A Message for Tom Cruise

In 2001, I read a review for Echo Burning by Lee Child. It sounded interesting, so I checked it out at the library. It was my first introduction to Jack Reacher, the 6'5" and 250 pound hero. Jack is an ex-military cop, a loner, an advocate for the underdog and the guy you'd want to step in and fight your battle if you were being bullied.

I was hooked.

That summer, I checked out the four books that came before Echo Burning. Since then, I've eagerly anticipated each new book. I've had discussions with my brother and sister who have also read the books about who we'd cast to play him. We've talked about Vince Vaughn and Russell Crow. When I saw Thor last summer, I thought maybe Chris Hemsworth would be a good choice, although he might be a little bit too handsome.. Whoever it was, it needed to be a big man with a big presence. Jack isn't necessarily good-looking, but he's magnetic and interesting. He certainly isn't pretty.

Tom Cruise is pretty. And short. And small. I'm happy for Tom that he's managed to pull off the four impossible missions, but he's not big and burly, and tough. If I were about to be ravaged, I wouldn't want to have to rely on Tom Cruise to save me.

And now he's been cast as Jack Reacher in the upcoming movie adaptation of One Shot. While this is great news for Tom Cruise and all the short actors who will be cast as his co-stars so that maybe they can pull off the illusion that he's not shorter than the average man, it isn't great news for those of us who have been patiently waiting for Jack to come to the big screen.

It's really disappointing. If real Tom were the right person to play Jack, he'd break the arm of whoever suggested he play Jack and then he's quietly leave town and let a man of greater stature play the role.

I really wanted an actor with a big body and a big heart to play the part. Not just an actor with a big ego.

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It Is the Night of Our Dear Savior's Birth

I love Christmas music, but not just any Christmas music. I love the hymns and the songs of the Savior's birth and I like some of the older standards. But some of the Christmas music drives me crazy. I don't want to hear jazzed up versions of the old standards just so the newest pop sensation can sell more albums and it about sends me over the edge to hear Neal Diamond sing O Holy Night. He doesn't even believe in the birth of the Savior and that's seems like such a sellout to me.

One of the songs I love the most is "O Holy Night." No other song's lyrics better represent what we're celebrating--the birth of that special baby that would grow up to save us from sin and sorrow and death. I love it.

When I was a little girl, music was a huge part of our lives. My dad's HUGE theater speaker sent the music throughout the house. We often received records for Christmas. I don't know how Dad and Mom discovered him, but they brought home an album of Ricky Tanner. He was a boy whose voice hadn't changed and I remember my parents saying he could be in the Vienna Boy's Choir. I first learned the words to "O Holy Night" as I sang along with Ricky Tanner. His version is simple and unjazzed, which feels so much more reverent to me. I hope you enjoy it.

And of course I hope you enjoy your Christmas. In the past I've been a teeny bit disappointed when Christmas fell on Sunday, but this year I'm thrilled. We'll spend time as a family, we'll go to church and sing songs of Christmas that celebrate the Savior, we'll come home to a delicious meal and then we'll talk to Bruce from Taiwan. Wow! It just doesn't get better than that.

Merry Christmas!

Today I Cried...

Last spring my son spent a lot of time playing with a boy that I really like. His friend would come to our house and Joe would go to his house. They got along really well and because the boy came from a good family, we encouraged the friendship.

Then, suddenly, they didn't hang out as much. His friend would call him and he'd tell me he didn't really want to play. I wondered why the friendship had cooled. I continued to encourage him to call this friend and he occasionally did, but he often dragged his feet about it. When they'd get together, they had a good time, but Joe was always reluctant to extend the invitation.

Today he wanted to play and he called a couple of friends who were unavailable. I suggested this friend and he said he'd wait for one of his other friends to be available. He was a little moody that no one was available and I suggested this boy again. When he was uninterested I asked him why he didn't want to play with him.

"He said something that..." Then Joe wouldn't finish.

"What Joe? What did he say? Did he use bad language?"


"Then what is it? What did he say?"

"Never mind. I don't want to say. It would hurt your feelings."

After some cojoling and then some insistence, including mild threats, Joe said, "He said you were fat."

Even though I'd been asking him to tell me, I was still a little stunned. Joe was searching my face with concern. "Sorry, Mom. I told him he shouldn't say things like that about people." He put his hand on my arm. "Are you okay?"

And I WAS okay. I know better than anyone of my struggle to lose weight. And so I smiled at Joe and told him it was fine. I wasn't worried about it. I told him I appreciated his concern for my feelings and I always wanted him to be careful with other's feelings.

I gave him a hug and he left to play. Then I cried. A tiny part may have been for the unkind thing said by his friend, but a bigger part of it was for the compassion and sweetness of my son.

