Friday, March 28, 2008

YW Drama--Revised

We went to the temple with the youth on Tuesday night, which was lovely. The girls are so beautiful. It was a pleasure to help them serve the Lord in this way.

I had a meeting with the camp directors and Camp is really coming together. I showed them my pictures and they got excited about going all over again. I must admit that their enthusiasm was contagious and I started the think that maybe our campsite wasn't so bad after all.

Monday, March 24, 2008


This picture of Cam pretty much sums up all of our kids' reactions to their Easter baskets.

I gave them their treats on Saturday this year. I like the whole bunnies and chickies idea but I always felt that Easter Sunday--the celebration of our Resurrected Lord--was all about candy and egg hunts. This year I tried to focus more on the religious aspect and I was much happier. On Saturday morning the kids got their fun Easter stuff, in the afternoon we dyed eggs, and then in the evening we had a special meal.

I made the four symbolic foods of the Passover, which are lamb (signifying the Lamb of God), unleavened bread (representing Israel's abrupt escape from Egypt--I used a box of Matzo), bitter herbs (I used a spring mix of lettuces, but modern Jews use horseradish--this symbolizes the Israelites' suffering under the hands of their Egyptian taskmasters), and wine, which represents joy and celebration (we used white grape juice).

Since the Last Supper was a Passover meal I thought it would be a good way to help our family think of what it might have been like to eat foods Jesus ate before he went to the Garden of Gesthemene. I really enjoyed this part of the day (I got the idea from a book) and I'm sure next year it will be even better . . . meaning that no children will almost cry and refuse to come to the table because they don't like the weird smell of the food.

The next day at church Bryce gave a talk and Tyce and I sang "Beautiful Savior" in sacrament meeting. Bryce substituted in Primary for Mary's class and I taught Young Women, where we watched the DVD "Finding Faith in Christ" and then had a lovely testimony meeting. The children got an alarming amount of sweets in Primary, thus fueling their notion that church = candy = good. I guess I shouldn't complain.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Our camping trip--The Camp

We went camping for a few days in lovely southern California. How was it? How can I say it . . . there was some good and some bad.


1. Singing songs around the campfire.
2. Tyce and Mary playing really well together, even having FUN!
3. Eating camp food.
4. Having a lot of family time, because I love my family.


1. Sleeping in the wicked, wicked, wicked cold.
2. Camping next to hobos/hippies/homeless people who kept offering our kids candy.
3. Cameron falling forward by the fire pit and burning his hand.


1. Those crazy neighbors partying--playing guitar, singing at the top of their lungs, shouting, drinking beer, and smoking pot--until the wee hours. The other party-minded campers in the area joined them and I think there were about 20 at the highest point. It was 3:30 a.m. before they went to bed our last night. Why didn't we complain? Because the two ladies over there were so nice to us during the day. And because the craziest drunk/high homeless guy was out there sharpening his machete. The nights were so terrible they deserve their own category of misery.

And this is where I plan to take my girls to Girls Camp.

If not for sleeping in the tent--if we'd had an RV or a hotel or something--the camping trip was wonderful.

Harrison preferred to figure out the flashlight to roasting marshmallows.

Cameron preferred eating marshmallows to pretty much anything else!

Tyce is thoughtful around the campfire.

Mary Rachel is a little campfire cutie.

Cameron and his infamous pout!

Our campsite was beautiful.

The little tent held all of our supplies.

Bryce and Tyce had a great time with the water guns!

Everyone had a great time with the fling sock--Mary and Cameron were especially fun to watch as they tried to figure out when to release it. If you click on the picture you can actually see where the fling sock went.

The H/H/H compound. See all the tents over there? If you click on the picture you can see some rough-looking neighbors. Like I said, the ladies were so incredibly nice to us. It was just scary at night.

When our car was waiting for a jump start, one of our neighbors, Angie, gave us this craft to do. Mary actually took over the project and I think she did a nice job. We hung it on a tree with duct tape.

It wouldn't be a Jones family vacation if there weren't some sort of disaster. Our battery died and we had to call roadside service to assist with a jump. Then we were off to the beach.

We spent quite a bit of our time at the camp. We went to the beach and took a day trip to San Diego. We were really only camping two days since we spent the third one packing up and coming home. It was a good amount of time for the little ones. And I know Bryce and I coulnd't have handled another night like the last one we had there!

