Sep 29, 2012

Writer Be Wear

by Cindy R. Williams

Straw pole time:  What do writers wear to write?

I'll start.

Late at night, when I'm living up to the name ANWA (American NIGHT Writer) and writing at night while the family is nestled in their beds, I wear comfy P.J.'s.  If I get an early start in the morning, said P.J.'s serve just fine, otherwise I can usually be found in Capri's and a comfy top. "Comfy" is my key word in my writing attire.

Your turn . . .

(Update on eating healthy . . . four pounds have gone. Where do they go? Where ever it is, I don't want them to come to visit again, that's for sure.)

Sep 27, 2012

nail biters

My son had his first blow out last week. He is only seventeen. I am in my forties and have never had a blow out. I have night mares about having my tire end up in a mangled piece of rubber on the highway. I always imagine hearing a loud bang and having my car careen sharply into oncoming traffic. Needless to say, when my son sent me the picture of the destroyed tire and the words, "What do I do now?" I had to fight the urge to panic. Common sense told me that if he had the mental capability to not only take a picture of the tire but attach correctly spelled words, he was okay. He had been driving on a back road with little to no traffic, at a somewhat slow speed, and it just did a "soft blow." Thank heavens for small miracles.
As I have dealt with the flat this week, and believe it or not it has taken a week, I have come to realize that not only did we have a flat tire but I have also fallen 'flat' in some areas of teaching my children. I have three driving age children at home, 20, 18, and 17, and not one of them has a clue what to do with a car when it stops running. The extend of their 'auto knowledge' is to put gas in it when it runs out and change the oil when the number gets close to the sticker number. I have been setting myself up for trouble for years!
When I was a teenager, my dad took me into the garage and showed me not only how to change a tire, but also how to check and change the oil. I have a vague memory of him showing me fuses and spark plugs, but I only remember the gas, oil and tires now. I can honestly saw that I am grateful for his teachings and have used them on more than one occassion.
When I was a new mom, still riding high on hormones and extra belly fluff, I got a flat tire in a grocery store parking lot. I remember looking around helplessly for about four seconds before I put baby in the car and set to work changing my own tire. I've never been one to not be able to deal with things that came along. Looking back, maybe I owe that to my parents for teaching me how to be self reliant.
I really wonder what my son would have done if he had not been able to text me when he had his blow out. Would he have parked the car by the side of the road and walked home, or on to where he was going? Would he have had the ability to get the spare out of the trunk and change the tire?
I'm afraid I bail my kids out way too often. It is hard not to. I love them with every fiber of my being. I don't want them to hurt or be lost or afraid or sad or anything negative. At the same time, I realize, if they don't feel any of those emotions they will never grow to be understanding, functioning adults. It is a bitter sweet thing, this motherhood gig.
Since the blow out incident, I have been taking a closer look at how I 'parent.' I've never considered myself to be over protective or hovering, but maybe I have forgotten the other non-desireable title of negligent parent. It isn't that I haven't doted on my kids and spent time with them whenever I can, its more of a neglect to teach them how to be self reliant.
It seems to me that no matter how much I love my kids, I don't want the to live with me forever because they can't function on their own.
It's time for me to step it up and open up the school of DIY at home. We may not be building bookcases out of solidified marshmallows, but my kids do need to learn how to take care of some things. Sounds like a good way to spend our fall break....cause I said so.

Photo credit:,r:74,s:300,i:156&tx=131&ty=179&vpx=1455&vpy=650&hovh=159&hovw=240

Brigham City Temple Dedication

June 2011--I took this shot from the hardware store across
the street while standing on a (gulp*) ladder. 

July 2011--the Angel Moroni had been placed on top a week or so
before I took this. This shot is taken from across the street at the
 June 2011--Brigham City Tabernacle
June 2011--taken from the south side of the
                    inside of the B.C. Tabernacle
By Susan Knight
Sunday was a special day for me. I attended the dedication of the Brigham City temple via satellite at my Stake Center.
I have followed the construction of the Brigham City temple since June of 2011.
I volunteered for the Tour de Cure which takes place there every year and I was able to discover the little town of Brigham City.
Being from back east, I had forgotten a temple was being built there.
As I drove through town, I couldn't miss it. I stopped at the hardware store where a man was standing on a small step ladder. He asked if I would like to stand on it to take a shot. You couldn't see it otherwise because of the wall that was up around it.
The next month I drove up to Idaho to visit my daughter and on the way back I stopped again to see that the Angel Moroni had been placed on top a week or so before.
During the dedication ceremony, President Boyd K. Packer mentioned he grew up in B.C. and went to a Stake Conference in the Tabernacle and heard President George Albert Smith speak. He said he sat about 3/4 of the way back on the south side of the Tabernacle.
I took a tour of the Tabernacle in 2011. It is, indeed, very beautiful inside--and out. I could picture perfectly the place where he sat during that conference as I listened to him relate that story.
I always enjoy hearing Elder Russell M. Nelson speak. He holds a place dear to my heart, ever since I heard him speak at a Stake Conference right after he was called as an apostle.
During the dedication prayer by President L. Tom Perry, we bowed our heads and closed our eyes, as he instructed us to do.
All of a sudden I realized tears were dropping into my lap. I didn't even know I was crying. I used my white handkerchief to dry my eyes, and, truth be told, I wish I could have used it to blow my nose, but settled for dabbing it instead. All around us we could hear sniffing--the loudest coming from the men.
I knew the Holy Ghost was there in my Stake Center. I felt like I was actually there, in the temple.
We stood and gave the Hosanna Shout, with our supposedly "clean, white handkerchief," though, I confess, mine was a little wet.
The choir sang the "Hosanna Song" by Evan Stephens, then we all sang "The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning." My daughter said it meant so much to her as she sang, "We'll sing and we'll shout." She said she got it! That's exactly what we did--just as they did in Kirtland and Salt Lake City during those temple dedications.
I'm so glad I could go and be part of the temple dedication. I am still reliving it.
I am forever grateful for my membership in the true church of Jesus Christ. It brings me so much joy.

