Thursday, September 30, 2010

Clarification on What I Consider Friendly

Here are some things I consider friendly.

1. Smile when I pass you.

2. Say, "How's it going".

3. Wave in the parking lot.

4. Say hi to my kids.

5. In a meeting, nod like my contribution was valuable instead of checking your watch.

6. In a group, give and take in conversation. Or just listen without checking your BlackBerry.

If you want to actually talk, I'm up for it.

That's . . . pretty much it. I don't want any stalkers or creepers telling me my hair smells nice.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Post for Men in which I Invite You to Be Friendly

On Sunday I finished making copies of the new month's YW calendar and was too late to find a seat in Sunday school. So I sat on the sofa in the foyer, which I will admit I do quite often during the second hour of church.

I was alone. Then a young father came up and sat across from me. He joked, "Hey, you're in the father's lounge." I laughed with him, but then I noticed his eyes were serious. If I could read his mind it would his next thoughts would have been, "Get out. Go gossip and chick-talk with your girl friends; this is man territory."

So I guess if someone has the gall to segregate the foyer by gender then it's up to me to integrate it.

I am the Rosa Parks of the Sunday School skippers. And I refuse to give up my seat.


So this next thing has been on my mind for about a year now.

Most of my male associates are from church, so I don't know if this would also translate to the workplace or other places. So I guess I would have to limit this to "men at church."

But my generalization is: Many men are not friendly to women at church.

You know which men are friendly? The converts. Or the weirdies. Or my husband, who is neither.

I don't mean that the men are mean--I mean that they don't engage in the give-and-take, back-and-forth that it takes to make a friendship. Or at least a pleasant social relationship.

Bryce will confirm that the trait I value almost above all others is friendliness.

To me, it shows respect. If you're interested enough to ask questions, to listen and respond, it shows respect. It gives you something to build on. Maybe you'll like the person, maybe not. But you can at least smile.

Maybe I'm in the minority but I like to talk to groups other than other women; I like old folks, I like children, I like teenagers . . . and yes, I do like the different perspective I get from talking to men.


Sometimes a meeting will have some downtime and the topic will turn to current events or politics. I hear all sorts of opinions, from the intelligent and substantive to the "I-think-I-heard-it-on-Rush-Limbaugh" sketchy. One time the lady I sat by rolled her eyes and said, "I have no idea what they're talking about."

But I do. And I love a good discussion that isn't about kids or food storage or that latest sale at Old Navy.

So I jump in. But when I do, I'm sometimes met with a dismissive glance.


Two words. UN. FRIENDLY.

Just because I'm not working doesn't mean that I'm not smart. Politics and current events are public domain for the self-educated and informed. There's no "Men Only" sign on newsworthy topics. It's not like I'm trying to dominate your discussion about prostate health.


I don't think I ingratiate myself into private conversations . . . usually. But I'm human. Maybe I do.

Shouldn't we all like all kinds of people? We're all part of the human family. It makes life a lot nicer to be nice, to value each other's thoughts and view points.

Men are different, women are different, but I think it's ridiculous to act like they can't mix or the world will blow up. It's not flirting to be nice. It's not a waste of time to get to know people. You can have a professional relationship and still be respectful, warm, and cordial.

I'm glad for the men at church who are friendly to me--and to others.

I'm glad for the men in my LIFE who are friendly to me--and to others.

Most men don't care about Clinique Bonus time (in which I scored some pretties) any more than I care about the new app for the iPhone that fires gun shots (which I had demonstrated to me--or maybe AT me--on Sunday).

But there are lots of things we all do like. Or hate. Or eat. Or watch. Or hope for.

Come sit with me in the foyer next time and let's have a friendly chat.

I guarantee you we have more in common than you think.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Needs vs. Wants

I really need a new office chair.

I really want a new trampoline.

I really need a new twin mattress.

I really want a picture to hang in a certain spot in my front room.

Craigslist, rescue me.

I am in danger of halting my progress on Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Money can't buy me happiness--but it can almost buy me self-actualization.

Just kidding.

(Only my passion for Sawyer can do that.)

One of the few times when modest is not hottest.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Storm is Passing

Or else we're just in the eye of the hurricane. Haha.

In the car I thought of an analogy. Come with me to my kitchen. See this microwave?

It's a photo of one like mine. And it's just like yours, except that on mine the 2, 4, 8, and 0 don't work.