Our camping trip--The Beach

The San Onofre beach. My dad says that this one is mentioned in the Beach Boys song "Surfin' USA" and I can see why. The only beach-goers were our family and cool dudes with boards. It was gorgeous.

Even though I don't like sand, or getting wet and then sandy, or saltwater, or getting sunburned--okay, I really don't like the beach--I definitely appreciate the idea of a beautiful and relaxing getaway and wouldn't want to deny others the opportunity to enjoy. However, I discovered that half of our family are beach lovers (Bryce, Mary, Harrison) and half are beach-from-afar appreciators (Me, Tyce, Cameron). So I guess I'm not alone.

Tyce with a cool find.

Mary loved everything--the water, the sand, and especially collecting things.

Harrison loved everything too. Despite his sometimes-crankiness, he is very adventurous and curious.

Cam was afraid of the waves and preferred digging the sand and tide pools. Unfortunately his shorts didn't have the drawstring in them anymore, so he spent lot of time pulling his clothes back on!

Our camping trip--Day Trip to San Diego

Our whale-watching cruise ship. Bryce and I had a misunderstanding about the Dramamine and ended up not taking it with us on the boat. This resulted in our 3-hour excursion being THREE HOURS OF TORTURE. There was barfing, crying, and cursing, the high point being when our chipper captain said, "Folks, you may have noticed we've slowed down--one of our engines is out. But we'll try to get it up and running just as soon as we can. We'll probably be about an hour late in getting back ot the harbor."

Luckily the engine was miraculously fixed, the rough water stopped, and we started to feel better. The only one fit for the sea was Harrison. Ironic, because he was in one of his "moods" and was by far the least cooperative/pleasant passenger on the boat.

Tyce and Mary Rachel spent most of their time up on deck with the binoculars . . . until they got too sea sick and came inside to, uh, recover.

Rebecca and Harrison. Don't let his cute smile fool you.

A beautiful view of Point Loma and its lighthouse.

Sea lions on a buoy. Looks like a nice way to spend the morning.

You have to click on the picture--and then look really close--but you can see the dolphins. We saw three types of dolphin: Risso's, common, and bottlenose. But no whales. Because we were denied the main attraction, we actually got a refund in the form of another free cruise. (Not sure what we're going to do about that.)

After the whale-watching cruise we went to Old Town San Diego, mostly because Tyce was begging to go to a good Mexican restaurant. No complaints from me.

Our first stop was the Mormon Battalion visitors center, where the super nice sister missionaries kept exclaiming how cute our children were. They dressed up the kids and told them a little about what it would have been like to have been a soldier. We saw a really good video that Tyce and Mary really liked.

The boys dress up and look appropriately determined..

"I'ma shoot us some squirrel for dinner tonight, boys!"

Our little soldiers.

Then we went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch. Bryce makes Harrison laugh, to keep him from running away again.

Tyce needs a big sombrero to cover his big brain.

My favorite picture of ALL! I told Bryce to do bunny ears behind me so everyone would look my direction. You can see that they all reacted to that . . . click on it so you can see their expressions.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Mary won two medals at her school's Olympics on Friday. Her class's country was Canada, eh.

One was for a running race (I couldn't get the details out of her) and one was for sportsmanship. If you've ever seen her run, you know she is a little cheetah.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Because you want the play-by-play of my week . . .

Monday. The memorial service was really nice--and sad, as you can imagine. I keep thinking about that little girl and her not-yet-born baby brother without their daddy. Too, too sad . . .

I was fortunate enough to have one of the YW, Brittany, babysit for me so Bryce and I could go together. It was interesting to get to know our houseguests (the deceased's grandparents) through their remarks at the funeral. They are really sweet people who obviously love their family. I was really glad we could help in a small way by having them stay with us.

Tuesday. Another amazing YW, Tasha, babysat for the twins so Bryce and I could do a sealing session at the temple. Big kids had piano lessons in the afternoon.Tyce played with friends outside in the front (jumping over our landscaper's dirt piles with their bikes) and in the back (jumping on the trampoline). Mary went to Activity Days after dinner and made a butterfly wind chime.

I found out our landscaper's business partner (John) has a daughter who is an actress in Los Angeles. When I heard "actress" I immediately thought of a wannabe starlet, the teenage equivalent of a starving waitress. But I asked about her and he said, "Maybe you've heard of Daveigh Chase?" I hadn't, but I looked her up. Holy cow--check her out. I was so sad for him that he is obviously so proud of his daughter but he never gets to see her (as in, his ex-wife doesn't let him see her). I don't know, maybe there's a good reason for that, but I still felt bad for him.

