Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pumping Up the Nutrition

About a month ago, April (my partner in running Power of Moms) did a wonderful podcast episode with Jonathan Bailor, author of NYTimes #1 Bestseller, The Calorie Myth (the podcast is here). April had read the book and really applied its principles to herself and her family, with great results.

At first, I wasn't sure whether I needed to invest time and energy in Jonathan's research and findings. I've done lots of my own research and have always come back to this very simple approach to healthy living: Eat real food that is close to the earth. Stay away from prepared and processed foods. Get some exercise every day. Drink pretty much only water. I've always understood that vegetables are really really important for our bodies and that protein was important. I've also known for years that all calories and fat are not created equal and that counting calories and reducing fat across the board are not smart practices. So what else did I need to know?

But April was so excited about what Jonathan had taught her that I decided to explore the free materials available at Jonathan's website (sanesolution.com - you can click "join" in the upper right corner if you want the free stuff I got - a great video, an eBook, etc.). And you know what? His stuff really made sense.

To write his book, Jonathan went through TONS of the latest research from reliable sources like the National Instutite of Health and Harvard Medical School and wrote it up in a user-friendly way in his book. Then he went on to start programs that help people really apply what's in the book and introduce a new approach to eating called SANE (you focus on foods that pack the biggest punch when it comes to Satiety, Aggression, Nutrition and Efficiency).

As I learned about the SANE approach, I realized I'd been missing some key parts to the puzzle when it comes to helping our bodies to operate at peak level. Our bodies need MORE vegetables than the 5-a-day that has been suggested (and mostly ignored) for the last few years. TEN or more servings of vegetables a day is what is best for us. And we need a lot more protein than I'd realized (in the form of lean meats, nuts and seeds plus some legumes). Plus we need quite a lot less grains than I'd assumed. I'd been thinking that as long as it was whole grain and wasn't part of processed foods, it was a good thing. But now I've learned that when we more frequently trade grains for vegetables and protein, our metabolism can function better, we can fill up on meaningful food, we can get our hormones in balance, and we can feel and look better.

So I decided to try applying some of the basic principles of SANE eating to my diet and our family's diet. And it's made a really great difference for us!

Following are photos of the simple and tasty meals we've been enjoying (and the more we eat vegetables, the more we crave them!). Most of these meals involve very simple, easy-to-find ingredients and took 10-20 minutes to make. Some involve slightly-more-expensive packages of salad or stir-fry ingredients and frozen chicken from Costco (still way cheaper than eating frozen prepared foods).

Maybe some of these meals don't look like something you or your family would love - but you never know until you try. I've learned to really really like some things I'd never really thought about much before (spinach and kale is SO good when prepared well! And it's so yummy to put just about anything on a bed of chopped romaine). And I've been pleasantly surprised to see how happily my kids have been eating all the extra veggies (helps that we've talked about how our bodies really need the good fuel of vegetables and protein and that they've helped pick out and prepare meals). And I have to say that by eating lots more veggies and less grains and sugar (other than some serious sugar around Halloween which is now out of our systems), we're all feeling better. There's less bickering. There's less sickness. What we put in our bodies really does affect us in so many ways.

Tilapia with squash and salad (Just cooked frozen fish in a pan with some olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and lemon - easy. There's some great lean protein and 4 servings of veggies on this plate - tomatoes, romaine lettuce, enough butternut squash for two servings)

Sauteed spinach with egg whites, avacado and tomatoes (tons of tasty, filling and easy protein and veggies)

Chicken salad (easy, made from canned chicken with a little mayo, some rice vinegar and mustard) on a bed of baby spinach with garden tomatoes

Caprese salad: Romaine topped with lots of tomatoes, fresh mozzerella, and basalmic glaze (love Trader Joe's basalmic glaze)

Stir fry - so easy - Costco sells this bag full of all the veggies, ready to go and it includes sauce. I just sauteed the full bag with some eggs and tofu (which my kids actually thought was chicken and I didn't bother correcting them). I made some rice to go with this but found that the kids were fine eating this without just a tiny bit of rice (rice is just non-nutritious starch - but they like it and we're not trying to cut out all starches and grains, just focus on the healthiest stuff first and foremost!)

