Last day in London, and on to Paris!

Our last day here in London! I could use a few more days to see everything, but we for sure wanted to see Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. We decided to stop by the Courtauld Gallery on the way. It houses some art of the Impressionists and has a cool staircase that we took some pictures of, more fear of the dizzying heights. But with Camille’s fearless camera work we got some cool shots of the building.IMG_2284 IMG_2286 IMG_2285

We then ran over to the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. We enjoyed learning more about the amazing transportation over the hundreds of years in London. Going on all the busses and trains and boats and the tube has been a highlight of our trip!


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They had a history of many of the posters from the tube over the years. There is some brilliant graphic design in all of that.

We headed out to Covent Garden to find lunch and got a feel for the outdoor markets there.IMG_2296 IMG_2297We finally found lunch at a noodle place called Wagamama. Fun place.


We hopped on a bus over to Westminster Abbey. Erik found an app for the busses in London that has helped us navigate that part of the transport.

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Westminster Abbey is massive and impressive and full of history. So many people are buried here, from British royalty over hundreds of years, to poets and authors. We had a children’s tour that kept us moving and learning in our hour at the abbey.IMG_2301 IMG_2302 IMG_2304 DSC_6794 IMG_2303 IMG_2307 IMG_2305 DSC_6791 DSC_6787 DSC_6786 DSC_6782 DSC_6781Many of these places don’t allow photography inside, so we just settled for some pictures outside. Parliament was in session, but the line to get in was two hours long, so we visited Jewel Tower across from Parliament. It is a building form the 1600s that housed many documents from the government.

Here is the view of Parliament from Jewel TowerDSC_6801IMG_2309 IMG_2311 Jewel TowerIMG_2308 IMG_2313 IMG_2310 It was time to go and get packed up for our train through the chunnel to Paris. So we got back on the tube and back to the apartment. We changed beds, vacuumed and left some goodies for Rob Flanigan who lent us the use of the apartment. We got all our bags out the door and headed for the tube.IMG_2317 IMG_2334 IMG_2318

Somehow there were not many trains heading the direction we needed for St. Pancras. So we waited about 15 minutes for a tube train, it was around 5:15. And when the tube train arrived it was packed and we had 7 rolling bags and our other hand carried items. We barely squeezed on and were on a packed train. We made it! It was a little stressful. But we got to the train station, and it was a very nice station to get on the Eurostar over to Paris. We got sandwiches and dinner. And then we waited for them to call our train. We had to go through a passport line again, but we did not have to check our bags. We did have assigned seats. We read and played games and relaxed on the train. It was very smooth and fast. We were only in the chunnel for about 20 minutes I think. The whole trip from London to Paris was just over 2 hours.DSC_6806 DSC_6805 DSC_6803We arrived in Paris a little after 10, got some euros, and then found 2 taxis to the Flanigan’s apartment in Paris! We arrived and got buzzed in. Jennifer was there and was so kind to us. Her eight year old boy was still up. And they shared some bunk beds, the front couch, and a downstairs bed and loft bed with us. We got settled in, had some drinks and snacks, and then went to bed. What a blessing their hospitality has meant to us on this trip!

We are off to London!

So here we are at SFO before our 12 hour flight to London! It has been a lot of work to get to this point. We spent the day packing and cleaning and shutting down the house before our trip. It was nice to have the whole day to prepare. I wish I had a little more time, but I got everything important done. Erik had a few hours to work. I went on a walk with Nancy this morning, and she will actually come and stay at our house part of the time while we are gone. It feels comforting to have someone here to look over the house.

We got to the airport and waited in line for a half hour to check in with our passports and luggage. It feels like all those months of work are coming to fruition. I can’t wait to get to London with the family.


We saw the Etheringtons in the airport. They are off to Italy. We settled into the plane. Everyone has their own entertainment screen. Erik and I sat with Maren. Brandon and Nicole sat together, and Camille and Robin sat together. It is a full flight. We had dinner and watched movies and played games. It was hard to actually get to sleep, but we dozed for part of the trip. We will wake up and be most of the way to London!

