There They Go, Too

A year ago I said goodbye to my son. He was leaving to serve a mission in Taiwan,  teaching the people of Taiwan about the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's been a good year, with the exception of a bike theft, two auto/bike accidents (both involving Bruce getting hit by the auto), and a bike crash that caused a chipped tooth, a concussion and some short-term memory loss. He assured us he's fine and only told us about it after he'd been cleared by the mission medical staff. But having a son on a mission brings with it a bundle of feelings and concerns that I try to fold up as small as possible and tuck away in my sock drawer in the interest of exercising faith.

Today I moved several more socks out of the drawer and added another bundle of feelings and concerns to the drawer. My parents left today for their second senior couple mission. This one is six months shorter than the last but feels different. Maybe it's because we're all older and time feels more fleeting or maybe it's because I already feel like I'm handling enough missing right now with the missing of Bruce, but this time I feel a heavier ache and a greater longing for them to be close.

The bundles of worry, missing and sacrifice feel pretty big right now. I'll probably do a better job of tucking them away and putting on a happy face in the coming days, but right now I'm having trouble getting the drawer closed.

A Scary Book Signing and Other Jumbled Thoughts

On Friday night I will be at the Layton Barnes and Noble from 6 p.m to 8 p.m. (1780 North Woodland Park Drive) . I must admit, I'm a little nervous. Gifted came out almost a year ago (is this amazing to anyone but me?) and I wonder if it's still worth doing. Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the manager contacting me and inviting me to come there, but the last signing I did wasn't very successful as far as book sales goes. I'm hoping he doesn't feel like it was a waste for him and I'm hoping that I don't drive all that way for nothing. I suppose it's good to get know him since I'll hope to do a signing when For What It's Worth is released. Wish me luck.


Do any of you experience the same love/hate relationship with politics that I do? They're like a really bad crash on the freeway--horrible and fascinating at the same time. At times I watch them with controlled curiosity and at other times I find my blood pressure rising and I feel I must speak to them on the screen, which is ridiculous since they can't hear me and it doesn't really make me feel better.

Lately I find myself obsessed with lemon. Perhaps it's because the weather is cold and dreary and lemon is so bright and sunny, or maybe it's because it's the perfect combination of sweet and tart or maybe it's because it smells so good or maybe it's because the baked lemon pudding I made the other day makes my mouth water just thinking about it, but I'm completely obsessed with lemon. I'd prefer it to chocolate and marzipan right now, and that's saying something.

My parents are leaving on Monday for another mission. I'm excited for them and the people they'll be serving, but I'm having a hard time thinking of them leaving again. I'm trying not to have a little pity party for myself, but my son is gone, my parents are leaving and Veronica heads to college this year. It's understandable if I cry sometimes, right?

I finished The Pearl of Great Price this morning, which means I've read the entire standard works (Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price) in the last thirteen months. It tells us in the scriptures that we receive the blessing after the trial of our faith. There were times when reading the Old Testament was a trial of my faith (my faith wasn't actually in question, but there were times it was rough trudging through it). Today felt like a reward as I finished with the writings of Oliver Cowdery and the Thirteen Articles of Faith. Oliver Cowdery was so eloquent and his writings were beautiful. A nice way to finish my challenge before I start it again.

I'm really excited about this summer's Junior Authors program. It will be the second summer that I've offered children's creative writing classes and I'm expanding it to include classes for junior high and high school students. It's going to be a lot of fun and it's making me eager for summer. 

I Love Basketball!

I'm a spectator, not a player. I played church basketball as a teenager and embarrassed myself, but I'm a huge basketball fan.

I love a good score, but I also love the other things--a great assist, a rebound, or a blocked shot.

I've loved BYU basketball since I was a little girl.

I loved Boston Celtics basketball during the Larry Bird/Danny Ainge years.

I loved watching my brothers' and sister's teams play basketball.

I love Utah Jazz basketball.

I love watching my kids play basketball.

I love watching Jimmer play basketball.

I love watching anyone who beats the LA Lakers and the Miami Heat.

