Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Real Dad

So my dad is a therapist, and a good one. It was nice to have one on hand for all of those traumatic, hormonal teen years. I was always a daddy's girl-absolutely adored him-and probably still am, truth be told. Today is his birthday and I'm thinking about an experience that's taught me something about parenting.

I am the oldest of five kids, and when I was a teenager, naturally, I slept in. One of those Saturdays, my dad decided to take my younger siblings downtown on the bus, because they'd never ridden it before. (I, of course, opted to sleep in instead.) The story goes as follows, and I wish I would have witnessed it personally. They took the bus downtown, ate some breakfast, had to run to catch a connecting bus, for which my dad was glad because everyone should have the experience of having to run for the bus, and had a grand old time riding around town. My younger sister, who was probably 10 at the time, said, "Dad, today you're being a REAL dad."

We all laugh about that, and as a therapist and professor of Child and Family Studies, my dad often reflected on that whole "real dad" concept. In my sister's mind, the extra time spent doing something fun made for such a rich experience.

It's easy to get stuck in the rut of daily, mundane duties that must be done. The dishes and laundry don't do themselves, the toys won't pick themselves up, etc. But there are those times when I play a board game with my son or hang out with my daughters that make for the "real mom" moments. It doesn't have to involve a lot, or any, money. What it does require is time. That can be hard, unless you carve it out of an already full day, and make it a priority, even if only for a short time.

Happy Birthday to my dad, who is amazing and wonderful and such a Real Dad. Love you much.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What is it about mornings?

So Jules drops off Alex this morning and two minutes later, knocks on the door again. She stands there looking at me for a minute and then says, "Nevermind." She was going to ask for a diaper wipe because she sat in Alex's juice in the car, but then realizes the damage is too extensive and she'll have to go home and change. As she turns around to leave, I see an enormous wet spot. I figure it is an omen for the morning.

I go to wake up Gunder, who has had Too Much Thanksgiving. (See the Berenstain Bears Too Much Birthday.) He is still trying to recover from the freedom and unabashed joy of vacation from school and he is losing the battle. He has a hard time getting up, and my gentle prodding and kisses on his cheeks aren't doing it. I realize I'm not going to be able to bribe him every day, like I did yesterday, with a new toy if he'll just get moving and be a big boy. I'll go broke, and have one extremely spoiled kid. Well, more spoiled, anyway.

The clock is ticking, so I finally drag him downstairs with a blanket where he sits on the couch, rolled up in a ball. He migrates to the heater vent and I try to muscle him into his clothes. He screams that they're too cold to put on, and I feel an aneurysm coming on because the heat is blasting me in the face and I'm ready to Vesuvius. I ponder on the fact that I should have started waking him up about two hours earlier.

I get myself dressed, and looking at the cold and snow outside, decide to put on my snazzy new black boots. The only problem is that the teenage girls have informed me that I need to tuck my pants into them. I have told them that all my jeans are boot cut, that I don't wear skinny jeans, a fact for which they should thank me daily. They tell me to peg the boot cuts. I've already done the pegging. It was in the 80s when I was on the cutting edge of fashion.

With a shrug, I peg the pants. It looks...passable. I've cooled off, now that I'm no longer standing in the heater vent's direct line of fire, and realize I need a sweater. I throw on the Mrs. Weasley sweater Nina makes fun of, and a baseball cap because my hair is atrocious. I avoid the scarf, which I love, but generally makes me gag in the morning. (Thank you, Grandma Campbell, for the lovely genes.)

Gunder doesn't want his usual apple or Gogurt for breakfast, and Alex suggests cinnamon toast, to which Gunder reluctantly agrees. By now, it's five minutes away from departure and Gunder is still missing socks and shoes. I make the toast and throw it at the boys, stuff Gunder's feet into his socks and shoes, turn around to grab the coats only to realize that Gunder has kicked off his shoes because his feet "feel weird."

I sit on the couch with an inhuman growl and tell him it's just the socks bunching up. He tears up a little and says he's sorry, and I look at his puffy, bloodshot eyes and my heart breaks. I want to tell him he never has to go to school again, that I'll homeschool him and that no woman in the world will ever love him more than his mother. Instead, I kiss him, rub his face a little, and then shove his feet back into the shoes. I tell him that when he walks, he won't notice the socks. (Which we all know is a lie.)

We get out to the car, and it's, oh, 9 degrees outside. Yesterday, Mark cleaned off my car and warmed it up for me before he left for work. Today there's no new snow, and I'm sure he figured I could manage the warming up part by myself. He didn't take into account the fact that I, also, have had Too Much Thanksgiving.

Gunder shivers as he tries to buckle himself in while I get Alex into his carseat. Alex tells me he's hot, and I tell him he isn't. He insists he's hot, and I look at his red cheeks, realizing he probably is. The kid has an inner furnace like no other. Being hot makes him livid. By now, Gunder is shivering so much he's getting a good workout. He has zero body fat.

