Sunday, May 27, 2012

Goodbye School. Hello Loosli Learning Adventure Camp!

The last day of school was on Thursday and I'm pretty darn happy about that. No more rushing the mornings and rushing kids to bed at night. No more school uniforms (got those all packed away for the summer - and I even put away most of the socks - the kids wear sandals and flip flops for the most part all summer and it cuts down so much on laundry and on the dirty random socks that end up all over the house...) No more homework. Precious few deadlines for anything. Just lots of learning adventures and fun ahead of us. Hurray for summer!

Every year on the last day or school (or thereabouts) the kids and I go through the piles of stuff they bring home from school combined with precious art projects and school papers from earlier in the year (each kid has a folder in a file box where this stuff goes during the school year - anything oversize gets photographed and thrown away) and choose their favorite things to put into page protectors and put into their binders. We've got 1 or 1.5 inch binders for every two grades and they can keep whatever fits. The older kids are starting to fit 3 grades per binder as they are doing less art projects these days and mostly just want to keep some reports and grade sheets. It gives us all a tremendous sense of accomplishment to get all that school stuff neatly tucked away. And it's fun to go through binders from previous years while we're at it. 

Here are our binders. Sure, I guess I could print out nice binder labels...but for me, if it's complicated or involves a trip to the store, I know it'll keep getting put off and maybe won't ever happen. So I use the binders I've got on hand and the huge package of page protectors I bought ages ago and we just get the job done. And the kids think these binders are wonderful.

Anyway, the past few weeks have been PACKED with end-of-school-year-hoopla (photos and details coming soon) and lots of projects for Power of Moms that I've been trying to cram in so that I could focus on fun and learning with the kids once they got out of school. The article I wrote a couple weeks back on the "Do-it-Yourself Summer Camp" our family does (based on an old blog post) has been read by over 50,000 people now thanks to lots of Pinterest and Facebook shares plus regular Power of Moms traffic. And lots of people asked for more details. So for the sake of solidifying our own summer plans and helping other families create their own family summer camps, one of the projects I've been working on has been gathering and sprucing up all our family summer camp materials and they're all available HERE. See if this is something that could help your family have the summer you'd like. I just introduced everything to my kids and they're so excited to get started!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A snapshot of a pretty typical day

My sister Saydi just wrote this post about a typical day in her life in England and I thought it was great that she captured the basic, the mundane, the fabric of her life at this time, the stuff she'd forget if she didn't record it. My friend Sarah wrote this post a while back about what her typical days look like and I found it so helpful to read about how she uses her time and learn from her example to give myself some slack in some areas and step it up in others.

I realized it's been a long time since I've written about a pretty typical day in my life. So - to record and remember - and to maybe make others feel motivated and comforted at the same time - here's a snapshot of  a day in my life. This is the play-by-play of last Thursday.


I woke up to our neighbor calling for his cats, "Buddy!" "Buddy!" "Peyton!" "Egypt!" My kids love the 12 or so cats that live next door. Jared not so much. Personally, I like cats but I don't really like that the cats think our patio furniture is their bed and that we can't just go sit out there without getting out the vacuum and making a big production of it. But there are worse things. 

I was tired. I fell back asleep.


I heard Jared start starting scriptures with the kids and laid in bed until I could talk myself into getting up. Then I blearily stumbled into the bathroom before putting on the clothes I wore yesterday (still perfectly clean so why not?). I only shower on the days I go running or exercise - showers every other day works great for me and it forces me to exercise when I tell myself I can't shower until I do... I brushed my hair and saw it needed to be wetted down to tame some bed-head but decided to do that later (didn't happen - had to pick up the kids from school with my still-messy hair - oh well - I know that if I don't get all the way ready first thing in the morning, it just doesn't happen).

