Sunday, April 29, 2007

Take Your Child to Jail Day....

Wow! Imagine my embarassment when I realized that it was take your child to WORK day! Probably one of my worst all time parenting mistakes...

Believe me, by the end of the day I would have been happy to leave her in the U.S. Marshal's lockup. The day started out fine. We skipped the tour of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court (I don't think that I could have maintained conciousness throughout that snooze fest, let alone Mary), and just hung out in my office, got a snack at the little cafe downstairs and played around outside in front of the building while we waited for the group to come back across the street for the U.S. District Court, Pre-Trial Services office, and U.S. Marshal's office tour.

The tour began at Pre-Trial Services where Mary was breathalized to make sure she was abiding by the terms of her release...she was given a large Snickers bar for her was pretty much all down hill after that. The tour was long and crowded, about 100 children and adults. When we got to the U.S. Marshal's office they thrilled the children with tales of asset forfeiture and the copy room.
In past years, this was the highlight of the tour with Tyce. However, the tour has become substantially more popular and therefore, more crowded and less personal. Mary Rachel was begging me to leave and I barely convinced her to stay long enough to get to the holding cells. She finally got interested again when she peered through a window and saw a real inmate. Little did I know that her wheels began turning and she was pondering the fate of the incarcerated. You can see that she loved handcuffing herself and doing her best to sit in a cell and look dark and moody as one would imagine someone put away would look.
She pepped up enough that she allowed herself to be dragged to the ceremonial courtroom for a presentation from Judge Pro, a twenty-seven year veteran of the federal bench, former chief judge, and a famous talker. He was relatively brief in his presentation and opened the floor for questions. He really did quite well with the kids, answering each question on its merits as if asked by a legal scholar rather than by a bored five year old who wanted to know if they could talk into the microphone.
After watching several questions and answers, Mary's hand shot up. I suffered inwardly as I anticipated her question: my first thought was that she would remember that he had just returned from a trip to Africa and announce that she had been born in Africa (not true, she was born in Houston) like she had done earlier in the year to her first grade class. However, the wheels had been turning since she had seen the prisoners earlier in the tour. When she was called upon she asked, "What happens if you send someone to jail, but you got the wrong guy and nobody ever finds out?" The judge adroitly handled the seven year old's question regarding the philosophy and ethics of punishment v. rehabilitation, but Mary wasn't done. A few questions later she raised her hand, and I have no idea how long she's been thinking about this topic, but she asks, "So why do the police put on their siren when they get close to the bad guy, because he's just gonna run when he hears the siren?" I was laughing too hard to hear the judge's answer.
Later in the day we went into Judge Dawson's Courtroom for a photo op. The Judge was out of town, so we had the run of the courtroom. She sat in his chair and role-played. She used her very serious, proper accent for this game. I was forced to pretend that I was a prisoner arrested on charges of robbing an old man. After being lectured on the evils of drugs and being forced to confess that I had committed 78 similar crimes, she asked me if I was crazy for confessing, because they had just arrested another man who looked identical to me who had likewise confessed. Now playing along, I lowered the attorney's lectern as far as it would go, knelt down and admitted that while we did look strikingly similar, I was, in fact, much shorter. This energized her and I was subjected to much cross-examination and further lectures and then I discovered at sentencing that Judge Jones was very lenient and I was released after I promised that I had learned the error of my ways. She later served an arrest warrant on my new co-clerk Betsy and subjected her to questioning regarding the origins of her government issued computer.
Now this all doesn't sound too bad, but the wake of destruction she left behind would have rivaled the twins. The jelly beans that were bitten in half and then spit out when she didn't like the flavor, the candy wrappers all over the office, the art projects scattered on my desk, floor, hallway, the orange slush dripped and drooled from the kitchen back to my office, the Connect Four game (she played with Angela, Donna's daughter who did not leave a wake of destruction)with scattered dominoes left all over the kitchen. It took us almost an hour to clean up before we could go home.
It was great to spend time with her, but I was exhausted by the experience...I don't know how Rebecca gets through everyday!
(P.S. Please forgive me for intruding on what has become Rebecca's blog! Perhaps she can teach me some of her tricks of the trade including brevity and hilarity.)

A Superior Boy and a Toothless Girl

Bach. Beethoven. And now, Jones.


Tyce has practiced for the annual piano festival at UNLV for months. On Saturday he played two pieces in front of a small pannel of judges (and other participants). One was a heavy, loud song called "Mamasaurus Rex" and the other was light and slow, called "Circle Dance." I got to see his performance and I was impressed! If only he practiced anywhere near that level at home!