Here's Silas enjoying another great Costco find - they have this 7-super-foods bagged salad with kale and brussel sprouts and other great veggies plus pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. My kids LOVE this salad (with just 1/2 the dressing that comes in the package - comes with way more than you need to make it tasty) topped with super-easy and fast chicken strips (I get the costco pack of frozen chicken tenders and you can cook them in like 15 minutes w/o even thawing first - just throw in a pan with a little salt, pepper, garlic powder and a spray of olive oil as well as a little basalmic vinegar and cook on medium-high until done)

Here's my favorite breakfast lately (I crave this all the time and have it pretty much every day). It's sauteed kale with egg whites, tomatoes and a little sprinkle of cheese.

Here's a breakfast the kids have been having a lot lately (they're not as in love with the kale/tomato eggs I love but they do like them!). Why haven't we always been eating veggies on the side with our eggs in the morning? And with the addition of healthy veggies and fruit, there's no need for lots of starches/grains in the form of toast. The kids still like to see a little bread on their plate with their eggs. But just a little quarter of a pita toasted seems to be just fine once they've got other things on their plate as well.

Now that April and I have seen how effective and relatively easy more SANE eating can be, we are working closely with Jonathan Bailor to develop materials to help moms and families understand and embrace better nutrition. We've seen what a big difference it has made in our own lives and in our family members when we feed everyone in a more SANE way. And we want to share that. It's scary to see the statistics on diabetes and heart disease. It's sad to see so many children becoming overweight at earlier ages as their little bodies can't handle the diet that our culture has somehow embraced as normal for kids (mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, crackers and chips, very few veggies, very little plain water to drink, very little lean protein, etc - people just assume that's sort of the "natural" way to feed kids when it's actually the opposite!).

We're working on a Power of Moms "kit" full of grocery shopping lists, menus, recipes, and pictures as well as talking points for helping kids understand more about healthy nutrition to help moms more fully embrace vegetables in their family life. Everyone - doctors, nutritionists, etc. - has agreed pretty much forever that we should all be eating more vegetables. But very few people really embrace a sizeable amount of vegetables in their diets. People have in their minds that it's expensive and hard to feed our families lots of vegetables. So we want to help debunk that myth through simple tried-and-true ideas and methods for feeding our families lots of healthy vegetables.

Plus we're working on materials to help moms really "go SANE" and find more health and energy than they've felt in years by really embracing the SANE approach to eating.

What do you think? Would you be excited about these programs for families and for moms? Do you want to feed your family and yourself more vegetables? Is nutrition something you think about a lot, a little, or a medium amount? Your feedback in the comments will really help as we move forward with these new programs!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Report on Resolutions so far (not exactly a stellar GPA so far . . .)

OK, it's been a couple months since I posted my resolutions for this school year. It's time for some self-assessment. My kids just brought home their first report cards for the school year so I thought I'd go ahead and give myself some grades as well. And I realized my GPA needs some serious work!

Here's each resolution with my grade and comments in italics below it. By reporting here, I'm holding myself accountable and getting more serious about things that make me feel empowered and healthy and happy and help me be a more effective mom, wife and person.

1. Get to bed by 11pm every night. Don't get sucked into finishing one more thing or watching a quick TV show to relax. Everything goes better when I get enough sleep and help Jared do the same.

I get a C on this one. It's been more like 11:30 or 12 when I get to bed most nights. Need to work on this. 

2. Get up by 6:45. Sleeping a few extra minutes sure feels like a great idea after the alarm goes off and while I really could get ready in 10 minutes for 7;10am family scripture time, it's better to have a little extra time and not feel so rushed and be able to help the kids get ready more.

I get a D on this one. I started strong but lately I've been really slow to get up with how dark and cold it's been and how late I've been going to bed. Plus I've been thinking I can really get ready fine in 10 minutes if I get up at 7. But I'm always a bit late for scripture study and even though Jared leads that while I make breakfast (I can listen in and participate great while quietly making breakfast) and I've been good about having breakfast on the table on time, it sets a bad example when I'm late for scriptures and we do end up more rushed when I'm not ahead of things.

3. Go on a date every week with Jared. We've been terrible about this. We've got so many places where the kids need to be and where each of us need to be in the evenings and somehow week after week goes by without us going out together which seems fine since we can just hang out together at home when the kids are in bed and we're out of energy to go anywhere. But actually going somewhere together is really really good for us. Even when we're tired. Even when it seems like just one more thing to cram in there. PLUS, we've realized we need a little non-screen time every day when we can connect and talk - even 10 minutes makes a huge difference. We can play a game, work on a project together, or just sit and eat a treat and talk.

