Thursday, December 22, 2011

Making Family a Tradition

Last Saturday we embarked on one of our favorite holiday traditions. Like every favorite custom of mine it included food. A few years ago we began a tradition of meeting my sister, Karley and other family members (typically all women) that are in the area in Salt Lake for lunch or dinner some time in December. Our favorite place to meet is The Garden Restaurant in the Joseph Smith Memorial building. We mostly love this restaurant for the dessert...amazing!!  We are especially fond of their chocolate cinnamon cake and the infamous creme brulee.  Ok, so aside from the fact that we love to eat, we really love most of all getting together and catching up.  Nothing really fantastic or out of the ordinary happens when we meet. It usually isn't the only time we get together throughout the year.  But for some reason knowing that every year around Christmas we will be together again makes this occasion so much fun to look forward to.
So, our waiter really liked us and gave us two loads like this of mints! (Maybe it was the garlic?)

The Hansen group

This year our lunch included Karley and her girls Aimee and Kami, my nieces from Spokane who are living here Kelsey and Emily Hansen and the girls and me. I forget when we aren't together how much I love being with my sis and my nieces.  There's nothing like being with a sibling you grew up with who knows you inside and out.  Just being together for this short time made it feel more like Christmas. No matter how old we get we always treasure and reflect on those few Christmas' that we spent in our childhood home with our brothers and sisters. It is really there that we begin to define Christmas and those are the times that determine just what really makes Christmas come to life for us.  So for an hour or so every year I get to take a glimpse back on those years together and how they are permanently a part of my soul.  I can almost imagine me sitting next to my sis on the family sofa with a stack of gifts (one from every brother and sister) with my too short and outgrown nightie on and my dad holding that awful light that was bright as the sun so he could film another classic Hansen Christmas.  I can see my mother sitting there with her housecoat on and my brothers and sisters gathered around with our gnarly hair.  Mother always made Christmas special for us because she grew up in the Depression with next to nothing for Christmas.  The house was always decorated to the nines and the gifts were purchased with every detail in mind. All of these memories come so easily when I am with Karley and my other siblings around the holidays.
Christmas traditions are important as are our Christmas memories.  The best is when our traditions and our memories are intertwined.  Hopefully what we are doing is helping our own kids appreciate and form their own treasures and someday just as we do they will reflect with fondness and join with love and that is the greatest tradition of all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Amazing Kitchen

When we built our house one of the things I was adamant about was having a large kitchen, to the extent that I probably overlooked the need for space in a couple other rooms, but my reasoning was solid.  I believe that the kitchen is the heart of the home and that the best conversations happen over food, whether it be the preparation or the eating it brings out the best talks. I have spent many hours on the edge with my kids in the kitchen. So many times when I wanted the recipe to come out perfect and they wanted to help--I know that most moms know exactly what I am saying. I have persevered however and now I have four pretty great cooks at my house.  I am so grateful I have taken the time to be patient and deliberate in teaching the girls in the kitchen and I got such a great reward again the other night.  Morgan and I stood together toe to toe, arm to arm, stirring our first batches of Christmas toffee.  The other girls were in and out and my sweet Morgan and I had the loveliest chat together as we were stuck there stirring our own batches of goodness.  She told me about school, things that she has been thinking and we even had time to strategize a plan to do a good deed for someone in her class that she has been concerned about.  I got precious time to see into this amazing girl's soul and be reminded of how tender her heart is.  Not only did we make a delicious perfect treat for our friends but we made a connection we have been missing lately.  So all of you young mothers, persevere!!! It is so worth it to engage your children in the kitchen and your frustration will be matched in joy not too far into the future.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

One Heart Bulgaria Concert

Add caption
Last Monday we were invited to participate as a family in the "One Heart Bulgaria" Children's Christmas Concert arranged by Saren Eyre Loosli and her family. This is a tradition dating back 5 years in the Loosli family and even more in the Eyre family.  The idea is that children are invited to participate with talents and the money that is raised that night from donations (and generously matched by the Eyrealm foundation) goes straight to funding orphanages in Bulgaria. This is such an amazing idea with the kids feeling empowered to actually do something personally to help these orphans. We brought our little quartet of Linzie, Maddie, Taylor and cousin Kelsie to perform.  They sounded beautiful.

