Saturday, June 28, 2008

Parades, Push Ups and Promises

I don't really feel like talking about the parade. We went to one. Boys were in it. We watched. Talked to a guy who's starting his own business--making millions of dollars. We were jealous. What else is there to say?

But I wanted three P's in my title so it would be catchy and exciting so ... yeah. Parades.


Well, guess what? This is my 206th post! I thought maybe there was something you were supposed to do, like a blogger tradition when you made 200 posts (like there is when you hit 100) so I googled and went googlin' around to find out. I couldn't find anything. Except, I did find something else. Something altogether interesting.

Which leads me to invite you into the deep, dark dungeon of my rambling thoughts: I've decided to recommit (gasp!) myself to exercising. Except I really, really, really, need to do it this time. I was hoping to find a friend who would actually work out with me, but I couldn't. Sad. No one else is as lame as me. They all have routines already.

But I found this 100 Push Up Challenge and darn it, I'm gonna do it!

I had already decided that I would use my Gazelle Glider (which I got when I was working but have not ever really used) every day if I want to watch my soap. I have a nasty bad addiction and that is to Days of Our Lives. Yes, you had no idea it was true confessions time, did you? Well, there you have it. Laugh if you will.

Normally, I TiVo Days and watch it while I cook or whatever. But one time a long time ago when I was also a bit chunky, I found great success walking on a treadmill while watching my soap. I wasn't allowed to watch unless I was walking and I wanted to watch so ... you guessed it! I walked.

I thought maybe I'd try that again. But, I also wanted a bit of strength training in there too and voila! In pops the hundred push up challenge into my life. I think it's kismet, so I'm in.

So this is where the Promises come in. I Promise to glide (kind of like walking but without any pressure, kind of like an elliptical ... it's sort of weird) four-five days a week and to do the hundred push up challenge. The push up challenge is six weeks long, so I'll use that to gauge how I'm doing with the whole thing in general.

Now. I said I was hoping to have work out partner. I couldn't find any IRL. Do any of my internet friends want to join me? I'm going to start Monday. I sure hope I'm not alone!

Do whatever you like, but it would be cool if you at least did the push up challenge with me. That way we can have a tangible something to look at in six weeks time.

Who's with me? I said, WHO'S WITH ME!!!???

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Weekly Update ... Or Not!

So, have ya'll noticed that I haven't given a 'weekly update' in a couple weeks now? Hah, sneaky, eh?

Thing is, an update should be just that ... a bit of news that builds upon the last bit of news, right? So in honor of Webster's online dictionary which says to update is to, umm "bring up to date," (duh,) I am only going to give my update when there, ahh, something to update you on!

HA! How's that for a run-on sentence? *U*

See, I've been doing better, then doing worse, gaining a little, then losing a little, eating better, then not eating better, exercising, then not exercising. No real progress has been made. However, I have not entirely REgressed either, so I'm content.

I have not given up altogether, I'm just struggling to find what works for me. I'm working on it. I'll let you know, certainly, if I find it!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Do You Know the Angel Within?

I am currently reading the book Finding the Angel Within by Pamela Hansen. It says it's a book about spirituality, body image and self-worth. I picked it up because I constantly struggle with being kind to myself and while I know that Heavenly Father loves me, sometimes I don't believe it.

Are you intimate friends with the angel within? Or do you get along better with your inner demon? I think I know my Angel. We've hung out together a few times. I like her--in fact, I like her a lot. But she's one of those people that's too good for me and really doesn't get how hard it is for me to be good.

However, my inner Demon is kind of like my best friend, though I have a love/hate relationship with her. I know she isn't good for me. I don't really like her very much--she's a bad influence on me and all that. I know that. But she's comfortable, like an old pair of jeans. When in doubt--Demon-girl is my friend.

