Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Changes

Just when you think you know what's up, things change. Here's the big one: Mary is done with public school. She was doing so incredibly well and then suddenly she crashed, overwhelmed by her anxiety and depression. Her misery level went through the roof. The crowds, the people, and the noise were just too much. Her once straight-As started to slip into Bs and Cs and she couldn't find the strength to catch up. The darkness closed in. We recognized this as the beginning of the end--one of the main reasons we didn't want her to go to public school in the first place.

I guess part of me viewed her success though in public school as evidence that she could live a "normal" life and have "normal" experiences. But if you know Mary you know that she is not your average girl. Why would I want her to live an average life? 

Albert Einstein said: 

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

My unease comes from the fact that I'm working a million hours lately for Clinique bonus time and I'm not ready for homeschool. I thought she'd at least make it through the semester. I don't have anything prepared. I am completely exhausted by my job and overwhelmed by my guilt that I'm not available and on top of things. Bryce reminded me that even if I were home people would be falling apart. Comforting thought or sad realization?

Anyway, you know how much we love our Mary. She's a fish who can't climb a tree but she can swim better than anyone else I know. Homeschool is the river she needs--and so we will find one.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Things the Twins Say

At Food 4 Less for an after-school snack.

Cameron: I can't wait till I'm 20. No, 40. Then I'll have lots of money for an awesome car.

Me:  I'm 40 and *I* don't have money for an awesome car.

Cam:  That's because you spend all your money on makeup, and food that we obviously don't need.

Me:  Like these cheese puffs?

Cam:  No. Well. Ah, that's hard.

****

Later that afternoon they ate pomegranates. They had to choose a fruit before they could eat their junk food.

Cam: I'm really glad you got us these pocket knives, Mom!

Me:  Oh good. Why's that?

Cam:  They come with tweezers and that's how Harrison and I are getting those little seeds out.

****

Before bed with Harrison.

Me:  Do you know who's speaking at General Conference in this picture?

Harrison:  Oh! It's that one guy . . . hm. The 12th Apostle?

Me: He's AN apostle. President Uchtdorf.

Harrison:  That picture was too tiny. If I'd have seen his hair I would have known.

****

Me:  We need to make sure we say our prayers. Do you pray on your own?

Harrison:  Yes, every day. When I'm scared, or need help. Guess how many blessings I have. Billions. Because I have faith. That's how I found the Roku remote that one time under a pile of clothes.

(Bryce said that Harrison also tells him he can tell which packs of baseball cards have Giants in them because he has faith.)

****

Harrison:  You know who I like? Cole Hardy. He is always smiling. He was so happy to do his part in the Primary program. If I were a little kid I would ask Cole to be my best friend.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Things Mary Says

Mary:  We have to interview four family members for English. I'm going to do Tyce, Harrison, Cameron, and Katie.

Me:  Not one of your parents?

Mary:  No offense, Mom, but I don't want to listen to your stories about life in the 1900s.

***

Me:  I really admire people who have large families. To be a good mom to 8 or more kids, you have to be on the ball 100% of the time. I'm on the ball, say 72% of the time.

Mary:  IF THAT.

***

Mary:  You know it's weird. I always knew I was shy but now I'm starting to think I'm anti-social.

Me:  Why's that?

Mary:  In my classes people . . . they know things about me. Just regular stuff. But they pay attention, you know?

Me:  Why is that strange?

Mary:  It's like they see me as a person . . . and I see them as things to be avoided.

***

Mary: You know that guy I like in my art class? Turns out he's gay.

Me:  How do you know?

Mary:  He asked me if I had a boyfriend and I was hopeful, like, Where are you going with this? And then he said, "Because I do."

Me:  What would you have said if he HAD asked you out though?

Mary:  I would have just told him I can't date until I'm 16 . . . because I would NOT have told that boy no.



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Juggling

Man things have been busy. I'm finding it more difficult than expected to add this part-time job to my full-time life. The parts I love: my boss and coworkers, doing makeovers and consultations, and making my sales goals. The part I hate: having to make my sales goals.

Oh, I had one really bad experience in a makeover with liquid eyeliner that I hope to erase from that poor client's memory. Let's just say I have my strengths and applying even lines with a liquid pen is SO not one of them.

I've been wearing my Young Womanhood medallion with my uniform.


This is the "old" necklace because I earned this in 2003 (or so). A few people have asked me what building that is (the Salt Lake temple). I explain that this symbol inspires me to keep my standards. Several people have recognized the pendant and so we've had a shared connection as members of the same church. Both are good things.