There are five ratings possible, labeled superior (highest), excellent, good, etc. Tyce was very pleased to be awarded a "Superior" certificate.

"Hey Dad, guess what . . . I did it!"

Tyce and his certificate.

Mary keeps losing her baby teeth. She looks cute and 1st-gradish. She doesn't believe in the TF anymore, which takes the pressure off of me. The TF has been very delinquent in times past.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Find

My super-cool brother David works for a start-up called What is it? Their website says: is a shopping search engine that is dedicated to delivering the most satisfying online search experience for you - the time-crunched, savvy shopper.

We developed a shopping search engine that delivers comprehensive lists of products and their corresponding images, ranked by the leading products, brands, stores and styles on the very first page of results. We call this technology our "Product Ranking Engine."

You can find more about them here.

They have a "color for a cause" campaign and this time it's pink. When you search for something "pink" ( pink prom dress, pink espadrilles...) they donate $1 per person per day to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. I found a Murano glass bead bracelet that I like a lot (a not-so-subtle hint for Mother's Day?) It's so easy to shop and do something worthwhile at the same time. Try it for yourself . . .

Clarification . . . sort of

I just realized how lame my cryptic message was yesterday about our "big news." You don't have to be a genius to put two and two together, now do you?

Bryce took Mary Rachel to work with him today for "Take Your Child to Work Day". He is a bit nervous about her energy level will play out in the federal courthouse. She hopes to get thrown in a jail cell by a U.S. Marshall (a highlight of Tyce's trip from years past).

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Musically Speaking

My good friend Tonda asked me to sing a duet with her at church in a few weeks. Today we went to Rebecca Shapiro's house to practice. Earlier we'd chosen the song "We Rejoice" from the "Women of Destiny: Songs for Celebrating the Declaration of the Relief Society" song book. It is very pretty and hymn-like. What we didn't anticipate is the difficulty in that the soprano part (Tonda) is the low melody and the alto part (me) is a high harmony. What alto sounds good hitting a high F#? Just wondering, 'cause it's not me. I must say, that song kicked my butt. But with some tweaking of parts, I am working on it.

I want to play my French horn again. Since Tyce is interested in playing an instrument in band or orchestra next year he's been tinkering with my old horn. (He says he's leaning towards the trumpet, or maybe the cello). I showed him how to blow into the mouthpiece and how to play the C scale--which for any brass players out there, you know how hard it is to teach a novice how to "do" it, because it's so much more than just pushing the right combination of valves. It just goes to show how good Tyce is at that kind of thing because he could play the C scale within minutes. Anyway, I took a turn too, and I was pleasantly surprised at how good I still was. Not great, not amazing, but GOOD, which gave me confidence that I could regain my "chops".

Maybe this summer I'll be ready to play for a church function or two, like I used to. I especially love playing at Christmas. By then I might have a some company as Tyce gets better at whatever instrument he chooses.

Tyce informs me that he wants to play the trumpet so he'll "get lots of girls." (!!!) I guess that's no different than my un-musical motivation for choosing the French horn at the same age: "Because it's pretty to look at."

Testing for Freshness

Ancient Chinese proverb says: Ten bites out of one not so delicious as one bite out of ten.

Cameron likes his pears a little at a time.

I've been really preoccupied lately. I have a lot to think about and to be honest, my brain hurts. I'm sorry I haven't been more forthright lately in sharing our latest. I will have big news to share quite soon, right after I'm sure my news is actually big news and not just, "Oops, sorry it didn't work out." Just so you know, it has nothing to do with adding to the family.

Cameron and Harrison are taking a bath. They are pretty cute little dudes, don't you think?

Friday, April 20, 2007

If you like words games . . .

. . . I recommend Lingo on the game show network. If you play against the computer you'll feel pretty smart. (Against a real person is another story--at least, that's my experience).

This will go on their permanent record

I'm starting a file for twins. I plan to show it to teachers, doctors, and potential employers. It will not paint a flattering picture of what the boys do with their spare time.

I answered the telephone in the garage today, talked for a few minutes to a friend. My "mom-sense" told me to hurry up and check on the quiet children. I ignored it. And now you have every right to wonder, "When will she learn?"

The boys looked surprised that I removed them from their snack. I know they're not *really* out to get me, because if they were they'd look more excited that they ruffled my feathers.