Truman Madsen said, "The Lord gives us glimpses of ourselves. And in self-examination we are most blessed when we see ourselves as we are seen by him and know ourselves as we are known by him, then, knowledge of the Savior and self-knowledge increase together. In this world, we do not really grasp who we are until we know whose we are" ("The Savior, the Sacrament, and Self-Worth," The Arms of His Love [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000], 246.)

Who are you? And to whom do you belong? Are you better friends with the Angel within, or are you far too familiar with your inner Demon?

I am a Daughter of God. It's time I acted like one.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Let Me Tell You a Little More About RapSheet ...

What is RapSheet? RapSheet is a dynamic visual interface that brings the web to you--wherever you are.

  • Use RapSheet on your desktop. You don’t need to open your browser, simply scroll through your sites and double click on the one you want to go to. RapSheet will take you right there.
  • Use RapSheet in replace of conventional bookmarks.
  • Use RapSheet on your blog or page. Your friends can go to your favorite sites in a flash.
  • Use RapSheet on a different computer. At your office? At a friends’ house? Not a problem.
  • Use RapSheet in replace of your current blogroll. You don’t have to wait for a boring linear RSS feed to be updated on your favorite blogs. You can update your Sheet anytime and RapSheet will tell you when a blog has changed. You go directly there, bypassing all the steps you previously had to take to find your friends newest blog entries.
  • Share your RapSheet with your friends. Got a great list of sites you want your friends to check out? Simply email them your sheet and they’ll get to enjoy it too!
Sound interesting? Sign up to be one of our few beta testers today and be the first to use this awesome new tool! Tell me you want to be a beta tester in the comment trail and you're in!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Looking for Beta Testers for the Most Awesome Collective Networking Tool EVER!

Doesn't that look awesome?

If you had a RapSheet, you could have it sitting on your desktop - no more having to get on your browser and clicking on your favorites and digging for the site you want to visit!

No more waiting for a boring RSS feed to appear in your inbox!

You can share your RapSheets too! Isn't that cool? You email a friend a link to your RapSheet if, say, you've collected a bunch of great sites that you know your friend would like too.

We are currently looking for a handful of people to test our beta RapSheet, to use it lots and give us your honest opinions on how it can be improved - and how awesome it is, we need the positive feedback too! - before we go live to the whole world.

If you want in, just leave me a comment. I may not be able to take all of you, but you'll be the first to get a RapSheet when we go live!

Life After Hysterectomy

It's been a year now since I had a total hysterectomy. A total hysterectomy is where they not only take out your uterus (no more periods,) but your ovaries as well (no more hormones driving your emotions.) The boys in the audience might want to come back another day--unless of course you’ve got a wife or girlfriend going through this sort of thing, then you might want to stick around--you might learn something helpful!

The first doctor to tell me I needed to have a hysterectomy was back in 1999. He said I had two choices: Either I needed to get pregnant, or I needed to have a hysterectomy--NOW. Well, since for nine years I had been unable to get pregnant and sustain the pregnancy, the first option was kind of out. I needed to have a hysterectomy because I was bleeding into my pelvic cavity behind my uterus which not only caused a tremendous amount of pain, but the degrading blood was actually burning through my pelvic bone like acid.

That's where IVF and the birth of my twins comes in--but that's a story for another day. Right now I'm telling the story of my doomed uterus.

Funnily, after the birth of my twins in 2000, I got it into my head that I was now 'fixed' and we would be able to complete our family the old fashioned way. Month after month when I turned up to be not pregnant, I was devastated--just in the days of old when I used to think I could get pregnant.

The pain I endured was nearly unbearable, sometimes incapacitating. Sex was a torture to be endured for the purpose of producing life. Needless to say, it did not make for a happy husband or wife.

Finally in the winter of 2007 I could stand it no longer and I demanded a hysterectomy.

My doctor (a different one from the guy in 1999 but one who had been singing the same tune since the day he first examined me in 2001,) nearly jumped for joy at the news and quickly arranged for the surgery. We didn't waste any time.

