- Ashton made the volleyball team again this year and has been having so much fun with that. He's really improving a lot. He's lobbying to go on a special school trip to Spain in the spring and that has led him to work really hard on his grades and search out lots of ways to make money (he'll need to have straight "A's" and earn a large portion of the money if he's going to go). I love it when my kids have external motivators - makes my job so much easier!
- Isaac is doing great with cross country this year - came in 7th overall in the first race. He's being very responsible with his homework and grades this year. I loved watching him at Ashton's volleyball game last night - there were these cute little boys playing around near where we were sitting and Isaac started entertaining them - just making them giggle a little - nothing disruptive. I love watching him with little kids - he knows just how to keep them happy and their eyes shine with adoration for him. He's also become a junior coach for a new soccer program at the park right next to us - great to see him enjoying some soccer time while really helping the coaches with the whole flock of unruly kids who've shown up for this new free program.
- Eliza ran for vice president of her school - and won! This is the third year she's run for office so her experience helped make this a much smoother process this year. While she did neglect to tell me that she needed to put up her campaign posters on Monday until Sunday night, we luckily had posters from previous years to flip over and re-use for her new posters. She prepped a nice speech totally on her own and did a great job. She loves being involved and having a leadership role. She had a great time volunteering with One Ogden at the Temple Open House (giving people directions, welcoming them to Ogden, etc.) and volunteering as a race monitor/crossing guard at last weekend's National Cycling Championships held here. She also just joined "Jr Junior League of Ogden" which will give her the chance to help with lots more events and service projects in Ogden. And she had a big dance performance last week and did a beautiful job.
- Oliver and Silas are really enjoying being in different classes at school for the first time this year. I was worried it would be a bit rocky for them at first but they've had no problems at all and seem to each have teachers that really click well with their personalities. They are loving cub scouts and the easy-going little soccer league they joined (the one Isaac is helping with). They are just happy, fun-loving, active, super loving kids and I'm so grateful for them. They are conscientious about getting their homework done on their own (Oliver especially) and they are super into reading (working on the Mysterious Benedict Society series right now).
There are always hard things going on with people in our ward and thanks to Jared being the Bishop and me being in the Primary presidency, I wind up seeing or hearing about or helping with the hard stuff people are going through. Plus the kids are great about helping out with quite a few things. They are so good about visiting this very sweet lady who lives nearby and who is totally disabled. Her husband gets her up and dressed and gets breakfast fed to her before leaving for work in the morning and comes home at lunch to get her lunch and help her go to the bathroom. Then he's home after work to care for her in the evenings. But for the rest of the day, she's sitting there in front of the TV, immobile, unable to get herself a drink or a snack, and really really loves having us come visit for a few minutes whenever we can and see if she needs anything. But we can't get over there as much as we'd like and I just worry about her. They have too high an income to receive assistance with regular home health care or other services they really need - but way too low an income to actually affort the services that would be good for them.
And there are about 20 other really hard situations going on in our ward right now - evictions, job loss, huge mental and physical health problems, abuse, neglect, marriage issues, substance abuse, depression, you name it, we've got it going on in our ward. Plus there are always issues of trying to staff and train all the positions in the ward that need to be taken care of. Plus there are ward events to help with and new people to welcome and on and on and on. Sometimes it's just so physically and emotionally and mentally exhausting! There are days when it all feels so heavy and my heart hurts for some people while my anger flares up where others are concerned. Then there are other days when I feel so grateful that our family gets to be basically serving a mission together - that we all get to work together to "lift up the hands that hang down and strengthen the feeble knees" (from a favorite scripture in Isaiah) and by so doing, we strengthen ourselves.
There are plenty of hard things going on with the kids that are personal to them so I won't share them here.
But I will share that we're really struggling with our mornings still! We've been back in school for over a month but still, every morning, we're dashing out the door late and I'm getting mad at the kids for dawdling and not getting their stuff together the night before like they're supposed to. We keep talking over what needs to happen the night before to be ready on time in the mornings but somehow we're just not quite getting it right. Isaac got all mad at me yesterday morning as I was frustrated with him for making us late. He said "I don't think you understand - when you were a kid, did you have to worry about getting the right binder in your backpack (they have an "A Day" and a "B Day" binder and they have to be sure to switch them out) and get your clothes from the day before out of your backpack and put fresh cross country clothes in your backpack for that day and get all your homework in there and bring your cross country shoes and your lunch and remember to bring Ashton's guitar for him since he rode his bike to school and eat your breakfast and do your hair and clean up your breakfast?" I assured him that I did actually understand and had to do pretty similar things myself when I was his age. But it was good for me to hear how overwhelming it all felt to him so I could be more understanding and helpful. I told him I'd do better at reminding him to pack up his backpack the night before so he wouldn't feel so overwhelmed.
There are some afternoons and evenings (Tuesdays especially) when everything has to fit together and line up perfectly if we're going to get everywhere we need to be in a somewhat timely way. And sometimes we're just going to be late for some things on Tuesdays. But that's OK. We just do our best. And the rest of the afternoons and evenings are more manageable but can still be really messed up if I'm not totally paying attention to the time or if I get on the phone or on the computer at the wrong time.
I'm struggling with figuring out how to prioritize the many, many things that need to happen while the kids are gone to school each day. There are always tons of things I could do for Power of Moms, for the kids and Jared, for our ward and neighborhood, and for our house (working on re-finishing our sadly weathered exterior doors and decks right now - huge project but I couldn't find anyone to hire to do it and things were really deteriorating so we decided to do it ourselves and I'm trying to chip away at a little a day). Plus I feel like it's important to take time to learn and to read and to exercise and to be with friends. I'm trying to do this - and it really helps when I keep up on it. And it helps to remember this quote by President Julie Beck, former president of our Relief Society organization:
But still, it's hard.
So that's a bit of our life right now! (And if you want to see pictures of a lot of what's laid out above, check out all the photos I've posted on Instagram here.)