Thursday, February 26, 2009

A list of thoughts

1. My newest niece is being born soon . . . maybe today? I can't wait to hear the news.

2. I went to Tyce's band concert last night at the high school. They were much better than I thought they'd be! I could hear the French horns in certain parts and thought they sounded really good.

3. We got to spend some time with Betsie, Andy, Kess and Kira this weekend as they stopped through on their way to Disneyland. We hope to spend more time with them on the way back.

Every time Kira (age 2 1/2) saw my camera she closed her eyes and said, "Cheese!"

Andy and Tyce had some male bonding time.

Mary and Kess (age 6) had fun together.

4. I'm watching kids today nearly all day. Wish me luck.

5. We have New Beginnings next week. Earlier attempts at planning fell through so the program is kind of thrown together. Cue the hand-wringing!

6. There's a youth fireside coming up featuring Alex Boye. Recognize him from the Mo Tab? I am so totally excited about taking Tyce.

7. I am the only one in the family who's not been sick yet. Knock on wood.

8. Weather has been perfect lately. We enjoyed our walk to the park yesterday. Want to come visit?

That's about all for today.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Making your blog into a book

Natalie, I'm answering your question!

This is for anyone who has a blog. Did you know you can make your blog into a book? You can. I've done two--one for 2007 and one for 2008. (You choose which entries to use; it can be a few from a certain time period, or a whole year like mine, or longer.) Both turned out great--very sturdy and professional-looking.

The company I used is blurb. You download their booksmart software (easy), and it "slurps" your blog. You can then edit each page's layout--sometimes you might want the page to feature one large picture with your text, or make one page a photo collage, for example. There are dozens of layouts for both text and pictures. You don't have to use each and every blog entry you wrote, and you can add entries or pictures as well.

Two helpful hints:

1) You must have a gmail account. At least, that was my experience. I pounded my head into a brick wall trying to make booksmart log into blogger with my "regular" hotmail account for longer than I care to admit. (I believe this is because blogger and google/gmail are related . . . but I'm not sure.) Finally I created a gmail account and it worked just fine.

2) For the first 6 weeks of this year I got a message like "booksmart is experiencing technical difficulties and must shut down." I was so frustrated and thought there was something wrong with my computer or its capabilities. Then one day, everything worked just fine! So I guess they really *did* have technical problems. So if this happens to you, don't give up. Just try again in a few days.

When you're done editing, you can choose how you want your book printed: softcover, hardcover with dust jacket, or hardcover with image wrap. There is a price difference of course. I chose the hardcover with image wrap both times and I'm very pleased. I consider it to be our family history.

You can preview my book here and see the difference in pricing. Pricing is done per page so yours would be potentially less expensive than mine. Regardless of length, it was totally worth it.

Booksmart also allows you to create other types of books. My friend Carmen (or her sister?) made books for her parents' birthdays. Each child contributed pictures and childhood memories, which were uploaded into the software. I can imagine that they made for very special gifts.

I wouldn't have known about this either if not for a friend mentioning it on her blog, so . . . I'm passing the info on to you!

And on the 7th day . . .

"Sunday is a day of rest," the teacher tells the class.

Not at our house, not this week.

This was yesterday's schedule.

7:00 a.m. Bryce went to a stake meeting.

9:15 a.m. Got a call from Bryce, reminding me that ward council started fifteen minutes ago.

9:30 a.m. Met Bryce and others at ward council while Tyce watched the kids at home.

9:45 a.m. Bryce left to make appts. for the stake presidency.

10:00 a.m. Ward council ended. Went home to find Mary still asleep, and the rest of the kids still in their pajamas watching Maggie and the Ferocious Beast on TV.

10:35 a.m. Bryce came home.

10:55 a.m. Bryce and Cameron left for sacrament meeting. I stayed home with sick children.

12:15 p.m. I left for church so I could do some business before Young Women. Passed Bryce on the road as he was coming home. We waved.

2:20 p.m. Cameron and I came home. Mary was still asleep!

3:00 pm. I left for a YW presidency meeting.

5:15 p.m. I returned home.

6:30 p.m. Bryce left to extend a calling to a ward member.

6:55 p.m. I left to go visiting teaching. Bryce and I waved at each other as we passed on the road.

9:00 p.m. I came home and fell in to bed.

And then we watched Flight of the Conchords. Together at last, holding hands in the the light of the TV screen.

It was a busy, but not unhappy, Sunday.

Now it's Monday and I'm sitting here in my pjs with a blanket wrapped around my shoulders. There are a million things I could be doing.

Apparently I have declared today my make-up day of rest.

