Wednesday, January 28, 2015

reality

Dave and I ran into the mother of one of Grace's friends one day while we were out and about in China (they lived in an adjacent neighborhood to ours).

She told us her daughter had come home from our house a few nights before with stars in her eyes and had raved on and on to her our family:  "They are SO happy!  Oh how they treat their little sister!  Oh how they laugh and help each other out!  Oh how I wish we had more children like they do in our family!"

Dave and I looked at each other and almost laughed.  Hadn't that been the night that Lucy had started her new habit of yelling out "I hate everything about my life!" in frustration?  Wasn't that the night we were so embarrassed because Elle and Grace had been in a little fight about who borrowed who's shirt right in front of the guests and that just may have been the same night that Max broke off the front doorknob because he was so mad no one would come answer the door.  

Was she really talking about the same family??  Somehow she just saw the glossy overview amidst the nit-picky squabbles.  

I wonder if sometimes that vision of our family comes across here on this blog too.  Well, actually I KNOW it does in a lot of ways.  Although I do try to keep it real on here, the majority of what I write is the snuggly, feel-good stuff.  But when someone at book club (who reads this blog from time to time) looked at me funny last night when I was telling her how Max was mortified to so much as press send for an email to one of his teachers in China let alone talk to him face-to-face because he's so painfully shy at times and told me that was definitely not how she envisioned that tall boy of mine to be, I realized I better do a better job of telling the other side of the story along with the lovey-dovey stuff.  (Yowzas that was an awesome run-on sentence.)  Because boy howdy and man alive we have problems over here just like every other family.  (I wonder if sometimes the "meanies" come out more when they think everything is just a little too hunkey-dorey over here??  Who knows.)

I mean, really, we do adore each other.  I like to think we have some pretty heart-melting relationships going on around these parts.  But that certainly doesn't mean we are always nice to each other.  And these kids of ours?  Well, I'm a little biased because as their mother I can't help but think they're about the best thing that ever hit the planet.  But wow, do they still have their issues.  Teenagers?  I don't say a whole bunch about the dumb mistakes they make because that's not very fair to them.  Although I am an open book in a lot of things, there are some things that aren't appropriate to blab over the internet.  It's one thing to talk about a toddler having a tantrum in the middle of a parking lot, it's a whole other story to put your trying-to-figure-out-life-for-reals teenager issues out there in cyberspace.

That's one reason I'm slowing down a whole heck of a lot on this blog.  I want to be with those kids of mine now more than ever.  I cannot stand that Max is graduating in a matter of months.  I don't ever want to look back and think, "oh man, I wish I had been with those kids (and husband!) more instead of hunching over my dumb computer!"  So many thoughts on that and my "one word" for the year that is helping me when I can get my act together enough to post it.

For today, I just wanted to say that just because I haven't talked about my specialty of slamming doors lately doesn't mean there haven't been some doozeys over here.  

Just wanted to set that straight this fine Wednesday morning.   

Monday, January 26, 2015

new years resolutions that actually KEEP (I hope!)

Have I ever mentioned my Dad was/is big into goals?  Oh boy, he is like the goal guru if there ever was such a thing.  When he and my mom first got married they went so far as to make a home-made mobile to hang above their bed that outlined their lifetime goals and what they wanted to accomplish so they could gaze up at it at night and remember the path they wanted to be on.
  
Yes he was that into goals.

He was so into goals that he got US into goals too.  Each Sunday he would sit us down and we would do "Sunday Sessions" that included our goals and plans for the week.  We would hang them on our mirrors or by our beds so that we could remind ourselves to get busy accomplishing things:)

But Heaven forbid we would do those Sunday Sessions without a bigger "hanging-mobile" plan for life.  

Before you do the incremental goals, you have to have a vision of the "big picture" of where you're going, right?