Once the uterus was out, it could no longer be referred to as a uterus--it was now The Thing, because it barely resembled a uterus at all. Perhaps only because of its location within my body would the trained eye say "this is a uterus"--it was so far gone.

We thought I had endometriosis, but in fact it wasn't endometriosis at all, but something called adenomyosis, which I had never even heard of. It's basically the same as endometriosis except instead of being on the surface areas of your uterus, it inhabits the muscle itself.

Through all those years I'd thought I could maybe get pregnant after the birth of my boys, my uterus was simply not capable of doing its job. I could have saved myself a whole lot of pain and misery if I'd just listened to doctors way back when and had the darn thing out.

Anyway, so they took everything out because I was so messed up down there and my doc (who is awesome by the way) said a lot of people with histories similar to mine come back short time later needing their ovaries out, so we might as well do it all at once.

Prior to my hysterectomy, my period had loomed like a sleeping dragon-everyone was afraid when it might wake up and what kind of mood it would be in. would it be in a foul mood? Or would it be in an eat-the-villagers-alive kind of mood?

It's hard for me to reconcile the life I once lived with the life I enjoy today. Once, my whole life was shaped by my period. When it was coming, and the rotten way I would feel; it's long stay and the horrendous way I would feel; and the when it was gone and I was recovering from its visit and preparing for its return. I spent a good two and a half weeks of each 28 day cycle nearly bedridden because of the pain.

Today, I am a happy camper:)

About three months ago I got a *little* moody. We realized that my pharmacist had put me on a generic of my hormone supplements and for some reason my body didn't like it. I went back to the name-brand and voila! Happy again. There was a time when such a small thing as being moody would not have seemed out of place at all. For me, getting this surgery was like getting IV anti-depressants. I'm way more anti now than I've ever been.

My surgery went beautifully. The recovery was harder than I expected, however. I thought I'd be feeling so fabulous (and I was) that I could hop up and get right back into my life (which I could not.) It took my body a good three months to recover sufficiently that I could resume some of my previous activities.

I thought the weight I had put on over the past few years would magically drop off. It made sense, right? I'd eaten a lot to distract myself from the constant pain. No constant pain, no eating, right? I could exercise as much as I wished because of the constant pain. No constant pain, I could learn to run a marathon, right? And without that 12 pound five-month gestation sized belly taking up precious real estate in my bod, I'd be slim and trim in no time, right?


Well, right ... sort of. I mean, all of those things are better, or just outright gone. Thing is, I am still the things I was before the surgery.

I still overeat, I still procrastinate exercising, and while my belly is full of a hard rotting mass, I am now in menopause and as such my body is hording extra fat and stuff as just a part of getting older.

I've discovered that a hysterectomy was not a total-spirit makeover. My body is better, oh yes. I don't regret the operation in the slightest. However, the bad habits I developed over eighteen years of pain and depression have not magically melted away. I am still that person. I am also a new and improved person, but they both exist within the same person and both demand their due.

So while the surgery repaired so much of what was wrong with me, the rest is up to me. Bad habits were not something that could be removed with a sharp knife. At least not of the physical kind. I'll need a different kind of knife for this kind of excision.

So a year later, I can definitely recommend a hysterectomy if you're considering getting one yourself. However, don't expect it to be a magic cure-all for all that ails you. There's some healing you just have to do yourself.

Friday, June 20, 2008

And Now ... Forged in the Refiner's Fire

Where was this book when life was particularly trying for me? When I got the opportunity to participate in Candace’s blog tour, it was short notice with little time to read (and I’m a slow reader.) However, I had to jump at the chance because I’m a fan of hers. It was quite unusual then, when I managed to read the whole book in one sitting because I found it so captivating.

A collection of personal experiences by a variety of authors, this book deals with many tender subjects from infertility to substance abuse, from life-threatening injuries to lifestyle-altering job concerns, and everything in between. I believe I’ve read a book or two that tried to address these issues, but it seems to me they always tried to make me feel like somehow, somewhere, I had failed to do something that would have made these trials easier to bear.