Life is good.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Never Whisperer Goes to the Movies

Last week we took the kids to see the movie theater to see Coraline.

Mom mini-review: For kids 8+. Too scary and just plain weird for the younger set. Some language (Lord's name in vain--so disappointing), some elderly almost-nudity (so disturbing).

One of the opening scenes:

Coraline gets a creepy doll made in her exact likeness. After discovering an alternate reality and the trying to escape its evil lure she finds another doll, modeled after her mother and father. Horrified and angered to discover that her "real" parents have been affected by this other world too, Coraline throws the doll into the fire.

As the doll burned quietly in the fire, Cameron shouted, "WHY IS SHE COOKING HER FATHER FOR DINNER?"

Everyone within earshot erupted in muffled giggles.

Cameron looked around and said, "HEY, STOP LAUGHING AT ME."

Which, of course, made it worse--and people laughed out loud.

Cameron screwed up his face and looked like he wanted to shout the audience down. Quickly I insisted, "Here, Cam, have a Tootsie Roll" while I shoved the bag in his face.

He happily accepted my offer.

But I laughed for about an hour after that.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Monday night fun

This Monday Betsy Fowler came over for dinner and Family Home Evening. I was at the doctor with Mary for a check up forever (she's 55 1/2 inches tall, 68 lbs.--that's 75th percentile for height and 60th percentile for weight) and left it to Bryce to make dinner. He did a great job! He made King Ranch chicken without a recipe, and even made brownies for dessert.

Betsy brought juice and our kids nearly died from excitement.

And then . . . Betsy changed our lives forever.

She introduced us to the toilet paper game.

One broom handle + a pack of TP = crazy good times.

Two contestants race to see who can unravel their roll the fastest.

Our family will never be the same.

In fact, Cameron and Harrison played that game on their own in the bathroom the very next day.

Good times, good times.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Divine Miss Em

On Sunday evening my former college roommate, Emily Ferguson, came to visit! She was here for a conference with her sister Liz. Talking to Emily made me remember how much I miss her!

Emily is on the left, Liz on the right.

Emily is down-to-earth, witty, and genuinely cares for people. I remember her giving me sound advice when we were in college and I really valued that. She also threw her cup of water at me when I made her mad one time, so I guess you could say she appreciates a little slapstick humor.

Do you remember that, Em?

We talked about work, relationships, and life in general. I had to vie for Emily and Liz's attention, and I have to admit it was hard to compete with flips, knock-knock jokes, and human pyramids.

Emily and Liz are very good with children and didn't seem to mind their attention-getting antics.
It was great to catch up with my dear friends.

We spent Valentine's Day in India - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more We sailed away for adventure and romance. Bryce made us dinner reservations at an Indian restaurant in Las Vegas. It was a huge surprise to me, and I was really excited to go. For the evening we changed our names to Punjab and Kelly Kapoor.

He made me a mix CD to listen to on the way up. The first song was from our wedding video, "The Wedding Song" (There is Love) by Paul Stookey. I thought I was going to end up a cry baby before we even started the date. I just love that song and remembering our wedding. I have the best husband ever--one who still makes me mix CDs.

We made it to the restaurant. I'd pulled myself together by then.

It was a prix fixe menu of four courses; we chose what we wanted in the second and third dishes.
First course: cauliflower panna cotta with spiced caviar.

Verdict: not our favorite. Smelled like stinky cauliflower. Bryce's justification for eating the whole thing: "I paid for it."

Second course: Bryce--salmon. Rebecca--pheasant.

Verdit: Salmon was pretty good. Pheasant was absolutely amazingly delicious. What I didn't eat Bryce gladly did. This dish was the winner of the night. I'd go back again to get this.

Third course (main dish): Bryce--lamb Tikka. Rebecca--chicken korma. Sorry this is an "after" picture!

Verdict: Bryce said his lamb had a sort of vindaloo base and he liked it. My chicken korma was very mild and pleasant.

Fourth course (dessert): champagne jello shots with a much fancier name. I asked our waiter if we could have a substitution, because we didn't drink alcohol. When he looked at me blankly I elaborated, "And we don't eat alcohol, as the case may be." He backed slowly away as he said, "Ah. Yes. Well, we'll see what Chef is willing to do for you tonight."

Chef agreed to serve us a different panna cotta, kind of like a flan with sweet whipped cream. It was quite good.

And then we were done. What came next? Well ROMANCE of course!

I love my wonderful, amazing, handsome Valentine!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's Day

I just love Valentine's Day. Don't you? I enjoy celebrating all types of love: friendship, parent-child, and of course, romance. I like heart-shaped gifts and heart-shaped food! I like making cards for my family. I like red and pink and white together. I like going to my kids' Valentine's Day parties at school because it's just a fun place to be.