No schedule

Today was the only day in probably four months that had no specific schedule. Camille and Maren are camping with some friends for the weekend. Brandon got up early to go off to plant flags at the Golden Gate Memorial Cemetery for Memorial Day. But Erik and I finally had time to make some reservations at a London hotel and book our travel passes for London. We organized other travel and piano recitals. Erik worked in the yard. We had time to just be home without a hundred things to run around doing. It was a great relief. Our wonderful friends and neighbors had us over for dinner. The kids had some friends and movies. It was a miraculous day to me just to have a minute to catch our breath before the next week of graduation ceremonies and the end of school. 9 days until our trip to London and Paris. I am excited and getting close to ready!


Spring Cleaning and Connecting

Sometimes there is no substitute for getting a little better organized, including getting on top of projects that have been on your mind for a week or two. Erik and I finished up our taxes and sent them off to the accountant. Then we emailed acceptance letters and organized the Sky Mountain family session. Next, I returned a blanket left here by a friend. Then I deposited some of the trip money we have been receiving. I paid some bills at Erik’s office and made a bank deposit for his work. I followed that up by doing some piano lessons at a time that helped me later in the day.

My mind feels clearer. And doing the projects lifts the burdens that are weighing there unseen. I also had a chance to have dinner with Nancy and talk and talk and talk. We both needed that. There is nothing like heart to heart sharing and quality time together. When I got home from the dinner I stopped in and gave Ronna some Pinkberry for her birthday and sore throat. The kids weren’t ready for bed, but they were agreeable and kind in tidying up from their fun babysitting this afternoon with Abby’s kids and shared some of their kindness and love with me.

I just have one pile of paperwork to get through. Spring is here and new possibilities. I am grateful for many wonderful friendships to cherish and relationships that are growing.

Emails empty

One of the favorite things I figured out last year with the help of Mind Organization for Moms, was how to manage the many emails I receive every day. When I have my email inbox empty, it makes me happier about the flow of email. I highly recommend it.


Power of Moms Retreats

Last year in January I attended my first Power of Moms Retreat. My friend, Saren, from London Study Abroad in college, runs a powerful website called The Power of Moms – A Gathering Place for Deliberate Mothers. I had gone on the website occasionally and kept track of some of what she was up to during the years. In December 2011 they were looking for a location to hold a retreat in the Los Angeles area. I thought of my sister, Lisa, whose house would be a perfect place for that. I talked to Lisa, and she was happy to host the event. I decided to fly down and enjoy the day and a half retreat and spend some time with my sister and dear friends. Heather, my sister-in-law Rachel, and Heidi came down with me for the retreat.


We knew it was about parenting and organization but didn’t know much else. We had a powerful two days of learning about how to be more deliberate mothers. It was fabulous to see Saren and catch up with her and learn from her co-director, April, over the two days of the retreat.

397784_343561132332478_80172292_nI really enjoyed the two days away to strengthen friendships and spend time with my sister. But I came away with much more than I expected from the presentations and learning at the Power of Moms retreat.

One fabulous thing I discovered was a new method of organizing my home, paperwork, and thought process about projects and the daily flow of family life. April Perry has been a lifelong organizational enthusiast, and as a mother has developed a program called Mind Organization for Moms.

The Power of Moms Mind Organization Program

When I learned about the program at the retreat, I was interested. It seemed like some of the principles could help me figure out some keys to being more organized at home. I started reading more and implementing some of the systems at home, and I had an amazing light bulb moment when I realized that this was truly the missing piece for me to decrease stress, organize the hundreds of papers that flow into my house each month, and find more joy with my family.

Using this system has changed my life! I have lost the feeling of always being a bit overwhelmed. I tackle projects with more confidence and have a feeling of peace about email, paperwork, and my weekly schedule. I have completely lost that nagging feeling of not being on top of things. This was a complete surprise to me! I felt like before using this system I was a fairly organized person. But I had a constant feeling of underlying stress about keeping on top of email and the demands in my life. Now I feel like I have a plan for the constant flow of papers and responsibilities that come with managing a busy family. I am working toward being more present with my children. And I have so much less stress than before. I actually often feel like I don’t have much stress at all anymore. This was something I never considered as a possibility before. Mind Organization for Moms changed all of that for me.

