Friday, October 26, 2012

Elementary Fall Dance

I took the boys to the dance which pleased them to no end. "All we have to do is ask and you'll take us!" they marveled. In the past it just hadn't worked out to go so I think they were incredulous that the stars aligned this time. They skippity-ran into the multi-purpose room with giant smiles.

However, once they got there, guess what . .  they were wallflowers for almost an entire hour!

Cam and I after I tried to convince him to boogie.

Check out Harrison's eyes.

Cam held on to me for a long time.
Finally the boys got their courage to get out there and they had a great time. I think a big factor was that DJ Tony threw party favors into the crowd; Cam got a top and Harrison got a flower ring. Cam said, "I saw that top under an ostrich's foot. He couldn't feel it and so I thought I could slip under him when he moved and I was right."

Cam is in the green shirt with his arms in the air.

Harrison is a conservative dancer.

Disco wore Cam out.


I joined the boys for the Cha Cha slide and some other fun line dances. It was the funniest thing to see the kids do the newest dance craze, Gangnam Style, which Cam calls "Ooka Gunga Style." I was glad to talk to a few friends between dances and it was an all-around pleasant afternoon.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cambria's Baptism Weekend

Dave and Brooklyn's oldest daughter Cambria just turned 8 and what a treat it was for Mary and I to be there to celebrate!

The beautiful birthday girl.

We got there on her birthday, October 18th. She had a little family present-opening and then it was off to Chuck E. Cheese's.

Her big present was a pair of rollerblades!

Xochi (age 3) posed for a picture at Chuck E.

Mary won a ton of tickets--actually, all the girls did.

Brooklyn challenged us to a basketball tournament. Look at how she and her mom have the same form!

Brooklyn and my dad.

Brooklyn and Dave--are you seeing how she dominates each round? She was amazing and had a personal best of 65 points that night.

My mom and dad did awesome.

After we got home Cambria blew out the candles on her cake.

I hope she wished for a lot of family to visit because that one came true.

Adorable sisters Maya and Xochi.

Brooklyn's mom was nice enough to take a picture with me in it!

 The next day we went to San Francisco's Chinatown where we had lunch at Cambria's favorite restaurant. Cambria spent birthday money and my mom bought all the girls something pretty for their hair.

It was a beautiful cloudy day.

Cambria's favorite dish is shrimp with candied walnuts. It was delicious.

Cute Xochi.

Saturday was the baptism and it was awesome to see all the friends who came to support this very special girl.

The program.

One of the smartest, funniest, most beautiful girls I know.

The Cook side: Grandpa Jim, Brooklyn, Maya, Mary, Cambria, Rebecca (me), Dave, Xochi, and Mopsie.

Some of the many children who sang "I am a Child of God" as a special musical number.

My brother did a wonderful job baptizing and confirming her a member of the Church. I couldn't keep from crying. I told my mom it was nice to witness Cambria's baptism on the heels' of my own boys' because I was truly able to enjoy the Spirit. (As the mom, your mind is in overdrive when it's your own affair, you know?)

Mary and I just loved being able to spend time with the Cooks. Mary was such a good big cousin to the girls and their mom messaged me later to say, "All three girls were sobbing after you left until they fell asleep. Caima went on and on about Mary and how much she missed her. 'I feel rich when she is here by me and when she's gone I feel poor. I feel full being with her and now I feel empty.'" How sweet and heartbreaking is that? I must confess to feeling the same anguish at leaving my family because my heart truly, truly felt "full" in being with them.

It was a wonderful weekend and I am so, so glad Mare and I got to go.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tyce's Fall Concert

Last night we had the pleasure of hearing wonderful music from Basic's choirs AND a solo from our very own Tyce Jones. Tyce is in concert choir as well as the elite chamber singers, which is an a capella madrigal group. All of the groups were good but the chamber singers were amazing!

Kids auditioned for solos last week and Tyce was chosen to sing "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" from Les Miserables. I have to say, he was incredible. You don't expect him to have such a great bass voice but he really rocks those low notes.

Right before he started. It takes guts to get up there and sing a solo!

All of the choirs sang a closing performance of "How Can I Keep From Singing?" It was lovely.

After the concert Tyce handed me a rose, how sweet is that? Then I took a picture of my two handsome men.

Tyce posed with his friend Chelsea who sang a solo of the song "Jar of Hearts".
We were really proud of him and we're so glad he's part of a wonderful choir program with good kids and a truly outstanding director who inspires everyone to be their best. It was a great night.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Campfire at Lake Mead

What a gorgeous night it was to be out in the desert! We packed the car and headed out to Lake Mead for a good old fashioned hot dog and marshmallow roast. I think everyone else had the same idea though because every campground at the closest site was full. We drove a ways out and found another one in Calville Bay which was perfect for our kids because there were giant gravel piles to climb.

Beautiful sunset.
This shot doesn't do the twilight sky justice.

Kids climbing.

What can one do besides climb a gravel pile? Slide down, of course. Harrison went head first like this.

Cam went head first like this!

They had a blast.

Looks like they're climbing the sand dunes of the Sahara, doesn't it?

Just me.
Bryce did a great job of making the perfect fire. They say that smoke follows beauty--well, I felt I must be the fairest of them all after that night. That smoke wouldn't leave me alone no matter where I went.

My favorite picture of the night! Happy girls!

