I read somewhere that you only really see what someone looks like in the first few minutes of meeting them. After that, their appearance is changed to you, colored by what you think and feel about them.

Interesting to think about. First impressions may be important, but according to this, the thoughts and feelings we invoke in someone are even more important.

For Your Enjoyment

I love to read a good short story. It was one of my favorite parts of English and Literature classes. We'd have a big, bound book of classic short stories. It's how I became familiar with Edgar Allen Poe, O Henry, Ernest Hemingway and Rudyard Kipling.

In a matter of minutes you could enjoy an interesting story and the literary stylings of a great writer.

Several months ago my friend, Lance, found out his short story was being published. I'd had the opportunity to read it and loved it. The writing is top notch--the style is literary, the language is smart and the story is funny and entertaining.

I think it ranks right there with many of the short stories I read in my high school and college literature classes.

Take a look at "The Napoleon of Netheredge." I'll bet you'll enjoy it, too.

Sadly, It Came...

I didn't want it to come.

When I was a child, summer vacation came at the end of May and we didn't go back to school until a few days before Labor Day. Summer lasted three whole months. The days were filled with hours of playing outside, trips to visit relatives, reunions, out-of-town relatives coming to stay with us and more playing. The summer stretched out so long that I felt excitement about school starting. I disliked school so much that my excitement was always surprising (and usually only lasted for the first day or two of school).

This summer seemed way too short. The reunions still happened. We had a wonderful family trip. We saw family we don't see often enough and the kids played. But not enough. There weren't enough easy summer days. Nothing felt relaxed. Every week flew by. The kids went to girls camp and trek and EFY. We toured campuses as Veronica began her search for a college to attend. We attended summer basketball tournaments. But we didn't get to go see Grandpa and Grandma enough and we didn't get to play with cousins enough. We didn't get to play night games enough and there weren't enough days with nothing scheduled.

We needed more time.

But we didn't get it.

Joe was excited for school. It helped that he got the teacher he wanted. But Veronica and Savannah didn't feel that excitement. Veronica has to take ACTs, choose a college, research and apply for scholarships, and take an AP writing class that she's dreading. Savannah just doesn't like school.

And I miss my kids.

I've decided we need two summer vacations every year. One to fill with camps and activities and all those scheduled things and one with nothing scheduled.

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. That way we can just play and swim and hang out and relax and eat ice cream.

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What Words Do You Believe?

I've written before about my third grade teacher. For me, she was the misery all other teachers were measured against. She embodied everything I didn't want in a teacher and everything I pray my own children never have.

Each year as school begins I worry about who my kids will have as their teachers. We've had some all-stars, but we've also had a few that should never have joined the team.

So how do you make sure that no matter who the teacher is, your child gets through the year unscathed? It's a hard question and one I've thought a lot about. Teachers give children messages about who they are, how likable they are, how smart they are. My youngest is going into fifth grade and has had only one full year with a teacher who made him feel smart and liked. That's not a good percentage and it makes the mama bear in me poise for a fight.

And yet, he's comfortable with himself and he's a pretty happy kid. He even likes school. I think I have an idea why.

I think it's about choosing what words to believe. His third grade teacher told him he was smart as a whip. She told him she loved his energy and enthusiasm. She told him she appreciated how friendly he is. His other teachers have said he's unfocused and too social and disruptive. He chose to believe his third grade teacher.

I remember being terrorized by Miss D., but oddly enough, with the exception of a few choice words in the bathroom, I can't remember a single specific thing she said to me. I remember her screaming, I remember getting knuckled on the head and I remember having my hair pulled, but I don't remember the actual words she said.

And yet, I distinctly remember the student teacher's words that year. She was a welcome respite from the noise and abuse that came from Miss D. She was pretty and cool. She said words like "far out" and "super cool" when she liked something.

For art one day, we were painting with water colors. I painted a picture of a tree. In the sky, was a creature shaped like a cloud with a mouth that was blowing the leaves across the sky. In the gust of wind, surrounded by the flying leaves, was the word "whoo." She came around to look at the pictures and stopped at mine. "That is one of the coolest things I've ever seen. You're so clever. Can I take this and show my room-mate? I'll bring it back tomorrow."

I gave her the picture. I loved her.

She thought I was clever and that my art was one of the coolest things she'd ever seen. I still remember those words.

