Friday, May 30, 2014

Last Day of School 2014

Today is the last day of school.

I'm very glad.

I'm so ready for a more relaxed schedule and time to just hang out with my kids. I feel like our lives have been way too rushed, way too busy for a long, long time. Sure, we've had beautiful adventures and have accomplished good things thanks to all that busyness. But it feels so good NOT to be taking off on a cross-country road trip like we were at this time last year. We're ready for a mellow June full of simple un-planned fun combined with our "Loosli Adventure Camp" (read about that here if you want). I'm excited to just hang out with these fun kids of mine and follow our interests and whims a lot more than we have in a long, long, time. I'm scaling back on Power of Moms stuff and other committments so I can work with Eliza on Violin, read with the twins, go on walks and hikes, spend individual time with kids as much as possible, take a few day trips, and really live in the moment.

Then in July we'll be at Bear Lake most of the time and in Ashton, Idaho part of the time.

Day before yesterday I sat shivering (what's up with over-air-conditioning???) on a hard metal chair through a LONG awards ceremony at the middle school (I've got a few ideas I'm going to pass on to the administration about how they could improve this very tedious event that I think could be a fun celebration of what the kids have done rather than a 2.5 hour reading of names...). Ashton got an award for getting a rare perfect 30 on his writing (he's really a great writer) and Isaac got a Presidential Award for academic excellence. Plus they were recognized for being on the volleyball and soccer teams. But it was hard to see some kids get recognized again and again and again and others not get recognized at all. I sat there feeling frustrated that I didn't know about some of the different things Ashton and Isaac could have been involved in - why weren't the boys pro-active about getting involved in more things? Why didn't the school make sure parents knew about more of this stuff? Am I being as involved as I should be? What am I doing wrong to make it so my boys didn't get more awards? Are awards a good thing anyway? I took notes on things to follow up with the boys about and realized I need to be more pro-active in encouraging the boys to be more pro-active when it comes to school activities. Those are just a few of the rambling thoughts I had while sitting through that long long assembly - I had plenty of time to think.

Here's the only photo I could get that sort of showed Ashton and Isaac - they were both up there to get their awards for being on athletic teamsq (I couldn't get them to look my way...)

Eliza's school's award ceremony was yesterday and it was thankfully much shorter and most every kid seemed to get an award for something - much more positive experience for everyone, it seemed. Here she is getting the Presidential Award for academic excellence and an award from her beloved science teacher, Ms. Singleton:

Eliza happily looked my way and posed for pictures frequently (the diference between her and her older brothers - is it an age thing? girl/boy thing? personality thing?)

Presidential award - see her there on the back row, seventh from the right?

Science award:

Yesterday Ashton had a bunch of friends over for a party - trampoline jumping, playing guitar and singing together, watching a movie, eating pizza, talking and laughing. He's developed some great friendships this year - and has had a chance to go with many of these kids on awesome school trips to Havasupai (last fall) and Southern Utah (last week).

This year, Ashton's had great teachers and has learned a lot (quite a bit of it the hard way) about getting good grades. He's grown a whole lot this year in so many ways. As he gave me a rare hug last night and thanked me for the party, I couldn't believe that my little baby is now way bigger than me.

Today I did one last story time in the twins' classroom and it was hard not to be emotional as I looked at all the beautiful 3rd graders I've known since Kindergarten. They're getting so big! I love that the twins still have to give me big hugs when I get to their classroom and when I leave. I love seeing their faces light up when I walk into the room. I love knowing and loving many of their friends.

After my storytime, I got to see the kids learn to do the Flamenco from their teacher who is from Spain. It was pretty cute watching them.

Next year they'll be in different classes for the first time and they'll be switching around classes a lot more rather than being with one teacher the vast majority of the time. My babies are really growing up. Forth graders are seriously big kids. I remember forth grade - really well. How can it be that my youngest children are already at an age that I feel like I was at not so very long ago?

Then Isaac and Eliza had their end-of-school parties today after school - one party right after another.

Eliza and her friend jumped on the trampoline, made artistic arrangements out of flowers and leaves and had me judge them, had chips with guacamole and smoothies, played hide and seek and giggled and talked. Such cute girls.

Isaac's still got his friends here. Only girls showed up. But Isaac didn't seem to mind one bit. These are some great girls. They've been jumping on the tramoline while spraying each other with the hose (it's HOT!), eating the delicious cookies Isaac made for the occasion, playing with the neighbor's cats, and playing some pretty tame truth or dare (one dare was to give me a compliment - which really wasn't half bad...). Plus Isaac has been showing off his unicycle skills and helping is friends try out that crazy thing.

Next week, I'll be sitting down with each child to go over the piles and piles of stuff they've brought home from school - deciding whether each piece should be trashed, photographed and put into their digital "special things folder" or saved physically in the special things folder they each get for every 2 school years. Trying to be cheerful about this upcoming task...

Hmmmm. Now what shall I make for dinner? We were going to do pizza but Ashton wanted that for his party last night so we all had pizza. I want to do something special and celebratory. But Jared's getting home from work late and I'm just tired. Going out to eat might be the right answer. But then maybe that takes more effort than just eating something quick and easy here...