Headed downstairs to spray down and brush the kids hair while Jared led scripture study. Helped dish up the oatmeal Jared made (that's our main breakfast staple around here - can't beat good old quick oats with a bit of brown sugar on top) and remembered we have some left-over sliced strawberries in the fridge from the Retreat - became a hero to the kids when I plopped those puppies on top of their cereal. Gave the big boys some big hugs as they headed out to bike to school (trying to keep up with my post-Retreat resolution to give each child at least 4 hugs a day). Had the twins change out of their old basketball uniforms and into their school uniforms - they'd erroneously thought today was field day when they're supposed to wear clothes that can get wet - it's actually next week. Wiped down the spill on Liza's shorts. Hugged the younger kids goodbye so Jared could drive them to school.


Got myself some breakfast - my favorite - pumpkin flax seed granola from Costco mixed with plain oatmeal (I think the granola is way too sugary w/o the oatmeal mixed in - plus doing 1/2 oatmeal makes it cheaper per serving by far...), sliced bananas, sliced strawberries (had to save some of what I gave the kids), plain yogurt. Ate while checking my siblings and parents blogs then dove into the 50 or so emails that piled up since I last checked email last night at midnight after saying goodbye to all my Learning Circle friends (I hosted the group last night - great discussion on what our intentions are as moms, as wives, as people - stayed up too late finishing the Power of Moms newsletter that had to go out this morning after my friends left but it the great conversation was was well worth the late night...). Sat here in quiet for hours working away until my rear-end ached and my tummy growled.

Every other day, I start the day with a 3-mile run. Sometimes it feels great. Sometimes it feels pretty bad. But I always feel a great sense of accomplishment when I get my run done. I listen to Pandora on my phone while I run - Plain White T's station quite a bit lately but sometimes symphonic classical music and sometimes random mixes of all the music I've got on my phone. I'm getting tired of music. I need to make some time to put some podcasts on my phone to mix things up. The fresh air and beautiful new leaves and gorgeous blossoms and flowers totally energize me.

It still amazes me the amount of quiet time I get some days now that my kids are in school. Sometimes it gets lonely but I'm so blessed to have this time to get things done on my own w/o feeling torn and being constantly interrupted as I was for the past few years while working on Power of Moms while trying to be a great mom to preschoolers. I miss the social time I used to get with friends at parks and playgroups when I had little kids who needed the time with friends as much as I did. Sure, the conversations were extremely interrupted - but they happened! Now I interact all day with great people but mostly just via email. I do wish I had some friends to go to lunch with sometimes. After so many years of wrangling preschoolers, I looked forward to the day I could enjoy a quiet lunch with friends while my kids were in school from time to time. But my friends mostly still have preschoolers so that makes things tricky plus I've always got so much work to cram in while my kids are at school! I do make a point of getting out for lunch at least once a month with a friend and once in a while I get to go to lunch with Jared. I sit there and enjoy my lunch and a great conversation in peace and marvel at my good fortune.

Along with replying to lots of emails and moving some projects along that way, I updated our Power of Moms trainer manual (something I've been trying to get to for ages), uploaded tons of beautiful photos I got from our Retreat photographer (will have to post some soon), wrote a blog post about Mother's Day, put up a new Deliberate Mothering Video on our website ("lunch lessons" - great idea), polished the product page for our new Virtual Retreat after finally finding a photo of a mom at a computer that was pretty decent to use to illustrate what this program involves (when I searched stock photography for photos of moms at computers I was amazed at how much cleavage and skanty clothing I saw - really, who wears provocative clothing as they sit at their computer at home???). I carefully read over and signed the lease on our St George house (yeah! we finally got renters that seem great), and did some research whether or not it's OK to cut through tree roots to install sprinkler pipes and how much dirt we need to fill up the planter boxes we just put in in the backyard (Jared was working away on the back yard and needed someone with clean hands to do a little internet research...I learned that 1 cubic yard of dirt weighs about 2000 pounds and that we probably need 2 cubic yards - wow - dirt is heavy...).


