Wednesday, July 23, 2014



I’m in heaven.  We’ve been away from Boston having adventure after adventure for the whole month of July.  It started with a fantastic Shumway reunion in Monterey and now we’re doing our Bear Lake thing.  Time is so slow and I’ve spent most of the month talking with some of my favorite people (siblings and in-laws), reading to my kids, walking on the beach, watching the sun sink, star gazing.    I look forward to this all year long.  I think about these long stretched out days during those long cold March days, I imagine the deep blue of the lake during my hardest moments.  This month of family togetherness and reconnecting with my old Saydi self is part of what keeps my soul alive.  I’m so thankful for it. 

(not that there aren’t some challenges….)

I’ve got lots to say about all the conversations I’ve had, all the thoughts I’ve gathered up through so many discussions and so much time to think.  But those will have to wait until I’m back in my regular life, because while there’s so much time here, there are also about 45 people and I got interrupted by 7 children just writing that first paragraph.

So, for now, I wanted to share this awesome video that the reunion chairs (Eli and Julie) put together.  It makes me HAPPY! 

45 Years of Happy - Eyrealm from Eli Eyre on Vimeo.

More to come.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

doing good.

 Guys.  (Anyone who is still there.)  I know I promised I'd write more.  And I do have so much to say, but honestly, I don't know how people keep up with this.  I know I don't have more on my plate than, let's say, my amazing sisters Shawni or Saren, and they blog.  How do they do it?  I can't figure it out.  Maybe more time with all kids in school would be helpful.

So, while I get my act together and write something meaningful here, or even just document some family history, I'll petition anyone whose reading to help my rock star friend, Liz, raise some money for a family in need.

I always thought I'd be a mom like Liz.  Before getting married I worked for an initiative called Family Matters whose mission was to facilitate and encourage families to volunteer together.  I vowed I'd do tons of community service with my kids, always be doing things for others.  You know the vision: me with toddlers in tow bringing flowers to the elderly, getting my kids to rake neighbors lawns, slopping out soup at the homeless shelter.  But boy, life really has gotten in the way of that little vision.  We've done little things here and there, but I want to make this a real part of my family life like Liz has.  I'm just happy that she gets me involved a little.  One day I'll have to write a whole post on all the amazing ways she's managed to get her kids to think about others, both in her own community and around the world.  I really think that's one of the keys to self esteem.  I want to raise kids who can see beyond themselves.  

Anyway, you can read about her project by following this link:

Just donating even $10 would make a difference.  And really it only takes about 30 seconds (I love the site she's using to collect donations!)

My kids are doing a last-day-of-school lemonade and cookie stand to get some money to donate.  We'll see how that goes. 

And while we're on that topic, does anyone have any great fundraising ideas?  I've just been asked to be on the board of this really cool new start up non profit whose mission is to help inspire women to hold small fundraisers and donate the money to organizations that help women around the world.  I'm working on gathering some fun/easy/simple/exciting fundraising ideas to help get people started.  If there is something you've done by yourself, or with your kids or family or friends to successfully raise some dough, let me know about it.  I'd love your input. 

And last, here's a great little article I found when I tried to find out what's going on now with Family Matters.  I love the idea of helping our kids get outside themselves.  It makes me tear up to see how natural it is for children to feel compassion, and how good it feels to them, how they light up.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Motherhood - it's not about you

Motherhood is hard.  This came as a surprise to me, my mom always made it look so easy.  She seemed to float through the inferno of motherhood without getting singed.   She worked tirelessly, nurtured, loved, gave, put herself last.  I'm sure it was a Herculean effort to raise nine kids, but to my childhood eyes it looked magical and effortless.  All that putting herself last, staying up late, getting up early, shopping, folding, cleaning, schlepping, pushing, nagging, thinking, prioritizing, planning, preparing, teaching and loving seemed so full of purpose and peace and joy.

I remember being covered in my two first babies, born just 16 months apart.  One crying while the other clinged, one hungry, the other tired and me wondering what I had gotten myself into.  I knew I wasn't exactly cut from the same cloth as my mom, but I thought i might be able to at least muddle through my motherhood dream with some amount of grace and joy.   But this was hard.  Really hard. And truthfully very different than I had expected.  The dream in my head had more to do with reading good books to my curious toddlers, making messy art with them, exploring the wonders of nature and watching butterflies emerge than it was about sleepless nights, cleaning up spit up and sweeping ever messy floors.   You see, the dream that had drew me into motherhood had me at the center of a perfect picture, joyful with love pouring out onto my gaggle of happy children.  But I've found that I'm not at the center of my motherhood.  It's not about me.  It's about these lives who have come and merged with mine.  And once I remember that (and I have to remember it again and again) motherhood does become the stuff of my dreams.

