Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to School - 2014

I dropped off al the kids at school this morning.

A 9th grader, an 8th grader, a 6th grader and two 4th graders.

Seems like just yesterday they looked like this:
Ashton starting 1st grade, Isaac starting Kindergarten

Eliza starting Kindergarten, Ashton 3rd, Isaac 2nd

Oliver and Silas starting Kindergarten, Ashton in 5th, Isaac 4th, Eliza 2nd
And now we're here:
Eliza in 6th, Isaac in 8th, Ollie and Si in 4th, Ashton in 9th
I'm sort of crying a little bit as I look at these old photos and write this. The first day of school each year is such a mixture of emotions for me.

I love the prospect of having a more predictable schedule and being able to have some uninterrupted time each day when I can get my Power of Moms work done. I'm excited to have the house stay a little cleaner and be able to get errands done more quickly without bringing any kids with me. And I love seeing the kids' joyful anticipation as they see friends again and look forward to new classes and teachers.

But I really like my kids. I like having them around. I love having a relaxed schedule. I love not being so tied down. I love staying up later and getting up later and not having to be worried about bedtimes so much. I love going on field trips together and listening to books on tape together and taking individual kids off on little "dates" and getting things done in a less pressured and systematic way.

And I miss my babies. I wish I could go back and snuggle their squishy little bodies for a minute here and there or hear their baby voices calling me "mama." I wish I could go back and read them a favorite story again, little people overflowing off my lap, wiggling until the story fully caught their attention and made them still. I wish I could see the look of delight again on their little faces when I'd go to get them up after a nap - they'd be jumping up and down, holding onto the crib rail.

I also miss my preschoolers. I miss taking Oliver and Silas and Eliza on our regular trips to Costco, the one place that had carts with two seat-belted seats so I could shop with the twins neatly contained and Eliza, the one child who'd ever contently stay by my side, dutifully holding onto the side of shopping cart. It was our little tradition to get here - the twins sharing a hotdog all cut up and fed to them bite by bite by me and Eliza who shared a chicken bake. I miss teaching Joy School to each of my kids and their little friends and seeing their faces light up as they learned new things while also seeing

I miss my little school-age kids. I miss walking into their classrooms to volunteer and seeing their eyes light up and having them pop out of their seats to give me a hug. I miss walking through the school halls and having most every little kid smile at me and say hi since I was in the school a lot volunteering in all my kids' classrooms. I miss being the all-knowing mom who was a great homework helper and had a solution to every issue that came up in their lives (now I have to have them wait for their dad to get home when they need help with math and somehow, my older kids no longer think I know all that much about all that many things!)

But I love these beautiful, strong, confident people that my children are becoming. And I love that we all have our own separate lives as well as the family life we share. I love hearing about their joys and worries. I love helping them figure out what they want and what they need. I love that Ashton helps me figure out my phone and my computer so adeptly. I love that Isaac makes me laugh and helps me keep things in perspective with his easy-going nature. I love that Eliza wants to talk to me about everything. I love that Oliver and Silas still give me tons of hugs and think I'm all-knowing and tell me that I'm the best mom ever so often (especially on days when they can tell that I'm struggling to be a decent mom!). It's such a privilege to be their mother and to watch them grow and develop and come into their own more and more each year.

So there it is. The first day of school. With all its mixed emotions and memories and excitement.

And here are a few snapshots as I dropped kids off at school this morning:

Ashton with his guitar - he's taking guitar this year. He's so grown up it's killing me! I got him to give me hug and it's so weird that he's taller and bigger than me now.

Eliza just got new glasses - took ages for her to pick just the frames she wanted but she finally found just the thing. She had an idea for a perfect first-day-of-school hair style and wanted my help but I guess I wasn't quite getting the same vision she had so things were a bit rocky there - but we figured out something that would work OK and she put a smile on her face and looked just lovely! (and she just lost a tooth yesterday - a baby tooth that had been hanging in there for far too long . . .)

Oliver and Silas will have different teachers and classrooms for the first time this year. We thought it would be a good idea to try this out and they were all for it. It'll be interesting to see how it goes! They have lots of friends other than each other and usually sit at different tables and play with different kids at school so I don't think it'll be too much of an adjustment. Their main concern was simply whether one or the other of them would have a better teacher. But both teachers seem great and they smiled big as I dropped them off at their classroom doors (which they were glad to see were right next door to each other). I was glad they wanted me to walk them in. It's nice to still be needed.

Here's Oliver:

And here's Silas:


I think they'll be just fine.

Somehow I didn't get a photo of Isaac. But he did consent to giving me a nice big hug in the parking lot. I don't think Ashton would have gone for that. So luckily for him, Jared took him to school early for his first day of Seminary so he got to have his hug from me here at home before he took off.

OK, I'd better get some work done before it's time to pick the kids up and hear all about their first day of school!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Full Eyre Reunion Info - 2014

I was the Instagram queen of the reunion and Bear Lake this year. I captured several great moments every day and got them right on Instagram. (You can see them all here - just scroll down a bit to get the the Bear Lake stuff or use #eyrealm2014 to find them).) But I love how Shawni  covered the whole reunion so beautifully in her recent post - she explained details of all the major parts of the reunion - the relay, Fear Factor, how we do food, everything.