Sep 26, 2012

Bill Crisper

by Kami Cornwall

 When I was five years old my mother sometimes checked out records from the library for us to enjoy. Robin Hood, Pinocchio, and Snow White were our favorites. I sat right up against a big, fuzzy, black speaker and sang along. After a rousing round of “Someday My Prince Will Come” I followed my mother into the kitchen and asked, “Why don't they call Prince Charming by his first name?”

“What? What do you mean, honey?” My mother was clearly trying to recall Prince Charming's first name. It seemed she couldn't remember Snow White calling him by his given name either.

“His name is Bill.” I said flatly. I stared at her in all seriousness, hoping her memory would soon return.

“Bill?” Mom held a fluttering hand over her lips and stifled a laugh.

“Yes. She sings, Bill Crisper, I love you. She calls him Bill. Why doesn't anyone else?”

Mom looked up at the ceiling and then back at me. After a deep breath she calmly said, “Oh, honey...she's singing He'll whisper, but there are a lot of scratches on that record and it's hard to understand each word. I am sure his name isn't Bill. She's saying He'll whisper I Love You. I promise.” I looked around to make sure my brother or sisters hadn't overheard this obvious misunderstanding. They would swiftly pounce on the opportunity to make fun of me. As luck would have it, they were nowhere in sight so I casually made my way to the record player, switched it off, and went out the front door to squish some ants.

This was the first of many "lyrically challenged" moments that followed. Anyone else have this problem? 

Sep 25, 2012

"Sullied" Our Religion

by Terri Wagner Oh boy. Things are heating up now. What on earth was Harry Reid thinking? Let's not even worry about how you feel about Reid's comments one way or other, or whether you are or are not a Romney supporter, let's just take a deep breath and decide what this really means. As writers we know how important the right word is. We know the impact a certain word can have on our writings. We hope we choose the perfect words to convey exactly what we least we strive to do so. As speakers we sometimes misspeak. We may in the heat of a moment say something not at all what we meant. And sometimes we just get it totally wrong. Words are important. The meanings they convey are important. I have been fielding questions about Mormons (LDS as I try to explain) for months now especially with non-member family (most of them) and non-member friends (again, most of them). To use a word like "sullied" implies something dirty, not just wrong, not just different, but ugly wrong. Maybe if I were Baptist, this would not be such an issue. But there are some many things out there either wrong, half wrong or true but not quite true in the way it is presented. Maybe I am being overly sensitive, but... I want to swot Reid with a newspaper. Geez fella give us a break. Use another term less fraught with such strong implications. Like maybe I'm a Democrat, and I do not believe in Romney's stands. It reminds me of a time in my former job where a Chinese article was translated from English into Chinese. The English version had the word "private" in it. The best Chinese translation was "secret." Wow!!! Not even the same thing. Or when we translated a banner from Chinese into English. For reasons I was never sure of the Chinese author insisted on a literal translation which only meant the banner was grammatically incorrect. It also sounded funny. However, maybe, a literal translation is a better one after all.

Sep 24, 2012

College Life and Cooking Gluten Free

By Claire Enos

This semester I'm rooming with a really good friend from Winter Semester. She was my roommate last winter, and that's how we met. The big thing about Hannah that you should know, is that she is over 6ft tall (ok, that's not so important, but I'm under 5ft so I feel it's important!) and she was diagnosed with Celiac's her freshman year of high school. It took a little time getting used to living with her and not baking with flour around her but I feel it has been a really good learning experience for me, because now I know how to cook gluten free. I feel like she has been a blessing to me and that God sent her to live with me for a reason! 

Now, on to Fall Semester 2013. A few months ago, back in April, we applied for a contract together at a new apartment complex kitty corner from the Stadium here at BYU-Idaho. We never dreamed that there would ever be a problem with us rooming together or even with our roommates. However, when our apartment manager found out a couple weeks ago right before we moved in, that Hannah had Celiac's she seemed really worried about us rooming with the girls we were assigned to. She had us with a couple Culinary Arts Majors and she was worried it would be too hard on Hannah to live with them. She didn't want Hannah to get sick or something this semester and she felt responsible. She tried moving us down to the first floor, but the girls in that apartment threw a fit and Chelsey, our manager, moved us back up to the fourth floor where we were supposed to be. The Saturday after we moved in, Chelsey tried moving us down to the second floor, but the girls in that apartment worked things out and we didn't end up moving that day. The next day, after church, Chelsey came to find us again. Some girls in a different apartment on the second floor were having problems and needed to move, so we ended up trading apartments with two of the girls the day before classes started.

That's how we ended up with our current roommates! That first night we were in this apartment, we talked to the girls in our apartment (all 18, except Hannah and I who are 20) about Hannah being Celiac. We discussed the "rules" of living with someone who has Celiac. 

Today, is our first Home Evening with our Home Evening Group of the semester, and one of our roommates decided to make Gluten free Devil's Food Cake for the activity! Then, of course, Hannah had to make Gluten free Rice Krispy Treats as well. So, I thought I'd post the story (so far) and some picture of gluten free treats we've made! Have an amazing night! Love you all!!! 

 I'm not going to claim to be an expert on cooking Gluten Free, but my roommate Hannah is! So, if you ever have any questions about cooking Gluten Free feel free to ask and I'll answer as best as I can. I'll ask Hannah if I don't know the answer myself!


PS: We took these to Home Evening and didn't tell them it was Gluten Free. They loved them! We told them they were Gluten Free afterward and why. We feel this is a success!

Sep 23, 2012

Back to School Part 3--What's Your Favorite Middle Grade or YA Book or Series?

By Jennifer Debenham

My sister has a delightfully intelligent eight-year-old who can read at a middle-to-high school level, and she always needs new books to read. For my sister, it is complicated by the fact that her daughter is, well, eight. She needs a compelling and interesting story that's also age appropriate. Books written for her age group are too easy for her to read, and ones that are closer to her reading level are not always appropriate. Pretty tough order, huh? Especially with many of today's stories.

