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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Last Day for Whitney Nominations

Today is the last day titles by LDS writer-written books can be nominated for The Whitney Award 2008. Criteria are limited to:

1--Author must be LDS (But the book can be published in the national or LDS market)
2--Book must be published in 2008
3--Book must be a book--as opposed to a creative dance choreography using palm fronds and silly string (sorry Rob)
4--Authors serving on the Whitney committee or as a judge are ineligible for nomination--this is why Her Good Name is not eligible this year, because I'm on the committee, however you can still send your shameless compliments my way whenever you like

There are hundreds of eligible books out there, many which have not yet received the 5 reader votes necessary for them to become a nominee. After today, the judges will be reading all the nominations in order to vote for the top 5 in each category that will then become The Whitney Award 2008 Finalists. This list will be published in February, to then be voted on by The Whitney Academy which is made up of publishers, authors, bookstore owners and other industry professionals. The winners will be announced at The Whitney Gala on April 25 at the Provo Marriott. Click HERE to buy tickets to the Gala.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

That's it? Well, then Merry Christmas I guess

Hmmm, it must be Christmas:


One garbage bag full of environment destroying gift wrap, eight plates of half eaten neighbor gifts, one broken crock pot lid, one new guitar for guitar hero with a broken whammy bar (thanks eBay), an extra foot of snow, one husband with the flu, one kid crying because he doesn't want to share his Legos, two hours without power (You wanted to play the video games? You are so spoiled), an extra five (or twelve) pounds on my backside, and all I got was a freaking back up camera for my car--I guess Santa doesn't want me backing over anyone's bikes anymore--he has no sense of adventure.


At least my house is clean










Or not.


And my kids are happy--except for the one that went to his room crying--oh, and the one that realized the guitar was broken--oh, and the one with the Littlest pet shop toy that had a battery dated May 2007 so it doesn't work--oh, and the one that was not impressed with Mom's admittion that she forgot to buy the lil wayne CD--oh, and the one that got a bike even though he wanted a Wii--oh, and the one that got the cedar chest--oh, and the one that's mad cause I won't let her see "Yes, Man" until Dad and I approve it. Wait--that's eight. I only have four kids. How does that work?


At least my kitchen is clean too.










Cynicism aside, I love Christmas--though I probably prefer Chrismas Even to Christmas Day. We had a nice dinner and read the Christmas story. Some freinds stopped by, we had trifle, and the kids were in bed by nine. Today, we're all just chillin--I've written almost 1000 words on my current book--a very Merry Christmas for me--and we have enough left overs that I won't have to cook for a couple days and I've got a good 11 months before I have to do all this again :-)

Happy Holidays

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

LDStorymakers Conference Registration Now Open!

The 2009 LDStorymakers writer's conference, to be held at the Provo Marriot on April 24 & 25 is officially open for registration. Registration is online this year and in addition to the conference, you can choose options such as one on one meetings with editors, boot camp, and The Whitney Award Gala. For more information go here

http://ldstorymakers.com/conference.html


Past conferences have been an astounding success and have recieved high praise from both attendees and the visiting agents and editors. Regardless of what market you want to publish in, the LDStorymakers Writer's Conference will be an asset to both your writing skill, publishing industry knowledge, and network of other writers, both published and on the path toward publication.

I hope to see you there!

Monday, December 15, 2008

I got Awarded!


Last week, Don, at fifteenminutesofdelusion.blogspot.com nominated me for the Real Life Blog award. I was very flattered--you can see from my sidebar that I don't get many blog awards. I'm not sure why that is, but assume it must be because people that award awards don't like me--could it be possible? Or maybe they don't think I care. Or maybe I smell funny. But, regardless of why THEY don't give me awards, Don did and that made me very happy!


Don commented on why they called it the Marie Antoinette Award and subtitled it with Real Blogs, Real People. I'm certainly no scholar, but I have a particular fascination with Marie Antoinette. She was basically sold as a child bride to a cold man who wanted nothing to do with her. She'd been ripped from her family, country, and life she'd known all her life and I believe she made up for this by enjoying the privilege she was afforded as Queen of France. Living this way, and being so young, created in her a definitive lack of understanding in regard to what most of France was dealing with at that time. She lived beyond opulence and luxury at a time when the people of France were starving to death. When told of the poverty taking over Paris she responded "Let them eat cake". I believe that rather than this being a dismissive comment, she was saying in the sense of "I'll give them some cake, then they'll feel better" she simply did not understand that cake today would not mean they would have bread tomorrow--she was a woman who had always had the THINGS she wanted and yet I don't believe she was ever truly filled by any of it, much like we are never filled by the things in our lives--it's the people, the relationships, and the time spent enjoying both that fill us. When reality finally made itself undeniable, she lost her life for the opulence she was in a sense forced to live within. Much like the starving people of France, she never had a choice in the life she lived either and she did not understand that other people were really suffering. In that way I think she's as much a victim as they were--definitely when her head dropped into the basket of straw on the wrong side of the guillotine.

Therefore, my theory on why Marie Antoinette is the poster child for this blog award is because it symbolizes that not facing reality, in the end, does us no favors. Whether that reality is what our weaknesses are, what are commitments are, who we fall in love with, or who we judge to harshly--living in reality is a good thing and we deserve to be honest about that to both ourselves and the world at large.

That said, I feel a bit hypocritical in regard to receiving this for my own blog. While I am thrilled to be seen as real, and I am honest in my posts, there are many, many, things in my life I do not blog about. You've heard very little about my children, my family, my husband's family, my ward, neighborhood or children's schools. That's not to say I haven't written up posts on these topics, but I delete them before they go out to the world because although it is my reality, and many things occupy a great deal of space in my brain, I am conscious of the relationships I am in and I worry about hurting people that, despite driving me batty at times, I love or respect or just don't want to hurt. THAT SAID (Yes, I realize I'm being redundant and rather circular) I think we can be 'real' without being all-telling. I believe that it's not dishonest for me not (yes, that was a triple negative) to rant against the woman at church that makes me want to plug my ears and sing la-la-la-la-la all through relief society. I believe that it's not dishonest for me to keep my increasingly fractured and frustrating relationship with a particular family member to myself. It's not fair for these people to have me make a public display of them, hence I don't. Instead, I try to keep my blogs within my own sphere, where they aren't going to cause someone else heartburn. Unless of course I want them to have heartburn--but I don't think I've found that situation I'm willing to flog someone about.

And so because of all that loopy explanation, I was thrilled to get this award, to have someone say that despite the things I leave out, I've managed to be real. That, for me, is a compliment.

And now I get to compliment some other folks for doing the same thing:

Carole Thayne at Musings in Paradise. Carole is a very good friend of mine and has helped me feel at peace with some of my personal and political feelings that are not as mainstream as many people around me. She is someone I truly think I could talk to about anything without fear that she was judging me for it. I appreciate that very much in my life and feel that she has helped me with a great deal of self awareness. And I love her blog because she's very honest about herself and her beliefs, I admire that.

Kristi at Kunz Family. Kristi is an inspiring woman to me, she lives amid some trials that I know would overwhelm me, and she neither lifts herself up on a pedestal for it or feels she's being picked on. I love reading about all the things going on in her family, because I know that there are extra layers of difficulty for those things, yet she does it all with such an optimistic attitude. She inspires me to see beyond the hardships and not just pretend it's okay, but to truly make the best of it.

Julie at Scattered Jules is one of my favorite people in the whole world. She's the person I call when life crashes around me and she always--and I mean always--picks me back up and hugs me back into reality. Her heart is among the biggest and funnest hearts God ever made and I cherish her friendship as one of the gifts God has given me. On her blog she rants, and compliments, and laughs and just puts it all out there.

Stephanie at Write Bravely. I really enjoy Stephanie's blog because she also blogs about real, every day life, but the more I read, the more depth I find. I assumed for the first few months that she had lived a very typical, traditional life. Then I discovered a twist, and then another one, and then another one. It's intriguing to me that she does not simply put it all out there at one time, rather it's all just part of the life she lives. She also has an inherent goodness that reminds me that being good is strong--I need those kinds of reminders in my life and her posts always do that for me.

So there you have it, my pontifications of no substance, and my referrals to those blogs that have that very substance I enjoy so much. Thanks again Don

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why the Move

So, word has gotten out in our ward that we've listed the house--if we'd in fact wanted to keep it a secret we should have a) not told the kids b) stopped being Mormon and c) not blogged about it. Seeing as how we didn't do any of those things, everyone knows. And everyone asks the same thing, Why?

