Tuesday, November 27, 2012


You know how when you have a baby, you try to figure out his or her schedule: After breakfast he likes to play. After lunch she takes a 2-hour nap. And just when feel like you've got it, the baby changes the routine. Actually she naps after breakfast and plays after lunch. And his favorite food is now peaches.

Well folks, in case you didn't know . . . the same thing is true of teenagers. Mine, at least.

And let me tell you, trying to figure out what's coming up next, what they need, how they might react to something new--it is exhausting. It's like I'm up in the middle of the night every night, only it's not for bottles or diapering, it's for chasing people out of the kitchen and telling them to turn off their lights. It's worrying and wondering about the big things that seem to embody progression and regression on a comically broad-tipping scale.

But one pattern I can tell you is that after a vacation things are always, always hard.

I don't know if it's that holding it together was hard and now they fall apart, or if there's the disappointment of having to return to normal life, or it just feels good to run around and cause mayhem and misery. I really don't know but I sure am glad for a few hours to myself today because I need it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving in Utah

Wow, that was a fun trip! It was awesome to have a real family reunion with all of Bryce's sisters and their families. Heather and Kim and Ben drove all the way from Houston! They got there a few days before we did (they started out on Saturday) and our family arrived late Wednesday night. I'm so grateful Al and Judy have a house big enough for us all and the desire to entertain us (and the patience).

We enjoyed our Thanksgiving meal, family pictures, eating at the new Bombay House, country line dancing, ice skating, playing at the park, board and card games, and non-stop cousin fun. I feel so blessed to have a nephew and nieces whom I ADORE and find to be wonderful, interesting, delightful kids. I also love my sisters-in-law to the moon and back and consider them some of my dearest friends.

1. Thanksgiving Day
Judy made a delicious turkey and the girls all made the sides. We had a feast, that's for sure. Kess and Mary set the tables and they did a lovely job. Some people watched football, some people played games, but whatever we did I think it was just nice to be together.
Betsie, Kess, and Kim in the kitchen.

Harrison wanted to help.

Kess showed off the grown-up table.

Harrison was obsessed with bunny ears.

After dinner, Ben and Mary relaxed.

Cam an Kira were little buddies all day.

Hanging out.

2. Family Pictures
Since we were all together it seemed like a great idea to have family pictures done. We went to Murray Park and had a great photographer who really worked with and around our craziness.

Bryce and me.

I love this one!

Kim did the Pee Wee Herman dance on the table!

Ben did the Gangam Style dance--he was awesome!

Heeeyyyyy.....sexy lady!

All 8 grandkids of Al and Judy Jones.

Tyce gave Aunt Heather a piggy back ride!


Harrison (in blue) and Cameron on a really cool spinny thing that Cameron called a "toilet seat".

Bryce and Grandpa Al spinning the boys.

Pretty Mary.

Mary and Kess.

Mary, Kira, and Kess.

Two 16-year-old cool guys in a tree.

Tyce contemplates the world.

Shh, they're meditating. Or modeling.

Ben strikes a pose.

Heather with 2-year-old niece Natasha.

Pretty 6-year-old Kira.

Lovely 12-year-old Mary.

I liked these both so much I couldn't decided between them.

Mary and Harrison.

Check out how high they were!

3. Bombay House and Line Dancing
The Provo location will always be our favorite but it was awesome to have a Bombay House open up right next to Bryce's parents in Jordan Landing. After dinner the adult kids went country line dancing; that was definitely a new activity to all of us. It was super fun though, from actually dancing to watching the people. I can't tell you the last time I was in a country western bar (if ever?). Kim graciously ordered us a round of waters which I'm sure annoyed the waitress. Ha. Bryce was my real-live urban cowboy because he rode the mechanical bull! And so did Betsie.

All the adults and teens at dinner. We love our Indian food.

Heather learning one of the dances.

Andy and Betsie; as Betsie said, "Andy is not impressed."

Bryce and Kim tore it up! Bryce was my partner and he did a great job.

How cute are these Jones kids?! Bryce, Kim, Heather, and Betsie.

Betsie rode the bull and did great.

Bryce did too. They both said it was harder than it looked and Bryce was afraid he'd hit his head on the ceiling.

4. The Dogs
Cameron and Harrison especially loved playing with Heather's dog Daisy and Kim's dog Callay, mostly because our own dog doesn't give the boys the time of day. Cameron just loved that he could say "Paw" and she'd give him her paw, and "Hug" which meant that she's stand up and put her arms around his neck! Who wouldn't love a giant, friendly dog to cuddle with?

Two pretty blondes, Heather and Daisy--I will have to figure out how to turn this around.

Harrison and Callay.

Our Katie, a bit of a snob.