We pick up Jonas, and I put him and the carseat into the way back by Gunder, because the three of them don't like being squished together in the middle row. Check that. GUNDER doesn't like being squished in the middle row. As I buckle Jonas in, the fumes from the exhaust make their way into the car, and the boys all begin to gag. I tell them to stop it. At least it's warm.

My snazzy new boots are useless against the cold. They are content being just snazzy.

Gunder's mood improves as we get underway. Jonas tells him jokes and Alex is singing some ditty about farm animals. The line at the school is about 20 miles long. I tell the boys to sit tight and we make our way to the drop off point in front of the school. Rather than slow traffic further, I tell the boys to get ready to unbuckle and climb over the seat to the middle row, where they can open the door themselves and get out. They laugh themselves silly, which escalates to cackling and then maniacal screaming as they flail about, arms, legs and backpacks everywhere.

They stumble and fall out of the car, with Alex calling for Gunder to tell him goodbye. Gunder tries to slam the door, but a Huggies diaper wipe container is in the way. He throws the container back in while I yell at him to tell Alex goodbye. He shuts the door with a quick, "Goodbye, Alex!" and he and Jonas walk to the door together like the cool 6 and 7 year-olds they are.

On the way home, Alex drops his toy car and has a meltdown, wanting me to get it for him RIGHT NOW. I pull into the Conoco drive-up window and order a 44 oz decaff Diet Coke, cursing the fact that I have a psychological addiction to a cold beverage. I am grateful, however, that it is void of calories, otherwise I would be as wide as a barn door. At least I've kicked the caffeine, which makes my heart a-fib. My sister who works at the hospital tells me it's not actually a-fibbing, it's PVCs, which does me no good because all I can visualize with that are white plastic pipes.

We finally make it home, and when we get inside, Alex proves he has assimilated himself well by following in the fine Allen tradition of FREAKING OUT if something isn't working well. He can't get his coat off, and I did mention he hates being hot? He also has a spot on his pants which makes me nervous because he's been battling some nasty diarrhea the last few days.

All because Julie sat in the juice. ;-)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Some things you CAN take with you...

This week, I am grateful for books. Well ok, I’m always grateful for books. I am, without a doubt, a nerd of the first order, but as I know a lot of other people who love to read and writ--and I do hold them in high esteem--I figure I’m in good nerd company.

The reason it’s coming to mind so readily now, however, is because of a quote by Richard G. Scott that I came across a few days ago: “After this life, you will be restored to that which you have here allowed yourself to become.” This is wonderful—after we end our journey here, we will be restored to what we’ve worked on. Basically, it sounds to me like we get to pick up where we left off.

I’ve often heard the quote that runs something along the lines of “you can’t take it with you when you go,” and I’ve always taken that as two-fold. One, the physical trappings here on earth don’t amount to much when we’re dead, and two, since all I can take with me when I go is what I’ve managed to put into my head, I’d better stuff it as full as possible.

Enter real life. Life has a way of intruding on the best of intentions, and the time slips by more quickly every day. I tell myself I’m going to learn about this or that, make a study of some author I’ve been meaning to get to, and it just doesn’t seem to happen. But as much as I do love books, there are lessons to be learned from those real-life experiences that suck up all of our time. I figure if I can somehow sandwich in book time with living, I should be good to go.

This is such a fun time of year, and it’s a blessing, really, to take the time to actually count our blessings and be grateful for what we have. My list this year could probably stretch on for pages, and I think, in fact, that that’s exactly what I’ll do. I’m going to make a list of every little thing I am thankful for and see how long the list stretches.

I challenge you to do the same! Have a wonderful, wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


My new cover! I have permission to spread it far and wide. This is my tenth novel, Isabelle Webb, The Pharaoh's Daughter. The release date is January, 2011, and for readers who were mad that there was so much time between this one, and Legend of the Jewel, you'll be happy to know that I'm working on the third and final book as we speak. I have no clue what the title is- for now I'm calling it Isabelle Webb, Crazy in Greece. :-)

So excited!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday morning dawns bright and chaotic.

So Julie arrives here at 7:20 with Alex in tow. Says he might have thrown up a bit in his bed while coughing last night, and his hair might smell like it. Ok, bye!

Gunder wants to stay in bed. He has huge circles under his eyes which makes me feel like a horrible mother.

I realized last night that before I made carpool arrangements with Peggy that I'd told Wendy I'd take her boys to school this morning. Not a big deal, but it bumps Jonas's pick-up time up about 10 minutes.

Alex has been riding in Gunder's car seat, and Gunder has been riding in the adult seat, which is very horrible of me. So I get Alex's car seat out of the garage and muscle it into the car- after having a massive tug-of-war with Gunder's car seat, which has been securely hooked into the metal things behind the seat. Safety and all.

