Monday, December 31, 2007

January's BIAM Challenge

Tristi's got another challenge for us, and I'm so excited to take it up!

I'm going to finish my Devils' Daughter by golly! The Devils' Daughter is about Desolation Black, daughter of Luke Black, aka Lucifer. Now that she's sixteen dear old dad expects her to join the family business, that is the business of ruining lives and devouring souls. The only problem is, Desi wants nothing more than to be good. The Devils' Daughter takes Desi through her growing process when she finds out who she really is.

I know, my 'blurb' needs work. But you get the picture. It's an LDS book - Desi's not LDS but two of the main characters are and the book deals with one girls desire to be baptized into the LDS Church and all the obstacles that stand in her way. I love this book; writing it has been a ton of fun, thought sometimes I'm tempted to get a little dark and I want to steer away from that.

So, my goal for this challenge is 1000 words a day for a total of 31, 000 words during this challenge. Currently, I'm at 32, 413 words so ... well, what the heck, I may as well aim for an even 65, 000 words. So I guess my goal will be about 1, 050 then to make it to 65, 000 so then I may as well just aim for 1, 100 words. Hey, I can do it!

I'll keep a little ticker on the sidebar there so you can keep track of me.

Go Me!

2007 My Year in Review

I had a lot I wanted to write about but time is short so I doubt I'll do my thoughts justice. Nevertheless, for posterity's sake I'll make a stab at summing up the year 2007 for me:

  • This was the year I got a little older - I noticed quite a few more wrinkles (where I had none prior to this year) a bit more stubborn flab. Great.
  • But that's pretty much all the bad ... now on to the good! I made quite a few new friends, who have each brought great blessings into my life.
  • I truly became a writer. I finished my second book and am well on my way to finishing my third. I got a ton of rejection letters and placed in three writing competitions. "I am a writer. I will NOT live like a normal person." That phrase, written on the freebie-bag given at the LDStorymakers conference changed my life.
  • My family got pretty good at having regular and enjoyable family home evenings!
  • We even instituted a family scripture time that we've been able to stick with reasonably well!
  • I started karate - something I've always wanted to do, but was afraid to try. And even won two trophies this year!
  • I have enjoyed my first year in the Young Women organization at Church and have been really blessed for it.
  • I've learned a lot about myself and by not being afraid to look at my feelings and behavior, and to talk about it with friends, I have grown and improved.
  • Oh yeah, I started writing professionally (well, sort of!). How cool is that?
  • We got entirely out of debt!
  • I survived a hysterectomy and am a lot better off for it.
  • I got a dog - Jack who is in his naughty teenage years but I love him.
I think that's all I can think of! The sum of it all though is that it's been a great year, and there's every reason to expect that NEXT year will be even better!

Thanks for reading my blog this year and encouraging me along the way - ya'll have been amazing friends that have made my life easier. Thank you!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Twelve Christmas Thingies

Laurie (My Priceless Treasures) did this fun little thingy on her blog and I thought while it's yet the Christmas season (it is still, isn't it?) I'd post my twelve favorite things about Christmas or, twelve quirky things about Christmas a la Laurie:

  1. I love Christmastime because it's a time I can freely remember my Mom without feeling apologetic about it.
  2. I love getting gifts and really think the twelve days of Christmas ought to be observed ... at least where I am concerned!
  3. I am a horrible gift-giver. I love to spend money on other people, so it's not that. I just don't think I'm very good at finding the PERFECT gift to give. And if it's not perfect I feel stressed and/or worried about it.
  4. I still feel the thrill of Christmas morning and can't help but wake up early (like 5:00 a.m.) anxious for it to start. I'm always awake before my boys waiting for them to wake up!
  5. I love setting a big beautiful table and sitting friends and family around it. Unfortunately we've only ever managed a little bit of family, but I keep the dream alive and hope ... one day ...
  6. I love to put Christmas music on and shake my tushie to the music and sing along while decorating my Christmas tree and baking cookies. Makes me happy.
  7. I always buy a new bird ornament for tree in memory of my mom. This year I got a glazed ceramic blue bird. Pretty little thing.
  8. Because my anniversary is on the 27th Christmastime just feels like one big celebration of our wedding - I love it!
  9. I have to admit I'm not big on decorating. I love the look and all it's just so ... much. So much for such a short period of time. I did a little less this year than in years past. Certainly if I'm expecting company I try to do more, but since we weren't expecting anyone (and literally, not a soul dropped by) I didn't do much. It's still important to do a lot of it for my boys though.
  10. My favorite Christmas song is "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" and my favorite Christmas movie is "White Christmas" though I didn't get to see it this year. I also love "Elf"!
  11. It's just not Christmas without a fresh snow.
  12. My favorite Christmas moment is singing "O Come All Ye Faithful" on Christmas morning, holding hands with my men (big and little), and then invariably we all hug. It's a sweet and special moment that helps me to remember what it's all about.
This little meme is for anyone who wants to play along before the season is spent! Enjoy!

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Secret Heart

~ Claire Helmers ~

I wonder sometimes, if you know how much I need your love,
How much I crave a compliment, how much I want a hug.
I wonder if you share my fear of always falling short,
Of thinking I'm the only one with faults and sins and warts.

Do you, like me, put on a face that says your life is swell,
But shake and tremble deep inside that fragile outer shell?
Please don't be fooled by my facade, I've worn it now for years,
But often, just below my smile, my throat is full of tears.

Are you convinced that others here are worthier than you?
They know the gospel, pay their tithes, and shine in Sunday School.
Their kids don't fight, their house is clean, they never raise their voice.
You'd gladly trade your life for theirs, if you just had a choice.

Well, please remember, sister dear, that life's not all it seems.
The lives that other women live are only in your dreams.
They worry, struggle, cry and pray, and never have enough,
Of love from women like yourself, of gentle female stuff.

I need your love like you need mine; I need forgiveness too,
For falling short of my ideals, and wishing I was you.
So if you're like me, tell me so, just tell me to my face.
I need to hear that, oh so much; I need your warm embrace.

Do you like my dress, my hair, my smile, the lesson I just gave?
Well, tell me every Sunday, please; I'd love it if you rave.
You see, I'm not as smart or strong or good as you may think,
Life gets me down; you'd be surprised how low my moods can sink.

Well, who am I? I'm everyone - I'm every woman here.
Who needs a friend, a confidant, a nonjudgmental ear.
Who wants to feel important and know somebody cares.
Who needs to feel she's up to all the burdens that she bares.

So please don't be afraid of me, draw near to me instead.
Pour out your heart and soul to me and get inside my head.
Let's be a whole sisterhood of interlinking hearts.
That's how the Savior planned it, if we each just do our part.
I liked this poem. If you've been reading my blog for very long, you know I've struggled with these very thoughts and feelings - still do - and it has been a real eye-opener for me to hear from you (so many of you) that you feel the same way too. At Women's Conference in the fall, our Stake YW Presidency shared this poem with us. It was their wish that "[our] hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love ..." (Colossians 2:2). Certainly I was uplifted and comforted by the words in this poem, knowing it is oh-so true.

Elder Marvin J. Ashton said "If we could look into each others' hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us face, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance and care."

This is my wish for us as friends, both here and in real life ...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Anniversary

Today is my 16th wedding anniversary.

I love my husband with all my heart and I just want to shout it from the rooftops! Just like a birthday is a day to celebrate a person, an anniversary is a day to celebrate a love and ours is definitely worth celebrating! We wish we were off vacationing somewhere, truly reconnecting, but alas we are home with nothing planned. I couldn't even find a babysitter so we could go out for dinner! So we might go for dinner with the boys and maybe we'll be able to grab a movie on Friday night.

