Friday, May 31, 2013

Fun in San Diego

As part of our Disneyland trip last week, we had the chance to hang out with my brother Noah and his family in San Diego for a while. How we love them! My kids can't get enough of their little cousins and we loved playing at the beach, visiting the seals, jumping on the trampoline, and eating amazing Mexican food - amazing tacos at a little hole-in-the-wall authentic restaurant and Kristi's signature grilled fish tacos at their house. We had the added bonus of going to church with the Noah Eyres and watching Noah do a first-rate impersonation of Joseph Smith in Primary. And we got to spend time with Kristi's mom and sister which was great.

Here's the story of our time with Noah and family in photos:

We found this sign after all the fun climbing. Oops.

Awesome poses by Cubby and Noah while everyone did cartwheels and handstands on the lovely bluff overlooking the ocean (while Jared looked for Isaac who'd wandered off...)

And we capped off our time in San Diego by visiting Balboa Park - a place we loved when we visited several years ago. The kids totally remembered the earlier visit and we got some photos in some of the same places. Love the architecture and landscaping and vibe of that place - fun to just stroll around even though we didn't have time to actually go inside any museums this time.

This year:

Back in 2008:

This year:
Back in 2008:

This year:

 Back in 2008:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bad Tooth Fairy

We have a very very very slow tooth fairy. Several kids have been sleeping with several teeth under their pillows for months - and some of those teeth have ended up being forgotten or lost over time. It's been so long since the tooth fairy has shown up that the kids have sort of stopped asking about her. But Silas lost another tooth the other day and as he slipped it under his pillow that night, he shrugged and said, "Do you think maybe the tooth fairy died?" I had to report that question to the tooth fairy. And somehow she pulled herself together and made a real point of getting to our house that very night.

Here's what she found in an envelope under Isaac's bed:

She left each child a decent stack of money including some exciting gold dollar coins and explained her lateness. The kids were very forgiving. And Isaac didn't ask about what she meant by circling both the yes and the no on his note. He just decided to leave it alone and be happy for his money.

Here's the note she left:

Dear Kids:
I know, I know, I know, I'm terribly late. I was trying out a new system where I visit each part of the world systematically rather than flitting in all different directions every night to collect teeth. So I've spent about a month in China, another month in India, then Europe took a month too and I've been working my way across the country to get to you. There sure are a lot of kids loosing teeth! It's so much more efficient for me to collect teeth this way and I do a better job not missing anyone. I hope you'll understand! 

I've given you a little extra money for your teeth plus I've decided to let you keep your teeth since some of you expressed interest in that. I know how special teeth can be. And frankly, I've got plenty of teeth right now.

Take care of those gorgeous huge permanent teeth you're getting. As a tooth conneseiur, I have to say you've got some of the largest, strongest, most lovely permanent teeth I've seen in all my travels. Sure, you may need some braces but those Eyre teeth that you and all your Eyre cousins have are special - cherish them!

love, T.F.

I think we're entering a whole new phase where our kids want to believe but it's not seeming all that logical to believe but they've decided to go ahead and believe anyway because it's fun. I'm good with that.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Our Disneyland Trip

Last week we did Disneyland - and we did it up right.

Now, I've never been much of a Disneyland person in general - partially because my parents generally avoided all the "contrived, expensive manufactured fun" of amusement parks, bowling alleys, skating rinks and other such places. They raised us with the belief that exploring nature, enjoying the beach, reading books, going on hikes and traveling far and wide were more worthy ways to spend our time and money (and with nine kids, I think expense was part of the reason that this "manufactured fun" wasn't on the agenda very often). Similarly, Jared and I have put a real emphasis on hiking, biking, books, museums and travelling with our kids.

But I'm all for some "manufactured fun" sometimes. We love a little laser tag and bowling and roller skating and those trampoline places are totally fun. We go to the big amusement park here every year (Lagoon) and have such a great day as a family there. And it seems like all kids need a little Disneyland experience somewhere in their lives since Disneyland is such a part of kid-talk and kid-culture. So when Disneyland offered us some free tickets (thanks to my Power of Moms partner April's Deliberate Mother's Guide to Disneyland) and April and her family offered to accompany us and be our personal tour guides, we very happily packed our bags and headed to California.

