Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tip Videos

I love all the articles we've got on Power of Moms. There are so many fabulous writers and bloggers who contribute their best stuff.  But sometimes, I know, it's nice to watch something quick rather than sit down and read a whole article. We've had lots of Power of Moms readers suggest that we offer super-quick videos and tips for moms on our site and we've been trying to get around to doing something like that for a while now.

Finally, last week, as my family got going on our new school-year routines and I started thinking more about what we're doing in our family that works well and what we need to work on, making videos started to seem like a good way to solidify some of our routines and do some Power of Moms work WITH my kids. So we made a couple sample "Deliberate Mothering Tips" videos last week. The kids totally helped think of what we should make videos about and Ashton did all the video editing with only a few suggestions from me.

See what you think:

The Loosli Family Laundry Routine - 3 minutes

The Loosli Family After-School Routine - 5 minutes

It's been good for me to really think about the little methods and ideas I've figured out over the years that really help me be a deliberate mother in some ways. I've come a long long way in the past 12 years since becoming a mom. I've got some things figured out pretty well. But I've still got a long way to go on a lot of things. And I've found that a lot of my best methods and ideas amount to exactly nothing when I'm not being consistent, when I'm overtired, when I'm trying to cram in too many other things, or when inevitable exceptions and crises pop up!

We've got a new "Deliberate Mothering Video Tips" section of The Power of Moms where people can find lots of these little videos on all sorts of helpful subjects. To find out how you can submit your own videos demonstrating what works well for your family, click HERE.

Let me know in the comments any ideas you have for topics we should try to cover with little videos and what you think of these sample videos.  I'd love all sorts of feedback!

P.S. We've got a few discounted spots left at our Couples Retreat Sept 9-10 - check it out HERE.

P.S.S. (or is it P.P.S?)  TODAY is the last day to purchase my parents' new Entitlement Trap book at the great pre-order discount and enter the big giveaway they're doing. Click HERE for details.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Three Coincidences

Coincidence #1
When Jared and I were on a Southwest flight to San Francisco from Boston, getting ready to start our new life together in an exciting new place, we met a great couple.  We were among the last to get on the plane so we got stuck with those seats they used to have at the front of the planes where no one wanted to sit - the seats that faced each other. We ended up chatting with the couple we faced for much of the flight and found that we had a lot in common. They, like us, were recently married and heading to the Bay Area to start an exciting new life in the era.  They, like us, were Mormons who'd gone off the beaten track to attend college on the East Coast.  We exchanged email addresses and phone numbers as we got off the plane.  Then we spent the next several years getting together pretty regularly with Neylan and Elliott. We went on hikes together.  We explored San Francisco together.  We saw each other's families and futures unfold.

As Neylan and I talked about motherhood, we came up with the idea that there ought to be more opportunities for "professional development" for moms.  We were frustrated that the other professions we'd been part of offered great resources for development and networking but that there were no great resources for learning and growth among mothers.  So we decided to do something about it and started up a little organization to run "Motherhood Retreats."  And that little idea grew into what is now "Power of Moms Retreats."

After a stint of living on opposite sides of the country, we're now living an hour away from our good friends again and Neylan and I have supported each other in the organizations we each run (she runs The Mormon Women Project and I run The Power of Moms).  Our families get together as often as our crazy schedules allow. Our relationship has really shaped aspects of our lives.

Was it a coincidence that we met on that plane almost 13 years ago?  I don't really think so.

Coincidence #2
Then there's my amazing Power of Moms partner, April. April and her husband attended one of my parents' speeches when they were living in Boston. April had this idea to start up an organization to support mothers and she told my mom about some of her ideas. My mom suggested she contact me since it seemed like some of our ideas were quite similar.  April emailed me.  A couple months later, she and her family were driving through St George and she called to ask if I'd like to go to lunch while she was in town so we could talk further.  I thought we might need more than just a lunch together so we invited her family to spend the night at our house rather than at a hotel.  We'd never met them before, but hey, we had a guest room and I had a good feeling about all this.  We talked and talked and the ideas flowed and flowed.  Our kids and husbands hit it off immediately.  Three years later, April and I are running a big organization and putting on major events and offering big-deal products to thousands of moms in 144 different countries.

Was it a coincidence that April was at that meeting where my parents spoke in Boston?  Or that she and I came up with so many very similar ideas independently of each other and then were brought together?  I hardly think so.