B- on this one. We've been good about looking together at what's going on for the week on Sunday nights and picking a time for our date. But then things come up and the date gets pushed off the calendar too often. Need to work on this one. We have been spending more screen-free time together in the evenings and that's been good. But we can work on that more as well.

4. Floss. I used to be really good about this. Lately I've been a total slacker. And my gums are receding. And I want to keep my teeth for a whole lot longer. So I'm going to spend that whole 3 minutes or so every night to get my darn teeth flossed.

A- on this one. I've done it almost every night. And when I went to the dentist a few days ago they said I was a very good brusher and flosser. Pretty proud moment for me. But a need either a huge filling or a crown on a tooth with a really old filling in it. My teeth are just getting kind of old, I guess. Darn it.

5. Exercise every day for 30 minutes. I mostly did this last year but this year I'm TOTALLY doing it. I need 3-4 serious work-out sessions a week. But on the other days, I need the endorphins and energy that some brisk walking or some time on my old eliptical machine can offer. I feel SO much better on the days I exercise - especially when I do it outside! Plus I'll take more breaks from my computer to go for a little walk. And I'll keep up my weekly hikes. I hiked Maylan's Peak almost every single week last year, even in the crazy snow or rain. It made me feel tough and strong and happy. And I loved the chance to talk with good friends while doing it.

A- on this one. I've hiked every single week (been trying out different hard and beautiful hikes with friends). I've gone running a couple times a week. And I've been going for brisk walks most every day that I don't run or hike.

6. Go on Family Walks at least 4x/week. We've been doing a good job going for a walk as a family after dinner every evening that we possibly can. It's such a nice way to close the day. We're going to keep that up. Even in the snow. Fresh air makes us all nicer people - and helps everyone sleep better at night and digest their dinner better.

B on this one. This has been tricky with the kids' sports schedules but at least 3x/week we've done a walk with whoever is available. We just started a 50 miles for $50 challenge though and that's helping. Everyone who walks one mile a day or a total of 50 miles in 50 days will get $50. The park right by our house is 1/2 mile around so if we go around it 2x, that's a mile. Scooter, rollerblade and skateboarding requires 2 miles instead of one. This has been a great way to keep people motivated about going for walks even though it's getting colder and darker in the evenings.

7. Take each child on a special date every month and do some quality one-on-one tuck-in-time with each child each night. These simple things make a world of difference in my relationship with my kids.

B on this one. I took Ashton out for an extra-special date because he got all A's this past quarter - so happy! I took Silas out to get him new shoes and jeans and we ended up having a crazy fun adventure because the power went out in the store and we had a sales associate helping us find sizes with a flashlight and then escorting us out of the pitch black store when the power didn't come back on after a while. They didn't have his size but it didn't matter because the cash registers weren't working anyway. I've done lots of little dates with Eliza for various reasons and she's been my main walking partner on our most-every-day walks - she's always got lots of great stuff to tell me.. Isaac and Oliver are due for some dates here soon. I've been spending some quality time with each kid here and there but need to be more deliberate about ensuring they are all getting regular dates.

8. Do my hair more. Get haircuts every couple months. I've been seriously neglecting my hair for a long time now. Actually, I don't know if I've ever really done it very often. I'm fine with pulling it back quite a bit and I'm just not the type to ever be really into doing my hair really nicely on a daily basis. But I finally found a hairdresser I like here and I'm going to go ahead and get a good haircut regularly plus I've learned some new ways to do my hair that aren't too terribly time-consuming or frustrating. I feel better about myself and life in general when I don't neglect my hair every single day.

C on this one. My hair's getting too long and I need to get a haircut so that doing it is quicker and easier. Plus I'm not so sure I'm as excited about this resolution now as I was initially. Maybe I overrated doing my hair. So I think I'll be OK with like a B- on this one - just a little work to do.

9. No eating after 8pm except for fruits and veggies. I have the weirdest dreams, sleep poorly, and wake up feeling sort of sick if I eat much after 8pm. When I keep this simple little "rule," I just feel SO much better mentally, emotionally and physically.

C - I do this. Usually. But lately I've slacked off. Then I get tummy aches in the night and have weird dreams and wake up feeling bloated and bad. Need to get serious about this again.