When my rear-end was aching and my tummy was rumbling, I paused to grab some trail mix (my very favorite is a mix I make myself using stuff from bulk foods - it's raw pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, semi-sweet chocolate chips and craisins - try it - but watch out, you might get addicted) and got back to work. Some days I get so busy trying to cram several days' work into the hours the kids are at school, I don't even have lunch. I mean to take a proper lunch break and maybe even go for a walk or run an errand or two to break up the day (and many days, I go for a run after my initial morning email-check which is really nice) but I generally stay pretty glued to this poor old computer (several keys have the letters rubbed right off and Ashton was pointing out the other day that my computer is seeming like a dinasaur. But it works!).


Started getting hungry again and needed to go to the bathroom but wanted to just finish a couple of things including editing the email that will go out to all our Bloom subscribers on Sunday. It was all about how moms need to take better care of their personal basic human needs. Pretty ironic that I was putting off going to the bathroom and eating to finish editing that content! I stopped and took care of myself for a few minutes then felt much better and quickly finished a few more things.


Took off to get the kids at school. They get out at 3 but pick-up is a zoo if you get there much earlier than 3:15. I end up getting there at 3:20 most days. I was feeling bad that I was usually late until Eliza told me that she loves it when I'm in charge of pickup because she has more time to talk with her friends and the twins chimed in and said they like me to come a little later too. I guess that's one less thing to feel guilty about! I made sure to "light up my eyes" when walked into the school to get the kids gave them big hugs and ask them what they did for someone else that day and what they learned that day on the way home from school.


Dropped off neighbor kids we carpool with, got my kids started on homework (luckily there's not much at the end of the school year - I'm so ready to be done with school!).  Made some guacamole to bring to a BBQ with Silas (just avacado, cilantro, chopped sweet onions and tomatoes plus lots of lime and salt and pepper - the whole family rejoices when I make the time to make fresh guacamole) and Silas really wanted to learn to slice the tomatoes so I had to watch and help very closely (Silas is SO into cooking with me lately. Eliza wanted to tell me all about her field trip to a pioneer museum but I had to put her off a bit to focus on the knife and tomatoes. Ashton needed help with his final math project (well, he didn't think he needed help but he did and he was being rude to me so we had to stop and have a talk about respect and I had to email his teacher about a part of the project he insisted was right but made no sense to me  - he NEEDS an A on this project - it's been a rough term in math...).


During the math and field trip and guacamole stuff, my friend showed up with her little girls who my big kids had agreed to babysit so we paused everything to focus on these cute little kids for a while and get the little one calmed down (she was having some serious separation anxiety). Isaac did a great job with the baby and Eliza took the other little girl upstairs for dolls and crafts and Silas and I finished the guacamole while Ashton was marginally nicer about the ongoing suggestions I was giving him on his math project.


Time to hurry and get to the church BBQ. We enjoyed a little time with friends from church and Silas was pleased to see how much everyone loved "his" guacamole. Then we'd promised to also go to this event at the new community center where they let us hold our Children for Children Concert - there's this great group that's received all these big grants to fix up big pieces of our neighborhood.

(On a more typical day, I'd be working with one of the kids to make dinner and generally not starting dinner as early as I should have so while we're supposed to eat at 6, it's often 6:30 or even 7. With it getting dark so late, it's hard to think about dinner as early as I should. I go through spurts where I'm really good about planning dinners a week in advance and doing lots of crock pot soups and meals so we're ready for dinner in a more timely manner. I really like cooking - and like doing it one-on-one with my kids as much as possible. But some weeks I don't plan well and we end up with some pretty basic stuff. For nights when I haven't planned ahead, I've usually got some pasta and red sauce on hand - or part of a big batch of pinto beans I've cooked and mixed with spices and tomatoes and put away in the fridge or freezer that can be served over rice or in burritos.)


We left the kids at the BBQ with friends for a while and hurried over to the community center event where we got a chance to chat with some great people. Then we picked the kids up at the BBQ and went back to the community center to enjoy this great documentary about urban farming in Detroit called Urban Roots. The kids were thrilled at the candy and popcorn and tasty snacks they had for the movie. We learned a lot about how much gardens can do for communities and how working hard and seeing things grow has transformed many people's lives - the movie totally kicked us into gear to get our own garden planted this Saturday - something we've had to put off for too many weekends.