Gunder is inside eating goldfish crackers for breakfast, because that's all he wants. I hurry him along, put on the shoes that are too small (but I don't beat myself up on this one too much because he has an identical pair that are the right size...somewhere) and drag him into the bathroom where I shove his head into the sink and wet his hair down. He screams and I yell that it's just a little water, for crying out loud.

I comb his hair back so he looks like a gangsta from the 20s. His sisters, who have already left for school, would be mortified. I am glad they're not here to see it.

I remember I've already put Alex in the car and hurry Gunder out the door after slapping the correct size of shoes on his feet. Forget to brush his teeth, which is now making me cringe. He's sitting in school with fuzzy teeth. He's a fuzzy-toothed gantsta. But at least I remembered to wash his clothes last night and did get them ironed this morning.

We pick up Kord and Kade, who are looking clean and scrubbed, if somewhat tired. They climb into the car, and I let Kord sit in the front because he's now 13 and the airbag won't kill him if it deploys. Kade climbs into the middle by Alex, and I explain to the boys that he didn't really just throw up, it only smells like it. Yum. Going to school first thing in the morning in a car that smells like barf.

Gunder is sitting in the way-back, and we pick up Jonas, who joins him on his own little booster seat. Peggy is gracious about the fact that it's actually closer to 8 now, rather than the 7:50 I texted her about in a panic last night at 10:30. Gunder and Jonas are Kindergarten and 1st grade, respectively, and they begin telling knock-knock jokes that involve bananas, monkeys, eyes, noses...I draw the line when they begin peeing. I tell Kord that he should remember some of those awesome jokes to tell his friends. He looks at me with a half-smile and rubs his hands together, clearly cold because the windows are cracked to clear out the barf smell.

As we near the older boys' school, Kord tells me he hopes they go to the park and not rock climbing today because he forgot to have his mom sign the release for rock climbing and he really wants to go. Wendy and I have been the closest of friends for years, and I remember when Kord was born. I figure that makes us close, and I offer to sign the release form for Wendy- we both have pretty handwriting- so he can rock climb if it turns out that's what they're doing today. He looks dejected. The release form is in his locker, and I have given him only enough time to get to class before the bell rings. He can't run the form back out to me to sign, and besides, I'm not altogether certain he's comfortable with the idea anyway.

I drop off Kord, remind him to tuck in his shirt (The kids all wear uniforms. I know. We're mean moms.) He says he will and leaves. I swing around to drop Kade off at the intermediate building, where he hops out of the car without a backward glance, likely relieved to be away from barf-boy, who calls him "Cave."

I swing down the street to drop the little guys off at the elementary building. Jonas is telling Gunder something I can't hear because Alex heard "Life is a Highway" playing on the radio and wanted me to turn it up louder. ("Mack and McQueen!") I hear Gunder telling Jonas, "Well, that's a rip-off!" Jonas looks at him like he's from Mars. Gunder says, "They used the wrong building plans, then!"

I am too tired to sort it out, curious though I am. I pull into the congested side-street next to the school and help the boys get out of the back. I help Jonas down, which seems to offend him very much. I try to help Gunder down but he tells me he can do it himself. He jumps down and I barely get a kiss. They take off running for the front door, backpacks flying, with me yelling at them to be good and remember the rules. If I thought they were old enough to be embarrassed by it, I'd also yell for them to look forward to scripture study after school. This works great with my girls.

I maneuver my way out of the obnoxious SUV zoo in my obnoxious SUV and head for home. Pick up a Diet Coke on the way, and when Alex asks for a Sprite, I tell him we need to be healthy and I'll give him a glass of water at home. When we pull into the driveway, he talks me out of going for a walk. He says he doesn't want to, and frankly, neither do I.

We turn on Dora, which he unfortunately loves these days, and I slice him an apple to eat with his goldfish crackers. He also wants some cinnamon toast, and I feel good about the fact that at least one of the little boys got a fairly good-size breakfast this morning.

I slice myself some strawberries to go with my divine Diet Coke, proud that I'm eating strawberries and not Doublestuff Oreos for breakfast. Just to make sure I don't feel too good about myself, though, I sprinkle a little sugar on top of them. Humility is a virtue, after all.


Friday, September 10, 2010


Bittersweet heart today- my daughter, Nina, is on the mend. She's had a nasty bout of viral pneumonia and is finally on the upswing. We're glad, because she's begun her senior year and starting her final high school swim season. Well, that's not the only reason we're glad she's getting better, but it's important.

