Friday, May 27, 2011

The Sweetness of Friends

I think these two friends were made in the same factory in heaven.
They love sharing adventures together.

This sweet "slice of life" was captured by Tate's amazing mother. 
She has mad photography skills and is talented in a multitude of other ways.
I feel lucky to be her friend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Honoring Motherhood Event:
Utah Valley American Mothers

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to participate in a pre-Mother's Day celebration.  The "Honoring Motherhood" event was held in Provo, Utah on Saturday, May 7th.  It was a beautiful event, organized by American Mother's Karmel Larsen, and held in a garden room filled with tasty food and tearful emotion.  Speakers (including Sally Olsen, Jennilyn Jorgensen, Cherie Burton)  shared unedited and emotional experiences with motherhood - and they talked of both the joys of motherhood as well as their personal battles against depression, physical depletion and even suicide.

A new friend of mine, Sariah Bailey, was in attendance. Sariah is a one-in-a-million kind of gal.  She is currently pursuing her college education and -- although not yet a mother, and not yet married -- Sariah is impressively already preparing to become a mother.

On her own initiative, and with the financial constraints of a struggling student, Sariah purchased a ticket to attend this pre-Mother's Day celebration.

Beautiful Sariah Bailey
There were times at the event when the emotion was so strong that I worried, "What will Sariah think?  Will she continue to want to pursue motherhood after hearing the unedited difficulties that can (and often do) accompany the joy of bearing and raising children?"

And yet, just recently I received this message from Sariah with her assessment of the event.  She writes:  "My overall impression of American Mothers is that of amazement and awe. When the pledge was recited, it was quite inspiring. However, being a mere 21 years old, single, and child-less, it was a little out there. I don’t know what it is like to be a mother, even though I have many mother-like experiences with my youngest siblings."

Sariah relates, "My friend Bobbi that came with me was very impressed as well.  Bobbi said, 'It’s things like this that make me think about what I can change so that I can be a better mother.'  Even though she is an astounding mother whose children love her very much."

Sariah concluded by saying: "The principles that are emphasized [within American Mothers] are invaluable.  I am so grateful that you introduced me to this.  I hope by reading blogs and communicating with wonderful mothers as well as taking positive qualities from my mother, that I will be able to be a great mother someday."

The American Mother's Pledge:

I Pledge...
  • To ask God's help as a parent in today's world...
  • To encourage honesty, integrity, patriotism and the application of moral values in every area of American life beginning in my own home...
  • To enhance the spiritual foundation of my home by precept and example...
  • To love, nurture and educate my children remembering the power and influence of a joyful home...
  • To see opportunities to strengthen my family by working, playing, serving and praying together...
  • To foster personal responsibility and respect in my home and community...
  • To serve my family and community through personal development as an individual, parent and citizen...
  • To support and promote positive programs for children and families...
  • To wage a vigorous campaign against abuse and violence in all its forms...
  • To remember that with God, all things are possible.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Acceptance of Situation and Self:
Power of Moms May Retreat

I had the opportunity this past weekend (on Saturday, May 21st) to share a few thoughts and lead two lunchtime discussion groups at a Power of Moms retreat in Park City. I attended a similar retreat in April (and blogged about it here). 

It was so much fun to go back to this beautiful setting among wonderful motivated moms!  Of course, I felt like the experience I had previously was singular (meaning that because the feelings were so profound and powerful, that it would not be possible to repeat). Yet, I found myself at this retreat, only one month later, with the same topics being covered, feeling like I was gaining all new insights! 

I loved interacting with the mothers who added insight and joined the lunchtime discussions "Finding More Joy in Motherhood" and "Parenting Partnerships". Feelings of the heart and tender emotions were shared. I learned so very much from these remarkable women who shared their challenges, as well as what they are doing that is working!