Wednesday. Twins played at Emily Shapiro's house while I got ready for our "Laurels Birthday Party" activity that night. I spent an hour in the dollar store picking out party supplies. I know, how is that possible.

Tyce went to Scouts in the afternoon, we ate spaghetti for dinner outside in the backyard, and then I went to YW. I'd decorated the YW room with all the cool stuff I'd bought earlier. The party was super way fun. We played the "unwrap the candy bar wearing oven mitts" game, "Fruit Basket" and "Signs." Then I passed out the hats and blowers and we sang "Happy Birthday" to each other over cheesecake. Like I've said before, I have a great group of Laurels.

Thursday. Bryce and Tyce, Jim and Spencer are going to the basketball tournament today. Yes, they are all playing hooky. I wish I were playing hooky. (Bryce: "When a bishop asks me to do something, I've always been taught to say yes.")

I watched the three youngest Shapiro kids plus J.J. Marchant today and those little kids kicked my butt. Last time I had them all over it was easy as pie, but today there was a lot of whining and people being possessive (aka not sharing) stuff. I ran around the whole time referreeing. I should have had a whistle.

Rebecca S. said that Tyce made a 90 on his musicianship exam. Woo hoo!

I have to say a big thank you to Bryce's sister Betsie for teaching us about their home's structured study time. (And a big thank you to Bryce for implementing it at our house.) Before, we had the kids do their homework right after school amidst chaos, commotion, and neighbor kids constantly asking to play. I wanted the kids to "work before play" but the problem was that I couldn't monitor the big kids very well while chasing the little ones, making dinner, etc. Consequently, the big kids did a crummy job on their homework and never really got to play with friends. Now, we have our study hour (one hour for M., two for T.) at 7pm after the twins have gone to bed. The big kids have free time until 5:30, so they can play with friends or whatever. Then we eat, do our after-dinner chores, put the twins down, and do homework. The reason I am so happy is that everything is so much calmer these days, and Tyce's grades have improved quite a lot. (Most of his previous poor grades had been due to lack of organization--actually keeping track of what assignments were due when, etc.) Both kids sit at the table with one or both of us, and we're on hand to answer questions or check work. Bryce frequently does his own work right along with the kids.

But next week we're taking a break from normal life and going camping near San Clemente, CA for part of Spring Break!

P.S. Our sweet little niece Maya turned 2 on Sunday. What a cutie.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Weekend Update--Part 2

The other thing that happened is that someone we know from our old ward died. It is a really tragic circumstance too, as he was only about 30 years old. He has a wife who is 7 months pregnant and an adorable kindergarten-aged daughter. Apparently his wife got up in the night and saw her husband sitting up in bed with a strange look on his face. She asked if he was okay and he said he didn't know. Then he fell over. The ambulance came and took him to the hospital, where he spent the week. Unfortunately all his organs had shut down for some reason (aneurysm? blood clot? I'm not sure) and he was supported by machines. The neurologist said that his brain had swollen and would never recover. So the family had to make the terrible decision to pull him off of his support systems. He passed away several hours later.

We offered our casita to the family for extended family members and we have a set of grandparents staying with us. They are really nice. They have twin 3-year-old great-granddaughters and found our boys to be amusing.

The funeral is tomorrow afternoon.

Again, all my deep thoughts on death and life have been in the forefront of my mind.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Weekend--Part 1

Two big things.

First, Youth Conference was Friday and Saturday, for all the kids ages 14-18. The first night there was an etiquette dinner and speaker. It was the most unusual menu: chicken fried steak, buttered penne, and green beans. I have never had chicken fried steak at a church function. I felt like I was at Luby's in Texas again.

The best part of Youth Conference happened the next day--we did a carnival for a disadvantaged elementary school without a PTA. Each ward was in charge of a booth. There was a soccer shoot-out, hair and face painting, bean bag toss, and the like. There was even a bounce house and a snow cone maker. Our group did a large-scale tic-tac-toe and, the favorite of the carnival-goers, DONUT ON A STRING. There were four pastries hanging from clips on a wooden frame, so four kids could "compete" at a time. Once someone ate their donut off the string the other kids could take theirs off too and end the torture. LOL There was nothing more entertaining than watching those little kids standing there, hands behind their backs, trying to catch a nibble while the donut spun around. (The trick was to either get above it or under it; otherwise they just pushed it around.)