I'm looking forward to the meets, long as they are, because I often get to sit with Wendy and yak up a storm, something we are both very good at. I also like the down time away from the little boys, darling as they are. Most of the time, meets are fun for me. (Except the one last year at Viewmont- I had a head cold and thought I was going to implode between the noise and all the chlorine in the air. That and the fact that I suddenly looked at my beautiful daughter's beautiful stroke through the water and thought to myself...Hey, wait a minute! I don't want her to get a scholarship somewhere. I don't want her to move away from me. I want her to stay forever in my house, leaving her stuff all over the place and staying up way too late, clanking her dishes around in the kitchen and making her dad and I wonder if we should just come right out and tell her she needs to get to her room for the night so we can at least make out in peace.)

Anna is fun and is getting more fun, more tender, more responsible as the days go by. We are enjoying her so much. By the time she's ready to leave home, I'm sure I'll find it a struggle to keep that stiff upper lip stiff.

And yet today, I have the word "Love" written on my arm in pink ink with a heart around it in tribute to suicide awareness week and in honor of my friend, Catina, who lost her daughter to suicide last year. I am in love with my daughters, and I ache for Catina. And yet I also am so glad that Catina has her sweet Antonio and Maia, that motherhood still keeps her busy. As I looked at my arm a while ago, the ink got all blurry and I felt my eyes burn. Strange. I thought I had cried all my tears for Abbey last year when it happened.

Our souls are eternal. Love is eternal. Our Heavenly Parents and Savior are eternal. We lift each other, and sometimes we are the ones who need lifting. And don't we all have people in our lives for whom we would gladly take all the pain? I suppose that when we hurt for other people we aren't necessarily lightening their load, but perhaps there is comfort in commiseration, in companionship. It takes a village, that I firmly believe, and not only to raise a child, sometimes just to make it through life as an adult.

I'm grateful for my village and all the wonderful people in it. I'm glad for moments that cause me to reflect on it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tony Blair, Tom Brady, the Kardashians and Mother Teresa

So I am a stay-at-home with a writing career sandwiched on the side. I have two daughters in high school, a son in Kindergarten (and believe it or not, he was planned!) and I babysit my 2-year-old nephew during the day. It's a busy life, kind of polar-opposite ends of family stages with two girls almost graduated and two little guys just starting out, but odd as it is, I love it.

My tv is set, by default(when we're not watching Diego or those obnoxious Fresh Beats) to HGTV or MSNBC. I find them both comforting. Today I was in the mood for news, and I listened passively while I cleaned up Top Ramen and my husband's deadly salsa from last night. ("Honey, it won't be that hot, really." "But Mark, the label on the chilies says 'Mojave'...")

So anyway, I was listening to the news and a story about Tony Blair's new book came on. Turns out there've been protests wherever the man wants to sign his book, and he even had to cancel the launch party. People are angry. But the book is FLYING OFF THE SHELVES. Which really just goes to show, there is no such thing as bad publicity. Makes me wonder if I would mind people throwing eggs and crap at me as long as they bought my books in droves. Unfortunately I have just enough George Costanza in me to not handle it at all well. ("People HAVE to like me!")

From there, we went into a story about Tom Brady getting in a wreck today (?) that was bad enough for the other driver to have to be extracted with the jaws of life. I didn't catch who was at fault- presumably the other guy- but what cracked me up was the footage later of Brady at football practice. "...And here he is, shortly after the wreck, at practice..." Makes me think of how funny it is that people are in wrecks every day but only famous ones make it into the news. Duh, you say, and I know. But just imagine this: "This is John Doe- he was in an accident today and the other driver had to be extracted with the jaws of life. Now here we see John, later that same day, at work in his office. Making an important phone call, seems to be doing well, will probably make it for the board meeting scheduled for Friday at 2:00..." Maybe that makes no sense at all- and it looks weird now that I've written it, but man, it seemed funny at the time.

From here I jump back a few weeks to me standing in line at the grocery store. On the cover of a magazine was a pic of the Kardashian sisters, all kinds of torqued at each other for one weighing more than the other. Next to them on the magazine rack was a picture of Mother Teresa in a magazine issue commemorating her life. I'm sure I don't have to belabor the point too much for you to see where my thoughts took me. Where is the true beauty?

Life is funny and full and wonderful and hard and divine. I love this time of year- love getting out the harvesty-colored table cloths and decor. I love planning Halloween costumes with the kids. I love getting the sweaters back out and smelling the air when the temperatures start to change and you know summer is on its way out and fall is coming in.

So here's to Tony Blair- may you sell many books and effectively dodge rotten eggs. I suspect history will be kinder to you than the present is. Here's to Tom Brady- throw that ball for all you're worth, and good luck to John Doe in his Friday board meeting. To the Kardashians, I say I forgive you for leaching my brain cells out of my ears every time I look at the lot of you, and to Mother Teresa, I smugly and yet humbly admit I'd rather be like you than much of Hollywood.

