Monday, April 28, 2008

Poems by Mary Rachel Kimberly Jones, age 8


Bunnies hop, bunnies leap
Bunnies are fun and I can't sleep.

(illustration of a person in bed, a digital clock reading 1:00 a.m.)


The golden sun stretches over the valley
Cats linger in the alley
Sun filters down
People waken in the town
But I'm asleep
Lost in my dreams.

(illustration of a tree and flower with a smiling sun in the sky)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Mary's Quilt

She finally finished her months-long project. I really like the colors she chose. She also made a really cute pillowcase, one of her first completed items.

The pillowcase. Notice the butterfly trim!

A close-up of the quilt. She painstakingly arranged the squares and triangles the way she wanted on paper. Then she worked with her teacher to sew the fabric into that pattern, row by row. Then came the tying, and finally the binding. Mary actually did all of this herself!

The whole ensemble.

Before and After

Before--he doesn't look too remorseful, does he?

After a "real" haircut. I'm pretty handy with the clippers myself.

Now we have two baldies!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

An entry for the Naughty File

Harrison decided that instead of going to sleep last night, he'd get out the hair clippers, plug 'em in, and cut his own hair.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A little bit of this and that

1. We went to a play last night, and the very sweet Tori babysat for us. I think we're outgrowing the need for a babysitter, as long as Tyce is around. The twins went to bed early, so there wasn't much need after that for someone in 7th grade to supervise. However, her being there enabled us to go out to dinner beforehand, which was a treat.

2. The play was terrible. Not the acting, not the costuming, not set, but the story. It was a play written by Aristophanes and is was full of bawdy humor, language and props. Seriously, it was like "Porky's", ancient Greek style. That was the focus of the whole thing, with a lame plot to surround the stupid and offensive antics. We had to walk out--and I'm surprised more people didn't. I can't imagine anyone being able to watch the whole thing. I was cheesed off about that--I'd been looking forward to going to our next play at the theater for at least a month.

Bryce said, "Let us never speak of this event again." Right-o, gelato!

3. We went to Whole Foods afterwards, which was a good ending to the date. I couldn't pass up that dulce de leche this time.

4. Pigeons are building a nest on our roof by the casita. I think of the P.D. Eastman book called The Best Nest, where Mr. Bird exclaims, "I love our house, I love our nest, In all the world, Our nest is best!" So I feel bad for being annoyed, because every creature needs a home. I just don't want bird droppings on my driveway or whatever else is bad about having birds live on your roof.

5. Speaking of driveways, Bryce ran my mini-van into his own vehicle in our driveway. Thank goodness I didn't do it! So now I have a dent in the back (from this time) and a dent in the front (from another time when I got rammed taking a friend home). We're just high class like that.

6. All the kids are enjoying the backyard. I love this picture of Cam, Harrison, and Emily on the tire swing.

7. I'm getting really stressed about Girls Camp again. We have two fundraisers coming up and I'm sure that when you compare the enormous amount of effort that goes into baking 120 dozen cookies with the modest profits, it's going to send me to an early grave. (Do you know that I really dislike baking? I believe I've mentioned that before . . . and probably will again.)

8. Mary and Bryce are at a horse show today. M. really wanted to invite Harrison--isn't that sweet? So I guess I should say that the three of them are out at the horse show today. I'm sure they will have a great time.

9. I'm just here chillin' and running away from the laundry that's calling me. Tyce and Cameron are cleaning Tyce's room (C. is still young enough to think it's fun!) and later we'll see what happens. Life is good.

10. My best nephew Ben turned 12 this week! I wish we lived close like we used to so he and Tyce could achieve all those milestones together. He is a fine young man and I look forward to having him for a little while this summer.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Horsin' around

Yesterday Donna, the judge's lovely secretary, invited Bryce and Mary Rachel to come see her neighbor's baby horse. Mary says she especially liked seeing the mom and baby horse run together. Bryce said that the baby horse reminded him of Mary!

I wonder if the horse can taste remnants of pineapple on her hands?

Ella sniffs Mary's hair, much to her delight.

The baby horse, which they call Bobo. Notice that they are the same size!

The mom and the baby run together.