I love March Madness.

I love basketball.

Poor Children with December Birthdays

 My parents had eleven children and four of them were born in December. That's more than 1/3 of their children. I always felt a little bad for my brothers and sisters who were born during that busy month.

But not bad enough to plan my family accordingly. I had four children and two of them have December birthdays--that's HALF MY CHILDREN born in the busiest month of the year.

I'm not trying to make excuses for myself or give myself a pass on my enormous oversight. I'm groveling here and offering my deepest apologies, because although we celebrated their birthdays in real life, I didn't celebrate them here. On my blog. And the sad thing is that I didn't even realize it until today. January 22. One month after my daughter's birthday.

So as part of my repentance process, I'm going to wish my two wonderful December children a happy belated birthday and let you know a few of the reasons they mean the world to me.
Bruce turned twenty years old on December 13. He celebrated his birthday on an island halfway around the world. A kind woman who was learning the gospel at the time did what I'd have done if we were together--took him to a wonderful dinner. I'm grateful to her for taking care of him.

Bruce was that oldest child everyone hopes for--bright, funny, talented and good.

We share many of the same interests--basketball, beautiful houses and buildings, crime dramas, and a few HGTV shows. When we bought our current house, it was an unfinished foreclosure. The kitchen's houseplans weren't great. They were for a family who clearly eats out more than they eat in. That isn't us, so Bruce took the space and re-designed the kitchen. And we love it! It's one of the best things about our house.

Bruce can sit down and doodle the most clever pictures. He's been the cause of a little too much inappropriate laughter over the years as he doodles ridiculous and hysterical things at church and then passes them down the row. We have much less temptation now at church.

When Bruce was in elementary school, I was told by his teachers that he was a brilliant kid. But the thing that made me have to swallow a lump in my throat at parent teacher conferences was that they always said he helped those that were struggling and included those that felt left out. They could always count on him. That meant even more than academic acclaim.

Bruce was so ready for kindergarten. I remember taking him that first day and standing at the door while he walked in. He looked back, smiled and waved, and then got down to business. He didn't look back at me again. He had things to do. I stood there and wished for him to give me one more wave, one more smile. He was supposed to be sad to leave me, right? I was choking back tears and he wasn't even looking at me.

When we dropped him off at the MTC, we experienced much the same thing. He turned to us, smiled and waved and then headed for a new world of experiences. He did turn around one more time with a second wave, but that was it. And once again, I was left to dry my tears and hope for the best. And thankfully, he loves it more than we could have hoped.

Happy birthday, Bruce. I love you and I miss you.
Savannah is is my 14 year-old ray of sunshine. Sometimes she seems like the whole ball of sun. Few can laugh like she can and when she gets the giggles, it's a full-on, tears-streaming-down-the-face, loss of control. It's hard not to laugh whenever she finds something funny.

When I was a teenager, I saw the movie "Savannah Smiles" and fell in love with the energetic, pretty little girl. That Savannah had loads of personality, an infectious smile and a generous heart that made me cry the first time I saw it and still makes me weep whenever I watch it. I knew that someday I wanted to name a daughter Savannah.

Boy, did we ever name our Savannah right. I could say so many things about her sweet personality, her gorgeous smile, and her charitable heart. She's always willing to give others the benefit of the doubt. She's kind. She's thoughtful.

In the movie, there's a song that perfectly fits my sweet Savannah. As far as I'm concerned, it could have been written for the real-life Savannah that came to our family on December 22, fourteen years ago. Happy birthday and I love you.

Pretty Things




I

I'm not a very fancy person. I don't wear much that's shiny and sparkly. I rarely wear anything more than my wedding ring. Several years ago, I lost a diamond out of my ring, so I bought a temporary replacement--a silver band I found at TJ MAXX  that cost me $14.00.

When I sold my first book, my husband bought me a ring that looks a little blingier. He said my silver band reflected badly on him. It made him look cheap. I disagreed and wasn't worried about it, but since his mother is a woman who wears all sorts of baubles and bangles, he had some strong feelings about it. So my wedding ring now is a bit fancier.