Except the guys in Rush! (Not Limbaugh, the rock band.) Saw a documentary on VH1 classics that has made me a fan even beyond what I already liked about their music. But that's a rave for another day...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Life in the OT: What's a Girl to Do?

I'm currently teaching Gospel Doctrine in my ward. I was called toward the end of last year, so essentially have been teaching Old Testament since the beginning of the calling.


I've been so intimidated that I've done a mountain of research for each lesson because I know there are people in the class who know the scriptures a lot better than I do, and I don't want to get it wrong.

I've learned lots of things so far. One of the things I've come to appreciate the most is an understanding of the social life and traditions of the people in the OT. Some things have seemed so bizarre to me until I've done a little digging and have been able to figure out why the people behaved the way they did.

Our God, in His infinite wisdom, allows us to structure our societies as we see fit. Many times they are fraught with inequalities, silliness and cruelty. Ignorance. But He allows it because He promised He would. It's one of His many gifts. Agency.

That agency, however, led to some wacky beliefs contained in the Old Testament that have me often shaking my head. For centuries, for example, women were valued very little and then mostly for their reproductive capabilities. So much of their identities were tied up in whether or not they were able to bear children, and then hopefully male children. (Don't ask me what they were thinking- I'm not sure how long they planned to have the species continue to perpetuate itself without the birth of girl children, but hey. What do I know.)

The OT peoples also knew of the coming of a promised messiah. Women of Israel hoped that He would be born through their lines, so not only was there pressure to bear children, there was also this hope that they would be the ancestor of the Savior. It's a lot of pressure, and dependent largely upon the luck of the biological draw.

There are stories, however, that jump out at me as incredible. We just finished covering Ruth, and I LOVED researching her story. She is amazing, and I love her. Naomi, also, I would like to count as a friend. Their friendship is lovely and inspiring. And Ruth was able to have a son when she married Boaz, so lucky girl, her worth went up several notches in the eyes of the locals. Even Naomi's friends were happy for her when Ruth gave birth. (Their comments of adulation went something along these lines: "Yay! Now Naomi again has a reason to live! A grandson!")

All snarkiness aside, I understand the desire for motherhood. I count among my blessings the fact that I've not known the pain of being unable to have babies. I do not take this blessing for granted. One of the things I can relate to when I think of these ancient women is the desire for children and the joy when they arrive. (Funny- we're not often told of how they handled the teen years...)

My daughters are 17 and 15, my son is 5. They have caused me tears of anger and frustration and tears of unabashed joy. I'm grateful to live in a time where my intellect is valued over the functionality of my uterus, however, and I'm grateful to learn of these people who lived so long ago and lived lives of faith and hope despite their various challenges.

Kind of like we do today, really.

And as a side-note: if you're looking for some mothers and families to offer a quick prayer for, check this link.

Moms who could use a prayer or two.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Adventures of Gunder and Alex

Ah, Monday morning. It dawns early and inevitable. I like to think that in a few years, they'll opt for sleeping in as opposed to getting up and putting buckets on their heads.

We also made tortillas today, and they were so helpful.

We might try bread tomorrow. :-)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

She Drives!

Nina has her driver's license! It's official. She can now drive legally down the street without Mark or me in the car with her. She's happy and we're happy. Now I can send her to Conoco to get me a Diet Coke.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Observations from 13.1 miles

So I just ran my first half marathon. I observed some things along the way.

1. I should have gone ahead and used the porta-potty after crossing the start line. It seemed so prosaic, though, to enter a green outhouse just after beginning my first-ever race.

2. I think I managed to stay ahead of the three octogenarians with the walking sticks.

3. Vanilla Bean Gu, while not necessarily tasty, did not make me vomit. In fact, just as I was to the point where I was thinking I needed to eat something, there it was in the hands of an angelic volunteer like a beacon in the night. Oh good, come to me you gelatinous packet of crap.

4. Vanilla Bean Gu contains caffeine, which I suspect helped stave of the headache I usually get if I haven't had a vat of Diet Coke by about 8:30 a.m.

5. There are many different sizes and shapes of butts. At first, I confess I was mildly concerned about how I looked from the back as people passed me. By mile 11.5, I didn't care what they were looking at.

6. My son drew a happy face on my hand to help me think of him while I was running. Unfortunately, every time I looked at the happy face, I remembered a conversation he had with my daughter when we drove the course the week before:
Anna: I know, Mom. I'll get my bike and hide halfway down the canyon. Then I can join you.
Gunder: I have a better idea, Mom. Stay home.

7. Freddie Mercury makes a wonderful running companion. Were he not dead and gay (and I not married) I might just pursue him.

8. Mark was right--there were people wearing garbage bags for warmth. My guffawing father and I owe him an apology.

9. By the finish line, my fingers were the size and shape of Johnsonville Brats. We could have cut them off and had a bbq.