In the morning, I had the opportunity to speak on Acceptance of Situation & Self.  Some of the points I covered include:
  • Events out of our control can cause anger, frustration and depression. 
  • Acceptance is not a sign of weakness - we can accept ourselves and our situation and still have high goals.
  • Acceptance is not powerlessness nor resignation.  It is a first step toward transformation.
Acceptance of Situation:
  • Our difficulties can become doorways toward instructive experience.
  • When difficult situations come our way, we can accept the life we are "meant" to live rather than think of these as a roadblock to the life we are "supposed" to live.  As a friend of mine so eloquently stated, "I had in my mind a 'Plan A' for my life.  Then life took it's course, and I was living what I thought was 'Plan B', until I realized the path I am on is actually God's 'Plan A' for me."
  • In the book, Man's Search for Meaning,Viktor Frankl (a Nazi concentration camp survivor), relates how, through the horrendous torture experienced, he mentally survived.  He relates that instead of asking "Why?" about the situation, he instead asked "Why?" about his existence.  He drew upon this insight from Nietzche, "He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how." Frankl did not ask what he expected from life, but rather what life expected from him. 

Acceptance of Self:
  • Do we ever allow ourselves to feel like we are doing enough or being good enough?  Often there is a gap between our expectations and our reality.
  • There are no perfect moms, but there are so very many great moms!  We need to be better at being satisfied with ourselves and accepting of who we are and what we are accomplishing.
  • It is so essential, among the difficulties of life, to remember the little victories:  A six-time winner of the Hawaii Ironman Triathalon said, "It is not the distance that overwhelms people who race Hawaii's Ironman.  It's the relentless wind that blows across the lava fields.  You're on one of the highest ridges, you see miles of repetitive road, and you realize it's extremely hot and you're going straight into a 30-mile-an-hour crosswind.  I've found that those who dwell on these conditions tend to fold.  I always train for adversity  I consider adversity an asset, something to turn to my advantage.  One of life's most important lessons is leaning to put your losses in perspective and to savor your triumphs by riding on euphoria's wave.  Have high goals and expectations; regard defeat as stages on the road to success by remembering the little victories that have gotten you where you are."
The two visionary women who founded Power of Moms have also shared their experiences online.
Feel free to take a look at Saren's post on the retreat as well as April's touching remarks.

May 28th Update: I just found this post from Linda Eyre's Deseret News blog,
which describes both the gathering as well as a chance I had to play "horse whisperer"
for a few quick minutes: 100 Mothers Sharpen Their Saws.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Additional Reports of the 2011
American Mothers National Convention

Yesterday I related my experiences attending the 2011 American Mother National Convention.

But don't take my word for it... following are more eyewitness accounts of the events:

Deseret News Article:
Utah Hosts National Celebration of Motherhood

Key Points from Sheri Dew's Speech at Saturday's Gala (where the National Mother of the Year, Ernestine Allen, was announced), titled: The Influence of Mothers

Wonderful Posts from Andrea, State President of American Mothers in Texas:
Highlights of National Convention
(this is a do not miss summary of many of the events of the weekend)
Gems from the Mother of the Year Speeches
Summary of Young Mother Speeches

Shawni Pothier's reaction to being announced as Young Mother of the Year:
Her blog post titled: "My Weekend"
Shawni's Speech

Linda Eyre's recap of the weekend (Linda is Shawni's wonderful mother):
"Whiney, Worried Child Becomes National Mother of the Year"

LDS Living article on LDS Women Honored by American Mothers

Sideshows of photos from the events of the National Convention can be found online here and here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Multi-Generational Learning:
American Mothers National Convention

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the American Mother's National Convention -- held right here in Salt Lake City! This amazing weekend occured at the Little America Hotel and was masterfully coordinated by a local committee.
The Convention Planning Committee:
Utah women who worked tirelessly to make this event a grand success!

Can you tell that I am proud of this "core group" of wonderful women involved in American Mothers here in Utah who give so much of themselves for my benefit?

I love that American Mothers is a multi-generational organization that has something to offer for women of all ages. There were women in attendance at the Convention from ages 19 to 97! I loved meeting and interacting with the women who are both in and beyond my stage of life who offer their knowledge and wisdom in aiding my passion and pursuits as a mother.

The highlight for me within this weekend were the relationships formed - quickly - with other women who are from diverse geographic, cultural and religious backgrounds, yet all passionate about mothering and willing to share their tender life experiences and knowledge to better assist me in my work as a mom.

I thoroughly enjoyed every interaction with the wonderful women who also, for the coming year, will represent American Mother's throughout 2011 as Young Mothers of the Year for their states. These gals are fabulous and talented, yet approachable and real!

State Young Mothers gathered together Friday, after we each presented
speeches on the topic "Strengthen Myself; Elevate My Family"
We enjoyed being with each other! In fact, so very much that the weekend was filled with many past-midnight nights (good thing we're "young" right?!?).