Even though I don't adorn myself with ornamental things, I really like pretty. I like pretty pillows, pretty pictures, and pretty fabrics. I don't accessorize myself much, but I love to accessorize my stuff.

So that's what the pictures above are. Pretty things to accessorize one of my favorite things--books. Who wouldn't want to read if they could mark their place with one of those beautiful bookmarks. And who wouldn't want to own a kindle if they could remove it from a case that looks like that?

My oldest daughter loves to read. My second daughter only does it if she has to or if she's convinced that a book is going to be romantic and that the girl will meet the guy in the first ten pages. I wonder if she'd be more interested if she owned some pretty motivation.

I'll read either way, but I'd sure like to trade in my sticky note for one of those bookmarks and my black neoprene kindle sleeve for a case like that.

(Kindle cover can be found here and similar bookmarks can be found here)

I'd Rather Live in His Brain


This is a conversation I had with my eleven-year-old son as I drove him to school this week:

Joe: When I have a good teacher, it seems like school is so long, but when I have a bad teacher it seems like it goes by so fast.

Me: Are you sure it isn't the opposite of that?

Joe: Yes. I said it right.

Me: Explain to me why it's like that.

Joe: Because when I have a really good teacher, like Mr. Williams, every day we're making lots of good memories, but when I have a bad teacher, like Mrs. _______, I try to just put all those bad memories out of my head. So when I have a good teacher it takes so long to think about all the good things, but with the bad teacher, there isn't much to think about.

Maybe it's because he's my son and I think he's clever and adorable, but I think there's something really smart and profound about his outlook. I know when I'm going through something unpleasant, it can seem endlessly long and an enjoyable vacation positively flies by. I also know that Joe has every right to complain about Mrs.______, a sour woman who picked on him and made his life (and mine) pretty unpleasant for a year.

But instead he's chosen to put the miserable year out of his head. He's refusing to rehash and dwell on the hurt feelings and injustices and instead savor the memories of this good year he's having with Mr. Williams.

How much more pleasant is his life because he's choosing to remember the good things and not the bad?

If only I can learn to be more like him.

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21 Suggestions for Success

I was at the school, mapping out my daughter's plans for college with the counselor. On the wall of his office was a large poster with these suggestions from H. Jackson Brown. They're such good suggestions, I wanted to share them. I'd also like to play them on a continuous cycle while my kids sleep and have them ingrained in their minds and hearts. Imagine what the world would be like if we lived by these suggestions.

I especially agree with what he picked for his number 1. Oh how I hope my children marry people who will make their lives easier and not harder.
  1. Marry the right person. This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness or misery.
  2. Work at something you enjoy and that's worthy of your time and talent.
  3. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
  4. Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
  5. Be forgiving of yourself and others.
  6. Be generous.
  7. Have a grateful heart.
  8. Persistence, persistence, persistence.
  9. Discipline yourself to save money on even the most modest salary.
  10. Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.
  11. Commit yourself to constant improvement.
  12. Commit yourself to quality.
  13. Understand that happiness is not based on possessions, power or prestige, but on relationships with people you love and respect.
  14. Be loyal.
  15. Be honest.
  16. Be a self-starter.
  17. Be decisive even if it means you'll sometimes be wrong.
  18. Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life.
  19. Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the ones you did.
  20. Take good care of those you love.
  21. Don't do anything that wouldn't make your Mom proud.
Have a wonderful day!

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Huge Book Signing Event - Stop By and See Us (and Enter to Win a $50 Amazon Giftcard!)

Twelve local authors who will be signing their books this weekend at the South Towne Expo Center at the Crazy Daisy Totally Bodacious Boutique in conjunction with the Home Remodeling and Decorating Show and the Rocky Mountain Gun Show. We will be in room 200 outside the main exhibit hall. This is a FREE event. 