10. It may be possible, but I highly doubt there's a more beautiful course anywhere.

11. Grant Avenue stretches out in some funky twilight zone fashion between 21st and the finish line at 25th. The more you run, the farther away it gets.

12. It's the most amazing feeling in the world to see familiar faces along the side and hear them cheer. And hoping you're not so tired that you look like an absolute fool.

13. Even though my sister had to not run last minute because of a migraine, I still kept her close by wearing her jersey instead of mine. Plus, hers was a small and my medium was too big.

14. Roughly 140 people in my age group finished ahead of me, yet my husband made such a fuss over me that I felt like I'd beaten everyone, even the tight-muscled Vitruvian man-looking full marathoners that passed me halfway down the canyon.

15. I love my husband.

16. My dad and sister and three kids were at the finish line. It was overwhelming and awesome.

17. I have a medal now!

18. My brother-in-law and high school buddy just ran the full Salt Lake marathon in the same time it took me to go half that distance. I totally don't know where I was going with this and am getting depressed. Next!

19. I loved every single minute of this experience. Absolutely loved it. I ran/walked thirteen miles of my favorite spot on earth. It was divine and wonderful and so much fun. My wholehearted thanks to Catina, who talked to me about doing it, and my husband who overheard and then gave me the paid registration for Christmas in a new pair of running shoes.

20. Please, please bless that when I'm an octogenarian I'll have the wherewithal and physical ability to be doing a half marathon with walking sticks.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Right now

The house is quiet- the hum of the dishwasher is the only sound. Gunder is in bed for the night. Hopefully he will stay there until morning. If he does, Mark will buy him a Slurpee- banana and pina colada mixed. Nina is with a friend, Anna is babysitting for Amy.

Gunder went with my parents today to the planetarium in Salt Lake to watch the 3-D Imax Hubble/space movie. He had such a good time, and to boot, came home with a dinosaur that TRANSFORMS. And when it transforms, it has Optimus Prime's face. This is a very big deal.

The girls cleaned their bedrooms- they look absolutely spotless, which is probably the worst possible thing they could have done. Now I know what they're capable of.

My next book is scheduled for January 2011 release, and I'm thrilled about that. Even better, the revisions I'll be doing on it are wonderful suggestions from reviewers and my editor- things I agree with wholeheartedly and I did not feel an ounce of defensiveness over the changes/additions that need to be made. It will be that much better of a book.

I finished knitting a hat that my daughter LIKES and is wearing. And my other daughter wants one like it, now.

I ran three miles tonight and am not dead. This is also a very big deal.

I have siblings who are my best friends and best friends who are my best friends. I am so happy in my realm right now. I wouldn't be anywhere else. The only thing I would change would be to move my brother and Salt Lake sister into the neighborhood. I would like to see them daily.

I have sweet parents who still check on me, even though I'm 40. My father-in-law was just called to be a Patriarch. Heaven willing, he will still be around when it's time for Gunder's blessing.

My husband works from sunup to sundown when he'd rather be chillin at the beach. He came to the desert to get me, and I'm so glad.

I am overwhelmed at my blessings. My little life is so complete. I have so much, and I am so grateful. Could be I'm feeling especially blessed because it's so quiet right now. It's moments of reflection like these, though, that give me energy for when life is hectic.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Right now I love...

Right now I love:

*The "Cinderella" poops Gunder made with his Aunt Syd, Uncle Scott and his sisters
*A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
*The hat I'm knitting. Hopefully it will fit Nina's head.
*The book I'm getting ready to revise with my editor.
*The book I'm researching.
*My shiny kitchen sink, thank you Fly Lady.
*My Runner's World magazine. Makes me feel like the real deal.
*My 5-year-old baby that gets bigger by the day.
*My 17 and 14-year-old babies that make me crazier by the day.
*My husband who asks me if I want to throw down when I'm mad at him.
*Spring! Oh, sweet, glorious spring. I think I love you the most!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Weight loss, Corey Haim, Marie Osmond and terrorism

So I gained about 10 pounds when last fall rolled around. I remember the exact moment when my control snapped and I flipped backward spectacularly into my old mindset. I made Halloween cookies for Gunder to give to his preschool friends. Sugar cookies and the most sinfully delectable frosting ever known. I SNARFED.

Then Thanksgiving hit. Ate more than I should. Then Christmas happened, and people like us so much they kept giving us treats. All of which I ate.

The good news is that I'm on the rebound, am running to try to train for a half marathon that my sweet husband signed me up for as a Christmas gift, and I'm down 3pounds. Only another 7 to get to the point where I was when I had wanted to lose another 10 by Christmas. ;-)

In other news, I see that Corey Haim has died. An incon of my teen years. In the words of my friend and facebok pal Erin, "RIP Corey Haim, you weirdo."

