Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Fabulous 4th

Many organizations at Basic High School run fireworks booths as fundraisers; Bryce, Tyce, and I took 2 shifts the week before Independence Day to raise money for the choir. There was a steady stream of buyers; one tank-top-wearing guy alone bought over $300 worth of stuff. Oh man, I'd have hated to have been his neighbor. But thank goodness for patriotic people with more money than sense, because the choir made a lot of cash.

Choir booth at the Shell station.

Bryce, Tyce, and Eddie. Can they help you find what you're looking for?

July 4th was an insanely humid day for the desert. It's surprising how fast you get wimpy when it comes to humidity--I'm sure it was nothing compared to what I lived in practically my whole life, but of the 9 summers I've lived in Nevada I don't remember anything but that famed "dry heat." Just walking to the Shapiros seemed like a pioneer trek. But we persevered and made it to the promised land of grilled meat and canned soda.

After dinner the kids did their fireworks in the street with the Tippetts family. Rebecca made delicious homemade ice cream and we enjoyed sitting on the driveway until it got dark. Eventually we went to the park at the end of the development to watch the fireworks display on the Strip. We set up camp and had perfect seats--that is, until the sprinklers came on during the finale and had us running for the sidewalk!


Equally impressive were the illegal fireworks shot off by our neighbors at the park!

Right over our heads.

 And then the kids did more sparklers and fireworks at the end of the cul-de-sac.

It was great to have Heather and Ben spend the holiday with us, as well as sharing the fun times with many neighbors and friends.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tyce's 15th Birthday

July 3rd was Tyce's birthday! How does it feel to be 15? I have a whole journal devoted to that year, which I will spare you from reading. I wish I had said more about my deep feelings regarding spirituality and life goals, let's put it that way. I wrote so much fluff it's like reading an episode of the Suite Life of Zack and Cody. When I asked him how he feels, Tyce says, "like just another year gone by. No change." Perhaps he is more mature than I was at that age.

Cousin Ben and Aunt Heather visited that week. The day before Tyce's birthday he, Bryce, Ben, Heather, Mary, and Spencer Shapiro went to Skyzone, an indoor trampoline park. They had a blast! Tyce says he liked jumping from the trampolines into the foam pit. It must have been quite the workout because the next day everybody was sore.

In the sea of foam.

The next day was Sunday, his birthday. After church Tyce invited our friends, the Osbornes, to our family party. This family--well, there aren't words to explain how special they are to us. They are angels in our lives, doing things for our children that no one else can. I will write more on that later, but suffice it to say that they are in tune with our kids' needs and rise up, over and over, to really be there for them. Besides that, they are the most fun family you will ever meet, and even the most normal chat with them feels like a little party. So when Tyce invited them over, it was really no surprise that they brought 10 people with them, and came bearing a Texas sheet cake!

The original ice cream cakes. Transformers partyware!

He lit his own candles, of course.

The Osbornes knew just what a 15-year-old boy would like--illegal fireworks!

There was Brother Osborne, son-in-law Tom, Tom's 11-year-old daughter Tayana, Sister Osborne, and friends Tasha with her boyfriend from USU.

Also Ceara (Mary's special friend) and Natalia, who they met on a cruise ship and now lives with the Osbornes. There was also Ceara's husband Kirk and the Osbornes' grandson, Cash.

Heather got him bacon-cheddar popcorn! He also got a lot of cash from family for YASE--he worked hard to earn the money and this helped put him over the top. He loved YASE and was thrilled to be able to go.

After the cake and presents, we moved on to the next event...the toilet paper game! Tyce and Kirk faced off.

Tyce won by a hair, proving that experience counts for a lot in this game.

After several rounds we had a good pile of TP to play with!

Cash and the other kids loved tossing and throwing the toilet paper onto the ceiling fan.

Check out that mess!
Then Tyce and Brother Osborne stuffed their shirts.

In all his shirt-stuffed glory!

Tyce says that his birthday was "church-y, fun, and full of toilet paper." Sounds like a pretty good day to me!

Later he got a special present from a special girl in Colorado, which was basically the coolest gift in the world--a Denver Broncos jersey (his favorite team), with the number 15 (his age) and the name "Fresh Swag" on the back (his nickname). That was an awesome present! Tyce sure is lucky to have an amazing friend like Lauren--she's a super sweet girl who encourages him to do--and be--his best.

Tyce, we love you so much and are grateful you are in our lives. We hope this next year is wonderful and that you reach for the stars in all you do. Always remember that you are a child of God and that you are a blessing to those around you. Have fun, do your best, and shine on!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What I'm Doing Right Now, This Very Second.

