Thursday, May 26, 2011

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad, You Take Them Both and There You Have a Post for Today

If you can read between the lines, we now have two women in the house. I bought Miss Mary flowers to celebrate her rite of passage, which I happened to think was quite symbolic.

She's taking the whole thing very well.

In other areas, things are very stressful at the moment. You know that sick, churning feeling you get when things are bad? Ugh, I feel that all the time. I wish I could stop caring. Do the work that needs to be done but take out the emotional aspect. I would be a much better parent if I were training dolphins instead of people. Here--have a fish, my child. Now swim away and be good.

Ah. Life is life and I could whine all day--but that's not who I want to be. I have to remind myself that through even hard times there are always good things. I need to work on not letting the negative lens obscure my view of the positive.

So on that note, I only have two more weeks of teaching seminary. I am ready to get on top of things for the next school year--Old Testament. I will memorize those 25 scripture masteries this summer because I am BEAST at memorizing stuff. For real. I am going to take down Brother Mecham at next year's activity and my class is going to be like, Whoa, Sister Jones--you rock. That's way better than last year when we thought you didn't know anything. Mark my words, friends. Mark. My. Words.

Yesterday Harrison and Cameron ran into the house, shouting. Cameron yelled, "Harrison peed on the side of the house!" and Harrison yelled, "No, Cameron peed!" I used my Mom powers to deduce that they had both done it, and they conceded. Then Cameron said, "Well, at least I peed in a bucket like a civilized person." I asked what he did with the contents and he said he poured it into the dump truck. Oh yes . . . civilized indeed. Boys!

Katie got her stitches removed yesterday and the vet said she's doing great. She wore the cone for several days but I was very glad to take it off of her. Poor girl couldn't even go down the stairs or jump out of the car very well. But I did take her on a walk at the park, where she tore after a jackrabbit at breakneck speed--she looked like a streak of black with a white neck halo. She almost caught that bunny! But it slipped out under the fence. I was falsely secure in Katie's inability to scrunch under with her cone, but the next thing I knew she was outside the gates and trotting back with a different, run-over roadkill rabbit in her mouth. Crazy dog!

We watched a very interesting DVD on Black Mormons for Family Home Evening. Out of the blue Tyce mentioned that he was thinking of preparing to receive his patriarchal blessing, after the example of his friend Dessa.

Mary had to write a paper about Ulysses S. Grant. She read her rough draft to me while I typed the final. Her essay included anecdotes such as Grant's siblings' reactions to his leaving for college. The oldest sister feigned indifference but told him later she was proud of him. Mary's final sentences were something like, "The mourners hailed Grant as a beloved President. As his sister passed his tomb, she whispered, 'Goodbye, Lys . . . you will always be my little brother.'" I looked up and asked, "She really said that? Wow." Then Mary said, "No, but I thought it sounded good. I mean, it's not like anyone's going to know whether she said it or not, right? They're all dead." Oh my word. If it wasn't morally wrong to rewrite history I'd have typed it because, I must admit, it did sound good.

I love my husband with all my heart. He is my best friend and I couldn't make it through life--or through the day--without him. I thank the Lord I made an excellent choice when I married him, back when I was naive and inexperienced in life. When the chips are down Bryce picks me up, makes me laugh and gives me hope. Some days that's definitely what I need.

Now I'm off to do the kindergarten carpool. Besides memorizing stuff, herding six little kids into a minivan is pretty much my specialty.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Truer Words . . .

"Know what's weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change but pretty soon everything's different." Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Just Some Thoughts

Okay, I've moved on from my Sunday sob-fest. We'll see how things go next week, shall we? Seriously, the only way to go is up . . . or at least that's how it seems from my vantage point.

I am getting ready to help Tyce and his friend Ashley study for their Spanish class. I took Spanish for two years in college, so surely I'm qualified to tutor beginning 9th graders . . . well, that's what I keep telling myself. I hope it all comes back to me and that I do more than amuse the kids with my amazing rendition of the song "La Bamba."

Bryce went to Mary's field trip today, to a Las Vegas 51s game. He enjoyed being with Mary's friends--girls are so different from boys. It was some sort of kids' day at the baseball stadium, and the place was packed with fellow field-trippers. Bryce says they spent almost the entire time waiting in line for food!

Our little Katie girl went in today to be spayed, poor thing. We pick her up this evening and was told she would be sporting an "Elizabethan collar." Sounds almost fashionable. I guess that's better than calling it "the cone of shame" like Dug did in the movie UP.