Thank you, Donna, for making out little horse-lover's day!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Where's the laugh track when I need it

Lately I've been daydreaming as I fill up my water cup from the fridge. The water comes out pretty slow, so my thoughts are a lot like this:

Hmmmm, what activity should I do with the twins next . . . we've done trains, so maybe we'll jump on the trampoline . . . they'll be ready for lunch after that . . . I think I'll make turkey sandwiches again today. I wish Mary ate more protein . . . turkey is good for you and that stuff I got on sale was a good deal . . . I wonder if she'll get her room clean today, that place is a biohazard . . . Do I have enough time to go to the store before Tyce comes home . . . wait, does he have Scouts this afternoon? Yes, so he'll be riding the bus . . . I hope that Young Women tonight goes well . . . and


Seriously, I feel like I'm on a bad sitcom when I do that. I might as well start spitting my water across the table when I hear troubling news.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I went to Whole Foods, which I mentioned earlier. I went a second time this week. Yeah, the gelato was that good. But that's not why I went. They carry such items as falafel, couscous, tahini, and other world foods that they just don't carry at the local Food 4 Less. I shopped for a long time by myself, mingling amongst jars of everything from Indian masala to the intriguingly-named "Mama Africa's Jabula Sauce." Everything was so clean, and the deli smelled heavenly with Indian, Greek, Mexican, and other smells together. The cashiers looked happy and helpful. If I were richer I would shop there exclusively.

Today I went to a new store by us called Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market. I know, you would think the last word of that title would be "bar." Or maybe that's just me. Apparently the "fresh" applies to food and "easy" applies to convenience and not the seedy nightlife we have around here. Anyway. It was like a tiny Whole Foods, with lots of fresh food and organic products in its little space. Again, the workers were super friendly and helpful and looked happy to be there. They even had samples. I had some fresh pineapple, Harrison had blueberry granola, and Cameron had a piece of cake.

So now I'm torn. I love a good value, which is why I shop at the dingy warehouse Food 4 Less. But I love the atmosphere and selection in those other stores, which is why they are so expensive. In one way I don't want to become a grocery-store snob and yet, in another way--that's totally what I want. To be surrounded by smiling people in a clean, fresh-looking store, with a wide selection of interesting food. Part of me wants to cry, "To heck with the budget!" and just make myself happy surrounded by beautiful things.

But the frugal part of me wants to slap that other part and say, "Just get yourself over to that warehouse and pick me up some waxy apples, a loaf of white bread, and a jar of grape jelly! We're feeding the whole family for $2.00 today!"

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Chef Bryce shows off his most recent culinary creation: a German Pancake.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Birthday Pictures

What a wonderful birthday! I have the best family and friends anyone could ask for.

We watched General Conference (and our city's mayor, James B. Gibson, was one of the area authority Seventies announced) and I really enjoyed hearing all the great talks. Between sessions we did housework and things like that. Or I should say Bryce did housework because he was a cleaning machine!

After the last Saturday session we had the party that the kids were so very excited about, because everybody knows that party = pinata! Besides, they had decorated the living room really nicely and were wound up about it.

I got some lovely gifts, including a juicer, a hand blender (again! My other one broke), a bracelet, some CDs, and a gift card. Also some nice telephone calls and messages. Tyce bought me a present in San Diego, which I thought was so awesome and nice. When he finds it I'm sure I will love it. LOL So his make-up gift was putting the twins to bed, which is nothing to sneeze at. The card from Mary was especially sweet; she drew a picture of my favorite animal, which she labeled "cawala bear" and wrote me a poem:

You like cawalas, you like the color red.
What else about you is to be said.
Well you are 34 now.
I just want you to know I love you.
I wish you a happy birthday.


She also drew 34 hearts on the back. I tried to keep myself from tearing up when I read the other card she made, which listed 34 things she liked about me:

You play with me
You take care of me
You read to me
You cook with me
You give me a home
You buy me things
You help me
You help me learn
You hug me
You kiss me
You talk to me
You try to understand me
You be calm with me
You prepare meals for me
You make my days happy
You give presents to me on my birthday
You help me when I'm sick
You make up songs about me
You dance with me
You sing with me
You help me do projects
You let me do things I want to do
You sing to me
You draw me pictures
You help me when I'm hurt
You comfort me when I need comforting
You smile at me
You pay for my food
You make me feel safe
You love me
You keep our family going
You make me feel strong
You do all you can for me
And you have always been there for me

(You can imagine that I was really touched by her thoughtfulness and sincerity. My eyes are welling up just typing this! What a lovely little daughter I have!)