So how do I put something on for 4 minutes? I press 3:61. How about 45 seconds? I just do 51 and stop it 6 seconds early. What about 28 minutes? Well .  . . never mind. That one's too hard.

The point is, it still works . . . it just works differently. To get the results you want you have to be creative, maybe a little more attentive, more patient.

Now apply this to people.


Do you get see what I'm getting at? My children may require more creativity, more attention and patience to get the same results, but when it comes down to it they work just fine.

The one flaw in my analogy is that unlike my microwave, pushing the wrong buttons on these four beauties means that the door blows open, smoke attacks your eyes, and everything bursts into flames.

But anyway.

I don't say this to excuse bad behavior; there is certainly a lot of that.

(Like when someone lies about their homework being done or sneaks the last brownie. Or uses my lipstick outside on the playhouse or freaks, "You disgusting little back-washer! You got Goldfish in my Gatorade!")

It's the other half of the equation that's the struggle. The half where the hard wiring is mis-connected. The half that takes a minor incident and interprets a full-scale attack. The half that seems to disregard consequences until it's too late. The half that makes the light in their eyes fade to black.

That's the part that makes me wonder who's going to call the police--one of the kids or one of the neighbors.

That part that makes me want to cry. Or scream. Or run away. Or hide.

And I'm telling you that other half--well, sometimes it's just a lot to take.

Thank goodness yesterday is over. That this week is basically over. I'm ready to be back to normal. (Whatever normal is.)

See, the danger in telling you about my woes is that if I don't follow up you'll think I'm still about to hitch hike to the funny farm.

I want you to know that today was a much better day. It means a lot to me to know that you care--it means more than you can probably ever know.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Here's Where I Crack

Another day in a string of not-so-good days.

Usually my kids explode one at a time, reach their individual boiling points at different times--making life consistently challenging but manageable. One punches a hole through the wall; the other three watch TV. One yells and threatens before running shoeless down the street; the other three eat dinner. One punches him- or herself face to create a bloody nose; the others lay in bed asleep.

But this week has been a four-for-one special.

And they have pulled out all the stops. As far as fireworks go, they upstage the Fourth of July. And boy, what I wouldn't do for a fire extinguisher for the emotional pyrotechnics.

You know it's bad when I say that my main motivation for cleaning the house is that if child protective services comes, they won't think we're slobs.

I talked to a teacher friend yesterday when I was volunteering at the elementary school. She asked about the kids and I told her, briefly, what was going on. She is particularly close to one of them. She could tell I was feeling overwhelmed and put her hand on my shoulder and said, "Yes . . . but isn't this what you've worked for all your life? The opportunity to have this family?"

Yes . . . and ouch. And thank you, even though it unleashed the floodgate that kept me bawling all day.

When I was a foster parent and then an adoptive parent, many classes and seminars taught me that "love isn't enough" when dealing with certain issues, and I wholeheartedly intellectually agreed. But I suppose that deep down I thought that if Bryce and I were loving enough, OUR children would be problem-free.

Right. Ri-i-i-i-ght.

Now I have to grow up and deal with reality. And the reality is that some days, the various issues my children must deal with are so great that they interfere with their ability to enjoy life. The heartbreaking thing is to try and try to help but not being able to change anything. Not being able to love the demons out of them. Knowing what should be done and being met with resistance and refusal.

I once went to a religious education class where the teacher said, "They have a Savior . . . and it isn't you."

I know that Jesus Christ suffered for not only the sins of the world, but our pains, sorrows, frustrations, anger, and despair. Only He can make our burdens truly light. Only He can heal our wounds--not only the physical ones, but also the ones in our hearts and minds.

I pray. And I pray. I embrace science but I cling to my faith.

With all that is in me, I pray that my children will do the same, to find peace. To make peace. To be at peace.

So just so you know, today is particularly hard. In fact, one child has locked him- or herself in their room and refuses to go to school. Again.

I'm not looking for sympathy or answers . . . I just need to vent.

If you see my kids, give them a hug. They need love from every side.

And maybe, so do I.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Keeping it Real

Life was never meant to be easy. We all have trials. One of my favorite bits of advice is: "There's no problem so big that complaining won't make it worse."

Passive-aggressive . . . but true.

So I really do try to stay positive. I hope I have not been annoyingly so. (One of my beloved young friends did ridicule me for being "happy all the time.")