I read about Marie Osmond's tearful return to the stage yesterday, and I have to applaud her and all others who do their best to continue with life after the tragic loss of a loved one, especially a child.

Also came across this article on CNN, which I loved. Gives perspective to the fact that not only "those Muslims" are terrorists.

In other news, The Teen Writers Conference 2010 is fast approaching! If you know a teen who likes to write, send that wonderful person here. I will be presenting and am coordinating the writing contest. There will be tons of other cool authors there--it's really not to be missed!!

Happy Tuesday to one and all. :-)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Toyota, Black Mamba and The Pants!

I've been watching the news and reading the paper with interest lately. Here's some of what has stuck out to me:

*The suit that O.J. Simpson wore when he was acquitted is going to be offered to the Smithsonian. My sincere hope is that the Smithsonian will say, "No, thank you."

*Toyota is being raked over the coals, among other things, for failure to alert the public for possible problems with their cars. Now GM is doing a recall on cars that may not steer well when driving under 15 miles an hour. Presumably, this will make the most-accidents-happen-within-two-miles-from-home statistic skyrocket. I'm thinking I should invest in a tandem bicycle for my family of 5. Might make school carpooling a bit of a challenge...

*My kids' school district sent home a notice that "Black Mamba" is now being banned from the schools in spite of the fact that it's not a illegal substance. Yet. Supposedly it has the same properties as marijuana. Now, I may not be remembering correctly and I threw the paper out, but I believe it can be burned as incense. Methinks school attendance would triple if teachers were allowed to use this in the classroom. ;-)

*The Norwegian Curling team's pants. Oh, how I loved those pants! The daily Facebook updates were a joy. I am a solid one-half Norwegian; I claim a special affinity to the pants.

*Lindsey Vonn is too unbelievably cute. Shouldn't be allowed.

*Kim Yu Na is the most amazing thing on ice I've ever seen and was a joy to watch. I did so with my mouth hanging open.

*Joannie Rochette is a beautiful example of grace and perseverance under extreme pressure and grief. What a lady. And a strong one.

*Gerald Imber wrote a book on William Halsted, America's "first" surgeon, entitled Genius on the Edge. In the book, Imber talks about how in the early days of anesthetic during dentistry, cocaine was used as a local. Um, yeah. Something tells me people didn't mind going to the dentist in those days. ;-) On a more serious note, though, the book looks absolutely amazing and I'll be buying it soon. Here's a link, if you're interested.

*First Haiti, then Chile. I am mindful of the fact that I live, literally, on a fault line. My home was built in the 40s. I hope to be able to find a sturdy doorway that will shield me...otherwise, please remember me fondly. (And may it not happen until both of my daughters are paramedics. I like to think of them as rescuers.)

*The Ogden Temple is going to receive a facelift over the next couple of years. I am ok with this, because the original design of the building has been totally botched, anyway. The architect designed the Provo and Ogden temples to be symbolic of the Lord leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. They were led with a "cloud by day" and "pillar (of fire) by night." The body of the temple's building itself was to represent the cloud, and the spire, which was originally painted gold, to represent the pillar of fire. Well, a couple of years ago a statue of Moroni was added to the spire, which was fine, of course, but THEY PAINTED THE SPIRE WHITE. Totally ruined it for me. I now look at the redesign pictures with anticipation. It's going to be beautiful.

Well, now that I spewed all of that, I feel better. Please feel free to agree or disagree. And have a fabulous March! I'm so glad we're done with January and February. Spring is in the air! My five-year-old said this morning, "Mom! The birds are back!"

So true- hallelujah, the birds are back!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dear Fly Lady

Dear Fly Lady;

This morning I did not get up and put on my shoes. In fact, I rolled out of bed, put on some sweats and didn't even manage a bra until noon. I didn't wash my face, therefore didn't manage to get moisturizer or even a little bit of makeup on. As for my hair, well, let's just say I look like Janis Joplin on a good hair day, and we all know she never had one of those.

I will say, though, that my kitchen looks fabulous. I shined my sink on Monday morning and it has stayed beautiful now for three days. The rest of the kitchen has followed suit, and tomorrow I'm shooting for cleaning up some hot spots.

Also, tomorrow, I will get dressed as soon as I get up, put on shoes, wash my face and put makeup on, and get things done at a reasonable hour.


Nancy, the slob.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Horrible things are happening- am I allowed to be happy?

The day I learned of the earthquake in Haiti, my stomach just fell. I looked at the images on my computer screen and wondered how on earth people ever pick up and carry on after that kind of horror.

I watched with pride as my church quickly sent relief planes and help was sent from LDS people across the border in the Dominican Republic. Certainly I don't mean to toot the LDS horn to the exclusion of the many, many other organizations that have provided help, I just was so proud to be part of a group that quickly offers compassion and help. I also have noted with extreme satisfaction LDS.org's main page, encouraging members worldwide to contribute however we can.