Then Bryce made dinner for us(!). He made grilled chicken, pad thai noodles, green beans, and we ate it on our balcony. It was delicious. What a beautiful night. With Tyce on babysitting duty (the twins were asleep by then) we went to the gelato shop Bryce mentioned earlier but guess what. They were closed. We had a great time walking around Whole Foods and they had some gelato there! But I just couldn't pass up the raspberry and lemon sorbets. Bryce had dulce de leche gelato. Man, I am going back to Whole Foods again!

So you can see that I had a great day. I must say a big thank you to my wonderful husband who made sure that everything was how *I* would have wanted it--and it was. Thank you Bryce, you party animal!

Here are some pictures:

This is the cake that the twins helped pick out.

Flowers from Bryce (left) and from my friend Jen (right).

Harrison blew out one of the candles before I could get to them!

I couldn't believe that Bryce bought me a Barry White CD!

Harrison can't wait to find out what the next gift is (a juicer).

Mary takes a whack at the pinata.

We had to move it to the playgound, where I take my turn.

Tyce is a maniac with that bat!

Finally it falls (with some help from Bryce).

Saturday, April 5, 2008


Today Rebecca turns 34! Last night she went out with some close friends for pizza and a Nielsen's frozen custard. She had a good time with her friends and it was probably nice for all of them to get a break. We got to bed laaaaaaaaaaaaaaattttttttttttttttttteeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. I think Rebecca couldn't sleep, because she was so excited about her birthday....

Cam woke me up early enough that the twins and I went out and finished the shopping for Rebecca's family party. The twins convinced me to buy a pinata...they are obsessed and won't stop talking about it. Essentially, they are driving us crazy, b/c they know it is filled with candy. They helped decorate the house with banners and streamers and balloons! They are still excited by the little things. Tonight we will have dinner and I'll take Rebecca to a new (and relatively close) gelatto shop--a favorite of hers from Italy.

Ten Things About Rebecca you may or may not know:

10. She is quite good at arranging flowers, a hidden talent she probably wishes that she got to use more.

9. Our marriage has survived because of her sense of humour. She has a quick wicked tongue and I often find myself laughing because of her insightful digs rather than being angry.

8. She could probably make money writing jokes--she loves the pun and the little play on words--she honestly makes up jokes by the dozen and tests them out on me, the kids, and my dad.

7. She loves words in general, not just funny ones. Just when in my vanity I begin thinking I can outpace her vocabulary, she schools me. Yesterday she exposed my thirty-six year misuse of the word droll--look it up, it does not mean boring or tedious, just the opposite!

6. She's a very socially honest person. She never pretends to understand something that she doesn't, and is quick to ask questions in order to understand where I would just nod knowingly but be inwardly confused. If you've received a compliment from her, it's been genuine.

5. She's always been in tune with the needs of her children and not been afraid to follow inspiration that she's received to help them. Soon after one of our little one's came to live with us, Rebecca felt prompted that we should do very specific things when dealing with the child's birth family and treat them in a particular way. A couple of years later during a court ordered mediation setting, the child's birth mother stood up and said that because we had done the very things that Rebecca felt we should that she (the birth mother) did not oppose us adopting the child and would help us to make it happen.

4. Rebecca loves birthdays, not just her own. She always takes extra care to make sure that each member of her family has a special day, going out of her way to do what it is that will please that person.

3. When Rebecca was in Italy just after we were engaged and just before we were married, we communicated by fax! It was much cheaper than phone and much faster than mail--does the fact that we were married before email was super-common date us? She probably wishes that we would do that again, I probably wrote more in that two months than I have since :(

2. Rebecca doesn't like the beach, too much sand--where is she taking the Young Women for Girl's Camp? The beach.

1. What would Rebecca like most for her birthday? a thoughtful post on her blog, a card, a phone call---just to know that she had been remembered -- unless you have disposable cash on hand of course!