8:30pm or so.

Past bedtime (we go for 8:00 for the younger kids, 8:30 for older kids, then 1/2 hour of reading time each - but lately with it staying light late, we've been later). We snuck out of the movie to get kids home and to bed (they watched really well for almost an hour but were getting a bit restless anyway). Walked the one block to our house with 4 kids and enjoyed a gorgeous evening with roses out all over the place - Jared took Ashton to the store for the poster board I thought we had for sure but apparently I was wrong and he needed it to finish the math project. Sent kids to the shower but realized the shower curtains were in the washing machine (they're fabric ones). Put up wet shower curtains and got kids in showers. Went from shower to shower to encourage some hurrying by telling them they could have a "Puggy and Chu-Chu story" if they were done quickly (the twins and Liza are way into these stories I make up with their help about the live versions of their stuffed pug and chiuauia dogs). Helped everyone straighten their rooms and set out their clothes for the next day.

9:00pm or so

All kids in bed except Ashton. But it seems some of them forgot the steps of brushing teeth and going to the bathroom so we rectified that. Even though it was late and they didn't entirely hold up their side of the bargain, we still did a Puggy and Chu-Chu story. I can't resist their cute faces and bright eyes so intent on the crazy stories I come up with. This time Puggy and Chu-Chu won a drawing for free cruise tickets to China (they had to go to China so they could meet up with another stuffed-animal-turned-real friend, Pandy the panda). The kids' eyes were wide as they heard about the worries about whether or not the cruise line would allow dogs to come but thanks to their blind friend who could go with them and they could be his seeing eye dogs, the cruise line said the dogs could go. Big sigh of relief there. They went to the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City and most importantly - the Panda Preserve where they met baby Pandy who was very sick and who they were able to help nurse back to health...Tomorrow we're going to look up about seeing eye dogs and the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City and pandas on YouTube right after school. We're all excited.

After lots of hugs and Oliver telling me I'm the best mom in the whole world several times and Silas singing me his "mom, I love you so so much, I will never stop loving you" song a couple times and then both of them needing a couple more hugs (they really are the sweetest most loving boys ever and I'm so blessed to be their mom but I have to close things down gently but firmly after a while) and then Eliza needing help finding school clothes to set out for the next day and Isaac remembering last-minute that he needed to fill out his reading log, everyone was finally completely tucked into bed.


Helped Ashton with the final details on his math project and sent him off to bed - happily on a happy note. Then finished some emails and a couple things on my mind while Jared finished up some stuff he needs to have ready for this trip he's taking next week to oversee the installation of this invention he's been working on for many months with some friends - fingers crossed that all will go well and this will grow into something wonderful.


Went upstairs to watch a recorded episode of Modern Family with Jared. That's our one show we watch together pretty regularly and we laugh pretty hard. I need all the laughs I can get. Jared watches lots of basketball and I'm trying to get better at watching sports but my mind wanders. Often, I sit by him during a game and do computer work. It's nice to be together even if we're not really doing the same thing. Jared is great about supporting my rare but serious little TV obsessions. Lately it's Downton Abbey. Jared rolls his eyes at my near-constant interest in British costume dramas - but deep down, I think he really appreciates this stuff...


We actually went to bed pretty much on time. We said our prayers together and fell into bed. It had been a long few days with a lot of late nights. About once a week we do manage to get to bed close to 11pm but often it's midnight or later as we take advantage of the quiet hours to get stuff done or get sucked into Downton Abbey...

And there you have it. A day in my life.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mother's Day

Mother's Day was all the more wonderful for me this year as I came home from the Retreat with fresh ideas and perspective and renewed love for my family.

It was so fun to have my mom and dad come up from Salt Lake and spend the afternoon with us. My kids were so excited to give their gifts to Grammie and to me.