It doesn't really matter because we don't need a dinner out or a movie to remind us of our love for each other. We don't even need an anniversary. We tell each other every day how much we love each other - in fact, we're quite sappy! That's the way we like it though, wouldn't have it any other way.

I've already told you all about how we came to be a couple, so let me tell you a bit about our wedding day. We got married in the Logan Temple in 1991. We chose that temple because, well frankly, all other temples were booked! Well, that and the fact that none of David's family wanted to drive to Manti, our second choice after the Salt Lake Temple. Since I didn't know anyone in Utah, Davids' family was all we had so we went with the popular choice. As it was, it stormed that day so we had very few people at our sealing.

I was alone and dressed myself in the very busy brides' room. A kindly temple worker helped me zip up my dress, but she didn't help me fix my hair or anything and gosh was I sorry later I hadn't tried harder to get a helper! I looked awful in my pictures! I could have asked one of David's sisters or something. I did ask his mom, but I think she misunderstood because she didn't come in. Took me many years of getting to know her to realize she felt so worried about overstepping her bounds and so she wouldn't speak up when she feared she had misunderstood me. Doesn't matter anyway ... David still thought I was beautiful and still went along with marrying me!

Our reception was small but filled with family togetherness. His family did a lovely job decorating - it was so pretty! We had a little program and I even sang a song .... "O My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose" by Robert Burns for David.

Back home in Nova Scotia we had another reception about a week later. There we had a piper pipe for us and I sang "O My Love" again. My dad, his wife and my Aunt June from Ontario all surprised me by showing up for the reception! That was a big, big deal! (That's like going from Minnesota to Maine or farther just for a party). It was a lovely party, the best!

I ought to have a party now because our love and our marriage mean so much more to me, are so much bigger, even than they were when we first jumped in. A big celebration would be all the more appropriate now.

Here's Andy Stewart singing "Oh My Love" ... Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Cross Family Christmas 2007

I wanted to post pictures, but alas, that will have to wait for another time. This post isn't really for you, anyway, it's for me and my senile brain ... I want to remember this sweet Christmas.

Christmas Eve I baked shortbread cookies and I think I may have discovered a very close version of that shortbread my Gran made that I gobbled up as a girl. It was very good, but next time I need to make it in two pans rather than one so the squares aren't so thick (though my Gran made it thick like that, I'd prefer it thin), also, I need to find some course sugar to sprinkle on top; I'd prefer the cookies to be a bit more sweet, but a little sprinkle on top would be just enough, I think.

We have our fancy dinner on Christmas Eve, even though as children we always had it on Christmas - it's felt right for us, though. I baked a ham, with whole cloves pricked through the skin all over and with pineapple slices laid all over it. I bake it in a clay pot and it comes out oh-so-moist and fragrant and yummy. Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, baby carrots with cinnamon sugar sprinkled on them and peas. I laid the table with my plaid table cloth which my sister gave me for my first married Christmas. Candles and wine glasses for some sparkling apple cider. I have Christmas dishes illustrated by Susan Winget of the Christmas story. It was a pretty table.

Charlie came up from the basement where he'd been helping to tidy up and saw the table. He said "This is so beautiful! Why is the table like this?" "Because I want you to feel special and loved," I replied. "Thank you Mom," he said as he came and gave me a hug. At that moment, it was all worth it.

We enjoyed our dinner and some toasts to wish Jesus a happy birthday and Merry Christmas to all of us and then we had hot apple pie a la mode. Yum!

We opened our gifts from family far away and the boys were totally jazzed by a very cool Star Wars Vault book and Toronto Maple Leaf jerseys.

We'd read the Christmas story earlier in the week we had read the Christmas Story in the Bible at the boys' request. So on Christmas Eve we read the account of Christs' birth in the Book of Mormon. 1 Nephi 1 chapters (I think) 15 or so to 26 or so. It's a simple account without much detail, but the Spirit was strong and we were all touched by it. We sang Silent Night and then had our prayers.

After prayers we checked the Norad Santa tracker, the boys sprinkled out reindeer food for the boys, we set out pie and cookies for Santa and the boys went to bed. Early, by the way. No late nights for my guys!

For the past five years or so we've enjoyed having David's parents, Joe & Laura, join us for Christmas Eve and Christmas. Several times David's two unmarried sisters, Maureen and Mariann have also joined us. This year though, because of Laura's illness they had to stay home. The boys missed them, but found something to be grateful for; they didn't have to wait to get up in the morning! Thank goodness they still didn't come and get us till about 7:00.

We go down to our main floor where we see that the Baby Jesus is in his bed made soft by the months' worth of good deeds and kindesses and we sing "O Come All Faithful". I got choked up feeling the feelings. We open stockings, I make hot chocolate to put on a tray to go down and then we head down to our basement where our big tree is and where our main gifts are. We never do too many gifts, just a couple each. This year though we did do a 'high tech' Christmas - Santa brought us a Wii. When the boys realized, Xan was way excited and Charlie did a fake faint! It was funny.

Xander was our elf this year ... he hands out a gift to each person, and then we unwrap it. Then he gets gifts for everyone again. Just one at a time, that way we can see what we all got. On about the second gift, Charlie saw Xan was about to open the gift he'd picked out and bought for him - an electronic toy guitar. Rather than being engrossed in his own present, Charlie couldn't help but watch for that magic moment when Xan realized what he got. His own present forgotten, half unwrapped, he watched just as excited as Xan. When Xan saw what it was he jumped up. Charlie joined him and Xan gave him a big hug and said thank you. It was heartwarming to see the generosity and the love they DO have for each other despite the day-to-day friction of brotherhood.

The boys also happily left their own unwrapping to join me on the couch to watch me open the small gift they had picked out for me - a silver necklace with a CZ heart. They were so pleased to see I liked it, so anxious for me to know how much they love me and wanted to spoil me and give me something pretty.

I did get spoiled today. I got lots of wonderful things but best of all ... I got an Alpha Smart Dana! I can't wait to report how much it helps my writing goals!

I baked gingerbread men in the afternoon with another new recipe and it was awesome! They came out more like ginger snaps but David and I both prefer them that way. They were way yummy.

Afterward, we went to Gramma and Grampa's house. We couldn't really visit them because David and the boys are still sick (David is going on eight weeks with bronchitis and is actually seeming a bit worse - time to go back to the doc). But we took our gifts, a plate of cookies and the love in our hearts. We sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" to them then stepped inside to say hi. Gramma requested a song from the boys and they sang one of their songs from their school holiday program. We couldn't hug or kiss, or do more than stand in the hall for a few minutes, but it was worth the long drive just to show them we love them.

We came home to split pea soup in the crockpot and homemade artisan bread and just a general feeling of happiness and contentment.

I have a wonderful little family here. I love them with all my heart. This has been a joyous Christmas with lots of the good stuff ... enough to fill my heart and sustain me for a long time to come.

Merry Christmas to All of You!

(I'll post pictures when I find my usb cable!)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

100 Things About Me ... Final 50!

And just because you can never get too much of me ... here's my final fifty things!

