Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The First Day

Yesterday was the big day! Everyone seemed to do just fine. I've taken one full-body shot and one close-up so you can see how cute these school-goers are.

Mary before her first day of 6th grade. I love the outfit she chose.

After school she didn't have a lot to report-- but she was happy.

Cameron and Harrison on the first day of 1st grade--I love everything about this picture, from their cute shoes to their lunch bags.

Harrison liked many things about his class but had some nervousness about going back the next day. He likes to be in control, and being new at something is always hard for him. But he did great. His teacher is Mrs. Centeno.

Cameron loved everything about school and kept saying, "I had a great day!" He sat by Harrison at lunch. His teacher is Miss Eccles.

Tyce on his first day of 10th grade. Check out his shoes!

For him it was a giant social reunion of all his friends. He had a blast. Now if he would apply his passion for people to academic subjects, he would be a straight-A student. (Which, by the way, he is completely capable of being.)

Our Family Home Evening treat!

Bryce gave each child a blessing for FHE and I think the kids are set for a really great year.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Last Tribute to Summer Before School Starts

For all of my complaining that August would be longest month ever....it flew by. School starts Monday and I'm not sure the kids are really ready. What do the boys need for 1st grade? Where's the list we always get with their class assignments? I just guessed and bought a bunch of everything--crayons and glue sticks. Pencils and folders. Kleenex and Handi-Wipes. I did a more sophisticated gathering for the big kids...I'm assuming they have enough stuff to get them through the first day. Wal-Mart, get ready: You will be seeing the Jones family on Monday afternoon, scrambling for whatever it is that teachers want their students to have (but couldn't tell them about before the first day).

Soon summer will be but a distant memory. Here are a few more pictures from the past two months.

Grandma Judy's whiteboard, meticulously colored by Kess and Mary for Bryce's 40th birthday! It's a picture of a scene from Mario Kart--Bryce's favorite car (super blooper), favorite character (Waluigi), and favorite track (Delfino Square). They spent a long time creating this and Bryce loved it.

Close-up. There are other favorite courses named: Dry Dry Ruins, Mushroom Gorge, Peach Gardens, and Coconut Mall. Three lovely ladies are swooning over Waluigi!

If you remember, we went to the Bombay House in Provo before seeing Tyce's YASE performance. What better place is there to celebrate your birthday? Thank you to Bryce's parents for treating us to a delicious meal!

Mary had her 6th grade orientation at Brown. I struck up a conversation with the guidance counselor and Mary groaned that I was embarrassing her by being too bubbly.

Our 16th anniversary dinner, at the Italian restaurant Luna Rossa in Lake Las Vegas. It was late and we were melting from the heat.

I spent an afternoon taking pictures of our family's cool moves on the diving boards. Harrison did a twisty jump.

Cameron's front flip.

Tyce and his "Geronimo!" jump.

Mary's pike jump.




Tyce flipping on the low dive while Mary rainbow dives off the high dive!

Bryce did tons of flips and dives too, and the kids were delighted to have him swim with them!

My gorgeous anniversary flowers.

Our amazing dog Katie and her volleyball. (She doesn't play, she just chews.)

Montana, Harrison, Levi, and Cameron built this cool block tower. These are the cute neighbor kids we take to church.

Also, Tyce and Bryce and the Young Men just got back today from an awesomely awesome leadership retreat in Brian Head (Utah). They stayed in Brother Anderson's family cabin (which was bigger and nicer than our house). A highlight of the trip was the 12-mile bike ride from Brian Head peak.

The view from the peak.

Where they started.

It was a super rough ride in many places and all the boys and leaders biffed it at least once--but no one was seriously injured.

So how's that for a hodge podge of pictures? Kind of makes you wish I had more, doesn't it?

Farewell, summer . . . until we meet again next year!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome

Mary has always had a hard time going to bed at normal hours and waking up at normal hours but it has gotten exponentially worse in the last year. It was so bad that we took every light bulb from her room so she couldn't stay up reading or cleaning or drawing all night--she would even set up camp in her walk-in closet and shut the door! The next morning we'd find her curled up amidst art supplies, books, and cereal, dead to the world.