The kids picked flowers for me, the twins made cute frames
and Liza set the table beautifully.

I loved the sweet cards my kids made for me and all their hugs and the numerous times they said "you're the best mom in the world." I was very pleasantly surprised when Jared made a truly scrumptious meal for me and my mom while I took a much-needed nap (Retreats wear me out but they're so worth it!).

I think my favorite part of the day was the one-on-one time I spent with each child. It's my little tradition on Mother's Day to go on a short walk with each kid and tell them what I love about being their mom. It was beautiful to see their eyes shine as I focused entirely on the positive. And it was great for me to really think through the many wonderful and unique things I love about mothering each of them. Plus it was a gorgeous spring day with flowers and blossoms bursting out everywhere. Love that.

Here's another favorite from the Mother's Day photoshoot that Jared did for me (This is something I ask for every year - I find I don't end up with many photos of myself with my kids since I'm usually the one behind the camera!)

I'm SO grateful I get to be the mom of these wonderful children. And I'm SO grateful for my own dear mom and grandmother and my amazing mother-in-law and all the women who've been such huge blessings in my life.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Retreat Report (mostly from my mom)

Our Retreat in Park City this past weekend really was powerful and magical. It's amazing the feeling you get when 85 wonderful moms gather together and spend a day or two helping each other become even better. Ah, the wisdom and joy and POWER in that room!

I'll have more photos when our photographer (and star performer) Macy Robison gets me the photos. But here's a snippet of what we experienced this past weekend through my mom's eyes and the photos people have been kind enough to send me so far. I've cut and pasted what my mom wrote about the Retreat on her "World of Good" blog at the Deseret News so you can hear a report of a Retreat from someone other than me. What my mom didn't say here is that she was our amazing keynote speaker and that she and my dad are masterful presenters who added so much to the event. Plus their lovely home was an absolutely perfect setting. They are so gracious to let us host events at their house.

My mom's report:
We are sometimes mystified by the power of the Internet. Sometimes it seems no one is out there and then suddenly we learn what it means when someone says, “it went viral”! As those of you who follow Deseret News Blogs know, our oldest daughter Saren and her dynamite mother friends power up the Motherhood Matters blog. This sprang out of an organization that can be found at It is a web site for deliberate mothers. Saren and her co-founder April Perry have created this website that enriches, comforts and inspires moms to be better, do better and get over it when they don’t!

After Saren and April have worked tirelessly for about five years to make their website fly, suddenly one of April’s articles “went viral”. It apparently touched a nerve amongst mothers because it generated ONE MILLION HITS! If you want to take a look, click here. What a great gift to these amazing women for Mother’s Day!

As of last weekend, Saren and April have completed 16 weekend retreats involving job training for mothers all over the United States. In March they did two retreats in Australia! Their readership covers the globe and they are thrilled to be part of this movement to train mothers not only for their hardest and best job, but also for their lifelong most-important career.

Last weekend Richard and I hosted a Power of Moms Mother’s Day Retreat. I must say that the power of deliberate mothers was bursting at the seams of our home in Park City. On Friday we talked about specific ways moms can take care of themselves as well as some family systems that helps a home run more smoothly. On Saturday April gave instructions for keeping your mind (and stuff) organized with a system she has created called Mind Organization for Moms.

One of the best things about these retreats is being able to break up into small groups so that moms can help each other with specific problems and needs at home. Every mother brought her own gifts and powers. Comments, questions and suggestions from those present always makes us realize that they could do their own retreat….many of whom are! It was a gorgeous day so some of the groups were able to meet outside.

We were all moved by Macy Robison who is a extraordinary talent with a gorgeous voice and a special talent for touching and lifting up mother’s hearts. She has produced her own delightful CD called Children Will Listen which you can access here.

Snacks and a lovely lunch were served to keep our brain power at maximum and pamper ourselves a bit for Mother's Day.

