Thursday, May 27, 2010

I like . . .

rehashing the season finale of LOST with similarly-obsessed viewers,

spider-swinging at the park,

throwing things away,

finding my missing hairbrush in the shower,

drinking strawberry slushes,

hearing good news,

going on dates,

getting enough sleep,

air conditioning,

my clean mini-van,

talking to teenagers,

writing about feelings,

cute pajamas,

pens that work on the first try,


blueberry bagels.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thoughts on Changing Seasons

When Tyce was 4 I took him to get the shots he needed for kindergarten. The nurse asked him if he was scared of shots, and Tyce said no. So she jabbed the needle in his leg. But Tyce jerked his leg and the needle scratched him all the way down his thigh. As you can imagine he was traumatized--and so was I. The nurse apologized and suggested we try again, but the terror in my little boy's eyes, coupled with his pleading that we stop, tore my heart out. It was all I could to to keep myself from crying there in the office. I scooped Tyce up and said we'd be back later in the week.

In the car I lost it. Everything was too much. He didn't want to go through with it and neither did I. The shots, the flyers for kindergarten orientation, the supply lists, the uniform . . . it was too much. This innocent little boy would be going to school soon, where academic pressures and social corruption would be out of my control. His life would change. And I wasn't at all sure he was ready for that.

I know I wasn't.

On the way home we listened to the Tom Chapin song "Mother Earth's Routine", about the changing seasons. It was almost a new season in my little boy's life. The song says, "And she has reasons, for changing seasons--you have to change to grow . . . you have to change to grow!"

Ah, yes.

Ready or not, you have to change to grow.

And of course, he did. And maybe I did a little, too.

The reason I mention this is that last night I went to a band parents' meeting at Basic High School.

I was lost, confused, and overwhelmed. What were they talking about? You mean he has a football game before school starts? And band camp for two weeks before that? Wait, you need me to man the concession booth when? Hold on, I need a minute to wrap my head around this.

It was just too much.

He's not ready for this. The school is too big. The pressures are too great. 

How can I have a child entering high school?

But he's not the little boy pleading for me to protect him anymore; in fact, like all teenagers, he's quite the opposite. Ready to take on the world, to move on, to grow up.

All I can do is hope that he'll be strong, be smart, be wise . . . be himself.

It's almost a new season. It's like he's outgrowing the safety of the nest; he's ready to spread his wings and fly.

I have to be prepared to let him. Because it will happen whether I'm ready or not.

You have to change to grow.

Ah, yes. He will.

And, hopefully, I will too.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Camping at Mt. Charleston

As predicted, it was insanely cold and windy but we still had an awesome time!

We camped somewhere in Lee Canyon, where snow banks had not yet melted.

And yet some in our company still wore shorts.

The older boys (Spencer and Tyce) got the fire going the Boy Scout way: lots of lighter fluid.

Sara and Mary rolled these stumps down the hill for marshmallow-roasting stools. Sara got 8 marshmallows on one stick and ate them all!

Cameron enjoyed his hot chocolate.

Harrison found the ranger's grabber stick and practiced picking up pine cones.

Camille liked sitting on my lap around the campfire, until the smoke inevitably followed her (and then she bolted).

Emily sported Barbie sunglasses while she played with the twins.

Poor Zach "only got five sodas this whole trip!"

Rebecca S. with baby Lizzie, who toddled all over camp.

Jim and Rebecca had a full-time job keeping tabs on 6 kids!

Bryce made a mountain man breakfast for everyone. I pretty much focused on not freezing to death.

Tyce and Spencer spent all morning chopping green wood, against the advice of both fathers.

Mary, Zach, and Sara built this fortress from stumps and branches. The password was OCEAN ("because no one would think to say 'ocean' in the forest").

Later they fortified it against attack. Their battle cry was "Eulalia!" and it was Tyce and Spencer against everyone else. Mary said, "We may have lost, but we nobly battled for freedom and justice." Spencer said, "We battled for world domination . . . and we WON!" They seemed to have a blast.