Organ pipe backdrop--gorgeous!
The concert was held in this quaint old church in downtown Ogden which is in the process of being converted to a community center and other than not having a real piano (much to my chagrin as I was the pianist trying to perform an already difficult accompaniment on a keyboard), the place had so much charm and was such a great location for this event.

Grandma and Grandpa Reynolds, Becky, Uncle Richard Eyre and two cute kids.

Beautiful ceiling
Many little kids performed everything from lip sync to their favorite chiristmas song, to piano solos to poems and skits. The big finale was a nativity play where whoever wanted to be involved could find a part.  All in all it was a great event to remind our kids that there are ways that they can help others.  Thank you so much for the invitation Saren and team!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Going broke.....literally

It has been one of those weeks that try men's souls. Or at least one man that I know's soul. It started with the garage door not opening for me the other morning (broken spring), continued onto the tv downstairs going awol(an ongoing issue),  the showerhead fell off broken into pieces, then yesterday a pump to the radiant heat was diagnosed as dead and (hopefully lastly) the washing machine called it quits. I didn't mention that the dog had to go the doggy E.R., I guess he was broken too.

I was blessed to marry a man that is not only handsome, but also an amazing fix-it guy.  I haven't met anything he can't fix.  But the issue has seemed, in our midlife years, to turn from one of can he fix it to how will he find time to fix it? Doug not only works a full time job which he commutes to, but also serves in the bishopric of our ward and is working anxiously to develop a prototype for what he hopes to be his "Get out of Corporate America" card.  Along with that he is a dad to four girls who need math help on a regular basis and a wife who likes to see him occasionally. This amazing guy has kept our washer and dryer going for 15 years now and is doing his best to make it 20. (Pretty unbelievable with a family like ours). So this week he will continue the fight between time and money and once again I will thank Heaven for such a gifted man and that the things that are currently "broken" in our lives are ones that money and time CAN fix.  As for Doug, I think he might be allowed a little mumbling under his breath because when it gets right down to it THIS BITES!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Mother's Lament

The other day we had the freakiest windiest day in a long time in Northern Utah.  Maybe you experienced it or saw it on the news. Luckily, we were skipped out here in Clinton for the most part. As I hurried home from work that night, however, it dawned on my husband that the generator we were getting for Christmas from our in-laws that was on sale at Costco just might be sold out if we waited.  There were hundreds of people in the area without power and surely they would be racing to buy the few remaining generators in the area. Now,  I have to admit that I questioned the morality of buying the remaining generators when there were people who really needed them, but we'll save that for another discussion. In my haste when I arrived home, I hurried in with a box of frozen french bread dough that I had purchased with a friend to have in the freezer for gifts and for our storage.  I quickly asked one of my kids to take it down and put it in the freezer, reiterating the importance of freezing the dough and ran out the door to purchase two of four remaining generators left.  So, are you with me?  My first mistake was not doing the errand of dough myself, the second, asking a preteen to do it.  Sure enough today when I was driving I had visions of that box sitting by the freezer with dough busting out in all directions because I had never followed up with my daughter. This evening my fears were confirmed, sure enough, just as I had envisioned it. Dough everywhere.  After a week of a broken baking pan and a history of kids breaking stuff  and me just taking it and chalking it up to motherhood, I just have to lament for a moment.  But then I have to remind myself, it is just stuff. Stuff that lessons are learned from.  I'm sure my Heavenly Father feels the same way when we don't listen or mess things up.  That is how we learn, that is the point.  After all, don't our kids learn the most from their mistakes?  Meanwhile, french bread anyone?