All "gussied" up prior to the Friday evening banquet.

I am so grateful for both my own mom and mother-in-law who attended many of the events in support of  their daughter.
The Eyre and Dalton Girls
Linda, Saren (Power of Moms founder) & Shawni; Emi and Elaine)
We were all thrilled when it was announced that the beautiful, eloquent (and self-proclaimed shy!) Shawni Eyre Pothier will represent American Mother's as the National Young Mother of the Year!
Young Mothers representing Utah, Iowa, Kentucky, Georgia, Oregon and Hawaii
Saturday evening (thie night of the Gala announcing the National Mother of the Year)
What a grand experience! What a wonderful organization! I am proud to be associated with American Mothers.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Favorite (Easy!) Springtime Dinner

Shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwiches - served on store-bought potato rolls and topped with grated cheddar cheese and sauteed mushrooms.  To make: place chicken in crockpot, generously cover with Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce.  Cook chicken breasts on low in crockpot for 4 to 6 hours. Shred chicken with fork just prior to serving and add additional sauce, if needed.

Corn on the Cob - for super sweet corn, boil in water doused with a few tsp. lemon juice plus a few tbsp. sugar.

Strawberries - hulled and quartered and sprinkled with blueberries or raspberries, if available.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Favorite Book: The Golden Rule

In this pages of this beautifully illustrated book, an age-old lesson is taught.  And the teaching occurs just as most important lessons are learned: within the context of an everyday, ordinary interaction. 

In The Golden Rule (written by Ilene Cooper and illustrated by Gabi Swiatowska) a grandfather explains to his grandson that the Golden Rule means you "treat people the way you would like to be treated."  

The grandfather goes on to explain that the Golden Rule is an underlying moral principle found in almost every world religion and culture.  

The simple wording in this book ennumerates both the far-reaching effects of living the Golden Rule, as well as the fact that this all starts with us.  "I wonder how things would change if everyone lived by the Golden Rule," says the grandfather. "I think people would be nicer," says the boy. "Kinder."

Our favorite line from The Golden Rule reads: "It's golden because it is valuable, and a way of living your life that's so simple, it shines."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Planting Season

It continues to rain (mostly) and snow (occasionally) here in Utah.  Today's storm had a potential to dump 18 to 30 inches in the mountains!*

So, while we wait for planting season to be fully upon us, we are "spring cleaning" inside and remembering days like this sweet one (which occurred a month ago). 

 The girls planted frost-proof pansies mid-April.

We can't wait for the sun to shine and for warm days to come again!  We will happily jump into summer, even without having experienced a "typical" spring this year.

* All snowfall stats gleaned from my backcountry brother Jon's Facebook status updates.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Motherhood Matters

I had the opportunity today - as a result of my role in Utah with American Mothers Inc. - to briefly appear on KSL's Studio 5 program.  We talked about "Teaching Children that Motherhood Matters".

I enjoyed interacting with the hosts, Brooke and Darrin, and mostly appreciate the wonderful words of Sally Olsen, Utah's (incredible and very deserving) Mother of the Year. 

Monday, May 09, 2011

Favorite Book: Miss Rumphius

Book Review by Ella 
Written (with help from her mom) in 2009 at age 8
“Miss Rumphius” is one of my favorite picture books.  In this story, a little girl named Alice grows into an old, old woman, a retired librarian named Miss Rumphius.  Her life is filled with exciting adventures, but as she grows older, she keeps recalling the advice her grandfather gave her as a child.  He told her that in order to live a good life, she had to “do something to make the world more beautiful.”  Alice loves the beauty of colorful flowers, so she scatters lupine seeds through her costal hometown.  
In doing so, she completely transforms the rocky landscape into a place full of beauty.  In the end, as an old, old woman she tells her story to her young niece, who also decides to make the world more beautiful. 

I, too, want to make the world more beautiful.  I know that through the knowledge I gain at school and through completing my own goals, I will be able to develop talents, help others, learn from my friends -- and make the world more beautiful! 

Friday, May 06, 2011

One Year Ago...

One year ago today, we moved into our beautiful new home.  It was difficult to uproot and leave (even if the move only involved an address change of a few streets).  We felt such a strong sense of attachment to both the place and the people surrounding us.