After a thought-provoking day of mother training, about a dozen brilliant women who serve on the Power of Moms Board stayed on and were able to put their heads together during an evening dinner/meeting where they brainstormed about how to help the website run better and reach more mothers. These great moms all work several hours a week to help run the website and they are each amazing, wonderful women.

Since there is basically no instruction manual for mothers to enable them to be the best they can be, The Power of Moms is looking to create something that will power up those who are working in the most important job in the world. They’d love to have a million members! To be one of those excellent moms go to and click on "join us".

Monday, May 14, 2012

Motherhood is Movement

Last week, as the repetitive mundane aspects of motherhood started to get me down and I was stressed out about our upcoming Retreat (as always, the stress was silly - it turned out beautifully and gave me a huge boost and I'll blog about it soon), I got the idea for a poem.

I don't really write poetry - except for my dad's birthday when he craves poems with all his heart. Poetry takes time for quiet thinking - something I don't seem to have that often. But I do love how writing poetry helps you think about things on a different level.

Anyway, here's the poem I came up with. I thought I'd share it for Mother's Day in honor of my own amazing mother whose constant movement was the fabric of my growing-up years.

Motherhood is movement.

It's up and down movement as we pick up
babies and socks and crayons and cheerios,
run stuff and people upstairs and down,
sit down and jump up ten times during dinner,
get up five times at night to solve nightmares and hunger and sickness

It's sideways movement as we go
from helping with homework to stirring the dinner,
from reading stories on the couch to doing crafts at the table,
from school to the store to soccer to scouts to dance

It's circular, repetitive movement as we
do the same dishes and clean up the same messes
make the same favorite foods and read the same books
answer the same questions and mediate the same spats

Sometimes we wonder
Are we getting anywhere with all this movement?
Is there any forward movement involved
in the up-and-down, the side-to-side, the circular?

The up-and-down, back-and-forth, repetitive motion
of a river
wears off sharp edges
creates paths
gives life

The up-and-down, back-and-forth, repetitive motion of motherhood
refines us
as it wears off our rough spots
creates us
as it exposes our strengths and weaknesses
soothes us
as we surrender to its rhythms
gives us life
as we give life to others
and propels us ever forward
on the hilly, zig-zag path
towards the people we're meant to be

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Mother of Achievement or Mother of Failure?

Last Saturday, American Mothers was kind enough to present me with a "Mother of Achievement" award. At a luncheon in Salt Lake City, fifteen mothers were honored for amazing achievements such as helping at-risk youth and their families, working to improve programs in schools, supporting families of children with disabilities, brightening the lives of pregnant women who have to be in the hospital on bedrest, helping families in third world countries, and mothering their own children in their own uniquely beautiful and deliberate ways. Several moms had 8, 9, and 10 children and scores of grandchildren and even some great grandchildren. What gifts each of these mothers with families large or small have given the world through their own well-raised children. I felt humbled to be in their midst.

As we tried to get out the door for the luncheon on Saturday morning, I was NOT feeling like a Mother of Achievement. I was feeling like a Mother of Failure. I had a list of small projects around the house and yard that I envisioned all of us working on together quickly and efficiently before leaving for the event and although I thought I'd planned things well and I made the jobs bite-sized for everyone and I worked alongside them in a cheerful manner (which usually really helps), there was lots of moaning and complaining and everything took 10 times longer than it should. Then suddenly it was time to get going - and I realized that the thing actually started a 1/2 hour earlier than I'd realized. Oops! So we started hurrying. And hurrying makes for stress and stress makes for a not-so-nice mom.