Coincidence #3
When Jared got a job in Ogden and we came up for a weekend to visit houses with a realtor, our realtor wasn't too crazy about showing us this house. It was in a "scary" part of town and she thought it might be a waste of time.  But I wanted to check out the historic part of time and Jared was game.  We walked in the front door, saw the stained glass windows and the beautiful staircase, we were excited. As we explored the house further, we were so impressed at how beautifully the house had been restored and were struck by the fact that the paint colors, sizes and and number of rooms and bedrooms were so perfect for our family and our furniture and our needs. Bam, we were hooked.

But there was still the little issue of the "scary" neighborhood.

I posted photos on my blog of our house hunt including mostly photos of this house that I couldn't stop thinking about. I got lots of nice comments from people saying they loved the house I loved.  Then I got a comment that said something like "my sister-in-law lives right down the street from that house and it's actually a great neighborhood in a lot of ways" and then "I'm the sister-in-law and we do live right down the street and we love it here - let me know if you want to talk."  I did want to talk.

So we got to know Emily Ballard and her great family thanks to Angela, her sister-in-law who told Emily to get on my blog and check out the photos of the house down the street from them that I'd posted.  The next time we came up to Odgen for more house-hunting, we spent an afternoon with the Ballards.  They told us all about the neighborhood and the schools and everything.  Eliza and the Ballard girls became friends at first sight.  The twins thought their little Adam was super fun.  Ashton and Isaac fell in love with their cute little Kaleigh.  We found out that Emily is the niece of Jared's uncle's ex-wife, and our little girls decided that meant we're cousins.  We felt like we'd known them forever somehow.

And now the Ballards are our dear neighbors and friends.  Our kids go to school together.  Ashton loves babysitting their kids.  Adam wants to be a twin with Oliver and Silas.  Eliza thinks of Lucy and Rachel as her long-lost sisters.  Emily has hooked me up with all sorts of great new friends and opportunities and deals in the area.

Coincidence that Angela happened to read my blog, see the photos of the house, and tell Emily to check it out?  I don't think so.

Looking back at my life, there are many circumstances that have come together in a perfect way to produce results that I later realize were vital to things that really needed to happen.  There are big things like the meeting of Neylan, April and Emily that led to major pursuits and a major move.  There are also little things every day - a person I meet in a park, a blog someone passes along to me that sparks my interest, an idea someone sends my way - and many of these little "coincidences" are actually quite important in my life.  I often look back and see these little "threads" making up a beautiful pattern, a pattern that couldn't have happened the way it needed to happen without those threads that may have seemed totally random when they first appeared.

Anyway, I'm so grateful for the "coincidences" that I've been blessed with that have led to so many wonderful things in my life.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Grand Teton Relay

It was hard.  It was long (183 mile to be exact).  It was beautiful.  

Jared and I along with a bunch of Jared's wonderful family members finished the Grand Teton Relay last Saturday. It took us just over 30 hours and involved a whole lot of running, tons of togetherness in mini vans, lots of sweat, plenty of water, gatorade and ibuprophin, dozens of trips to dozens of port-a-potties, lots of laughing (and no crying!) - and almost no sleep.

Our team motto was "It will be fun" in honor of this YouTube video. And it really was fun. Except when I was running uphill for five miles during the hottest part of the day for 2 of the 3 legs I ran (I ended up pretty darn slow on those legs). And except when my headlamp started to go dim during my leg through the wilderness at 2am (thankfully, it did hold out). And except when some very noisy people from another team decided to "sleep" next to us for the already-skimpy 3 hours we had to sleep in a random park.

But the hard stuff pales in comparison to the sense of accomplishment and the great fun and bonding that was involved. We're signing up to do it again next year!

I'll let photos tell the story.

Here we are - ready to go - wondering what we've gotten ourselves into!

Here's Team Loosli - the 12 runners plus our great support crew of other family members -
just before the race began.
Our van was one of the team vans - lots of family members pitched in to make sure the vans looked great!

Here's van #1 (a.k.a. the best van).  Barb (married to Jared's brother Joel - also on the team), Mark (nephew - son of Brian who was also on the team), Rebecca (daughter of Joel and Barb), Jeff (our van driver, brother of Dan who was one of our runners in van #2), Portia (daughter of Joel and Barb and one of the youngest in the whole relay at age 16), Megan (niece, sister of Mark), me
Here's the start line - right in the Ashton City Park where we enjoy the 4th of July each year.

