Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Little Afraid to Attend a Retreat?

We're feeling so excited about the three Power of Moms Retreats we have coming up in the next six weeks.

But one thing we've discovered is that a lot of moms feel very nervous about attending.  They wonder if they'll feel comfortable, if they'll have anything to offer the other moms, if people will like them . . . it kind of brings back all those fears we had before the first day of high school. 

So if YOU are considering coming to one of our Retreats, and if you're feeling nervous, we've uploaded this video that we filmed at one of our 2011 Retreats.  Just watch it . . . and then check out the links to our upcoming Retreats below . . . and then please join us!  We can't wait to meet you, and once you get to the Retreat, you will be just fine.  We promise.

Palo Alto, CA: April 13-14 (Saren will be at this one.)

Las Vegas, NV: April 20-21 (I'll be at this one.)

Park City, UT: May 11-12 (We'll both be there!)

Are you worried about money?

If you want to come to a Power of Moms Retreat, but you're struggling to make ends meet, we'll be happy to work with you on the cost.  We do charge a substantial fee for these events--because they're worth every cent--and compared to the training in every profession we can think of, these are a deal.  But our main goal is to help mothers.  If you want to come.  We'll do everything we can to get you there.  Just send an email through our Contact Form.

Is it impossible for you to leave your home?  Or are you too far away from our current Retreat locations?

We just launched some new online trainings that offer a "Virtual Retreat" experience through videos, webinars, and worksheets.

We think it's pretty exciting that moms can now "attend" a Retreat right in front of their computer when it's convenient for their families.

(And, again, if you really want these programs, but money is tight, email  Brianna Monson, one of our great volunteers, is all set up to help you out.)

Here are the links to the online Retreat offerings:

Mommy is a Person: Nurturing the "Me" in the "Mom"

Family Systems: Shaping the Future of your Family

Okay, my children have been SO patient while I've typed all this out.  We're off and running to spend the day with Grandma.  If you would please help spread the word about these Retreat offerings, that would be much appreciated.

Much love,

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Couple of Driving Laughs

Driving in Australia was such an adventure.

We actually didn't have any accidents, and we made it to our destinations in a fairly timely manner, but boy, was the driving a key source of stress! I so wish we'd learned Sarah's "Roundabout Song" early on in our journey.

She didn't make up this song, but she is totally famous for singing it. She once called in and performed it on a radio show in Washington when the local citizens were having a hard time navigating the new roundabouts there, and the station played it over and over and over again. (Of course, the clockwise/counter-clockwise and left/right parts were edited.)

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

Here's a little video of my first time driving on the left-hand side of the road.  (I don't expect anyone to take the time to watch it . . . I put it up mainly for my children's sake.)

And, of course, we had Ashton and Alia in the back seat holding this great sign that reads, "Sorry! We're Americans."

They held this up to the window whenever Saren or I made a mistake with our driving.

Someday I will make a sign to hold up while Alia is driving.  Not sure what it will say yet, but I'm going to make it very good.

Oh, it's fun to laugh together.

Do you have any funny driving stories?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Australia's "Breakfast" Morning Show

Saren and I had the exciting opportunity to spend a few minutes on National Television in Australia, and though neither of us enjoys watching ourselves on TV, I thought I'd post this clip for those who asked to see it.

(They were focusing on "Anti-Bullying Day.")

A HUGE thanks to Sarah Osmotherly, our Australian publicist, who arranged for us to be interviewed by two radio stations and Channel 10's Breakfast show.

Here are some photos from the morning of the interview:

Sarah drove into the city to pick us up at 7 a.m., and we were so relieved to have her as our navigator.

Walking into the studio with Lana . . .

Feeling pretty excited about the sign backstage:

Since they were doing a St. Patrick's Day show, they had an Irish fiddler waiting in the wings who went out for periodic performances.  She was incredible.

A peek at the tech room:

Getting our microphones on:

Here's me and Saren with Lana and Russell--the behind-the-scenes crew that makes everything happen:

I asked Alia to take photos of us getting our faces powdered--because when does this ever happen?  Do I look giddy?

Here's the set:

And this is the office area outside the set:

Such a fun day--and we even set up a new url for all our Aussie mums:

Thank you, Sarah and Channel 10, for such a fun experience!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Gunny Bag in Australia

Saren and I got this cute email last week after our first Australian Retreat, and I thought it was worth sharing here on my blog.  The "Gunny Bag" idea is one from Richard and Linda Eyre at, and it was one of hundreds of tips discussed at our Retreat.