It sounds like a simple question, which means it ought to have a simple answer. Most people can answer that somewhat simple--we got a new job, we want to build, we want to be closer to family. We don't have that kind of simple answer, but here is my attempt at trying to sum it all up and dispel the myths.

Myth 1--We want a bigger house.

Nope. My house is plenty big, and we're on five acres of land, and we love it. I don't mean we like it, it works, and we're happy here, I mean we LOVE it. The floorplan is perfect, the yard is great, and we've worked hard for ten years to make it perfect--with every amenity we have ever wanted--except for the lousy basement carpet. We have molded this home into exactly what we could ever want. It is our dream house--it really is.

Myth 2--If you aren't going for bigger and better, then you must not be able to afford it anymore.

Hmmmm. Yes and no. We CAN afford it and don't forsee that we will hit a point where we can't afford it in the near future. My husband makes a good living and we only owe a little over half it's worth, so the payment isn't horrible. BUT my husband is involved in real estate investing and an economy based buisness--both of which have been hit hard of late. We don't get paychecks, we don't have a 401K, we don't get sick days or group plan insurance. We do pay a lot of money in taxes (and will likely be paying more once our new president takes over), we do tend to get lump sum payments a couple times a year that we have to stretch out, and our health insurance is through the roof. We are our own job security, which is great except when you wish someone else was in charge of some of these aspects. It's not that we can't pay the mortgage as much as it is we're not sure we want to pay it.

Myth 3--If you don't want bigger and better and you can afford the house you have, you must be sick in the head.

Possibly. I'd be the last person to deny insanity and I admit that I really do fear that if we sell we'll regret it, always wishing we'd stayed. And yet, we just have a . . . feeling. I don't know what the feeling is. Maybe it's just us finally understanding what it means to live below our means and us wanting to adjust our lifestyle to fit that better. Maybe it's a forshadowing of our future income situation, maybe we're just bored and need a new challenge. Maybe it's a test to see if we'll act on a feeling we both have--a little like the Abraham Isac thing but without the deadly weapons involved. Perhaps it won't sell, we'll live happily ever after right here and this is all just a phase we're going through. I don't know. What I do know is that last summer when the yard work was making us both cranky, I suggested selling and my husband shut it down without a discussion--something he doesn't do very often because he usually wins the discussions. But he wouldn't even consider it. A month ago he's the one that brought it up. We discussed and discussed and discussed and then called a realator. Which, ironically is exactly the way it happened last time we moved. We weren't considering a move despite owning a buisness an hour from our home. We talked about staying there forever and running the buisness with the help of an on-site manager and Lee making the drive once a week. We were very happy there. Then one day Lee said maybe we ought to move. Within two weeks we'd listed the house. Two months later it had sold and we were on our way to Willard.

This kinda feels like that did and we've had two walk throughs this week that both really liked it and are taking a few days to think about it. That's promising.

However, we keep reminding ourselves that it's a horrible time to sell, and yet it's a great time to buy. We want to stay in Willard and have dozens of homes to choose from. We've looked at several via the internet and have one we're quite interested in and have walked through, but we're not taking any action until/unless our house sells, then we'll panic :-)

I'm not expecting to sell right away and I'm not packing boxes, but as I go through my days I'm taking note of what I'd take, what I'd throw out, and what I'd sell in a moving sale. I'm surprised how much of the space in this house is taken up with things I don't use, don't need, or don't even want--but I have room to store it so I do. That seems a little bonkers, doesn't it?

And I'm still not convinced the 'feeling' had nothing to do with selling and everything to do with my keeping my house clean--it looks so good! And every day the kids and I get it back into top shape so that if someone wants to walk through it, I'm ready. It's been nice to have a super clean house--it's been years since I've been this vigilant and rather than taking away from my writing time, after a few days spent just cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, I have less to do than I used to and I feel more at peace when I sit down to write because I don't have a dozen household chores calling at me. That's been nice.

Anyway, this is my attempt at a simple answer. We'll see where we go from here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Feeding a crowd with roaster ovens

I was in charge of the food for last weeks' RS dinner, and spent a ton of time googling all over the web to find instructions on how to make the meal work. I didn't want the typical pot luck or ham dinner, but creativity can be a butt-kicker since most meals for a crowd on the Internet use commercial kitchens and cooking equipment meant for mass production. It worked out reasonably well and so in the spirit of paying it back I decided to post what I did here so that the next time someone was also goggling the how to, they might find this blog and get some answers, or at least idea starters for their own meal. All the cooked items were done in 18 quart roaster ovens--which is something I was able to beg and borrow from enough neighbors to make it work.

Salad:
Mock olive garden salad dressing x 4
15 heads of iceberg lettuce
1 #10 can of olives
4 standard size boxes of croutons
15 sliced tomatoes; slices cut in half

Mock Olive Garden Salad Dressing (I think I found this at Recipe Czar a year or so ago)

1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used Canola)
1/4 cup corn syrup
2 1/2 T. grated Romano cheese (I used an Italian hard cheese blend)
2 T. dry pectin
2 T. egg Beaters
1 1/4 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp. Garlic
1/4 tsp. Parsley (I used dried)
pinch of Oregano
pinch of red pepper flakes.

Combine everything in a blender, mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Chill 1 hour.

**For this dinner I made the dressing a couple days before and stored in the fridge. A couple hours before the dinner I cored and rinsed the heads of lettuce and put them, cored side down, in big bowls of ice water to keep the lettuce cold and crispy. We then broke them into LARGE bowls, added dressing and tossed well. We put on a plate with 4 olives (we could have done up to 6), 5 croutons (just the right number), and one slice of tomato, sliced in half.

**WHAT I WISH I'D DONE: is drained the lettuce after breaking it into the bowls. The tight leaves held on to a lot of water which made the salad a little wet. Simply putting it in a colander and letting it drain for a couple minutes would have made a difference. I also wish I'd bought more tomatoes because I love them and we had to go kinda skimpy. I have to say I did not get many specific compliments on the salad. Not sure why since people are more kind than honest and I didn't get much specific feedback on it. But, it's just the salad, most people don't think about complimenting it anyway. I myself didn't get any as we ran out so I can't gauge it.

Main Dish:

Crock Pot Chicken Cordon Bleu x 10

Crock Pot Chicken Cordon Bleu (From my wonderful Friend Erin Klingler)

10 chicken tenders
20 slices of deli style ham (can use lunch meat type)
10 slices Swiss cheese (can use another type of white cheese)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 soup can of milk
1/2 tsp. dry mustard powder (can use prepared mustard in a pinch)

Make sauce by combining soup, sour cream, milk, and mustard powder. Mix well and set aside.

Lay ham out on counter so that two slices overlap one another, you should have 10 2-slice portions. Place a slice of swish cheese in the center of each ham portion. Roll chicken tender in ham and cheese, place seam side down in the bottom of a crock pot. Cover with sauce. Cook 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low--do not stir. Serve over rice or noodles.


**A couple ladies in the ward met me at the church around noon and we did a mass production of the recipe. They laid out ham and cheese and I made sauce. We covered each layer with the sauce before adding the second layer and fit 50 chicken rolls in each roaster oven--2 layers. We then cooked it at 300 for about 5 hours. I had bought 7 bags of chicken tenders at Costco, and only used four. The serving size was listed at 4 oz., but a chicken tender is only about 2 oz. The cooking time was just right and the chicken turned out very well. I was able to turn it down to 200 for the last hour and a half because the chicken was fully cooked.

**WHAT I WISH I'D DONE: I miscalculated the ham and only ended up with one slice per chicken roll. This did not stay wrapped around the chicken as well, but it was still yummy. I also worried I wouldn't have enough soup and sour cream so I thinned out the sauce a little while making it. This was not good as the sauce was runnier than it should have been. It was still okay, and no one knew what it was SUPPOSED to be like, but I wish I hadn't cheaped out and had a thicker sauce. Ironically, I had both soup and sour cream left over. I got lots of rave reviews for the chicken and will definitely do it again should I get asked to do this again.

Rice

7 3.2 lb. containers of Organic Harvest Medley Wild Rice mix from Costco
2 containers of Chicken Stock from Costco.

I followed the water ratio on the back of the package to mix up the rice and can't remember how much I put in each roaster, but it was close to 18 cups of rice and 36 cups of water per roaster, adding 1/2 the chicken stock to the water of each of 2 roaster ovens. I then cooked it at varying temperatures for just over 2 hours. We served about 3/4 of a cup of this on the plate next to the chicken. We had nearly 1/2 a roaster oven worth of rice left over--this was the only item we had excess of.