52. My name is not officially "Ali". I was born Sandra, then affected a name change (which you can legally do in Canada), to Alexandra when I was 19. About 1/3 of the people in my life call me Sandi, the majority call me Ali but a select few (from my Opera days) call me Alex. Believe me, it's hard to keep straight! Especially at Christmas card time because I can never remember who I am to that person!
53. Oh yea, I'm Canadian. Born in Orangeville, Ontario, grew up in Bramalea, Ontario and went to high school in London, Ontario, University (the one I graduated from anyway!) in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
54. I once helped a cat deliver her kittens. I needed to slip my finger inside and help pop the last kitten out. The momma cat was exhausted from a long and difficult delivery. That kitty, "Olivia" that I helped birth (had to cut her cord and such myself and clean her off myself because momma was just too tired) became my best and sweetest little furry friend. When she disappeared a few years later I was devestated and can still recall the pain of losing her.
55. I'm finding it hard to remember what I've already told you! Guess I'm a bit senile too!
56. My favorite treat are dark chocolate truffles. Yum.
57. My favorite chocolate bars are Canadian ... you haven't lived until you've had an Aero bar.
58. One of my virtues, if you can call it that, is that I like to try new things: If I've wanted to do something, I believe in trying that thing ... risk can lead to failure, it's true, but it can also lead to a whole new adventure, new skills learned, new wonders discovered.
59. I have one truly precious friend in life ... Sheri. I have several really great friends, but Sheri is that rare friend that is just really special. She is a true gift to me. Unfortunately she lives about six hours away from me!
60. I don't think I'm a very good writer, but I think I have great ideas.
61. I like to do Jazzercise.
62. I am an orange belt in Kwan Shoo Karate, and I plan on sticking it out through the long haul and getting my black belt one day.
63. When I was trying to conceive, I found a support group online at IVillage. I ended up getting pregnant with twins and moved on to a support group for moms pg with twins. I've now been friends with the same group of women (we've since moved into a private forum) for over eight years now. We've gotten together a few times and they have been a wonderful support for me, not only in the early crazy days with twin babies, but in regular life too. They're awesome!
64. My favorite color to decorate with is a deep red, like a cranberry or brick red.
65. I am about 20 lbs overweight and I think I'll never lose it. I try, but then I get super stressed and focussed on the food and then I go crazy and then I blow up and blow it. Argh.
66. I am a perfectionist and have a hard time forgiving myself when I don't do things perfectly well.
67. I miss being able to drink coffee and tea because they are comfort foods to me. When I was sad or I was having a close moment with my mom, we would have cinnamon toast and tea. When I feel sad, even all this long time later, that's what I want ... cinnamon toast and tea.
68. I am a terrible gift-giver. I just can never think of what thing a person would most like to have. I am, however, good at giving compliments ... I can usually think of something sincere and meaningful to say to a person.
69. My favorite song is "Tristesse" a classical piece by Chopin.
70. My favorite contemporary singer is probably Sarah MacLauchlin.
71. My favorite LDS singer is George Dyer. I love all of his stuff.
72. I am a slow reader. Darn it.
73. I am rather shy, even though I'm good at pretending I'm not.
74. I can, and regularly do, bake whole wheat bread from scratch - including grinding my own wheat and such. Yummy! My boys actually like it too preferring it over store-bought bread (although they think white bread is a super yummy treat, lol!)
75. I am not a good housekeeper. I mean, I can keep basically on top of things (a la Flylady) but I hate, hate, hate scrubbing stuff.
76. My favorite story in the Book of Mormon is the story of Abinadi. Reading that story for the first time was a life-changing experience for me and is the moment I mark as the time my testimony in the Book of Mormon was born.
77. My favorite T.V. shows are Smallville, Jericho (which might come back for a short last season - can't wait!), and Heroes. I like T.V.
78. There is no other place than on a stage, looking out at a darkened audience, the light shining in my face, the music flowing through me, where I feel more alive. That is where I live.
79. I relish the moments that come far too rarely when I laugh so hard I pee my pants, my stomach hurts and I can't breathe. Sounds awful, but I love that! Last time I had that was with my sister in New York - a year ago! Too long!
80. I drive a 2000 red Honda CR-V and I love it. It's the greatest little car.
81. I have never been anywhere 'special' on vacation. Sad, but true. I hope to change that one day!
82. I would like to be one of those people who loves exercising so much and is totally fit and strong.
83. I think I am a good friend ... I am loyal and sincere.
84. I already told you that I think the best thing about me is that I'm willing to take risks and try new things. The worst thing about me is that I'm always afraid people aren't being sincere with me and that I'm really no good at anything.
85. I wish I could sing with a little celtic band.
86. I love it when it snows.
87. I love to sleep.
88. I love that my boy Xander loves to sing and will sit beside me in Church joyously singing along with me. He can't carry a tune in a bucket, but he makes up for it with his style.
89. I am currently working (and I use that term loosely because in point of fact I haven't done any work for quite a while now) on two books: One is the Devils Daughter about the 16 year old literal daughter of Satan who wants nothing more than to be good, and The Jump Boys, a middle grade sci fi adventure about two boys who live on Jupiter.
90. I write blogs on happiness for
91. I'm very happy to be coming to the end of this list because this has been really, really hard!
92. My favorite memories of my mom are driving on the long road to Grand Bend in Ontario where we would camp for the weekend, with the 8-Track blaring "Rockin' Robin" and "Hang Down Your Head Tom Brody" and the like. We would hang our heads out the windows of mom's carmel colored Cordoba (with genuine Corinthian leather) and sing at the top of our lungs. Good times.
93. I can't wait for Christmas! (did I already say that one?)
94. I'm looking forward to trying a new shortbread recipe I found ... ever on the hunt for that perfect shortbread recipe that will remind me of my Gran's (you know the one I scarfed down when I was like, 8 years old?). Wish me luck!
95. I despise grocery shopping which I have to do tomorrow.
96. I have been really touched by the Spirit while reading the Christmas Story with my boys these past few nights. Dont' know why I should feel it so strongly this year, but I really have been. It's been wonderful.
97. I love that my boys still believe in Santa. It's obvious to me that it's a choice they are making at this point; they are smart enough to know, but they are choosing to believe and not to be synics and I love that about them.
98. I've been missing Sam a lot lately and wish he could come home.
99. I am so thankful for my Savior and for the atonement. I don't like to think about where I might be if a new life had not been made possible for me.
100. I am thankful for my internet friends who read my blog and make feel like I'm not alone, not so different, after all.
101. Bonus! I'm looking forward to another 100 posts! But what's the blogging tradition then? I shudder at the possibilities!

Thanks for reading! I'm glad that's over - hey, that's 102!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

100 Things About Me ... First 50

... because seven things were just not enough and I know you're dying to know more about me and because I only just learned that it's a blogging tradition to post 100 Things About You when you hit 100 posts AND because I hit 100 posts a couple weeks ago ... (catching my breath!) ... here are 100 things about me (except this is way harder than it looks, so here's the first fifty things)!

1. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
2. I joined the Church when I was 21, after years of searching for the right church for me.
3. I have only ever joined one other religion in my life and that was the Ba'Hai faith ... it only lasted for a year maybe. I've been a Mormon for going on eighteen years!
4. I want to be like my friend Wendy when I grow up. She is smart and wonderful, funny and kind - just an amazing, beautiful person.
5. I love Christmastime best of all.
6. I have to admit, I love to get presents!
7. I still wake up super early anxious to go see what Santa brought!
8. My parents were divorced - Dad left when I was four.
9. I fell and dislocated my jaw when I was days away from my first birthday. My jaw was never reset and dislocated to this day!
10. When I was at University studying vocal performance, my doctor told me I needed to stop singing or I wouldn't even speak within five years. Ha! proved him wrong!
11. I am a photographer.
12. I have my own photography business - A Work of Heart Photography
13. I am the baby of 5.
14. I look like my Dad's sister June - the spitting image, just about.
15. Both my parents have passed away - my Mom was I was 19 and my Dad when I was 23.
16. I have had eight miscarriages.
17. I have one adopted son and twin boys.
18. I can crochet. I used to only make beautiful baby outfits (I'll post a pic some time) but now am doing blankets more because the recipient can get more use out of them.
19. I was a cheerleader in High School.
20. I was on the swim team and the track team in High School too.
21. In High School I played in the baritone sax in the Dixie Land Band, alto sax in the Jazz Band and alto sax AND bassoon in the School Band.
22. I was voted the prettiest girl in school was I was in grade eight.
23. In grade eight a boy commented that my white jordache jeans were so tight he could see the date of the quarter in my back pocket.
24. When I was a girl I wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up. That was my plan all the way till my mom got sick and then my plans just fizzled.
25. I went to three universities ... Guelph University in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ontario, and Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
26. I graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from Acadia University in 1992.
27. I was co-chair of my University's Student Council in my last year.
28. I used to want to be a constitutional lawyer. I still occasionally entertain that thought.
29. I have sung in front of audiences of thousands to grand applause.
30. My favorite role to sing was Baby Doe in The Ballad of Baby Doe by Douglas Moore.
31. I am a coloratura soprano.
32. I hardly ever sing anymore.
33. My husband and I had a long distance relationship all the way through our courtship until 9 days before our marriage in the Logan Temple.
34. David gave me a gorgeous rock of a diamond (and the accompanying ring, lol) for our fifteenth wedding anniversary last December. Remind me to show it off to you next time I see you!
35. I am the secretary in our ward's Young Women organization.
36. I oftentimes say little 'private joke' type things in public that people don't get so ... they don't get me. Like "Danku" from Leelu in Fifth Element or "autowashhhhhhhh" or "multi-pass" ... again all Fifth Element.
37. Oh yeah. Fifth Element is my fave movie.
38. I am of Scottish and Irish decent.
39. I grew up Scottish Country Dancing.
40. I love all things Celtic.
41. I hope I get this lovely Celtic love knot necklace from Tiffany's for my anniversary this year. I have a cheap version of it, but, ya know ... I'd like the purty one.
42. I love to talk in silly voices to my boys and see them crack up. They simultaneously can't stand it and beg me to stop while they roll on the floor laughing ... so how can I stop, really?
43. I think my boys are the greatest thing since sliced bread. And I love bread.
44. My favorite food is a super yummy filet mignon.
45. I love the Texas Roadhouse because I can get said yummy filet with a baked sweet potato. Yum!
46. I've noticed this exercise is like a stream of consciencness thing ... I wonder what a psychologist would make of my thought process?
47. I always say I'm going to bed but have to make one last stop at my computer to 'shut it down' and then end up spending at least another half hour just doing one last check of everything ... including reading blogs and, well, posting!
48. I have fibromyalgia. It's been in remission for the past three years but guess what? It's recently decided to move back in with me. Darn guest. Didn't it know it did NOT have an open invitation to come back again?
49. I'm a little afraid of growing old. I don't mind growing older I just don't want to be O-L-D.
50. I can't wait to see National Treasure 2 this weekend with my men - we always have a great time at the movies together.
51. Bonus! I think it's time to watch Fifth Element again too!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tag Again!

It's been a while since I've played tag so ... guess it's time! Rebecca Talley tagged me for the "7 Things About Me" meme and then I'll tag 7 others.

Thanks Rebecca, it was fun!

Seven Things About Me:
1) When I was a teenager I briefly worked as a wrestling referee. It didn't last too long. I was relatively boy crazy but after seeing them, umm, grappling with each other and laying in weird and, ahem, disturbing positions together for long periods of time was just too upsetting. It threatened to mess with my view of the world. Like I said, it didn't last too long.

2) I have three brothers and one sister. They are 8, 10, 12, and 14 years older than me. My brothers are the oldest and I'm not that close with them, though I wish it were otherwise. Like I mentioned the other day, I wasn't that close to my sister either but I'm happy to say that has changed. All my siblings live in Canada, while I am in Utah, USA.

3) I constantly talk to myself and to other people in my head. Seriously. It's never quiet up there. Either that or there's singing. Lots and lots of singing. I never knew this was not normal until I told my husband about it one day ... unless of course it's HIM that's not normal.

4) I have always had a relationship with Jesus, even though my family did not go to church ~ my imaginary friend was Jesus. He used to come and have tea with me.

5) One Christmas when I was a little girl my Granny brought a home made shortbread over for Christmas. I remember disctinctly: She set it down on the coffee table while she went into the kitchen to help my mom. She said I could have a piece. "Ye can have a wee piece, if ye like," she said with a smile and a pat on my head. When she came back she discovered the whole pan was gone. Yep. Gone. Not to the dog, nor to anyone else in the house. To me ... all to me. I was a small little girl and I downed a whole oh, probably couple pound shortbread. And I'm talking about the traditional shortbread, baked in a spring form pan, shaped like a cake? Pieces cut in triangles that are like two inches deep? Yep, all mine. And it didn't make me sick, instead to this day I remember my Granny's shortbread as the very best in the whole world. Makes me so sorry I don't have the recipe.

6) When I'm feeling sad, the thing I love best is for my hubby to hold me and sing "You Are My Sunshine" to me. Chases all the sad feelings away.

7) I love the smell of the outdoors. Or, at least, some outdoors. I love to stand in an eastern wood, feet sinking into the carpet of leaves, the smell of damp bark, wet leaves, pine needles, moist soil, filling every particle of my being. I can close my eyes and drink it in and feel like I am in heaven.

Rules of the Meme:
1) Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2) Share 7 facts about yourself.
3) Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
4) Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Tag, you're it:
Ok, I need to include a caveat here: I have been a very bad blog reader lately, so please forgive me if I've tagged you and yet you've already been tagged. Can you do that for me? Thanks!


Journey of the Magi (2) by T.S. Elliot

"A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter."
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation,
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky.
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,

Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.

We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

One of my favorite poems. But then, I'm a huge fan of T.S. Elliots'.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Today is my moms' Angel Day. She passed away in our apartment, on the afternoon of Sunday, December 13th, 1987, with all her children gathered in the living room, laughing and baking banana bread. It was the first time in months that we were all together, the first time we'd found something to laugh about ... the first time she felt secure in leaving us.

My dad left when I was four and being the baby by eight years, that gave me a lot of time with my mom to myself. I was her baby and she was my Mommy. Until one day I got home from my week away at University, full of life and ideas and possibilities, and my mom looked up at me and said "Oh my goodness! You're all grown up!" She died about two months after that.

This picture was taken in the Spring of 1987,
shortly after my Mom's diagnoses with terminal liver cancer.

Oh how I wish I could take my growing up back! How I wouldn't have given up the classes, the boyfriends, the fun, for a little more time to be my Mommy's baby.

But I can't think of my moms' death without also thinking of my sister, Heather. My sister (eight years older than I) and I really had not gotten along since I became a teenager. It was more than a passing dislike. However, when my mom was dying, and choosing to die at home rather than at a hospital, we were required to set our differences aside in order to serve and care for our mother.

My sister would hold our mom and soothe her fears while I lay crying, alone, in my room. I would hold our moms hand and talk with her even though she didn't know who I was, while my sister ran from the room crying because mom had just called her by someone elses name. We discovered where I was weak, Heather was strong, and where she was weak, I was strong. Together we were wonderful and we cared for our mom through all the hard times that preceded her death.