There goes our first runner - Megan - in the purple.  

The first couple legs of the race were through the rolling wheat and potato fields of Ashton with the Tetons off in the distance - so beautiful!

The first hand-off - Megan to Portia.  We had this slap bracelet we passed from one runner to the next.  

Mark passes off to me - and I was off on my first run -
sort of a painful one - uphill in the heat of the day
There I go - I started off pretty fast - but that didn't last...

Above is how the pass-offs looked at night. We'd get that slap bracelet and set off into the pitch dark with a headlamp. Crazy stuff but also my favorite run - nice and cool, beautiful stars, running along old railroad tracks and hoping not to run into any bears (the instruction manual for the relay did offer some pretty good instructions on how to handle a bear encounter - scary!)

Here we are somehow looking pretty chipper in the middle of the night

After a couple hours of pretty uncomfortable sleep in a random park, we got up before sunrise to go meet Jared at the top of a HUGE hill so our first runner, Megan, could take over from him.  Jared was a rock star making it up that hill - in good time, too!

Here we are at Grand Targhee Ski Resort after Jared's most crazy uphill run.

As we followed Megan down the hill Jared just ran up, the sun rose over the Tetons

The sun is almost up

And then it peeked over the mountains and bathed everything in gorgeous light.  Every 10 years or so, I can forego sleep for a great sunrise.  Why not.

We saw a moose.  Much better than seeing a bear.
My final run was through fields like this. But wow, it was hard to enjoy the scenery as I huffed and puffed along in the heat, amazed my body could move at all after so little sleep and so much running!

My good kids ran with me for a few minutes and brought me some water in the middle of that last 5.3 mile run that felt like about 10 miles.  They thought I should be running a bit faster.  I tried to explain between huffs and puffs that I had been running a lot faster 20 hours earlier but I was lucky to be running at all at this point!

My final hand-off to Barb.  Wow, was I glad to be done!

The kids were there to congratulate me.  It was great to see them.  Then we were off to support the rest of the team on 6 more legs of running - over the Teton Pass and into Jackson Hole.

There goes Brian cresting the Teton Pass. That was STEEP.  Brian is totally my hero.

Here comes Joel - down from the Teton Pass
Here's our team and all our great supporters as we crossed into Wyoming

And here's Jared - ready to run the final leg of the whole race.  Yep, that's a tutu he's wearing.  Tutus seem to be the cool thing in relays so some members of our team thought we should all wear them.  When most people opted out of that idea, Jared agreed to wear one for the finish so we could finish in style.  He ran the last 5 miles in that thing.  He looks lovely, don't you think?  And he sure was easy to spot with his manly run and his tutu flowing out behind him.
There he goes on the last leg of the race!
Teton Village - getting close to the finish line.  We all got to join Jared for the last quarter mile of the race to finish together.

Here we come!
And there's me - somehow finding a touch of energy to get to that finish line!
Those medals were hard-won.  Ashton was proud.
Go Team Loosli!  We did it!

It was a grand adventure.  It WAS fun. We did it.  We'll do it again.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Where Children Sleep

It was wonderful to see SO many great blog posts and stories on Entitlement yesterday.  Here are a the great things people shared in their posts:

As a great tool for helping our kids realize how blessed they are, Chrysula linked to this great photo essay at the NYTimes showing children around the world and where they sleep - the kids and I learned so much looking at these photos and had some great discussions.  They show everything from a little boy who lives in a makeshift shack on top of a garbage dump to a pageant-queen 4-year-old with her decked-out princess bedroom: Where Children Sleep

My sister Saydi posted a great photo of serious entitlement courtesy of Pottery Barn along with great commentary in her post about Entitlement Awareness Day: Seriously Pottery Barn?

Whitney Johnson offered great insights (as always - she always makes me think) and a great story about her daughter in her post: Dare to Dream: The Entitlement Trap

The drawing for THIS GIVEAWAY for those who purchase The Entitlement Trap closes on September 1st. So get your book at a great deal and enter the giveaway asap.  If you want to buy extra books as gifts, each pre-ordered book does give you an additional entry into the giveaway.