10. Read the scriptures every single day. Lately I've been having my phone "read" me the scriptures while I'm driving - after I drop the kids off at school on my way home has been the perfect time to make sure I get some "reading" in before I do anything else with the day. I got burned out on reading right before bed - I was just so tired and that was my one time to talk with Jared. So I sort of fell out of the habit of doing it much at all (other than family scripture study in the mornings which I rationalized could count as my personal scripture study). It's not the most logical thing, really, but it's just plain true that when I read the scriptures every day, my life goes better. And when I make sure to do my reading first thing in the day, my day goes better.

C- I've been a slacker here as well. I started strong but have dropped down to maybe doing it just 50% of the time. So maybe that's a D, not a C. Hmmm. Starting today, though, I got going on listening in the car on the way home from taking kids to school and I'm going to keep up now.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Winner of "Thankful Heart" Book

Thanks so much for all the great comments and Thanksgiving ideas on that last post! I loved gathering new ideas for our Thanksgiving traditions and just hearing about what other people do. And I have to say it was really nice to just hear from people. I throw all this stuff out there and see that thousands of people spend time on this blog - but not many people comment. Fun to feel like this blog is a two-way conversation sometimes.

Ok, We have a winner of my parents' beautiful book, The Thankful Heart. Drum roll please....... And the winner is Jill!

Jill, please email me at saren(at)powerofmoms(dot)com and let me know your mailing address. We'll have your free book sent right out to you!

Here's Jill's comment (just to help you know who you are in case there's more than one Jill who entered):
jill said...
We started this tradition six years ago this Thanskgiving and it is still our favorite. During the Thanksgiving dinner, I keep strips of colored paper by my plate, though everyone could have a few at their spot just as easily. As we go through the meal we write down things we are grateful for on each strip. At the end of dinner we make a paper chain with them to hang up as part of our Christmas decorations. Then each day after thanksgiving, as we count down to Christmas, we take off a chain and read the listed item and discuss (again) why the writer wrote it and why we're each thankful for that one thing. It's a month of thankfulness in a season where it's so easy to be selfish.

Check out all the great ideas for thanksgiving traditions in the comments on this post. And if you didn't win the book, you can get your own on Amazon here (great price right now - it's a really nice hard back book with lots of photos - beautiful gift to give and/or a perfect book to bring out and put on your coffee table every Thanksgiving!).

And please join the Power of Moms Thanksgiving photo contest! There aren't tons of entries so far so you have a good chance of winning! Simply put up photos of things you're grateful for on Instagram and tag them with #gratutidepowerofmoms and @powerofmoms. Then the week of Thanksgiving, we'll pick FIVE winners who'll each receive a Power of Moms program up to $100 in value. To see what you might get to pick as a prize, here are all our Power of Moms programs.

I've been posting my gratitude photos every day and it's really helping me to think about what I love in my life each day. I'd love to see and hear about what you're thankful for through this contest!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Thanksgiving Ideas, a Photo Contest, and a Great Giveaway

Someday soon, I'll post about Halloween and about the kids' crazy-and-now-finished Cross Country and Volleyball seasons and about our fun family trip to Arches for fall break. I've got posts half-done. But as you can tell, I haven't had time to blog much lately! There are so many beautiful and not-so-beautiful little things that happen every day and that I want to capture so Instagram has been great for that. If you want more than this slowed-down blog can give, you can always check out what we're up to at Instagram - photos most every day at http://instagram.com/sarenloosli

I LOVE Thanksgiving. So I wrote a whole post about it on Power of Moms - sharing 9 fun and simple ways to focus the whole month of November on gratitude and the joy that comes with it. Here's my post: 9 Ways to Fill November with Thanksgiving

And we're doing an instagram gratitude photo contest at Power of Moms this month. All you need to do is post a photo (or one each day if you're ambitious) of something you're grateful for (your baby's cute little toes, your teenagers rare smile, your just-fixed dishwasher, beautiful fall leaves, whatever speaks to your heart . . .) and include #gratitudepowerofmoms plus @powerofmoms in your post to "submit" it. Then the week before Thanksgiving, Power of Moms will pick five winning photos from all those submitted and the posters of those five winning photos will each receive a Power of Moms program worth up to $100. 