Monday, November 21, 2011

My mother's angels

My mother lives in Spokane, Washington and my trips home are not as often as I would like.  I try to call her when I have moments with no kids on my arm and a good half hour or so. Mom is 87 this year and in good health for her age, considering she is living with 3 leaky valves in her heart.  She gets up and walks on the treadmill most mornings and often does more than she should around the house, which tends to get her in trouble with her kids. I spoke with my mother today and every time I do I am so grateful for the chance to pick up the phone and talk to her.  As she so often does she talked to me about her day, how the weather is there and who she has heard from recently.  With eleven kids one would hope that she hears from people often.  The thing that always makes my heart happy is when I hear of those people who live by her and attend church with her who take time out of their schedules to visit her, call her and do things like snow removal and sprinkler maintenance.  I am so grateful for these people who really have no obligation to this older woman other than the moral obligation they give themselves.  So many times my family has been helped and blessed by the hands of angels who reach out to my sweet mother.  Today I am thankful for these people who have truly touched my dear mother and our whole family. I strive to look around me and find others I can bless just as others are blessing us.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Finding Morgan's Smile

We have what most would consider a stable family. I am very much in love with Doug and as far as I can tell he is pretty crazy about me. We live in a wonderful neighborhood, having great family support and our kids are afforded many comforts do the degree of possibly being pretty spoiled. So all things considered I expected all of my children to be happy, healthy and successful running off to school each day with perfect confidence.  Imagine my confusion when several of my kids started struggling with being happy and fitting in.  There seemed to be a pattern of loss of self esteem and difficulty getting along with the family.  There seemed to be a fight most mornings just to get them to school.  After reading and studying and seeing a really great doctor we realized that the kids that were struggling each had their own version of anxiety disorder. When Morgan started struggling with going to school we already had dealt with similar symptoms but it seemed with each day hers seemed to intensify.  It got to the point that I would have to take her into school and leave her kicking and crying with the principal or have the school counselor meet us in front of the school to make sure she didn't chase my car as I drove away.  Medication definitely helped, which we knew it should, but Morgan's anxiety has always seemed so much more extreme.  Our amazing doctor, Dr. Samantha Bostrom, recommended a counselor for Morgan but we were somewhat reluctant having visited a couple therapists in the past and not having a great experience with either. Then a friend recommended a man they had seen for their son and we decided to give him a try. Best decision ever!
From the moment we met Dr. Ken I knew he was a good fit for Morgan but I was cautiously optimistic because I really wanted her to come away from her visits feeling like she had tools that she could use to overcome her fears.  In the past our attempts with other therapists had been so awkward and seemingly useless as we spent half the time retelling the same information and the other half feeling like they just didn't understand exactly what we were dealing with. From the get-go Dr. Ken has been on the same page and perhaps a page ahead of us, providing Morgan with real life methods of dealing with her fears and connecting with her because he understands her. She not only comes away each visit feeling like she is reconnecting with her best friend but also feeling validated and armed with her next challenge to overcome the next obstacle. I come away feeling like I'm not the worst mom ever and I'm given tools and explanations that I desperately need.
I wouldn't say that things are completely better, it's definitely a journey, but I can say that my daughter is happy a lot more of the time and she gets up and ready for school with a smile most days.  Most of all, she understands herself a lot better and knows that she can be in control of her fears instead of them controlling her.  What an amazing blessing Dr. Ken has been in our lives and I think will continue to be in Morgan's because of the impact he has had on this sweet girl.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I love the walk!!!

