to do the hymlic manoever – highly useful). Another annual tradition is the bonfire where the Eyre playlist for the year is unveiled – everyone (kids included) sends in their favorite song of the year and the reunion organizers (a different family is in charge each year) put together a playlist/CD for everyone. At the bonfire, we listen to the beginning of each song and try to guess whose song it is. The playlist becomes the soundtrack for the reunion – with spontaneous dance parties erupting here and there.  But my favorite reunion tradition is the testimony meeting we have on Sunday. We head to the good old Dingle ward where we've attended church much of the summer ever since we were little kids and put all the kids in primary and nursery then the adults head out to the lawn in the back of the church. The Spirit is thick and the love is tangible as everyone shares a bit about what they've learned from the past year and how their experiences have shaped their understanding of the gospel.

Sure, there are babies crying and kids squabbling from time to time – magnified by over-tiredness and off-kilter schedules. There are big messes and lots of mutual toleration involved in so many people sharing a relatively small place and a few less bathrooms than might be ideal. The power went out as everyone was trying to get showered and do their hair for family photos and then it rained like crazy, throwing off the family photo entirely after the scramble to get 40 people dressed and ready. There are plenty of adventures – both fun and frustrating.

But this feels like heaven to me as I sit here enjoying a gentle breeze and soft sun while typing and half-watching the finals of the tennis tournament. Baby Cubby is throwing balls out of his play pen for his cousin Elsie to pick up and Dave and Eli are talking about what they could have done better in their recent tennis match. Charity and Julie are helping little Lyla come up with something fun to do since tennis isn't keeping her very interested and my mom just walked up with little Charlie in tow, asking what time we should tell Saydi and Jeff that people will be ready for lunch. I just heard cheers from the people in the boat – someone new must have got up on waterskis and the someone is driving the old Montero up from the beach with kids hanging all over the back of it. Turns out the cheering was Max getting up on one waterski.

Long live Bear Lake.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Best Place for the 4th of July

I love Ashton, Idaho.  It's one of the big bonuses I got in marrying Jared (his great family, of course, is an even bigger bonus).  The town of Ashton consists of about 1000 pretty darn nice people who live scattered around some of the most lovely farmland - the rolling fields of potatoes, barley and canola are the perfect foreground for the beautiful snowy Tetons you can see in the distance.  The farm in Ashton where Jared grew up is heaven for our kids and their plethora of Loosli cousins.  They jump on the trampoline and swing on the huge swings in the back yard and play in the water at the lake.  They go out on tractor rides and feed the cows and ride the horses and do anything they can do to help their Uncle Brian (who runs the family farm) and his super-cool son Mark with various farm duties.

And Ashton knows how to do up the forth of July just perfectly.

We've been coming here for the 4th for most of our married life.  I've spend the 4th in DC and in Boston where the fireworks and activities combined with the historical significance of the place makes for some pretty amazing 4th of July celebrations.  But I think Ashton takes the cake for a perfect 4th of July.

The parade here is awesome.  Anyone and everyone can be in it.  You just go line up with your truck, four-wheeler, bike, tractor, float or whatever you've got handy and join right in. You can decorate your vehicle but really, all that matters is that you've got a lot of candy to throw out.  My kids and whatever cousins are always in the parade.  Sometimes they've done a semi-elaborate float but mostly they just decorate a pick-up truck and ride in the back of that.  Those watching the parade get pretty impressive amounts of candy thrown at them (Oliver collected a full grocery bag-full today) plus people walk along the streets passing out free chocolate milk and ice cream sandwiches (these have become a staple).  This year they also threw out t-shirts, water bottles, and the local "Frost Top" hamburger joint passed out nice glass mugs from their float.  Sometimes they pass out bags of potatoes.  You never know what you're going to get.  But it's always a surprising amount of free stuff - and free is always exciting.