Hot dog roasting. Everything tastes more delicious over a campfire.

Bryce told us a story about his ancestor Mary Goble Pay and how she wasn't killed in an Indian attack because one of the men remembered her kindness to his people. I love hearing those old stories when we're out in the wilderness.

We also tried to make Jiffy Pop popcorn over the fire but it turned completely black. When the directions say not to put it over open flame they mean it.

We missed Tyce but we know he had fun a the 7-stake dance which was part of Youth Conference. He even won the dance off and one of the leaders told us he definitely had the moves.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Any Excuse to Climb a Ladder

Last week our friend Kim drove by and asked, "Oh, are you guys putting up Halloween decorations?"

"No, the boys are playing a game they made up. It's called 'Get the Shoe Stuck in the Tree'." When they do they have to climb the ladder to get it down," I replied.

At the sound of that Kim's boys got out of the minivan and got in the game.

After that the kids got in the brand-new (never-been-used) garbage cans and wheeled each other up and down the driveway.

There's never a dull moment when you have boys around, eh?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Day I Thought I Was Dying

I called Bryce at work. "My chest feels really tight and there are sharp pains when I move," I confessed. "I've looked up symptoms of a heart attack and I don't think that's the problem."

"You can't rule it out, though," he said. "You should probably go to the doctor."

"How embarrassing would that be if it turned out to be nothing," I asked glumly.

"How embarrassing would it be if you died?" Bryce countered. "You know, it could be anxiety."

There are some significant weights on our chests right now, that's for sure. "Man, I would be really annoyed it my body betrayed me like this as a reaction to stress," I said.

But guess what.

Right after he suggested it, and I accepted it, the pain disappeared.

Apparently life can be so big, so daunting, so burdensome . . .  it can actually make you feel like you're going to meet your Maker.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

General Conference with the ADHD and Otherwise Distracted

There's nothing I'd like more than to have my kids play Prophet Bingo for 8 hours on General Conference weekend but alas, that will never happen. We can hardly get Cameron to stop doing cartwheels in front of the TV and for the older kids to come downstairs. Many years I have been frustrated by the lack of desire and/or ability to listen to the inspired words of our leaders but I have adjusted my expectations and this has been one of our better experiences. Bryce has helped me become more realistic since he too has a hard time paying attention (as evidenced by his near-constant fiddling with his phone, even during the prayers). I have some degree of book-learning on ADHD but it is invaluable to have someone help me put it in to practice.

So here's what we ask of the kids.

1. Be quiet for the Saturday sessions. I bought several craft kits from Target on clearance for the kids and gave them one per session which occupied them quite well. Bryce did not require attendance for the Saturday sessions and both older kids slept through the morning one (the best one, too bad for them). But when they came down for the afternoon we asked them to be respectful and quiet even if they were busy doing other things.

Harrison coloring his 3-D dog.

Cam doing his art project.

Cute pup and cuter boy!

2. For Tyce, go to the Priesthood session with his dad. Unfortunately this Saturday was Homecoming and Tyce went to the dance (and Bryce drove the van full of kids). However, the men did not take pictures and so I have no proof that this ever happened. They would usually go to the Priesthood session of General Conference.

3. Join us for our special breakfast. This year I made "homemade" doughnuts which were actually fried biscuits but really tasted like pastries. I think I might make that our new General Conference breakfast tradition.

Refrigerated biscuits before their transformation to doughnuts. Paula Deen made these on an episode of "Paula's Home Cooking".

Fry in 2 inches of medium-hot oil for a few minutes on each side.

Glaze them!

Or powdered-sugar them. The glazed are prettier but truthfully I liked these more.

4. Come to the Sunday sessions. I gave art kits to the boys and a puzzle for Mary but when President Monson spoke, they had to stop, sit up, and listen. This worked out quite well for both Sunday morning and afternoon (but better in the morning, ha).

There's Cam!

Listening to the words of the Prophet. Oh, I also bribed them with M&Ms.

I read recently that ADHD people need to fidget to concentrate, and literally need objects called "fidgets" to play with while they are sitting still. I've been trying to be sensitive to the constant need for motion and, what looks like to me, distraction. That's why you see in the photo above so many states of attentiveness: Tyce playing a game on the iPod, Mary cutting cheese with a knife, Bryce checking email on the computer, Harrison rocking in the recliner, and Cam army-crawling for misplaced candy.

That's life in our house, anyway. In adjusting my expectations I have been happier with our General Conference experience; in fact, I enjoyed this weekend quite a lot. And if you ask the kids I think they'd say the same thing.

How cute are these little sandwiches we had for lunch?
Broccoli soup--we needed something healthy to counteract those doughnuts!
As far as the messages go: Did you hear those awesome talks? How about the lowering of the ages for missionary service to 18 for young men and 19 for young women!? That was a jaw-dropping announcement, for sure. There were several talks that really touched me but some of my favorites were Quentin L. Cook (Can ye feel so now?), Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Living without regrets) and Jeffrey R. Holland ("Feed my sheep" and the apostolic call). I can't wait to reread the addresses in the Ensign coming up.

For Family Home Evening tomorrow maybe we'll have a little recap and discuss what stood out to us. Any gathering that ends with ice cream is a good one.

It was a great, relaxing weekend of spiritual uplift and I'm glad I got to spend it with my awesome family.