P.S.  Maybe tomorrow will be the day that I have time to put up photos and info on our crazy exciting relay race weekend.  Soon, soon, soon.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

National Entitlement Awareness Day

I'm about as tired as I've ever been but I did it.  I ran 16 miles over the course of 30 hours on about 2 hours sleep and while I sure didn't set any speed records - even for myself - I did my best and it really was fun!

I'll write more tomorrow and put up pictures of my crazy, wonderful, grueling, beautiful last couple days of sweating and bonding and running with Team Loosli in the Grand Teton Relay.

But before I can go to sleep (and wow, my bed is going to feel good), I just have to announce that tomorrow, Monday, August 22 is National Entitlement Awareness Day.  Did you know that?  Well, neither did I until my parents and the publisher of their new book declared this new national day.  I guess that really, any of us could call any day anything, so while maybe you wouldn't find this national day on any regular calendar of events, August 22 might as well be National Entitlement Awareness Day.

What does this mean, you might ask?  Well, it means that on this day, 100's of bloggers will be blogging about our national epidemic of entitlement - you know, the idea that we should have want we want and have it now, the idea that someone else should take care of us and that most of our problems are someone else's fault.  These ideas have led to so much financial and personal crises in our generation - from home foreclosures to frivolous lawsuits to sad divorces.  And these same ideas are being preached to our kids by the media and by their friends right and left.  We need to build family systems that can teach our children what we really want them to know and steer them clear of the entitlement attitudes and behaviors that can not only drive us crazy as their parents ("I NEED an iPhone - EVERYONE else has one," "He made me hit him because he was being mean," "My friend James never has to do the dishes"....), but can take our children into big bad problems later in their lives.  

I know I've blogged about my parents new book before but in order to be a good daughter and a good friend to all those reading my blog, I just have to let you know these three things:

1.  Delayed gratification, appreciation of what you've got, and owning your own behavior are notions I'm working very hard to teach my children using a lot of the ideas and methods my parents used to raise me.  My parents have spelled out their best tried-and-true ideas in their new book, The Entitlement Trap: How to Rescue Your Child with a New Family System of Choosing, Earning, and Ownership. I can tell you first- hand that their ideas work. I really really want all parents to have this book.

2.  If you buy the book before it actually comes out, you will not only get a great deal (it's about $12 if you pre-order but it will retail for $18 when it's actually released), you will also get a chance to win some big fat prizes thanks to this GIVEAWAY they are doing.  The grand prize is a free registration for you and your spouse to attend the upcoming Power of Moms Couples Retreat and it includes free luxury accommodations and airfare.

3.  If at least 10,000 people pre-order the book, there's a great chance the book will debut on the NYTimes Bestseller list. Once a book is a bestseller, way more people buy it.  Parents who really need the book but wouldn't otherwise think to look for it will find it and buy it because it's a bestseller.  They'll love it and it'll help their families so much.  So please forward on this information to everyone you know and encourage them to pre-order the book!

Anyway, I'm so not into selling stuff and I pretty much turn down all requests I receive to post about giveaways but this is one giveaway that I really think matters.  And I'd love to have some of my blog readers win some of the prizes! Click HERE to learn all about how to pre-order and get into the giveaway.

I hope this makes sense.  I'm seriously a little delirious....

I'm off to bed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Whew! Glad that's done.

OK, so my little segment on TV yesterday is over.  Hallelujah.

The first time I do anything new I get so stressed out about it.  I overthink it.  I overblow it's importance in my mind.  I have a hard time thinking about anything else as that new thing inches closer on the calendar.

And then when I'm done with that new thing, I replay it in my head about a thousand times, thinking of how I could have done it better.  I drive myself crazy!

Anyway, I'm glad that I made it through my first TV appearance yesterday without totally choking on my words and without getting the splotchy neck that I often get when I'm nervous (lovely Eyre trait that many of my siblings and I get to deal with). I tried to cram in too much. I was worried about my hair (I need a haircut so badly!). I couldn't tell if or when they were showing the bullet points and chore chart they said they were going to show on the screen (I did catch a glimpse of a screen that was maybe showing me what the audience was seeing but then I was worried about looking at it for fear I'd lose my train of thought or look like I was looking the wrong direction on camera...).

Sorry. No more excuses. Hopefully the segment offered some people out there some helpful ideas to teach their children values - a subject that is near and dear to my heart.