I have missed my mom so over the last twenty years. She may have believed me to be grown up on that October day so long ago, but in truth I've done most of growing up since she has left. But oh how grateful I am for the gift of my sister. She is my rock, my friend, my family. I can't think of my mom without thinking of my sister; I lost the one but gained the other.

And so even in death, my mom was an angel to me, even then watching out for me. She didn't leave me alone, she left me with the dearest of friends who holds my heart in her hands. My sister.

Me & Heather,
on our trip to New York City

October 2006.

Online Gaming

I've been meaning to post this for a while and since it's been a few days since I last wrote and I promised you NEW MATERIAL regularly, I'm going to cheat a little and tell you about this:

My boys like to go online to play computer games. Many of the neighbor kids do it, so I didn't think much of it. David is the internet police around here. I know, I should do my part, but he's so much more knowledgeable than me that I tend to slack a bit and let him carry the burden. Anyway, since my boys get these online game sites from other friends who live in good homes with strong moral values I thought the sites must be safe.

Ahhh ... Nope.

On one you get the relatively harmless but terribly annoying pop-ups. Worse, if the kids click on those pop-ups (which they very well may do since they have smilies and look fun and appealing) you can invite spyware or viruses onto your system.

But the one that really got me is this benign site that while the games are being played there is live chat going on at the bottom. Apparently this online chatting is a haven for the rude and crude because most of the chat going on is sexual and obscene in nature.

Needless to say, these things are NOT appropriate for my boys, even if the games seem okay. Oh and that reminds me, not all the games on these sites ARE okay. There's this one series of games that has cute little puppies (or kitties or monkeys) doing tricks to, say, catch a frisbee. But if Fido misses the disc, his head gets cut off and blood goes flying! Umm ... again, no thank you.

Anyway, my hubby, great dad that he is, has gone through these online game sites and collected the games that are good and put them all on his own site. You can send your child there, if you're inclined to let them play computer games, and trust that what he or she finds there will meet with your approval. There are a couple games that have the word 'damn' in them and David is working to get those out also, but just so you know, it's sometimes there.

If you're interested, the site is totally free, it's just meant as a help to you ... Go to ...


Monday, December 10, 2007

Best Husband in the World

Yes, I do believe I have the best husband in the world ... at least, the very best husband for me! I think it would be very hard to be married to me, but David does it with so much grace and class he makes me think maybe it's not that hard after all! Certainly he tells me it's not hard.

Candace is having a contest to see who has the best husband in the world and I entered David. I'm afraid I didn't write it very well ... I found I was so full of emotion and my feelings were just so ... big ... that it was hard to express them. But for me, David really is the best husband and I love him with all my heart; it would be a sweet gift to give him this award.

I hope you'll visit Candace's blog and vote for David if you feel you can. We would sure appreciate it!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Christmas Spirit is Alive & Well!

This is my report from a wonderful morning that left me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside:

  • By the time we were up and out the door this morning our neighbors had already plowed the snow from our drive and walkway! Merry Christmas!
  • We stood in a humungeous line to see Glenn Beck this morning and to have him sign his new book An Inconvenient Book. Though the store was jam-packed from stem to stern, though the lines were unbearably long (we were number 583 and there were many more behind us), though it was suffocatingly hot ... people were kind, helpful, honest and happy. "Merry Christmases" were heard all throughout the store. Glenn himself was smiling, happy and friendly - even shook each of my boys' hands and wished them a Merry Christmas. It was fun!
  • We had heard that there would be real live reindeer at The Quilted Bear today and since our boys were so good at the book signing, we wanted to do something fun for them. But it hadn't quite started yet, so we grabbed lunch at The Lighthouse restaurant right near by. Inside the people were friendly and chatty and best of all ... someone won two Christmas-themed stuff animals from the claw game and gave them to Charlie & Xander. Merry Christmas again!
  • We met super neat people while waiting for the reindeer (and Santa! We had no idea we'd get to see Santa today too!) who even offered to take pictures of the boys with Santa. Since we had not come prepared this kind family took our information and promised to send pictures. How nice! (BTW, I've never been to The Quilted Bear before - it's amazing! I think I have to go shopping now!) Again, though the wait to see Santa was long (he was running late) people were happy and friendly. Santa was wonderful - the real Santa - and though the boys were kind of nervous to meet him, they were happy they went through with it. Merry Christmas Santa!
It has been a lovely morning and now I'm home ready to tidy up my house, get some blogging for LDS blogs done and prepare for the Sabbath. I feel warm from the inside out and desire to spread some Christmas cheer of my own. Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Wonderful Surprise!

Yesterday David and I played hookie a bit and took a trip to Costco. Going to Costco is much more exciting than going to a regular grocery store or department store. At Costco, it's like playing at one of those claw games at an arcade ... you never know if you're going to find anything good at all, but then again, you just might hit the jackpot!

Yesterday we definitely hit the jackpot! *U*

Soon after entering the store we saw they were having a large Greg Olsen paintings sale. There were a couple men chatting behind the desk near the display; we blithely walked past them intent on the display. There was a big marketing poster on the wall with Greg Olsen's picture on it. I look at the picture and don't think much of it, but David right away says, "hey, that's him!" I took a couple steps backwards and sure enough, the man now standing alone behind the counter is Greg Olsen!

I was very pleased to meet him, and even more pleased to discover he was very kind, gracious, and well, human. I liked him :)

And then my sweet hubby sees the painting that I love so much, my very favorite of Brother Olsen's:


They don't have the painting hanging, but further inquiry leads to discovery and soon I am standing with a large print on the table between me and Brother Olsen and he is signing it! He signed the front and then on the back wrote "To the Cross Family, Christmas 2007, Greg Olsen".

Happy Anniversary to me, my hubby said! (Our anniversary is not until December 27th but ...0


And thank you Brother Olsen for your kindness and class and especially, thank you for your work.

Christmas Give-Away on Anne's Site!

I'm playin' to win folks! Anne's having a cool little contest over on her site. Here's the details ... it's easy so why not play along too? Just follow the link to Anne's original post!


Anyone want to win a brand new, still-in-box, RjTECH UNO-02DVD compact slim DVD player? And since it's the Christmas season when it's nice to give more, SHIPPING by Priority Mail is FREE in Continental USA.

Closing date--DECEMBER 18th 2007.
  • Full DVD function
  • DVD format compatibility: DVD/DVD-R/DVD-RW/VCD/
  • Audio Outputs: 2.1 CH RCA/Coaxial
  • Video Outputs: Video/S-Video/YCbCr
  • Multi-TV System NTSC/PAL
  • Dimensions: 10 x 9 x 1.5 inches ; 4 pounds
Two simple rules:

1) Post information about the contest on your blog with a link back to Anne's.

2) Leave ONE comment back at the original post telling me you've completed #1.

Winner will be chosen by random number generator on Tuesday December 18th, and announced the same day.

Spread the word about this nifty give-away.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sweet Sunday

First I wanted to encourage you to read this lovely post that my boys' second grade teacher, Jackie Warner wrote on her blog. It's a sweet and uplifting story about the power of the Holy Ghost to comfort and the 'tender mercies' as Jackie puts it that God so often grants us. I've been thinking of this story a lot over the last few days and thought perhaps you might enjoy it too.

Today I had a neat thing happen - a happy mom moment. David and I often think our one boy, Charlie is terribly contrary. He's a 'contrarian'. If everyone's going one way, Charlie will want to go the opposite direction. For instance, yesterday afternoon we had tithing settlement. David, Xander and I all sat erect and eager to answer the Bishops questions; Charlie sat sprawled across his seat generally exuding an aura of disdain and, well, contrariness. The Bishop commented on how Xander was a fine young man, so reverent, so well mannered. Of course he extended his compliment to Charlie as well, but everyone (including Charlie) knew it was meant for Xan.