My hair wouldn't cooperate. The shirt I was going to wear had a spot on it. Eliza did her own hair and proudly showed me her lopsided messy pig tails - then was naturally pretty sad when I suggested I could maybe smooth out her pigtails a bit for her. And Isaac's nice pants were quite suddenly WAY too short for him (I swear, he wore those last Sunday and they were fine!).  I found another shirt for myself and Eliza reluctantly agreed to let me touch up her hair in the car on the way to Salt Lake and Isaac and I searched through all Ashton's pants (which were wadded up in a drawer rather than being folded neatly the way I've showed him about a hundred times) and finally found a pair that wasn't too big or too dirty or too wrinkled for Isaac to wear. Then while I gathered my stuff, Isaac did his own hair with this "ski jump" style involving gelled hair sticking straight up in the front (he loved the guy's hair in the movie Tin Tin and has been going for that look). I begged him to please let me do his hair in a more normal way for this event and he finally agreed - after I promised that someday, when he has a special event to go to and I'm going there to support him, I'll let him tell me how to do my hair. Wouldn't life be so much easier if we could all be bald?

Then I sent everyone to the car so I could work on my unruly hair in peace for a few minutes. Jared politely pointed out that we were late. I not-so-politely pointed out that I was doing my best and that I'm always getting everyone else ready and don't have time to get myself ready so for once in my life, I was going to actually make my hair look presentable and we were just going to have to be a little late.

Jared drove fast but we yep, we were a little late. I had to march on up to my assigned place at the head table at the luncheon during the introduction speech, feeling like the furthest thing from a "Mother of Achievement." But you know what? It all worked out perfectly fine. Sometimes late is just plain OK.

My mom blogged all the event it here (with the pride and love that only a mother can muster). But here are a few photos of the lovely luncheon and great company I enjoyed last Saturday. We'll be "spotlighting" many of these moms on The Power of Moms soon - I want to offer their examples of service to their families and beyond to everyone possible!


It felt nice to be honored. It felt lovely to enjoy a tasty lunch in the company of amazing moms while my cute kids (with their nicely done hair) and wonderful patient husband looked at me adoringly from the audience. And after the luncheon, it was so nice to go shopping with my mom and Eliza at the beautiful new City Creek Mall (I'm SO not a shopper but my wardrobe has been pretty thin lately and shopping with Eliza and my mom and finding some great deals made it fun). Then my parents treated me and Eliza to the symphony - Eliza's first time. The music was gorgeous and it took me back to the special times when my parents took me to the symphony as a child. We all feel a special bond to that place given my mom's passion for music and my dad's involvement in getting Symphony Hall built (he helped run the bond election that made it possible to build Symphony Hall and restore Capitol Theater in downtown Salt Lake). And I don't know if the day would have been quite so nice if the morning hadn't been quite so crazy. The hard stuff really does make the good stuff better.

Then, of course, real life took over again. I came home at midnight to a house full of the clutter and dust that we didn't get to that morning with all the complaining and interruptions and had to quickly prepare a lesson for church bright and early the next morning (I just got asked to be a leader in our church's children's program called Primary) and set out everyone's Sunday clothes. Then the next morning, just when I thought I'd timed everything right (I'd learned from Saturday's experience) and we were actually going to be early for church, I discovered that Isaac was inexplicably still in the shower (I'd sent him in there a 1/2 hour earlier with his church clothes - that fit him - in hand and clear instructions to be quick) and Oliver spilled milk all over his only decent pair of Sunday pants (I guess we need to seriously stock up on Sunday pants around here...). So we were late and someone else had to cover for me in Primary until I awkwardly took over a few minutes late. 

Yep. Lateness happens. And you know what? It's not the end of the world and we are improving. We were totally ready on time for school the past couple days.

Aren't we all mothers of achievement and mothers of failure - often in the same day and sometimes even in the same hour? 

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Spring Break Part III - Retreat (finally!)

It's taken forever, but now, on a quiet Sunday afternoon, as Eliza plays the piano and the boys play the game of Life together, it's a good time to finish my blogging about Spring Break with the grand finale - the Power of Moms Retreat in Palo Alto. All photos are courtesy of Rachel Jacobsen. Thanks for being such a wonderful Retreat photographer and helping with so many things, Rachel!