We love to see how fun, simple ideas can change families.

Here's the email:

Hi April & Saren,

I attended the Gold Coast Retreat last weekend, and I just wanted to let you know something that happened to me today.

I came away from the retreat feeling completely and utterly overwhelmed. Not only because of the amount of work I have to do as a mother in order to be a more deliberate mother and create a family culture that I want for my children, but also because of the amount of work I have to with my spouse to create a partnership that enables us to have the family culture we both long for.

Anyway, after a terribly grumpy day, feeling overwhelmed and struggling to decide where to start, my children came home from school, and I looked around the house and just felt like crying. There was a mess everywhere, and I didn't want my husband to come home from work to such a disaster.

I remembered your advice about Mr Gunny Bag. At the time I had thought it a bit silly and I didn't think it would work with my kids - we've tried "pick-your-stuff-up-or-it's-
going-in-the-bin" before, and unless it was accompanied with lots of yelling it never worked.

I took a deep breath and called the 3 older children together. Putting on my best excited voice (and believe me, by that point in the afternoon I didn't feel very excited!), I told the children I'd had a visitor that day, and did they know who it was?! They were all excited with me, and I disappeared into the pantry. I came out with a reusable cloth shopping bag and put on a funny voice and said "Hello! I'm Mr Gunny Bag." My children thought it was hilarious!!! So I continued and in my best Mr Gunny Bag voice explained that I liked to eat toys and clothes. I told them those toys and clothes would stay in my tummy until Saturday until I would vomit them back up (they loved the vomit part!). My Gunny Bag told them he'd play 2 songs and anything not put away by the end would be eaten.

I have never seen my children tidy up so well!!! Even my 4 year old! It was truly amazing. It totally changed the feeling in our home. The feeling in our home went from grumpy and angry to one of co-operation and helping. By the end of the 2 songs there wasn't a thing left out & my children were happy, I wasn't yelling and the house was tidy!!!!

Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

My kids are still talking about Mr Gunny Bag at bedtime. I think he will be a permanent fixture in our house.

I'm hoping this is just the first tiny step of many.

Thank you again.
Have any of you ever tried the Gunny Bag idea, or do you have fun ways to hep your kids pick up the house?  Any additional ideas/adaptations you'd like to share?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Our New Family Cheer

Today was a double-nap day.  I accomplished very little, but after waking up at 6 a.m. with the kids and then crying on my husband's lap for 10 minutes because I felt so overwhelmed and exhausted, we both decided it was more important for me to get rested and back to normal.

Two naps, a 30-minute jog, and one shower later, I felt like a new woman, and the world doesn't seem like such a hard place anymore. Isn't it funny how some good sleep can transform things for you?

I'm going to start posting more photos from the Australian Retreats, but for starters, I had to share the darling Aussie cheer I learned.  They did it at both Retreats, but this video is from the Gold Coast, and the cheer was led by Naomi Ellis (sister-in-law to the Seven Cherubs Naomi Ellis):

Here's the text, copied from Wikipedia:
Man: "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!"
Crowd: "Oi! Oi! Oi!"
Man: "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!"
Crowd: "Oi! Oi! Oi!"
Man: "Aussie!"
Crowd: "Oi!"
Man: "Aussie!"
Crowd: "Oi!"
Man (faster): "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!"
Crowd (equally fast): "Oi! Oi! Oi!"

And now we're adapting the cheer to our family.  We say, "Perry, Perry, Perry!" and then "Oi! Oi! Oi!"

It's so fun!  (But the girls didn't want me to film them doing it or post it to my blog.  Not sure why . . ..)

More later!  Just wanted to share a little of the fun.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My Most Important Work

Alia and I returned from our Australian adventure this morning at 6:00 a.m. California Time (midnight for Sydney).

The thought that kept running through my mind was this:

The most important work I will ever do will be within the walls of my own home.  

Grace, Ethan, and Spencer met us at the front door with a "Welcome Home" sign that they made the night we left:

It was so sweet to be greeted with squeals and bear hugs on the front porch.

And oh, I have a lot to write about Australia (once the jet lag is gone and my bags are unpacked).