I'm sitting on my bed with the just-read Sunday New York Times spread out all over and my laptop resting on my outstretched legs. The kids are all in bed and the dog is wandering, wondering who she'll settle with tonight: Mary, Tyce, or me? (Personally, I think it would be me if the kids didn't keep bribing her with chicken jerky.) Bryce has a case going to trial first thing tomorrow morning, so he had to go into the office. I miss him already in that post-vacation, I-don't-want-to-resume-normal-life longing I always feel. The icy-cold air conditioning is making me wish I had a sweater on, and though I've tucked the white duvet around me, I'm relishing that my bedroom has become my own private December.

Thinking of dreams. While I was gone to Utah I had the strangest and most disturbing dream. I was in my kitchen, when I saw something spine-tingling and heart-dropping at once. "Bryce?" I said, cautiously, "You know how I'm really observant? Well, look at this dishwasher. It's not ours. Someone has come while we were on vacation and replaced our black dishwasher with a 1970s white model. Someone took our dishwasher. They took it! And they must have swapped ours for theirs. Yes, that's it. And there's only one person I know with this white dishwasher: [Random Boy I Hardly Know in Real Life]." And then I proceeded to awkwardly confront this teenager in a crowded park. I don't remember how this got resolved; for all I know he could have morphed into a giant lemur who took me to a rainbow to see baby unicorns sliding into tubs of cotton candy. All I know is that I woke up feeling very violated and disturbed that someone would break into my house, steal my dang dishwasher, and replace it with another.

I must have deep-seated appliance issues. Oh, the things that dreams can tell you.

Now I'm thinking about how today is July 24th, Pioneer Day in Utah and the world-wide LDS church. And how the SundayStyles section of the Times is dedicated to New York's allowance and celebration of same-sex marriages. Sometimes it's like I'm living in two different worlds. Do you ever feel like that? That what is at the heart and center of one community isn't even on the radar of another. In the entertainment world there's no bigger news than the untimely death of Amy Winehouse, and the obsession with the age of 27. I can't imagine anything else as the cover story for the latest issue of US Weekly. All of this on the 24th of July.

In church we sang "They, the Builders of the Nation" which ends each verse with the lines, "Bless-ed, honored, pioneer!" When I studied abroad in Italy, the same knickknacks were sold at every touristy venue. I couldn't help but sing, "Bless-ed Catholic souvenir!" every time I passed another Mary candle. . .  I would like you to believe I sang this song to myself, but being that I was 21 and feeling clever, that was not always the case. I almost bought a strand of rosary beads because things always seem "must-have" when you're in a foreign land. I was not above the pull of the blessed Catholic souvenir. The downside to my alternate wording, of course, is that every Pioneer Day I must force myself to sing the real words to avoid offending and confusing anyone around me. Because let's face it, when you sit as far back as I do, there aren't many people singing at all.

Tomorrow is a new day of doing who-knows-what . . . definitely housecleaning, possibly grocery shopping, hopefully swimming. I've taken my last sip of water. I'm getting up to turn off the lights and whisper one last "Go to sleep" to the big kids. I'm back in my room, ready to say my prayers. I've shoved the papers to the floor because I just got the text that Bryce is on his way home. I have one *eye open and one *eye squinted shut. I just realized that I typed the word "I" instead of "eye" twice--as in TWO TIMES--in that last sentence before I corrected it. Seriously, that's insane. And annoying. Well, the time is at hand for me to sign off and bid you farewell as I write the very last words of this post, which are, finally, at long last . . .

Good Night.

Tyce on his way to YASE registration. I didn't want to leave you photo-less.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Non-Stop Fun!

Don't you just love when your child wakes up in the middle of the night? We have one we call "the terrorist" because unless his demands are met, he makes life miserable. If you come across some tranquilizer darts, let me know.

But one funny thing tonight was in the midst of the demands, the other boy woke up and asked, "What does a turtle say?" and then went back to sleep. Wonder what he was dreaming about?

Oh man, what a week. We have enjoyed a week in Utah playing with cousins, yee-hawing at the Ute Stampede in Nephi, dancing at a wedding reception, riding a train, having a cook-out in the mountains, playing on the BYU campus, watching Tyce's awesome Young Ambassadors' Singing Entertainers performance (where I took illegal pictures), celebrating Bryce's birthday, and romping with the dogs (ours and Heather's) in Grandma and Grandpa's backyard.