The kids worked so hard coloring the banners to go on the truck for the parade

Ready to set out in the parade

Oliver opted not to ride in the parade - he thought collecting candy was a far more exciting option


The beloved old merry-go-round

Oliver won the gunny sack race

the band was quite impressive

The foam sprayed from the fire truck was super fun - lots of foam-throwing wars!
After the parade, there's a totally classic 4th of July festival at the city park. They have potato sack races, three-legged races, a watermelon eating contest, generally impressive live music, and the fire truck comes to spray everyone down plus this year the firetruck sprayed foam all over the old tennis court and it was super fun for everyone.  There are hamburgers and hot dogs and snowcones and cotton candy.  There are scores of kids in red white and blue t-shirts climbing all over the playground and working together to keep the old merry-go-round going super fast (makes me sad they don't have those things in playgrounds anymore - sure, they could be dangerous but so is almost everything fun!).  The weather's usually perfect - not too hot but nice and sunny.  Everything's free except the food.  There are lots of people but it's not crowded and you can jump into a three-legged race w/o waiting.  It's low-key and exciting at the same time.  We love it.

Then when we've had our fun at the park, we head out to the little Loosli cabin by the lake and play in the water, play volleyball, chat on the deck, read, relax and have a big BBQ with not only all the immediate Loosli family who are about to come up for the 4th but also dozens of extra extended relatives and friends.  It's always a serious party.  The only problem with the cabin is that there are crazy-mean mosquitos out there who are somewhat repellant-resistant - and somehow Silas seems to have super-sweet blood.  Poor guy, he got like 50 mosquito bites as soon as the sun started to dip and those blood-suckers came out.

And when everyone is done at the cabin, we come back to the house and the men of the family put on a very impressive fireworks show in the backyard.

So even though Jared's in DC, the kids and I couldn't imagine the 4th of July anywhere but Ashton.  We miss Jared but we're so happy he and Ashton are having a great time and that we get to be here in this place we love with so many people that we love!
Time with cousins is always a big huge hit - and the trampoline is non-stop fun
It's so pretty here!  Those are the Tetons in the distance.
P.S.  I did the "Loosli 5K" this morning and won!  There was only one other person in the 5K division (the other 3 people in the "race" did the 10K division).  But hey, I ran the whole 3 miles up and down hills and even kept going past the finish for a 4th mile of combined walking running.  I'm improving!

Friday, July 01, 2011

What have I gotten myself into?

I just took a few minutes to catch up on all the documents and information about this relay race I said I was going to do with Jared's family at the end of August.  I don't think I read the fine print before.  So it's actually 185 miles divided between 12 runners who each run between 12 and 20 miles (3-8 miles a time).  It lasts 24 hours and involves being shuttled to different places and trying to find a way to sleep somewhere in the midst of it all.  There are lots of hills.  There's heat in the day and darkness at night to contend with.  Reflective vests, transition areas, running with pacers - it's all a bit foreign and scary to me.  Hmmm.....

Today I ran almost 3 miles in 32 minutes. Yesterday I managed 3 miles in 35 minutes with some walking thrown in with the running - so I am improving.  The words "I hate this" come to mind quite frequently as I run - especially if I come to a slight incline.  And my measly 3 slow miles today on pretty flat terrain is pretty darn skimpy compared to what this race would require.  Can I do THREE 5-8-mile up-and-down hill legs to complete my part of this upcoming race?  I guess I won't know until I try!  I've got almost 2 months to train.  I've never really trained for anything physical before (other than giving birth - and I got pretty good at that...).

Jared jumped right on the relay team as soon as it was announced.  He says this will be hard for him too since he's never been into running.  But he mountain bikes 15-20 miles straight uphill all the time these days.  And he ran the St George marathon a couple years ago after "training" by just going on a few 3-5 mile runs.  He's all about endurance and stamina even though he's never been one to regularly work out.  I, on the other hand, have worked out religiously 3x/week for as long as I can remember and I thought I was in pretty decent shape.  I'm realizing I really haven't pushed myself all that much for a long time - and that my regular workouts on the good old eliptical machine combined with some sit-ups and push-ups haven't really prepared me for much.

If my name's on the super cute "Team Loosli" t-shirt design my sister-in-law created, does that mean I can't back out?  (I'd put the t-shirt design on here but I can't figure out how to do that...)

This'll be good for me. I can do hard things.  I better go to bed so I can try to run three whole miles w/o walking tomorrow morning!  Sounds pretty miserable to me right now....


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