WHAT I WISH I"D DONE: This was the most frustrating portion of the dinner and caused me a great deal of stress--the result was somewhat blah. I had worried that the chicken stock would be too strong so I ended up only using 1/2 a container per roaster instead of of a full one and the rice was bland. I should have used the whole thing of stock and then tasted it to see if it needed more salt. Also, I needed another hour for the rice. It turned out okay, but was a little too chewy and BARELY finished in time. 30 minutes before the dinner it was still swimming in the water and I had to turn the roasters up as high as they would go. I really should have experimented with this at home first. People said it was good and they took a lot of the left overs, but I was not pleased with it. Another option I had read about online was to make the rice ahead of time, store it in the freezer and then simply heat up. This would have been a pretty good idea. I could have frozen it in the roaster oven insert covered with foil quite easily and played with it more during the cooking process to get it just right, then heated it up over a few hours on low, fluffing the rice as I went. Being as I was frantically working on several aspects of dinner meant that I did not give it the attention I think would have benefited it greatly.

Vegetables

4 bags frozen California Blend Veggies from Sam's Club (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots)
1 bag frozen green beans
Rosemary Veggie Marinade x 5

Rosemary Veggie Marinade (From my good Friend Anne)

1/3 cup olive oil
3 TBSP lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Mix 6 ingredients well, drizzle over veggies (fresh or frozen) and bake at 450 for 30 minutes.

*I made the marinade the morning of the dinner. That night, we combined 2 bags of California blend and 1/2 bag of green beans in 2 roaster ovens, and drizzled 1/2 the total marinade over each pan, tossing to coat the veggies as well as we could. Then we set the roasters to 400 and let them cook for an hour and a half. They turned out fragrant and yummy and were a nice change to the typical canned green beans that are often used at these types of dinners.

WHAT I WISH I'D DONE: I should have started the veggies at least an hour earlier. That much frozen food takes a while to heat up and toward the end I was worried and had to turn up the heat which scorched some of the veggies. I also would have made three more portions of the marinade so the flavor would have been stronger AND added another bag of California blend. We had EXACTLY enough, which is stress inducing when you get to the bottom of that final pan.

Rolls

We ordered 10 dozen rolls from Idle Isle Cafe, a local restaurant famous for their yummy rolls.

The total price for this dinner was about $350, and we fed about 115 people.

Overall, the meal was good and different. I should have given myself more time on the rice and the veggies, and I should have tried out everything at home before making it for such a large group. However, on a scale of one to ten I think I would give myself a pretty solid 6.75. It could have been better, but it could have been worse.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Proof I'm a Terrible Person.

Our house is officially listed (click HERE if you know someone intersted in horse property and a custom home in Northern Utah to see the listing)and we had our first walk through last weekend. The feedback we got was that they hated the basement carpet (I don't blame them, so do I) and that they smelled the cats.

I was truly shocked, and embarrassed, by this. My husband, however, was vindicated. He's been telling me for years that I've lost my ability to really smell them and at least twice a week he goes down stairs and says he can smell them. I've truly felt he was being over reactive and since I know he's never wanted the cats in the house, I haven't given his opinion much weight.

I stated a couple weeks ago that I'm tired of the cats, that the kids aren't taking care of them and I've hit my limit. One had peed in my room in the middle of the night, the other one has shredded the carpet on the stair landing. I vowed that I was done doing anything other than buying cat food, that if the kids wanted cats, they would have to step up. Since then the kids have been trying to do better--but they pretty much suck at it. They'll feed the cats without complaint, but the litter box is ignored until mom throws the cats out and says they can't come in until the litter box is changed. Before the walk through we cleaned like crazy, I cleaned all around the litter box, we put it outside, we sprayed air neutralizer and yet it STILL smelled like cats.

Husband and I decided the cats were outside from now on but the kids simply could not keep from letting the cats in. The cats would go into their window wells and meow until the kids broke. They still aren't emptying the litter box.

We want to sell the house and we can't have it smelling like cats.

We discussed options but decided, in the end, to take them to the shelter. One cat is a Siamese fixed, declawed female that is a really pretty and really good cat. We feel like she'll be easily adopted. The other is a fixed male. I worry about him, but he's pretty too. We decided we had to do what was ultimatly in the best interest of our family--and it's in our best interest to sell this house and to do that it needs to be in top shape.

It all made sense until I went to gather them up this morning. By the time Lee drove off I was a mess. He didn't know what do to make me feel better about it, and I don't know either. I beleive this is the best solution, but I feel like I've just given away part of my children's childhood. Lots of people have cats and manage to take care of them. Why is it so hard for us to do it? We sold our puppy two months ago because we were over our heads trying to train her and take care of her properly. We kept Tex, but we're struggling with that too. The kids are put out to have to feed him and play with him every day, we can't let him in the house because he's not house trained and he likes to get skunks mad at him. It seems like a miserable existance for the poor thing--so do we get rid of him too? Are we just total snobs?

To make it worse, the kids have no idea we were planning this. It seemed like the best way when we came up with it, but now I'm not so sure. They're going to ask, and since Lee's going out of town I get to deal with it by myself again--like I did with the puppy. I feel like I've failed them--the kids and the pets.

So please, I beg of you, if I ever talk about getting another animal (other than chickens) please tell me to come back and read this post. I'm not cut out to properly care for them and then it breaks my heart when I finally act on that truth.

It might be a very long day today.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Elder Wirthlin Passes Away


Elder Joseph Wirthlin of the Quorum of the 12 apostles passed away this morning at the age of 91. Like many other members of the LDS church, Wirthlin is a voice that has followed me throughout my life. I love conference, and I've loved his remarks. His grandaughter married my cousin and I was privileged to shake his hand at thier wedding reception. He was a very kind, intelligent, and obviously service-oriented man, a cousin to Gordon B. Hinckley and a father of eight children. He will be greatly missed. His wife died about two years ago, and I can only imagine the joy he is feeling at that reuinion. Men such as himself, and woman, that give so much for so long are truly inspiring.

You can read more about this at

http://www.sltrib.com/News/ci_11119183

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Parable of the Cedar Chest



I don't actually know if this qualifies as a parable, but I like the idea of writing my own so I'm going to go with it. Also, I've decided to name my children for the blog--#2 was slightly offended at her nickname here so I've dug deep and gotten creative.

Jeanie--14 year old girl
Lou-Lou--12 year old girl (who will probably hate this name too)
Little man--9 year old boy
KB--7 year old girl

On with the story . . .

As a teenager I wanted a cedar chest. I had a few friends that had them and I thought they were so cool. Being one of 9 kids meant I didn't have much privacy and I was always scouting out little places I could keep things safe. At 14 I got a trunk for Christmas. It's plywood, with sheet metal overlay and fasteners. It was not a cedar chest, but I loved it and covered it with bumper stickers (including the one that says "Olympus Soccer: We Kick Balls" I was a classy kid, what can I say?) It had a key and it was my own little space. Over the years I stored journals, letters from my hubby, and other mementos. When I got married, it was one of two items that came with me (the other was a rocking horse my uncle made for me as a child--I still have that one too). I added my wedding veil, the cards that came with my wedding gifts, and some baseball cards I hoped to one day make a million dollars off of. I loved my trunk and only the most valuable things went into it.

For my 4th wedding anniversary my husband bought me a real cedar chest. The old trunk went into the closet and the new chest became a treasured piece of furniture, quickly doing it's job of preserving the most important things I wanted to hold on to. It was oak--which I didn't love--and so I refinished it in black a year or so ago, sanding the edges to give it an antiqued look.

Last year, I gave Jeanie a cedar chest for Christmas. We bought it used (new ones are several hundred dollars) and we refinished it after the holidays. For me, this was a powerful gift to give. Jeanie will be eighteen in only 4 years which seems like an incredibly short period of time. I wanted to give her this option of saving some of her youth while also preparing for her future which was coming up quickly. She was very positive about it and I just felt like I'd done a very good thing--giving a gift that will last a lifetime.

Last month, we bought a cedar chest at a charity auction. I sanded it down and was getting ready to paint it for Lou-Lou--excited to once again give a gift that, in my mind, is almost priceless. However, Lou-Lou found my Christmas list and read it--pronouncing bluntly that she didn't want a stupid cedar chest. She wants nail stuff, and CD's, not furniture. I was very annoyed at this--not only because I'd already invested in this gift but because it's a GIFT. That means I choose it, not her. I felt she was being very bratty about it, and yes, my feelings were hurt.