And before that it was Tyce's birthday, hello. And the 4th of July. And the youth went on a pioneer trek. And we had Heather and our nephew Ben visit for a week. Obviously I have a lot to catch up on.

Oh, JULY . . . you are the busiest of the lazy summer months, by far.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Headlines Floating Around In My Brain

Public Pools: Granny, You Don't Own That Piece of the Wall
"Don't look so shocked when you get splashed", local mother says

Faith in Every Footstep
A quiet hero gives the ultimate sacrifice

Cameron Jones Obsessed with the Word "Gizzard"
Uses it in surprisingly creative ways

Angels are All Around Us
Sometimes the small things mean a lot; Jones family very blessed by the kindness of others

He Likes to Sing and Dance, He Likes to Wear Tight Pants
Tyce Jones preparing to attend Young Ambassadors camp at BYU

Dog Single-Handedly Controls Rabbit Population at Park
"She seems confused to find they're not made of stuffing," bystander says

Kids Finish Swimming Lessons
Disappointment stems from discovering graduating from the 2-week course does not warrant flowers

Visitors Are the Bomb
This summer, treat yourself to a visit from your favorite people

Kids Spaced Far Apart Like Raising Three Separate Families
Tips and tricks for moms trying to juggle the demands of a bunch of kids in the summer

"When Does School Start Again?" Cry Mothers Everywhere
All eyes look to August for relief from the summer schedule

Researchers Confirm that Watching SpongeBob Kills Brain Cells
"The song alone will lower your IQ," scientists say

Packing For Vacation Deemed As Stressful As Lobotomy
Local mom will do anything to avoid packing, including writing a blog post

More to Come, With Pictures
Optimists' advice: Never give up hope that one day it will be quiet enough to think and write in paragraphs again


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Graduation Celebrations

The end of the school year brought us three special events. Harrison and Cameron graduated from kindergarten and Mary graduated from 5th grade!

I was late to nearly every ceremony, truth be told. The first one, on Wednesday, was Harrison's . . . just as I was about to enter the classroom the school nurse called and said Mary was in the office throwing up from a migraine, and no, they couldn't keep her until the graduation was over. So I signed her out, dashed her to the car, turned on the air conditioning, and ran back to the classroom. Unfortunately I only caught the tail end of the kindergarten class's extremely cute song and dance from the back, but of the four kids' feet I could see from under the whiteboard, at least I saw Harrison's!

He was so funny before graduation because he really wanted me to buy him a bouquet of flowers. After the kindergarten play a lot of kids--girls!--got flowers from their parents, and Harrison was a bit jealous that all I got him was a high 5 and a trip to get ice cream. I guess he wanted something a little showy-er, so I went to Fresh 'n Easy and got the least pink and frilly bouquet I could find. He was thrilled!

Part of the very cute slideshow. It was hard for me to keep my eyes from welling up and spilling over.

After the ceremony, manly flowers in hand. I'm so proud of how he has grown and matured so much this year! Congratulations, Harrison!

The next day was Cameron's graduation. I determined to be early to this one, and I was. But somehow I got the same position in the room I did when I was 10 minutes late to Harrison's--in the corner in the back. Oi. The good news was that I got to see the song and dance routine from the front this time--it was an adorable parody of Sinatra's "New York, New York". It was so cute to hear those kids sing, "Start spreading the news, we're leaving today, we want to be a part of it, 1st grade, 1st grade!" Ah, I was very emotional that morning because between that and the slide show, I was seriously blubbering into my sweater. I had to tell myself to hold it together because I was in danger of becoming a spectacle, the Mother Who Cries at Everything.

Cameron and his amazing teacher, Mrs. DelGiorno. What a hard worker he was this year! Congratulations, Cameron!

After Cam's ceremony I picked up  Harrison and we went (late) to Mary's 5th grade graduation. I held up a small piece of the wall near the front, which actually turned out to be an okay spot for picture-taking. I was so glad to see Mary really finish and graduate from the 5th grade--with all her absences I wasn't sure she'd make it. It would have been silly to have her repeat though, since she made a perfect score on a standardized test (CRTs) and is ready to move on.

Slapping some skin with some front-row friends, on her way to her diploma!

I'm so glad Mary has had her sweet friend Sara by her side in life. Ready or not, it's on to junior high! Congratulations, Mary Rae!

What a morning! Mary invited friends over for a last-day-of-school party, the twins played with friends, Tyce went to a swimming party that night, and it was a good lead-in to the much anticipated, much-needed summer break.