But if anyone can help me create a seriously awesome list, it's my writer friends. What are your favorite YA or Middle-Grade books? Feel free to recommend your own books--or your friends'--here too.

Ready, Set, Go!

And thank you, in advance!

Sep 20, 2012

This is Life!

by Kari Diane Pike

Last Saturday, my Facebook status said, "Evidently I am in serious need of an attitude adjustment."
The next day, my status said, "Nothing like a beautiful Sabbath day and feeling the Spirit to bring about that needed attitude adjustment..." [Along with a little (okay...copious amounts of) chocolate for staying power.]

This week has been focused on (re)discovering joy. I've pondered on how easily Satan uses negative thoughts to work against me. If I give a negative thought just a moment's consideration, it multiplies like a virus -- exponentially and out of control. Quite frankly, it brings out the ugly in me. Fortunately, I have an arsenal of tools available to obliterate negative thoughts and the destructive patterns they set: prayer, scripture study, obedience to the Lord's laws, keeping my covenants with God, listening to the Holy Spirit and service -- just to name just a few. 

As I worked on a school assignment this week, I came across this quote:
"Some families choose to participate proactively in intervention programs focused on preventing the negative outcome of specified stressors or transitions" (McKenry, Patick C. and Sharon J. Price (2005), Families & Change: Coping With Stressful Events and Transitions, p. 415).

Because of my "attitude" experience over the weekend, my mind immediately shifted to thoughts on how the tenets of the gospel are the most perfect and effective prevention program of all. Actively practicing and participating in gospel oriented activities is my best resource for helping me change the meaning I give to challenges and trials and help me restore balance in my life and to my family.

One of my biggest weaknesses is perfectionism. While it's a good thing to want to do the best I can, it is not healthy or productive to get so caught up in thoughts of "what if I make a mistake" that I either make myself ill trying to get it right, or end up not trying at all. In Doctrine and Covenants 117: 4-8, the Lord tells his servants to repent of all their sins and covetous desires. He tells them to let go of certain temporal things and to pay attention to weightier matters. Then in verse 13, the Lord teaches me that no matter what the outcome of my sincere efforts, He will bless me just for trying. In the Lord's sight, every effort is sacred. 

I may not be able to choose what happens to me, but I always get to choose how I look at the situation and how I react to it. The teachings of Christ give me the light I need to clearly see the path I want to take. Life really is what I make of it.

Here's a little song by the daughter of a friend of a friend:

What helps you adjust your attitude?


Sep 19, 2012

Angela, It's Just Numbers!

by Jill Burgoyne

I recently came from a Relief Society meeting about joy and putting our trials in perspective -I guess lots of people have problems- but the presenter was a very talented woman named Sherri McConkie. She is a kindergarten teacher in Phoenix and relayed a story that illustrated how we can put our trials into perspective:

Every year around March, Ms. McConkie's kindergarten class studies numbers. They fill in a number a chart from 1-100. And every year, there is at least one student who gets overwhelmed, shuts down, and sobs. Last year, it was an adorable and painfully shy little girl named Angela.

The first day of numbers, Ms. McConkie handed her the numbers chart and Angela's little lip started to quiver.

"It's okay Angela. It's just numbers, we're all learning together, okay?" Little Angela didn't stop crying and things didn't go well. Ms. McConkie was not deterred, and made a resolve to do better the next day.

The second day of numbers, Ms. McConkie handed out the numbers again. Little Angela's lip quivered and tears welled up in her eyes.

"It's Okay Angela, it's just numbers! We'll get them done. We can take all the time we need. You have plenty of help, look, your friends can help you, and I'm always here if you need help too, Angela." The tears were not slowed. Ms. McConkie went home with a resolute determination to make numbers better.

The third day of numbers, Ms. McConkie gathered her class on the colorful carpet in the middle of the room. In a successful attempt to get them excited about numbers, she gave a heart lifting pep talk and had each of the children raise their right hand and pledge to have fun with numbers and not cry.

Satisfied with her morale-boosting gathering, Ms. McConkie passed out the number sheet, confident that there would be no tears. Little Angela did her best, but that silly lip would not stiffen and it quivered uncontrollably, again the little girl burst out into tears.

Ms. McConkie's heart was softened even more. She sat next to this little girl and gently guided her through the chart,

"Write the number one here... good Angela, now the number two... good," It took three weeks, but Angela was eventually able to look confidently at her number chart and fill them all in.

How many times in our lives do we look at a trial and sob? I can imagine our Father in Heaven soothing us "Jill, it's just a burned caserole," or " Jill, it's just a tight's just numbers."  I know he's there to give us help as we kneel and ask. And sometimes, I even require being instructed step by step. But I'll learn...even if it takes eternity.

Sep 17, 2012

What's Your Sign?

By Tracy Astle

I have heard that Sir George Stilwell had a sign posted on his house that read, "I must ask anyone entering the house never to contradict me or differ from me in any way, as it interferes with the functioning of my gastric juices and prevents my sleeping at night."

Isn't that great? Sad or funny, depending on whether he was serious or not.

But 'fess up. Who hasn't wished for a sign like this at least occasionally? After an especially long day with a houseful of contrary kids? Or to flash at a spouse who has no ideas of their own for a name to give your child who's due in a few weeks, but shoots down every name that you come up with? Or to place prominantly on your desk at your office? Or maybe when working on a group project in school?

In our saner moments, which, for argument's sake, we'll say are the vast majority of our moments, we realize how maddeningly boring life would be if we actually had a sign like that and people, for some unfathomable reason, honored it.

If I had a sign that showed my crazy - especially while I had all my kids living at home - it might say something like, "I must ask all who dwell herein to clean up after themselves and place all items promptly where they belong, since to do otherwise offends the delicacies of my thought processes."

Any ideas as to what your 'crazy' sign might say?