Here it is.  See what you think.

Monday, August 15, 2011

First Day of School

Jared and I took FIVE kids to school today.  All five went to school last year too - but the twins just had 1/2 day Kindergarten.  This year they're ALL in full-day elementary school.  Craziness.

Heading out the door
Driving to school
Saying good bye to the big boys at the 5th and 6th grade building
Ashton doesn't care for photos, can you tell?

Liza and the twins at the K-4 grade building
Look at all those cute first graders.  I do like uniforms a lot.
Wasn't sure if I would but they are easy and the kids really look sharp.

They were all really excited.  I remember being apprehensive every first day of school - but these kids of mine strutted on into school with only Oliver stopping to look back and yell, "I'll miss you mommy!"

The after school reports were glowing and excited chatter reigned as we enjoyed cookies and milk and tried not to get chocolate or milk on the piles of school papers and homework that needed to be sorted and signed.  They loved seeing their friends they've missed all summer.  Everyone was excited about their teachers.  The twins loved learning a new song and dance their teacher taught them and were thrilled at the worksheets they got to do for homework.  Eliza has 6 friends from last year in her class and loves the new school planner she was given today.  Isaac was really excited he gets to switch classes and have his own locker this year.  Ashton enthusiastically explained some details of how different teacher operate to Isaac who has many of Ashton's teachers from last year.

We made it to school on time this morning after going over our morning routine in detail last night (Ashton even made lists of the different things that need to happen in the mornings accompanied by pictures to make things extra clear - the kids all put the routine lists on the back of their doors so they could remember everything and get into good habits).

After dropping the kids off, I went on a 6-mile run and made my best time ever and I'm feeling as ready as I'm going to get for the Grand Teton Relay this weekend.  I get to run about 17 miles over the course of 26 hours with very little sleep and it's going to be a bit crazy but I'm feeling like I can really do this!

So life is good.

And life will be even better after I finish doing this live segment on the TV show, Studio Five, tomorrow morning.  I've been stressing about this for quite some time.  I'm sure it will be fine but new things always make me feel pretty unsettled...Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Do you see it?

Do you get it?

I don't either.  I have no idea why I've now found a full-on foot print on the stove THREE TIMES.  I figured since this was the third time, I'd take a photo before wiping it off.

Maybe it would make sense if there were any delicious foods stored above the stove.  But the only thing in that cupboard is salt and pepper and spices.  I can't quite see any of the kids feeling the urge to snack on that stuff.  And none of the kids will claim the foot print.  By size, it's got to be either Ashton or Isaac.  But neither of them think it could possibly be their foot print.  I guess it's Mr Nobody again.  That guy sure gets into a lot of stuff around here.

I guess I'll just add this to the long long list of somewhat odd and often very frustrating things that I end up finding and cleaning up as a mom.  I wish I'd had the presence of mind to take photos of some of the other messes I've faced - but in the moment I was just a tad angry and stressed and didn't quite think of taking a photo. Here are some of the most memorable messes I've encountered:
  • Basalmic vinegar and vanilla extract sprinkled gleefully all over the living room rug and couch by two very created two-year-olds.  Wow, that was a weird smell. Not sure why those two liquids were chosen together - maybe the fact that they were the same color and consistency? Quite amazingly, it cleaned up quite decently (with a whole lot of scrubbing...) and that rug and couch are still going strong with just a few tell-tale spots.  The smell lasted for weeks though... 
  • Vaseline smeared all over brand new carpet and the new Pottery Barn crib bedding I'd carefully shopped for and found at a good price on EBay.  In case you're wondering, vaseline DOES NOT come off carpet or bedding.
  • A little boy peeing out the front door.  I came around the corner to find a cute little bare bum framed in the front door with a considerable stream watering the front porch.  Lovely.  Another time, I found this same sweet child standing in doorway to the garage, similarly watering the old couch we'd put out there until we could find someone to buy it.
  • 25 pounds of pinto beans dumped all over the pantry - those things roll EVERYWHERE - but at least there was no permanent damage.  When we moved 5 years later, I found quite a few pinto beans tucked here and there...
  • Butter all over one of my toddlers - all over his hair, his face, the kitchen counter, the cabinet front where he found the butter.  He was shiny (as was the kitchen) for quite some time.
  • A masacred shrub.  My 3-year-old had somehow found the pruning shears and went to town on a once-stately, large and lovely bush in our back yard.  I was so relieved he'd somehow escaped injury, pretty impressed that he was strong enough to inflict that much damage, and pretty sad to see one of the nicest features of the yard reduced to a deformed disaster. 
  • Poo painting (at some point, each of my boys greeted me with big smiles and poo covered walls and hands when I went in to get them up from naps - some repeated this lovely idea a few times)
What are some of your odd findings and memorable messes?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Excellence and Priorities

