Word of the Year for 2011 - Consistency

Last year I decided to give up the typical New Year's resolutions that have made me a failure year after year of my life. I'd heard of someone who chooses a single word to be their guide for the new year and I liked that idea. So last year's word was "FOCUS." When we focus on something, we see it clearly and the peripheral things become blurry and less important.

I would have liked to succeed in more ways than I did, but I focused on two things that I'm proud of. I focused on preparing my book for submission and submitted it. And now it's being published. I also focused on one area of my house at a time to organize. Now there are certain closets and cupboards that I'm happy to open.

So with those little successes inspiring me, my word for 2011 is going to be "CONSISTENCY." By nature, I'm impatient and easily distracted. I want to regularly and consistently follow through with things, but often the things I want to do get crowded out. My hope is that consentrating on this word will help me be CONSISTENT, to follow through.

There are a few habits I hope to develop and a few I'm already pretty good at that I want to solidify.

1. Consistently read my scriptures and pray
2. Consistently exercise
3. Consistently do a load of laundry daily (including folding and putting away)
4. Consistently write every weekday

Of course, I'd love to become a better housekeeper in general, but I figure if I develop the habit of keeping up with laundry, other things will be less overwhelming. Hopefully a year from now, I'll be reporting that my word helped me accomplish a couple of important things.

So, CONSISTENCY is my word. What are you doing for your New Year's resolutions?

Check back in the next few days for another great giveaway!

Not Exactly Like Riding a Bike

They say that once you've mastered riding a bike, you'll always be able to ride a bike. That may be true, but is the same principle true of other things?

Not entirely!

Sixteen years ago, I made my first real wedding cake. It was for my cousin and it served as both a wedding gift from my family and as a chance to launch my career as a wedding cake baker. It turned out beautiful and it was the beginning of a twelve-year run as the owner of Karey's Custom Cakes. During that time, I made hundreds of wedding cakes. I was good at it. I loved the challenge of duplicating the cakes in Martha Stewart Weddings and did cakes worthy of the bridal magazines.

Six years ago, we moved to Idaho. I kept my business going for awhile, but over the next couple of years, it died a natural death. People weren't ordering the cakes I loved to make and I found delivery in the rural area challenging.

It has been almost four years since I did a wedding cake, but as a favor to a friend who had just done me a huge favor, I offered to make his daughter's wedding cake.

Boy, is it different when you're older and out of practice. Everything took a little longer than it should have. I had a couple of near-catastrophes that I won't go into detail about, (maybe they'll appear in my next book) and the delivery to Salt Lake was much more stressful than I remembered. How did I deliver all those other cakes without hyperventilating?

**Let me pause here for a little shout-out to the smoking man in the white Ford pick-up with a tattoo of a lion on his muscular bicep. Thanks for swerving back into your own lane in the nick of time, thereby avoiding my wedding-cake-carrying car. And may I offer this bit of fashion advice--wife-beaters in December aren't a good idea, no matter how proud of your muscle and tattoo you are.**

But I delivered the cake safe and sound and it looked beautiful. The bonus was that I got to see an old friend and meet a couple of new ones. It was a successful day.

I'm not sure if the excitement and thrill of creating something beautiful outweighs the horror of a scary wedding cake delivery, but as Laura Ingalls Wilder always said, "All's well that ends well."

The Nativity & Breath of Heaven


Enjoy this beautiful song by Amy Grant. It almost seems it was written for this little film about Christ's birth.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas--not just merry, although I hope it's that, as well. But I also hope you'll take time to think about the Savior, the life He lived, the example He set for us and the extroardinary sacrifice He made for us.

Take a few moments to thank Him, to ponder about Him and to feel His love.

Merry Christmas!

My Savannah


Thirteen years ago today, I went to the doctor's office for an amniocentesis--that terrifyingly long and thick needle that is used to check amneotic fluid. This time it was being used to see if Savannah's lungs were sufficiently developed for her to be delivered. We hoped she was. I'd been in labor for several weeks, on bed rest for a couple of months and Christmas was three days away. We needed her to be born. The lungs were ready and I went in at 4 p.m. to deliver a beautiful baby girl.

