Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Days of School

Tyce is in 11th grade at Basic High School.

His shirt says SWAG and he says it means "Spirit Will Always Guide." That, and he thinks he's hot stuff.

This year he has English III Honors, History Honors, Anatomy and Physiology, Algebra II, Weightlifting, Chamber Choir, and Concert Choir. He was super excited to see his friends and Bryce said when he dropped him off, Tyce was bouncing off the walls and jumping on people, hug-tackling everyone he knew. I'm sure he was a joy to have in class first hour. Tyce said he had a good day. There are 80 kids in his concert choir this year!

 Mary Rachel is in 7th grade at Brown Junior High School.

I tried to loan her my bright blue Hello Kitty necklace but she likes to keep things simple.
Mary has all accelerated classes including English, Math, Science, and History--which she says she's dreading. She also has art class. She is so talented but I wasn't thrilled she'd signed up for Art again because last year she got poor grades in that course. I asked her why and she said, "Because the teacher says we have to do things HER way and I like my way better." Oy.

I picked her up along with Sara and Nikki after school. I asked Mary what her favorite class was and she said it was too early to tell. I asked the same thing about the teachers and she said the same things. I guess she's reserving judgment--there's no benefit of the doubt for her. At home she said, "Well, Tyce and I must not look like twins anymore because none of the teachers knew I was his sister until I told them. Then they were all gushy and like, 'oooo, we love Tyce!'" Overhearing this Tyce said, "See, I told you, Mary!"

Cameron and Harrison are in 2nd grade at Sue H. Morrow Elementary. Their teacher is Mrs. Cropp.

Trying to be "identical".

Mrs. Cropp also taught Tyce and Mary and I believe she requested our boys to be in her class (otherwise I think they'd be in separate classes like before). We love Mrs. Cropp because over the years she's been a great teacher but also a dear friend. When the boys chose their outfits I said, "Wearing the same shirts might confuse the teacher." They both replied, "That's the point!"

I walked the boys to class and picked them up when school was over. I asked if they'd fooled Mrs. Cropp and Cam said, "Well, she forgot which one of us was which and she said, 'Oh, I can't keep you two straight!'" So I guess that even though they don't look alike it's still hard to tell them apart. They also said they had a really great day and that they knew most everybody in their class.

As for me,  I cleaned the house. I read the scriptures. I even meditated. Ah, I was so quiet and peaceful. I've been rethinking my plan to go back to work in the traditional sense. I'm not sure it's right for us right now because even though the kids are older, they need me. They don't think they do but they really do. I may have to work in the evenings or some odd hours instead of an 8-5 job right now. I have been praying for guidance and I know that I will be led to whatever it is I am supposed to do.

P. S. We're late to the party but Bryce, Tyce, and I are totally hooked on Downton Abbey. Do you watch it? Do you love it? We can't wait for the next season to start!

P. P. S. Seminary starts next week after Labor Day. If not for the physical exhaustion I suffer from getting up that early, I'm really looking forward to teaching the New Testament to a great group of kids.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Making a Match

Did you read in my last line in the last post that I hope to re-enter the workforce? It just seems like it's time. Bryce's schedule will become more flexible soon which enables me to stretch my wings.

I'm lucky to live in a big city where hundreds of jobs are posted every day. The only problem is that I don't know what I want to do but I DO know what I don't want to do. It made me think of what it's like for my single friends in the dating world--there are tons of men out there but most of them are ones you want to avoid. Ha. Just like my friends who eventually find Mr. Right, I am confident that I will eventually find a good match. There's a job out there with my name on it.

Speaking of Mr. Right, guess what yesterday was . . . our 17th wedding anniversary. Woo hoo!