My beautiful friend, Eileen and me in Hawaii
About 4 years ago I committed to my friend, Eileen, that I would get up and walk with her in the morning.  Eileen has been walking for around, well, just about forever.  Anyone that lives in this area knows her and her reputation proceeds her as she is the official speed walker of our area.  For years I was just the observer, seeing her every morning and sometimes twice a day out there walking faster than most people run.  Her consistency rivals that of the post office and you knew no matter what every day she would be out there pounding the pavement.  So given this, you can imagine how skeptical I was at being able to keep up with her.  Nonetheless, I decided to try and for the first week I truly knew agony.  You see, Eileen gives you about 3 days to make it or break it and then she leaves you in the dust, not wanting to sacrifice her own workout.  So for days I struggled to keep up and reminded myself that it would eventually get better.  After about 2 weeks I called her and asked her if she really did enjoy the walk or if it was something she just struggled through every day.  She reassured me that she loved walking and one day I would too.  After 4 years I can tell you, I love the walk.  We are now commonly referred to as "the West Point Walkers" and just like clockwork we are out there almost every day.  But something magical happens on the walk...not only are we strengthening our bodies but we strengthen each other emotionally. There's airing of complaints about kids, husbands, family, work, and other stresses in our lives, but at the end of the walk it is done and left at the curb and we leave ready to face the day again. 
No two people could be much more opposite but I have to tell you how grateful I am for my Eileen.  She has healed my heart and taught me courage on many occasions.  I hope that I do the same for her.  Women need good women. 
My Eileen is in Italy this week with her husband so I ran five miles with my friend, Whitney, this morning. Something that 5 years ago I never imagined I could ever do.  I wasn't even tired when we finished.  How blessed and grateful I am for the amazing blessing of excercise and the beautiful blessing of friends. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thanking my way to Thanksgiving

Great minds think alike.  As I was surfing the internet and trying to catch up on my cyber accounts today I noticed that my amazing cousin, Saren, was echoing my plan for blogging this month.  Of course she was, the Eyres are all about gratitude--and it shows.
My gratitude post today is that I have been so blessed to have Doug's brother's family move in next to us. For two years now we have finally been able to enjoy cousins living in our near vicinity.  In fact, we are so close that it is a 2 minute or less jont to their back door.
For so many reasons this has been wonderful for our family. The kids now have best friends that they mutually stick up for no matter what. In the beginning there was a period of time where the girls would spat off and on because they spent so much time together, but now those times are few and far between. Instead there is someone just around the corner to make strange videos with and do make up and photo shoots with. Life is never boring when sweet Kelsie shows up and the entertainment value is usually pretty high.  Before college life, Jacey was always here for girl bonding talks and the occasional eybrow tweezing. (Yes, this is what we do with a houseful of teenage girls!)  Even though Chance likes to pretend he is so much older than Kaden and Kameron he tends to spend plenty of time at their house and can't even usually make it through a whole family dinner without taking off before his plate is clean.

 Mark has taken on the role of second father and more than he probably likes is invited or coerced into helping with homework. The kids love his dry humor. Jacob is everyone's friend and is the audio-visual tech fo the family.

Prom Primping

Jacob and Morgan

There's always a makeup job
Sally, Becky and I
As for me, I don't know what I would do without Becky here to save me when I forget things (which is most of the time), and to be my "missed the bus again" carpool when I am at work. She is my Cafe Rio and Costco partner and she always makes me laugh. Most of all she helps me remember that I may not always have it all together but that is life and maybe no one really does. She is a confidant, counselor and sister and I am so grateful to have that right next door..or street.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Sexy

"The Sexy"
Oh please don't be alarmed by my title, it is so not what you think. I just have been wanting so badly to share with you the importance of this little member of our household.  I really don't want to sound insane (oh wait, we talked about that last time), but I am referring to our little dog, Mokie.  Perhaps the most endearing part of this little guy is all of the entertainment that constantly surrounds him.  Not only is he a cherished member of our family, my closest thing to a baby, and our little barky protector but he is also a huge source of comedy, drama and more often than we would like - the center of attention.
Mokie came to our family four years ago and stole our hearts right away. He is not like a toy that after a few weeks loses it's charm but for the last few years every day has seemed like the best day.  Not long after we got him we realized that there just was not enough adjectives to describe him, so oddly enough, the one that stuck is The Sexy.  No, there is no inappropriate connection to his nickname, it's just that every silly little face he gives you or every little crazy stunt he tries captivates you.
"Please give me the sucker, pleeaase?"
I know that many of you reading this probably have a little dog or cat that you love, but I have to concede that this little dog's charm comes mainly from the constant narration that follows him everywhere he goes. Not long after he came, Taylor decided to give him a voice. Not just any voice but this darling Mokie voice. So we not only have a sweet little dog but also one that can speak and has an amazing sense of humor.  Eventually each daughter has adapted their own version of the Mokie speak and given our Sexy a personality like no other.  So if you ever come to my house, and you fall into good graces with Taylor, make sure you get her to do the Mokie voice for you.
My little love affair with this animal has origins in many other past pets. In my youth I loved others, my bunnies, our cows, my own cow "Fonzie", our sheep and the turkeys we raised. I do have to admit there was no love loss for the chickens, however. And lest I forget Benji. The dog who was attached to my Dad's hip when he wasn't was seated right by him in his pick-up truck. When my father passed away my first immediate consolation was that he and his faithful friend were reunited.
Recently I watched a movie a friend lent me called "Buck".  The movie is a documentary about a man who is the original "Horse Whisperer".  The movie is a must see for many reasons but mainly for me I realized just how much you can learn about people just by the way they treat their animals.  My sweet dad was a big believer in treating animals with respect and kindness and every Christmas morning he made sure that cows were given their Christmas grain before any other activity began. With an example like that how could I not just love these amazing creatures that have completed my life in so many ways. Thank Heaven we have a soft tonque to lick our tears, a warm body to make us feel safe and a little performer to make us smile. Thank Heaven for our sweet little "Sexy".