I don't know why my little boy believes the good things. I don't know why I did. But I'm so grateful.

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Blog Sweepstakes Idea - If You Could Have Any Car What Would you Choose?

(Image from 

This idea came courtesy of Tawnie (or was it her husband?)

This is a tough one for me because I don't really care about cars. If its reliable and I don't have to worry about whether or not it will start, I'm pretty satisfied. That being said, it is nice to have something that doesn't demand attention. I mean any attention. I'd rather not drive a rusted out rattle trap, but I don't want to drive an attention-grabbing sports car, either. I don't want to stand out. I tend to drive on the fast side and I don't need something flashy to make me a target for a speeding ticket.

But if there's one car from my past that I wouldn't mind having in pristine condition, I'd have to say I'd like an old Volvo like the one in the picture. My parents had a car similar to that when I was a child. For some reason I don't remember, it sat by our fence for awhile and didn't get driven. It was my favorite place to go read. I was uninterrupted, it was toasty warm no matter the season and the seats were really comfortable.

But as great as I think that car is, I guess my first choice, if I had discretionary income that allowed it, would be a 1969 Camaro RS with the black and white houndstooth interior. I know this goes against my unflashy rule above, but I wouldn't drive it. My husband would and he drives a lot slower than I do. Many years ago, he owned a car like this. It was in excellent condition and was worth a good chunk of money. He sold it to make a down payment on a house for us. It would be nice to be able to replace it for him.

Dreams - A Deterrent for Bad Behavior (Blog Idea from Melanie)

I was young. Probably not more than twelve or thirteen years old. I'd been taught all my life that I shouldn't smoke, drink or do drugs. I'd even practiced role-playing how I'd say no if I was ever offered any of those things.

And then I smoked. I don't remember who offered me the cigarette, but I took it and I puffed. I coughed, but I took another puff and then another. I held it between my index and middle finger, the way glamorous people did and I finished the cigarette. I dropped the butt on the ground and gave it a good twist with my foot, just like I'd seen other smokers do. 

And then I was horrified. I felt sick to my stomach and my heart ached. I imagined how disappointed my parents would be when they discovered what I'd done. I felt intense shame. I worried that now I was addicted to nicotine. How could I have done such a thing? I knew better.

I cried. And I think it was the real tears that probably woke me up. And then I cried tears of relief that it was only a dream and I hadn't really smoked that cigarette. I wouldn't have to repent and confess after all. I wasn't addicted.

I still remember how that dream felt and I never wanted to feel that way again. 

Is it bad to wish that my children could have a similar experience?

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For several months now, I've been compiling a list of ugly words. Here are the ugliest 20 words I could come up with, in no particular order.


Aren't those awful?

And while I'm talking about unattractive words, let me just express my sympathy to Hud and Speck Mellencamp. What were their parents thinking?

What are some words you find ugly?

A Good Reason to Read With Your Children

The past few days I've watched the rioting in England with a sick heart. Horrible images of misguided (or unguided) young people taking to the streets in gangs, unleashing destruction, bullying their neighbors, destroying what doesn't belong to them and looting with no thought of those they're stealing from.

I've watched news stories that try to understand why this is happening. Some say it's because of the death of a man at the hands of the police. Some say that's just an excuse and it has a deeper meaning--social unrest, lack of opportunity, the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots.

All of these things may contribute to the situation, but I refuse to believe that this widespread, social-media driven assault on their own people is understandable.

John Steinbeck illustrated in The Pearl that bad behavior causes a person misery. The Book of Mormon teaches us that wickedness never was happiness. Dave Ramsey teaches us how to use money wisely, delay our need for instant gratification and live well because of good planning and good choices. The Bible teaches us love one another. A White Bird Flying illustrates the value of people over possessions.

All of these are valuable life lessons that can be learned from books--some fiction that illustrates valuable lessons, some in non-fiction that teaches practical skills.

The rioters in London destroyed a street, breaking into stores, stealing everything in sight and leaving it in shambles. The only store on the entire street that was left undamaged and unlooted was a bookstore. Perhaps the books didn't hold much value to those that were terrorizing their fellow men.

Maybe the rioters aren't readers.

But maybe, if they'd been taught to love reading, they'd have learned the lessons of civility and love, of good and evil, and right and wrong.