5. Ice Skating and the Wishbone
We took the kids to the rink they like to go to and I am impressed with their skill. While we were there Tyce went to his friend Heidi's house in Alpine. Later that night the twins got to finally, finally break the wishbone (after much asking and pestering). Cameron won but was disappointed that he didn't wake up to an iPhone 5, which is what he admitted to wishing for.

Poor Harrison biffed it right away!

But he got back on the ice without a problem.

Bryce is ready for the movie "Blades of Glory".

Coming around the bend.

A fair contest.
Tyce and his talented friend Heidi. They sang together a lot.

So that was our trip and we loved every minute of it. Now it's back to real life and I will admit that it's kind of hard to get back in the swing of things. As everyone always says, we need a vacation from our vacation. But I wouldn't have traded that time with family for the world. I am thankful for them and I am truly blessed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mary's Hair

Last night I took Mare to a different salon because her regular stylist was out of town and we had an emergency on our hands--family pictures this week, and a girl who hadn't had her hair done since before school started. Anyway, this new lady, Daria, was a stylish African-American woman at Divine Salon (on Horizon) and it worked out great; Mary absolutely loved her and her hair looked cute.

I asked her what she talked with Daria about and she said, "I told her about 'Outnumbered' [a British sitcom on PBS] and I did all my accents for her. I also told her about Monty Python and I kept saying, 'You stupid English kiniget! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!'"

"Oh wow," I said. "Daria really got the real you, didn't she!"

"Yes. I also told her about my favorite scenes in the Redwall books and did my Yick voice [a British baby shrew]."

Seeing her antics through Daria's eyes made me self-conscious because, really, could Mary have sounded any whiter? I don't even like or talk about those things myself.

Anyway. Here's my dilemma.

We've been going to Lakeisha for years and I am very loyal to her. But Mary is now in love with Daria and wants to make the switch. I don't know how to handle that because not only is Lakeisha her long-time stylist, she's also our friend. She's my facebook friend and even invited Mary to her own daughter's birthday party! Have you ever severed a relationship like that and if so, how do you not make it personal? Is that even a possibility?

First world problems, I know.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Busy Week

I haven't even had time to get on the computer. Doctors appointments, school functions, church activities, homework and projects . . . what else? I guess when you have several kids those things are enough. Seminary kicked my butt this week, meaning that I was and am still exhausted from my 5:00 am wake-up call. My sister-in-law Kim said that any time you set your alarm for a number that you can count on one hand, that's too early.  Thank goodness my partner teaches tomorrow because otherwise I'd have to conference call my class from my bed (and all they'd hear is snoring).

Speaking of seminary, Tyce has been going to the senior class instead of the juniors. That is fine by me because--let's just say he and I have control issues in the classroom. I don't know how other parents handle teaching their own kids but every time I'm in charge of my own children they are the most difficult students in the group. At least this way he's with a wonderful teacher and he's really getting something out of seminary, a marked change from before. (He was an angel for me the first three weeks but then the honeymoon was over.) Sister Banks says he is great in her class, participates, answers questions, actually opens his scriptures. I know that's how he is--an awesome kid--and I'm glad to hear that if he can't be that way for me, at least he's being that way for her.

(On a side note, he's been pleasant and cheerful to me in every other venue: the car, home, appointments, via text, etc. Literally everywhere but seminary.)


As if teaching my own children didn't freak them out enough, I'm applying to be a substitute teacher in the public school. This is my answer to the "how do I get a job when I can only work during school hours" question. I can't believe I never considered that option before--I like kids and I like flexibility, and the pay is as good as other options I've considered. Keep your fingers crossed for me that it works out.

Last night I got to enjoy Basic's chamber singers perform at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. They are such a talented group and it was a pleasure to listen and enjoy their company.

The other kids are doing fine. Mary has really enjoyed helping the Hardys, our around-the-corner-neighbors, on Sunday mornings. She loves those kids. The twins are really doing well with reading and are happy at school and at home unless Mary babysits them. I'm pretty sure Mary is nicer to other kids than she is to the twins; but then again, they do push her buttons. Cameron and Harrison have enjoyed walking or riding home from school with friends.

I wish Bryce and I could take a 6-week vacation together, alone. I think that I will always wish we had more time to spend together.

Now I'm off to clean and do errands. Must recharge before the kids come home.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Four More Years

Holy cow, I have never been so glad to have an election be over. Was this the worst campaign season you've ever experienced? In terms of political calls (20+ a day for both Obama and Romney), mean-spirited posts, broad-stroke name-calling, incessant TV ads, these past 3 months have been almost unbearable. And now that the results are in I've never had so many friends threaten to move to Canada. Really? 

I remember writing in my journal in 1992: "Well Clinton got elected so now our country is doomed." (Or something like that.) Of course I was 18 and filled with equal parts melodrama and inexperience. However, I graduated from college, got married, started a family, lived a normal life. And so I am here to say that thanks to America's system of checks and balances, one man's four- or eight-year term will probably not ruin your life.