I love Rebecca!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Book Club

Our book club was last night at Carmen's house, where we discussed the very interesting "Man's Search for Meaning."

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of those he treated in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl's theory—known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos ("meaning")—holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

His memoir chronicled the atrocities of his experiences in a thoughtful, non-sensational way. This is where our primary discussion took place, as we dissected human nature's motives, capacity for suffering, ability to overcome pain, choice in the face of tribulation, and the like.

One thing really struck me, and was the most painful thing to read. Throughout all the terrible physical and mental suffering--and the stories were as riveting as they were disturbing--what kept the prisoners going was that future day of liberation. Life could and would be better, they would reunite with their loved ones, their talents and abilities would be exercised again. In a phrase, there would be meaning to their suffering. But when many people returned to their former lives they found that things were not as they'd imagined--families were dead, jobs were gone, homes were unoccupied, people didn't care.

When, on his return, a man found that in many places he was met only with a shrug of the shoulders and with hackneyed phrases, he tended to become bittter and to ask himself why he had gone through all that he had. When he heard the same phrases nearly everywhere--"We did not know about it," and "We, too, have suffered," then he asked himself, have they really nothing better to say to me?"

. . . A man who for years had though he had reached the absolute limit of all possible suffering now found that suffering has no limits and that he could suffer still more, and still more intensely.

Doesn't that just tear at your heart?

It made me realize that while the Holocaust was particularly horrific, there are people throughout the world who suffer the same torture and suffering. Listen to the news and you'll hear about Darfur, Sierra Leone, Rwanda. Those are group atrocities you actually hear about. And yet most suffering is anonymous. What about the individual's capacity for fear, suffering, loss . . . or hope?

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.

So I have looked deeper into my soul to put words to that nebulous abstract that guides my days: my life's meaning. If faced in a similar circumstance, would I be one of those who turned to bitterness, hopelessness, or apathy? Or would I find that inner courage to actually live, to look forward to another day, to show a kindness and try my best--because my life has meaning?

And . . . Do I do that now?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

As you wisssssssshhhhhhhh . . .

Mary Rachel is on track break and watched "The Princess Bride" for the first time. I have seen that movie a dozen or more times and still, it's the bomb. She loved it too. In fact, she was so taken with it that she constructed a "ship" that seems to be an homage to Westley and Buttercup. It includes a map, a thermometer, and a declaration of "I love Weslee". Of course, who exactly loves "Weslee" is a bit ambiguous . . .

And while I'm on the subject of little Miss M., I have to tell you how helpful she was today. I was busy cleaning the front part of the house today and she asked if she could make cookies with me. I told her, very mom-ishly, "We're not making any more messes until the old ones are cleaned up." Well she took that literally and she was a cleaning tornado. She moved all the dining chairs swept under the table, moved the chairs back, put all the toys away, vacuumed the living room, and cleaned the bathroom mirrors and sink. I couldn't believe how helpful she was. Usually when I ask her to put one thing away I'm still looking at it an hour later. I guess it's good to have that proverbial carrot (or cookie) out in front.

So we made some chocolate rounds from an adorable book from Aunt Brooklyn called "Fairy Cooking." They were very easy to make. But I must say that those fairies must have strange taste buds because they (the cookies) were a bit lacking in the delicious department. However, the lead baker was enamoured with her creations, which is the way it should be.

I know how Cinderella's nails looked the day after the Ball

During my kid-free two hours yesterday I went to the nail salon. My birthday's on Saturday, so, happy birthday to me, I have pretty fingers and toes. I tried out a new place. I wish I spoke Vietnamese. I never know exactly what I'm supposed to do when. And yet, I got through it.

This time I splurged on a manicure. A *French* manicure, oui oui. It looked pretty nice, I must say. And then today when I was pick-pick-picking off a piece of paper glued to the kitchen tile, I remembered why I never paint my nails in the first place. My polish job now looks a bit, hmmm, less polished. Lucky I'm showing you a "before" shot. You know that old saying, you can't have pretty nails and do housework. So guess what I've decided. Yeah, you know me.