Amid all this I remembered the new knobs I'd bought for Jeanie's cedar chest last year and had never put on. So, I went and put them on only to find that after owning the chest for a year, she had put absolutely nothing inside it.

Then my husband said he thought we ought to sell the cedar chest and get Lou-Lou something she really wants.

Argggg! I was getting it from all sides and reviewed my options. In a rare moment of wisdom, I chose a route I don't often use. I decided to try to teach something, rather than pout.

Tonight, I invited Jeanie and Lou-Lou into my room. I told them how I'd wanted a cedar chest as a child and why it was improtant to them. I told them about my trunk, and then I opened my cedar chest and showed them the things I keep inside. Signed copies of my books that I will one day give to my children, copies of my books I sign to myself when they arrive. A newspaper from the olympics, the blessing dresses of my children that I will give them when they have kids of thier own, recipe books I've collected for my daughters, a pillow with a copy of my engagement picture on it, an extra wedding album in case something happens to the one I have, a time capsul Jeanie made in Kindergarten, a box full of mother's day cards and little notes the kids have given me over the years, the blown glass flower that topped my wedding cake, a blanket my freind quilted when Little Man was born. After we went through all these things I explained to them that even if I lost it all, I'd have the memories of these moments and they are the most powerful thing, but, I love having these tangible reminders. I love to touch the letters they've given me, I love knowing there is a safe place for my treasures. I explained that my giving them cedar chests is so that they can also find those treasures and save them for their futures. I then said that I realized it might be an old fashioned thing, that if they don't want the cedar chests we can sell them, they can keep the money and spend it on something else, but that I believed that the chests were something that twenty years from now, when iPods and CDs were a thing of the distant past, they would remember that their mother gave them a cedar chest. That one day they might pass them on to their children, and that when they left our home, they would take this little peice of it with them.

Lou-Lou promptly reported she wanted her cedar chest. Jeanie asked if she could have her signed books to put in her own. And me, well, I'm a little tender hearted at having forgone my usual bullying style of parenting and having this moment with my girls who are so precious to me, and are growing faster then I can keep up. Now and then I do a really good thing--creating these two wonderful daughters were two of my very best.

Monday, November 24, 2008

What have I done

This was a fun meme I found on My days and dreams. I can't think of anything else to say today and I'm working really hard at avoiding my current work in progress, so this fit the bill! Feel free to copy it and use it if you like. You highlight those things you've done.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37.Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77.Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee


Let me know if you use it so I can come take a look.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Oh the Randomness

My kids love the word random, they use it all the time--often when it doesn't make sense for instance "My new art teacher; yeah, totally random" what does that even mean? Maybe Annette can break it down for me.

My husband said the M word the other day--M is for moving at my house. He does this every now and again, and I believe it's mostly a ploy to get me to dig into deep cleaning (it works every time) but it triggers my obsessiveness. The reason for him saying that vulgar word is because there's a chance we could sell the house (for far less than we could have sold a year ago, but still) and use the equity to buy a muuuuuuuch smaller house free and clear. i.e. no house payment. Normal people can consider this and think rationally. Josi grabs onto and refuses to let go of the idea. She's also a romantic, which does not help obsessive things like this. Suddenly, she hates her house, it's too big, it's unappreciated, the yard goes on forever.

But there's a 3 bedroom, one bath, 1300 square foot house, a couple blocks from here for 150K--we could buy it and build an addition out the back and it's a half acre lot and the kids would stay in their same school and we could keep chickens and I'd paint the living room green and my sister would help me make cute shutters and we wouldn't have to worry about irrigation and we would move to a new ward which means I would be released from scouts and my kids would learn what it's like to not have thier own room and they'd learn respect, dang it, and we'd be like Little house on the prarie and we'd sell all our big furniture and we would get rid of TV and my kids would learn to sew their own clothes and we could live on half the amount of money we live off of now and we'd be God's chosen because we would have no debt even though we'd need a storage unit for the food storage.

See how I am?

Who needs commas?

And then, today I decided to do a 5 minute speed cleaning of the kitchen. The philosophy is that I run around clearning like bonkers for 5 minutes and get it all cleaned up. Sounds fun, huh, right. Well, I knocked over the dog treats which went skittering all over the floor and then I picked up the salt shaker by the top that wasn't screwed on tight and the glass and salt went all over the floor. I don't think speed cleaning is a good thing for me.

And my dog got sprayed by a skunk. He already stunk pretty bad but he stinks really really bad now. And I've decided I'm tired of having cats. Is it wrong to take them up to the mountains? I used to think so, but now that the shelters are overflowing I'm not so sure. Isn't it basically being an evironmentalist to encourage natural selection? Plus, they're both fixed so it's not like they'd be adding to the population. One of them peed in my room the other night--that might be part of my problem.

Dinner. Shoot. I don't know what to make.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Surviving a Crash

I know, I know, you're all sick and tired of hearing my whine about my crash--I get it, I'm tired of whining about it. However, this post isn't about my whining (well, maybe a little bit) it's mostly about pointing out the things I've learned since this happened to me. So, here goes. Take it for what it's worth. As my friend Eric says "There are two kinds of computer users in the world, those that have lost a hard drive and those that will" I just hope it never happens to me again, or that I'm more prepared for it if it does.

1) Make a bootable back up. Many of us have a back up of some kind. The difference between a regular back up and a bootable back up is that you can actually run your computer off a bootable back up. If you lost your hard drive, you can then plug in your bootable back up and run everything just as you had it the last time you backed up to it. I'm now using a free-ware program called Super Duper (It's specifically for Macs) on my external hard drive (which was on my shelves, unused, for a year before I crashed. In 30 minutes I could have had a completely bootable back up system but it was too haaaaard, so I didn't use it. I'm using it now). This option stores data AND programs.

2) Have secondary back up. This can be a jump drive, or CD's or online storage of some kind. I'm now doing CD's once a month. If for some reason I crashed again and couldn't use my bootable back up, I could back up with CD's. This isn't a perfect form, as it won't retain program information and has a high failure incidence, but it will hold things like documents, pictures, movies, music, and other data that you will want to use.

3) Know how to use your back up options. I had subscribed to .mac for back up. I had problems figuring it out and so I settled for only backing up my documents. I'm very glad I did, but the way it worked was that it made a master back up and then saved anything that was changed every day. This is great, in that the back ups were fast (after the first one) and I didn't worry about it, but in order to restore my back ups I had 200 incremental backups I had to restore one at a time. I learned the hard way that the restore feature is very complicated, especially if you had to get a new hard drive and reroute the restore because the original location is not there. It took me hours and hours and hours, and I am still missing about 20% of my documents. I decided to recover those most valuble to me, but I know I will kick myself for many months as I remember another project I didn't restore. The problem is that there is no way for me to find a specific document other than opeing each of those 200 restores--which takes about 5 minutes to do. So, know how your back up works, practice restoring something so that you know how to use it. The mac back up program was very disappointing for me and yet I put my faith in it anyway. It also didn't back up my web builder pages because I assumed they were stored through the server that hosted them--not so. My website will stay as it is right now, but I have to completely rebuild my website before the next time I update it--which will take me several hours and I don't have the photos I used on there originally.

4) Subscribe to an online photo hosting program. Whether you use wal-mart, walgreens, shutterfly, or some other thing, having a seperate server to store your photos is a really good idea. I did a digital scrapbook last year, and thank goodness I did. It has a year's worth of family photos I'd have lost otherwise. I was waiting to do my 2008 photos until after the end of the year and lost all of them. I'm currenly working on downloading the 2007 photos back to my computer.

5) If you're crashed, don't keep pushing on the gas. When your car dies and you keep pushing the gas as you try to start it, you flood the engine. When your computer crashes and you keep trying to bring it back up over and over again, you burn up your head or risk jamming your spindles. My computer crashed on a Sunday, I googled a dozen ways to bring it back by myself and spent several hours trying over and over and over to bring it up. Whether or not this is why my hard drive is now inaccessible for basic data recovery is unknown, but it certainly doesn't help. I had no idea this was an issue until I got the estimate of $1600 to retreave the information because the head was bad on my hard drive. They tech reccomended that next time I even suspect I've had a hard drive crash, to leave the computer alone until someone can look at it. There's a chance that had I done this and my hard drive wasn't so burnt up by the time I took it in that I could have recovered my data for about $80.