What I loved about Forged in the Refiner’s Fire, is that the people sharing their stories, shared their whole stories—the good, the bad, and the ugly. They did not paint themselves as saints worthy of translation. They willingly showed their faults and shared the lessons they learned while suffering through their tribulations.

I was truly touched by the stories, the personalities that shone through the words and the testimonies that were shared. This book will have a place on my bookshelf because it promises to be timeless in its value for me—for though I do not seek trials, I know they will not stop coming until I have stopped living!

I am grateful for this book and all it strives to offer its readers. I encourage you to read it for yourself, whether you are currently experiencing a challenge, or have in the past, you can bet you likely will in the future, and the stories contained in Forged in the Refiner’s Fire might just offer you the keys to enduring it well.

What prompted you to want to produce a book like Forged in the Refiner’s Fire?

Elizabeth Cheever, my co-author, is the one who came up with the original concept. When she approached me, I was very busy but drawn to the whole idea of Forged in the Refiner’s Fire. While we were deciding the direction we wanted the book to go, Elizabeth came up with a list of questions that would shape the kind of stories we wanted. We needed stories of real people going through real life trials and tribulations. Those people needed to have made it through that trial and drawn closer to God in the process. And even then, I did not understand the powerful book that would come to be, not until I held the first copy in my hands.

Can you share any experiences you might have had while compiling it?

During the compilation and writing of the introductory chapter (Elizabeth) and the concluding chapter (me), Elizabeth and I were in full writer and editor mode. I can’t speak for her, but for me I could sense the power of the stories but was very wrapped up in grammar, punctuation, structure, flow and order of the stories. So no, I felt no special experiences. But the first day it came out my publisher brought me a case of books to the hospital where Alvin was. We cut it open and Alvin settled back in his bed while I read to him. Three pages into the book I began to cry until I could no longer read. That was when the full magnitude and power of what Elizabeth and I had pulled together hit me. It was all we had hoped for and more. Average people with tremendous trials who’d made it through. That is Forged in the Refiner’s Fire.

Why did you choose to compile stories as opposed to writing a book yourself?

I actually am going to write a book about everything Alvin and I have been through over the last six years, but to me, there’s seems to be more power in the collective stories of others. While a certain reader may not connect with Robin’s story they may certainly be hit hard by Donna’s. With the compilation we manage to have something for everyone.

How did you come to work with Elizabeth Cheever?

Elizabeth and I met at the very first LDS Storymakers Writers Conference in the spring of 2004. She is a shy woman, but very tall. We were both unpublished authors at the time. There was something about her that drew me to her, so I shot her a smile and invited her to sit with me on the front row of the auditorium. I told her tall women needed to stick together and I’d snagged us some seats with leg room. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Turns out we had a world of things in common. When she approached me with the idea, I couldn’t say no.

Forged in the Refiner’s Fire has a strong message of personal worth and the love of God—do you feel it is your mission to share His love with His children?

With everything in me I believe that is part of my mission. We are so beloved by our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. If we only stop to consider the sacrifice they both made.

Jesus descended from His heavenly throne to come into a world where His message would be rejected by His own. He was ridiculed, scorned and scoffed at. At the conclusion of the crowning glory of the world’s history and future, the Atonement, Jesus Christ was betrayed by a childhood friend, one of his own apostles. After having literally bled from every pore because the agony was so excruciating, that we might gain eternal life, He was arrested, rushed through a kangaroo trial, mocked and beaten with the cat of nine tails (a whip with sharp objects sewn into multiple tails) which tore at His flesh causing the blood to run freely. He was betrayed by the very people he’d come to save and ultimately crucified. And as our Lord and Redeemer hung on that cross, after enduring unimaginable agony, He said, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”

Now step back for a moment and consider the parent, Heavenly Father, who had to watch this and could not step in and stop it. As His bled from every pore He couldn’t rush to His side, cradle Him in His arms and whisper, “It’s okay, Son. I won’t let them hurt you anymore.” No, in order to save us all, He had to allow Jesus Christ to suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane and then die in a cruel and excruciating fashion. His Father’s heart must have torn from the sheer agony of not being able to protect the Son He loved so much.