In my regular life I am a regular gal. Most people are a lot like me. But at work I am quite a curiosity because I have FOUR kids, I don't smoke, swear, or drink--but the one that makes me stand out the most is that I've just re-entered the workforce after a 16-year hiatus.

This job takes a lot of hustle. I dare say I work harder as a Clinique girl than any other position I've had, including the ones that utilized my college degree. And yet when I look at my paycheck I'm like: Whoa. That's not a lot of dough. Bryce literally makes 10 times what I do. It makes me grateful that he does, because if we both made what I do we wouldn't be able to survive. Don't get me wrong, I like my job. But it's nice to know that if I need a change I have a Bachelor's degree to fall back on. Ha.

Anyway. Most of the kids have been doing great. The twins are loving 4th grade. Harrison has the goal to never miss school and to make straight As. Cameron tried out and was selected for two school choirs: the general one and the select one. Mary is rocking 9th grade and is doing amazingly well. She and a few friends are obsessed with an anime called Attack on Titan. Nikki bought matching jackets for herself and Mary, and Bella bought matching capes. The first day Mary wore her jacket she got a ton of shout-outs from strangers who were fellow fans. That made her day!

Bryce is filling in where I am suddenly missing and he's doing a great job. Every woman should have a man so good to their family.

I am so very fortunate that I have not had to work any Sundays. My boss knows that I don't want to but my big, big boss made it clear that I couldn't rule it out. Honestly I feel blessed that I haven't even been scheduled that day--if I am I plan on switching but that hasn't even come up. So today after church we had our first youth committee meeting of the new school year. We have 16 kids from the stake serving and the co-chair, Emily, did a great job conducting the meeting. We have fabulous young people in this world. I always feel blessed to work with some of the finest.

I've had a lot of deep thoughts lately but not enough time to write them down. Maybe I'll get to that soon. Topics include rising up to challenges, how flowers are the lipsticks of the landscaping world, and the nature of our Heavenly Parents.

You know, I have many good people who make my life enjoyable. I am blessed.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Double Digits for the Twins

Our boys turned 10 on September 3rd. They are such good kids.

Before school,

Bryce got them donuts for breakfast. Cameron was especially offended at having to go to school, especially because their birthday fell on a Wednesday and they'd had the prior two days off for Labor Day and Teacher Development. But they were good sports.

I got them Happy Meals from McDonald's and brought them to school for lunch. They were more interested in the toy (a football player) than in the food. I enjoyed seeing their friends.

Harrison and his pals.

Cameron was at the same table a few kids down.
That night we had our family party. We got them pocket knives and Legos. Bryce held back gifts he'd bought in Tijuana when he went on a work trip (to California) in May: leather stool stamped with the Steelers logo for Cam; a Mexican blanket backpack embroidered with the logo of the Ravens. Those were the hits of the night.

Boys and their cakes.


Make a wish!


They loved their gifts.


Bryce got them baseball chips (like poker chips).

How cute are those excited faces?
After the party they got a phone call from Mopsie and Grandpa. The boys loved the cards they got from them--the kind that sing!

Haha, Harrison!
The boys got a little money from us to spend how they wanted so that night we went to Target. Later that night they couldn't get over how this was "the best birthday ever." They are so very sweet and I love them so very much. Happy birthday, boys!







Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Night with Friends

One of my longest and dearest friends, Carmen, invited us to join her anniversary celebration by seeing our mutual friend Mike Masse' sing at a lounge in Mandalay Bay. Mike was in our apartment complex at BYU, an excellent musician then and even better now.

The Joneses with Carmen and Alex.

Two drink minimum for these teetotalers means $5 Dr Peppers and cranberry juices.

We loved his music--covers of songs from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and today. His voice is just beautiful. We bought his CD and and the whole family has enjoyed listening to Mike as we do errands.

We can't wait for him to make it big. He's that good.
I always enjoy spending time with Carmen and Alex. It was great to catch up with them. I joked that I was on a date with my BF and my BFF and while Bryce does fit the bill for both of those there's nothing like hanging out with a girl I've known over half my life. So glad she invited us to spend her anniversary with them.

Great night, great music, great friends.




Sunday, August 31, 2014

First Day of School

The summer got all jumbled up at the end because I was working a ton and suddenly it rolled into the first day of school.

Tyce has two classes at CSN (College of Southern Nevada), music tech recording and English 101.