6) Use Data Recovery experts. If you need your data recovered, don't waste time and money on a regular computer fix-it shop. Find an actual data recovery specialist. This might present itself a little more expensive, but they can more correctly identify what went wrong and reccomend the best way to proceed.

Anyway, there it is. I hope you and me both learn from my mistakes this time around.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Donation is up for Auction!

My donation to the Whitney Awards went up for auction today. It's a complete collection of my published books:



*Earning Eternity
*Surrounded by Strangers
*Tempest Tossed
*Star Struck
*To Have or To Hold
*Unsung Lullaby
*Sheep's Clothing
*Her Good Name

And a one of a kind Reader Survival Kit:

*Fuzzy Socks to keep your tootsies warm when you curl up with a good book)
*A scented candle so it smells like you've been baking something when in truth you've been reading all day OR to set the mood once the kids go to bed (I do write romance ya know)
*Dove Chocolates--do I really need to explain that one?
*Earplugs to drown our the hungry kids OR to help you sleep in the day after staying up until two a.m. (I'm not arrogant, really)
*Kleenex to dry your tears when you read the happy and sad parts
*A Hershey's bookmark that I made all by myself by laminating a Hershey wrapper after eating the chocolate. I just find it horribly clever so I had to throw it in

As of right now the bids are at $31, it's almost a $175 value AND I can sign any of the books to whoever you want, so if you want a couple and want to give some away, I can make that work for you! Here is the direct LINK.

There are some other fabulous items up for bid right now, so please take the time to browse through and see if you find something that works for you and in return can support the Whitney's. We've managed to raise about 35% of our goal, but we're already half way through the month. We could use your support. Here is the LINK to see all the wonderful items currently up for bid. Remember, there is free shipping on all purchases.

And remember you can still e-mail me for the html if you want to put the button on your blog to remind your readers of one sure fire way they can work toward going to heaven. (don't quote me on that to St. Peter though)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More than You wanted to know about my Tatoo


So, last month Melanie J posted her thoughts on Tatoos. Many of you know that I have one. A pair of angel wings on my back--just kidding. No, it's actually not nearly that exciting or anything. But, there is a story, and it can be summed up in one sentence.

The tattoo artist thought we were the freakiest people he ever gave tattoos to.

You have to go back in time with me to the fall of 1992--the year I graduated from high school. The characters in this story are myself, Leah, and Jan (not their real names, for reasons that I love them both and don't want them to feel embarrassed if they should somehow find this blog). Here is a brief synopsis of us and our relationship to one another.

Josi--Naively independent, moved out of her parent's house two days after high-school graduation. Working full time and barely paying the rent on her apartment she shares with a roommate she did not know before moving in with her. Nice gal though. Canadian. Josi is a full-time student and a few months away from her boyfriend coming home from his mission. She's excited about this, but nervous as well. She was 16 when he left and has grown up a lot during his absence. She worries that they won't have the same relationship they had when he left. She's also worried that if it works out she'll lose some freedom she's come to appreciate so much. She's worried that she'll be fatter than him because he sent a picture a year ago where he was skin and bones. She's anticipating that within the next 6 months her life is going to change drastically and she's excitedly nervous about it.

Leah--Incredibly smart, super ambitious, and four months pregnant. She's not sure she wants to get married. She's not sure she wants to keep the baby, and yet she's very much in love with both the boyfriend and this child growing inside of her. She'd dreamed of law school and a temple marriage and is now struggling with how much has suddenly changed. She's anticipating that within the next six months her life is going to change very drastically and she's scared and a little angry about it. To sum it up, she knows she's not quite ready for all this and has no choice but to face it. She's also a die hard Bruce Springsteen fan.

Jan--raised with privilege, in a family she feels very bonded to, and has a heart the size of Texas. She loves Josi and Leah despite their current and past circumstance, and she's very optimistic about both of our futures and just who we are. She has this streak of wanting to be independent, but is living at home while she attends the University of Utah. She's looking at Josi and Leah and the precipice we both stand on without judgment and I don't think she's anticipating many changes in her life for the next six months. She is optimistic for both of our futures but is first and foremost a fun loving person.

The three of us would get together on Friday nights that Leah and I didn't have to work and drag state street in Salt Lake while blaring the Spanish music station. This was before gangs were an issue, and though in hindsight I can see this might not have been very PC, we were truly not making fun of anyone or anything like that, we were just doing things that made us laugh. We would talk to boys that were also dragging state and give them fake phone numbers.

So, one night, as we're dragging state with the Spanish music blaring, we pass a tattoo parlor which is all lit up. Leah says she wants us all to get a tattoo. Jan and I laugh. Duh. We're good girls (the reputation and pregnancy thing not withstanding) why would we get tattoos? Leah, orator that she is, tells us why. Basically, because we might never get another chance to make such an independent decision. She will have a baby in a few months, I'll have my missionary, Jan will one day give her real phone number to one of these guys we meet. We're all at a crossroads and we need a symbol of our friendship, a symbol of the free-thinking independent girls we once were before we became actual women with responsibility and accountability for other people. Dang, but she made a lot of sense! Why on earth would we not get a tattoo?

So, we went to ASI tattoo and told them we wanted daisy tattoos on the bottom of our big toe. He just blinked at us. "What?"

So we told him again, and he was shaking his head. "No you don't," he said. "It will hurt like crazy to get a tatoo on the bottom of your toe, and white doesn't work."

"Oh." So we put our heads together and a few minutes later presented him with a handdrawn heart (done by Leah). We wanted it on our the inside of our right heel--low enough that it could be covered with footsy socks or shoes. We made this decision because we didn't want it on an area that would be easily seen and we didn't want it under an area that would be covered with temple garments.

He nodded and said it would be $40 per person. Leah balked and ended up talking him down to $25 each. She was a tough chick!

We were getting ready to start when we remembered the ghetto blaster and the Bruce Springsteen tape in the car. One of us went and got it. I mean, if we're going to get a tatoo, we gotta do it to music. I think Leah was first, then Jan, and then me. The song that played during my tatoo was Glory Days. I tried not to cry because Leah and Jan hadn't cried but DANG, it hurt. I mean really really hurt. They use a mechanical thing that is a needle moving at incredible speed, injecting ink into your skin each time it comes down. It moves like 200 times a second or something like that--you can barely see the needle--but it basically felt like a quilting needle (blunt) heated until it was red being scraped through my flesh. It was horrible! We'd passed a guy getting a corpse tattooed on his calf. It was a two hour process for him. No way. I just don't have enough Harley in me to make that even remotely possible.

So we got our tattoos and felt as though we'd become blood sisters. The next week we took our tatoo artist some heart shaped sugar cookies. He smiled one of those nervous smiles you might give when someone hands you a little red pill you've never seen before and tells you to swallow it. His boss freaked when she learned he'd done a tattoo on a pregnant girl. He was happy to never see us again when we left that night.

I told my parents about my tatoo the next day, they gave me blank stares and said they were glad it wasn't a communist symbol or a skull and crossbones. Leah told her mom a few days later and her mom was really mad about it, but got over it. As of three years after the whole thing, Jan had managed to keep it hidden from her parents. She wore socks all the time and a band aid when they went swimming. I wonder if her parents know now.

A few months later, Lee came home from his mission. We started talking about marriage that night. A couple weeks after that, Leah got married and they moved in with his parents. She had a baby about two months later and made the veil for my wedding dress a couple months after that. Sadly, in the 15 years since my wedding I've seen her about six times. I haven't seen her at all for the last 13 years. Our lives were busy, and I wasn't always a great friend in the sense of supporting the people around me.

I still talk with Jan a little bit. We're not what you would call close, and mostly we just send Christmas cards and chat now and then. We're both married and have four kids. Once in awhile we'll get together and I'll think that we're going to build from there, but it just hasn't quite happened. I'm not upset about it and I don't blame either of us, it's just one of those things. Once Lee got home I was stuck to him like glue, I think all of my friends at that time felt a little abandoned and I can't blame them for that. We've all just moved on. Tatoos didn't do much to bind us to one another.