So post photos of what you're grateful for and you'll feel extra grateful plus you'll maybe win a great prize.

Finally, here's a little guest post from my dad and mom to explain a little giveaway at the end of this post:
In our family, Thanksgiving has always been the "key" holiday.  So many of our traditions have centered on Thanksgiving, and we always felt it was the perfect lead-in to Christmas and the perfect harbinger of the holidays.  After all, what could be a better precursor to Christmas and to celebrating the birth of Christ than all kinds of gratitude and Thanks-Giving!

Early in our marriage, we decided that rather than get into the Christmas Card frenzy, we would jump the gun a bit and send out a Thanksgiving Card each year.  We have done that now for 44 years, and the cards actually tell the story of our family.  The pictures that went with the cards each year show the growing up of each child, and the poems we wrote to go with the photos trace the pattern of what had happened each year and where our gratitude was centered.

Finally, as Thanksgiving continued to mean more and more to us, we decided to write a book about gratitude, and about the connections of Thanks-Giving to Joy, to Peace, and to family security and unity.  Since much of what we wanted to say was about feelings, we felt the book needed to be as much about pictures as about poetry and prose.  Luckily, we have some great photographers in the family, and we were able to use their work to illustrate the book.

As it was finished this fall THE THANKFUL HEART has become not only a how-to book on the ways to enhance and magnify gratitude, but a kind of short hand history of the Eyre family (Eyrealm as we call it) and we could think of no better way to start "getting it out" than on our wonderful daughters' blogs.  The publisher has agreed to a little give away where you can comment on this blog and go into a drawing for free copies.  And for those who don't win a book (we've never won a drawing in our lives) it is now on sale at Amazon HERE.

The subtitle of the book is a good summary:  "How Deliberate Gratitude can Change Every Texture of Our Lives."

And the back cover quote is the essence:  "Gratitude does not lead to happiness; gratitude is happiness in its most obtainable form."

Hope you love it,  Linda and Richard Eyre

*** I get to give away a copy of this beautiful new book! Share your favorite Thanksgiving tradition or idea for expressing gratitude and I'll randomly select a commenter to receive a free book, shipped right to your door. I'll announce winners on Saturday, November 8th.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today my dad turns 70.

What an amazing father I've been blessed with!

Here's a little video I made showcasing bits of the wonderful life he's led.

This dad of mine has written like 40 books (so many that I can never remember the exact number), one of which was a NYTimes #1 Bestseller, spoken to audiences around the world about parenting ideas and life balance, served as an amazing mission president in England when he was only 30 years old, run several companies, run some major campaigns, held some pretty lofty political appointments, traveled to virtually every country, started a whole bunch of excellent programs for families including the Joy School program that is known and loved by hundreds of thousands of families, and has headed up so many exciting and meaningful accomplishments and contributions that I they'd take pages and pages to list.

But most importantly, he has served as an amazing husband and father and grandfather. He has 9 children, 26 grandchildren, and scores of friends and extended family members who benefit from his personal example, advice, and love. His example of vision and goals and hard work and faith combined with faithful confidence and strong convictions have made him a truly remarkable influence to many.

I'm so grateful for this dad of mine. And this mom who puts up with the sometimes bombastic and eccentric stuff that comes with his greatnesss!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Charity's Wedding

My baby sister is married.

I have so many fond memories of her when she looked like this (from the book of memories my mom presented her with the day before the wedding):

But now she's this beautiful, accomplished, vivacious, passionate, wonderful MARRIED woman!

Charity's wedding was fabulous, spectacular, and lovely in every way. She thought of every little details and dreamed up a spectacular wedding. And all her dreams came true! It was really a glorious celebration. The weather cooperated beautifully. All the details came together. And we all had a wonderful time and seeing our baby sister glowing with joy and love. It was simply heavenly!

There were three pretty-much full days involved in the initial wedding celebrations. Then there were additional celebrations in Texas where Ian is from and in Palo Alto where Ian and Charity live (but I didn't make it to either of those so check my mom or Charity's blogs for info on those two lovely celebrations). I'll just share about the three days we celebrated together for the wedding itself.

The day before the wedding, all bridesmaids and sisters and older flower girls got together for a lovely lunch at the Dodo (Charity's all-time favorite restaurant) and then got our nails done. It was fun to get to know Ian's sisters and see many of Charity's good friends who I remember as little girls.

