Unexpected Perks

If I were a more conscientious person, there would be a picture here of me with my lunch companions, but alas, I forget my camera way more often than I remember it, so sadly there isn't a picture.

I started this blog about two years ago. In the time that I've been writing it, I've come across other bloggers that I enjoy and admire. One has become a cyber friend. We keep up with and comment on each other's blogs and we occasionally email. Somehow we just kinda clicked and it was clear that we share some of the same philosophies about life and families.

Well, today was a treat. She's on a vacation with her family and graciously fit lunch with me into her schedule. She brought her sister-in-law with her and we enjoyed salmon tacos, a See's chocolate and an hour and a half of lively and fun conversation.

I'm not always comfortable meeting new people and being thrown into new social settings, but today was fun and now we're not just cyber friends, we're real friends that get together for lunch and can carry on a great conversation without any awkward lulls.

Thanks for including me in your itinerary, Missy. It was an absolute pleasure to meet you and I hope it won't be the last time.

An Embarrassing Trip Down Memory Lane

There's a Volkswagen bus that lives a few miles from our house. Every time we drive by it, my girls ooh and ahh about how cute it is.

I have another reaction. I'm transported back to the 1980s when my family actually owned one of these beauties. My parents had bought it from my grandparents and it became the car I would drive to work.

As you might imagine in a family with eleven children, money was tight and had to be stretched as far as possible. One summer, the starter gave out. This was inconvenient, but as I'm sure all of you know (or at least a couple of you), a starter isn't a necessity if it's got a standard transmission. All you need is a good push or a little incline. When we'd go shopping, we'd simply park on a hill. If a hill wasn't available, we'd need a couple of strong bodies to help push.

I began driving the Volkswagen to work each day. I worked at Tyson Foods and sadly, the parking lot was completely flat. What was an 18 year old girl to do?

Fortunately for me, the driver of the forklift in the shipping department was a ladies' man. He often made me blush with his insane flirting, but I quickly learned I could use his flirtiness to my advantage. I asked him if he could give my car a push so I could get it started. He pulled the forklift behind my car, lowered the blades that picked up crates so they went under the car and gave the car a gentle nudge.

Wow! That was so much easier than pushing the car in the Missouri heat and humidity. And because he was a crazy flirt, he offered to do it every day. LUCKY ME! All I had to do when it was time to leave for the day was call the loading dock and Ladies' Man and his forklift would come running.

One day, he lowered the blades and nudged my car forward. I let out the clutch but nothing happened and the car rolled to a stop. Instead of waving goodbye to Ladies' Man, I motioned for him to try again. Instead of the car starting in the parking lot like it always had, we tried again and again. And again. He suggested we get out on the road where he could push a little faster and see if that did the trick. It didn't. We tried several more times, that forklift getting further and further from its loading dock.

I was beginning to think I'd have to call my dad to tell him there was more wrong than just the starter.

The starter! Oh yeah. Even though the starter wasn't necessary, turning the key to the "on" position was. And I'd forgotten. After months of starting the car this way, I'd forgotten.

I turned the key to the "on" position, motioned for Ladies' Man to try "just one more time," and what do you know. The car started right up. I waved goodbye and he drove the forklift back to the loading dock.

I never told him what I did, but the next day I brought him cookies for his kindness. Which only made him think I liked him. That gave me a whole new problem to solve.

Oh the Joy of Birthdays

I've heard people say that birthdays lose their excitement the older you get. Maybe it's because you don't want to acknowledge that you're a year older or maybe it's because you no longer want the spotlight shined your way. It could be both of these things and many more.

Facebook has made it difficult to let the day sneak by unnoticed and so for that reason I had many kind people wish me a happy birthday.

Then there was my family, who did nice things for me--from a cute book offering foot rubs and baked goods to everyone doing extra chores so I could relax. To top off the day there was The Cheesecake Factory. There was no way I was going back to Joe's Crab Shack. Last year they brought out the coconut shells and grass skirt and tried to get me to dance while they sang. Not something I intend to ever repeat. 

This year, I begged my family not to reveal that it was my birthday. I ate a small salad and when it was time for dessert, I poured over the two pages of cheesecakes and desserts, but nothing sounded good. So we left without dessert.

You might be tempted to marvel at my willpower or to congratulate me on my self control. Don't. I would have gladly shared a couple of desserts with the family any other year. But this year has been different.

Gone was my plan to do an act of service for each year of my life.
Gone was my love of cheesecake.
Gone was my stamina.

In place of all these things were the straggling remains of the Goliath-sized kidney stones I've spent the last 5 weeks, 2 surgeries, 1 emergency room visit and numerous doctor appointments trying to get rid of. Instead of a fun, service-filled birthday, I spent most of the day on the couch trying unsuccessfully not to throw up. 

I'll end the medical history there, so that I don't remind you of THAT person we all know. You know the one. 

I look forward to another year filled with family, friends, a son coming home from his mission, a daughter starting college, the release of another book or two, and hopefully a piece of cheesecake.

HERE'S TO THE BANISHMENT OF KIDNEY STONES!!!