But Valentine's Day was on Saturday this year; Tyce had a merit badge midway for Scouts and Bryce went to help with an Eagle Scout project. Then Tyce had his solo and ensemble competition scheduled for the afternoon.

It all made my heart-shaped preparations a little more . . . difficult.

Tyce's duet partner forgot his instrument. So they couldn't perform, sadly. Ugh. I was really disappointed because they had practiced quite a bit and sounded good. But I will admit that it freed up our day.

We skipped the breakfast festivities and had dinner plans that night, so I did my best to fit in a little party for lunch. I got to make love-ly sandwiches and tie balloons to chairs. I was happy.

The kids got Valentine's Day books from Grandma Judy and Grandpa Al, which was a real treat! Bryce got Mary a Hannah Montana tin of popcorn.

Tyce, I guess, is a little too old for all of this and preferred playing with friends. But not before I made him give me a hug, which he did willingly. (I think.)

I just L-O-V-E my family.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

For the love of food

The Girls Camp fundraiser was on Friday night (dinner and dessert auction). The camp directors, Aranne and Kara, did an AWESOME job planning and running it. It turned out to be a million times easier than our two fundraisers last year, because the girls themselves were more involved this time AND we netted more money (over $1300) in just one night. Woo hoo!!!! I can' t say enough about how well it went and how pleased I am with the outcome. We have awesome ward members who really came to support our Young Women, and our camp directors--well Aranne and Kara are wonderful. They did a fabulous job.

I made several treats for the dessert auction. I thought they were just so pretty I had to take a picture.

Giganto sugar cookies with pink icing--I was hoping this would appeal to a little girl and I was right!

Two sets of white-chocolate dipped strawberries--Bryce ended up buying one of these for $19 because he didn't know I made them. (I could have made some at home for free.)

Cinnamon rolls--I hated to give these away.

Fruit pizza--I think this is the most beautiful dessert ever--not because I made it but I think the shapes and colors of the fruit are just so gorgeous.

We bought some caramel apples, brownies, and . . . oh yeah, the strawberries. Everyone was all sugared up by bed time so, not only did the girls make a lot of money, we all had a good time.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


You know I am pretty even tempered. I didn't get worked up over Prop 8, even though I am passionate about my position. I think I have a better idea for the stimulus package than Congress does, but they have yet to ask my opinion.

But this.

This bothers me, incenses me, offends me down to my very core.

And she's soliciting donations. You know, just in case you want to subsidize her lifestyle more than you already do--via tax dollars.

These are comments I found that express my sentiment exactly.

Why is it that someone needs to go through major, intensive screening to adopt a child but any welfare mom can just walk into a place, get knocked up artificially and have 8 kids to the detriment of all of them? Their grandmother even says she's crazy and irresponsible and is the one raising them. How did she even pay for the treatment? What doctor in his right mind would do this? She says that she believed all of those embryos were God's gift and she doesn't believe in abortion. CREATING A LIFE THROUGH A LAB AND IN VITRO IS NOT GOD'S GIFT IT'S SCIENCE'S GIFT!!! Those babies were not created by God but by a lab technician.


And she has a publicist. If she gets her own reality show on TLC I'm going to have IVF, implant *10* babies, and kick her butt.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This is a busy week.

Even though the twins are in preschool in the afternoons, I only have 1 1/2 hours before Tyce comes home. I'm not complaining. But I've been picking him up, and his duet partner, so they can practice with me before their solo and ensemble festival this Saturday. I'm more nervous about this competition than they are.

Tonight we have an ice cream social fundraiser for the band. Then an hour later I have a mother-daughter activity with Mary at church for her Activity Days. Thursday the youth go to the temple. And Friday is our Girls Camp fundraiser (dinner and auction). Saturday is Tyce's duet performance and the festival AND it's Valentines' Day.

Like I said, a busy week.

But good.

I've had two lunch dates in the last week with friends. So I'm not too busy to have fun!

This weekend it was cold and rainy.

Bryce and I had planned to ride the train in Boulder City for our family activity, but the weather canceled that plan. So we went bowling. The scoring leader was Tyce, followed closely by Mary and Harrison. The rest of us fell somewhere . . . ahem, lower on the scoreboard.

Then we went to Pei Wei, where I used my gift card and got my favorite salad in the world.

The kids swiped extra fortune cookies and chopsticks for later use.

And then we piled into the car.
But not before Bryce discovered he was still holding his drink! Busted.
So that was our little outing.

In other news, someone in our household is reading the Twilight series. That someone is not me.

Well, I've got to get ready to pick kids up from middle school.