Today one of my motherhood mentors (6 kids!) talked in church for Mother's day.  I wish I had a copy of her talk because it was excellent.  What I took away from it is exactly what I started to feel back then juggling those two little babies.   We mother not because it is a dream we are chasing but because we love.   Mothering is motivated not by ambition but by compassion.  It is sacrifice, real sacrifice.  Not the kind of wimpy sacrifice where you sort of fake it and then hope for blessings (I try that one a lot).  It is really about swallowing up yourself into something bigger, a family, a child, a little life.   Forgetting yourself.  It is a truly a refiners fire.  If we surrender to it it will burn us up.  But we really do emerge from it changed, new, strong, full and bright.  

All that brightness and grace I saw in my mom as she raised us, all the glory she infused into motherhood, came from her being swallowed up in the fire of it.   She surrendered to her mother-love completely, let it consume her, forgot herself and always emerged newer and brighter and more full of love.

And her love is rooted in my soul.  I like to imagine that it's giving me the strength to  figure out  how to follow in her heart-steps, to put love at the center of my mothering.  To forget myself more, complain less and trust that I'll emerge radiant from this bright, glorious fire of motherhood.

And, one last thing.  I think this video has already gone viral, but I loved it.  Hope you do too.  Motherhood is the toughest job imaginable.  Like they say, what motherhood asks of you is: insane, crazy, chaotic, almost cruel, a sick twisted joke, all encompassing.  But the meaningful connections and feelings you get from helping your "associate" are immeasurable.   Out of all that sacrifice comes true power and beauty and love.  I firmly believe this.  You can see it in these people's reactions.  There is nothing more powerful than the love that flows from real sacrifice.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


charlie and saul baptism-001These two best buddies decided that they wanted to be baptized on the same day.  They were born just two weeks apart and have been best friends since birth.   Their mother’s were a bit hesitant about a double baptism.  They are a pretty rowdy duo and we wanted to make sure that this day was about following Jesus rather than showing off.  And we wanted to make sure they had their own time to shine.  But we decided to go for it and together they shined.  Bright shining lights.  IMG_9049 - Copy IMG_9062 - Copy They were VERY into this little photoshoot that we did for them to get some shots for their invitation.  I’m not sure how many more enthusiastic photo shoots they have in them, so I was LOVING this.   IMG_9174 - Copy IMG_9177 - Copy IMG_9220 - Copy IMG_9264 - Copy IMG_9289 - Copy I love this one ^^.  They look like rambunctious little missionaries, full of life and spirit.  Certainly a shadow of things to come. IMG_9337 - Copy IMG_9392 - Copy IMG_9519-2Charlie was baptized in the same outfit that my dad and all of Charlie’s cousins and uncles and great uncles were baptized in.  It’s getting a little threadbare, but each of those threads were hand sewn by my grandmother, so I was in love with Charlie in his retro white.  IMG_9402 - Copy IMG_9422-3 - Copy They still hadn’t had enough of getting their pictures taken.  IMG_9434 - Copy   IMG_9447-2 - Copy IMG_9448 - Copy I love 8 year old grins.  IMG_9471 - Copy IMG_9508-2 - Copy IMG_9509 - Copy Charlie was thrilled to be baptized by the bishop and his dad all wrapped into the same person. IMG_9513-2 - Copy IMG_9518 - Copy IMG_9526-2 - Copy IMG_9528-2 - Copy Hazel was so sweet and proud of her little brother.   She is a bright light just a tad ahead of him on this path of discipleship.  IMG_9531 - Copy      And Em and Peter were careful observers of what Charlie was doing, what it meant, how it felt.  IMG_9535 IMG_9536-2 We were so happy to have both sets of grandparents come to the baptism.  Charlie certainly felt special.  (can’t you tell by that grin?)IMG_9543 IMG_9552 IMG_9558 And so many other people who have loved and mentored and helped Charlie throughout his life.  Above Charlie is with Eva (my semi-adopted Bulgarian sister) and her family.  They live close by and just pour out love onto us.  So many other dear friends and family trekked all the way to Revere to witness this special day for Charlie (sad I didn’t get more pictures of them, but I was a little tiny bit busy trying to focus on other things!) IMG_9571

   Here my mom and dad are with Lorenza, my doula and Charlie’s first friend.  Lorenza snatched little Charlie out of the tub when he plunged into the world 8 years ago.  I loved it that she was there because I couldn’t help but draw some pretty cool parallels between Charlie’s first birth and his baptismal re-birth.  Click here to see what I mean. 