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Missing the Light

Last night we went to Travis's parents for a little Christmas gathering. The way to their house is lovely. Every time we go, I look forward to the spot where we crest the mountain and the lights of Salt Lake are spread out before us like a bed of sparkling diamonds. As we descend into the valley, there are several places where the view of the Draper Temple is breathtaking. A little further down we can see the Draper temple, the Jordan River temple and the Ochre Mountain temple at the same time. It's a beautiful drive.

Last night as we reached the summit, something was different. The air was thick with fog, smog, and nasty inversion air. I'd been hearing for several days that the air quality wasn't good but I was unprepared for what I saw.


No lights. No temples. We could hardly see the road in front of us. The darkness was thick and it felt like it was pressing in on us. There was nothing beautiful, nothing bright. There wasn't even anything outside the car to fix your gaze on. It was just this heavy, dark mass. It was unsettling.

As we crawled down the mountain, I became more and more unnerved. I not only missed the beautiful things I looked forward to seeing, I missed seeing anything that gave me perspective. I wanted to see something, anything, that would help me pinpoint where on the mountain we were. And there was nothing.

I thought of Lehi's dream and the mists of darkness. It felt like we were slogging through those very mists and I felt immediately grateful for the spiritual and emotional anchors in my life. My heart breaks for those who can't or won't see the sparkling lights of truth that come from the gospel of Jesus Christ, who feel closed in by those mists and can't get a glimpse of the landmarks that give life perspective, that represent love and peace and eternity.

I felt unsettled by the physical mists last night. How desperate it must feel to have no sight of the big picture before us because of the stifling, suffocating dark mists that surround our spirits.

This week I'm so grateful for my Savior, who is the light that leads our way, who through his life, death and resurrection, burns off the terrible mists of darkness and reveals the plan for our eternal happiness.

This week, let's spend some time reflecting on that baby that was born that night in Bethlehem, who became the light and life of the world.

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Congratulations, Melissa!

Way to go, Melissa! Your gift card is on it's way.

And thank you to everyone who entered to win and to all you who read and follow my blog. I'm very blessed by your associations.

Merry Christmas to all of you and I hope 2012 is a wonderful year filled with elections that make us happy, a recovering economy, and lots of love and delicious food.

A GIVEAWAY - And it's Long Overdue

I've been thinking for some time now that I need to do a giveaway. And what better time than Christmas?

Here's the deal. I'm giving away a $25.00 Amazon gift card. You can use it to help you buy a Kindle, you can buy a book, or really just about anything. If you look around Amazon you'll find clothes, shoes, books, basketballs, video games, home decor--really about anything.

First entry: Leave a comment telling me why you like Christmas (or why you like me--I'll take either one)

Second entry: Follow my blog (and leave another comment)

Third entry: Leave a review of Gifted and/or rating on Goodreads (leave me a comment)

Four entry: Leave a review of Gifted on Amazon (leave me a comment)

Fifth entry: Post about this giveaway on twitter or facebook and leave me a comment (You can do this one every day of the giveaway--just be sure to leave me a comment)

This giveaway will run until Friday, December 16 at midnight.

Thanks and have a Merry Christmas!

Scattered Bits and Pieces

I think this might be the prettiest version of Silent Night ever. I love how it builds throughout the song and the harmonies are incredible.

Sometimes people surprise us. Last night we went to my husband's work Christmas party. There was an ice skating rink and he took his skates. I knew he could skate. He played hockey through high school and I'd seen him roller blade, but I'd never seen him ice skate before. He was amazing. He was weaving in and out of people, skating fast and then coming to a sudden stop while spraying ice all over. It was impressive and it made me sad that life and responsibilities (and the fact that almost every hockey league plays on Sunday) have robbed him of that. It was fun to see him have fun out there.

Savannah got her braces off and her smile is gorgeous. She looks older and I don't really like that. I'm not ready to have my third be fourteen next week. Last week she was fitted with a retainer. Yesterday I took Savannah and Joe grocery shopping. I let them get an ice cream cone and so she took out her retainer and put it on my purse. And then it disappeared. She and I went back to the store and hunted for it for nearly an hour and it's gone. Frustrating but not fatal. She and I will both pay more attention next time.

Speaking of grocery shopping, I hate changing clothes. (I know that didn't sound like it went together at all, but it will all come together, I promise.) I really do hate changing clothes, which is why I usually wear my Sunday clothes all day and why yesterday when we went grocery shopping, I was already dressed for the work Christmas party. I looked pretty cute in a dress and sweater and tights and boots. It was definitely the most stylish grocery shopping attire I've worn in a long, long time. But the tights were ill-fitting and I had to tug on them over and over. As I walked down an aisle filled with people I felt them slip. I didn't care to have a dozen people witness the dance I had to do to hike them back up, so I waited. And then it was too late. By the time I loaded the groceries into the car, the tights were around my knees and I was praying they wouldn't fall any further.