Savannah was a little thing, 6 lbs 1 oz and only 19 inches long. She was on the lower end of the growth charts, but she was healthy and pretty and happy.

At each visit to the doctor, she slipped a little further down the growth chart, until at about a year old, she fell completely off. She got sick easily and had almost no energy. When her cousins were on the floor playing together, she just sat quietly on my lap. She was always hungry, but never seemed satisfied. I was worried.

Over the next few months, I took her to the doctor several times, wanting to know why she was so lethargic, hungry and sickly. At sixteen months, she was a scary 14 and 1/2 pounds. To appease me, the doctor told me to put her on a high protein formula and bring her back in two weeks to see how much weight she'd put on. I did and she was down three ounces.

"You've got to quit comparing her to her more robust cousins. Not all babies are the same," the doctor told me over and over.

I asked Travis to take an afternoon off and come with me to the doctor. When the doctor repeated his advice that we stop worrying so much, Travis said, "She seems like she's starving to death. At what point would you suggest that we start worrying?"

"She's not starving to death. You've seen the pictures of children starving in third world countries. Their stomachs are distended. She doesn't look anything like that."

He actually suggested we watch for her stomach to distend like the poor starving children on television, who we can save for the price of a cup of coffee a day? This was my baby. Here. In the United States of America. She belonged to a family with plenty of food and health insurance and we were supposed to wait for that? I was dumbfounded. I'd have changed doctors that very second, but I couldn't because of our insurance requirements.

On the next visit, I was angry. I sat in his office and told him I wasn't moving until we had some answers. "Okay. I'm going to go ahead and send you to a gastroenterologist. But I'm doing this for you, not Savannah. I think she's fine."

We went to the gastroenterologist and after a battery of awful tests, they found that Savannah was suffering from malabsorption--a very real thing. She WAS starving to death. Everything she ate was going right through her and she wasn't absorbing any nutrients. "It's sometimes called 'failure to thrive' and it's very serious," she told me.

A simple enzyme added to her food for about six months turned things around for her. She began putting on weight. She got taller. She had more energy. She didn't need to eat constantly. She became a different girl.

Now, at thirteen, she's tall, healthy, beautiful and one of the most entertaining and pleasant people I know. I don't know what I'd do without her.

Happy birthday, Savannah. I love you!

A Very Good Day!

This is what our entryway looked like yesterday afternoon.

Nineteen years ago, I had my first baby--a boy that we named Bruce, after my brother who died when I was twenty. He was 7 lbs. 1 oz. and was 21 inches long. He was snuggly, smiley and sweet. As he grew, we discovered he was smart, opinionated and stubborn.

I distinctly remember when Bruce turned five. I realized how fast that first five years had gone and that he was more than a fourth of the way to his mission. Almost every year after that, I did the math. Bruce is 1/2 of the way to his mission. Bruce is halfway to his mission! I can't believe Bruce will go on a mission in just five years. Holy crap! He only has a year left until he leaves!

Time has flown by and yesterday was his farewell. (I know it isn't called that anymore, but I don't know what else to call it, so just go with me.) His subject was "preparing to become a worthy husband and father." Not an easy subject for a kid leaving on a mission in 2 1/2 weeks, but he did a great job. He made me cry. And I didn't have a kleenex, so thank you Sister Thompson for the cute kleenex covered with pink and red hearts. Travis and Savannah didn't have one either, so I tore it in thirds and we shared.

After church, we had an open house with waffles and toppings and breakfast meat. It was good and the help I received from loved ones made it a wonderful day. Over 120 family and friends came by. Sweet siblings and in-laws kicked me out of the kitchen so I could go talk to old friends, family and Bruce's friends.

Just 16 days until Bruce goes on his mission. You'd think after nineteen years to prepare, I'd be ready. He's so much more ready for this than I am. I guess that's something to be grateful for.

Our Jack-A Christmas Eve


Salt Lake is a beautiful city around Christmas and quite a few years ago, we decided to make a tour of the city our Christmas Eve tradition. The evening included the almost half a million lights and nativity at Temple Square, then a drive down Christmas Street, a street on the east side of Salt Lake that connects all of the houses with lights and decorates like an old-fashioned Christmas. A couple of streets over is a block with paintings on the front lawns, lit up beautifully and scriptures that tell the Christmas story from both the Bible and The Book of Mormon.