That night, my parents hosted a huge dinner for Ian's family and my family where we ate pizza and celebrated the lives of this great couple. The moms helped orchestrate a fun little show where the grandkids modeled clothes Charity and Ian wore during their growing up and college years. It was a crazy fun evening!

All the grandkids on both sides had to wrestle Ian down as the first item of business for the evening. They sure love Ian!

Here are the Eyre grandkids modeling Charity's baby dresses, dance company dresses, cheerleading outfits, boots from her mission, t-shirt from Oxford, sweatshirt from Wellesley, you name it.

We all had a great time with baby Ezra - the happiest, cutest little chubster around.

Then after cleaning up for that event, Charity, Shawni, Saydi and I went on a little walk around the temple and had a few precious minutes of sister time before we sent our little sister off to bed on her last night as a single woman!

These are the only photos I got. Charity so excited in front of the temple. And a selfie of the four of us with a nice pile of random garbage behind us.

Then the next day we had an MFME (Mothers and Future Mothers of Eyrealm) breakfast at Charity's favorite breakfast place - Ruth's Diner up Emigration canyon. We presented Charity with a book full of our favorite bits of advice for marriage along with lots of photos of past MFME gatherings and some favorite recipes. Saydi was the hero behind putting that book together. So fun to talk about our favorite bits of advice over breakfast. Then we said a tearful farewell as we sent Charity off to get her hair done and head to the temple.

We got all the kids settled to watch each other (and a movie) during the temple ceremony.

The ceremony was absolutely beautiful. Sacred, lovely, sweet. That sealing room was packed with people and with love. I looked over at my mom and her sister and had this distinct feeling that their mom, dear Grandma Hazel, was there. And when I looked at my dad, I could feel that his parents were with us also. 

When we came out of the temple, all the kids were there, excited to greet the newly married couple. I was proud of Ashton and Isaac and Eliza for getting everyone where they needed to be at the right time. 

These five boys love each other sooooo much. They're so full of spunk and joy and mischief.

They made this for Charity and Ian while waiting for them to come out (Charian is their special combo name)

And Eliza and Hazel had so much fun watching little Zara:

We had time to take a family photo while we were waiting - haven't captured a more formal family shot in a long time. And this temple is where our family started.

These next pictures tell their own stories.

Do you think they like their aunt?

All the Eyres who made it to the wedding (we were sad to miss Shawni's family who were in China and Tal's wife and little girl who couldn't make it from New York)

 SO happy Shawni could make it from China (and we couldn't get enough of Noah and Kristi's little Shelby)

When we finished at the temple, we hurried up to set up at Millcreek Inn where we had a perfectly lovely dinner in the glorious fall-peak splendor of that place. The candle-lit evening, the thoughtful and poignant toasts by loved ones, the couple just glowing with happiness - perfect evening. (More on the lead-up to making the perfect evening happen at the end of this post!)

How cute are these two?

I love these out-takes - off of us trying to figure things out while Ian and Charity just enjoy the moment.

The next day, we all worked together to get the reception set up at my parents' house. It was a full-day affair moving furniture, setting up other furniture, arranging flowers and hanging bottles of flowers from the rafters, and getting everything set up just as Charity had envisioned. 

Then it was another pretty huge deal getting everyone all gussied up in their wedding attire. There were some moments of panic here and there when we realized there was way more to do than there was time. And it wasn't very fun when Saydi realized she had left Charity's veil at Millcreek Inn the night before and her kind husband did a quick drive to pick it up and had it to the house in the nick of time before Charity got there for her pre-reception photos. Or when just as Jared arrived with the kids for the photos - he'd taken them home to Ogden for the night so I could stay and help with stuff - we realized that Ashton had somehow left his wedding clothes that I'd spent forever shopping for the week before in Ogden and Jared ran to the nearby outlets and was amazingly fast at finding and purchasing him some new clothes that luckily happened to be on a great sale and Ashton was ready for the photos he needed to be in just in time. But it all worked out totally beautifully in the end and it was another magical evening - but this time big-party-dance-style magical.

Zara wasn't into being in the picture. Neither was Ian's little nephew.

The flower girls were pretty pleased with their role - and their flower crowns.

The little groomsmen were the first to the buffet table.

And the flower girls were right behind them.

 Cutting the cake.

Traditional daddy daughter dance.