Sep 16, 2012

Research--Sometimes It's Backwards

by Marsha Ward

Yeah, it could be that kind of backwards, as in "Why do I have to do all this silly research? I write fiction, don't I? Can't I make it up?"

But I mean the kind of backwards that refers to what is seemingly a back-to-front process. In other words, I have to gain facts from a later time with a view towards an earlier time. Here's the circumstance that puts me in that sort of process.

As I finish the final tweeks on my current WIP, Spinster's Folly, I am also doing research for the next book in the Owen Family Saga, Gone for a Soldier. The storyline occurs mainly in the point-of-view of the oldest son of the family, Rulon, during the American Civil War. I have stated in a previous novel in the series that Rulon was wounded in a particular place at a particular time. Now, my job in the new book is to get him from his enlistment to that battle.

So? You write fiction. Make it up!

Not so fast, Grasshopper. I write historical fiction, especially in this book. Do you know how many millions of American Civil War buffs, historians, and aficionados there are?

Many. Many-many. A whole lot of many.

If I get my facts wrong, I'm going to be the laughingstock of all those millions of readers, who KNOW THEIR STUFF.

I have to get Rulon into a unit that will actually be engaged in the battle in which he is wounded. I have to find the kind of encounter that would give him the type of wounds I've already said that he suffered, which are from shrapnel, or exploding shell fragments. I can't simply stick him into some cavalry unit or other that had skirmishes with other cavalry units (or a cavalry unit that captured cattle during a daring raid on Union resources).

  • He has to be in a unit that took bombardment from Union artillery.
  • He has to be in a unit that was formed in his area of Virginia.
  • He has to be in a unit that survived to serve in the battle.

Civil War Units from Virginia

The above specifications sort of point toward "Infantry," so although Rulon is a fine horseman, he's going to join a unit of foot soldiers "raised" or recruited in the Shenandoah Valley.

Three units from the Shenandoah Valley

I previously wrote that Rulon was wounded at Petersburg, Virginia. However, Petersburg was not a single battle. It is often called "The Siege of Petersburg," but it wasn't a classic siege. It was a ten-month series of battles, encounters, skirmishes, cattle raids, starvation, yes, siege conditions, and a lot of sitting around, waiting for something to happen. It covered a large area, not one city. There are several opportunities during that campaign for Rulon to receive his wounds.

Federal offensives during the Petersburg campaign, 1864-65

Due to calamitous casualties or military reorganization, some Confederate units didn't get as far along in the war as I need Rulon to be. Therefore, among other things, I have to become an expert on the configuration of the Confederate military, from the end to the beginning. Rulon must be in the correct unit from the start.

Example: Combatant Units at Gettysburg

Now you see the research task I have before me, and a great deal depends on doing it backwards. I'm not helpless, though. I have my resources:

Primary sources: Eyewitnesses

Accounts from eyewitnesses, both private soldiers

General James Longstreet's account

and general officers

Works by Noted Historians

Histories of the Civil War by eminent historians

Overviews and Maps

Overviews of the war and collaborative works, plus maps

Dynamics between the leaders

Many of the Civil War leaders on opposing sides graduated from West Point Military Academy in the same class, and gained strategic and tactical battle experience in the War with Mexico.

Information on specific battles and campaigns

With good information on specific battles and campaigns, I can place my characters in situations that will seem very real to my readers.

Remember, this war went on for several years: 1861-1865. The lengthy time involved has the potential to give a lot of richness to the forthcoming novel.

Pictorial presentations of the scenes of the War

The American Civil War was the first conflict in which the common civilian learned about real war--not from glorious schoolroom prints depicting famous battles of the past, but from illustrations made by newspaper illustrators on the scene; and from photographs taken by those who worked for Mathew Brady, and independent photographers.

You can tell that I've already done considerable research, and spent a great deal of money (including expenses for my recent two-week research trip), but I have more work to do before I'm finished.

Wish me luck!

Sep 15, 2012

Time to Eat Healthy - Trying to Love It and Live It!

by Cindy R. Williams

It is time. The time I have put off again and again and again because I really, really, really don't want to do it. Yes, it is time for new and improved eating habits.  I say this instead of "diet" because I truly believe diet is a dirty four letter word.

I started Tuesday, September 11, 2012. A good day to start really because September 11 is a somber day when we remember the horror of the Twin Towers. A moment of reverent silence for those lost . . . . . . . . . .

You may think it a bit odd to start in the middle of the week, but it really was now or never. I finally felt emotionally ready.

I spent the prior weekend planning and working out my eating program. I combined Weight Watchers and a program called "Thrive."  Weight Watchers is one of the healthiest weight management programs around, but I'm struggling with it. I haven't been successful of late, trying to work it into my daily life. I need more structure right now, so in comes "Thrive."

My sister's husband's brother and sister-in-law - did you follow that? -  used the "Thrive" program three years ago and each lost more than 100 pounds. They've kept it off and both are now "skinnies." 

My sister emailed me a copy of the program, but . . . as my own thin husband said when he looked it over, "Somethings wrong with this."

"What? It's exactly what they sent me," I asked concerned.

He then replied, "There isn't anything to eat." 

Well he's right , that is if you are accustomed to eating roasts,  spaghetti and meat balls, sausage and gravy on biscuits, home made bread with whipped butter and berry jam, root beer, brownies, cakes and a mega bowl of ice cream before bed.

I thought about what he said and looked the program over. I found I agreed with him, so I added low fat items that I enjoy and made it more of a "moderation in all things."  That term sound familiar?

I formatted it so that I could print out the various categories on recipe cards. "Thrive" has you choose three of the five categories of foods each week, so I wanted to be able to group the different categories together.

I spent about four hours Tuesday morning shopping, organizing two fridges, cupboards and the utility pantry so that I was all set up for success.

I weighed and measured myself, then patted myself on the back for choosing to do something about this. (Better than beating myself up for allowing the weight to creep on.)