Tyce, freshman at CSN.
Mary is in 9th grade at Basic. We were so proud of her for shouting down a group of 12th-grade boys bullying a girl in their art class on the first day of school. She doesn't remember what she said but it shut them up. This from a girl who hates to talk to people she doesn't know.

Mary, Defender of Justice.
Cameron and Harrison are in 4th grade at Sue Morrow Elementary. Cameron has Mrs. Naumu and Harrison has Mrs. Welborne. They both love their teachers.

Cameron

Harrison
I had to work on their first day of school and I had a lot of guilt about that. But they seemed just fine--except that Cam got separated from Harrison and was found walking home alone, crying. Bryce finally got both boys (with thanks to our friend Kim and Robin) even taking them to get ice cream after school. Seems like I'm not the only parent experiencing guilt. Ha.

I hope they are off to a great year.



Thursday, August 28, 2014

Our 19th Anniversary

August 21st was our wedding anniversary and it now we've been married for 19 years. Woo hoo!


We did a session at the Las Vegas temple. The newness of the temple videos make the ordinances so much sharper to me, so fresh. I enjoyed my time there with my eternal companion.

After that we attempted to go to our favorite Thai restaurant but it was closed for the after lunch/before dinner hours. So we headed over to the Cheesecake Factory--I'm always glad to eat there.

That night Mary had her open house at Basic so Bryce stayed with the other kids while I took her (where she promptly ditched me for her friends). I hung out with Madi's mom, Jennifer C., until the girls returned. Not the same as partying with my husband but not a bad end to the evening.



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cub Scout Day Camp

The first week of August our boys had a very fun week: Cub Scout day camp at O'Callaghan park.

In the back: Bro. Banks, Me, Jen F.
Middle row: Noah B., Jayce B., Calvin, Skyler F., Alfonso A.
Front row: Johnathan S., Alexander K., Jakob C., Harrison, Cameron

I was able to be an assistant leader to my friend Jen F. Work didn't interfere, which was lucky for me. We went Monday-Friday from 4 pm til 8 pm. The kids rotated through stations such as citizenship, crafts, archery/BB gun, obstacle course, fire safety, and identifying desert animals. They were a great group of boys.

Station about the human body.
Parachute games
The last day was a family day. We had hot dogs and hamburgers for dinner and the kids could climb a rock wall and go through a dark maze. Our twins loved that maze. That thing would be my worst nightmare.

I chatted with the directors of the day camp, the Ritchies, and they told me they have a soft spot for twins. I asked if that was because they had a set themselves and they said yes--their kids go: single, single, twins, twins, twins, twins. Ten kids, and FOUR SETS OF TWINS IN A ROW!!! That is Guinness Book-worthy in my world.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

July Vacation--More Cousins!

So after our great visit in Utah we headed up to spend the night at Circus Circus in Reno. Bryce took the twins to play midway games, which they were dying to do. Mary took a long bath and Tyce and I went to the fitness center. Bonus, while we were working out we got to watch So You Think You Can Dance. I've missed that since we don't have time to watch TV these days. We smuggled Katie into our room. We are horrible people but dang it if we couldn't stand the thought of putting the dog in the kennel there.

After that little stop-over we went to visit Bryce's cousins (Al's sister's kids) in Placerville, California. Lucy and her husband Kent live on a beautiful, out of the way property in northern California. They invited Lucy's brother Tony and his wife Brenda to join us for lunch. This was my first time meeting them but they were so easy-going and hospitable that it seemed like I'd known them forever. They were awesome with our kids. The twins especially loved talking Kent's and Tony's ears off about sports. Harrison discovered what a sin it was to be fan of both the Dodgers AND the Giants, so he switched his allegiance wholeheartedly to the boys in black and orange.

View from their deck, where we ate lunch.

Our kids with Tony, Lucy in the middle, and Brenda on the end.


Brenda and Tony, Bryce and I, Lucy and Kent
Lucy and Kent are both retired firefighters. They showed us their amazing work building where they now build custom shadowboxes (shadowboxusa.com). They had such interesting remnants of their past lives as firefighters. They were very nice to let the twins try on gear too. I just loved spending part of our day with them.

Cameron trying on the helmet and jacket.

Our final stop was to Dave and Brooklyn's house in Mountain View. Highlights included going to Baker Beach (where we saw a bunch of unattractive naked men), eating dinner at Cambria's favorite restaurant in Chinatown (Hong Kong Clay Pot), hiking on a very hot day, canoeing at the park, playing the card game "Pounce", and generally hanging out together. I just love Cambria, Maya, and Xochi--they are the sweetest and most awesome girls. I have a matched set of nieces, three amazing girls on both sides of the family. Add to that that Bryce and I have awesome siblings and sibs-in-law--we are blessed.