By the way, before I left the store I had a new pair of tights that I changed into before the party. They were much better.

Every year since we had children, we've bought Christmas ornaments year for the kids. They're marked and when the kids get married they'll take their ornaments with them so they don't start out with nothing. It has always made for a pretty but very mismatched tree. Last year, when we hit the after-Christmas sales, the girls asked if we could buy pink and teal and purple and lime green ornaments that were marked down 75% and have a Dr. Seuss looking tree this year. So we did and we love it. I still love all those other ornaments, but we're really enjoying our colorful and matching tree this year.

My Christmas shopping was finished and I was feeling so good about it. Savannah wanted some duck shoes, so I bought some online. The day after I bought them, she came home from a trip to the thrift store with a pair of duck boots that looked brand new. So now I'm not finished. I have to return those and figure out what to get her now. Any suggestions?

I'm an Amazing Race fanatic and during the past two weeks I've suffered two of the biggest disappointments I've faced in all 19 seasons. I wanted Andy and Tommy or Bill and Cathy to win and in the last two weeks, both of those teams were eliminated. Big bummer.

Spray and Wash works best at removing stains. That is according to Savannah's science project. It worked better than Shout or Fels Naptha at removing grape juice, olive oil, ketchup and chocolate.

Speaking of ketchup, why do some people call it catsup? Never understood that.

As long as we're talking about what people call things, I'd like to give an award to whoever came up with the knock-off brand name for Pepto-bismol. Pink Bismuth. Doesn't that just make you long for an upset stomach, just so you can take Pink Bismuth?

And now I think I need to go make some Christmas candy but I'm having trouble deciding if I should make See's fudge or English Toffee. Hmmm. Maybe I'll have to make them both.

Take a Look

I was honored to be asked to do a guest post for Torrie, a friend we used to live by.

Take a look here.

Letter to Homework -- Guest Posting by Missy Stowell

Missy Stowell lives halfway across the country from me. I've never met her face to face, but we've become friends through the internet. I recently read a posting on her blog that sounded like she had taken up residence in my head. She expressed my thoughts exactly. She's graciously allowed me to re-post her letter here.

But first let me tell you how much we loved Thanksgiving break. Savannah had a little work to do on her science project, but other than that, we took a break from homework and it was peaceful, pleasant and fantastic. On Sunday, Joe remembered  he needed to have a book read for his book report this Friday, so he found a book and started reading it. He was loving it, even resisting "lights out" because he wanted to keep reading. Then at school Monday, he found out it had to be a Newbery winner, so he found a book at school and started reading it, setting aside the book that was longer that he was loving. Now read Missy's letter to homework and tell us what you think.

Dear Homework,

I hate you.  There, I said it.  In fact, I hate you, I hate you, I hate you! 

I hate how you follow my kids home from school every day.  I hate how you stay way too long and suck the fun out of everything.  I hate how you make my kids feel guilty when they want to spend time with anyone (or anything) else while you’re still here.  I will admit that there have been times I have felt your meaningful contribution to our lives.  Sadly, those times are rare.  Mostly, I just hate you and the black cloud that hangs over my house when you are around.

When you tell my kids they have to read, then they get no enjoyment out of reading.  When you tell them to do math, they complain because they already did math at school.  When you tell them to write, they disappear and try to hide from you and say their tummy hurts and sneak outside because they’d much rather run and play.  But when they come in, you’re still here!  You never take the hint.  I’ve tried to help them get rid of you.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down right next to them to try to help them meet your daily demands.  I’ve colored their maps for social studies. (Since when is Social Studies an art class?)  I’ve helped them brainstorm for papers even when they tell me, “That’s not how my teacher does it!”  If it’s always supposed to be how the teacher does it, then I say let them do it at school where the teacher is!  Actually, I say that even if it’s not always supposed to be how the teacher does it.  So there.

The teacher has my kids for over 7 hours a day.  You know what?  I think that’s enough.  If you always follow them home, when do I get them?  With you here, meal times are always stressful.  With you here, bedtime gets later and later.  Sometimes you even have the nerve to still be here when they wake up in the morning!  When do my kids get to be kids?  When do they get to read for pleasure?  When do they get to be excited about what interests them without having to write a report about it?  An amazing thing happens when you leave them alone:  My kids are curious.  They use their imaginations.  They read and play together and laugh and sing and joke together.  But when you’re here, they fight and cry and yell.  You are a bully.

I hate you.

The Mom