This morning I exercised alone. My friend is out of town and Veronica was too tired to get up with me, having stayed up half the night reading. So I went alone. 

It was beautiful--little pink and white clouds against the northern mountain, cool air and no wind. It was a good time to think. 

As I did, I thought of a problem I'm working through. It's a good-sized problem and is going to require a good sized effort. I gave myself a little pep talk and told myself that my resolve needed to be unwavering.

Then, being the word nerd that I am, I realized I'd just used resolve as a noun (a firm determination to do something). Usually I'd think of resolve as a verb (settle or find a solution to). And then I realized that you could use resolve two ways in the same sentence. "My resolve will help me resolve this problem." 

Cool, huh?

Can you think of any other words that can be used as both a noun and a verb in the same sentence? I'd imagine there are some, but at the moment I can't think of any. 

Look at Your Life Through Heaven's Eyes

I love this song from "Prince of Egypt" and this version with Brian Stokes Mitchell and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is fantastic!

Listen to the words. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that the way we see ourselves is very different from the way others see us, and especially different from the way our Heavenly Father sees us.


Congratulations to Cucciolo, the winner of Tristi's beautiful new cookbook.

And thanks again, Tristi, for sharing what you've learned with us. It was great having you here.

So what am I doing to be healthier? I'm monitoring what I eat and I'm exercising with a purpose--a purpose that freaks me out a little, but I'm determined to succeed.

And now I'm going to head to bed because getting more sleep is a healthy habit I REALLY need to incorporate into my life.

Have a lovely weekend.

Taking Care of Myself - Guest Blogger TRISTI PINKSTON & a Great Giveaway

Several months ago, I got a nice review of Gifted from a fellow writer/blogger. We were both going to be attending the LDStorymakers Conference, and I looked forward to meeting her. But both days of the conference came and went and I hadn't had a chance to say hello. Then as some of us got ready for the Whitney Awards in the restroom, there was Tristi. We had a short conversation and she turned out to be as nice as I expected she would be. Tristi has just finished a cookbook, so I invited her to do a guest post on the blog. Read what she has to say and then enter to win a copy of her cookbook.

To enter, leave a comment about a healthy change you've made in your life. For more entries, facebook this posting, twitter this posting or post it to your own blog and leave another comment. Be sure to leave a comment for each entry.

We'll end this contest and pick a winner on Friday at midnight. (Sorry, this giveaway is just open to US residents.)

I’m a wife and mother, a Cubmaster, an author, editor, virtual book tour coordinator, a homeschooler, a blogger, a media reviewer, a daughter . . . the list goes on, and I’m sure that when you sit down to make your list, it looks something like this.  We all wear many hats, and we get so busy scrambling from thing to thing that we push our non-priorities to the side to make room for the most important things in our lives.  All too often, we push self-care to the side, thinking that someone else’s needs are more important than our own.

I’ve heard “fill the well” so many times, I’m practically drowning in it, but it never clicked with me. I was raised to be the peacemaker, the selfless one, the serving and giving one, and any time I would stop to do something for myself, I felt guilty, like I should be still out there serving and giving. 

Recently, though, my body has been shutting down.  It’s giving me signals that it can’t keep going at this pace, and you know what, it makes me mad.  I want to keep pushing and pushing, but now my body is pushing back, and I’ve had to embark on a journey of healing and recovery.  My doctor has been repeatedly emphasizing that my kids need their mother—and what a great way to turn Mommy guilt to a better advantage, right?

I wrote my new cookbook, “Bless Your Heart,” to help those who are interested in heart health to learn how they can prevent future heart problems by lowering the sodium in their daily diets.  It’s not just for those who already have heart conditions—isn’t it better to prevent a heart attack than to recover from one?  Heart disease is the #1 killer in our country right now, even beating out cancer for the top spot, and sodium contributes to heart disease.  I wanted to give others some delicious, quick, easy meals they can serve their families and to help them put their heart health front and center on their priority list.

Am I now taking 100% better care of myself?  No, but I will tell you this—when I look at where I was three months ago, and where I am today, I’m a rock star.  Rock. Star.  And every day, as I continue on this journey and choose to get enough rest and choose to exercise and choose to eat a nice salad with my lunch, I get closer to understanding what it really means to love myself, because at the end of the day, if you don’t love yourself, you’ll be miserable, and I don’t choose to be miserable.