I made it through Tuesday, and actually found that I slept better than I had in a long time. The hardest thing so far has been breaking the habit of getting a snack when I take a break from writing or when I finish a chore around the house, and . . . the deadly eating when I am bored.

At one point I was sooooo hungry and tempted to grab a granola bar (granola bars can't be added in for a few weeks.)  I dug my heals in and stuck with it and had a cup of green beans and a cup of sugar free jello.  P-U-L-E-A-S-E!

Second day, I found I wasn't really hungry. I mean, nothing I was allowed to eat sounded good to me, so I made myself eat a veggie loaded salad and drink the required 12 cups of water.

Third day, I made some stuffed green peppers, filled with ground turkey, chopped green beans, Worcestershire sauce, and some seasonings. They turned out yummy and were filling. I made enough for three days. Okay, I think I can do this.

Fourth day is Friday - night out with my husband. I'm still at the beginning stages so all fired up. We went to see 2016 - eye opener for sure. I took a few things with me that are on my program and ignored the theater popcorn - my fav.

I'm home now finishing this blog and STARVING! I'm planning on eating a delicious and oh so filling - NOT! - bowl of beets in balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and a few bites of my leftover stuffed green pepper along with three to four cups of water. See, I really am serious THIS TIME. Big sigh . . . "this time." I  really want it to be my last time.

Reality, though, is that it's going to be a long road . . . One day at time, and so far I'm on day five. My clothes still fit the same, but I do feel healthier.

My plan is to live and somehow love it until my birthday, November 6. Then re-evaluate and tweak my program including setting new goals.

Anyone want to start a losing weight program with me?  The more the merrier, or is it misery loves company? ;o)

Sep 14, 2012

Sugar Baby

I used to be such a good mom. I would get my kids up early every morning, get them dressed, fix their hair, cook a REAL breakfast from scratch, sing the national anthem, have scripture study and family prayer and send them off to school. I'm not kidding. I used to do that. It was a pain in the butt. I didn't mind cooking, but getting up early after being up most nights with a baby at some age was exhausting. My husband tried to inspire me to enjoy our early morning devotionals but, I was a whiner and we soon gave up.
I regret this now more than I can say.
I am not a complete loser as a mom now, I still cook now and then. I admit I buy cold cereal but I avoid high sugar ones, like cinnamon toast crunch and coco pebbles. I don't care what anyone says, chocolate for breakfast is not good. Well, except for chocolate chips in waffles now and then....blame my mom for that one.  I try to feed my kids healthy food. Working full time does make it hard though.
Being at the school for lunch hour has been very interesting. I used to send home made lunches with all my kids. I would use home made whole wheat bread, all natural peanut butter, home canned fruit preserves, an apple or orange, cheese stick, and possibly a yogurt. Yeah, back in the day. Today my kids make their own lunches. Truth be told, they do really good. I don't make bread as much so we use store bought whole wheat bread. They don't love PBJ so we do turkey or egg salad. I buy organic crackers and they take some fruit or veggie. I guess I trained them well in one area of their life.
It makes me sad when I see what some of the kids bring to school in their lunches. I always walk around and tell the kids to eat their 'good food' first. This is supposed to refer to the  non-sugary part of their lunch. You know, their sandwich or wrap or thermos of spaghetti. Whatever their 'main course' is from home. There are many times when I have to really look to find something that qualifies for the 'good food' part of their lunch. Today there were about ten 'crustables' that had to qualify. Sorry, those are dessert. One little girl had the following in her lunch: gogurt, cheese crackers, fruit roll up, chocolate chip cookies, juice box. That. Was. It. This little girl is in kindergarten. I am in her class a lot so I get to see her in action. She cannot sit still, she bounces around the room, she doesn't follow directions, she doesn't seem to notice any boundaries, and she can't concentrate worth beans. I wonder.....if she ate some real food would she do better? She has two older brothers that seem to have the same sort of problems. Their lunches are no better.
I wonder what these kids eat at home? I wonder how long it will be before they are diagnosed as having learning disabilities, ADD, ADHD, or put on some sort of medication. I'm not blaming it all on their diet, they dad is a piece of work too. He was kind enough to tell me off when I tried to direct him to the proper line for pick up after school one day. Shame on me?
I love being with the kids at school. I feel like I am doing some good. I see the kids that need a bit of extra attention and I try to help them feel good through out the day.My heart breaks for the boys that lost their dad a few months ago....I give them hugs every day. I see the kids that are there early and picked up late, after the after school care. I hear the little girl that says she doesn't have a mom or a dad. I wonder about the kids that come with their hair unbrushed and their clothes wrinkled. I look at my own kids and wonder if anyone notices them at their schools. Do they see needs that can be met? Do they see them as people with individual worth? Are they more than a name on a roll?
I remember when I was thinking about pursuing a degree in special education. A teacher at my son's school told me not to do it. I was surprised, because many other people had told me I should. She told me it would break my heart every day. There are so many kids that she saw that needed help and services but just didn't qualify and she couldn't help them. It is sad. It seems we focus so much on new fangled ways to teach math that we forget there are people inside these kids.
I can't be a parent to all the kids at school. I can't feed them all a good lunch. I can't make up for their own parents that are idiots that can't even use a cross walk. All I can do is help them feel safe and important while they are on my watch. I pray someone does that for my kids too...cause I said so.
Photo credit:,r:0,s:53,i:246

Sep 13, 2012

I Am Thankful

By Susan Knight

I wrote this on September 11th ahead of schedule, so that's where I'm coming from this week.

During this week of “remembrance,” I find myself pondering how thankful I am. I know this is a little early for those thanksgiving feelings, but somehow, it’s not.

I was a reporter at the time and I had to write about it. I called it an “incident” in one of my articles. My editor came to me and, bold, but heartbroken, forcefully told me, “This isn’t an ‘incident.’ It’s an attack! Use the word ‘attack.’”