I saw images of bodies piling up, of mass graves, of crude burning pyres right alongside the streets, people pulled alive but broken from the wreckage, mothers grieving for lost children and children for parents, and it made my heart hurt. To know that the country suffered so horribly before the earthquake made the calamity seem like salt in an open wound.

The first day, I saw an outpouring of shock and grief. The days passed, and I noticed a shift. Supporting Haiti was becoming a political thing. People were angry at Hollywood for taking up the cause. I heard snide comments that President Obama only cared about the issue because the victims are black. I became very angry. Who cares if movie stars are helping people who are living through hell? It's not Haiti's fault. And when someone lifts a hand or donates money to make a life a bit better, where is the crime? How could this thing have possibly become political?

And then, I found myself thinking less about Haiti and more about my own life, my own problems. It's only natural, I know this. I would catch myself praying for things and then wondering how I possibly had the right to worry over little things when my Heavenly Father has other children who need him now more than I do. I suppose the beauty of God is that he can care for us all, and I know that, but I was reminded of how I felt after 9-11. I would laugh at something silly or find joy around me and then feel a twinge of something. Guilt? Probably it's guilt. A sense of sorrow for a moment that I'm finding joy and other people are living through unspeakable pain.

I remember when Saturday Night Live came back on the air after 9-11. It was a beautiful, welcome relief. It was done with love, with gentleness, it resurrected the knowledge for me that, even when horrible things happen, good still exists. We should grieve. We should help. We must do all we can to lift the hands and heads that hang low in hopeless agony. We must also cling to hope and joy and faith in a Maker who allows things to happen in this life, possibly to show the rest of us how to be humane, how to love and serve.

As I continued to watch attempted relief efforts in Haiti, and still do watch, I am reminded that, as the Proverb says, "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick." That we must cling to hope like it's all we have, and work as hard as we possibly can for the betterment of our own lives and those within our realm of influence. I know that the problems and trials in my own life, while in comparison to others may seem small, are still real and I can pray for help without feelings of guilt or inadequacy. I will keep it in perspective- one of my favorite quotes from Robert Fulghum is the notion that there are three kinds of lumps in life: a lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat, and a lump in the breast. I've learned to try to categorize the lumps and make sure I'm not acting as though I've a lump in the breast when really it's a lump in the throat that may not deserve as much attention as I'm giving it. And yet, the lump in the throat may still need a prayer or two, and it's ok.

My heart continues to ache for those who are suffering in Haiti, and everywhere in the world where unspeakable things happen that I know would test my faith and my sanity. History is replete with examples of hell on earth, and yet in those stories there are silver linings to the clouds, blessings from a benevolent God who sees all and loves all, and sometimes those blessings come through not only his angels in heaven but also those he has stashed here on earth. They are all around us.

I'm going to try to be an earthly angel. And to smile and feel joy and hope, even when things are bleak. The human spirit is resilient, and we are here to learn from the pain and find joy in the journey. So I answer my own question that, yes, even when horrible things happen, we are still allowed to be happy. I find comfort in that.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

January- yuck

As much as I try to begin each year with a sense of optimism and purpose, January does its best to beat me down. I enjoy fresh starts, I like reevaluating and setting new goals, I enjoy everything that a new year is supposed to be about. So why is January so hard?

Is it as hard, I wonder, for people who live in sunny climes? I keep thinking maybe it's the weather where I live, and I suspect it may have a lot to do with that. I live on the mid-northern end of the Wasatch Front in Utah, and inversion is in full swing this time of year. (That means a blanket of cold air and crap is trapped in the valley and I'm ready to start wearing a SARS mask.)

I'm looking out my window and I see dirty snow. When it's winter, I want it to be either in the act of snowing or I want to see a beautifully deep blue sky with sparkling clean snow on the ground and in the trees. I don't demand much, do I?

Isn't that just like life, though? (Here comes the meaningful metaphor.) Things aren't always perfect, they don't always appear as we'd like them to. The trick is to find joy in the journey. So, against my better instincts, I'm going to list things I do like about January.

1. The house seems nice and simple after putting away all the red Christmas clutter.
2. As much as I enjoy having my kids at home, it's nice to get back into a routine when they go back to school.
3. I like the thought of planning for a new year that's full of fresh possibilities.
4. When it snows, it's beautiful.
5. Getting through it feels like an accomplishment.

Ok, that's a really lame list, but it's better than nothing. :-) And now, sitting here at the end of January, I have Valentines Day to look forward to, and then by the first part of March, I'm usually feeling pretty good.

Is it just me? I should ask my Florida relatives if they have January blahs. Well, wherever you are, I offer a big woohoo that we've survived January and I wish you good things to come from here on out. :-)