I hope her recovery is quick because I won't be able to tolerate Mary's wails of empathy otherwise.

Tyce has started playing the piano again and I love hearing him play and sing songs like "Apologize" by One Republic and "Just the Way You Are" by Bruno Mars. It is great to have music ringing through the house.

Guess what. Mary has been sneaking wearing my make-up. At first I really couldn't tell--she'd been wearing Vaseline on her lips for a while so I was used to the shine. But then one day I noticed her eyes really "popped" and I realized, Holy Mother of Maybelline, that she had on mascara AND lipstick. Who knows, maybe she had blush and eyeshadow too, but thank heavens she's dark-skinned so my colors don't show up on her. I hid my favorite expensive cosmetics and left a few Walmart-bought lipsticks and a blush so she can get the satisfaction of playing dress up without touching my stash. I would say she still isn't obsessed with being super-girly, but she's definitely interested.

Oh, and the best news of today is that it's my mom's birthday! I love you, Mom!

Okay, that's all for now because Ashley's here and it's time to get our estudio on.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Trouble with Sunday

Hard, hard, hard day, just like almost every Sunday in recent months. You would think that with my kids getting older church would be getting easier. But it is becoming the day I dread most of all.

I can hardly, and I really mean hardly, get the four kids out the door without drama. And I've been taking our little neighbors with us--they are easy kids and I like them very much. But it adds another layer of stress to sitting in sacrament meeting, managing the dynamics of three kindergartners, one 1st grader, and a very moody 5th grader. Tyce has taken to sitting by the door being an usher, and I don't blame him.

Today I couldn't even get them all to go. And of the ones who did, one bolted out of class repeatedly (by report). I came back home to deal with the one who refused to even leave the house. The thing is, today was better than last week. And if you remember that last week was Mother's Day, you'll know why my post for that day didn't include any of my own words.

What is going wrong? I think we must be the only family who falls apart every Sunday. I don't know if it would be better or worse to have Bryce here instead of at Bishopric meetings and sitting on the stand. I do feel like it's harder for me because I'm essentially on my own, but I don't know. Other large families enlist helpers for sacrament--but with our temperamental bunch I think that might make things even more out of control.

On a good day I think, okay, this is how to keep things balanced. Before church, be organized and positive; at church bring things to do, lower my expectations, sit in the back (which is where the less-uptight people go), keep the kids engaged with a smile. Plenty of paper and crayons for everyone. Even some surprises. And some days that works just right.

And then other times, I do all of those good-day things but it doesn't work at all. And those are the days that make me cry and cry in frustration, because seriously, what is going on? It's church  for heaven's sake, not a torture camp. Sacrament meeting can be tough but after that, the kids have the nicest teachers. In fact, everyone is nice to them. This should be the best day of the week . . . or at least an average day, right?

I've thought about quitting going . . . but isn't that the very last thing I should do? Don't people go to church to make things better? And yet I feel like it's church that's making things worse. If you're in my ward you have probably seen me looking pretty bad, somewhere between fighting back tears and trying to dash to the minivan before I truly lose it.

Obviously I need to change something. Lord help me figure out what it is.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Rock Star for the Night

This news story ran in the Las Vegas Sun.


Basic High choir to perform with Foreigner at Green Valley Ranch

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 | 1:55 a.m.
Click to enlarge photo

Friday night will surely be a night to remember for 24 Basic High School Concert Choir members as they take to the stage with Foreigner during the band's concert in Henderson.

The budding singers will perform the British-American band’s 1984 hit “I Want to Know What Love Is” with Foreigner members themselves at Green Valley Ranch.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Basic choir director Lynne Ricci. “We’re pumped up.”

A Station Casinos representative contacted Ricci in March about the opportunity to perform with Foreigner, she said.

Company officials had “heard positive things about the program” from caroling at the Galleria Mall during the holidays to a performance at MonteLago Village at Lake Las Vegas, Ricci said.

The choir also performed with singer Josh Groban a few years ago. Now, some of the younger siblings of Basic students who performed with Groban can share the spotlight with Foreigner, Ricci said.

For Ricci – who grew up listening to Foreigner – the upcoming concert is a chance to introduce the band to her students. However, during the audition process, Ricci said she was surprised to learn many of her students already knew of the band.

“I was pretty sure they wouldn’t know this group, but I was surprised,” she said. “This has created a lot of excitement.”

