Give Til It Hurts!

As you can see from the flyer above and the new donation widget on my sidebar, I'm encouraging all of us to get a jump on the upcoming season of giving and start giving now. If we give now, it might still hurt a little, but it won't hurt quite as much as if we're asked to give in sixty or so days.

There is much good to be done in the world and if we'll all do a little, we'll be able to collectively give a lot.

So give a few dollars and help send a single parent to school and take your honey or your kiddo or your friend and enjoy an evening of live music and give a little to help a couple create a family. Let's all do something.

Halloween Makes Me Witchy--Eight Things I Hate About Halloween


First, let me apologize. I know many of you love Halloween. To you it's fun. You like the candy, the creativity, the scariness. I just don't share your enthusiasm. Of every holiday known to man, Halloween is at the bottom of my list of favorites. I'd rather celebrate Panama's Colon Day, even though I don't know what that is and the word Colon is scarier than anything Halloween has to offer.

So don't hate me for hating Halloween. If you love it, let's just agree to disagree.

But here's why I hate it.

1. I don't think we need a holiday whose primary purpose is to fill our children (and ourselves) with cheap candy. No one gives out See's for Halloween.

2. I hate gore. I hate the fake wounds, the blood, the weapons protruding from bodies. Yuck.

3. I hate the whole idea of sending my kids out threatening their neighbors. Essentially, they're saying "Give me a treat or I'm going to play a trick on you." When we were first married, we gave out the treats and still had the trick played on us when  a tacky yard statue was stolen from our front yard. (I wasn't sorry to have it gone. I didn't like it at all. But it's the principle, right?)

4. Halloween is just an excuse for moviemakers to make disgusting, gory, stupid movies that revolve around promiscuous teenagers that scream a lot, then walk toward the danger instead of running away like a person with a brain would, and horrible villains that keep coming back even though they should be dead. They just won't die. Ever. So you never know when the stupid, storyless movie will actually end.

5. Halloween is an excuse for women to dress like sluts. Naughty nurses, trampy flight attendants, medieval wenches, cleavage-bearing cowgirls, and more. Just browse women's costumes online and you can practically see a p0rn show. Actually, please don't browse them. And steer clear of most adult Halloween parties so  you can keep your mind out of the gutter.

6. While I'm on the subject of costumes, let me tell you how much I hate having to come up with costumes for my kids. It's always an issue. It has to be clever, humorous, fun to wear, safe, something their friends will think is cool, and cheap. Is there a costume out there that meets all these requirements? I don't think so. And yet,  every year I'm supposed to perform this miracle.

7. I don't like people's irrational attachment to the holiday. Here's what I mean. Three years ago we were in total chaos. We were trying to sell two houses, we were finishing the house we'd just purchased, we were living on the floor of my sister's house, trying to keep kids caught up in school without the internet or a computer and printer. It was a trying time.

We didn't want to deal with the hassle of Halloween, so we offered our kids $20.00 to skip the holiday altogether. They accepted so on Halloween night, some of us spent the evening at Ikea buying sinks and fixtures and the rest of the family stayed at the house, doing construction cleanup. My husband took my eight-year-old son (who was $20.00 richer than he'd been the day before) to the gas station. He took Joe in with him to buy a candy bar.

As they waited in line, a woman behind them said, "You'd get a lot more candy than that if you went trick or treating tonight." My eight-year-old said, "We're not doing Halloween this year. My parents are paying me $20.00 to skip it."

There was a collective gasp from everyone who had heard, a few people shook their heads and one man said, "That's just not cool at all." What? You'd have thought my son had just said, "My parents tie me to a chair, turn on bright lights and loud music and then shove toothpicks up my fingernails."

Giving your kids $20.00 to skip Halloween is not child abuse!

8. I don't like spook houses/spook alleys or anything like them. They're silly at best and traumatic at worst. When Savannah was nine, we were walking by a spook alley at Lagoon when a man with a pig face and chains hanging off him came up to her in a crouched position, made ugly grunting noises and then turned on a chainsaw practically in her face. We hadn't even gone into the actual spook house. We were just walking by it. She was terrified and started screaming and crying. I took her over to a bench and sat down holding her while she clung to me, inconsolable. At that point, the man, who wasn't really a pig, felt terrible. He turned off the chainsaw and followed us to the bench where he leaned over us, still in the pig face with chains hanging off him. He said, "Don't be scared. I'm not really a pig. I won't hurt you."