Emily and Harrison discussed their movie-watching plans for after the camping trip.

And then we packed up to leave. The trip was short but sweet. Next time we go I hope it's above 32 degrees at night.

After we got home and showered, we continued the fun by going to our friends' house to play Settlers of Catan while the younger kids watched a movie.

After a long but fun day I think we all appreciated our nice warm beds that night!

It is so nice to have great friends. Thank you, Jim and Rebecca, for inviting us!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Wacky Wednesday

Crazy dress-up day at school is one of Mary's favorites. Don't worry, the cup on her head was just for the picture.

Also on Wednesday we had a great Mutual activity that the Laurels planned, and I really mean the Laurels. Not me. They did a Bishopric Q & A activity with hilarious questions such as "what was your worst date" and "where was your first kiss." Their written responses were read by the Laurels and the kids had to guess. It was a ton of fun and I was super proud of the leadership and initiative that the older girls showed in planning and carrying off this activity. Maybe I should post Bryce's answers for you? He has some good stories.

Then on Thursday night I spoke at our a Relief Society meeting. The subject was Happiness is: Motherhood. I focused on finding joy in motherhood. It went okay--not great, but okay. I think I got heckled by someone. We had a difference of opinion on forcing children to do things. I was trying to point out that finding happiness comes from teaching and correcting but not by force. I stand by my opinion. Maybe it was a matter of semantics . . . one time someone asked me if I disciplined my children and I replied, "Oh, yes, of course." Later I found out she meant, do I used physical punishment, which is a lot different than my definition. But anyway. It happened, I read a lot of great material preparing for it, and I'm glad to be on the other side of it now.

Before that my dear friend Aranne invited me and Kim to her house for dinner. That was my favorite part of the night. She made a delicious pasta dish, a green salad, sauteed asparagus, and garlic bread. It was great. It was really nice to talk with her and Kim (and her new baby Cole), to relax before the activity.

Tonight we're going to Mt. Charleston. If we're not frozen solid by the morning I will tell you alllllll about it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Weekend

You guys. This weekend was lone-tastic. Bryce is a superstar for taking all four kids to Utah by himself.

But we started out the weekend by attending the twins' preschool graduation on Friday.

Oh my word, those guys are so cute. The kids sang and did actions to Sesame Street songs like ABC Rap and Monster in the Mirror.

We sat by the McEwens--their little Kennedy is a doll. Each child received a certificate and posed for pictures except for the two sets of twins--they posed together. I was so happy to find out we were sitting by Faith and Andrew's mom--they're the other set of twins. And I found out Laura reads my blog! So it was cool to make such a nice friend there.

Later that afternoon Bryce and the kids packed up the minivan to get on the road. Harrison wanted to take a picture of me so he wouldn't forget me.

Thank goodness this isn't the only picture that exists of me in the world.

I gave them all hugs and kisses goodbye. And you already know what I did after they left!

The reason for the trip was a program Tyce attended at BYU called Foundations. It's for kids of color in grades 8-11 to get them ready for college. It seems like Tyce had a great time and even got to go on stage for a demonstration. The presenter gave him a candy bar and then later--he took it away and ate it! The object lesson was about acting and being acted upon. It all worked out because Tyce got four candy bars in the end.

They also had a dance-off and did a service project for humanitarian aid.

I seems like it was a positive experience and I hope he is renewed in his commitment to succeed academically.

Meanwhile Mary and the twins played with their cousins Kess and Kira. We all look forward to the arrival of Betsie's and Andy's newest daughter this summer!

So the reason I stayed home is because I had girls camp meetings: first with the adult leaders and second with the YCLs (youth camp leaders). Camp is in three weeks! Ugh, I just got an eye tic from typing that. We're basically ready, I think. I wrapped up our leaders meeting yesterday and Jolene said, "So who's going to do the certification?" I looked at the itinerary I'd typed and saw "certification" on there three times . . . but I'd given no thought as to how that would actually happen. I'm sure there will be many other things like that . . . so wish us luck. This camp we are the blind leading the blind.