The choir has been practicing the song for the past three weeks and plans to have three rehearsals this week to polish the performance. As part of the partnership, Foreigner is donating $1,000 to the Basic choir.

“It came together quite fast,” Ricci said. “I’m so glad we can bring this honor and prestige to our program.”

The marquee at Green Valley Ranch.

On April 29th, Tyce and 23 of the best singers at Basic were chosen to perform with Foreigner! How cool is that? I got to go to the concert as a chaperon, which was super fun. Those kids had so much energy. They sold CDs before the show and made a ton of money. In fact, our family inadvertently bought two. When the kids weren't in the lobby they were in a special VIP room with catered food.

Tyce with a few friends before the show.

Getting a little pick-me-up from a friend.

Tyce and Andrea, who have known each other since forever.
Danny, Jose, and Tyce
Some of the lovely ladies (and a self-proclaimed ladies' man).

 Their director, Miss Ricci, warmed them up shortly before going on stage, and the kids sounded awesome singing "I Want to Know What Love Is". It's a good thing I got to hear their hamonies and see the choreography in the warm-up because everything was concert-loud and -crowded on stage. They rocked it!
Before the choir went on stage I got to watch Foreigner perform "Urgent" and "Cold as Ice".

Then the choir got a big welcome as special guests. Kelly Hansen, the lead singer, was extremely complimentary and gracious.

Here's a close-up on the side screen.

This is my favorite picture because you can tell the crowd loved it!

Afterward the drummer, Jason Sutter, gave Tyce the drumsticks he'd just used. They said "Foreigner" on them and were totally beat up. You can't pay for a treasure like that!

It was a really amazing night and I'm so incredibly excited that he and the other kids could have that once-in-a-lifetime experience. Congratulations on a great performance, Basic! And thank you to Foreigner for the privilege and opportunity of letting these young people share the stage with such awesome rock legends!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Just to Clarify

Giggling with nervousness in the time trial at 11-year-old girls day camp. This was the kiddie obstacle course; puzzle doing, baby diapering, clothes hanging, and stroller pushing was a hoot to watch.

Tonight it's Mary's turn to do Family Home Evening.

Mary: Mom, I have a question. But you can't freak out. I think I already know, but I really am wondering.

Me: Okay.

Mary: I was thinking of playing Hangman tonight, but instead of drawing it normal I was thinking of drawing Jesus on the cross.

Me: No, that's not appropriate.

Mary: Yeah, I didn't think so.

And yes, oh my word, thank you for asking.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Families Are Forever

"In addition to temples, surely another holy place on earth ought to be our homes. The feelings of holiness in my home prepared me for feelings of holiness in the temple."
—James E. Faust

“Just as Jesus used a child in His mortal ministry as an example for the people of the pure love they must and could have to be like Him, He has offered us the family as an example of an ideal setting in which we can learn how to love as He loves.

“That is because the greatest joys and the greatest sorrows we experience are in family relationships. The joys come from putting the welfare of others above our own. That is what love is.”

--Henry B. Eyring

 "All of us, single or married, are eternally part of some family—someway, somewhere, somehow—and much of our joy in life comes as we correctly recognize and properly develop those family relationships. We come to this earth charged with a mission: to learn to love and serve one another. To best help us accomplish this, God has placed us in families, for he knows that is where we can best learn to overcome selfishness and pride and to sacrifice for others and to make happiness and helpfulness and humility and love the very essence of our character."
--John H. Groberg

"A woman with a mother heart has a testimony of the restored gospel, and she teaches the principles of the gospel without equivocation. She is keeping sacred covenants made in holy temples. Her talents and skills are shared unselfishly. She gains as much education as her circumstances will allow, improving her mind and spirit with the desire to teach what she learns to the generations who follow her."
 --Julie B. Beck

Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Katie J. and her 1st Birthday!

Hamburger on a plate? For me? Yes please.

We celebrated Miss Katie's birthday on May 1st. I made cupcakes for the humans and a hamburger for the birthday girl. This was her first time sitting on a chair at the table, which was probably a big mistake (as in, she will be confused the other 364 days a year she's not allowed to do that). But she sure enjoyed getting a special treat.

Katie watches everything Mary does.

Mary made her some presents (like this pool ring on a string) and even gave her an old stuffed animal. That's in addition to the toys and treats Bryce bought her!