The other thing I really took away from the retreat was that I need to make sure I am taking care of myself as a person. This includes making time for my dreams and passions, as well as not comparing myself to anyone else. My best is good enough. The afternoon was full of learning about family systems. Before the retreat I had especially been working on setting up a family economy to teach my kids about work and money and let them have ownership for their responsibilities. I had time to think about whether I was creating a positive home environment with clear rules and consequences full of encouragement and positive teaching. When I came home from the retreat Erik and I established more clear rules and expectations and things began to improve in behavior, respect, and order. We are still working on establishing a more specific family culture. But it has made us more aware of spending our time together deliberately.

Saren contacted me soon after the retreat about holding a Power of Moms retreat in the Bay area. In the spirit of pursuing dreams, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and help run and present a full Power of Moms retreat. Here I am with Saren in April of last year.IMG_0731-M

My sister, Barbara, flew down from Salt Lake for the retreat, love her!


Here is the whole group who shared the day together, such fabulous mothers and inspiring women. IMG_0719-M

Saren and I taught about Mind Organization for Moms, specifically 5 Steps to Less Stress and ideas about organizing housework and paperwork.

Free Programs from the Power of Moms

We then lead discussions the following day on taking care of ourselves and setting up family systems that help our families thrive. This was a wonderful day of learning and sharing. It was a dream come true to help facilitate learning about strengthening our families and ourselves as women and mothers.

Here is the group that ran the retreat, with help from Rachel and Heather, who helped with food and presented. Rachel took all the wonderful pictures from this retreat as well. Linda hosted in her beautiful home and shared thoughts on mothering with purpose and love.


My sister-in-law, Kristine, shared some wonderful thoughts on having eyes to see what our individual children need.IMG_0620-M

Now fast forward to January of this year, last weekend in fact. April wanted to hold another Power of Moms retreat in the Los Angeles area. Lisa said she would host it again at her house. Lisa’s home is warm and inviting, a perfect location for a retreat. She always inspires me with her creativity, like the knitting she is doing to create a beautiful multi-squared blanket for her daughter.


My friends, Heather, Becca, and Brooke joined me at the Power of Moms retreat last weekend.


We flew in late Friday, and spent all of Saturday learning and contemplating our families and what we want for them.

April Perry ran this retreat. I love her positive and realistic approach to family life and motherhood. Her kindness and encouragement are ever-present, and I always feel ready to reach for my dreams and be a great mother when I am with her. She is wonderful leading discussions about organization, family systems, and taking care of ourselves. I am inspired by how many mothers she is helping through all she does through the Power of Moms.



The morning was spent learning about how to set up the Mind Organization for Moms system. We broke into small groups to learn how to process papers and details, learn about new apps for task lists, and project planning.


Here is the overview of the system. One thing I decided to implement was a organization system for all my projects. I bought a cart with 10 slots for projects and that piece of the system has already brought me more order and peace. Truly all parts of Mind Organization help me accomplish more and feel more efficient at home.

I loved having a chance to share a few thoughts and help April at the retreat. A year ago it would have been hard to convince me that I would enjoy teaching large groups of people, but I have had a lot of opportunities to teach Mind Organization and help people individually with family systems this year. It feels meaningful and worthwhile.


One highlight of the weekend was meeting more of the mothers who help on the Power of Moms board and who helped lead part of the retreat. Here is a picture of most of us who helped out with my sister, Lisa, on the end.


Heather led us in 5 minutes of squats. She is so engaging and energetic and encouraging. She is a master teacher of weight lifting classes and shared thoughts about how good exercise is for our well-being physically and emotionally. Some of the biggest smiles were while we were feeling the burn together. I am always inspired by Heather’s enthusiasm for exercise and her positive spirit.


Emily was our roving photographer and helped present at the retreat as well —love the smiles she captured!

I loved meeting Allyson and Tiffany who have been helping with Power of Moms for a long time. They are both hilarious and inspiring as mothers and women. They shared so many fun stories of family life and taking care of ourselves as women. I enjoyed sharing thoughts with them about improving things in our home between presenting and learning together. Since they both left the Utah winter to come for the retreat, I love this picture of them enjoying the California sun.

P1020084One of the most fun things about coming to a retreat in person is meeting other inspiring mothers and women who love their families and add so much to the individual discussions we have.