IMG_9520-2 - Copy

I’m so proud of my Charlie.  He took this step in his life pretty seriously.  He met with the missionaries, read the Book of Mormom (not all the way through, but a hefty bit of it), prayed, wrote in his journal.  This boy has a sensitive soul, one that responds to light and goodness and truth. 

During the entire event the spirit was thick and I felt so much light bursting out of these boys and their desires to follow Jesus Christ.  They will light the world wherever they are.  I can’t wait to see how they build and lift and serve and enlighten the world. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Easter – picture perfect

IMG_9937Don’t these four look like perfect angels!?   This is what I love (and have missed) about blogging. Something about looking through pictures that were captured in the middle of chaos helps me to see the beauty that I missed while trying to navigate all the commotion of the day.  We had a fantastic Easter, but only now, as I’m going through these images and seeing all this joy, the smiles, the sheer glee, do I realize just how happy these kids are, just how great life is, just how many things there are to be glad about.  IMG_9957

I wrote a lot more about the therapeutic value of photographs back here.  One day maybe I’ll merge my social work and my photography work together to try to help others step back and see the beauty in the every day.  Life keeps teaching me how powerful images can be in helping us see what is real.    This is what makes me love photography so much.  There’s something renewing about captured moments, that little hand clinging to his sisters neck, that loving look at his squealing sister, that centered-sort-of-self-conscious gaze right into the camera, the blur of clinging arms.  IMG_9965 When I freeze these guys with my camera I can watch them here on my screen, suspended in time, where I have the bandwidth and perspective to see how big they’re getting but still how small they are.  How hard they’re trying.  How well they’re doing.   And my heart wells up with love for them.  It’s the same love I feel for them when I steal a sleepy second to watch them slumber before I drop into bed.  IMG_9977For a second I feel the urge to freeze them here in these photos, in this moment in time forever.   But this is followed closely by a spurting desire to unfreeze the photo, to see them burst back into action, to watch with this same perspective as they grow and learn and change and become.    easter 2014-003

And it helps me realize how much better I want to capture these same kind of images in my mind and heart without my eye behind a camera lens.   I want to snap these pictures with my soul, with my hands free and ready to draw them in. IMG_9956Picture perfect means something new to me now, as a mother.  It’s a reminder that perfection comes in small little moments, made perfect by our ability to be fully there, present, drawing it all in.   

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter 2014

IMG_1528We had a great Easter and a crazy busy but still spirit filled Easter Week.  I love the Holy Week.  It has all the spirit and beauty and meaning of Christmas with only a tiny bit of the frivolous hassle.  I love that my kids are getting older and more able to understand all that Easter means.  They have more stamina (at least the big ones) to walk with me through the last week of Christ’s life and are starting to see the power and reality of it all.  They are beginning to see the true beauty tucked into all the symbolic eggs and bunnies and spring chicks.  IMG_1525

My dear friend Anna was visiting from California with her three boys on Easter weekend.  It was so great to have them around to eat our Easter meal with, hunt for eggs in our cemetery, play lots of legos, chat until 2am.  Sadly, I didn’t take many pictures of the weekend.  The kids were so busy playing and Anna and I were so busy talking and catching up.  It feels so great to be with an old friend.  IMG_1524 - CopyIMG_1522 - Copy  We dyed Easter eggs with Anna’s boys.  Every year when dying Easter eggs the youngest in the family always gets confused and thinks somehow by dipping them into colors we are “dying” as in “killing” them.  Some weird connecting to Jesus dying and coming back to life.  IMG_1585 - Copy We had some winners this year.  I have to say, this is a craft I really like to do with my kids.  I think there is something so stunning about colored eggs.  And I love to eat them afterwards. IMG_1586 IMG_1587

On Easter Sunday I made my kids do a little photoshoot . I have to make this happen every once in a while since I so rarely take out my big camera for my own kids. 

Here’s some of what we came up with.  I had to restrain myself from putting 58 pictures of Peter up here, that kid just has so much life in every one of his expressions: easter 2014-002 IMG_0055 IMG_0155 I love these brothers and sisters together.  IMG_0209    IMG_9929 Hazel insisted on a photoshoot with Annabeth and Molly, all dolled up in their Hazel designed Easter finery. IMG_9940 Happy Easter!


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