Oh my goodness, do we have a spoiled dog or what? I know we're not the only ones who throw our dog a party--my own parents had one for their Sadie Mae on the same day. At least I didn't contemplate putting a hat on her like my parents did. (Just kidding . . . I love you, Mom and Dad . . . . and your little dog, too!)

I sure am glad we have our little miss--she is the best pet we could imagine having for our family.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo!

I just read that Cinco de Mayo is celebrated all throughout the U.S. to celebrate Mexican heritage and pride, but is only celebrated in the state of Puebla in Mexico (to commemorate a sweet victory over the French). So . . . I will avoid telling you I thought it was Mexico's independence day (which is apparently in September).

This is my first year ever doing *anything* for May 5th. Usually I find out it's Cinco de Mayo by listening to the radio, and I make the mental note: "Here it is . . . and there it goes." But this year I decided to shout "Viva la Mexico!" by having a little family fiesta. Sometimes I just like an excuse to do something different.

We had both chicken and beef taquitos, black beans (from food storage), chips and salsa, and sliced cantaloupe. Remember how plain my table was on St. Patrick's Day? This time I made sure we had a centerpiece.

Vamos a celebrar!

If you are a fan of black beans, you would love these.

Let's call these taquitos "rustic" to make up for the fact that I should've worked on my plating and presentation here. But boy, they were good.

I took one shot, one shot only, of the family--because even if I'd have snapped 10 they'd all look basically like this.

Pinwheels for all.

Try not to imagine how many germs must have blown across the table and onto the food, hm?

Mary drew a super cute Mexican senor and senorita.

After dinner the kids played outside while eating lime fruit bars.

You know what I should have done? Made the family communicate entirely in Spanish. Then maybe Tyce could've practiced with me and worked on improving his grade. Everyone else could just recite the words they've learned from Dora the Explorer. (Largo! Corto! Rojo! Azul!)  Ah, well . . .  next time.

Before I Forget

 Oh my goodness, I do love these 6-year-old boys and the super-cute, super-sincere things they say.

Harrison on the left, Cameron on the right.

One morning Bryce talked to Mary through our intercom system, urging her to get up. He tried talking to the dog, saying, "Katie, this is your father. Come downstairs." Then Cameron got on and in his said in his Darth Vader voice, "Mary . . . this is your father . . . come to the wild side."

Yesterday at breakfast Harrison asked what I was eating. I showed him my bowl. He nodded approvingly and said, "Bananas in Rice Krispies . . . I invented that."

At bedtime the boys chose stories from the upstairs bookshelf to have me read. When it came to the Disney book "The Aristocats" Cameron's eyes lit up. He'd obviously forgotten what it was called, because he said, "Oh, it's been a long time since we've read this one! Here, Mom. Let's read 'Prissy Paws'."

The boys and I took Katie to the park one afternoon. She herded Harrison like the sheepdog she is, pulling him down and setting him in his place. Harrison said, "Mom, I heard you and dad talking about Katie 'hurting' me. But she just runs after me with her teeth, and it doesn't hurt at all."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Very Cold Spring Break in Utah, Easter at Home

Indeed it was. Cold, and rainy some days, it reminded me of a nice bleak winter day--not the week before a very late Easter! It was just like my first year in Provo, where it stayed cold until June. Bryce and the big kids decided to make the most of the still-falling snow and go up to Brighton (skiing for Bryce, snowboarding for the kids).

1. Mary's First Time Snowboarding, Tyce's Second, and Bryce's First Time Skiing Since We've Been Married

Grandpa Al stayed cozy doing his crossword puzzles in the lodge. But he did enjoy watching the kids for a little while. Mary had snowboarding lessons and a teacher practically to herself.

Even though she did well in her lessons, she spent a lot of time like this. Snowboarding is a lot harder than skiing.

Just don't compare yourself to Tyce. He thought it would take Mary 5 minutes to get down the hill but it took her an hour!

But look--there she goes!

She loved the ski lift most of all.

Back at the lodge, Grandpa Al and Tyce found something very funny.

Poor girl was exhausted after a long day!
Bryce had a really fun time skiing--even Al said he'd like to take it up again.

2. Cameron  Lost His Top Teeth

On the same day! Look at these cute boys with all their missing teeth. I love when kids lose their top teeth! The boys have about the same dental landscape as their baby cousin Natasha.

3.Museum of Church History and Art

One of the highlights of our spring break was visiting Temple Square. The children's exhibits were particularly engaging and we spent a couple of hours there.

Tyce and Kira Price (age 4) outside the museum.