Monday, October 24, 2011

Another Day Teetering on Insanity

I laid awake last night for a couple of could have been the nap, it could have been my kids making noise until midnight in the other room, husband snoring, or the fifty things running through my mind.  Ok, let's be real, it really could have been all of these things but one of the many thoughts that kept resurfacing is that I really need to start this blog I meant to start 2 years ago.  There was also that nagging that there was a neighbor whom I have been really meaning to visit still needed to be checked on. So many things kept coming up that I confess I had to open the bottle of anxiety meds next to my bed and send my mind to a peace resort for the night.  But alas, here it is!! My first official blog!!
I have a couple of selfish reasons for blogging, namely to keep some semblance of a journal at last and maybe much more importantly to give myself a platform for venting.  Hopefully I can share some humor and give some value to this insanity I call motherhood. Now, don't get me wrong, I was always the girl who didn't find it necessary to "waste my time on education" when all I ever wanted to be when I grew up was an awesome mom. I love being a mother of four "preteen and drowning in teen" girls and my "sigh of relief" son. There just are days when my enthusiasm dims--just for a few or possibly many--moments.
Today has been no exception. I'm sure many can relate to that beautiful moment when the beloved bus arrives and the children are whisked away to their local fine institute of learning (what exactly they are learning is a subject for a whole other day). For just a few moments, you feel the silence. Yes, you FEEL it. Then the dog barks and you realize you have half an hour to shower and be somewhere. So much for freedom. I spent the morning trying to pose for an office picture and do my best to look 30 and under 125 lbs, then I followed it up at the gym still working on the whole age 30 and, yes, under 125 lbs thing. So I spent a couple of hours trying to undo what 15 years of kids has done to me then came home to see what 15 years of kids has done to my housekeeping skills and checkbook.  (Not Pretty!)
This amazing day was topped off with driving from here to Timbuktoo looking for silver spray paint and, get this, pencil buttons. Talk about a needle in the haystack, and not just the buttons! Apparantly silver spray paint is a hot commodity at Halloween. (who knew?) All this with four girls shouting at each other and at me (one of them wasn't even mine!). Now I don't know how many of you understand what it is like when teenage girls get home from school. It can go either way, I don't want to talk, see or hear anyone in this family, or I am going to talk to you about today and I am going to talk louder and faster and more intently than anyone else here and you will hear me over all else.  Let me share that when the latter is the case and you have 3 or more girls there is no escaping it and there is nothing much left in your brain when they are through with you except maybe a dull headache.
So in a nut shell, we are once again eating dinner at 8 pm and following that up with what promises to be a charming family night full of shrill screams of torment and chaotic pumpkin decorating.  Then when it is all over I am hoping to crawl into bed tonight with at least one batch of laundry washed and 2 wonderful goals crossed off of my mental to-do list. Despite everything, my sweet neighbor got her visit and for better or for worse my blog has begun.