Stop by and enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

The following authors will be there at these times (the books they will be signing are in parenthesis):

Friday all day 11-8: 
Keary Taylor (BrandedForsakenVindicatedAfterlifeEden)

Friday 11-3:30: 
Karey White (Gifted
Cindy C Bennett (Geek GirlHeart on a ChainImmortal Mine
Heather Frost (Seers)

Friday 3:30-8: 
Anna del C Dye (The Elf and the PrincessTrouble in the Elf CityElfs in a Conquered RealmCurse of the Elfs)
Stephanie Connelley Worlton (Hope's Journey)
Jill Vanderwood (What's It Like, Living Green?Drugs Make You Un-Smarter - cowritten with her granddaughter Savannah Peterson)

Saturday all day 10-8:
Mandi Slack (The Alias
Sherri Mills (I Almost Divorced My Husband, but I Went On Strike Instead)
Jewel Adams (The Wishing HourGuardian of My HeartTears of Heaven,The JourneyPlace in This WorldAgainst the OddsStill His Woman,Mercedes MountainElise's HeartThe LegacyThe Shelter of His Arms)

Saturday 10-4: 
Stephanie Connelley Worlton (Hope's Journey)
Tres Hatch (Miracle Pill 10 Truths to Healthy, Thin, & Sexy)

Saturday 1:30-5:30 
Anna del C Dye (The Elf and the PrincessTrouble in the Elf CityElfs in a Conquered RealmCurse of the Elfs)
Heather Frost (Seers)

Saturday 4-10: 
Karey White (Gifted
Cindy C Bennett (Geek GirlHeart on a ChainImmortal Mine
Shannen Crane Camp (The Breakup Artist)

Come out and support these authors as well as the other local artisans who will be taking part in the boutique.

Welcome 2012 -- The Year I was Supposed to Die

We should certainly count our blessings,
But we should also make our blessings count.
                             --Neal A. Maxwell

A friend of mine gave me this quote in vinyl for Christmas. It's my mantra for 2012 because I'm going to approach 2012 a little differently.

I'm not talking about typical New Year's resolutions or even a word to focus on like I have the last few years. This year is going to be different.

Why? 

Because I was supposed to die in 2012 and since I dodged that bullet (or polyp) I intend to make the most of it.

Five years ago I had a colonoscopy. I wasn't yet the age where it's recommended. In fact I had to jump through all kinds of hoops in order to get it done and even then we had to pay a pretty hefty and inconvenient portion of the bill. I had it done because of my mother's urging, which bordered on nagging, but I love her (and in hindsight I'm so grateful) so I'd rather characterize it as urging. My younger cousin was dealing with colon cancer and mom wanted all of her children to get a colonoscopy to ease her mind.

Mine revealed eight precancerous polyps, three of which were really large and positioned in a way that, according to the doctor, "by the time they became symptomatic, it would have been too late. You'd have been dead in five years."

This is the fifth year. This was the year I'd have died--while my son was on his mission, before any of my children were married, before my husband and I could fulfill many of our goals and long before I was ready to die.

Because I'll be living through 2012 instead of dying, I intend do what the quote says. I want the blessing of this year to really count. I want to do some of the things my family and I have wanted to do. We sat down together and made a list. It included:

Go to Music and the Spoken Word
Finish The Husbandmaker
Work on Big House in the Little Valley (my autobiography)
Do baptisms for the dead as a family
Run 1/2 marathon
Run a 5K with my family
Read Christ and the New Covenant
Do 48 acts of kindness for my birthday (more on that later)
Hike back up to where I split my head open
Go Hang gliding (if it isn't too expensive)
Bowling (if I can make myself put my feet in the shoes)
Visit Grandpa and Grandma on their mission in Toronto
Take opportunities to serve others
Visit the Church museum
Go to a Jazz game (I'd like it to be when they play Jimmer, but we'll see)
Organize and de-clutter my house
A couple of other personal things

I'm excited to work on this list. I don't want to just get through this year. I want it to be meaningful. I want this year to be filled with important things,  beautiful memories and wonderful experiences. I want it to set the stage for the rest of my life--a life that really matters. A life that blesses others. A life that's filled with joy.

I already have so many blessings. This year I want to make those blessings count.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 
May we all live it well!