Here are a few favorite snippets from her post along with some of my commentary and some of my photos - and you can see the whole wonderful thing she wrote with all her excellent photos here.

REUNION KICK OFF
Each year we start the reunion in grand style to get everyone excited about what's coming up.
(I was instagramming)

They "unveiled" the t-shirts that were centered around my parent's 45th anniversary coming up at the end of July.

Then they "unveiled" the schedule.

They introduced a new addition this year: 

HANDCUFFS

To handcuff my mom to her chair once in a while so she will quit working so hard and just enjoy.
They totally worked when Eli remembered to cuff her :)

JOBS

Jobs are always a big deal at the Lake because if we don't have a system in place, it could get ugly.  Each year some new twist is put on the kids' jobs to make them fun and exciting (because jobs ARE totally fun and exciting, right?)  This year when Eli and Julie set the ground rules they let each "group" get together (more about "groups" at the end of this post back HERE), and decide what they would want their "reward" to be if they happen to win the doing-jobs-exceptionally-well contest.
They took this task very seriously as you can see by Lucy's face:

After they decided on their desired reward (some chose a trip to get milkshakes on the other side of the lake, others chose a sleepover on the tennis court, etc.), then one representative from each group picked a paper out of a hat with their "zone" for the week on it. 
Then they got all pumped up to actually do those jobs. 

There were random checks each day to see which zone would get a checkmark for being in order so us parents reminded them here and there that they better check those zones of theirs.  Here's the chart Eli used to mark who was doing well:


It was fun watching them get to work with smiles stretched across their faces.
These girls actually ended up winning, and had a great whiz-bang sleepover with their favorite Aunt Charity at the end.

Ok, jobs are all fine and good but let's get on with the reunion here.

BONFIRE AND MUSIC UNVEILING
Every year we have a bonfire on the first night and we play the favorite songs everyone turned in.  Everyone guesses who turned in which song. 
The kids think this is the greatest thing ever. 

And it was even cooler this year because E & J gave everyone glow sticks to snap on when their song came on.

We had a spontaneous dance party at the end of the bonfire this year - cool sand underfoot, bright stars overhead, great music, everyone trying out everyone else's moves...

REAL LIFE RELAY
It was a hit last year (back HERE) so E & J decided to do it again this year.

Here's the warm-up:

This year they instigated a few team photo requirements:
Each team got their different-color headbands (a new idea this year) and the cars lined up.


Here's Eliza's team (she ran SO FAST and SO FAR for her team - excited to be on the cross-country team at school this year!)




Dave did everything in his power to make his team come in first (some might say there was a little cheating going on . . .):

But in the end it was totally the blue team who came through victorious for the win. Yeah Jared!!! And Oliver!!!

But really, everyone's a winner in this race :)
Ian (the soon-to-be newest member of the family in October) ran pretty much the whole way trying to cheer on the little kids on our team.  He was a little pooped out after that.

My team - team green was AWESOME!

We celebrated with some raspberry shakes (mmmm) and some tater tots (hmmmm). 

We saw the most gorgeous field of purple flowers along the route and figured that would be a perfect spot for our family picture this year.

All sweaty and nasty, but since there are so many of us you can't tell, right? 


FOOD
I wish I had more pictures of the food, because it was fabulous. 

Each family takes a meal (and we all pitch in to help) and when I say they "take" a meal, they take that meal of theirs seriously. 

We eat well at the lake.


Charity did this super good mango quinoa salad with shish kabobs (recipe for the salad on Charity's blog here.):

Shawni and Dave did bruschetta:
With pesto chicken salad.
YUM.

FEAR FACTOR
(third annual)
(Mostly my - Saren's - photos and commentary in this section.)

This became a big hit a few years ago. 


It is funny that it is a "favorite" among the kids when we get faces like this:
 ...and this:
 ...and this:

There's always Lyla who will eat anything with a smile. Including crispy bugs:




Here's a close-up - crunchy little worms with seasoning on them:
Yuck!


Eliza is pretty darn good too...here she is with some yummy bugs:
 
and fish paste:

 Ashton enjoying toasted cockroaches:


Silas trying to brave some mushrooms (proved to be about the hardest thing for the kids - way harder than the bugs or rattlesnake!)

And one round involved everyone tasting the rattle snake they found near the house and killed and grilled up. The kids actually thought it was quite tasty and no one got out on that round (yes, that really is a rattle snake on the grill):


Here are the winners! McKay came in first, Eliza came in second (she was a bit slower than McKay in eating the final challenge which was a repeat of whichever food had been hardest for each kid), Lyla came in third, and Silas came in fourth (the mushrooms did him in). Ashton was done in by the "near beer" stuff he just couldn't stand to drink - all the kids really hated that stuff and become all the more resolved never to drink alcohol!


CELEBRATION OF 45 YEARS
We had one special night set aside to have my parents tell their whole love story since their 45th anniversary was coming right up on the 30th of July.  I wish I had a picture going the other direction because those kids were mesmerized I tell you!
We had texas sheet cake to celebrate because we kind of like that stuff.

Oh, how I love my family! (And thanks, Shawni, for capturing so much so beautifully!)
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