Even if we send her to bed at 9 or 10, even without lights, without distractions....she won't fall asleep for hours. She'll sing, she'll make up stories, she'll be hungry and get a snack. In the morning it is an hour-long process (or more) to wake her up. We've tried alarm clocks but she sleeps though the noise (though no one else does). I have shake her, talk to her, shake her again, talk to her again....sometimes I think she's responding to me but then she'll say something like, "Okay, I just have to finish the last lap in MarioKart" or "The boy said to take the fish back" and I'll be like, Really? All this time I've been here you've been dreaming?

Then when I turn up the heat, she gets angry and yells for me to leave her alone. So then I back off and try again, nicely, usually with the dog (because she won't yell at the dog). That usually wakes her up, but I have to stay with her until she puts her feet on the floor and actually stands up. Even if I'm certain she'd lucid and awake, if I leave she'll go back to sleep. I don't know how many times I've been incensed to discover her sleeping when I thought she would be walking out the door.

Left to her own will, she'd got to sleep around 2 a.m. and wake up around noon. Sometimes even later.

She's not lazy; in fact, she is quite productive during the hours most people are asleep. Obviously the world does not accommodate or accept that time shift in children; kids are expected to be at school bright and early (and parents want to get to bed). It was this discord that led me to do some online research, and I think I hit the nail on the head with this: Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS).

Delayed Sleep-Phase Syndrome (DSPS) is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder in which the individual's internal body clock is delayed with respect to the typical sleep at night, rise in the morning pattern of most adults. Such people are sometimes called "night owls", though for those with DSPS, their hours are not by choice. 

People with DSPS generally fall asleep late at night, often in the pre-dawn hours, and wake in the late morning or in the afternoon. Furthermore, there is a striking inability to fall asleep at an earlier, more typical bedtime. As a result, many people with DSPS have been labelled as insomniacs. But if such a person is allowed to follow his internal sleep pattern, he generally has no problems with either falling asleep or waking naturally. 

However, if he ignores his internal clock and attempts to live on a normal schedule, DSPS can cause difficulty thinking clearly, driving safely, and generally functioning well. Over time, this may significantly reduce a person's productivity and enjoyment of life, and can lead to clinical depression or other stress-related medical problems.

(source: http://dspsinfo.tripod.com/)

I read several forum discussions and thought, YES! this is how it is (to live with someone like that, anyway). It made me feel less angry and more compassionate. I thought of an addiction recovery commercial from a long time ago: It's not your fault . . . but it is your problem.

We already ordered some liquid melatonin, the body's natural sleep hormone, as an aid to help her feel more tired at night. She refuses to take it in pill form so we hope she will take it in liquid. This is something that others dealing with DSPS have tried (with varying degrees of success). As far as waking up, some suggested blue light therapy and an alarm clock that shakes the bed. I think I will order the vibrating alarm clock but I'm not sure about the blue light yet (mostly because of the cost).
It is kind of a relief to know that this has a name. It's not just she's stubborn or makes poor choices; or that I am a bad mother for failing to get her to sleep / get her up the next morning. It's a real issue for quite a few people. But it's also sad because there's no easy solution, no medication or sure-thing that will change the matter. I think that half the migraines he had last year were due to sleep deprivation . . . and she just can't afford to miss that much school again. That's one of the main reasons I considered home-schooling Mary last year; luckily she pulled through but it's still an option for this year. I would prefer for her to go to junior high like the rest of the 6th graders and to succeed there, of course. With a 7:40 a.m. start time, that would be a monumental feat--but not impossible. We will see.

P.S. Mom, do you think this could apply to you?

P.P.S. I have a wicked summer cold. Lame.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The House is Quiet

Another post? Why yes, indeed. The kids are all off doing things (twins--swimming with neighbors; Tyce--managing the girls' volleyball team; Mary--playing Wii Party). It's mostly quiet and mostly clean and I am mostly able to think.