Southern CA for a Wedding and a New Baby

We spent a lot of Memorial Day weekend driving. And it was actually very pleasant. The kids read a lot (the twins can't put down Harry Potter and Percy Jackson these days and Eliza and Isaac had great books to read as well). Ashton worked on a couple really wonderful videos about the Southern Utah Science trip he just returned from. I edited the curriculum for our new Year III Learning Circles manual. Jared listened to podcasts. Plus we had plenty of time to talk about summer plans. Plus we played the alphabet game and found licsence plates from all over the country. Plus we listened together to two audio books (The Cay and The Maze Runner- didn't finish that one but got a lot of the way through it). Everyone was nice to each other. No one complained. Wow. We've really got this road trip thing down!

The trip was to southern CA where we had great times with both sides of our family. We attended Jared's neice Rachel's beautiful wedding and had a great time with a large portion of Jared's very large family playing on the beach and having a fun game night after the wedding. And we got to stay with my brother Noah and sister-in-law Kristi and their wonderful kids and meet their newest addtion - miracle baby Shelby who was born with a very rare and very serious heart condition and they were geared up for the worst but thanks to excellent doctors, innovative proceedures, and lots of faith and fasting and prayers, little Shelby Grace is doing remarkably well and is home and happy with her family.

Here are some of my favorite moments from the weekend - in photos and in words:

Rachel's wedding was absolutely beautiful - the setting, the ceremony, the bride, everything.

Rachel and Andrew seem like a wonderful match and it was so great to be with them and so many loved ones for this very special day.

Here's Jared's mom and 7 of her 9 children (sadly Joel and Jayne couldn't make it)

And here's the family with spouses included:

I'm so blessed to be part of the ownderful Loosli family.

After a lovely luncheon, we met up at the beach for a chilly but gorgeous afternoon.

The twins ran right into the water - 62 degrees seems like great beach weather to them.

Ashton, Isaac and Eliza joined their uncles and some cousins for a good volleyball game.

Here's the cheering section:

I went for a walk up and down the beach with the twins, checking out kelp and seashells. There's so much wonder at the beach.

And I played in the waves with my boys, running back and forth, following the receeding waves down and then running like crazy to see if we could keep the new wave from touching us. I loved running and laughing together and enjoying the ocean - the feel of the wet sand under our feet, the sound of the waves, the cool surprise of the water slapping your legs - it never gets old for me.

Then we grabbed burgers at good old In and Out and stayed up late playing Pounce and chatting at Bruce and Connie's house. Games with Looslis are aways a really great time.

On Sunday, we had a great day with Noah and family plus my sister Charity who came down from the Bay area for the weekend. We went on a nice long walk all over their lovely neighborhood and the kids played and played and played.

The most important part of our time with Noah and Kristi was meeting their new baby, Shelby Grace, who came into the world with a heart that wasn't really functional but who is doing miraculously well thanks to lots of faith and prayers and great innovative ideas from smart and devoted doctors. It was wonderful to meet her and hold her after we've all been fasting and praying for her for so long!

We got to see how she takes her special heart medicine. But other than medicine and the likelihood of further proceedures down the road, she's a normal, beautiful little baby.

And we had big-time fun with cousins. My kids can't get enough of these fun little cousins of theirs.

I got to hang out and have great talks with some of my favorite people - Noah and Charity

And Kristi

Noah and Kristi have always been some of my biggest heroes (along with all my great family members on both sides of our family). Their stalwart faith and peaceful attitudes and solid hope and love have been beautiful things to watch through this whole crazy process with sweet Shelby.

Isaac taught Shelby a bit about Instagram:

Ashton and Bennet had big time fun together:
And Eliza and Lyla can never get enough of each other:
These three muskateers are SO cute together, coming up with all sorts of imaginative games and ideas, playing with Pokemon cards and making up Pokemon plays to act out, and spending a reasonable amout of time on the Wii.

Goodbye! (Bennett had to run after our car a for a bit, trying to give Ashton one last high five...)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Isaac's Campaign

So one other thing we somehow crammed into our Mother's Day weekend was helping Isaac make posters for his campaign for 8th Grade Representative for next year. He came up with his own slogan, politely asked me to buy him some poster board when I got a chance, worked hard on his application and his speech, and WON!

He decided to go with Ike Eisenhauer's campaign slogan and had fun making a poster that matched his campaign buttons:

He decided to wear a nice sport coat and tie to do his speech so people would take him seriously and he worked hard to get his speech down so he could say it smoothly. I loved the excited phone call I got when he found out he'd won.

Go Isaac! I like Ike!

P.S. If you're looking for summer ideas, check out the post I wrote a couple years ago that is still going super strong (over a million reads - wow!) and that lays out how we do our summer: Do-it-Yourself Summer Camp Kit

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mother's Day Portraits 2014

One of the traditions I insist upon every Mother's Day is a photo shoot. I have too few photos of myself with my chlidren (I'm usually the one behind the camera). And I want to remember what we looked like together.

Typcially, we do photos of me and all the kids together. But you know what? It takes like 100 shots or more to get a decent shot of all of us together. And by the time the photo shoot is done, tempers have flared, tears have been shed, and there's just not a happy feeling going on.