It didn't work and I finally had to order the pig/man to leave.

There you have it. That's why I feel the way I do about Halloween. I'll still try to find something for my kids to wear (the ones who still want to dress up) and I'll still give out candy at the front door with a smile.

But inside, I'll be counting the minutes until October 31 is over and November has arrived--the month of wedding anniversaries and Thanksgiving.

I love November.

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Some Thoughts on the Stealing of My Daughter


Today I read this article from The New York Times. I'd recommend having a kleenex handy if you read it.

It was particularly poignant because of my frustrations with all this "preparing for the future" stuff.

I understand the importance of thinking and preparing for the future and I don't for a moment envy this mother or any others who have no future to prepare for. I only wish that somehow I could harness that "live for the moment and enjoy your children right now" attitude and enjoy it in our lives.

But we can't because our children have to prepare for the future.

I try my hardest not to overschedule my kids' lives. When Elder Oaks gave his "Good, Better and Best" talk in conference, I listened and rejoiced. But I wasn't the only one who needed to hear that talk. Every school teacher needed to hear it and apply it in their classrooms, as well.

We've been really blessed with smart kids. Smarter than we are and smarter than we deserved. All of our kids (especially the older ones to whom this applies more) realize that college is expensive and that good grades will lead to money which will lead to college. So they work hard in order to have that blessing.

But that hard work isn't just accomplished in school. Much of it is accomplished at home. And that load of work that is done at home is sometimes too heavy to carry.

Too often, I think homework is given because teachers think they're SUPPOSED to give homework. Some of the homework my kids bring home seems to have little to do with actually improving skills and learning. Much of it is busy work, meant to teach kids responsibility. I'd contend that I, their mother, can teach them responsibility better than a teacher who's trying to teach a couple hundred students responsibility. I can teach them to work. I can teach them to serve. I can teach them that there's joy in resting after a job is done well. I can teach them about values and character and love. But I can only do these things if they have time in their busy schedules for us to BE TOGETHER.

Unfortunately, there's not enough time in the day for me to talk to my daughters while we fold clothes or cook dinner or go grocery shopping together. This time together is why I love summer so much and dread the start of the school year.

In order to succeed in the future (get the grades to get the scholarships) they have to be dedicated to school work. Hours and hours of it. Veronica got home at 2:30 today and with the exception of about 45 minutes, did homework until nearly 10:30. I'd understand this if it were isolated to the occasional big project, or if she were a procrastinator, but unfortunately, this evening is repeated far too often.

Please tell me how she's supposed to keep up with the homework so she can keep her good grades, have time to work a few hours every week, practice piano, read something for pleasure, have a modest social life, fulfill church obligations, shower, do her personal progress, and still find time to sleep.

IT'S TOO MUCH!

I want to say, "FORGET IT. DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT. JUST DO WHAT YOU WANT FOR AWHILE AND EVERYTHING WILL WORK OUT." But if her goal is college, forgetting it won't make it work out.

I sat down with her a few weeks ago because she had so much she was trying to fit into her life. We made her a schedule so she could get through each day without being overwhelmed. It included things like scholarship research, study for the ACT, finish Personal Progress, Read Scriptures, apply to colleges, practice piano, work at Great Harvest, go to the temple, write to Grandma and her brother who's on his mission, clean her room, and several more things. And all of these were in addition to the regular homework given out every, single day in her classes.

She's a senior. I'm down to less than a year of her still being my girl and living with us. And we're being robbed of this time.

I'd like her to have time to breathe, to play, to read something besides assignments, to attend her brother's basketball game, to spend an evening gabbing and painting nails with a friend, to spend time with her family, to go to a Young Women's activity without having to worry about the homework that isn't getting done.

I either want much less homework or more hours in the day.

Life should include some living, not just homework.

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Move On!

There is advice I've heard over and over about writing--Once you send in a manuscript, get started on the next one.

There are several reasons to do this, but one of the most important reasons is that it keeps you from dwelling, obsessing, and wondering about the one that's been turned in.

A week ago Friday, I sent in the manuscript for For What It's Worth. I love this book. I think it's good. I really, REALLY want it published. But right now it's out of my hands.

The day after I took it in, I started The Husbandmaker. And I'm having a blast. I'm excited to write and I can't wait until I have the house in order enough to sit down and get at it. I won't deny that I've thought about For What It's Worth a few times this week and hoped my editor was enjoying it. But it wasn't the project that occupied my mind. It wasn't what had my creative juices flowing and it wasn't my focus.