And so it will likely go for Charlie most of his life, particularly at Church; he will appear to be contrary and people will judge him for it. When preparing for the Primary program at Church Xander accused Charlie of not being a good boy because he didn't want to participate in the program. Charlie said "I love Jesus, I just don't like to sing." And that pretty much sums up Charlie as evidenced by today's testimony meeting.

I had asked the boys if they wanted to bear their testimonies because they often do, but had not the past two months or so. Xan said he didn't think so and Charlie said he was thinking about it. They were busy coloring. I bore my testimony about the power of music to carry the thoughts of our heart to Heavenly Father when our words don't seem adequate enough. Before passing the mic I asked the boys if they wanted to use it, but both passed. Several more testimonies were born and the boys quietly colored without expressing any interest in what was going on around them. When suddenly Charlie put the cap on his marker and stood up. He had to sit down and wait for his turn, but he didn't falter and soon he had the mic in his hand.

In a clear voice, free of baby-talk (which he often affects) he bore his testimony about his love for Jesus. He said he knew Jesus was his Savior and that He was his favorite person. He spoke for a full minute or so, all about the Savior and his love for him. His testimony was heart-felt, utterly sincere and completely unique to Charlie. It was his testimony.

This little boy is an enigma to me. He appears to be rebellious, contrary, disdainful. But inside he is feeling and thinking and connected. He is a river that runs deep.

Tonight David received a blessing from Kenny and Daniel, his nephews. These boys are amazing boys, I love them so much. Scratch that, they are amazing MEN. (Both are married, duh.) In the blessing Kenny said something about how when the boys are older our whole family will be together again and there will be no angry feelings. He was speaking of Sam returning home, surely. Something huge we hope really will happen one day. He also said something else that made evident Heavenly Father's hand in the blessing because no one else knows about it.

We are thinking of trying to find our last child through adoption. We have, in visions past, seen our family and in dreams presently, felt our last child near. All are accounted for except for a little girl. We had the opportunity to be considered as the adoptive parents recently but it fell through. Now we feel we need to take official steps toward finding this child. Scary! We feel so old, haha, but we want to be obedient and more than that, we want this girl in our life. In blessings past we've been told that she would be "a gift" and in our visions and dreams of her she has been a joy.

The Christmas devotional, music practice for a Christmas program I'm involved in ... everything about this day has been sweet, renewing, uplifting. A sweet Sunday, indeed!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

UHP Trooper Cleared of Wrong-Doing

I had heard this story on the news and then my husband, David showed me the video. I am a strong supporter of law enforcement and my instinct was to side with the police officer in this case. However, in watching the video, several times over, I came to have a distinctly different view.

First of all, I felt respect for Jared Massey, the driver, that he was willing to stand up for himself and question the ticket he was being given. From my perspective, I think it's possible he did not see the new posted speed sign because the police car was in front of it. (However, I'm sure there were 'reduced speed ahead' signs posted previously, so I do not dispute that Massey may have indeed been speeding). Nevertheless, I think as citizens of a free society we have the right to question authority and seek evidence of our misconduct.

After that though, I think it all goes to hell in a hand basket very quickly. I do believe that Utah Highway Patrol Officer Jon Gardner uses inappropriate force in his decision to use the taser on Massey. I believe that Officer Gardner had a mandate to effectively communicate his intentions and concerns with Massey, which he does not do. He does not clearly indicate to Massey that his choices are to take his hand out of his pocket and stand still. Massey thinks they are talking about whether or not a slower speed has been posted and suddenly he has a taser pointed at him.

Obviously, though, since yesterday UHP Superintendent Lance Davenport, stated that Gardner's actions "were lawful and reasonable under the circumstances," not everyone sees the video as I do.

Perhaps I feel this way because my husband has a mechanical heart valve and if he were to be tasered in an incident like this one, he would likely die. I am all for the use of tasers in lieu of deadly force, but I am quite sure there were several options the Patrol Officer had at his disposal that did not include zapping Massey full of electricity.

An internal investigation continues in this case and I truly hope they find that Officer Gardners' actions were unfounded. Like I said, I'm not disputing that Massey may have been speeding, nor that his actions (keeping a hand in his pocket which may have concealed a weapon and walking away from the Officer when the taser had been pulled on him) could have been construed as suspicious.

I do however strongly disapprove of Officer Gardners' use of the taser on Jared Massey and feel that disciplinary action would be appropriate. If you have not already seen the video, you can watch it here and let me know what you think.

Friday, November 30, 2007


It took my boys' teacher posting to me yesterday for me to realize I had forgotten yesterday to write about a really super duper important thing! Reflections!

On Wednesday I had visit teaching scheduled with two of our sisters at 1:45 and 2:15. Our 1:45 sister wasn't there, turns out she thought I had her scheduled for 2:45. We needed to reschedule to the next day and both my companion and I thought oh sure we have nothing going Thursday afternoon.

Thursday afternoon early my companion calls and says "Oh no I just realized the reflections assembly is this afternoon at 2:00". Incidentally we rescheduled our sister for 2:00. Normally the organizer of reflections will call ahead to those children's parents who have won in their category to make sure the parents are at the assembly. Neither my companion nor I had heard anything but we wanted to go and support our children anyway.

And boy was it good we decided to go!

Turns out both my boys won for their entries! And my friends children also won many awards. It was a great assembly - much better done than any reflections assembly I've been to in the past (thanks to my boys' teacher Mrs. Warner - who rocks!).

I think it was meant to be that our visit teaching sister mistook the appointment time so we had to reschedule or else I wouldn't have talked with Malece (my companion) Thursday afternoon and never would have known about the assembly (because I had forgotten to put it on the calendar). I was happy to be there, not only because my boys won and that's always exciting, but because they participated and I was so proud of them.

Charlie in particular is not a participator. He would like to slide through life not really trying at much. Reflections makes him TRY. Of course, that's exactly what I like about it! And it's a wonderful program because it rewards him just for participating even if he doesn't win. It's a wonderful boon when he gets the joy of participating AND he wins something! The boys got trophies with their names on them even and that's a big, big deal when you're a seven year old boy!

So I'm grateful for the way things happened. And so, as a proud mom, I'll share my boys' stories with you ...

I Can Make a Difference by Making People Feel Better and Standing Up For Them
~ based on a True Story ~
by Xander Cross

One time, there was a boy named Martin who bullied me. I ran home from my bully. I heard a scream! I turned around and there was my bully getting bit by another boy.

I could have let that boy beat up Martin because maybe he deserved it. But I knew I had to stand up for him.

So I said “Leave him alone or else I'll tell the Principle.”

The boy stopped and he never bugged him again. After that, Martin and I were best friends.

I Can Make A Difference by Helping My Family
~ a True Story ~
by Charlie Cross

One day my Dad had a whole pile of gravel he needed to shovel off of our patio. My whole family helped, but my Mom and my brother gave up after a while. But I didn't give up. It was hard work, but I kept at it because I wanted to help my Dad.

My Dad has a bad heart so shoveling was hard for him. I like working with my Dad because when he is so sick and tired I just like to help. I had to shovel for three hours and it was really hot outside. I got the work done with my Dad and it felt good.

I felt very proud of myself because I accomplished something hard and my Dad needed me. He needed me so we could get the work done. My family was very proud of me and very grateful for the work I did. I can make a difference by helping my family.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Two Things ...