The two Retreats we had in the Gold Coast and in Sydney were filled with amazing individuals.  The friends I finally had a chance to meet after years of emailing were even better in person.  We toured in beautiful places and got to drive on the left side of the road.  

Saren and I had the opportunity to go on National TV to talk about Retreats and mothering, and I did my first radio interview (my heart was pounding hard).  

But really, there isn't anything or anyone as important as the people who know me as a wife and mother.  

I put the quote by George Moore in the header of my blog before I'd ever left North America:

"A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it."

But now that I've traveled halfway around the world, those thoughts mean even more.

Tonight I tucked each child in bed with back tickles and songs.  We hugged and kissed, and Ethan asked me if I would please live to be 500 years old.  Grace told me she was glad that she's not "the woman of the house" anymore, and Spencer didn't throw even one tantrum.  (I think he's matured in the past 12 days without me.)

Eric made us dinner and put me down for a nap this afternoon (for FOUR hours!), and now that the kids are asleep, I'm going to show him all the photos from our trip.

Just wanted to express my love to our friends in Australia for making the experience so wonderful that I was in tears at the airport when it was time to leave--and to my family for being so wonderful that they brought tears to my eyes when I got home.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Gold Coast Retreat (and our first kangaroo!)

Our Gold Coast Retreat was a fabulous experience, and I've included most of my photos below:

First of all, this is Felicity and Alia at the registration.  Felicity is the amazing mum who helped these Australia retreats come together. We just can't thank her enough. 

We were so blessed to get to hold the Retreat at Rose Gordon's home.  It was the PERFECT place for mothers to gather for a weekend of inspiration, and her whole family was so welcoming and gracious.  Thank you, Gordon family!

Here are some photos taken during our "Speed Friend-shipping."

Saren and I were so excited to bring our 12-year-olds (Alia and Ashton) with us:

Our Friday session focused on Taking Care of the Person Inside the Mom:

We had lots of great group discussions:


I need to do a whole post about our amazing caterers.  Here are some photos from our "Afternoon Tea." (That's what they call snack time here).  Aren't they beautiful?

On Friday night, we played some fun games together, and it was wonderful to just relax and laugh with new friends.

Reverse Charades is one of my new favorite games.  Alia and Ashton helped run the logistics, and the mums who participated were hilarious! 

Felicity's mum and sisters got to be there, as well, and it was wonderful to meet them!

Here's a photo of me, Felicity, Naomi, and Saren:

Honestly, I miss these mums already.  It's helpful to have photos to look at, but I just wish we were all neighbors.

More small group discussions from Saturday:

Our darling caterers made this lovely "Power of Moms" sign for the serving table (I brought it home with me . . . it makes me smile):

Even the forks were cute!

Here are a couple more photos of the delicious food (I could never create something like this on my own in a million years):

Alia helped pass out Saturday's treats for Morning Tea:

These bags melted my heart.  Power of Moms was just a dream five years ago . . . and now our logo is on darling bags passed out to mums in Australia.

Ashton helped Saren run her PowerPoint slides for Family Systems:

And this is one of our panels--featuring Naomi, Vanessa, and Nadene (three wonderful women!):

Can't resist a sleeping baby! 

And here are several more photos from Saturday afternoon:

Felicity's sister Melissa took some wonderful photos and posted them on her blog, Backchat.  I know this blog post is getting incredibly long, but I'll post the photos here--just so I can see them all in one place:

Every time I look through these photos (I've added to this page three time), I feel like I'm re-living all the fun!

The Sunday after the Gold Coast Retreat, we went to church and loved the people who greeted us there so warmly.  It was fun to hear the hymns sung with an Australian accent.

Then we took a few hours on Sunday afternoon to drive to O'Reilley's, where they have a tree-top walk.  You can climb up two ladders like the one pictured below and see everything above the rainforest there.

We were driving along the road and there were THREE wild kangaroos standing there.  We felt like the paparazzi!

We are so grateful that we had the chance to visit the Gold Coast.  I want to write more, but Spencer needs help stapling a card he wants to send to his Grandmother, and he is jumping up and down on my lap.  He's also begging me to get him a kangaroo.  (I wish!)

Saren has written a report on the Sydney Retreat on her blog, so please check that if you'd like to see more photos . . . and I'll keep posting more photos over the next week or so.

Have a wonderful day!


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