Cameron, Kess (age 8), Kira, and Mary really enjoyed dressing up and dancing to the life-sized video instruction.

Harrison, always independent, found his own entertainment. This exhibit featured the sounds of different instruments.

The kids spent at least an hour "feeding the missionaries."

They sure loved playing with that food-food.

Bryce and Kira waited together while some kids finished up.

Tyce explored the rest of the museum on his own. He came back and showed Grandma Judy the pictures he'd taken of his favorite things.

In another part of the museum there was a podium used in the Tabernacle.

I gave my first and only talk in General Conference, to an invisible but appreciative crowd.

These quilts captivated me. This one was made by a lady while her husband went through a serious illness. Its pattern was inspired by the scripture in Luke 12:27 and aptly titled "Consider the Lilies."

This one depicted the 13 Articles of Faith. It was so beautiful it blew me away.

Made by a mother whose child was hospitalized for long-term care. It is made entirely of clothing labels.

Talk about one that choked me up: this one represents the revelation in 1978 that all worthy males were eligible to receive the priesthood.

A worldwide sisterhood.

I loved this one because it was made of paper and modge-podged onto wood. That's the kind of quilt I think I could manage making.

All done, and outside the museum again. The cousins: Mary Rachel, Kess, Kira, Cameron, Tyce, and Harrison.

Kess and Mary are so pretty.

Judy took us to her office in the Family History center. We were a bit noisier than anyone bargained for.

4. Easter Festivities

Getting ready to hunt for eggs--and Bryce is poised to leap into action.

They got lots of good candy and even some special surprises--Harrison found Dora the Explorer socks intended for Kira but she would have nothing to do with them. He was happy to keep the flower-dotted socks for himself!

Grandma Judy let the kids decorate Easter cookies. While two kids decorated, the others watched a movie.

They enjoyed being creative.

Because creativity is delicious.

5. Easter Day

We left on Saturday so that we could be home for Easter. (One year we traveled on Easter and hated it--it was a totally wasted day.)

Backtracking a little--right before spring break our community choir, Henderson Choral Artists, had a concert. Oh man, it felt good to sing such a variety of musical styles (hymns, spirituals, choir arrangements) under the amazing direction of Darrell Crowther. The choir's performance was called "I Believe in Christ" and every song testified of our Savior and the glorious reason we celebrate Easter.

Tyce and I before the performance, contemplating our parts (bass and alto).

So we made it home and everyone got up on time for church. Of course, that could be because I told them the Easter Bunny only visits kids who actually go to church.

The hit of the baskets were the Zhu Zhu pets I got on mega sale at Target. They were perfect because Easter is about life, and hamsters are alive, and Ninja hamsters with weapons are . . . wait, where am I going with this? 

I didn't plan for our Easter brunch before we left for Utah; we had no ham! Boohoo! I hurried and made muffins, scrambled eggs, hot spinach dip in phyllo cups, left-over taquitos, and saltines-and-Nutella; I pulled hard-boiled eggs and  clementines out of the fridge. The centerpiece was made by Mary--she did the whole table.

Here are the men, ready to brunch it up.
 I was so glad to have a great spring break and to celebrate Easter with my family. I am so grateful that Jesus Christ died for me, and I rejoice that he HE LIVES!

I Believe in Christ
Hymns #134

I believe in Christ; he is my King!
With all my heart to him I’ll sing; 
I’ll raise my voice in praise and joy, In grand Amens my tongue employ.
I believe in Christ; he is God’s Son!
On earth to dwell his soul did come. 
He healed the sick; the dead he raised. Good works were his, his name be praised.

I believe in Christ; oh blessed name!
As Mary’s Son he came to reign. 
‘Mid mortal men, his earthly kin, To save them from the woes of sin.
I believe in Christ; who marked the path!
Who did gain all the Father hath. 
Who said to men, Come, Follow Me, That ye, my friends, with God may be.”

I believe in Christ – my Lord, my God!
My feet he plants on gospel sod. 
I’ll worship him with all my might; He is the source of truth and light.
I believe in Christ; he ransoms me!
From Satan’s grasp he sets me free. 
And I shall live with joy and love In his eternal courts above.

I believe in Christ; he stands supreme!
From him I’ll gain my fondest dream. 
And while I strive through grief and pain, His voice is heard;
“Ye shall obtain.”
I believe in Christ; so come what may!
With him I’ll stand in that great day, 
When on this earth he comes again To rule among the sons of men.