First of all, you get to enjoy my fabulous drawing, because I want to share with you what I learned at my son Xander's urology appointment this morning. Lucky you!

Xan is 7 years old and has never had a dry night in his life. And he's often wet during the day. After trying training charts and various other things with the pediatrician, it was time to hire the big guns and see the urologist.

I thought for sure that there must be something 'wrong' with Xan because he claims he just can't feel it when he needs to go pee. How can he not? I thought he was totally pulling my leg.

Turns out that's exactly what's happening. Huh. Check this out:
In a normal person, your bladder gets full and tells your brain "It's time to go!", your brain listens and sends the message to the little sphincter guy that he can let lose and off you go. However, in many kids (the busy active ones who can't take a minute to dash to the bathroom - like mine) the bladder sends the message but the brain ignores it. After lots of ignoring, the sphincter is getting awfully of tired of stemming the tide so to speak and just can't help but let go. Hence, peeing in the pants.

So now Xan gets to wear a vibrating training watch to help him remember to go every two hours whether he feels like it or not. In four weeks or so we'll go back and hopefully be able to report that he has successfully retrained his brain to listen when his bladder speaks. Wish us luck!

The second thing is that I finally ordered our Christmas cards today. We weren't happy with our family picture this year so we were going to reshoot but we ended up not having any time. Bummer. But I thought I'd share with you anyway, the picture we ended up using ...

This is David, me, Xander (the shorter one) and Charlie, both 7 years old. Don't love the picture, but love the people!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Different Christmas Poem

By Michael Marks

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."

"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

Monday, November 26, 2007

This Just Cracks Me Up ...

You Are Midnight

You are more than a little eccentric, and you're apt to keep very unusual habits.

Whether you're a nightowl, living in a commune, or taking a vow of silence - you like to experiment with your lifestyle.

Expressing your individuality is important to you, and you often lie awake in bed thinking about the world and your place in it.

You enjoy staying home, but that doesn't mean you're a hermit. You also appreciate quality time with family and close friends.

I was over at Candace's blog and she's a Sunset. So on whim I tried it out and got this ... I'm Midnight. And let me tell ya'll ... it's PERFECT FOR ME! This is so me, it's the closest little blogthing I've ever read about myself. How do they do that with those few questions?

If you ever wondered who I was (not like I don't pretty much just tell ya ... after all I AM a smorgasbord, right?) well ... this should sum it pretty well!

It's That Time of Year Again ...

One of the things I've been up to lately is pictures, pictures, pictures. I started my own photography business oh about 6 or 7 years ago (it's too much of a brain strain to figure out just how long, lol!). It took me a while to get it going, but once it did it really started to take off. Too fast.

I had to decide whether I was a business woman or a mom. So I scaled things way back and said no to some jobs and took a big risk with my fledgling business. Turns out saying no was the worst thing I could do for my business but the best thing for my sanity and especially for my family.

I am first, and foremost a mom and a wife. Anything and everything else comes second. And while it hurt my business, yes, now my business is really just where I want it to be. I do a maybe a shoot a month or so and really, that's just fine with me. Just enough to give me something fun to do, a little bit of something different, but not so much that it stresses me out and turns a fun thing into an unhappy thing.

This is a family who's order I just put in today:

I do really enjoy photography. I love getting out and spending time with people, helping them capture a moment to remember. I love giving them something they can be proud to display on their wall. This family was very happy to get this picture ... their little girl screamed the whole time despite my best efforts so they were happy with this at-least-not-crying-at-this-moment shot.

Most of all I love being a mom. I love that I am blessed with talents and interests that keep life exciting, but I hope never to forget what is really important ... family.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Has it really been a week since I last wrote? Shame on me.

I don't have any really good excuses either, other than I just haven't been on my computer much this week. And not because I was enjoying lots of time with family and friends over the holiday. More because I was busy Christmas shopping and taking care of sick family members.

The good news is the children are on the mend (hubby is still sick) but the bad news is I spent too much money. Darn it. I just want to be a millionaire and be able to spoil everyone the way I wish I could. I'm going to have to take some stuff back. Normally I shop with cash, this time I went out with my debit card. Naughty, naughty debit card. Well that and I'm not good at math on the fly.

Math and time.

I'll go out shopping with a total dollar amount I'm allowed to spend and while I'm shopping I'll *try* to add it up in my head as I go along. The problem is, I'll miss some little things along the way. Don't ask me what, but those little things add up!

Same with time. I'll look at the clock and I have fifteen minutes until I need to be some where. It only takes me five minutes to get there so that leaves me ten whole minutes to do something else. I'll look at the clock I *swear* two minutes later and it's already been fifteen minutes. And somehow in my figuring I forget that I need to go to the bathroom, get on my coat, get a bottle of water, grab my keys, put the dog in his crate, put on my shoes (unless I wear my slippers like I did a week ago to a doctors appointment! oops!) and get in my car. Whew! All of that would probably take the ten minutes I *thought* I had extra! Crazy! I can spend money and time like I have all of it in the world.

I would really like to write a new post every other day. That's a good goal, isn't it? So if you'll route for me, I'll try to give you something new to read on Tuesday. Deal?

In the meantime, why not tell me what you wish you had more of. Are you like me and wish you had more money and time? Do you wish for more love? More friends? Talents? It would be fun and interesting to talk about it, so lay it on me! And ... thanks for being patient with me when I drop off the face of the earth!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


This weekend I got to do something new and different ... had a 'girlfriend date'! My BFF Sheri flew down from Boise, we had dinner together, spent the night at a hotel and talked till the wee hours of the morning and then shopped all day Saturday until I had to take her back to the airport.

The wonderful thing about Sheri and our friendship, is that it's not about the shopping and eating. It's all about the talking. And the wonderful thing about talking with Sher is that she always lifts me up. She sends me home with a new plan, feeling like I can handle my life, and do it better than before.

Our time together is never spent husband-bashing - we long ago agreed that we would never build up our marriages by cutting our men down - nor do we gossip or spend any time at all, really, talking about other people. Instead we talk about our children and help each other with problems we are facing. Or we talk about what we like about ourselves and each other and help each other find ways to improve that things that bother us.

Here's a pic I took of Sher a few years ago ... isn't she beautiful? Inside and out.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Live ... by love

I stumbled upon the most wonderful quote today that I just had to share with you.

The poet Robert Browning said,

“There is an answer to the passionate longings of the heart for fullness, and I knew it, and the answer is this: Live in all things outside yourself by love, and you will have joy. That is the life of God; it ought to be our life. In him it is accomplished and perfect; but in all created things it is a lesson learned slowly and through difficulty.”

Isn't that lovely?

To live by love is to have joy. I can really only think of one thing that means and that is the pure love of Christ, or charity. Jesus embodied charity in his love of all mankind and his endless service on our behalf. I am no expert on charity, being an inherently selfish person, but I do know that when I have looked outside of myself to serve another, my own problems swiftly dimmed in importance and I felt better about my ability to overcome them.

Monday, November 12, 2007

When in Doubt ... Go With a BlogThing

You Are a Chimera

You are very outgoing and well connected to many people.
Incredibly devoted to your family and friends, you find purpose in nurturing others.
You are rarely alone, and you do best in the company of others.
You are incredibly expressive, and people are sometimes overwhelmed by your strong emotions.

Sorry guys, I've been WAY busy. Yikes! And now I find myself with probably too much to say that I don't know what to say at all. So I'll go with the Mystical Creature Thing instead. :)

I don't know about "very outgoing" but I am outgoing to a degree. I am well connected to a lot of people. At least, I am at times. Friendships and connections take time and effort and there are times when I let those connections slip. They are too valuable to let go altogether though. Got to work on that.