She woke me up. She verbalized what we were all trying not to think about. Then, she gave me a difficult assignment. I had to interview a mother and father in our hometown whose son was a chef in the restaurant on top of one of the towers. How do you do something like that? How did I do that?  I don’t remember. I just know they were proud of their son and will forever be. I thought not to intrude on their grief, but they were gracious.

I went out to dinner with my kids on Monday, all adults now, and we talked about where we were at that time. In 2001, I had a son in college, a daughter in high school, a daughter in junior high and a son in elementary school. I wouldn’t allow the television to be turned on that day. I knew it would scare my younger two. Even so, my youngest son was terrified—a result of terrorism.

He refused to go to school the next day, Wednesday, certain a plane was going to land on his school. I persuaded him that his little school in our rural Pennsylvania town was not a target, though I admit, I did think about our close proximity to Philadelphia.

Still, I kept him home, but talked him into going the next day, Thursday. I got a phone call from the school counselor that he wanted to come home. He was afraid. The counselor gave me the number for the Penn Foundation, a clinic for mental health. On Friday, the social worker there worked with him and he was able to draw his fears with crayons and paper, and she helped him understand what his fears were. I bless that woman.

She said to me, “Your son feels sorry for all the children who might have lost their parents in the towers.”  She said, for such a young guy—he was ten—he showed more compassion than was normal for that age. Then she helped us do something about his fears. Service.

There were many fundraisers we participated in so he could help. At the newspaper I was privy to all the activities in the community and there were many for that cause. I know we could have done more than give a dollar and let my son draw his hand to hang on the wall in the school’s cafeteria, but it helped him. Proceeds went to children in New York City. He drew pictures and wrote to the children and his social worker took his letters to the City where she went to help the surviving children cope. She had her work cut out for her. She stayed a long time.

After awhile, my children and I all vacuumed in our collective breath and went on with life in 2001, somewhat oblivious, or in denial, yet feeling the difference in our lives.

Thanks to Joan Burge, who wrote a thoughtful essay called “Be Thankful,” I am reminded of that day, but also the days after, when everyone rallied around the flag, like the Whos in Whoville. And that’s exactly what it reminded me of. The Grinch thought he could ruin their spirit, but his “incident,” his “attack” on the people of Whoville, made them thankful; retrospective; kind; thoughtful; forgiving.

This week I want to thank all the firemen, EMTs, and all the policemen who didn’t rush away from those buildings like most people did. They ran into the buildings. My heart bleeds for families who lost loved ones—heroes—in the towers, in the Pentagon, in the field in Shanksville, in the rescues.

As I woke up this morning, I prayed and thanked my Heavenly Father for my job. I’m blessed to have it. I asked him for opportunities to do some good there every day. It’s where I spend most of my day, so I want to make the most of it. I hope I remember to say “thank you” to my co-workers who help me—and I’ve needed a lot of help this past year.

I hope my children know how much I love them. We never say “good-bye” without following it with “I love you.” Perhaps that was the greatest lesson we learned of all.

Sep 12, 2012

Girls and Camping

by Kami Cornwall

{In a feeble attempt to make up for my complete lack of a post last time, I'm going to give you a longer post about my first year of "girls' camp" from the "olden days" as my kids call it. Hope you like it!}

My first year of girl's camp came the summer of '85. Our site was located deep within Idaho's Rocky Mountains. I was the youngest in our group of girls and incredibly nervous. 

At one of the meetings they announced there was a new fun activity that would be going on all week; each of us had a “mascot” which could be stolen by another group and held for ransom. 

We had some pretty sneaky girls in our group who had already stolen a neighboring group's mascot so we established a “guard” in our group to stay behind whenever possible. Our mascot looked like a scarecrow. 

Evening came and the whole camp was crowded into the lodge for an evening of skits and lame songs.
“I said a boom-chicka-boom!” The girl would shout.
“I said a boom-chicka-boom!” The crowd would respond in a deafening noise.

I could tell we were almost done now. The final prayer was said and I bolted out toward our cabin. Our mascot had not been protected that evening and I wanted to make sure I was there before anyone tried to steal our mascot. I shut off my flashlight and made my way in the black of night.

It was so much darker in a forest at night than anywhere else. My father taught all of us kids how to track different types of animals whenever we went camping, and impressed upon us the importance of relying on all of our senses. I smiled in the dark and walked slower. I wondered how silent I could be. Quieter. Quieter.

I heard someone rustling near the front of the cabin. Oh, man! If one of the girls was stealing our mascot I was going to have to take her by surprise and wrestle her down to the ground. I slowed and tensed my muscles, ready to chase if she took off in a run. My heart was beating out of my chest.

The noise stopped.
I stopped.
I was so close. I could tell she must be right in front of me. I could still hear her moving slowly across the forest floor. I crouched down and decided to flip on my flashlight to temporarily blind her.

Whoa! The eyes before me glowed in reflection from my flashlight. This was no girl at all. A dog? Yes. My mind raced. Not just any dog. Grey markings, strong legs, thinner than a Husky.
My eyes flickered between the wolf and the garbage can.

RUN! My mind was screaming at me. Would it chase me? Would it attack? It had been nosing through the garbage can for a late night snack and it definitely wasn't expecting me. We both stood there frozen. The wolf took action first - darting into the dark forest. I watched it disappear in the opposite direction and then I turned back toward the lodge and ran as fast as my legs could carry me.

I laughed in a kind of hysteria as I ran to my leader. I couldn't tell her what had happened. I couldn't stop laughing. This was no laughing matter! Why was I laughing? Oh, I had to calm down. I caught my breath.

“You'll never believe what just happened!” I practically shouted mid gasps. My leader gave me an oddly interested look and shook her head. “A wolf!” I gushed. “There was a wolf at our cabin! I thought it was someone trying to steal our mascot but it was a wolf pilfering our garbage! I flashed the light right in its eyes! We were almost nose to nose!” My leader clearly thought I was exaggerating and blandly replied, “Oh I'm sure it wasn't a real wolf. It was probably a husky dog or maybe a German Shepherd belonging to one of the  local camp owners.”