Yet, on this night a year ago, with only beds set up and zero boxes unpacked, we again felt that we were "home".  We felt then, that this was a place that had been prepared for us.

Now, one year later, with shallow roots planted and growing, we are grateful for this sweet spot we call home.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Greater the Soul

I looked upon a mountain high
in grandeur rising to the sky.
And then I contemplated me,
how very small I seemed to be.
Yet, in this fragile frame of mine
god chose to house a soul divine.
Not in that glorious sun-crowned peak,
but in this body, frail and weak.
God chose to give to you and me
the promise of eternity.
A child of His can such be small?
A soul is surely Heaven-tall.
No, the mountain stands that I might see
how greater is the soul of me.

Helen Lowrie Marshall

Toward the end of our spring break, we jumped in the car and headed south with hopes of reaching warmer weather!  We found exactly what we were looking for in St. George, Utah (otherwise known as the "mecca" of spring break hideouts for Utahns).

We enjoyed time at the pool and our stay at the beautiful Inn at Entrada (we stayed in their smallest studio casita, where the girls were kind enough to sleep on an inflatable mattress that had a habit of only staying inflated for a couple hours!).  Mostly we enjoyed our time spent together hiking in the beautiful landscapes of Snow Canyon and Zion's Kolob Canyon.

On the trail to Pioneer Names in Snow Canyon.

Mormon Pioneers who came this way used axel grease
from their wagons to write their names high on the rocks!
We visited, for the first time, White Rock Ampitheater in Snow Canyon. 
There we met up with friends from home, who also happened to be visiting!
Textural stonescapes.
Somehow the Easter Bunny found us!
We found time for deep contemplation among the beauty of this corner of the world.
The kids also found a seasonal pond teeming with tadpoles.
We enjoyed climbing sanddune hills and jumping down!
A local family graciously allowed us to join in on their Easter egg roll -
they created a course down the sanddune and each child
competed to have their egg roll the farthest distance. 
Easter morning, we packed up and headed off to
Kolob Canyon, part of Zion National Park.
We had just enough time to enjoy the vistas of the beautiful
Timber Creek Overlook.

And there contemplate the beauty of this glorious world,
the miracle of the resurrection,
and the inestimable worth of a soul.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

4 Generations of E's

Ella, Emi, Elaine and Emma

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Power of Moms:
Creating a Family Culture that is Stronger than Media Culture

I have had two experiences recently that have reaffirmed to me the power of motherhood in general, and specifically how that power is tangible when women physically gather together to share wisdom and personal experiences.

Just this past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the National Convention of American Mothers, which was held here in my hometown of Salt Lake City! I look forward to writing more about my experiences and the wonderful women I met! (The American Mothers Convention was an uplifting event and does deserve it's own blog post!).

A few weeks prior, I was a participant in a remarkable Power of Moms Park City retreat.
Look at this beautiful, powerful group of women!

I attended both the Friday night "Mind Organization for Moms" event as well as Saturday's events, which were broken into two sections: 1) Taking Care of the Person inside the Mom and 2) Creating Family Systems that Work.

I came away asking myself the following questions (and yes, for the most part, I am still searching for answers that ring true for me and my family):

* What do I need in order to thrive in my role as a mom?
* How can I develop talents innate in me within the life that I currently have?
* Do I prioritize what is most important to me?
* What do I need to do to feel physically able to do the work of being a mom?
* What am I doing to nurture my spirit?
* What am I doing to expand my mind?
* How much time do I spend wanting to change the life that I live rather than cherishing and being grateful for what I have been given?
* Do I replace negative thinking with positive reinforcement?
* When I encounter trials, what is my response? Or as a new friend stated: "Have I grown, or do I groan?" (My answer: usually a double "yes!").
* What can I do today so that I will go to bed feeling content and I will be excited tomorrow to start a new day?

I loved that Power of Moms retreat covered in detail how to create family systems that work. Detailed information was given on how to discipline and how to raise responsible children who grow to be contributing adults. Specific strategies were shared on how to create a family identity and culture. I also loved the Power of Moms focus on institutionalizing the family with formalized traditions!

I left the Power of Moms retreat with the takeaway goal (and the tools) to create an Edgley family culture that is stronger than peer culture or the media culture. I came away with new friends, greater knowledge and renewed vision on how I can better my family through powerful, deliberate mothering.

If you are interested in registering for the May 20th and 21st Park City retreat, click here.