In other news:
Tyce and Bryce went to a parent meeting at Bridger last night. After going Tyce decided to take his chances at getting into Hyde Park. That means he's taking himself off the list at Bridger with the hope that he gets a call from his #1 choice. The worst case scenario is that he won't get in to Hyde Park and goes to the local junior high, Brown. But he's okay with that. We support his decision because he feels good about it.
Tyce is on a field trip today with his GATE group to UNLV for Earth Day.
Mary Rachel and I are getting pedicures this weekend. She continues to have a wicked sense of humor and I enjoy her a lot.
Cameron's new phrase is "Guess what." The other night the door bell rang and he ran through the house yelling, "Guess what? Guess what? Guess what? Guess what? Pizza Guy's here."
Harrison doesn't "talk to hear himself talk" like Cameron does, so sometimes he says things that surprise me. At dinner last night I asked his brother, "Do you want a drink of water?" Harrison said, "No, thank you. Oh, you were talking to Cam?"
Both boys are in their cribs singing "We will, we will, ROCK YOU!" That's good, because now I'm off to sweep up the cereal.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Brotherly Love

There's two to wash, there's two to dry,
There's two who argue, there's two who cry.
One's in the mud having a ball,
The other holds a crayon, another marked wall.
Some days seem endless, my patience grows thin.
Why was I chosen to be a mother of twins?
The answer comes clear at the end of each day,
As I tuck them in bed and to myself say,
There's two to kiss, there's two to hug,
And best of all, there's two to love!
Author: Unknown

Who, Me?

Yeah, that's me. The one with the eye tic. It's on the left side. It's annoying.

Now that our Activity Days recognition night is over, I can breathe a little easier. I love those girls so much. But they are a lot of work. My eye was ticking like a madwoman before the dinner got underway.

Now I can focus on more pressing matters: middle school for Tyce, possibly buying a house (!!??), selling this one, taking care of the children, practicing for a musical number, etc. Being a good friend and doing housework are somewhere on the list. I can't stop obsessing about this new house that we like. I move furniture and decorate in my sleep. I won't bore you with the details in case it doesn't work out. We have to sell this one before we can consider the other, which is a pretty major detail, don't you think?

**twitch, twitch**

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Tyce's Acceptance into Bridger

Tyce applied to two magnet schools for next year, The Academy of Science and Mathematics at Hyde Park, and The Academy of Math, Science and Technology at Jim Bridger Middle School (aka "Hyde Park" and "Bridger"). Eligibility for a magnet school depends on grades and standardized test scores. Once there's a pool of eligible applicants a lottery is held to fill the positions. Last year there were about 800 qualified applicants for 200 spots--at each school. So we knew it would be a long shot for either one (and we didn't even know if he counted as a "qualified applicant"). Tyce really, really wanted to go to Hyde Park but is on the waiting list. However, he did make it into Bridger! Check out the web site. All 6th graders take 7-week courses in the following: Introduction to Aviation and Aerospace; Intro. to Biomedicine; Robotics; and Engineering. They still have the arts and sports, too. (This school has two musical options: Band or Mariachi., where you can learn violin or guitar! Perhaps Tyce will have a career as a crooner at a Mexican restaurant. Right after he makes his first flight into space).

Anyway, Bridger is in North Las Vegas in a really rough part of town. There aren't as many options as there are at Hyde Park but it's still a good school--especially the aviation and robotics. There's a bus he can take but Bryce will likely take him on his way to work (it's about 15 min. out of his way). Of course, Tyce can still decide to go to the local junior high (Brown) if he wants or wait to get a letter from Hyde Park. But he has to declare his intent to register next week so there's not much time to agonize about it.
We'll keep you updated.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Book Club

Last night was our 2nd book club meeting, this time at my house. We discussed the book "Left to Tell" by Immaculee Ilibagiza, which was horrifying and inspiring. Themes from our discussion included the following:

--the will to survive
--the importance of individual attitude
--the hunger for power and dominance
--God's plan

. . . and many, many others. I was also struck by how beautiful Rwanda is, and how very little I know about it except where to find it on a map.

If you've seen the movie "Hotel Rwanda" I recommend this book as an even better (more comprehensive) portrayal of the situation there at the time. I was glad to read this book and to discuss it with some very intelligent and spirited ladies.

Our next selection is "The Chosen" by Chaim Potok. It has been a long time since I've read it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Egg Disaster

Warning: Do not leave your children unattended . . .