And it was all because they love us. Oh yes, I do believe that is my mission.

How has the creation of Forged in the Refiner’s Fire differed from other books that you have written?

It was so exciting to literally let the Gospel of Jesus Christ flow out of me. It was an incredible experience and one I am anxious to repeat. But I am a lover of fiction and my first book, Out of the Shadows . . . Into the Light, was a page-turning romantic suspense, which is my favorite genre. It was so much fun to write and I am loving writing fiction again.

My second book, 13 and 0: Reflections of Champions, was one I was approached to write by my publisher. Never in a million years would I have anticipated writing a sports biography. Not in any parallel universe or any period in history. But it turned out to be a wonderful experience. I count it a privilege and a blessing that I was able to bring the story of these young men who achieved the perceived impossible to the written word. A university nestled in the Rocky Mountains took the national title in football in 1984. Wow, it was a blast to write and I love having young athletes read it and realize the characteristics of true heroes rather than those we see in the media.

Is Forged in the Refiner’s Fire available in stores? Where can my readers buy a copy?

It is available, but the numbers are dwindling. Forged is in another print run, even as we speak. But in the meantime, to insure your readers can continue to purchase copies until those books hit the shelves, they can go to my website:

Are there any parting words you would like to share with my readers?

Hope. The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings hope to the most faint-hearted of us. And with that hope comes an understanding that we are not alone and were never meant to walk this thorny path of mortality alone. Jesus Christ stands as our Lord, Savior and Redeemer and through Him we can gain the strength to get up and keep moving forward, keeping our eye single to the glory of God and He who waits to welcome us home. You are not alone, you’ve only to look to Him.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Heaven Scent Tour is Here!

Heaven Scent by Rebecca Cornish Talley, is a poignant LDS young adult novel. It tells the story of Liza Compton, a high school basketball star with a world of opportunities before her. However, Liza is disheartened by her father’s change in attitude toward her family and it makes her question his love for her and the security of her home life. When tragedy forces Liza to face those things she most fears, we are given a sweet opportunity to learn and grow right along with her. If you love LDS young adult novels, than this book might just be the one for you!

My family has read Rebecca’s other published work Grasshopper Pie and found it to be incredibly fun and entertaining. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a writer with such a whacky and creative approach to life (which I love, but how would that translate into a YA novel?), but Heaven Scent was very different. The mother of ten children, Rebecca has a unique insight into the minds of children and their worlds—that insight is evident in this, her latest book.

Look for Heaven Scent on, or in your local LDS Bookstore. You can't miss it--it's the one with the gorgeous pink cover.
I am grateful Rebecca has taken the time to answer a few questions I thought my readers would be interested in. Thank you Rebecca!

On Writing:

With such a busy household, how do you find time to write?

I just fit it in whenever I can. I try to write every day, but that doesn’t always happen. If I write while the kids are sleeping that seems to work the best, but again, that doesn’t always happen. I’ve also given up other hobbies and interests to carve out time to write (though I’ll never give up my chocolate time).

What has been your favorite part of the writing process? And your least favorite?

I love seeing the story take shape. I love words and stringing them together to create a story that’s uniquely my own. It’s way cool when it all comes together.

My least favorite part is marketing/promoting. I’d much rather spend my time writing, but I’ve learned that marketing/promoting is a very important part of the process.

How long did it take you to write this book and then to get it published?

I’ve worked on this particular story for years. It started as a short story in high school. I then decided to expand it and worked on it between pregnancies, nursing newborns, toddlers, kids, teenagers, and caring for my ailing grandparents (who raised me).