And that, my friends, was the weekend.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Of Sonic and Toilet Paper

Since I had the evening to myself I decided to go to a movie. And knowing I was going to a chick flick -- "The Last Song" -- I thought I'd better run to the theatre's restroom to grab some toilet paper in case of crying. There's nothing worse than being caught with nothing but your sleeve to stop the tears from ruining good mascara. But there's nothing better than sitting in the dark, alone, bawling at a sad story with a wad of tissue to honk your nose into. Ladies, am I right?

But I didn't cry.

Maybe it wasn't really that kind of movie. Or maybe I'm just cold-hearted?

Anyway, afterward I decided to treat myself to a hamburger at Sonic. Even alone, I am a cheap date. If it's not on the $1 value menu I won't get it. EXCEPT!!! I did order onion rings, because if there's anything I learned from Miley Cyrus it's that life's too short.

So there I was, munching my food in the car when I discovered I needed more napkins.

That's when I remembered my unused tangle of toilet paper crammed in my purse.


I had the hamburger in one hand and grabbed the wad of tissue in the other as the Sonic server passed me with a double take.

"Oh, Ma'am? Can I get you anything?" Looking pointedly at my right hand she asked, "Like . . . more napkins?"

Spitting a pickle into the paper I chirped, "No thanks. I'm fine!"

I'm a woman with the night off and a ball of TP as big as your head. I'm doing great!

I'm on a date with myself. And I am one classy lady.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Mom

This is my mom, Patricia Ann Dreier Cook. (You can call her Pat.)

But I get to call her MOM.

Some words that describe my mom are generous, thoughtful, great sense of humor, detailed, complimentary, and wise.

If I'm ever feeling down, my mom makes me feel like the most amazing person in the world.

She loves her grandchildren deeply and thinks they are angels. If I ever complain about one of the kids she and my dad are skeptical that they could really do anything wrong. I always say that that works fine for me, because the kids need all the fans they can get. Sometimes I use that to my advantage when I ask, "Now what would your grandparents think about that?" I know they would never want to let them down.

My mom saved my hide many times growing up. I was a responsible student but, like everybody else, I could be irresponsible. I was so grateful when she brought my music to band (7th grade) so I wouldn't be docked a grade. I also appreciated the time she brought my "real" clothes to school so I wouldn't have to wear my marching band grubbies all day (10th grade).

My mom was always the chauffeur when my friends and I went out. I knew I could count on her to run anyone home who needed a ride. She liked my friends and my friends liked her.

My mom loves games. She loves the comics section of the newspaper. She loves to laugh. I probably got my warped sense of humor from trying to make her laugh! I always have fun when I'm with her. She is always up for a round of Uno with Mary.

My mom collects pretty things. She loves mysteries. She chews gum. She is the ward bulletin specialist. She is the proud pet-parent of Sadie, their brand-new dog. She likes good TV--she and my dad introduced me to "The Real Housewives of Orange County."

My mom is a genuinely good person with a good heart, and I love her.

I would be lost without her.

Mom, I love you!

I really, really do.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mother's Day

My state of mind will make no sense to you unless you understand one thing: Settlers of Catan. I thought I was in heaven playing Yahtzee whenever I felt like it, but downloading Catan to my cell phone was the most addicting 8 bucks I've ever spent.

And there's something else you should know. I've been waking up at 5:30 a.m. to go walking with my friend Carmen at 6. To get a good night's rest I need to be asleep before LOST is even over, and you know that's not happening. But when I do get to bed I worry that I'm not falling asleep fast enough, that I'm going to be tired the next day, and that I'll forget everything Sawyer said about blowing up the submarine (and is he still a candidate?).

So the combination of insomnia and an addicting game equals too little sleep and a lack of emotional control.


Now about Mother's Day.

We have early-morning church and I was pleased that Mary got herself into the shower in plenty of time for me to do her hair, as we agreed the night before. She changed her mind about me blowing it dry and just wanted two ponytails.