I have anxiety about school starting. As hectic and kid-centric the summer can be, I'd take that over the pressures and issues that come from school. When they are here, I manage the kids directly (and they are generally wonderful--ever-present but very good). When they are at school I manage them remotely, and things don't go as well. My kids need more supervision than most but they believe they need it the least. There have been incidents over the years; I have PTSD every time the phone rings during the school year, no lie. Man, just thinking about seeing "Clark County Schools" on my caller ID makes my stomach drop.

(One time CCSD called me on my cell phone and I nearly had a panic attack. Turned out it was a recorded message about immunizations--dang, I almost threw the phone across the room.)

Have you ever heard of anyone not being able to get up in the mornings? Is this a real problem, or just a choice? The thought of waking Mary up in the mornings for middle school is about as unpleasant as the thought of swimming with sharks. I'll get my head bitten off either way, but at least the sharks wouldn't yell. Getting Mary out of bed is definitely the task I think I will dread the most.

I think the twins will be okay. Fingers crossed.

This week we are doing our end-of-summer list of doctor's appointments, hair salon (for Mary) and lots of swimming. Tyce and the Young Men are going to Brian Head for a leadership retreat tomorrow, but I think it's going to be the nicest "camping trip" they've ever had. Sounds like they're staying in a mansion! I'm sure Bryce is glad he's going along.

End of summer, beginning of school....maybe it's the transitions that get to me. (But on the upside, this will be my first year, EVER, of having all 4 kids in school all day long. I hope that's a good thing.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Good Things!

I have had some really great experiences lately. One was at the Seminary symposium, where I attended a class on effective teaching; the teacher really opened my eyes to the importance and awesomeness of "why" questions. He had us read a scripture block and then write down a "why" question. It was much harder than it sounds. Then we got with a partner and shared our questions.

For example, our block of scriptures was Moses 1:6-11 in the Pearl of Great Price. My question was taken from verse 11, "What can I do to see God with my spiritual eyes?" Which, by the way, is not a why question but an application question. See, I told you it was harder than it sounds. My partner asked, "If God had a work for Moses (v. 6), does he also have a work for me? What is it?" Ah, much better question because it led to a really awesome discussion.

The teacher asked if any of us wanted to share what their partner had said--I thought that was a cool way to get participation, since people can be hesitant to share their own ideas but have no problem sharing someone else's.

I felt the Spirit many times throughout that class and I felt my heart and mind expanding to become a better teacher. I'm excited to use my new knowledge in the classroom.

Another great experience has been the Preach My Gospel discussion we've had the past two Sundays in our home. There's an established group for the 16-19-year-old kids but Tyce really wanted to have a group for the 14- and 15-year-old youth--he invited a bunch of kids to our house last week after stake choir practice. We had a wonderful discussion and then practiced role-playing. When it was Lynsie's turn to teach a missionary discussion, she began with a prayer; as she prayed my heart began to burn. The Spirit was so strong! She was able to speak with power and conviction, and my whole group was uplifted. I learned more that day from a 15-year-old girl than I did from anyone else.

Last night we had 15 young people over. What an awesome thing it is to have teenagers yearn for gospel discussion and fellowship.

The last thing I want to talk about is our anniversary--we celebrated 16 years yesterday! I love Bryce so much and I'm grateful for him. He gave me the best gift by cleaning our whole bedroom and the whole bathroom--I truly can't think of anything I would have wanted more. What, you thought I was going to say diamonds? Uh, no. And he knows I would have beheaded him if he had done that. He is a smart fellow (and has become smarter every year he's been married to me. Har har). At Preach My Gospel he gave me some gorgeous roses, to the ooohs and aaaahs of the young people. Special occasion flowers--that's good. And a sweet man to give them to me? That's better. Everybody loves love, don't they!? It was a great celebration weekend.

My heart is so full with good things.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Alisha and Ben's Wedding

Bryce's cousin Alisha Hill married Ben Embleton in the Salt Lake temple. We attended their wedding reception in Nephi. What a cute couple!