To finish off a lovely Christmas Eve, we'd drive downtown to Olive Garden for soup and breadsticks. We'd done this for several years and always enjoyed a pleasant Christmas Eve.

Then we moved to Twin Falls, Idaho. We debated how to carry on the tradition. We couldn't just drive to Salt Lake. That was over three hours drive and part of that was over Sweetzer's Pass, an area of I-84 that seems to produce snow flurries every time we drive it. It can be a scary stretch of road.

It was our first Twin Falls Christmas Eve. Travis's mother was visiting and there was some discussion about what we should do to try to carry on something similar to the tradition we'd established. Travis had heard of a live nativity in Pocatello, a town about two hours away. You may be wondering why, for just another hour of driving each way, we wouldn't just drive to Salt Lake. The reason is that we could go to Pocatello without having to travel over Sweetzer's Pass.

I googled Pocatello and Olive Garden and was excited to have an address pop up. So it was decided. We'd go to the live nativity in Pocatello, eat at Olive Garden and then come home. Not exactly Temple Square and Christmas Street, but it was a reasonable substitute.

The first thing we did upon arriving in Pocatello was look for the Nativity. We couldn't find it. Concerned about our timing and not wanting Olive Garden to close before we could eat there, we searched for the address I'd written down. It didn't seem to exist. We stopped to ask directions and were informed that there was no Olive Garden in Pocatello. That address was for an Olive Garden in Idaho Falls, another hour north.

That wasn't going to happen, so we drove by Butter Burr's (a good place we'd eaten before) and found it closed. We drove to a Mexican restaurant (even though the kids did not want Mexican food) and it was also closed. We quickly drove to Red Lobster. The light was on. Whew! We could feed our hungry family. We parked and unloaded and were greeted at the door by the manager, who was locking up for the night. They were closing early. It was Christmas Eve, after all.

We loaded back up in the car and drove our ravenous family around Pocatello looking for somewhere to eat. Travis's mom suggested that maybe we'd have to settle for Jack-in-the-Box. Ick, I thought, but we seemed to be out of choices. We bought yucky hamburgers and watery milkshakes. They weren't good and in spite of our hunger, most of us couldn't finish them.

We weren't in the best of holiday spirits. Determined to try to salvage the evening, Travis stopped and asked directions to the address of the nativity. When we arrived, we saw the remains of what was probably a decent depiction of the stable, but all that was left was an empty manger and a donkey. That was it. No Mary. No Joseph. No baby Jesus. Not even a shepherd or a lamb. Just the donkey.

We headed for the freeway. Snow had begun to fall. It got worse as we drove. It took us over three hours of driving in a blizzard before we finally arrived home and heated up canned soup.

We tried to carry on a Christmas tradition. We failed. Now we can laugh about it and Travis calls it our Jack-A Christmas Eve. (Jack in the box and a donkey. Get it?)

Now we're back in Utah and this year and we've revived our Christmas Eve tradition. I, for one, can't wait to see the lights on Temple Square.

Christmas Truce



This is a story I've loved for a long time. The song is by Garth Brooks and I don't know the person who put together this Youtube video, but I liked it.

Hope you've got your Christmas shopping finished. I just finished the proof copy of my book, so I'm pretty much starting today. This is not my style and it's giving me serious high blood pressure.

So enjoy the song and I'm off to shop--online this morning and at real stores this afternoon!

Christmas Coupons

It was 1979. My family had moved to Missouri because Dad could buy land there for a good price. He'd dreamed of someday owning a dairy farm and thought Missouri is where he could make that happen. He'd taught school for a dozen years or so and was ready for a career change. Before we moved there, he and a couple of my uncles and one of their friends, headed to Missouri for school--real estate school. They all got real estate licenses and Dad got his broker's license. They found a cute little house that sat on a little hill in the middle of a little town, bought it and created Pioneer Realty.