It was wonderful to see the youth serving the kids and really enjoying it, and wonderful to see the families enjoy such a fun and free activity.

Later that night was what I considered to be the lamest part of the conference, the dinner and dance. The dance was DJ'd by an "old" guy (the dad of one of the participants) and he wouldn't allow any of the kids' music to be played. I understand that, IF YOUR COLLECTION INCLUDES MODERN MUSIC. Oh, those poor kids. They had to listen to Huey Lewis and the News, MC Hammer, Bryan Adams (Everything I Do, I Do it For You), and even Boot Scoot Boogie. There was a hula hoop contest (which was fun) and the song playing was "The Twist." One of my Laurels who likes to tease me said, "Sister Jones, why aren't you out there dancing? This song is from your generation." OOOOOOOO! She ran away laughing, the little punk!

I did get some good chatting in with the YW president of the Newport ward and a few other friends I don't normally see. Eventually when the talking was done I got really bored I decided to text message Bryce. I wanted to see what they hype was about, because all the young people are obsessed with texting.

i m bored what r u doin L8TR

Then I felt my IQ dropping so I had to stop.

Anyway, that was Youth Conference.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Book Club

We had our book club last week at Angie's house, where we discussed "The Glass Castle." It was an amazing tale.

She opens her memoir by describing looking out the window of her taxi, wondering if she's "overdressed for the evening" and spotting her mother on the sidewalk, "rooting through a Dumpster." Walls's parents—just two of the unforgettable characters in this excellent, unusual book—were a matched pair of eccentrics, and raising four children didn't conventionalize either of them. The Walls children learned to support themselves, eating out of trashcans at school or painting their skin so the holes in their pants didn't show. Buck-toothed Jeannette even tried making her own braces when she heard what orthodontia cost. One by one, each child escaped to New York City. Still, it wasn't long before their parents appeared on their doorsteps. "Why not?" Mom said. "Being homeless is an adventure."

Before she wrote this book, Ms. Walls graduated from Barnard with honors and worked as a gossip columnist for E! and MSNBC. You would think that someone who came from such a dysfunctional, poverty-stricken family wouldn't live that differently from how she was raised, let alone live on Park Avenue with a celebrity life. (She has since retired to the countryside with her husband.)

The parents in this story were tragic characters, as they were absolutely brilliant people stunted by paranoia, apathy, and alchoholism. By the grace of God their children survived and made something of themselves.

It made me wonder how many people I know in this world, that I know at this certain point--how many came from unspeakable backgrounds? Or at least uncoventional backgrounds? When I speak with the assumption that everyone thinks or feels the same as I do, because of shared experiences--how many times am I wrong?

Our next book is "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

She got me

A few weeks ago Mary wanted to do Mad Libs. I took a turn to ask her to fill in the blanks. This is how our conversation went.

Me: Okay, I need an adverb. You know, a word that ends in "-ly".

M: No, Mr. Lavender said that an adverb tells time, like "yesterday." He couldn't remember what an adverb was so he looked it up in the dictionary, and so he's right.

Me: Well, that's a very narrow definition of an adverb, but that's part of it. To make this story right, why don't you just give me a word that ends with "-ly".

M: Hmmmmm . . . . . . . FLY.

Me: Ohhhhhkayyyyyy. That word ends in "-ly" but it's not an adverb. An adverb tells how something is done, like the dog ran happily, slowly, angrily . . .


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Going back a few weeks

After Mary's baptism everyone left except for my mom, who stayed a few more days. I'm so glad she did! We watched Touched by an Angel together, stuff on the Game Show Network (GSN), did housework, played with kids. So basically she just shared my normal day but it was really nice to have someone to talk to.

One day we even went bowling at Sam's Town. This time I made it over 100. Woo hoo! My mom hadn't been bowling for a really long time but she warmed right up to it. The kids were more naughty than usual, I think because Bryce was there(?). They seem to like to test him. Anyway, that was a fun day.

We also got to go to the temple together one morning, which was lovely . . . until the end. LOL You'll have to ask her about it . . . okay, I'll just tell you. She was given the wrong name at the beginning. So you can imagine that things came to a screeching halt at a certain point. Well, it all worked out just fine in the end and I'm so glad we got to go. I have to give a big thank you to Rebecca S. for watching the boys.

Thanks for spending so much time with us, Mom! We love you!