And as for my thoughts about that tattoo now, when I'm so much older and wiser. I'm pretty neutral about it. My husband hates it, my kids think it's cool--which scares me--yet it does showcase the girl I have been. I did fear I'd lose my independence when I settled down; I didn't feel ready to give that up even though being all grown up also what I wanted more than anything. My tattoo does remind me of those things. Whether or not that's a good thing to be reminded of is still up for interpretation. As for my feelings about tattoos in general--I don't recommend them because you can't change your mind. I mean, I guess you can, but tattoo removal is extremely expensive. The tattoo that cost me $25 to get, would cost about $800 to remove. The colors have faded and it looks washed out and more like I drew on myself. I have to have ongoing discussions with my kids on why tattoos are bad, and yet explain my own behavior in a way that doesn't make them say "Well, mom did, so it's okay". It's impossible to give that lecture and not feel like a hypocrite.

So, there you have it. My tatoo--for good or bad, it's part of who I am. Let's just hope my son doesn't one day come home with a naked hula girl on his bicep.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Josi's Favorites

So, Oprah does her favorite things show every year. Quite frankly it makes me nuts. I want all of it and feel so ripped off that I don't get a magical $5,000 in my bank account to make it so. Now Dr. Phil does it do. Just makes me crazy, but then I figured I'd just copy them and do my own favorite things that you can all salivate over and want it for themselves. Prepare yourself, people, cause life just ain't gunna be the same:


Top Seven Favorite things for Today (It might change tomorrow)

1) Hard Lamination. Now this isn't that wimpy super-flexible-can-still-be-bent lamination--oh now--this is the hard core lamination. This is Thick plastic--like credit card plastic--that protects your valuable words or pictures with superman-type-strength. You can get this at Kinko's or other copy places, it runs about $1.25 for an 8x10 and comes in set sizes from name badge to 11x14. Works great as a white board so is fabulous for chore charts and budget sheets.

See, you're drooling already.

2) Hamburger. I'm not talking Hamburgers, like the meat between sandwiches, I'm talking the pound by pound ground beef. Oh, the versatility of this food stuff! Tacos, BBQ's, stroganoff, sloppy Joe's, Shepard's pie, hamburger soup, gravy, and about a million kinds of casserole. Whoever came up with ground beef is a freaking genius. We bought a cow once--dead and butchered already--and the steaks and roasts and things sat there for months and months while the hamburger was quickly enjoyed. Oh yes, I do love hamburger--especially since it doesn't taste anything like chicken.

3) Red Pens. Red is a power color, it draws powerful energy to you and although it might wash you out when it's in shirt form--it is welded power when it's contained in a pen. I use red pens for editing, of course, but also for notes, calendars, to do lists, grocery lists, and drawing hearts on my kid's arms. It is vibrant and bright and hard to ignore, those red pens of mine, and I keep several on hand at all times. Felt tip is best.

4) Blogs without music. Now I realize some of you reading this are saying "What? my blog has music! Does Josi hate me?" Of course Josi doesn't hate you, but she hates your music and this is why. When Josi reads blogs she sits down and opens about 8 at once, then goes through them, reads, comments, etc. It's not THAT bad when only one of the eight has music, but it's usually three which my computer plays simultaneously. So I've got Celine Dion, Dixie Chicks, and Sting all trying to sing in unison--it does not work. And it aggravates me. Anything that aggravates me is not my favorite. I will still go to your blogs, and I will still love you, but I will pray that you will be enlightened and get rid of the music. If your blog does not have music, I is a happy girl!

5) Bio-35. This is a vitamin that, when taken regularly, makes me almost feel normal rather than an emotionally driven female that can not focus or think of ten happy thoughts. It's full of Vitamin B and does make your pee bright yellow, but that is forgiven because it allows me to smile. Smiling is good. Blog music is bad. You can find Bio-35 at Wal-mart and sometimes Smith's. I need to get some for my food storage because everyone will want to eat me first if I don't have my Bio-35 when we're all living on cream base and peanut butter.

6) Thick pillows. I've tried expensive ones, latex ones, and the cheap ones from the store--the cheap ones aren't any worse than the expensive ones. But I like a firm pillow that holds my head up. Now my sister--I won't name names but it starts with a C has an rysta in the middle and ends with an L (not to be confused with my sis-in-law who has the same name) has had the same pillow for about 20 years. The thing is an inch thick. I don't know how she sleeps on it or why. I need new pillows about every 4 months because they squish. And I am not happy with squished pillows.

7) Thrift Stores. No matter how much money I have to spent, I will go to a thrift store first. I love em! And I'm good at Thrift stores. You can't go in a hurry, and you can't go looking for something in particular, and you have to try on about 25 things to find one you like, but hey, you could end up with a pair of lucky jeans for $4 or a Billibong shirt for $2. It's a very good thing. We went to San Diego and I dragged my family to a thrift store. I found the cutest shirt and some jammies for my daughter. It was a good day.

And last but not least . . .

7) Rain. I absolutely love rain. I could never live in Arizona because it does not rain enough. I think I would do great in Seattle. Rain just makes me happy, and if I can't get real rain, a CD will do. We have a big metal barn and one of my favorite things to do is is go in it when it rains and the acoustics are overwhelming. Ahhhhh, just thinking of it makes me happy. One day I'm going to get aluminum awnings on my bedroom windows so I can hear every little plink. And the best part about rain is that it's free! Free is good.

So there you have it, my attempt to make you all feel small and covetous. Bwahhahahahahaha. However, you can have all things I've mentioned here for around $50--including the Lucky jeans and billibong shirt and Rain CD. Not bad, huh. Who needs Oprah?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Complicated, complicated

Anyone that knows me knows how much I LOVE complications. It just gives me the chance to shrug my shoulders and say, "Hey, it's a new adventure."

Whatever.

I hate complications. I hate it when things don't work. I take little satisfaction in fixing things that should not go wrong in the first place. I can't stand it when things go wrong, especially when it's my fault. With that, here is my day:

7:45--get up, eat, get kids syked for the race we're running in Tremonton today.
8:15--Wake up husband, make him eat breakfast, run around the house trying to find shoes while grumbling "Why can't you guys just put your shoes away when you take them off, then you'd know right where they are!" In my 15 years of motherhood I've said this about ninety-seven thousand times. You'd think they would figure it out!
8:45--Print of flier from internet about the race, quickly review the time and place. Herd kids to car.
9:20--Arrive in Tremonton (30 miles away) and decide RIGHT THEN (not half an hour ago) to read the details of the race. Notice it says November 10--not November 8. Shake my head and talk about how important it is to proofread. Idiots.
9:21--Pull up to the Senior Center where the race is supposed to begin only to find it surrounded by red ski netting and the whole building a pile of debris.
9:22--make husband drive to city park because of course that's where they moved the race to since the senior center is being demolished. Ignore questions on why they would put the senior center on the flier if they knew it was going to be demolished.
9:23--Go into the library to look for a notice about the race change of location. Their community bullitin board sucks and has no information.
9:25--Pull into a gasstation, buy a local paper, give have to the husband who finds out the race is on the 15th--next weekend. Look at my flier and realize it's from LAST YEAR!!
9:27--Head back toward home, trying to blame the city for keeping an old notice on their website. Explain to boy-child that he now has to go to dance practice.
9:37--Grind teeth as boy-child cries and tells us how much he hates dance.
9:40--Get boy-child to shut up by promising him a Slurpee.
9:42--Get youngest child to shut up by promising her a slurpee too.
9:50--Pull up to high school where dance rehearsal is supposed to take place.
9:52--Take boy child inside only to have him tell me that practice is at the dance studio today, they told him last week and he forgot to tell me alllll week as well as the last 15 minutes we've been discussing it in the car.
9:58--Drop still sulking boy-child off at dance studio.
10:05--Stop at 7-11 for water and potty break. We decided to go run at the high-school track rather than drive home while son goes to last hour of practice.
10:07--Wait behind an overweight family of 9 filling up on $30 worth of nachos, slurpees, donuts, pop, and hot dogs. They paid for it with food stamps. I had to scrounge up quarters to buy water bottles.
10:15--Get on track, stretch out, get ready to go only to have youngest child tell us she needs to go Pee. We JUST left 7-11. Husband and I exchange those looks that say "Why did we have children?"
10:20--I told husband to run, I'll take youngest child to a bathroom.
10:25--Sneek youngest child into high school swimming pool bathroom.
10:30--Return to track, run 1.75 miles while stewing in my own negativity.
10:50--Leave track to pick up boy child
11:00--pick up boy--I'm so ready to go home--and get reminded that we owe him a Slurpee which means we have to go BACK into Brigham City before going home.

Luckily--it got better once we got home and now I get to do yard work. Let's hope next week it goes a bit smoother.