The problem was timing. It was 1979. Interest rates went insane. Shortly after they opened Pioneer Realty, they saw rates go as high as 22%. Yes, you read that right. Real Estate came to a standstill. More than half of real estate offices in the United States closed. Just as Pioneer Realty was opening.

Thank goodness Dad had secured a teaching position in the little town we lived in. So for a couple of years, Dad worked two jobs--jr. high school teacher and real estate broker. Teachers in Missouri weren't paid very well. Dad's twelve years of experience earned him $11,000 per year. And that small amount of money ended up supporting our family of 12 at that time, as well as paying the mortgage and utilites for the real estate office. I'm not sure I need to say it, but we were poor. Very poor.

I can remember scattered details of many Christmases as I was growing up, but I remember many more details from that Christmas than any other. The real estate partner that was my dad's friend was poorer than we were. I remember Mom and Dad deciding we needed to make sure they had a Christmas, so we did. Mom and I made dresses for their daughters and shirts for their sons. We took food for a good Christmas dinner and we left it on their porch in the middle of the night.

Christmas morning, we opened our presents. I still have mine. It was a coupon book. It was and is a treasure. Mom and Dad had no money, so the book was filled with things that would be redeemed throughout the year. Some were things we'd need anyway, a couple were activities we'd surely be asking to do and some were things that would cost nothing. They included:


A dinner out with Dad and Mom
A new blouse
Admission money and permission to go to a movie
A new pair of underpants (4 of these)
A new pair of socks (4 of these)
A cousin could sleepover at our house
A summer vacation with the family
A new pair of shoes (when the coupon holder and the parents agree they're needed)
A new bath towel
The privelege of preparing the Family Night lesson
An afternoon of shopping with Mom
A haircut
A morning of reading scriptures when it isn't your turn
A walk with Dad
A walk with Mom


And my three favorite:


A BYU basketball game if they came to play within a reasonable distance,


A stupid mistake erased from Dad and Mom's memory, never to be mentioned again,



and...


This coupon entitles the bearer to have a fit--act like a lunatic--without punishment and without harping. One Time Only.


I still have my coupon book and all coupons were redeemed. It was a wonderful Christmas and reminds me that the best Christmas memories aren't about the money spent or how showy they are. It's about giving and loving. And while I've always looked at that Christmas with fondness, only after I became a mother did I realize what a hard time that must have been for my parents. At the time they had ten children, and under the tree, they put ten 3 x 5 notebooks to greet us Christmas morning. They knew that they couldn't afford to buy clothes and toys to put under the tree, but what they couldn't have known was what a wonderful memory they were making and how special those Christmas coupon books would be to us.

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Book Reviews - Christmas Books

Since our kids were small, we've had a few Christmas traditions that we've tried to uphold. One of those is purchasing a couple of new children's Christmas books. We pack them away throughout the year and bring them out to read during the Christmas season. Here are a few of my favorites.The Tale of Three Trees - Angela Elwell Hunt

Technically, this isn't a Christmas book, although it does reference the baby Jesus's birth. Even so, it is one of my favorite children's books ever. It tells of the desires of three trees and how those hopes are met in ways they didn't expect. All of them reference the Savior's life and it's beautiful and touching. It's hard to read without getting a little choked up. If you can only buy one book this Christmas and you don't yet own this one, this w0uld be my recommendation.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

Sure, you can get your Dr. Seuss Christmas fix by watching the half-hour special or the full-length Jim Carrey movie. I enjoy those, too (especially the animated one). But there is something so fun about reading Dr. Seuss to your kids that I think it should be required of a parent. No one is as skilled at rhythm and rhyme as Dr. Seuss. He's a genius. So go ahead and watch the special, but don't forget to read the book!
The Christmas Alphabet by Robert Sabuda
I had trouble choosing which Robert Sabuda book to share. I chose this one because I think it offers the most bang for your buck and these books aren't cheap. They're an investment. A beautiful, jaw-dropping investment. You could also get The 12 Days of Christmas or The Night Before Christmas. They're beautiful, as well. These are heirloom books that require a little care, but they are stunning and any age will enjoy these pop-ups. They are works of art!
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry
This is a sweet book with lovely illustrations that teaches the joy of sharing during Christmas. Mr. Willowby, the millionaire, buys the largest and most impressive tree imaginable, but when he finds it's too tall, he shares it with someone else, who then shares it again and so on. It's a wonderful story about sharing the spirit of Christmas.
Be sure to take some time this Christmas to share a book.