While I was doing Mary Rachel's hair in the bathroom before school, this is how the twins entertained themselves. There are about 24 crumpled hard-boiled eggs on the floor.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Easter Joy

We had a lovely day yesterday. We had a nice time going to church, and I lasted half the meeting before taking the twins out to the hallway (due to fighting over a marker). Mary Rachel ended up chasing Harrison all around the chapel trying to get him to "be good" which resulted in Bryce getting off the stand to intervene. I thought the two of them were at the water fountain. Oops.

I substituted as the Primary chorister and taught the kids the hymn "I Know that my Redeemer Lives" which was perfect for an Easter Sunday!

After church we did Easter baskets and and egg hunt. Candy was a big hit and it made me really, really glad we didn't give them any *before* church. We had sticky-sweet Resurrection Rolls for breakfast and that was plenty of sugar to start the day. (We've also had these when camping and made in a dutch oven--you should try them. Our kids gobbled them up). The Resurrection Rolls have symbolism behind them so if the kids help you make them, they're getting a mini Easter lesson in the process.

Mary Rachel and Tyce show off their eggs on Easter Eve.

Mary Rachel, Cameron, Harrison, and Tyce outside the church building.

The kids after their Easter egg hunt in the front yard.

Here's an outline of our Easter festivities, as I read the minds of each child:

Tyce: When are we going to decorate the eggs? Oh wait, I'm 10 years old and I'm too old for that "kid" stuff. But I'll do it anyway, just to make Mom happy. Hey, check out my half-blue, half-red one! It says: "BYU vs. Utah" in white crayon. Pretty cool, huh? Well, I guess decorating was okay, but I'm too old to hunt for eggs. I want to hide them instead. But wait, if I hide them, I can't hunt for them (Mom's stupid rule). Okay, I'll wait inside with the rest of the family. But this is the last year I'm doing this. Next year I'll be in 6th grade and I'm pretty sure I'll be too old for this little kid stuff. (Or will I)?

Mary Rachel: Decorating eggs was the highlight of my Easter. I took great care to use the right colors and when Mom said we'd be eating them later, I was horrified. I asked if I could take them to my room to keep forever but she said "no." I also liked my new dress, which was not pink. I recently confessed to not liking pink anymore and Mom was really sad for some reason. Anyway, I also got to wear some earrings to church so I was feeling like hot stuff. I told Mom that our breakfast rolls were *damn* good and I got in trouble, which kind of stinks because I was trying to be extra nice for Easter.

Harrison: I like eggs. I like to gather and collect eggs. I will group the eggs by color. I open each egg and eat the contents--I like the Reese's chocolate eggs first, then the Butterfinger eggs, then the jellybeans. I know which eggs are mine and will defend myself agains my brother's pesky attempts to steal what is rightfully mine.

Cameron: Woo hoo! Yeah! Looks like you people are having some kind of party! This basket makes a great hat. I only have one egg in my basket after the egg hunt, and that's fine by me 'cuz guess what . . . I already ate the candy out of it. Oh yeah! First one to eat the candy! I don't see what the big deal is about getting "lots" of eggs because I already ate "lots" of candy. Besides, if I want more, I'll just take one of Harrison's when he's not looking.

Friday, April 6, 2007

"There's a banana peel in your pipe" and other things you don't want to hear

Today Harrison flushed something down the toilet. Luckily I retrieved a plastic dinosaur before it got sucked in, but some toy made it down there before that. This all happened before Mary woke up (still spring break, you know) and I didn't get a chance to redirect her to my bathroom when she finally did. Whoops.

The plumber came out to fix the problem, and I was pleased to see it was a different guy than last time. (Yes, this also happened a few months ago). The last guy was an old man who ripped my linoleum taking the commode out and scolded me for letting my child flush a toy stop sign down the toilet. This new guy was a lot friendlier. I was dying to know which toy clogged the system this time, so I asked him, and guess what . . . he said there wasn't any toy. Or toothbrush. Or pen. In fact, he was so baffled by not finding anything there that he looked in the pipes (or maybe they always do that). You know what he found? You guessed it, a banana peel. I'm pretty sure that wasn't from today. I saw it, and it did not look fresh.

Then Mary said, "Mom, you have to see what happened when the babysitter was here." She showed me where Cameron had used marker all over the screen door to the backyard. It is green and squiggly. I think the kids are trying to sabotage our efforts to sell this house.

Special Food Function

When I was a freshman at BYU I lived at Deseret Towers (as did Bryce a few years earlier). Every so often the cafeteria would have a "special food function" which was a themed menu. One I recall was a western theme complete with bandannas tied to chairs, a covered wagon in the corner, and "sarsaparilla" to drink, which I had only ever heard of.