I submitted it to Cedar Fort in November 2006. It was accepted in May 2007 and was published in February 2008.

Do you have any advice to aspiring writers?

Never give up. If your dream is to be published, keep working toward that goal. Network with other writers, attend conferences, and join critique groups. Read, Read, Read. Write, write, write. And, love what you do.

On Your Family:

One of your children is an artist and illustrated your children’s picture book Grasshopper Pie. How do you encourage your children to follow their dreams?

I try to encourage them with my words and actions to pursue what makes them happy. I’ve sat through sports, concerts, plays, talent shows, and read lots and lots of stories in an effort to help my kids find and develop their talents. I want each one to follow his or her dreams.

Do your children support you in your writing pursuits?

Absolutely. My husband is also very supportive. He’s driven me to conferences, watched the kids while I attended conferences, and bought me books and computers to help me. I could never write without my family’s support and encouragement.

On Heaven Scent:

On the Dedication page of Heaven Scent, you speak to your mother “whose fragrant visits have strengthened me and my testimony and inspired this story.” What did you mean by that?

My mother wore a very distinctive perfume. It was an oil-based scent that worked with each person’s body chemistry to produce a unique fragrance. My mom passed away when I was nine years old. Over the years, especially during trials, I have smelled her perfume and felt her so close I could almost reach out and touch her.

Do you know any Liza’s? Is she modeled after anyone you know?

I knew an amazing basketball player in high school. She could sink a shot from anywhere on the court. Liza isn’t based on anyone in particular, though.

In your book Heaven Scent, one of Liza’s challenges is that she does not have a variety of skills or talents that she can rely on. What is the message you hope readers will learn from Liza’s experience?

I hope people will realize they have many talents. Some may not be as developed as others, but we all have talents.

If you could sum up the moral of this story in one sentence, what would you say?

No matter what life brings, there is always hope.

Where can my readers get a copy of Heaven Scent?

It is available at Deseret Book, Seagull, Amazon, Barnes and Noble (online), Target (online), and independent LDS bookstores.

Any final thoughts about your book, your family, or the writing process that you would like to share?

It’s really a dream come true for me to have this book published. I’m thrilled every day I’ve been given the opportunity to share this story with others.

Thank you so much for the review and the interview, Ali. I so appreciate your time and willingness to host my book tour. Thank you!

Thank you Rebecca for allowing me the privilege to interview you and to participate in your blog tour--it was an honor!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Fooled Ya!

I was going to respond to your comments and then realized there were just too many and they all followed a similar theme--that ya'll mysteriously seem to have this impression that I'm an awesome mom.

Oh how wrong you are.

Sure, I do dabble in awesome-ness from time to time, but unfortunately for me (or for my children, not sure which,) it's far too frequently to be added to my list of descriptive adjectives. Fooled ya, eh?

Here's an example of my complete LACK of awesomeness:

Two weeks ago the boys were asking me what they needed to do in order to be allowed to have a television in their room. "What if we got a tv ourselves--then could we have it in our room?" they'd ask in their high-pitched little voices.

"Uhh, nope," I responded, ever the voice of reason.

Then they trotted off, all a-giggle. My spidey-senses were tingling. They were up to something.

Turns out Xander had 'traded' a dragon for a television set from five-almost-six-year-old Parker, a cul-de-sac neighbor. Trading is strictly prohibited in our household, particularly when it involves expensive appliances, so back the tv had to go. And go it went.

THEN last week, Wednesday to be exact, the boys come dashing in the front door while I'm in the back of the house cleaning the kitchen (I KNOW!? What was I thinking?)

"We're going to play in my room, 'kay Mom?" Charlie hollered from the foot of the stairs.

"Who all is 'we'?" I asked. Because I'm nothing if not thorough, right?

"Just me and Xander and Parker."

"Okeydokey," I replied, oblivious to the wool that had been pulled down over my eyes.

The phone rang.