But if I have ever given the impression that my life is amazing or perfect or whatever, I have failed to paint you the real picture. And maybe that's for the best, because who really wants to know everything?

Suffice it to say that life is hard. For everyone. For me, right now.

We all have something. Hard-working people have financial problems. People with great marriages have difficult children. People with obedient children have difficult marriages. People have personal struggles with depression or addiction. The list goes on.

Today I struggle with my role as the mother to children I love with all that is in me.

Can I give them what they need?

Did I say the right thing? Am I too negative? I am to Pollyanna-ish?
When do I push? When do I back off? When do I hold feet to the fire, and when do I just show compassion?
One thing I do know: God has blessed me with four of His children to love and to teach and to guide.

My deepest desire is that I'm not letting them down . . . that I'm not letting HIM down.

I am a work in progress and I have a long way to go.

I hope I never come off as self-satisfied or condescending. I don't have the answers. I hope you never hear me back-handedly complimenting myself; if I do I give you permission to back-handedly knock me into next week.

There's nothing that annoys me more than people complaining about how wonderful they are; so beautiful, so creative, so smart, or whatever that it interferes with normal life. Or complaining how their gifted little Johnny or Jane gives them trouble; one time they made a B on a report card. Or how their boutique / antique Halloween decorations have been reduced to only 10 boxes. Boo freaking hoo.

But I'm a great listener to your real-world problems. We all have them, and we all need support, because people don't bond over their perfections.

(If so, I would have no friends at all.)

So that's what's on my mind. And in my heart.

Thanks for listening. Thanks for being there. I know you're there, even if I can't see you. I know I'm not alone.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thoughts on Glasses

These glasses are part of the super-cute costume borrowed from Donna's daughter Angela.

Mary Rachel: You know what the best thing about wearing glasses is . . . besides being able to see. It's that if you get made fun of you'll grow up to be an awkward geek--and geeks rule the world.

On their way to a daddy-daughter 50s dance.

But she did get new frames. And she looks adorable. And between you and me, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if she ends up ruling the world.

(Glasses or not.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Presenting: Six-Year-Olds

Cameron and Harrison had their birthday during the first week of school, turning 6 on September 3rd.

I bought this birthday banner at Hobby Lobby. I love it.

Also this cute table runner is a favorite. They're both favorites.

Harrison believes the greatest hallmark of special occasions is to have breakfast in bed. So because I am nice on special occasions, the boys got breakfast in bed. As an added bonus, my table stayed clean and pretty.

Bran muffins and sausage links--the breakfast of birthday boys.

I even used our special birthday plates.

They liked lounging and eating. But they weren't such fans of the crumbs they had to brush off later that night.

I sent them to school with new shirts; you can see Cam wearing his since he got dressed before breakfast. It says "Pizza, the Ninja Food" which is perfect for our aspiring assassin. Harrison's said, "100% Awesome." The boys were excited to pass out granola bars to their classmates

That afternoon two special visitors arrived: Grandpa Al and Grandma Judy! We had the party after eating make-your-own salad for dinner (otherwise known as the Jones Family Buffet).

Flashing their new age for the camera, yo.

They got a lot  of great presents.

Iron Man guys.
Then it was time for cake. Since they are two different people with two very different personalities, I let them choose their own designs.

Cameron is really into Mustangs, because he wants to like everything his big brother likes. So he asked for "a Mustang cake."

Add some candy and pop a toy on top. Amateurs, do not attempt.

Harrison requested "Lego Star Wars."

Luckily I had Tyce to build the little Lego set for me; otherwise this would have been a pretty lame cake. I should have finished the edges on the green. No invitation to Ultimate Cake-Off for me.

"I am 100% awesome. And so are my Lego Star Wars guys, which I plan to organize neatly in their original packaging, cataloging each piece by usage." 

"So Mr. Candle, we meet again. I shall snuff you out for another year, for I am . . . The Ninja."
We sang, they made wishes, and then they rode their new little skateboards in the house.

The next morning everyone went to the skate park.

(And I slept in. Because I was actually under the weather, and besides--party-throwing is work, I tell ya.)

So now we have two awesome 6-year-olds! I hope they had a great day--I hope they know how special they are to our whole family.

And in other good news, today is the twins' family anniversary! Five years ago today they came to live with us, the cutest 1-year-olds in the world. That day our whole family's lives changed--definitely for the better.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

First Day of School

Mary and I returned to Nevada the night before school started.