I wrote this message on facebook: I loved my wedding day because it was the start of what I love even more--my marriage. I am blessed to have a wonderful husband who has strengthened me, supported me, and cheered me on for 17 years now. He is my partner in everything and truly my best friend. I love you, Bryce Jones.♥

It's true. I am a lucky girl. We celebrated by eating at a Thai restaurant called Naga. I had yellow curry and Bryce had Pad Thai, both delicious. It's crazy to think all we've been through and what we still have to look forward to; it's like a lifetime condensed in 17 years. In some ways it feels like it was yesterday but in another it feels like it's been an eternity (in a good way). How did I know what I was doing all those years ago? I have no idea, but thank goodness we're both committed to making our lives together work.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What We've Been Up To

1. Cameron got his cast off in July.
He didn't want it off because it had become comfortable and a part of his life. He didn't like the feeling of freedom at all! But right after that he signed up for diving and tae kwon do which finally gave him and Harrison some fun summer things to do.

Cameron is not impressed.

 2. Bryce and Cam found something scary in the garage.
Do you recognize that mark on her? It's like she posed for them.

Even living in the desert I'd think the exterminator could keep us black widow free.

3. Tyce had his chamber choir retreat.
On the last day they went to a musical. After getting a flat tire and losing my cell phone that day I was not a helpful chaperone. I had to get a ride from another mom! We went to a fun production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat at Spring Mountain Ranch and the kids got to sing "Don't Stop Believin'" on stage before it started.

Having a blast.

Singing their hearts out. One of the kids said, "Did we sound good?" I said, "Uhh....well you could tell you were having fun!"


4. I tried side-swept bangs.
I had no one to impress with my cute hair but the workers at Food 4 Less.

Serious and intimidating, eh?

5. Mary, Harrison, and Cam built forts.
This was one of their larger creations. Mary read to them and made them take math tests, and everyone was compliant and happy.

Willing students.

Nearly every blanket, pillow, and chair was used.

6. The kids have done chores.
Every day they have 3 family jobs to do but they aren't good at some things (like loading the dishwasher) so they do the same things over and over. At least they make it fun for themselves.

What better way to sweep than to sing and swing the broom.

7. Ceara got married.
She is such a good older friend to Mary and she even invited her to be one of her bridesmaids. We love their family so much.

Mary and her sweet friend Taya (Ceara's niece).

She is so pretty.

The beautiful bride!

The boys danced hard with their friend Cash (Ceara's nephew).

Father-daughter dance--Bryce made this shot his profile picture. Love it.

8. Cameron danced all day, every day.
In the car, flipping on the couch, to his own beat.

Doing the lindy with the couple on So You Think You Can Dance.

9. We cheered the USA at the Olympics.
Everyone loved the excitement of great competition! What a fun 2 weeks.

American girls go for the gold!

10. The kids have tae kwon do class.
I thought Mary wouldn't like the class but of the three kids, she's the one who loves it. I think part of it is that she's a big fish in a little pond but as long as she feels happy and successful it's good with me.

Cam and Harrison grump about going but they do great once they're there. The kids have their first belt test this week!

In addition to that we've been swimming a lot.

And . . . I'm looking for a job.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Seminary--You Never Know

In Seminary I taught the sophomores my first year (1/3 of a year), the freshmen last year, and next year--the juniors. I am really looking forward to that. The younger kids are still "forced" by their parents to come but by the time they're in 11th grade they're usually more mature, and if they're still coming it's because they want to (at least to some degree).

Teaching seminary has been probably the hardest calling I've ever had mostly because of how little my efforts seem to be appreciated. I do hours of studying, put together interesting lessons--and kids leave class early, look up "the scriptures" on their phones, and make silly comments to impress their friends. That was definitely my experience last year with all of those 9th grade boys. They wore me down and practically extinguished any joy I felt in being their teacher. I resigned myself to being the one that they reflected on later in life, "I know I had some lady that first year--I don't remember anything about that class though."

Regardless, I try my best because you never know when someone's paying attention or might be in a place to take the lesson to heart. Just this past week I had three kids reference something positive about our class.

Mary K. (from my sophomore class): "Everyone was watching a bad movie but I walked out because of a lesson you taught."

Zack: "I used to skip seminary all the time until one time you made me feel guilty about it, so I started coming again."