“No.” I pushed. “My dad taught us about wolves and how they look. I've seen lots of them. There's still a few packs up here in the Rockies.”

“I'm sure there aren't any wolves nearby.” The Leader coolly replied. I was so disappointed. She didn't seem to believe me. My exciting adventure had turned into a bland dog-sighting.

Flap, flap, flap, flap, flap!
“What's that?” One of the girls in our cabin asked worriedly.

“Nothing. Go to sleep.” An authoritative voice replied.
Flap, flap, flap!
“What is that?” Another girl asked louder. A deep sigh came from a leader, a flashlight clicked on, and a moth the size of an eagle flew toward the light. I pulled my head into my sleeping bag like a turtle into his shell and held the top closed tight. All the rest of the women in our cabin screamed.
And screamed.

They started hopping around, waving their pillows and clothes around to shoo the spawn of Mothra out the door. Their shrieks of terror could probably be heard for miles. Women from the neighboring cabin came running over at the commotion.

“What is it? What's going on? Is everyone alright?” One woman asked frantically as she threw open the door. Mothra had left the room and was soaring high into the forest canopy for a quieter evening. The girls all settled down after a bit of carrying on about “did you see the SIZE of that thing?” and “I could hear it's big fat wings flapping right next to my head! What if it had LANDED on me!?” 

Everyone settled back down to sleep and it got quiet. Forests were so perfectly silent at night. And then I could hear them. The melodic chorus of a pack of wolves on the other side of the river calling to one another. I smiled and wondered if my doubting leader heard it too. 

“What's that?” a small girl whispered with worry.

“Wolves.” I responded with the slightest bit of punch to it. “There are wolves in these woods. They'll most likely stay on the other side of the river. They're probably as afraid of us as we are of them. But there are wolves. I kinda like the sound.” I said finally with a smirk.

My leader murmered lightly, “Okay, yeah, that does sound like a pack of wolves.”

“Wolves?!” another girl shrieked.

“Oh, don't worry.” The leader responded in a frustrated tone. “They're not like you see in the movies. They're not coming to get us. Just calling to each other as they move along. Now everyone go to sleep!” 
 And we did.

Sep 11, 2012

My Generation's Pearl Harbor

by Terri Wagner

Warning: tissues may be needed.

I used to devour personal accounts of "where were you" when Pearl Harbor was attacked. I guess we just thought it would never happen again...we were wrong. As each September 9/11 anniversary comes and goes, I remember with clarity every event of that day and the days that followed. I remember going to the Mobile Stake Center for a broadcast memorial service and feeling touched and comforted by fellow brothers and sisters. I remember nodding to any stranger on any street. We all felt connected. Crime went down; flags went up. It was time to cry.

Then there was the crying of a different nature when the stories of heroes emerged, the world that responded with kindness, the Canadians that sheltered our loved ones that could not yet get home.

I won't forget because I lived it. Much like my father's generation's Pearl Harbor.

These three songs in sequence reflect the feelings that came to me over those days, months, and years. I hope they touch you too.

Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning by Alan Jackson

Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue by Toby Keith. (BTW my dad served in the Air Force and lost his right knee.)

Have You Forgotten? by Darryl Worley (Warning: This video has some graphic images but I feel like if they lived through it, I can watch it.)

I remember when my dad came home from Vietnam. There just are no words to explain the joy and relief that your loved one comes home. Seeing My Dog the Day I got Back and The Best Surprise Military Homecomings: Part 4 (Watch Parts 1, 2, & 3.)

Sep 10, 2012

Of New Things and Late Blog Posts

By Claire Enos

Last night I was planning on writing up the blog post I needed to post for today, but things happened and somehow I ended up moving to a new apartment Sunday night and didn't get to bed until nearly midnight. I left for class today an hour early, to time myself walking to my first class of the day on my first day back to school. It wasn't until I was in my second of four classes that I remembered I still needed to write a blog post. I even wrote myself a note! But I didn't look at the note, which probably isn't a good thing. So here it is, three minutes to the end of the day and I'm just barely typing up my post. Sometimes life just seems to get away and one minute you have in mind what you need to do and the next you are barely able to think straight.

My classes are amazing, my teachers are awesome, and I can't wait to start a new day! I promise I'll write an amazing blog post for my next day! (Or at least, I'll try!)

In conclusion: I'm starting new classes, I've got amazing teachers, and lots to do in order to get set up here at BYU-Idaho and I'm extremely sorry I didn't get this written sooner!

Love all of you!


Sep 9, 2012

Back to School for Us Part 2--Have You Seen My Scene?

By Jennifer Debenham

In keeping with my back-to-school-for-us theme, I thought I'd share with you what I'm currently studying.

It's called Scene and Structure, by Jack Bickham. Just as the title suggests, its main focus is on crafting strong scenes. It also discusses sequence, or the parts of your story that come in between scenes. I first heard about this book a couple years ago while attending a writer's conference. All the authors apparently read the same memo because the book was often quoted and recommended. If you haven't heard much about scene and sequence (as I hadn't up until that conference) this might be a good choice to add to your library.

While we may instinctively know the necessary elements of a scene, I personally found it helpful to have a checklist for the pattern of a good scene. Each scene, for example, should have a statement of the goal for that scene. Often this is done by the main character, and usually it is one step in her effort to achieve the overarching goal of the entire story. Each scene should also have an introduction or development of conflict. Conflict creates tension. The character can not reach her goal because the end of conflict also ends the reader's tension or sense of urgency. And finally, each scene should have a tactical disaster, in which the character experiences a setback. These elements help keep our readers turning pages.

In order to craft strong scenes, Bickham suggests: "always start with a goal, plan your conflict, and devise a solid disaster" (30). He offers the following as sample goals for characters:

1. Accused of cheating on a test, Janis goes to visit her math professor with the goal of convincing him she did not cheat.