So I must back up.  Because before those Sunday Sessions became part of life in the Eyre household, my Dad presented us each with a three ring binder.  And in that binder we started with "Lifetime Goals" or dreams of what we wanted to do in life.  Next we worked on "10-year goals," (using the framework of our "Lifetime goals" to work from) which narrowed down to "5-Year" to "1-Year" to "1-Month."  And from those bigger overall visions we worked on those little Sunday Sessions of ours each week.

Eventually this planning/resolution/goal setting approach became a "thing" that my parents published...a book called "Lifebalance " as well as a kind of "help kit" that some people bought to help them on their journey of setting goals to get to their dreams and visions of life.  When Dave and I first got married we started our own 3-ring binder filled with all kinds of goals and plans based on his ideas.

Some little examples of our planning...keep in mind there is a whole binder full of this stuff.

This is from nearly 20 years ago.
This is intentionally a little blurry...just to give an idea of the "self-programing" words I envisioned would be wonderful qualities I wanted to gain.

We had all our goals lined out in that thing and I love looking back at it.

So this year, after we sat down and did our "New Years Resolutions" for Family Home Evening one night and I started seeing my kid's goals full of artistically-drawn-up resolutions that had already fallen off mirrors, got lost in the homework shuffle, etc., I decided it was time:

Time to present my kids with their own "lifetime planning" binders.

We would keep it much more simple...exactly the way that first binder of mine was set up back when I was a teenager.

I bought some binders, card stock and some permanent markers at Target and was ready (note to self: silver and gold sharpies do wonders for getting kid excited to create).


For Family Home Evening that night I took the kids on a little field trip to my bedroom where I pulled out the "Lifetime Plan" Dave and I made when we were still freshly married. (Dave and Max were out of town on a little business trip and the girls have since given this little schpeal to Max who has his own binder now too.)

Ours was written in a huge sketch book I had left over from my art/drawing class at BYU.  

I love when we pull out that book because they think I'm a superstar that I drew things like this:

But that's totally beside the point.  Let's skip to the back of the book where Dave and I, as a relatively newly married couple, projected our life forward to where we wanted to go (it was the closest we got to my parent's "hanging mobile" :).  
I know it's all blurred...for a little privacy.  But you can see how we started in that upper left hand corner and went with arrows from stage to stage of life in what we projected we'd want to be doing.  

Only the very first "stage" came true...because that's where we were right then (we wrote this up for New Years in 1998).  By spring of that year we figured we'd be in Arizona with "3 children/1 house and 1 piano" (gotta love the piano part:)

By 2005 we would be living in Boston with 6 kids renting out a home in California we had lived in already.

And by this "stage" we're in right now, we'd be back in California with our SEVEN kids.
(By that time, our "vision" included that we would have lived in Asia for a while too.  And also, what, exactly is a "non-profit person"??  I wanted to start a non-profit business to help families...)

Yes we had big dreams.

And they didn't turn out exactly as we planned.

But that's not the point.  The point is that we carefully laid out a path.  We had a vision.  

It changed a bunch of times through the years, and that's ok.

Some things came true.  Others shifted and changed and heaved and jolted more than we could have ever imagined.  But I'm so grateful for that plan.

I explained to the kids that you make new plans along the way.  But you have to start somewhere and have a vision.  I believe that goals and dreams help you seek out your divine purpose in life by helping you START SOMEWHERE, and KEEP MOVING (I've mentioned before how Dave came up with that wing-dinger of a phrase a few years ago and I love it.)  It's too bad we don't have a crystal ball that will show us our future...we can't know what it holds.  But God does.  And I believe He wants to help us get there if we work on progressing any way we know how.

With that I gave them their binders.

We started out with "Lifetime Goals" or "Dreams."  Anything they think they might want to do in life.

Then we went to 10-year descriptions of what they think they'll be doing in ten years.
 Then using those two as frameworks they wrote 5-year goals:

 Then one-year:

 Then one-month.  Lucy's was my favorite:
That girl has some BIG dreams this month I tell you!