So this year, to make for a happier and simpler photo shoot and to emphasize the individual relationships I want to further cultivate with each of my children, we did individual shots. 

I love how these pictures turned out. The lighting and photo quality aren't the best since they were taken by various kids using my phone. But there were no tears or temper flares and I love looking at these photos and thinking about the individual relationships I have with each of these fabulous people who I get to call my children.

Ashton was only up for one shot (he's the most unhappy about photo shoots that take more than 5 seconds). But luckly, we got a good one - and he actually agreed to put his arm around me! (Ashton's not exactly a hugger.) Look at this handsome young man. He's passed me up in many ways. There are bumps in the road as we move towards more friendship and mutual respect and figure out who we can and should be to each other as Ashton needs to be more independent in ways that are tough for him and for me. I love how he knows exactly what to do when my computer or phone give me fits and I love that he's always got some interesting video or other tidbit from the Internet to show me or some wonderful new guitar piece to play for me.

Isaac is such a generally happy, confident, helpful, friendly and sweet kid. He's got a stubborn streak and is fiercely committed to what he thinks is right, but generally, he's one fun and easy guy to have around. And his braces are really pulling in those big buck teeth of his!

Isaac's still a hugger. I'm so glad he doesn't feel like he needs to grow out of that. And he's not too cool to call out "I love you" as I drop him off at school. I love that.

Eliza's always up for a photo shoot. And she has great ideas for cute poses.

I love that Eliza and I share so many of the same interests and that she still thinks I'm smart and cool (for the most part). I love her great questions about so many things and the good conversations we have. I love that she likes to tell me about anything and everything and that we can discuss all kinds of things on an ever more fun and meaningful level.

Oliver is such a sweetheart. Every night in his prayers, he says "Thanks that my mommy can be my mommy and bless that I'll always feel like I'm with her even when I'm not."

He's aways got a heart-felt hug for me and makes me feel so needed and loved.

He's so proud and happy when I come volunteer in his classroom. I love seeing the look on his face that says "yep, that's MY mom, and she's pretty awesome."

Whenever I seem stressed or upset, Silas is right there with his arms around my waist, telling me that he loves me. He's so in-tune with my feelings, it's uncanny. He's always singing me the special song he made up for me - "Mom, I love you so so much, I will never stop loving you."

I love his goofy smile and gappy teeth. I love his sweetness and his eagerness to please. I love how he always wants to help me cook and that he's so good at anything in the kitchen.

How blessed I am to bethe mother of such wonderful people. They teach me every day. They love me no matter what. They fill my life with work and wonder and make it meaningful and beautiful in ways I never could have imagined.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Mother's Day Weekend 2014

I just wrote a big nice post with lots of photos all about Mother's Day. Then it disappeared. I was trying to move one picture and suddenly, everything was gone. Darn. Darn. Darn.

Here's the second try - which'll be pretty basic!

We had the privilege of having Jared's mom with us for the weekend. She came down for Eliza's big annual dance concert on Saturday and we invited her to stay through Mother's Day so we could celebrate with her. It was great to be able to celebrate in person! She was able to join us for a fun stake Activity Days mother-daughter activity on Friday evening, the dance concert on Saturday, exploring the beautiful "Women and Everyday Charity" art exhibit at the Church History Museum, some good shopping at City Creek and at Ikea, a wonderful Mother's Day breakfast and dinner prepared by Jared and the kids, church including some great Mother's Day talks and cute primary kids singing, an impressive guitar concert and lovely violin concert courtesy of Ashton and Eliza, and a great visit with Jared's brother Joel and family who joined us for dessert.

Here's our weekend in photos:

Mother-Daughter Activity on Friday night:

We had a GREAT group of girls from our ward come to the event - and ALL their mothers were able to make it (two of them left before we took this photo). So great to meet several moms I've never met before. I love these sweet girls!

They did these cute mother-daugher photos:

Eliza with her dear friend Rachel:

Satruday's big dance concert:

Here's Eliza with her dear dance friends, heading in to put thier costumes on:


My parents were able to join us for the concert and for lunch afterwards:

Portia (Jared's mom) and I came down on Mother's Day morning to find wonderful flowers and beautiful decorations imagined and created completely by the kids. Plus Jared made some excellent egg burritos with assistance from many little chefs.

Then my sweet mom was able to join us after church: (photo courtesy of Silas - he's working on holding the camera still...)

We enjoyed a beautiful dinner that Jared and the kids prepared:

The twins set the table and insisted on the best china and the gold chargers along with an old rumpled tablecloth and tumblers to drink out of - I thought it was nice symbolism for the way motherhood mixes together the beautiful and precious with the necessary mundane...

After dinner, Eliza and Ashton did beautiful violin and guitar concerts as a special Mother's Day gift for me and my mom and Portia:

Dessert with Jared's brother Joel and family: (the twins made me my favorite dessert - rhubarb crisp. yum.)

Such a wonderful weekend! 

I am so blessed to have such a stellar and stalwart mother-in-law and such a wonderful mother.

Happy Mother's Day to us all!


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