Fast, but not Turkey Fast

When I was growing up, my dad let all of us kids know that in high-school we were required to do a sport. There was no if-ands-or-buts about it--we would all be athletes because athletes learn discipline and work ethic and it kept kids out of trouble. My oldest sister did track, which was what my dad did in high-school and what he coached now that he was a teacher. He was quite pleased, even more so that she went on to BYU where she earned her bachelor's degree in psychology. The next sister did Swimming, which my father approved of as well and she went on to get her teaching certificate and serve a mission in Chile. My dad went to Guatimala--so, yeah, she proved his point as well. I tried cross country as a sophmore until I heard about this thing called tendinitis where your tendons get inflamed and it's very painful. I then used this tidbit of knowledge to get out of cross country. See, you can't spot tendinitis on an x-ray. I hated running and pretty much all other sports as well and managed to have tendinitis long enough that I was unable to be on the cross country team. In my defense, I think I really did have it . . . at first.

Anyway, I then went on to prove my dad right--if you didn't do sports you got into trouble. My poor father. A man of such ideals that I single-handidly crushed. The sports thing was picked up again a few kids later, but I bucked the system and took on lame boyfriends and bad grades instead--go me! I got married not quite a year after graduating high-school (with a tattoo) and dropped out of community college.

And yet, here I am, twenty years later, and running. I've run here and there the last few years and am just non-athletic enough to be all kinds of impressed with myself when I hit milestones.

"I ran half a mile without puking, wahoo!"

"I ran a whooooooole mile! Someone buy me a cheeseburger!"

"I ran TWOOOOO miles without taking any performance enhancing medication--Just call me Jackie Joiner."

Because I have never accomplished much in the way of athletics, everything I do accomplish is like super-star--in my own mind anyway. I know I'm not fast and I know I'm not all that disciplined--but still. A girl's got to have pride in something and since my oldest two kids are teenagers now, I have a lot of failure-complexes to overcome.

Two weeks ago I ran my first 5K. I was so nervous. I had gotten to where I could run four miles as I trained for it (Yeah, FOUR) but I'd never run with anyone but my friend Tiffany. To run with a huge group, and many of them dressed in coordinated warm up suits--whew, can you say intimidation? So, imagine my self-celebration when I came in at 28:39--which meant I ran my miles at about 9 and a half minutes. DANG good stuff for me!

And just in case I'm not impressed with myself enough, my husband is shocked. I think this stems from comments I've made over the years like "Running sucks" and "I stop exercising when it hurts or I can't breath very good." Now, I'm sticking to a schedule and pushing myself. He likes it. He likes it so much he decided to run yesterday's race with me. After last week's mix-up neither of us were all that pumped for yesterday but we were very glad it wasn't snowing and so we went ahead and did it.

We drove about 30 miles north (again--see last weeks post if you missed out on that thrill) and participated in Tremonton's annual Turkey Trot. The first place winners in each age/gender category win a frozen turkey and the second place winners win a free pie. Lee talked about how great it was going to be when I won the turkey. I laughed. I might be delusional, but I'm not THAT delusional. Still, I let him live out his little fantasy cause it made me feel good anyway.

My goal was twofold--beat my time from two weeks ago and keep breathing. I am pleased to say that I accomplished both of them! I came in at 28:28--11 seconds faster than my first 5K--and I managed to breath the whole way. I also killed (that's when you pass someone) 8 other runners after the first mile, and yes I am counting that little nine year old girl at a mile and a half AND the lady pushing the stroller that I passed about 20 feet from the finish line. No one killed me. I came in ninth in my age division which was 25-38 and I was number 43 overall, out of about 85 people. I also beat my husband by almost 30 seconds.

Unfortunately, coming in ninth does not win a Turkey, but my daughter came in as the 2nd girl at 8:49 in the kid's 1 mile and won a pie. My son came in third with a time of 7:40. Maybe I need to start running with him.

So anyway, I have caught the bug. Brigham City has a Thanksgiving race and I'm determined to beat my time again. Both my youngest kids are pumped up at their success and want to keep doing it to. Lee is shrugging off. He really hates running.

And who knows, maybe I'll invest in one of those coordinated warm up suits one of these days :-)
Unfortunately, I have to buy my own Thanksgiving turkey--and I don't eat turkey. That's totally not fair, but whatyagunnado? Fast but not turkey fast--I guess I can live with that.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Catilogue Choice

You'll probably notice that I spelled catilogue wrong in the heading--well, that's me. I've always been a horrible speller and just for fun this post I'm not going to fix any of my spelling mistakes. I sometimes catch them, but then there are words like catilogue and colledge and buisness that just boggle my mind. I know they aren't spelled right, but I don't know why. Today you get to see my deficiency for what it really is.

But that's not the point of my post. My point today is the dreaded catilogue deluge that hits my mailbox this time every year. It truly makes me bonkers and I end up taking dozens of catilogues I have no interst in reading to the recycling bin. So, last month when I heard about Catilogue Choice I was thrilled. Catillogue choice is a company that basically sends cease and desist orders to catilogue companies on your behalf. And they do it for FREE. You go to their site, register and then start searching catilogue titles and marking your preference. It has spaces for you to enter customer numbers and source codes and things but if you're feeling lazy, like me, you just click on 'not available' and continue on. You can then 'view your choices' and see the catilogues you've entered and what the status is.

In just one month I have entered 41 catilogue titles into my catilogue choice account, requesting all of them to stop coming to my address. At least ten of those titles have sent me multiple catilogues in just 30 days. Can you imagine the kind of paper just my house is using up? It's really pathetic. Of the 41 I've entered, 17 are confirmed as having recieved my request and that they have canceled me on lists. 27 have not yet replied and the others are still processing (they are likely the ones I entered today). I'm a little annoyed that 27 of the companies haven't yet responded, and even more annoyed that several of them do not participate with catilogue choice, but nevertheless I'm doing what I can.



Here is me and the catilogues I've recieved since FRIDAY. Totally lame, huh?





So, if you don't use your catilogues and would like to cut down on those coming to your home, head on over to catilogue choice and sign up. Keep in mind it can take up to 10 weeks for the request to take effect, but 10 weeks will pass anyway.

have a great day.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Whitney Benefit Auction

Last year I had the incredible honor of winning the Whitney Award for my novel Sheep’s Clothing. It was certainly a pinnacle moment for me in my writing career to receive that kind of validation. This year, I asked to be a part of the Whitney Award Committee so as to do my part in the continued development of the program which is run completely on donated time and paid for by donated money. In order to be a member of the committee, I understood that any books I wrote that would be eligible for the Whitney Award 2008 would not be nominated. Truly, I am fine with this. Though I am very proud of Her Good Name and very much enjoying the positive reviews that have come back to me, I am equally relieved to remain a Whitney Winner ☺ If I can’t win, then I also can’t lose. And it’s been great to be behind the scenes on the committee decisions and be part of something I find so remarkable—the birth of an award that I believe will improve the writing in the LDS market and draw attention to LDS writers in every market and every publishing venue. It truly has been an honor.

But we need money.

Perhaps I’m tactless in saying that so bluntly, but hey, if you’ve read my blog before you’ll know that tact is not my middle name any more than is patient or sane. However, the Whitney Awards are not requesting straight donations this year (though we wouldn’t turn them down) but this year we put out a call for donations we could then auction off. The bidders get to shop, they get the chance to bid on tangible items, and the Whitney Awards get the funding they need to continue this program. We put out the call and the answer was astonishing. We have literally hundreds of books, many of which come with one of a kind additions from the authors, we have massages, and clothing, and chocolate and all kinds of things donated by individuals and companies that see the vision of the Whitney Awards and wanted to do their part. Annette Lyon was nothing short of a amazing as day after day she found more and more people that wanted to be a part of this. Kerry Blair blew my mind as she put it all together from her home. Truly, the efforts to make this auction a success is incredible. And, the best news is that it is now open to the public at http://www.whitneybenefitauction.com and will run for the month of November, with new auctions being added daily. Please, stop in and look around, do some Christmas shopping with the knowledge that by doing so gives a gift not only to your loved ones, but to the LDS writing community as a whole. Also, if you can put a link on your website and tell your blog readers about the auction, even more people can participate. This is very much a grass roots effort and campaign, and depends on the cyber community to get the word out.

If you have any questions, contact myself and I’ll do my best, or contact the queen of the auction herself, Kerry Blair at whitneyawards@ymail.com.