While we went to the beach the first day, Dave took Tyce to work with him at Atlassian in downtown San Francisco. That was really cool for our kid.

The younger cousins running away from the waves. Extra little girl in the middle came to play.

Cuties. Xochi (5), Cambria (9), Cameron (10), Maya (8), and Mary (14)

Cousins

Dinner was delicious. The honey walnut prawns were divine.

Pretty night

Shopping yielded a dragon dagger, wooden katana sword, and some kind of nun chuck things. Our people love weapons, apparently. Mary also bought some ceramic cat figurines for her friend Nikki.

One morning the kids went picking lemons and then came home to douse them in sugar.

Mary took her dad's phone and was acting very teenager-ish. She doesn't like to walk when it's hot out.

Beginning our hike.

Kids on a tree branch.

Beautiful shy Xochi

Everyone's mood improved when the girls found a little friend, a cute lizard Mary named "Steffan."

Maya and Steffan
Brooklyn and Dave.
Bryce and I.

Bryce carrying Harrison over a fallen log.

Xochi made it.

Harrison and Xochi feeding the geese.

Beautiful day.

I was in the same canoe as the twins and Bryce but I got super, super paranoid that the boys would flip the vessel. I got out and let them finish having fun.

Dave and Brooklyn had a pedal boat.

The girl cousins rocked the canoe! 

In the evenings after the littles were in bed our big kids and their aunt and uncle played intense rounds of the group solitaire-type game called Pounce.

We stayed with the Cooks in their lovely home. I thought we would overwhelm them but they handled us with grace. It was so nice to stay up late and talk to the grown-ups. Cambria was so sweet to place photos of the doors of the rooms the kids were staying in. She made a family picture wall too. The cousins enjoyed jumping on the trampoline and swinging on the tree swing. The girls absolutely loved our dog.

Xochi and Katie before we left
We had such a wonderful trip that it was hard to want to come home. I started work at Macy's the very next day so it was doubly nice to get one last vacation in.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

July Vacation--Utah

We did a big loop of family visits: first to West Jordan to spend time with Bryce's parents and sister Betsie's family (who moved to Idaho a few weeks later for Andy's law school); then to Reno as a layover to California to visit with Bryce's cousin Lucy's family; and finally to Mountain View to see my brother David's peeps. It was an awesome week. Truly love all those people.

Bryce passed out these mustaches at the half-way point on our journey up.
On Monday we went to Mill Creek Canyon for FHE. We played in the river and roasted hot dogs.

Mary and Katie

Natasha, age 4

Mary and Kira, almost 8

Kess, just turned 12

Cute Betsie and me

Cam the leapfrog

Harrison the independent dude

Bryce and his mom

Twins having fun with grandma


Exploring

"Fishing"

Katie came to check on them, to make sure they weren't being naughty

Harrison is an expert rock-skipper

Tyce

Woodland creature

Betsie and Andy

Betsie and Heather

Dinner

Roasting hot dogs

A lot of them fell in the fire, which we fished out, cooled off, and gave to Katie.

Adorable Mary

Cam licking mustard off Katie's leash

Bryce and Heather

Tyce and Harrison

With Desiree, the Prices' former foster daughter 

Trying out roasted apples

Heather's neices and nephews, minus Ben


The crazy shot

Al and Judy Jones with their grandchildren (minus Ben)


Jones kids' photo bomb by Betsie, Bryce, and Heather!

Grand kid photo bomb!

Betsie, Al, Judy, Heather, and Bryce. Just missing Kim. Sad! Wish she and Ben could have come.
Bryce turned 43 on July 22nd and we celebrated with lemon cream pie and fireworks.


Birthday boy and fire

We shot off some parachute men. The sound terrified Harrison and he insisted on sticking right by me the rest of the night. Wouldn't even touch the sparklers.

Cam was a super grump. But he got a new sock monkey at the thrift store (D.I.) that he named "Heavyweight" due to its sand-filled rump.


Mary in her pj pants

Kira

Tasha  having fun. Notice Harrison safely between adults on the sidewalk.

Cammy!

Dancing with sparklers

All the kids with Desiree. She taught Harrison to do an Irish dance, by the way. They performed for us and did great!

Cuties

Kess and Mary having a pretend fight
Ok, are these girls seriously the cutest?

I'm going save the rest for later. I've got to do some math facts with Cameron and then get ready for work.

Stay tuned.