If I shout it loud enough and often enough, do you think I can will it to be so? Feel free to toast my birthday with the same sentiments.

FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH has a Cover!

It's official and I can finally show it to you. For What It's Worth has a cover AND it's available for pre-order on Amazon.

I love the cover and it was so much fun to write a romance. When I got the idea for FWIW, I knew I had to run with it and it was a blast.

Looking forward to the release and a fun launch party complete with...

CAKE!!!

More on that later...

It Won't Be a Happy Father's Day For Everyone

As a teenager in Missouri, I became accustomed to falling asleep to the sound of crickets outside my bedroom window. They became so much a part of the soundtrack of my life that I hardly noticed them.

Sometimes life is like the sound of those crickets. It's happening all around us, but we're so used to the sounds and rhythms that we get lulled into a stupor, moving along but not really thinking about what it all means.

Then something happens that yanks us out of our stupor and makes us think about life and what really matters.

This week I was served two major jolts that have me sitting here tonight counting my blessings and asking myself, "What if it were me?" And I feel an ache of sorrow for others even as I feel guiltily grateful that this time, it isn't me.

A woman I worked with in Young Women's in Idaho lost her husband this week. He wasn't much older than us and he left behind five children, none of whom are married yet. Only one still lives at home with her mother. Soon this woman not much different in age than me, will be an empty nester with no husband to share that empty nest with. No father will stand by their mother when each of those five children gets married. When those children have families of their own, their children won't know their grandfather. 

Then today my cousin and her children were in a terrible car accident that left two of her children seriously injured. Her 5-year old son may not survive. My cousin is spending tonight hoping she'll be able to hold and hug and snuggle her little boy again.

My heart is breaking for both of these families and I can't help but imagine if I were one of these women--losing my husband or possibly saying goodbye to one of my children.

Tomorrow is Father's Day. In one city there will be a family with no father to shower with gifts. In a city just a few hours away, a father will spend the day beside his critically injured children.

Mixed with my prayers for these two families will be my gratitude that I've been blessed with my father long enough for him to know all my children, long enough for him to set an unwavering example to my family of testimony of Christ and service to others. I'll be grateful that my children have a father who loves them and takes them to church, a father who plays with them and prays for them.

Even as I hope and pray for these families, I also hope and pray that I'll not allow myself to be lulled into a state of complacency. I hope I'll remember how fragile life is and that I'll be grateful every day for those that matter most.

Happy Father's Day to my dad and my husband. 

The Best Part of Our Vacation

What was the best part of our week at Oceanside?
 Maybe it was that everyone got along and there were no big fights.

Maybe it was that the weather was perfect.
 Maybe it was that Veronica's friend came to join us partway through the week.
 Maybe it was that since I had been so sick, Travis was the one who had to keep up with Joe's never-ending energy.
 Maybe it was that after finding two empty churches, we finally found the church where Stake Conference was happening. And maybe it was that the Stake Conference we found was exceptional, one of the best I've ever attended.
 Maybe it was that our condo was right by the famous pier with Ruby's and evening walks were enjoyed.

 Maybe it was that our condo was really nice and really close to the water and our bed had a good mattress.
 Maybe it was that Veronica and Savannah did more cooking than I did. (Thanks, girls!)
 Maybe it was that the heated pool was just steps from our door.
Maybe it was that they got to ride beach cruisers to a different beach for swimming. Maybe I was most jealous of this activity (since the doctor specifically said no biking for me).
 Maybe it was that the humid, salty air frizzed my hair in a way I haven't seen since I was a teenager (and I decided not to stress about it).

 Maybe it was that we ate amazing food--seafood, breakfast food and Mexican food.
 Maybe it was that we were able to find some great deals at the outlets that are on the border of Mexico.
 Maybe it was that I was able to read three books and take naps almost any time I felt like it.
 Maybe it was that the Farmer's Market had toffee peanut butter...
 And French pastries.
 Maybe it was the Chicken Tortilla soup and the Mariachi singers at Coyote Cafe.
 Maybe it was the joy I felt when I found someone with crazier hair than me.
 Maybe it was the Hotel del Coronado.
 Maybe it was that we were able to do baptisms for the dead with the entire family (sorry, I didn't have the memory card with the pictures of the temple).
 Maybe it was that Travis found a tree from the Canary Islands (where he served his mission).
 Maybe it was that Joe didn't complain about being stuck in the back seat of the car by himself (since he was the only one that would fit while surrounded by all our belongings).
 Maybe it was the strange little restaurant that felt like we were in the Keebler Elves' treehouse.
 Maybe it was the Mormon Battalion Museum, which is truly fantastic!
Maybe it was the beautiful architecture and gorgeous flowers.

And maybe it was being back home after an arduous trip through horrible California to Las Vegas traffic driving 25 mph among thousands of young people heading for a 3-day rave. 

It was a wonderful vacation and it's wonderful to be home.

A Powerful Message from the Catholic Church



I proudly stand up with anyone who defends what's right and I'm proud of the Catholic church for creating a video that so clearly lays out what is on the line with this next election.

We can't be complacent. We have to be involved and we have to stand up for what's right, even if it is the hard or unpopular thing to do.