Then everyone did some serious dancing. Eliza and Eli were especially good dancers.

We grabbed a quick photo of the Wellesley alums on the premises to send in to Wellesley magazine:

The bouquet toss.

And then they were off!

Just to keep it real, I'll end by saying that Charity's fabulous wedding involved serious work. She and Ian assigned us all various responsibilities to help pull of three fabulous days of festivities and fun (we've always done this with family weddings - big families equal lots of work but also lots of extra help!). Charity assigned everyone in her family and Ian's family various duties based on their abilities and availability and when everyone does something, it's amazing how much can be accomplished! Charity assigned people to do everything from arranging shuttles and drivers for the reception (parking had to be off-site at my parents' house and Noah did this and donated the use of his huge new van) to DJ the evening (Eli's the master of music) to doing the flowers (my cousin Lindsay was in charge and did an amazing job and we all pitched in) to making sure everyone was on time to everything (Saydi was in charge of this and came up with an excellent plan - she gave everyone points for being on time for each event and at the end, everyone got to put their name in a hat the number of times that corresponded to their number of points and we had a drawing for fun prizes like a $10 bill, getting first pick of rooms at Bear Lake next summer, getting out of clean up duties for an evening at Bear Lake, getting to eat first for a meal at Bear Lake, that sort of thing).

I helped a lot with stuff that needed to be done well in advance of the big day (Eliza and I spent Labor Day weekend helping Charity out as she met with the florist and caterer, went to her wedding dress fitting, bought and spray painted tons of vases for the flowers, and addressed over a thousand invitation envelopes. Plus I got to talk Charity and my mom through tons of logistical stuff - everything from where everyone would sleep and who could most effectively help with what to who would drive which car and who could babysit who and how to get people and paraphenalia from one place to the next in a timely fashion. 

Then the week before the wedding, Ashton and I were in charge of making a wedding video featuring photos of Ian and Charity growing up (Ashton did the heavy lifting there - I just oversaw). And for the wedding day itself, I was in charge of making sure all my kids were ready willing and able to watch their younger cousins while all the adults were in the temple, ordering and picking up the pumpkin cake for dessert at the wedding dinner from an outside vendor along with whipping cream from the grocery store and getting it all to the dinner venue and making sure they knew what Charity had in mind for how it should be served.

This dessert-coordinator job turned out to be a bit of a fiasco. After the wedding, it took a long time for Charity and Ian to emerge from the temple and we finished photos at the temple a lot later than anticipated. I needed to pick up the cake and cream and help set up and Shawni, Julie and Eli had set-up duties as well so the four of us needed to get our kids tucked into other people's cars and get them sent to my parents' house where they'd be during the adult dinner but we found out the hard way that no ones cell phones have reception in the parking garage where the 4 different cars involved were parked and we spent a pretty darn frustrating half hour trying to find each other and get everyone and everything where they needed to be. When I finally found a spot the parking garage that had cell reception, I realized my phone was dead and I somehow had Shawni's phone which was password protected. I ran outside and caught Noah who was about to take off with most of the kids and he tried to call Eli but Eli wasn't in a place with reception. We reached my mom and she said she'd pick up the cake and take kids to her house and Noah took me to Trader Joe's where we assumed Shawni and Eli and Julie would be and yes, they were there, so Noah could take off and get his kids to my parents' place and I could get the whipping cream. But when I got to the cash register with the cream, I realized I'd left my purse in Noah's car and I still had a dead phone. But luckily Shawni and Eli and Julie were next door at Staples where they were picking up all the placecards for the wedding dinner and they were able to pay for the cream and we were on our way to the dinner. We hurried to set everything up and had it all ready by the time everyone else got there. Woohoo!

Then for her reception the next day, I was in charge of planning and setting up the kids' area where kids could color and do fun scavenger hunts and training my kids to run that. 

And of course, everyone pitched in for set up and clean up and tons of other little things that cropped up along the way. Sometimes we get super frustrated with each other an there are moments where everything seems pretty bad. But in the end, we make a pretty good team and my mom's little phrase "crisis + time = humor" comes true.

So I guess I just wanted to end by saying that beautiful wonderful events and family time will always involve some work and stress on the front end. But they're sure worth it! 

And to end on a really lovely note, here's the excellent short video that the official wedding videographer made. Can't watch it without crying. Captures a lot of the magic of the day so nicely.

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