It was Jill my cul-de-sac neighbor, good friend and mom to Parker.

"Did your boys just come in with a television set?"

"Umm, no. At least I don't think so. I guess I'd better go check!"

I admit, my first response was to defend my kids. Parish the thought that they would be traipsing around the neighborhood with a tv AFTER I said that strictly prohibited. I DID say it was strictly prohibited, did I not?

At least I had the good sense to realize I might in fact not know my children as well as I thought I did.

I kept Jill on the phone--probably to prove to her that my boys were not guilty of the heinous crime she was guilty of--but also maybe to protect me--or rather them--if in fact they did have said tv in their room.

I stepped into Charlie's room, and at first couldn't see anything. I mean, anyone. Then I hear voices--coming from the toy box under the window.

The lid lifted when I came in, calling their names.

"Yeah, Mom?" Xan asks, his face all innocence.

"Do you guys have a television set in here?" I ask, my voice reflecting my confidence that they did not in fact have a stolen item of luxury hiding out in their room--even while I saw the tell-tale black cord creeping over the lip of the box from the plug on the outside.

"No!" Xander replied with a happy smile. A happy smile, that is, until he saw that I saw the black cord.

And then the lies really started flying. He saids and they saids and everyone said until I had to shout at them to be quiet so I could get to the point of the matter.

But first I had to tell Jill.

"Uhh, Jill? Yep, looks like the set is here," I said. No confidence now. Just defeat. My kids were going to be the death of me.

I tried to get the set out from the toy box but man it was heavy! How in the world did two seven year olds and one pint sized five year old heft that thing half a block down the street? I was glad when Jill met me almost at my door and took it from me.

I carried the remote.

We discussed possible torture methods as we walked back to her house. I felt utterly discouraged. Not only had my boys taken something that didn't belong to them (it didn't matter to me that Parker was in on it, I expect better of my guys,) but they had lied to me AND done it after I had already made them take the tv back once before.

Just so you know, this lying business has been an ongoing problem for these guys for the past while. I thought it was just stupid inconsequential stuff like "did you brush your teeth?" "YES" even while their teeth are growing green fuzz and probably have whole colonies of nasty germies building houses and raising families in there.

I'm a mean, mean mommy though and like I said, I'm nothing if not thorough. Those little boy-o's got themselves grounded to their rooms for two and a half days. The first day I even fed them dinner in their rooms. The next day I did let them out to eat and to do chores for me (aren't I nice?) but they missed some fun events they had planned because of their serious grounding.

My rationale though, was that I couldn't trust them not to disappoint me again before we went on our little vacation and I didn't want to go away with them feeling mad at them. So I locked them away in their dungeons/rooms and you know what? I'm not sorry. They have been sufficiently humbled--or so it would seem--and while they still are inclined to first lie when asked the innocuous "did you wash your hands" and the like questions, they are self-correcting (huzzah!) and I'm feeling a slight blush of awesomeness returning.

So go ahead and admire me, if you must. Perhaps I do deserve it, after all.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Preparing my Boys for Baptism

I'm so far behind in 'family' type posts. I wanted to tell you about a great Stake Conference I went to that made me really want to create a Christ-centered home. Then I wanted to tell you about the new scripture study program I've started with my boys using the Preach My Gospel manual. I really ought to tell you how it seems that Xan might have broken his nose the other day (but we don't know for sure yet.)

But I just can't keep up on it all!

However, I will tell you about this plan we have to help our boys better prepare for their baptism in three months.

Sure, we've been doing Family Home Evenings on the subject, but we felt like our boys needed more. Something to really connect them with their Heavenly Father and help them to recognize the Spirit in their lives.

On a Saturday, David was packing up his mom's things and found his old Blazer banner from when he was a kid. He packed it up and brought it home, then didn't think much more about it.

Then the other day we were discussing our concern for the boys and their preparation. We knew we wanted to give them a pewter knight in armor to represent putting on the whole armor of God, but weren't sure how to work it in, or how to do it, really.