Educational milestones for the Jones kids: Tyce entered high school, Mary Rachel rules the school in her last year of elementary, and the twins started kindergarten.

Tyce: Gets up at 5:45 a.m. to make it to Seminary at 6:15 a.m. He is on Basic's freshman football team and practices for 2 hours after school every day. His classes include Spanish I, English, Algebra, ROTC, Biology, and band. There have been some bumps along the road but I am hopeful that they will work themselves out. Several people have described him as a social butterfly. I'd prefer him to be a scholarly snail.

No, these are not leggings.

But I am glad that he is friendly and honors his church commitments without issue.

Mary Rachel: Asked her teachers to call her Rachel this year, which surprised me. I don't know if I can ever not call her "Mare". She loves her team of teachers, all very nice ladies. She also likes her new GATE teacher. I found out that a boy has a crush on her and told one of the teachers that Mary Rachel was the girl of his dreams.

Let's move it, dream girl!

Cameron: Has Mrs. DelGiorno for morning kindergarten. She says that he is very obedient and attentive in class, which is a huge relief to me. I will continue to work with him on fine motor skills but he can write his name pretty legibly. She thinks he will do just fine in class. He's not currently medicated for his ADHD because it seemed that the meds exacerbated his tic.

Before school started Cam's snorting was unbearable. It was truly horrible to hear and seemed to be almost painful for him. He couldn't stop and even told Bryce, "I'm afraid I'm going to be snorting until I'm an old man." I warned the teacher about it and really worried how that would affect Cameron's ability to make friends. 

When Bryce gave each child a father's blessing before school started, he blessed Cameron to be healed from his tic.

And a miracle happened: Cameron hasn't snorted since.

I don't know if he will truly stop long-term or if this is just a short reprieve like we had this summer, but I am so grateful he can start the year as a normal little boy.

Free to be me!

Harrison: Has Mrs. Henn in morning kindergarten. I thought both boys had Mrs. Henn until Bryce went to the kindergarten Meet-and-Greet while I was in Colorado; he texted me to say they had different classes. I think separating the boys is really better for them, so they won't be compared to each other (or compare themselves to each other), and they can make their own friends.

Harrison is a smart cookie and a real sweetheart. I told him, "You are getting so big and so strong and so smart. I am proud of you!" He gave me a hug and said, "Oh! Now I have tears in my eyes!"

Don't cry, shunny! Gimme a kish!

It's so weird that I have three kids in the same school. That's three times the fundraising, three places to be for open house. But they are also the three Musketeers (at least for a few minutes every morning).

And they're all really happy--deep down inside.

That night we had a special Back-to-School dinner. I got the idea from Secrets of a Super Mommy. I made alphabet soup (homemade!) and first-initial bread sticks.

Alphabet soup with vegetables, beef and barley. It was really good.

Does anyone know if Pillsbury makes actual bread sticks anymore? I went to two stores and finally ended up with crescent rolls. If I'd have known my "easy" plan would've been so hard to execute I'd have just made my own dough.

Crescent roll bread sticks before they went in the oven--they worked out fine.

Dinner is served!

We had root beer floats for our Family Home Evening treat.

So that's how the school year is going so far. And what am I doing with my free time? I put off the yoga class and it's a good thing I did because it's been quite an adjustment getting people where they need to be; I've had a few meetings and a few urgent errands that would have interfered with class. So for now I've been taking care of the house and trying to stop myself from spending money. They need to have bouncers at the door to keep me out of Target.

But back to the kids--they are great and I love them so much and I pray with all my heart that this school year will be wonderful for all.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

And Here's My Account of the Wedding

Chris and Rachel were married on August 28th, in the church my grandma raised her family.

It was a lovely ceremony, short and sweet. The music didn't quite work as planned but Rachel's aunt sang "Here Comes the Bride" which took the pressure out of a tense situation; she ended with

I don't know this part . . . it must be time to start

and had everyone laughing.

Brandon and Jessie were so cute as "ring barrel" and flower girl.

Husband and wife!
And then they spent hours posing for pictures.

We blew bubbles at the happy couple.

Chris's side of the family--I poached the professional photographer's position but obviously not her equipment.

Brandon did a great job and handed off the ring without a hitch.