Keep in mind that these are just works in progress.  This is all just a little seed to grow on.  But those "seeds" have sparked some interest in planning and dreaming.

I switched out the binders to something a little more sturdy and they are lined up in our homework cabinet to work on each month on Fast Sunday.
The plan is to have the kids take them out and work on re-evaluating, doing a new monthly plan, and REMEMBERING (I adore that word) the big picture.  Dave and I are working on our own binders to go along with them...all the old stuff is pretty out of date.  I've always loved this quote:

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined." 
--Henry David Thoreau

How grateful I am for those dreams Dave and I set into action all those years ago and the path those visions have helped us find along the way.

I'm so hoping this will be a way for all of us to remember our hopes and dreams and reach for the stars to shine any way we can in this little thing called LIFE.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

eleven

Today this little girl of mine turns eleven.

ELEVEN! 
Eleven is a weird word if you really think about it.

And it is even weirder that this sprightly, kind, sweetie-pie daughter of mine has reached that number.

Eleven things I love about Claire:

1)  She is full of spunk.  She will throw out some dance moves like nobody's business at the drop of a hat.

2)  Her smile can light up a whole room.

3)  She is the best big sister/tutor to Lucy you can ever even imagine.  I've posted pictures of her with Lucy and talked about it before, but no amount of recording can really do their uniquely sweet relationship justice. They love each other like no two kids I've seen and Dave and I are more grateful than we can ever say.  It makes me tear up to think about how much that is going to help Lucy in life.

An example of their latest notes to each other:



4)  She's a good friend.  She's always trying to make sure everyone is included.

5)  She makes the best faces...ever since she was tiny.



6)  Being the 4th child, she's pretty low-key.  She knows how to go with the flow.

7)  She is quick to obey.  I love that.

8)  She is a great little gymnast.  Love to watch her tumble and how it makes her whole face shine since she loves it so much.

9)  She is adaptable.  I loved watching how she adjusted so smoothly into Chinese life and culture.  She worked so hard and learned more Chinese and made more friends than all the rest of us combined while we were there.

10)  She eats healthy food without me force-feeding her :)

11)  She adores babies.  She reminds me of my 11-year-old self who couldn't get enough of snuggling them up.

Ok, one more to grow on...and one of my favorites:

12)  She loves her Heavenly Father and gets a tear in her eye when she feels His love and direction in her life.  When she feels that love she proclaims that she has a "hugging problem" and has to give us all multiple hugs.

A few more pictures I can't resist posting...they make me want to go back in time worse than ever before!




















Love you forever, Claire Bear!

Friday, January 16, 2015

New Years Eve and a new year

I love my in-laws.  

We had a couple fun gatherings at our house right when we got home...we had missed them so much (five of Dave's eight siblings live here close to us in the desert).  

We had them all over for New Year's Eve (plus our neighbors who we count as family too).

My sister in law brought this fun game called "wagers and _______" (I can't remember the darn name), and she kept everyone entertained while the kids ran in and out and played to their hearts content.



 We watched the ball drop at midnight and had some sparkling cider.
 ...and then had some sparkler fun.
 I love New Year's Eve and the excitement in the air...rippling from kids who get to stay up so late to parents who are ready for fresh starts.


 I didn't get a group picture, but here are some of the crew who helped us celebrate.
 (Kara's husband was sick at home...poor guy...luckily her sister was in town to help us celebrate.)




 (All the teenagers had scattered hours earlier for all kinds of parties going on in the valley, and Lu had asked for her bed at 11:00 so we were down to Claire-bear to celebrate with us at midnight.

And after that we just snuggled in our family room, loving having the fire running for the very first time, and basking once again in how wonderful it feels to be HOME.
 ...So warm and cozy.  Claire snuggled up with us and fell sound asleep while we thought through all the things on the horizon for 2015.
I love new beginnings.  
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