P1020083This is my sister’s sister-in-law, Jen, and three of the friends she brought with her to the retreat. I loved sharing ideas with them about teaching kids to work, getting kids ready for college, and organizing our homes. So glad all the moms at the retreat took the time to come and learn. I also had a couple friends of mine, Angie and Gayle, come who I knew when all our kids were little. Now we have a range of ages of kids from teenagers to elementary school age. Time flies. So fun to catch up and see them again. Wish I had gotten a picture with them!

Here is the whole group when the sun was out.


It was a mix of sun and clouds during the day, a beautiful day. And isn’t that how having a family is, beautiful even though sometimes we just see the sun from behind the clouds?P1020086This week I have been more clear and energized than the last few weeks. I am amazed how much a retreat can refocus my energies. I have had new insights that have immediately helped me improve the organization around my home.  We have been improving some relationships and systems around here. And I am spending time planning for and living my dreams. Thanks, April and Saren, for helping me see the beauty in motherhood and helping so many mothers find more joy and help in raising wonderful families.

If you ever have a chance to attend a Power of Moms workshop, it is worth the time away, the babysitting expense, and the effort to take time for yourself, your family, and your dreams.





Laundry Party

On Tuesdays we fold our laundry together. Today was really a week and a half’s worth because I did a little extra at the end of last week. Plus, Brandon and Nicole did their laundry last night and joined in the fun.

The baskets were overflowing tonight.


But the piles were folded neatly and put away in the drawers and closets, and we had fun watching a few episodes of a fun comedy.


The kids start doing their laundry by themselves after they turn 12. Camille still needs to jump into that system. I do the rest of the laundry, and then we sit and fold together while we watch something funny together. It has worked well for many years.

I think I am in an organizing mood. I just bought a rolling cart to put all my projects plus have each child have a place for their odds and ends and projects also.


I am inspired to get my desk and paperwork and mind organized after a fantastic Power of Moms retreat in Los Angeles last weekend. You can read about the retreat here. This was written by a fabulous mother who helped take pictures and teach at the retreat on Saturday.

So I am determined to keep up with the laundry, have a new system for my projects and get on top of the papers on my desk, and make it a party if at all possible — with my family along for the ride.



Cookies on Friday

For Christmas I gave Camille, Maren and Robin a gift of cookies after school on Fridays. Today was the second Friday of the year, and so I baked them some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  Yum!

IMG_1043Robin was the first one home.  She was excited they were warm and had some milk to go with them.

IMG_1042Camille and Maren were also excited, although Camille had made a huge oatmeal cookie in her cooking class at school.  So she was appreciative, but shared hers with me today!


This is a fun gift to us all, it turns out — cookies every Friday afternoon, warm from the oven.  A time to talk and share some sweetness.

I love to be organized, but hate to fill up my calendar.  But I have a feeling that having a set day of the week for this gift will make it much more likely to happen.  There is some truth to this statement: calendared events tend to happen.  I hope cookies after school on Friday becomes a weekly tradition! I am ready for the weekend.



To finish or not to finish….

I have this incredible drive to finish projects.  It surfaced today as we were undecorating from Christmas and also attempting to clean the house.


When I finish a task, I feel complete.  When it is partway completed, it is a frustration to me. This works well when something needs to be done, but it can also cause contention and bring out the nagging side of me.  So, is it worth it to finish things?

I don’t have the answer.  In many ways, Erik and I complement each other well.  He gets projects started and enjoys the process.  I can jump in and get the job done.  He doesn’t seem to be bothered if things are right in the middle and left there.  If there is a chance of getting a job done, I am driven to do it.  Therefore, Erik starts and gets things going, and I finish.

But if there is tension to get the job done, and no one else cares, is it worth the stress?  Or is the end product and ability to accomplish and finish things an important drive to have?Can I enjoy the process more along the way, and not only find satisfaction when something is done?  I have wrestled with this question throughout our married life.  There isn’t an easy answer since my mind seems to rest so well with every cereal box finished, recycled and out the door.  And when the kitchen is clean, I can mentally rest from that room of the house.  Once the bed is made, my day can start.

But still I wonder, is it better to finish or enjoy the process more?