Lynn, Jenn, and Jessie--Jessie was such a cute flower girl!

Mary and I both enjoyed the wedding.

My dad and Uncle Bob shared a joke--maybe about Kenny Rogers?

After the wedding we headed back to Grandma's to rest up before the reception at the Little Eagles lodge. Music, dancing, and lots of good conversation rounded out the night.

I love to see my parents laugh!

These two cute girls made their own fun.

I'm sure Jessie took a gone one of Brandon.

The peeps at our table.

Lynn and Chris shared a very sweet mother-son dance.

Chris came over to talk to Grandma, and I must say that this is one of my favorite shots of the whole night.

My beautiful 95-year-old grandma (and me). 

Chris and Rachel cut the cake.
And Mary and I danced until she grew bored and wanted to head back home. That worked out fine because Grandma was also ready to go back, and after you have cake . . . what more is there?

Jenn later said that Brandon caught the garter and was horrified to learn that this meant he was next in line to get married! He gave it back to Chris, who wore it around his arm the rest of the night.

I am really happy for my cousin and his new wife! I am so glad we could come to celebrate their marriage.

It was wonderful to see everyone--I hope someday all six of us can make it out there. I am so blessed to have a wonderful extended family whom I not only love . . . but I like.

Thank you, my Colorado family, for hosting us! We love you!

The Wedding!

These are a few of the professional pictures from Chris and Rachel's wedding, taken by Rachel's mother Carmen. How cool is it that I could upload an album straight from shutterfly to blogger?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Trip to Colorado

Mary and I flew to Colorado Springs and my dad drove us to Pueblo, "the motherland" for both of my parents. It was great to see my relatives--Grandma Mary Masimer (my mom's mom), Aunt Lynn (my mom's sister) and her family--husband Bob, her kids Chris and Jenn--and to get to know Jenn's family--husband Scott and kids Brandon (8) and Jessie (4). And how nice it was to meet Chris's finacee--now wife--Rachel!

We had a barbeque at Chris's home on Thursday evening. He was a very gracious host. Mary and the cousins had a great time running around the backyard. Brandon exclaimed to his mom, "I like Mary! She likes to be disgusting like me. And she's ornery like me, too." Jessie is a little spitfire and she kept up with the big kids just fine.

Rachel was hosting her own out-of-town-guests dinner so we didn't get to meet her until the next day.

It was fun to laugh and gab like old times with everyone.

Scott and Jenn

Uncle Bob, Jim (my dad) and Grandma Mary

The betrothed! Chris Antle

Pat (my mom) and her sister Lynn

We stayed in a room in my grandma's apartment building; she lives at a very nice assisted living complex.

Mary very much enjoyed reading and playing with the adjustable bed.

The next day we went to Rye for a picnic. I remembered several family vacations that included a jaunt to this very spot, only Jenn and I remember the slides being about 1000 feet taller.

Rachel has a really nice family.

Rachel's cousin Amanda, dad Fred, step-mom Darlene, cousin Danielle, Rachel, and Chris

The whole group--some of us just have that angelic glow.

People had fun playing in the bed of the Arkansas River.

Mary was in heaven.

This rock is the site of many pine cone fights the cousins had when we were kids!

After the picnic some people went home while others drove a little farther up the mountain to an eccentric man's palace, Bishop's Castle. He built it by hand. This fact makes it both very cool from a creative standpoint, and very scary from a safety-conscious point of view.

There was even a moat!

After climbing narrow steps . . . 

I made it to the top of a tower with nothing to keep me from plummeting to my death. What crazy person would dare climb the stairs between two higher towers!?

However, the views were beautiful.

And I even stopped for a self-portrait.

But the most interesting thing about the castle were the various signs posted.

I cut out the middle but you get the picture.

This one's my favorite--short, sweet, and to the point.

Mary went back with her little cousins and didn't get to see the castle. Jenn says that they had fun at her house, which makes me happy. On one hand I wish Mary had been able to explore with me, but on the other . . . I was glad I didn't have to worry about her impulsivity or 10-year-old judgment leading to her falling off a ledge.

Like this one--which I caught Chris standing on and I nearly had a heart attack.

Later that night we had the rehearsal dinner at Country Buffet. I sat at the kid table and enjoyed hearing Brandon's tall tales and Jessie's sassy little comments!

The next day, Saturday, was the wedding. So you know what that means....more pictures to come.