Hmm, I don't know about the "rarely alone and do best in the company of others." I like my alone-self. She's my friend and it's nice to spend time with her.

I am very devoted to my family and friends and it does make me happy if I can cheer them a little and lift their spirits. So I think that's probably accurate.

Yep, expressive and a bit overwhelming ... that's me. In singing it has been a benefit: I had a gift for expressing feelings through music. It was cathartic for me too ... without it, I feel a bit stagnated. Must. Find. Forms. Of. Expression. Maybe my emotions are a bit overwhelming for ME??

Anyway, thanks for visiting this past week even though I was in absentia. I appreciate you guys! You make me feel loved!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Random Thoughts

Wo! I've been tagged a lot lately and I haven't been playing very well. BUT Jen gave me an easy assignment I think I can do right now, though my stuff will surely not be as interesting as Jens'! Can you believe she graduated high school at 15? With a GPA of 4.0???!!! WOW.

Anyhow ... 7 Random Things about me are:

1. I can do tongue tricks :) I can roll my tongue lengthwise, fold it in half (without holding it with my teeth) and I'm working on learning how to do that funky clover-leaf fold. I have lofty goals, don't I?

2. I never dated my husband before I became engaged to him. And NO ours is not an arranged marriage; at least not in the traditional sense. ;) A-ha! Now I've piqued your interest, haven't I? Something to blog about another day :)

3. I used to be involved in the occult and used crystals to meditate, sometimes doing healings with them or divining answers to questions. It was all very complicated and DRAMATIC. I don't do those things anymore though, preferring the Spirit as a way to glean the answers to my lifes' questions.

4. I am obsessed with the smell of a tree. There is a particular tree, I believe it is the cottonwood tree, that when it's seeds are dropping, it smells soooo good. I'll just stand and drink in the smell. It is my most favorite smell in the world and can you believe I don't have any of those trees in my yard? It's smell gives me such pleasure, I really ought to have it near by!

5. I cannot read a book more than once, unless it is a truly remarkable book. In truth, I've only ever been able to read two books more than once ... The Book of Mormon and a trilogy by Guy Gavriel Kay called The Fionavar Tapestsry.

6. I'm terrified to wax my upper lip, but I think it's time, if you know what I mean.

7. In my minds' eye I am a really cool karate chick who can kick anyones butt. I think Cynthia Rothrock, well ... rocks!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Happy Happy Joy Joy

I have no idea how I ever got this song into my head because I am not a Ren & Stimy fan. BUT, whenever I'm really, really happy THIS is the song that comes to mind. I told you, despite my humungeous repertoire of beautiful music it's the banal and simple things that linger the longest and spring most readily to mind. I guess that proves it. I AM simple. Anyway, I always think of this little song "Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy" when I'm happy. And, well. I'm happy. Hence, the song.

I'm happy because I am now an official blogger for! My topic is happiness, which could not be more perfect for me. I'm all about the pursuit of happiness and can't think of a better way to spend my time but learning all about the different ways to be happy. Truly happy, that is. Joy. Not the fake stuff you can manufacture by watching a funny T.V. show, or taking recreational drugs (not that I do that, I'm just sayin'). But honest-to-goodness, life is sweet, kind of happiness.

I hope you'll come by every day to to check out my articles on happiness. I truly hope that I'll be able to offer something to uplift you, something to make you think, and real, practical ways to get you singing the Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy song.

Happiness at

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Good Balance

You Are 40% Extrovert, 60% Introvert

You're a bit outgoing, a bit reserved
Like most people, you enjoy being social
But you also value the time you have alone
You have struck a good balance!

I think this is very true to who I am. I am a little of both; I can put on a good front if I have to, enjoy being with the crowd and generally feel okay about it. But I love to have time to myself. I love, love, love it. I love to read, to write, just to think. I love to have the time - and the privacy - to dance around my house like a crazy person, something I do far too rarely which is a bad thing because it lets my crazy build up. *U*

I do sometimes regret that I'm not more confident and carefree out in public. But oh well, what can you do, eh? At least I do have balance, and while somewhat skewed to one side, it is a good balance nonetheless.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No Need for Suffering

Occasionally I feel lost, spiritually lost. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen regularly; regularly enough that I've come to recognize it when it begins. It starts out with lots of negative self talk, particularly directed toward the Church and my Faith. I am bad and haven't fully repented of past sins. I am selfish and only do good things for the recognition I will get. I am not humble, kind, virtuous. I am not worthy of my Heavenly Father's love and so He doesn't listen when I pray. I cannot feel the Spirit because I am not worthy. People don't like me. On and on it goes.

Normally when this happens I'll fall into a sort of depression where I push everyone away and am unreachable. I will even push God away. I would say it's not me pushing him away, but just accepting the truth of my situation which is that I am Unloved. Unlovable.

This time when it came upon me, however, it was impossible to retreat inside myself. The women in my Young Women's Presidency wouldn't let me get off quite so easily. They actually care about me. And because they see me regularly, they could tell something was wrong. I tried to downplay it, say it was nothing, but then I realized I needed help. So this time, when the feelings began I decided to do something about it, to not just be a passive observer of my life, but to be proactive.

I began to journal specifically about how I was feeling and what efforts I was making to help myself. I told my YW leader friends. I asked the Bishop for help. I got a blessing from David. I prayed, even though praying was the last thing I wanted to do.

The sweet part is, I did get the help I was seeking and that I so needed. I received sincere and heartfelt love and care from my friends. The Bishop responded with uplifting and encouraging words and a few Church talks he thought would guide me in the right direction. Heavenly Father responded by prompting me with ideas of what I could do to further help myself. I responded by keeping my heart and mind open to the outpouring of love and inspiration I was being given.

I was doing much better than normal in dealing with this trial, but was still not feeling the Spirit in the way I normally do. I was still fighting an internal feeling of sadness and loneliness. Until one day when my husband handed me a Time magazine article about Mother Teresa entitled "The Secret Life of Mother Teresa". He said with astonishment "I think she felt just like you feel now!" I read the article with rapt attention. Though I am no Mother Teresa, sure enough her words of "Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear." rang very true with me.

Did you know that for most of her adult life Mother Teresa did not feel like God was hearing her prayers? She never thought He had abandoned her, but rather that she was not worthy of him. I read it with my mouth hanging open. How can such a woman, so faithful, so charitable, ever possibly feel she was not worthy of her Father's love? She said she wanted her letters burned, but I am so grateful they were not. Because of her suffering my eyes were opened. I was not alone in what I perceived to be my separation from God, though I could see while looking objectively at Mother Teresa that God would never abandon a child who was honestly seeking Him. That revelation began to change my heart.

I also read a scripture in Jacob right around the same time I read that article and between the two I feel like I have really learned something of value. The scripture is Jacob 3:1-2 and it says:

"But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God
with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console
you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those
who seek your destruction.

O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God,
and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever."

I learned that whatever else is going on, whatever I might feel, that God is constant and I need to be firm in my remembrance of that fact and know that if I am going forth doing good, seeking always to be faithful and obedient, never doubting that God is true and faithful, all will be well. I learned from Mother Teresa that I may not always be filled with the Spirit, but that does not mean I am being punished. Be firm in mind and pure of heart and I'm sure all will be well. After all, you and I know that a woman like Mother Teresa cannot fail to find her rest at Jesus' side. Now, I'm not Mother Teresa, but I can certainly learn from her suffering, from her example, and I intend to.