The cute bride and her handsome man.
The cake table--the twins had a hard time not touching the pretty fondant flowers.
Alisha's sister and brother--Ashley and Ben Hill.

The twins and I sat at a table with some people I didn't know. I asked if they were guests of the bride or groom and the lady said, "I am the bride's father's cousin." (Uncle Steve's cuz). She reciprocated the question, and I replied, "I am the bride's father's niece-in-law." That stumped the whole table in an awkward, now-what kind of way. It was much easier to say I was Bryce's wife, whom they had apparently talked to moments before. Good thing I had to the boys with me; I said, "Cameron, show these nice people your dance moves!" and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Betsie and Natasha, with Ben Ottosen doing a photobomb!

How adorable is this picture of Grandpa Al dancing with little Kira?!

 Ben and Mary were tearing it up!

Ben is a good big cousin to the little kids.

Mary and Kira whirling and twirling.
Cam and his ninja dancing.

Happy Harrison.

It was a very fun reception and Alisha looked gorgeous. She sure has a lot of Bens in her life--a husband, a brother, and a cousin! Ben and Alisha are good example of a great couple who are starting life out on the right foot. We hope they have a happy, wonderful life together, now and forever!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Heber Creeper and Cookout in Little Cottonwood

This post is otherwise known as Trip to Utah--Part 2b (since 2a was our BYU adventure), or A Ton of Pictures Taken on One Day.

We drove through Park City and into Heber valley to ride the train. By the way, I am also going to have a summer home in Park City, def. Man, so gorgeous there!

Heber Valley Railway, aka the Heber Creeper. Not a bullet train, that's for sure. We were to start in Heber, go to Provo Canyon's Vivian Park, and then ride back.

Seconds before we were to board the train, Harrison was stung by a wasp behind his ear! Oh, there was so much wailing and freaking out, poor guy. We debated whether he'd be able to handle the train but luckily he was fine.

Ah, look at the cute picture of Bryce and me. He was going for the mountain man look in preparation for his 40th birthday.

Help! Marshall! Our train was robbed!

Since we were some of the last passengers on the train, we couldn't all sit together. Part of our group was in the back.

Grandma Judy and Cameron were more towards the middle.

Some of our fellow travelers got off to go river rafting. Those were the smart people because not only did that look way fun, but our train only got halfway to the park before it had to turn around! A fallen tree could not be removed in time for us to make our journey. That was a very hot ride.

After the train ride we had a picnic at a nearby park. Mary and Cam liked to spider swing!

Monkey girl.

Ben enjoyed pushing Cam on the swing!

Harrison and Mary liked the jungle gym.

Harrison: King of the World.

Self-portrait at the park.

Later that night we made foil dinners, got Grandpa Al, and rented a campsite for the evening at Little Cottonwood Canyon.

The kids loved exploring, and Grandpa Al took them to see the river.

Can you believe what a beautiful evening it was?

Mary showed Bryce the rocks she collected while she was down by the river.

We had foil dinners of hamburger patties and potatoes. But it looks like Mary had see-food. Haha.

Product placement at its finest.

Ben whittling a stick with Harrison looking on.

Mary wanted to build herself a chair of sorts out of boulders but needed some help in moving them. How nice was it of Ben to offer to do it for her?

Sitting pretty. Fire power!

Ben showing off his muscles!

Katie really loved Ben.

Sweet moment between Mary and her furry love.

This stick looked like a person.

Just being cool Cam.

Father and son tend the fire.


These cousins were BFFs for the night!

Later that night Grandpa Al told the scariest story in the world, "Short-Fuse Harry." The kids were terrified and delighted.

Later Bryce told a story about a gypsy fortune-teller on his mission--this was the climactic end! It scared Harrison so bad you can see that he fell off of Bryce's lap!

The boys couldn't stop asking questions and freaking out about those scary stories!

It was a great day and a great night, and I'm so glad we had so much fun!