2. Searching for an embezzler, Calvin accosts the bank examiner with the goal of convincing the examiner to give him the name of the prime suspect.

3. Lost in the caverns, Billy explores a narrow shaft with the goal of finding his way out.

4. Ted visits Jennifer with the goal of getting her to marry him.

5. Wanting to win permission to enter graduate school, Bari goes into the office of the graduate dean with the goal of convincing him to let her in.

I found it fun to create different ways to prevent these characters from reaching their goals. It's sort of like giving yourself permission to be a little mean. This was a helpful exercise for me because usually I want to solve my character's problems before they have to suffer very long.

Happy Writing!

Sep 8, 2012

Writing Struggles

By Bonnie Harris

I think we all get to the point in our writing where we question why we're doing it. Or maybe we do that several times. So, what are the reasons we write? Here's what I came up with.

  • We enjoy it.
  • Writing helps us fulfill that creative side.
  • We fall in love with our stories.
  • We want to make a career out of it.
  • We have a story to share.
  • We have a story that just needs to be written down, whether or not it's published is a bonus.
  • We enjoy the process.
  • It makes us feel good about ourselves.

I'm sure there are countless other reasons one writes, and feel free to add ones I've missed. Once we've decided why we write, the next step is to figure out how far we want to take it. Do we want to get it publishes? Do we self publish or go the traditional route? Do we go through an agent or not? Small house publishing or large house publishing? Do I want to continue writing or a I satisfied with what I've done?

Again, I'm positive there are countless other questions that have crossed our minds. Now for the confession time. I'm struggling to figure out if this is the time for me to be writing. I know I want to. I know I'd eventually would like to become published, but the last couple of months have proven very difficult to find/make the time to write. It seems that every time I sit down in front of the computer during nap time, I fall asleep. (I blame the pregnancy for that one.) I have goals I know I should be able to meet but I haven't been meeting them. It seems like anytime I try to exchange babysitting it falls through, or something else comes up that has to get done. It just feels like the world is out to prevent me from doing my writing.

I know other people have come to the same crossroads that I am at right now, I just thought I already had things figured out. So I guess this is more of a pep talk for myself, but who knows? Maybe someone else is struggling with the same things. I just know that things will work out the way they are supposed to. Maybe at this very moment I'm not supposed to be writing and I shouldn't beat myself up for it. I just have to work through it and be ready when the time is right again. Or maybe I should be happy with the little I am getting done. Either way, I still enjoy writing and know that my goals will be met sometime. Happy Writing!

Sep 7, 2012

What Writer's Do

Poor kid.  I didn’t mean to wear him out, but I found this old vintage coloring book of birds at the thrift store and my four year-old son Reef has spent the last few days coloring every single page.  
Here he is passed out on my bed in the middle of the afternoon.
When he woke up, he suggested we hang them up on the wall near our kitchen table.
Reef’s attention to detail is growing.  He spends hours each day coloring or writing his name, which many times looks like Feer or Free (he seems to still get the letters out of order, but it’s cool knowing his name mixed up spells free).
He also brings me papers with letters he’s written down, asking “What does this spell?”
“That spells hex-pres,” I tell him and he is overjoyed with delight.
“What about this one?” and he points to another section of his paper.
“That spells fugus,” and he giggles.  He then repeats it back to me.  I think it makes him feel very smart.
He doesn’t even know what it means, he’s just happy to write it and he's happy to have it read by someone.

Isn’t that how we feel; just happy to write what we write because at the end of the day, we think it’s pretty cool too.  We especially like when someone else reads what we've written.  That's the best!
I think I might be raising a fellow writer.

Sep 6, 2012

Count Your Many Blessings

by Kari Diane Pike

The majority of my writing time lately has been spent on my research paper for a class about family adaptation and change.  I find it ironic that I would be taking a class about how to be a first responder to people in crisis during a period of some of the greatest challenges I have faced in many years. I wish I could say that because of that knowledge I sailed through those challenges with grace and dignity. Nope. I tripped -- a lot. I said I'm sorry -- a lot. And I learned to forgive, to serve, and to love unconditionally, not only others, but myself. I became better acquainted with God's love, as well.

Driving home from Tucson the other day, I had a long conversation with Heavenly Father about how tired I was of all the chaos. At the end of my prayer, I turned on the radio just as this chorus of a Rodney Atkin's song played:

" Yeah, If you're going through [heck]
Keep on moving, face that fire
Walk right through it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there..."

Now how can I not smile and be grateful and feel Heavenly Father's love after that!  

This quote came to my inbox thing morning:

"Trying to comprehend the trials and meaning of this life without understanding Heavenly Father’s marvelously encompassing plan of salvation is like trying to understand a three-act play while seeing only the second act. Fortunately, our knowledge of the Savior, Jesus Christ, and His Atonement helps us to endure our trials and to see purpose in suffering and to trust God for what we cannot comprehend."
--Elder Neal A Maxwell, "Enduring Well", April 1997 Ensign
No one gets through life unscathed. And there is everything to be thankful for. I don't need to know the why's or why not's. I just need to know the Savior and have faith in his atonement and allow gratitude for all of my many blessings to fill my heart. are a just a few of the gifts that came to me during this amazing time in my life:

New Granddaughter Maesonanne Rose

Amazing friends!

New granddaughter Emali Anne


Creative gardners and beautiful flowers...These white snowball flowers ( I don't know their real name) bloom early and dry the lady who grows them spray paints them so they last all summer.

birthday parties and fun in the sun!

sunflowers hold a special place in my heart.

county fairs and 4H and grandchildren learning how to be responsible and self-sufficient

witnessing the curiosity and creativity of a young child. I wish I would have captured the very happy dogs licking butter off the floor and chair and child.

Going to the temple with my children.

Macaroni and cheese and being silly.

The light on the mountains. I will never get tired of watching it change all through the day.

Book signings!

 Of course I need to add music and scriptures and, well, the list could go on forever. Have you counted your blessings today?