A few months ago, I took Eliza, Ashton and Isaac to an amazing concert put on by the Gifted Children's Music School in Salt Lake.  We went into a beautiful concert hall and watched children ages 8-12 perform amazing feats with their instruments.  It was breathtaking to see these small people execute extremely difficult music with stupendous skills (I played violin for many years so I could really appreciate how hard the music was that they performed).  My kids were mesmerized right along with me.

I sat there wondering whether perhaps I had a gifted musician in my family. I mean Ashton's taught himself some chords on the guitar and can play lots of songs by ear and was the star of his old school's "orffestra" when he played his own composition on the xylophone at the concert.  And Isaac's got serious rhythm.  And Eliza sings beautifully and can pick out songs on the piano by ear. Could they be amazing musicians if I took the time to get them involved in serious lessons and sat by them to practice every day?  Could I squeeze in all the time that would entail?  Should I kick other things out of our lives to make room for the kids to really develop deep skills in some areas?

After the concert, we went to a reception where we got a chance to talk to some of the brilliant young performers.  We found out that most of them practiced 4-8 hours a day.  Music was their life and they really seemed to love it.  And this intense focus seemed to work for them (and hopefully for their families).

But you know what, I don't think that would work for my kids or our family. We like to do too many different things. And there are a lot of us. With each child just participating in one or two pretty basic extra-curricular activity (the boys do Scouts weekly and play on a basketball team in the winter, Eliza has weekly dance classes, the twins do soccer plus we do some music lessons here and there), it still seems like it's hard to protect our family dinner times, the hiking and biking we love doing together most Saturdays, and the free time to read and play together that I think kids really need.  And I know it'll only get harder to protect family time and free time as the kids get older.

My mom has pointed out that people can generally be either "highly-sharpened" or "well-rounded". I guess we're going more for "well-rounded" than "highly-sharpened" in our family. And I'm OK with that.  It seems right for us. I do hope all my kids can feel the thrill of really excelling at something in their lives - and I'm pretty sure those opportunities will arise as we watch for them.  But right now, I thank my lucky stars that my kids haven't shown any really strong inclination towards the expensive, consuming talents that some children have.  I just don't know if I'd have the patience and stamina (or money) to support a truly gifted child in pursuing his or her talent for years and years.  Maybe that's why God didn't give me any of those Gifted Music School students!

I think it's important to decide what really matters most to our family and then fit other stuff around that. For some families, perhaps true excellence and "sharpening" for their talented children is an important priority and everything else can be carefully fitted into the spaces around practicing and performing.  For other families, perhaps less structure and more time for imagination and play feels like a priority that needs to be placed above the priority of excellence. For most families, certain seasons mean certain priorities while other seasons lend themselves to other priorities.  I don't think there is any one "right" set of priorities when it comes to extracurricular activities and the pursuit of excellence.

But I do think that we need to stop and really think about our priorities from time to time.  It can be so easy to assume that soccer or dance or piano lessons are just what kids are "supposed" to do - and to feel frustrated when our kids don't seem to excel at anything in particular. Maybe it's better to figure out what's most important to us as a family and let our children's interests and talents evolve - and then build out from there as far as extracurricular activities. Sure, it's great for kids to be exposed to many different possible talents and interests and to be urged to pursue excellence in ways that will be meaningful to them.  But ultimately, I think it's important to protect our highest priorities for our kids and our family as we carefully choose and generally limit the activities we make a part of our lives.