I've thought about how this same principle applies in so many things. When we obsess or dwell on what's done, we rob ourselves of what could be happening right now.

If we spend all our time reliving the past--good or bad--we aren't really living in the present. We've all seen someone whose high school glory days keep them stuck. Uncle Rico comes to mind, but so do other people who aren't fictitious. They relive a past love, a heartbreak, the big game, or a great success from sometime in the past instead of creating and nurturing a new love, trying something new, or creating a new success.

Memories can be wonderful things. We can pull them out and enjoy them and they can make us smile. But then we need to tuck them back in our life's scrapbook, put them away, and LIVE our lives right now.

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Amen!



I find the courage to stand up for what you believe very attractive.

I've liked Brandon Flowers and The Killers for years. This made me like him even more.

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Wow! Just Wow!

Have you ever had an experience where Heavenly Father sent you a message? A personal, finger pointing at you "this is for you, so pay attention," message?

Well, that happened today. It happened to me and another member of my family today at church and there is no question--I mean ZERO question--that Heavenly Father was speaking to us.

I was angry today. Really upset. The kind of upset where I spent most of the night awake, plotting how I was going to vent my anger at the right person (people). I'm not going to go into details about what happened because it was so hurtful and I can't voice it, even with my blog voice. But trust me when I say the anger and the hurt we felt was justified and the behavior that caused that anger and hurt was completely unnecessary, unwarranted and mean-spirited.

This morning was difficult. I still felt protective and upset. I don't take it well when those I love suffer at the hands of other people.

Sacrament meeting was good--a couple of good talks and a nice musical number. But during church, I still thought about how I was going to make my anger known to the right people, how I would make them understand how awful they had behaved. And I wasn't the only one. The other member of my family was hurting--the kind of hurt that manifests itself in anger. Except for every once in awhile, when the hurt overcomes the anger, and a lip quivers or tears fill the corners of one's eyes. And when I saw that happen several times, my own anger grew.

And then the meeting was ending and the bishop leaned over to the one who was conducting and whispered something. And then the bishop stood and said, "I know the meeting needs to end when the meeting should end. But I also know that sometimes something needs to be said and I don't know why, but today, for some reason, I'm supposed to share this with you." And then he shared Doctrine and Covenants 64: 9-11:


Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to aforgive one another; for he that bforgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.
 10 I, the Lord, will aforgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to bforgive all men.
 11 And ye ought to say in your hearts—let God ajudge between me and thee, and breward thee according to thy cdeeds.
And we were stunned. We looked at each other and cried. And then we knew that Heavenly Father didn't want us to carry the greater sin because of our anger. He wanted us to forgive so that there wouldn't be in us the greater sin.
And we knew that Heavenly Father had sent us a clear message. And because of that, we knew he loves us.

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No Offense to Eggies, but God Did Eggs Right the First Time

My husband is a sucker for a "good deal" and for interesting gadgets. Many times he's brought home some silly thing that looks like a good idea in theory but in actuality, it's just a waste.

But never has he come home with something more ridiculous than the Eggies. Maybe you've been up late with sick children or a nasty case of insomnia and you've seen the infomercial.

The idea is that you can have boiled eggs without having to deal with the "hassle" of peeling the shells of the hard-boiled eggs. Let me tell you what you deal with instead of the shells.

First, you crack the eggs into the little plastic case and put the lid on. Then you carefully put them in the boiling water. Be careful. After the eggs have cooked, you simply untwist the plastic egg case and there's your cooked egg. No shells to peel straight into the garbage.

Instead, you get to clean them. And we all know how easily egg comes off dishes. So I scrubbed each little piece. There was egg residue on each piece including in the little creases. It was difficult to get all the egg out.

Travis boiled six eggies. I could have peeled six eggs in two or three minutes tops. As it was, I spent seven or eight minutes cleaning the eggies.

And then I had to figure out where to store them.

Definitely not worth the hassle. Or the money.  No matter how good the deal was.

(Image from http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41qY%2BxBXc8L._SL500_SX300_SY390_CR,0,0,300,390_.jpg)

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Last Week, I...

Made a huge pan of corn chowder. I love good soup.

Visited my son's classroom and talked about being an author. The children were attentive, respectful and curious. Joe looked so proud of me that I almost choked up. It was so much fun.