Kyle (to Bryce in teacher's quorum class): "I know that scripture because of seminary! Sister Jones taught us like a boss."

No one teaches just to receive praise but what a nice surprise it is to receive positive feedback. And what a surprise it is to hear that one of my most disruptive students learned anything besides how to set the clock ahead to confuse me, hide people's Bibles, or throw paper when he thought I wasn't looking. If he learned a scripture somewhere in there then I'm pretty darn happy.

Just when it seems like no one's paying attention, could it be that they are? I guess you never know.

That's what keeps me going.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Remember when Bryce and the big kids were in Utah and I had my fun week with the twins? Mary loved spending time with cousins Kess, Kira, and Natasha. They are such sweet girls. Mary also enjoyed rock hunting with Grandpa Al. It was so nice for her to have a week all to herself with them.

While she was in West Jordan, Tyce attended YASE (Young Ambassadors Singing Entertainers workshop) at BYU in Provo. He spent hours singing, dancing, learning routines, and making friends. Bryce brought his laptop and worked from the gorgeous campus.

His friend Ben captioned this "Instant friends".

One night they went to a play at the Hale.

The highlight of the week was their Friday night performance!
This is truly a highlight of the summer for Tyce. I'm glad he got to associate with an awesome group of kids.

He also went to EFY (Especially for Youth) which seemed to have an incredibly positive impact on him this year.

His "family".

Love that he's had some great weeks but it's never enough--I know he wishes he could live there all summer long!

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Mary went to church today (hallelujah) but she wouldn't take her pajama bottoms off under her dress. I really never thought that "pick your battles" would include letting that kind of thing slide. Luckily she had on a maxi dress and her hot pink sleep pants didn't show. I was just so incredibly relieved we didn't have to fight her to come with us (we used a friend's upcoming birthday party as leverage) that I didn't want to engage in a power struggle over wearing pajamas under her Sunday best.

It's to that point.

If I have ever--and I know I have--judged a parent by the things their kids do or don't do, I would very much like to recant my previous statements. I am learning that I set the standards, the tone, and the consequences but I cannot force anyone to do anything. And for any parent who says, "Yes you can. You just make them do it," I say: Meet my daughter. Really, I invite you to pull her out from under the bed, stuff her in the car, drag her into the building, and make her sit next to you. It is a physical and emotional battle you have to prepare for. I wasn't ready for it last week and I cried all three hours of church when I failed. It is a sticky situation making religious attendance an issue even when the objection is desire and not doctrine.

There were consequences, of course. No ipod, no friends, no Wii. My biggest struggle was the resentment I felt towards her. I told her that I wanted to rid myself of the negative feelings I had and invited her to do Personal Progress with me. She agreed and chose one of the value experiences about improving a relationship with a family member. Her first choice was the dog, and when I said it had to be a human she pointed out, "No, it just says a member of the family." Finally she agreed to choose Tyce. Doing something positive with her helped me clear my head and my heart and I actually heard her being very nice to her older brother. I don't want my love to seem conditional to my kids--that they only deserve my attention and time when they tow the line. But believe me, it's hard.

When she went to Mutual I let her have Katy over, let her go to Taya's house with the understanding that church on Sunday was non-negotiable. She agreed and she followed through. I wonder what it will take to get her there next week.

But taking it one day at a time, today was a good day. She didn't sleep at all last night so I guess I can credit her all-nighter with her ability to be awake on time.

My kids are getting too old for me to talk about them like this though. Maybe I'll start a new blog with pseudonyms so I can write everything with abandon. I don't tell you even a fraction of what goes on here because if I did--you wouldn't want to read it.

So basically what I'm saying is that when you see a child struggling, acting out, running away, or whatever--it doesn't mean that the parents don't care. They probably care a great deal, so much that their hearts and heads ache from desperately trying to figure out how to best deal with them. Whether a child follows in their parents' footsteps or not is not the sole indicator of a "good" mom or dad. These are things I'm discovering every day.