David Bowie and Bing Crosby - Little Drummer Boy or Peace On Earth


It's hard to imagine a time when we had three major networks, two PBS stations, no DVR and not even any video tapes. If you wanted to see something, you had to watch it when it was on.

During most of the 70's, we were limited on the television we could watch. Until December. During December the restrictions were relaxed and we watched lots of Christmas specials, and Christmas episodes of our favorite shows. One Christmas special I remember seeing was Bing Crosby's. At the time I saw this, I didn't know who David Bowie was. I just knew that when I heard this song, I loved it.

Enjoy!

A Christmas Song - One King by Point of Grace



One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the music. Christmas music is also one of my least favorite parts. I'm completely blown over by the amount of horrendous Christmas music that's out there. No station should try to play 30 days or so of uninterrupted Christmas music. It causes them to dig into the Christmas music archives that should have been sealed and never re-opened.

Every once in awhile, however, someone does a new Christmas song that compelety stirs my emotions. A few years ago I found this one. This little video has the lyrics. Be sure to read them. The whole point of this busy, beautiful season is the birth of that One King. The one who set us a perfect example. The one who loves us enough that he willingly suffered for us. The one who makes EVERYTHING else worthwhile. My Savior.

Check back over the next few weeks for a few of my other favorite Christmas songs, some children's Christmas book reviews, and a story from my favorite Christmas growing up. Feel free to share any of your favorites.

SLOW DOWN!!!

A fellow writer suggested that I read James Herriot's book All Creatures Great and Small as an exercise. See, I love to read and I read a lot. I'm not only a fast reader, but when I'm enjoying a book, I sacrifice sleep, television and my housekeeping responsibilities to finish it as quickly as possible. Imagine my horror when I was told I needed to read one to two pages per day!

Really? That would be easy if the book stunk, but unfortunately (and fortunately) this book is really good and the writing is clever and beautiful. This has been a challenge.

The suggestion was that I read it S L O W L Y and write down phrases or passages that struck me, to really appreciate the writing, the language, the way the words were put together, not just the story.

This has been very eye-opening for me. I'm loving the book. I'm loving the way its written. I'm loving the humor. I'm loving the way the words are put together. How much have I missed in other books I've read? I recently started reading East of Eden again. The last time I read it I fell completely in love with the story. This time I'm falling in love with the prose. It's beautiful.

Unfortunately I'm an impatient person by nature. I'm sure there will be times I'll blaze through other books, but I'm really thankful for the challenge to slow down and really read the words that were written.

By the way, I'd recommend East of Eden and All Creatures Great and Small. I'll do a review on them sometime next year--when I've finished them.

Need an Idea for Christmas?

I recently discovered there is another writer named Karey White. Fortunately for me, she (or he) writes finance articles for magazines, so there are no competing novels authored by someone with my own name.

I was at my parents house yesterday enjoying some good company, a cute baby to hold and some delicious cinnamon rolls when the subject of the other Karey White came up. They were surprised because my spelling of Karey is rather unusual. I googled my name to show them the other Karey White when, to my astonishment, there were listings at a few different sites for Gifted, with a pre-order option.

Within minutes, my Dad and my sister had pre-ordered the book. A few minutes after that, another sister had posted a link on my blog and her Facebook, and I'd figured out how to add the cover to the Amazon page.

So there you go. Its real! My book is for sale here. If you're stumped on what to get your Mom or your sister, or your uncle or your neighbor or your boss or your mailman or your cat for Christmas, may I suggest you pre-order them a copy of Gifted. Just an idea.

Congratulations Tawnie! Lucky Number 45

Congratulations to Tawnie. Using the random number selector at mathgoodies.com, the lucky number was 45.

Let me know if you want the regular assortment of chocolates or the nuts and chews and I'll get this on its way.

Merry Christmas!