This past week, we've had our own special food functions at the Jones family kitchen. The first was "Fiesta" (nachos and blackberry smoothies). The second was "Deadliest Catch" (King crab legs, in honor of the season premier of the TV show by the same name). Here are some pictures.

Scenes from "Fiesta" (in which nachos were not eaten by anyone under 7 years old). In hindsight, blackberries and todddlers might not have been the tidiest combination.
"Deadliest Catch"--Check out the size of those legs!

Mary really *wants* to like the crab so she nibbles the same bit for half an hour.

Harrison wants to try, too. He doesn't like it. Bryce stuck a fish stick in a hollow leg later so he could pretend to eat crab. Mary found a more interesting thing to do than eat her crustacean--she wears it.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Another year older

Last night Bryce said, "I have a surprise for you first thing in the morning and it'll take about an hour." I was pretty sure we were eating breakfast at IHOP, the only "real" restaurant in the neighborhood. But at 6:20 a.m. when we woke up he presented me with two tennis rackets (one for me, one for him), and we went to play tennis before the kids woke up. It was a lot of fun, though I have a lot to brush up on since I haven't played for years. Bryce is much, much better than I am (for now).

Then we got a babysitter for mid-morning and Bryce and I went shopping. I got this beautiful jewelry box (which is a lot prettier in person). I love it. We ate lunch together (not at IHOP) and then tortured ourselves walking through model homes out of our price range. In other words, it was a great morning.

Later in the afternoon the kids blew up balloons and decorated cupcakes for the much-anticipated party. I had "Happy Birthday" sung to me quite a few times today. It was awesome! I got this delicious-smelling candle (honeydew melon) from Tyce and a pumpkin pie one from Mary Rachel. I have a great family (immediate and extended) who do a great job making me feel special. I love my family and friends!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

General Conference, and the Curse of the Liver Bird

Wasn't General Conference great? I thought the choir sounded exceptionally good this time. Maybe it's because they were back in the tabernacle. I'm a fan of the red dresses, not that they care what I think at this point. One day if I ever make it as a member I will push for more performances in red.

I love President Hinckley. I'm so glad he's able to speak to us still. What did you think about the parable of the pickle (Elder Bednar)? Maybe it's just me but I think the pickle is kind of a goofy food. Not very noble, if any food can be. (As far as picnic foods go, I'd consider the fruit salad noble). But I digress. I totally, totally agree with what he's saying and I get the analogy. I don't like pickles. Does that make me a bad person?

Don't answer that.

Even though I stayed busy I really and truly did listen to all 4 sessions and I loved them all. I particularly like Elder Scott's and Elder Holland's talks. The children enjoyed seeing and hearing President Hinckley.

I scrubbed kitchen cabinets during Conference. They look quite a bit better. It's all part of the lofty goal called "Getting the House Ready to Sell." Tomorrow we tackle the family room.

Bryce wore his Liverpool football jersey today. There is a patch on the front that looks like this:

The bird is the symbol of Liverpool, the mythical Liver bird ("liver" rhymes with driver). Cameron insisted on calling it a chicken, just to make Bryce mad. After the 10th time of accusing Bryce of wearing a hen on his shirt and laughing about it, Cameron pointed to himself and said, "Evil!" So if you see Bryce wearing his jersey, make sure to ask him about that mighty chicken on it.

Maybe Cameron was playing an April Fool's joke on his dad. I attempted to do a few tricks myself. I made Mary a card that didn't open and revised Tyce's chore list to include tasks such as "lick 100 stamps and put them on envelopes" and "pack your sleeping bag for school". Hilarious, right? Well, that's not all. I also glued some coins to the kitchen tile and told Bryce he'd dropped some money earlier. He said it was probably Mary or Tyce and made them pick them up for him! That one didn't work out as expected (though the kids were really annoyed someone had glued pennies to the floor, so if I'd been aiming to fool them it would've been great). Sheesh. I don't think anyone knew it was April 1st except for me. And possibly Cameron.

Harrison is in his crib shredding newspaper. Tyce left the comics section on the floor of their room and Harrison must have summoned the superpowers of Plastic Man to reach his arm down and around like that. I took the Kohl's ad away from him without a fight. I guess that's because he had a plan. He outsmarted me by pulling another piece of news from behind the crib.

Hope you're all doing well. I've changed my setting to allow anonymous comments, so if you want to show us some love, please feel free.