SUCH great women helped present, helped with food and brought their ideas and energy to the table as attendees. As always, I learn so much at these Retreats and thrive on the energy and excitement in the air when so many fabulous deliberate women gather to learn and share. It was great to present this Retreat in partnership with my old friend from Study Abroad in London 20 years ago – Julia Carmack Jacobsen. And it was so fun to re-connect with a lot of different wonderful people on this trip - a friend from my days at Wellesley College, friends from church when we used to live in Santa Clara, even the younger sister of a friend who grew up in my neighborhood in Salt Lake City.  All the women there were so wonderful and I wished I could have had longer to learn from each of them.

Our fabulous core team: Linda (our hostess and keynote speaker),
Julia (speaker and Retreat Manager), me, Heather and Rachel (spoke and did food)

Eliza has always wanted to come to a Retreat. This one was the perfect time for her to be with me
and help me explain some things from a kid's perspective.
I loved having here there on the front row smiling up at me.
 I thought she might get bored - but she didn't.
It's so fun to share these experiences with my kids when I can!

The setting was perfect - the Etherington home is full of light and love and gorgeous artwork thanks to our hostess, Linda Etherington's great talents in art. I loved hearing her share how she balanced her passion for art and the ongoing development and use of her talents with raising her seven daughters. I also loved hearing Linda's wonderful keynote speech where she shared her wisdom on what to do more of and what to do less of. I'm working on my goal of giving at least 4 hugs a day to everyone in my family. And I'm working on listening and praising more effectively. I loved that she encouraged us to do "less good things." What? She pointed out that often we do so many "good" things that we don't have time for the excellent and truly important things in life. I wish I'd had a whole lot longer to listen to Linda.

Our other keynote speaker, Kristine Westerlind, brought up great points about what it really means to be a deliberate mother. She held up a scale - one of those brass ones with the two trays on each side - and talked about how we have to think carefully about what we put on that scale to keep things balanced. She also taught us that just as we can't wear someone else's perscription eyeglasses and have success seeing things properly, we need to understand that we all need to mother in our own unique ways and that we'll all see things and do things differently - and that's not only OK, that's beautiful.

Then Julia and I presented about how to take care of the person inside the mom for the rest of the morning. We talked about nurturing ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and socially so that we can do the same for our kids. We talked about how important it is to set boundaries, to learn to say no, and to have margin in our lives to give us room to really enjoy our lives.

We had some wonderful women participate on panels and share what's worked for them.

We also had Heather present about taking care of our physical selves and she got everyone laughing and doing squats to fun, loud music while helping us understand that a little can go a long ways when it comes to exercise.

In the afternoon, we talked about some principles and concrete ideas for setting up Family Systems to help our kids want to behave in positive ways, to teach them about work and money, and to build a strong family culture. Everyone had such great ideas!

And of course, we ate lots of delicious (and mostly very healthy) food. Thanks again to our lunch sponsor - Bumble (wish there was a Bumble near me - what a great concept!).

Most importantly, we learned from each other. I love that it's so hard to get people to come back together after small group discussions. EVERY woman there had wonderful ideas and insights to share. We spent a good portion of the day discussing different topics with different small groups of women and also spent some time doing personal self-reflection and planning for how we'd be implementing our favorite ideas.

Here are some quick glimpses at small group discussions and the great learning and sharing and laughing that took place during breaks.

No matter how many times I do these Retreats, I learn so many new things each time and I come away with renewed joy in my mothering and renewed hope for the world. My heart is full as I sit there with so many valiant, deliberate mothers, each charting their own course and fighting their own battles and building the best future they can for their children and the hundreds and thousands who will ultimately be touched by their influence and posterity. I love this quote:

“One form of heroism...the most common, and yet the least remembered of all—is the heroism of a mother. And when I think of that broad fact, I gather hope again for poor humanity; and this dark world looks bright
more...because, whatever else it is not full of, it is at least full of mothers.”
- Charles Kingsley

Doing this post makes me excited for our Retreat this Friday and Saturday at my parents' house near Park City.  We've still got a just a few spots left and registration closes on Wednesday. Click below for details:


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