Right now there is an advertising spot for Writing Excuses, a fantasy podcast with 5,000 downloads a week, a manuscript edit, an autographed copy of Emma Burning, and Vinyl wall art that says “Home Sweet Home”. Happy shopping!

To add a graphic link to your sidebar, like you see here: (I hope this works by putting it here)

Go to Layout
Choose "Add a Gadget"
Choose "Html/java"
Paste the following code into the code section (only copy the text between the **):

**whitneybenefitauctionsrc="http://www.whitneyawards.com/auction1.jpg" title="whitneybenefitauction"/ />**



UPDATE: The code isn't working here on the blog so please contact me at kilpack@gmail.com and I'll e-mail it to you. Thanks!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My New Brain

So, after my computer crash, I got a new hard drive. Fresh and clean as a newborn baby--and empty of a great deal of information. I found an excel document where I had backed up my address list last February. It took a great deal of hard work on my part to get it into an importable format, but I did it (just don't ask me how because I won't remember). I imported it back into my e-mail program but lost all my group configurations. Today, I am spamming everyone in my address book to see if they want to be re-added to my mailing list. This is also allowing me to get rid of defunct addresses--hey, I'm looking for positives!

However, because this list was only up until last February, if you and I started communicated via e-mail since that time, you no longer exist in my new brain (much like the last 2 years of family pictures I also lost). If you would be so kind, would you e-mail me at kilpack@gmail.com. You don't have to pat me on the head or tell me dirty jokes to make me smile (name that song!) just an e-mail so I can add you to my address book which will now be backed up regularly along with the five family pictures I have off of my digital camera that I hadn't downloaded yet.

If you were on or would like to be on my mailing list, let me know in the e-mail and I'll add you to that group as well.

Thanks much,

Thursday, October 23, 2008

CRASH

On Sunday my hard drive crashed. I have a Mac that I fairly worship (as anyone who has heard me pontificate can attest) It's not supposed to crash. It's supposed to be celestial, alas--it is not. I had subscribed to a backup program several months ago, but cheaped out on the storage space and decided I only wanted to back up my documents.

NOT my photos
NOT my financial systems
NOT my e-mails
NOT my address book

Who needs family photos organized into months just waiting to be put into an online 2008 digital scrapbook, right? Who needs the 200 ward photos collected over the last year so that I can put together the ward DVD? Who needs to know what's been paid to whom for the coming tax season? Who needs the fan mail, registration reminders, passwords, recipes, etc that were saved in my numerous e-mail folders? Who needs the 300 email addresses I've spent six years compiling for my newsletter lists?

Apparently, I didn't value these things enough to take care of them. I had made no CD back ups, I had deleted all photos from my digital camera, I had not saved my address book as a document. They are gone unless by some miracle the tech at the store is able to salvage anything for the $80/hour data retrieval I'm taking my hold hard drive into for today. He told me not to hold my breath. I've spent the last 2 days trying to figure out the back up program and have managed to restore my documents. I'm very happy about that, but it doesn't take the pain of losing everything else away.

If it was only my computer that crashed, I'd be okay. I could just pick up and move forward--like I usually do. Mourn a little, rant about my ignorance, and work on getting over it. But someone I love very much emotionally crashed as well. I absolutely hate the feeling of helplessness and I'm being told that I have no responsibility in the personal issues that are pressing against me. I'm told that it's her problem. Well, if I have no responsibility then I'm helpless to help her. Kind of like my computer. I know I was ignorant and lazy in my backup practices--and now I'm paying for that. I'm learning to be more prepared. I can fix it in the future because I know I was irresponsible and I can fix that. However, if this problem she's dealing with isn't because of anything I've done or not done, then how can I do anything about it? I'm either responsible or I'm helpless--give me one of them so I know where I stand! As it is I feel impotent on every front, dependant on other people to help both sides of my melt down while I flutter around in the middle.

I wish I could sleep for the next two years, except that I'm getting old enough to know that though time heals all wounds, it continually brings new ones with it. I'd wake up just as battered.

However, I've learned a few things over the last few days:

1--Even when I yell at God he doesn't yell back, but most everyone else does
2--Having faith in inadequacy results in failure
3--Eye make-up is not for the emotionally unstable
4--Talking about things doesn't always help
5--Talking to therapists sometimes does
6--Home is only a happy place when the people in it are smiling
7--I can pretend to be fine even when I'm screaming inside
8--Alone in the car is the best place to cry
9--There are far worse things than computer crashes
10--Without the gospel none of it would be worth it--and sometimes it's hard to remember that the gospel helps that much. That's where testimony comes in handy--I know I know it even when I don't feel it.

The purpose of this post is to, well, throw a little self-pity and rediculous emotion into the universe I guess. The world always needs a little more of that, right?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Movie Reviews~The Duchess & Forever Strong


Lee and I went to the Duchess last night. It's rated PG 13, based on a true story, and stars Kiera Knightly (who I quite like). It's the story of Georgiana Something-or-other who became the Duchess of Devonshire in the last 1700's. The catch phrase I had heard was that "She could seduce everyone in England except her husband" this did not turn out to be the case. She was not a seductress or woman of questionable character, she was instead very bright, very engaging, and very admirable in many ways. The whole point of making a movie about her is because she was so remarkable, especially for that period of time. I happen to love Regency England, and so I loved many things about the movie--the dress, the cultural views, the intrigue of social class and I felt it was all very well portrayed and meshed well with the things I know of this time period. However, this is an adult movie. There are several bedroom scenes that, although not graphic, are very 'clear' on what is happening. There are adult themes of mistresses, infidelity, illegitimate children and all such things you can pretty much expect of a marriage based on nothing more than power, inheritance, and social standing. There were several very gripping and heartbreaking scenes as you watch a young woman of ideal and optimism realize that she does not live in a fairy tale and she never will. It was a powerful reminder of how grateful I am to live in the day and time and circumstance I do. Equality is an amazing thing and although I wouldn't call myself a feminist, perhaps it took women of that kind of aggressive zeal to save the rest of us from the powerless existance so many women lived in without chance of recourse. There was on scene that had me grinding my teeth--reminding me very well that Hollywood (or BBC films) is still behind this story. It's a scene about 1/3 way through the movie where the Duchess's freind is trying to show the Duchess that intimacy can be pleasurable. It didn't too too far, but it was too far in my opinion. Nothing graphic, but sensual between two women and completely gratuitous since it was not necessary to make the point. Scenes like this really chap me--and I'll be writing someone a letter to tell them so. They will probably laugh at me, but the film itself was so well done and powerful--to have thrown that in was like an onion in my fruit salad! There is also female back nudity where a maid is running from the Duke's bedchamber--also unnecessary but without the sensuality of the other scene. All in all, in case you can't tell, I really liked this film but I will probably never own it because it's not one I'd want my kids to watch. It's very much about sex and how it related to adult relationships of this era.




Forever Strong is also based on a true story, is very different from The Duchess, and a great family movie. I believe it's rated PG. It's about a young man who plays rugby on his high-school team in Arizona where his dad is coach. He is on a bad path and ends up sent to Juvenile Detention in Utah where the head of the Detention center realizes his skill at Rugby and gets him on the Highland High School team, the ongoing national champion and nemesis of his old team and his father. The Highland High Rugby team is coached an amazing coach whose name I can't remember. The story follows the transition of this troubled boy as he is coached in Rugby, and life, by the high ideals and genuine compassion of this coach. This is, I believe, a local film and yet you would never, ever guess it. It was very well scripted, very well acted, and wonderfully filmed. They have fabulously done rugby shots, and it is one of, if not, the best filmed 'local' movies I've ever seen. Not only that, the filming and acting beat the socks off many sports based movies that have been released nationally. We took our kids to see this for family night and we all really liked it. It has a great message, but you don't lose the story in it. If it's showing in your area (Utah) please take the chance to see it so it can be well supported. It hasn't had a lot of marketing and such but is really really well done. Unlike some other local films, this isn't something you would do as a favor to the film maker, to support local companies, you would be doing to get a great experience. Believe me, it will be worth the $$ and the time. This is one I will definitely buy as soon as it's released. You can watch a trailer about it here. I believe it's been in theaters a couple weeks so it might not be there much longer. It was directed by Ryan Little, who I think I went to high-school with if he had a twin brother named Chad (I think). That would be a cool little coincidence if it was true so if you know whether Ryan Little attended Olympus high-school and graduated in 91, let me know.

Anyway, there's my thoughts. Have a great weekend.