Maybe we'll just be excellent at being well-rounded in our family and leave the highly-sharpened excellence to others. I can applaud and appreciate other people's excellence and develop my own brand of excellence while encouraging my children to do the same.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A video tour of our house

Here is the video that my wonderful and brilliant son Ashton filmed and edited all about our house. (He just wrote that and put up this video for me - but yep, he is wonderful and quite brilliant and did such a nice job putting this video together - I loved seeing our house through his eyes and thought you'd enjoy the tour as well):

Monday, August 08, 2011

Education Week, the Farm, and My Birthday

After cleaning up and bidding fond farewells at Bear Lake, we headed straight up to Ashton, Idaho to spend time with Jared's wonderful mother and enjoy the Loosli farm while I presented a bunch of workshops on motherhood and that sort of thing at Education Week at BYU Idaho in Rexburg.  I got to celebrate my birthday with some of my very favorite people in one of my very favorite places.  

While I presented classes, Jared and the kids had a great time exploring Yellowstone and hanging out with Grandma and cousins.  I was a bit jealous.  But my classes went really well and I had a fun time presenting.

I'll let photos tell the story of our 4 days in Ashton.  The light up there is so pretty that these totally un-edited photos turned out pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.

Here we are behind Jared's mom's house
As a bonus, my wonderful sister-in-law Anita (who wanted to check out the fabled farm and attend classes at Education Week) and my dear Power of Moms friend, Allyson Reynolds (who was also presenting at Education Week) joined us at the Loosli farm house for the weekend.  Jared's mom is such a wonderfully welcoming hostess and great cook and it was fun to have Anita and Allyson meet her and see the great places that I love so much. Allyson and Anita had so much fun enjoying the farm with us and I was so glad to have such great company.
Somehow, this is the only picture I took at BYUI.  Ooops.  I guess they've added flip flops to the dress code - and all Anita  brought was flip flops.  Plus I had to use my flip flops to get around campus thanks to my messed-up ankle and my uncomfortable dress shoes (but I did try - and sometimes succeeded - to remember to put on my dress shoes while presenting).  We're such rebels!
The potato fields all over Ashton were frosted with potato blossoms - love that.

The huge swings in the backyard were a huge hit, as always.
The kids spent a lot of their days on the good old super bouncy trampoline.
Even Allyson got out there and enjoyed it.

We spent an evening touring the Loosli farm.
We took a tractor ride - can't visit the farm without one!
Allyson, Anita, Jared and I all crammed into the cab of a tractor for a joy ride.  Top speed = 26 mph.
I love these vintage Loosli farm signs on the trucks.

The sunset over the Tetons at the end of our farm tour.

After the farm tour, Allyson said "I always knew you married a potato farmer but now I think I really get it - you married a SERIOUS potato farmer."  Yep.  I sure did.  My mom always said, "find yourself an Idaho farm boy and you'll be happy."  I thought she was silly.  I was going to college in Boston.  I was finding myself a professor-type.  But no.  I found me a super hard-working, smart, wonderful farm boy who also happened to be a brilliant MIT student.  My mom was right.  Farm boys are the best.  

And my farm boy earned himself a lot of extra points by showing up at one of my classes on the morning of my birthday. Totally ignoring my embarrassment, he got up there and hung up a birthday banner, passed out birthday hats and noisemakers, and led the class of 100 or so in a lovely rendition of "Happy Birthday."  His little presentation actually ended up being a great object lesson as I went on to present my class on building family traditions and culture including ideas for celebrating birthdays.  What a guy.

Here I am with my birthday stuff at BYUI.  Some nice people brought me cookies and cards
and I got Facebook messages and emails all day from so many kind people.

My birthday dinner - stuffed pizza from Papa Murphy's - yum!
Allyson brought me a yummy cake and singing candle and the kids made my favorite cookies.
We finished off the day with a little jaunt out to this beautiful old train bridge.  This was always one of Jared's favorite places on the farm and he showed it to me right after we got engaged, telling me he'd planned to propose there but the timing worked out so that we ended up getting engaged up Emigration Canyon in SLC.  Somehow we've never been back to visit this place since Jared first showed it to me - probably because it used to be very non-kid-friendly - the railings are brand new and you used to have to step across the old railroad ties, looking down a couple hundred feet as you inched your way across.  It was fun to see how they've fixed it up and to share it with the kids.  And it was a perfect spot to end my birthday.

view from the bridge

I got a rainbow for my birthday!  Isaac was so excited to get a rainbow on his birthday and I told him I was a little jealous. Then low and behold, I got one too!

I love these people.  I love this place.  Happy birthday to me.


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