I started to part her hair in a zig-zag. She got grumpy and whined, "Mom! You're taking too long! It doesn't have to be perfect!"

But I was almost done by then I had just poured some leave-in conditioner on my palm. When she saw it she freaked, "I don't want that on my hair! Ugh! Mom! Seriously, I'm just going to do my hair myself."

So I did the mature thing and blopped it on her hair anyway. "Come on, Mare, I'm going to make it really nice and smooth. Just sit still for two more minutes."

But I had crossed the line. She stormed out of the bathroom, a brush and a ponytail holder in hand.

I had lost the battle. And at that moment, I lost control.

"Fine! If you don't want your hair to look nice, that's your choice! You have completely ruined Mother's Day for me!" I cried, as I stomped off to my closet.

I sat there feeling angry.

And then I started to cry.

I knew I was being unreasonable. And it wasn't really about the hair. It was about not being in control. Of anything. Ever.

I grabbed my Real Men Marry Athletes t-shirt to wipe my eyes and to bury my face in. The reasonable part of me said, "Okay. Enough. Take a deep breath and put your makeup on. Stop being dramatic. Bryce is downstairs taking care of everything, so all you have to do is pull yourself together and enjoy your day."

So I took some deep breaths. I even fake-smiled to chase the negativity away. I said, "I'm ready."

But then I thought of sitting with the kids at church. And I began to bawl all over again.

Downstairs I heard everyone getting shoes, scriptures, and crayons. I heard my wonderful husband gather the kids into the car. I heard them drive away.

And instead of grabbing my stuff and making a late entrance, I went back to bed. In my church dress, with no makeup on.

I knew I was missing the best program of the year. I knew my kids would stand there singing Mother's Day songs to every woman in the ward but me. I would miss the Mother's Day gift and the special lesson in Relief Society, where we might even get a treat.

But I was too tired to care.

And so I skipped church on Mother's Day.


Bryce came home during Sunday School, just like I knew he would.

"The kids are evil," he said, plopping himself down in the bed.

I laughed. He always knows the right thing to say.

"Were they difficult today?" I asked.

"No, they were pretty good," he replied, filling me in on the details.

He ran his fingers through my hair.

"I'm sorry I didn't go," I said, tearing up.

He told me not to worry about it. He gave me a kiss.

And then he left.

And I finally drifted off to sleep.


When the kids returned I was feeling better. Bryce made me a fruit pizza for lunch. He explained that the kids would go around the table adding one fruit at a time, and say something they love about me. Well, I wasn't recovered enough for that! I was pretty teary. The most unexpected compliment I received was from Cameron, who said: "You inspire me." Inspire? Did he even know what that means? Bryce asked, "Inspires you to do what?" and he said, "To learn stuff." How nice is that?

Afterward I read with Cameron and Harrison, played Quelf with Mary, and played Skip-Bo with Tyce.

It was great to spend time with each of my kids.

I love them so much--even though I'm not in control of everything. Well, anything. Ever.

I am grateful to be a mother--even if I do hide in my closet on Mother's Day.

Thank you for loving me, kids. You are beautiful, talented, and generous--all of you. Thank you for the privilege of being your mom.


Tomorrow I will write a tribute to my own mother, who is amazing and wonderful.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Eight Things on my Mind

1. I went to the temple last week and did work for a lady with six names! That's my kind of gal. It is so nice to get away from the cares of the world for a few hours. There is such a feeling of peace and tranquility there. In fact, I was enjoying my time so much that when I got dressed to leave I was shocked that I only had 20 minutes to get the kids from preschool. I left the serenity of the House of the Lord and flew down the highway like O. J. in a Bronco.

I was 8 minutes late and Cameron, Harrison, and Kennedy were being escorted to the late office. I intercepted them and apologized for my tardiness. I thought the kids would be relieved I hadn't abandoned them but Harrison said, "Why did you come get us? We were about to get ice cream!" Poor kids.