April is a Disneyland guru. She used to work there as a teenager. She lives nearby and takes her kids all the time. She knows all the tips and tricks to making it the totally magical experience it should be. She knows which shows and rides are really worthwhile. She knows how to minimize line-waiting and make the waiting you have to do into a fun part of the day. She knows how to help kids feel even more joy in their experience as they learn to watch for great service from the wonderful employees at Disneyland and give special little notes to those who go out of their way to make Disneyland extra wonderful. And she knows how to pack the right food to keep kids happily munching along rather than begging for the overpriced food available around every corner.

Our kids looked at the Disneyland website and made a list of their top favorite rides and attractions and April and her family put together a perfect one-day itinerary that included everything the kids wanted to do at California Adventure AND Disneyland. She planned it out so well that we did a ton but didn't feel rushed or stressed at all. It was heaven to just follow along and have someone else plan everything out just right.  It was just a perfectly magical and fun day.

A few favorite moments from the day:
  • Seeing the kids' eyes light up again and again all day.
  • Watching Oliver and Silas fight Darth Vadar after they got picked to be trained as Jedi Warriors in the Star Wars show. They were SO excited and their faces were so determined and tough as they faced the big guy.
  • Seeing Ashton practically skip around with excitement (his surly teenager attitude totally dropped away for the day)
  • Seeing Isaac buddy up with April's youngest son (5-year-old Spencer) and make him feel cool by asking him his opinions about rides.
  • Chatting with Oliver in line for Star Tours. It was the longest line of the day I think but Oliver and I had such a great chat. He told me everything about his latest favorite thing - Ninjago. It was great to have time to just listen and listen and ask questions and give him my full attention. Before we got on the ride, he said "I'm so glad Heavenly Father sent us to be in the same family. You're the best mom in the world." Priceless.
  • Strategizing about Power of Moms projects and ideas with Jared, April and Eric in lines, catching up on each other's lives, just enjoying some fun together as we laughed on roller coasters and watched our kids having so much fun.
  • Seeing Eliza have so much fun with her dear friend Grace (April's daughter) and seeing her get excited about princesses - she's still young enough to get stars in her eyes about that sort of thing.
  • Having all the kids just so happy all day long - they were so grateful for every lovely snack handed to them (thanks April for packing so many fun things!) and for every ride they went on and kept saying "thanks for bringing us here!"
  • Having the whole park to ourselves after our last ride and just before the whole park closed - everything lit up beautifully, perfect weather, enjoying some last snacks as we meandered through areas we hadn't had a chance to get to earlier in the day. Sitting with April to record a podcast as the dads took the kids to a couple shops, reminiscing about our perfect day and what made it all work out so well. (Here's the podcast if you're interested.)
Here's the day in a smattering of photos (my real camera wasn't working - these are just phone photos and April has better ones, but this is a start!)

Here we are ready to head into the park (our family, April's family and the family of one of our fabulous Power of Moms' board members - so fun they could join us for part of the day as well).

We started off at California Adventure:

All the Loosli and Perry kids - ready for big-time fun.

After getting Fastpasses for Cars Racers (wow, that's a popular one!), we went on the Toy Story ride. The boys were pretty darn excited about their 3-D glasses.

 And the girls were pretty excited as well:

California Screaming was a huge hit with everyone (that's me and Oliver on the front row)

The main street there in California Adventure was lovely and we learned all about how they do animation plus saw the top-notch "Aladin" show.

April had yummy exciting snacks loaded up in her stroller that kept the kids extra happy all day. All waiting time was made fun with snacks.

Cars Land was amazingly well done. We thought we were back at home in the red rock of St George!

Had to get a photo of Jared with the leaning tower of tires since he designs software for tire companies.

We felt like we were right inside the Cars movie.

Tower of Terror was another big favorite:

Then we went over to Disneyland.

The twins were thrilled to be picked to participate in Jedi training (thanks to the Perrys for making some signs they could hold up that made them a bit more likely to be picked...)

The Disneyland Parade was so well-done and fun with music and lovely costumes. We ate dinner while watching. Perfect.

What a wonderful day we had! Thank so much to all the Perry's and to Disneyland for the free blogger tickets. Thanks to all the people at Disneyland who make everything so clean and pleasant and fun and beautiful. I love how every little detail is nicely done, how every employee (or cast member as they're called) is so kind and helpful, how quickly they move the lines along, how just genuinely happy and nice the whole place is. Way to go, Disneyland! Way to go, Perrys!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thoughts on Education

I'm loving taking a few minutes each day to watch a TED talk and/or a talk from LDS General Conference. It feels so good to get my brain working. Here's my favorite clip from last week:

 According to this video (and I totally agree), the way our current education is set up can really squash creativity. Our "no child left behind" policies should really be called "millions of children left behind." The culture of standardization just doesn't work for kids. Different kids really need different things. We need kids to grow up to have different skills and perform different roles - so why are we trying to get children with naturally different needs and interests to all learn the same things in the same way? What do we need? Great teachers who really care and can personalize education and who have the freedom to adjust curriculum to what they know will work for the children in their classroom. This requires more professional development for teachers, more respect for teachers, less required standardized practices. Education is not and cannot be a mechanized system. It has to be a human system based on tons of individual stories from individual children.