One more thing: I went on this guy's website and played around for a minute. You can make your own by clicking "spell" at the bottom on the post.

Friday, February 6, 2009

25 things about me

I wasn't going to post this because I thought it would be information overload. And then I thought, well, what else am I going to write today?

That my house is finally clean?

That I'm teaching a lesson on Virtue this Sunday?

That our garage door broke and the part won't be in for another week?

Not today. But I need to say something.

So here it is. Some of this you already know, and some . . . well, prepare to be razzle dazzled. Yeah!

I assume you already know that my family and my faith are the two most important things to me. I'm going to do my best to tell you *random* things and not give you my entire life story in chronological order.

1. I am very organized and like to do things in chronological order.

2. I did a study abroad program to Italy while in college. I gave a report on Dante, while standing IN Dante’s house. (Not an inferno.)

3. I became a foster parent, and consequently a first-time mom, when I was 23.

4. I have a special talent when it comes to swatting flies.

5. Late at night, sometimes I check the LOST message boards for theories and freak myself out with the possibilities.

6. I love making heart-shaped food on Valentine’s Day like pancakes and breadsticks.

7. I was once told by a former BF that he dumped me because I was a boring conversationalist.

8. I am very, very loyal. If you were ever my friend (including boyfriends and crushes) you will always be special to me. I have probably googled you to find out what you’re up to. I know, I’m a border-line stalker . . . but a cheerful, harmless one.

9. I played the French horn all through college, and then for things like Christmas programs. Now my oldest son plays the French horn and I have dreams of us wearing matching powder blue outfits and performing duets.

10. I bought a 3-year-old baby grand piano for $300 off of craigslist.

11. I love that I have dark brown eyes, just like all of my kids.

12. I believe in asking questions, even though sometimes I know it makes me look like an idiot.

13. I dislike being invited to “shopping parties” because I feel obligated to buy something I usually don’t want.

14. I love to learn and would love to go back to school for a masters degree--maybe in psychology, school counseling, social work, or English.

15. My husband is the most down-to-earth, rock-solid person I know. On a road trip to Las Vegas (1994) his roommate Shaun said to me, “Whoever Bryce marries will be one lucky woman.” I barely knew Bryce back then but always remembered that--and he was right.

16. I love symmetry. Circles and squares are my favorite shapes. (Does anyone else over the age of 5 have a favorite shape?)

17. I look good in red.

18. I am blessed to love serving others, and particularly love serving young people. I love teenagers but am strangely afraid of having one of my own.

19. I think I look hot in my mini-van.

20. I would love to serve a church mission to Africa someday.

21. My dream job would be dictionary editor or something in the field of etymology.

22. I LOVE my brother and his family. I always, always wished I had more brothers and sisters and resolved that I would definitely have more than two children.

23. My 9-year-old daughter is one of the most fascinating, creative, intuitive people I know.

24. I might have to break up with my hair stylist because I can’t afford to keep getting highlights and I’m not sure how to tell her.

25. I like to make up jokes. I love to laugh. I usually laugh at my own jokes, so I keep myself pretty happy.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Picture

Here is my mini-bio as a Taste of Home field editor in the February / March 2009 issue!

This is the thing I wanted to show you. You can take your hands off your hats now.

Here is what it says:

Rebecca Cook Jones / HENDERSON, NEVADA

FAMILY STATS: Husband Bryce, attorney; four children, Tyce, 12; Mary Rachel, 9; and twins Cameron and Harrison, 4. Rebecca is a stay-at-home mom and freelance writer.

"Growing up I didn't do any cooking at all, so imagine my rude awakening when I went away to college! After a few not-so-pleasing concoctions, I started to get a little more comfortable in the kitchen.

"As a wife and mother, I love planning special meals and parties and creating recipes that use unusual combinations of ingredients. I also enjoy serving as president of our church's young women's group and singing in the choir."

I literally had no idea how to shop, plan, or prepare meals when I got on my own. But I loved to be creative and try. Carmen remembers the infamous turkey/ramen/Veg-All casserole from our Liberty Square days . . . oh, that was hideous.

I won't say that was my only flop. But it was one of my worst "creations."

From that point, the only way to go was UP.

Through the years I figured out what I was doing, for the most part. Most of my meals turn out just fine. And I do love to throw a party!

But I've mentioned before that I'm trying to move us all to a more vegetarian diet. New protein sources, new spices, new cooking methods . . . I feel like that college girl all over again.

This time I have four picky "roommates" who openly reject my offerings.

But at least my boyfriend likes my cooking. And, just like in college, that's all that really matters to me.

(Kids, don't worry--you can have macaroni and cheese tonight.)