2. Mary has been doing research on snails for a science project. Her zeal and zest for gastropods is very cute. You might already know that she has a fondness for those creatures and has attempted several times to keep them as pets. She did a google search for "snails" and was dismayed to find that one of the top finds was a recipe site. Can you imagine? She read me such titles as Snail Ravioli and Stuffed Mushrooms with Snails. Food for thought: If those recipes use salt, do the snails disappear?

Or do they just melt in your mouth?

So now you know that if there's ever a famine, come to the Joneses'. We have protein!

3. I cannot get a grip on the housework lately. Messes and clutter seem to multiply no matter where I go. Throw two papers away, gain 10. Clear off the counter, gain a stack of books. Do the dishes once, and the kids insist on eating again. Hello!

4. I just heard this conversation:

Harrison: So *I'm* not going to be your twin.

Cameron: Mo-ommmmmmm! Harrison won't be my twin!

Me: I'm very sorry to hear that.

Cameron: Harrison, you better still be my twin, or I'm going to punch you in the back.

5. This weekend was the ward's annual father-son campout. Mary and I played it low-key here at home. When the men returned Tyce and some friends went to see Iron Man 2. Unpacking and doing errands, everyone was exhausted and I thought, "Nothing says 'Happy Mother's Day' like your family abandoning you for the weekend." That is, unless I also go away. Let's have some better planning next year, Men. I can totally help you with that.

On the upside, no one went to the hospital this year. It was close, but they just have a few scrapes. And Tyce was really happy to have our next-door neighbor Steven there.

6. I had to pick Mary up from school this morning because she's sick! Apparently she unexpectedly threw up all over her math book. I feel guilty because I had her take one of Tyce's pills (same meds, but a higher dosage) because I hadn't picked up her prescription at Walgreen's. I assume it was because of that, since she was perfectly fine when she left for school. Just an hour later and she's back at home on the couch.

7. We went on a family walk last night (where all the kids rode their bikes). Tyce can do a wheelie and it looks just like a rearing horse. Every time he did it Bryce and I said, "Neigh!" and boy, did we think we were funny. We even told Tyce he could do it for his friends and then brag that he has a Mustang. He had to feign annoyance, as per the teenager-parent contract . . . but deep down I think he liked it. Deep, deeeeep down.

8. Okay, I am going to write about Mother's Day tomorrow.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Girly Girls and Body Talk

I was doing Mary's hair yesterday morning. She talked about a very fussy 4th-grade classmate, who wears lip gloss, nail polish, and fancy clothes. Mary said, "And at field day when we all got wet, she was wearing a white shirt and you could see her training bra underneath! She didn't even have the decency to put on a jacket!"

Sensing she was opening the door to a more sensitive conversation, I asked if many girls at school wore training bras, and if they talked about their changing bodies.

Mary said, "Yes, some do. And there is one thing I've been talking to Sara about."

"Yes?" I said, leaning closer.

"It's about a part of our bodies changing as we get older."

"Yes?" I said, leaning so close I was practically in her lap. "What is it?" I was ready for a very special episode of the morning routine.

"We've been very concerned about  . . . the EAR."

"Oh. Um, okay," I said, confused. "Wait, what?"

"Mr. Colver said that we're born with millions of tiny hairs in our ears and as we age they die. So that's why we shouldn't listen to loud music with headphones. We need to be careful with our hearing now so we won't lose it when we're older. He said that our class has already killed hundreds of his tiny hairs with all the talking we've done this week alone."


I finished doing her braids. And I was quite relieved to know that one of the most pressing body issues she has is whether all of her cillia stay intact through adulthood.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Bryce and Mary are out together. She used Bryce's cell phone to text me from the restaurant.

hi mom its mary and and dad said a bad word (no i didn't)

Ok but do you know wich word he said. .......he said jack beep

There's nothing Mary likes more than busting her dad!

Life Lesson #30: There's no way to call someone a jack beep without this 10-year-old ratting you out.