"Alternative" education makes things more individualized and helps children get re-interested in education when they've struggled. It works. Why is this type of education the "alternative" instead of the norm?

Leaders in education need to change the focus from "command and control" to "climate control" where the right situations are created for teachers and learners to flourish.

Right now I'm working on setting up the right situation for learning to flourish in our family this summer. We'll be out of town a lot but it's easy to adapt most of what's in our Loosli Learning Adventures Camp  (written about in this post that has sort of gone crazy out there - 1/2 a million reads!) to our upcoming 3-week cross-country road trip (reading, writing, learning - all great things to do when you're in a car for lots of hours...). And each kid is choosing a different city that we'll be visiting to research in advance then they'll do a little "presentation" to everyone else in the car as we near that city. Plus we'll be learning a ton together as we visit new places, meet new people, and have plenty of adventures (some of which will be fun while we're having them, some of which may be less fun at the time but will hopefully make for great memories!).

I can't fix the whole school system right now (but some of that's on my shelf to do a bit later in my life!). I can  supplement what my kids are getting in school with some really great learning experiences during their out-of-school time.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

Yesterday morning, I woke up to the cutest bunch of scraggly-haired PJ-clad kids jumping on my bed to cuddle with me and give me cards (after they'd let me sleep in - hallelujah!). Trailing close behind them was my wonderful husband with tray full of lovel flowers and a nice breakfast. Then as I ate, Ashton played a song he's learned recently on the guitar for me while the rest of the kids sang the words. It was a bit off-key. The guitar part was rough in a few spots. But it was pretty much the most beautiful performance I've ever seen.

They sang/played "Time of your Life" by Green Day. This was "our song" when Jared and I were dating and the lyrics have proven to be true of our family's story as it's unfolded. 

We've had so many forks in the road, so many times we've been grabbed and directed towards things we didn't anticipate. We've learned so many lessons. So little about our family's life has really turned out in a predictable way (I never would have guessed we'd end up with 5 kids in 5 years, that we'd live in St George, that Jared would run a trucking company or a tire software company or be Bishop of our ward, that we'd live in St George and or Ogden, that I'd be running this website that now reaches over a million moms....). In many ways, things have turned out unpredictably hard and scary and grueling. But wow, so many things have sure turned out right in so many beautiful ways, I've got thousands of lovely still-frames and photographs in my mind, pretty much all the hard stuff has ended up adding up to great stuff, and when I stop stressing out long enough to think about it, I am having the time of my life.

Here are the lyrics to "Time of your Life"

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time

It's something unpredictable, but in the end is right,
I hope you had the time of your life.

So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it's worth it was worth all the while

It's something unpredictable, but in the end is right,
I hope you had the time of your life. 

After breakfast, we went on a little hike/walk that I love up in the mountains and enjoyed a perfect blue sky and lots of beautiful wildflowers. The kids were great about staying by me and not getting way behind or scaling crazy-scary cliffs as is their norm (I pulled the Mother's Day card and asked them to PLEASE hike along nicely by me and not complain...). 


Church was good - beautiful talks, beautiful singing by all the primary kids. 

Then Oliver and Silas made me my favorite cookies - all by themselves. They've become the best bakers in the family.

The kids and Jared made me a delicious dinner and a smorgesborg of delicious desserts (including the cookies). 

Then Isaac played with my hair (my favorite), Eliza gave me a back massage (it only lasted about 2 minutes but it was great while it lasted!), and we all sat around just talking and reminiscing and enjoying each other until it was way too late - but it was just so nice that none of us could quite get ourselves to bed any earlier.

I am blessed beyond my dreams with these kids of mine. They sure give me a run for my money and I don't know what in the heck I'm doing as a mom sometimes. But I wouldn't trade any of it for the world. I'll take that "dead skin on trial" (not sure what that means but it works for "hard times" in my mind - so much skin in the game, so many trials as a mom) if it means I get those "tattoos of memories" that I love so much.

Here's a shot of these wild and precious children of mine singing a song on Skype for their grandmas:


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