In talking with my seminary class this morning, these are some things I took as good reminders about the election no matter what your political beliefs.

1. Preach what you love, not what you hate.

2. Don't stoop to racist or religious remarks or name-calling, ever.

3. Take care of yourself and your needs. Get your own house in order.

4. Vote when you can (as in, when you are old enough). Be informed.

5. Keep calm. This isn't the zombie apocalypse.

6. Respect differences. For as strongly as you hold to your convictions, there are people on the other side of the fence who are equally principled, educated, and passionate about their beliefs.

7. Pray for our President and leaders that they will do what's right for our nation.

8. Remember that our ultimate Leader is still--and will always be--Jesus Christ.

We still have our families and our friends. We still have our faith. Sometimes life is rough and sometimes it doesn't seem fair. Through the Atonement all injustices will be worked out, whether in this life or the next. Does that mean we stop standing up for what we believe in here and now? No, we absolutely need to work for what we think is right, with our voices and our votes. But true change doesn't stem from anger and hate; it never does.

I vote for flowers.

Monday, November 5, 2012

There were Devils and Monkeys and Cool Kids

Halloween was last week but it seems like it was forever ago already. Now we're in November and gearing up for Thanksgiving (which will be the bomb since we'll be with Bryce's entire family, including all four dogs!). I'm not ready to think about Christmas. Oo boy, things sure move fast from here to the end of the year, don't they?

At 16 Tyce is at the awkward age where he's too old for trick-or-treating but there's not much going on besides that. He went to a fun group date night (with Maddy) at his friend Nick's house a few weeks ago where they played miniature golf and then carved pumpkins. He and the YM/YW also carved pumpkins at a Mutual activity. So when I presented four gorgeous gourds to the kids for our FHE activity Tyce wasn't as impressed with the novelty as the other kids were. But he was a good sport and helped out Cameron. I'm afraid Halloween night was a bit boring for him.

Harrison and Mary emptying pumpkins for FHE. Those two are both meticulous when it comes to details.

Cam wasn't in the mood to do the physical work and Tyce wasn't feeling creative so they collaborated on one pumpkin; Cam was the idea man and Tyce made it come to life.

Hard at work.

Cam and Tyce made a vampire (in front); Mary made a kitty cat (on the left), Harrison carved a Y (on the right) and Mary used the spare pumpkin to do a cool wolf howling at the moon.

The Saturday before Halloween we went trunk-or-treating at the church building. Tyce went with his friend Paige's family to help with their ward activity.

Cameron was a sock monkey. He fell in love with this hat and was super pleased with his costume.

Harrison was a Blues Brother. His whole outfit hinged on the fedora.

Ninja sock monkey and a very cool kid.

Mary was a devil.

Cam and Bryce (the football player) at trunk-or-treating.
Mary and Taya--she is Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas.

I was a somewhat plain witch. Nothing fancy for me this year. I did experiment with black nail polish though. Truth be told, I couldn't wait to get it off.

The boys had a school parade at the elementary school. Mary was allowed to wear her costume to junior high but she was unsure if any of her friends would follow suit so she wore normal clothes. Tyce had proficiency testing and students at the high school were FORBIDDEN to dress up; I can only imagine that being a teacher that day would have been fun. Ha.

Cam waving to the crowd.

Harrison said, "It's okay if you look at me!" which was a reversal of his previous mandate: I could come but I couldn't make eye contact.

Lots of cute kids on a beautiful day.
That night I made Mary's favorite homemade macaroni and cheese. She is very picky and so when I find something she will eat I am sure to put it on the menu. However, I had to run an errand and when I came back she was gone! Off to Sara's house to eat dinner before trick-or-treating. The other kids like that meal but don't love it like Mare does. Psh. I spent all that time for people to eat two bites--the lure of candy-hunting was too great to enjoy dinner.

But cute table, right?
 It was a gorgeous night and so I sat on the porch instead of waiting inside. This was good for two reasons: 1) I could socialize a lot with the neighbors, and 2) I didn't almost die of anticipation of the doorbell ringing. I swear, in years past I've had a mini heart attack every time that bing bong rang through the house.

Lots of goodies.

The neighborhood girls: Sara, Mary, and Bella. Bella was a slinky Cat Woman. Sara was wearing a skirt and heels and when asked what she was she said, "I don't know. I just like this outfit."

After they got home the boys got straight to sorting and trading their candy. They have so much they could hardly carry their bags by the end!

At least the three kids shared with us; I got the Almond Joys because I'm the only one who considers those a top-tier treat. Bryce likes Reece's peanut butter cups and Tyce is a fan of Snickers. I think sugar made up 90% of our diets that night, which is the way it should be once a year.