Melted down twelve pounds of white chocolate and made Bountiful temple candies for my nephew's wedding dinner and reception. Congratulations Richard and Haley.

Wrote two blog postings and three letters.

Re-wrote thirty pages of my book.

Ran eight miles (not in a row and not very fast).

Watched The Amazing Race, most of Project Runway, Pioneer Woman, most of The Sing-Off and part of The X-Factor. I had to turn away during part of The X-Factor. I find the judges so nauseating that I almost threw up a little.

Gasped when it snowed. It's too early to be snowing. I want Autumn to last for three months, like it does on the calendar.

Watched Elder Holland's Priesthood session talk with my family. It made up for not being able to see him speak during the sessions I watched.

Pinned some recipes that look mouthwatering on my Pinterest Boards. If only I could make them as easily and inexpensively as I pin them.

Laughed at several golfers out my back window who lost their ball in the water and still spent way too long hunting for it in the water's edge. Sometimes I holler back there and tell them their ball went in the water. This time I just watched and laughed.

Turned the heat on. As I sat and wrote, my fingers and nose were freezing. I can layer with sweaters and jackets and hats, but I can't type with my hands in gloves and I can't see when a scarf is wrapped around my nose. I had to give in.

Felt: joyful when I got Bruce's letter, excited when Veronica got her "yes" response to Sadie's, happy when I saw Savannah's excitement about her guitar lesson, disappointed that I missed Joe's spectacular football game, thrilled when our friend Skyler went into the MTC, proud at parent/teacher conferences, annoyed when I heard about junk my husband deals with at work, and thankful every night that my family was safe and accounted for.

Why I'm not an Atheist

A few days ago, I was browsing on Amazon and I came across a book called I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. The title caught my attention and I read more about the book. It sounds interesting and at some point, I'd like to read it. But not because I need help believing in God. I believe in God and in his son, Jesus Christ.


Some don't think that's rational. There are those that think I'm deluded or superstitious. Bill Maher thinks I'm a crazy fool and Richard Dawkins thinks I'm stupid and uneducated. They think that if you believe in God, you're defying science and reason and logic.


I disagree. I think believing in God is perfectly reasonable and that once science has uncovered all of the secrets and systems of the universe, believing in God will be indisputable and will be possible logically and scientifically. Until then, my belief is based on faith and a few other things.


I believe in God because:


--It isn't reasonable to me that the complexities of the universe just "happened." Every tree, every flower, the seasons, the stars, the rotations of the planets, and more is too orderly, too beautiful, too wonderful to have happened by accident. Running into an old friend at the grocery store is a happy accident. The creation of the earth is not.


--The structure of the family is too perfect, in spite of its imperfections. What I mean is that despite human nature and imperfect people, the family is in almost every instance the best place for nurturing, loving, and teaching our young to be good adults. Only a loving Heavenly Father could come up with a core societal structure as wonderful as a good family.


--He gives us his word in scriptures and messages from prophets. In so many ways, he guides and teaches and nudges us. Last weekend, as the prophet and apostles spoke, I knew. I knew I was learning truth and that truth comes from my Father in Heaven.


--Because of his ability to let us choose. He knows some won't choose his way, and yet he has total confidence in the decision to let us choose. Anything less than God would struggle with the principle of agency. Most of us have a tendency to want to force good choices on others, to manipulate or step in so that others make the right choice. We especially have that desire with regard to our children. But Heavenly Father (whose children we are) lets us choose and even though it's probably heartbreaking to see the children he loves make bad choices, he's confident and secure enough in his ultimate plan (the big picture) that he gives us the privilege of making our own choices.


--To me, just about everything around me proves there is a God. Piece by piece, flower by flower, person by person, emotion by emotion, line by line, I'm convinced that God exists and that he loves us.


In The Book of Mormon, Korihor was an anti-Christ. I'm not sure if today he would call himself an atheist or an agnostic, but he didn't believe in God and he tried to convince those that did believe that they were fools. He told Alma, the prophet, that if God would show him a sign, he'd believe.


"But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator."                                                    Alma: 30:44


If we feel we need a sign to believe, all we have to do is open our eyes and our hearts. The signs are everywhere.

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The Most Ridiculous Adopt a Pet Story You've Ever Heard

October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog month. Adopting or rescuing dogs is a great way to get a pet. We have a beautiful and sweet Great Dane that was hit by a car, so her breeder no longer wanted her. We're glad to have her.

My sister's family decided to adopt a dog a few years ago. Their children love dogs and had been waiting patiently (sort of) for their parents to decide they could finally get a dog.

They took their children to a local shelter and found a few prospects. The shelter had a little yard for adoptive families to play with the dogs. Right away they saw two dogs they liked. They were Golden Retriever/Lab mixes. Their names were Cougar and Bear. They took the dogs to the yard and played with them. They were calm, gentle and sweet.

Then they took out a chocolate lab. He was younger than Cougar and Bear and much more rambunctious. In fact, he was a little wild, so they decided they'd rather have Cougar or Bear. My sister took the children to the car while my brother-in-law (BIL from now on) told the shelter employee that they'd like to adopt Cougar or Bear. He was told they wanted to keep them together.

BIL went to the car and discussed it with my sister. They decided they'd rather have two calm and sweet dogs than one wild dog, so they agreed they'd take both. He told the shelter worker, who sat BIL down at a table to fill out the paperwork.

He was surprised at the length and depth of the questions on the form. One question asked if he had a pick-up the dogs would ride in. He grew up in Idaho where a pick-up truck is just a Miada with a big storage compartment if there isn't a dog in the back, it's front legs perched on a toolbox and it's ears flapping in the wind. He said yes.

Another question asked if the dog would spend a lot of time outside. He has a large yard that his children spend a lot of time in, so logically, the dogs would be with the children. He again said yes. It even asked how long he'd been with his current employer. I'm not sure why that's relevant. As long as he can afford dog food, that should be satisfactory.

At the bottom of the form it asked what training method he planned to use to handle any bad behavior on the dog's part? A training method? There are names for those? He didn't know of a dog training method. That's one of the reasons he was taking the older, already trained dogs. But the blank spot for his answer was looming there, needing to be filled. A training method. The only method of any kind that he could think of was the Suzuki method--the method used to teach children piano and violin. He'd taken a month of Suzuki method piano as a child. Surely this form was a formality anyway. So in the training method, he put Suzuki method.

When he had the form completed, an adoption specialist came in and sat down with him. Row by row, answer by answer, they went over the form. It didn't take long for him to realize he was going to have to justify the Suzuki method response. What was he going to say?

Adoption Specialist (AS): Hmm, the Suzuki method. I don't think I've ever heard of that one. What is it?

BIL: I grew up in Idaho and it's a method that a lady down the street taught.

AS: Oh really? Well, what is it?

BIL: Well, basically what it is is a method of repetition.

AS: Mm hmm. Go on.

BIL: Well, if you're trying to teach the dog to go to the bathroom in one spot, you'll take the dog to that spot. If the dog doesn't go, you're back out there 30 minutes later to the exact same spot. You continue that every 30 minutes until they learn that they go there. It's just a lot of repetition and consistency.

AS: I see. Okay, great. I'll be right back. I've got to talk to my manager.

Five minutes went by. Then ten minutes.

Eventually another woman came in. "I'm sorry, Mr. BIL. Your request has been denied."

"What? Wait a minute. Why?" Greeting the five children waiting in the car empty-handed wasn't something he wanted to do.

She pointed out the question about the pick-up truck. "We don't like our dogs to ride in trucks. It isn't safe. That's a no-no."

"Okay, we have a van. We'll have them ride in the van."

"About the dogs being outside. We want them to be inside at least 50 percent of the time."

"Sure, that's no problem. They can be inside half the time."

"Well." She hesitated. "We don't like to do any adoptions this close to closing time so we'll need  you to give us a call tomorrow."

BIL says, "We'd really like them."

She says, "Give us a call tomorrow."

When they called back, they were denied. It must have been easier to say no over the phone.

A week or so later, they adopted a 3-legged yellow lab named Jack from a different shelter. He'd lost his leg in an accident. He's been a happy and loved member of the family for nearly three years.

It's baffling to me that potential euthanasia would be preferable to a family with a pickup whose kids would play with the dog outside and who would use consistency and repetition to train the dogs, if that was needed. I hope Cougar and Bear were adopted by Paris Hilton. Because she's the only person I can think of who'd have babied and spoiled and loved those dogs more than my sister's family.

Now, go adopt a dog.

(Image from http://www.ilovedogs.com/2009/09/are-you-a-hero-adopt-a-dog-and-become-one/)

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