David felt the whisperings of the Spirit and felt that his mom was trying to tell him something. Following the prompting, he found his Blazer banner and brought it to me, telling me that he thought we should do something like it for the boys.

A Baptism Banner, where they have activities they need to pass off, earning small medallions of some sort along the way, culminating in their having earned the whole armor of God.

So I created it!

The first thing is the Belt of Truth. There are a few scriptures to read, and the boys have to memorize the first four Articles of Faith.

Next is the Breastplate of Righteousness. Again a handful of scriptures, then the boys have to repent of something specific, taking all the steps for full repentance.

Then, the Sandals of Peace. A few scriptures, then plan, prepare and present a FHE on Baptism.

Next, is the Shield of Faith. Again some scriptures, then the boys have to practice choosing the right for a whole day, write about it in their journals and then tell me or David about it.

The Helmet of Salvation is probably the most difficult because after reading a few scriptures, they have to know the baptismal covenant. We're not going to require them to memorize them all, but they need to be able to tell them about it generally.

Finally, the Sword of the Spirit. For this they need to give a talk or read a scripture in Primary.

For each item they pass off, I put two metallic stars on the banner. When they've earned all their stars, they can earn their pewter knight and they'll have put on the whole armor of God.

something like this, but the one we got has a shield too ...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Blog Tours

An exciting new adventure is taking place all over the internet--Blog Tours!

This is when lucky people (like me!) get to review early releases of awesome books, review them and have the wonderful opportunity to interview the author and perhaps even have a contest, too! What fun!

I was privileged to participate in Tristi Pinkston's blog tour for her new release Season of Sacrifice in May.

On June 19th, I'll be hosting Rebecca Cornish Talley as she speaks about her new book Heaven Scent. I'll be running a contest in conjunction with this tour, so be sure to come on over!

On June 20th, stick around for a review of Candace Salima's new release Forged in the Refiner's Fire and an interview.

~ Image Coming Soon ~

Shortly thereafter, I'll be reviewing Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys, and the author Janet Kay Jensen will be participating in an interview as well. She has also generously provided a copy of her book to be awarded in a contest of my devising. Hehe.

Finally (for the moment!) some time in mid to late July J. Scott Savage will be stopping by to speak about his new book release FarWorld :Water Keep. Again, we'll be running a fun contest so be sure to check out this review and interview.

I'm so excited and feel truly privileged to be able to participate in these tours. The internet has become such a powerful tool and it pleases me to be able to put my tiny corner of BlogWorld to use in honor of great reads.

Thanks to all the authors who are allowing me to be a part of their tours!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Adventures in Cooking

I am so not a cook.

That being said, I think I would like to be able to cook. I can cook like my mom did, which is ultimate comfort food to me, but easy, easy. I like easy. If I'm going to learn how to cook something other than burger 'n beans or hamburger hash (thanks Mom!) I need it to be easy. Also, umm, GOOD is a plus too.

So, I've been trying some new things, new flavors and such and thought I'd post the recipes I find that earn my two thumbs up.

Warm Scallop Caesar Salad
(2 servings, recipe created by Kalyn)

8 large sea scallops
about 4 cups washed romaine
1-2 tsp. olive oil
1-2 T water (for larger pan, use 2T)
3 T Caesar Salad dressing (Kalyn uses Cardini's Caesar)
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Use a heavy pan which heats evenly. Pans that aren't non-stick will give the best browning, and be sure to choose a pan where scallops can be cooked in a single layer. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat about 30 seconds, then add scallops and cook quickly, probably not more than 2 minutes per side. Don't have the heat too high or the scallops will release moisture and won't brown properly.

While scallops cook, assemble lettuce on two serving plates. Place four scallops on top of lettuce on each plate. Turn pan to high and put water in, then scrape the bottom of the pan to get any browned bits, keeping heat high to let some of the water evaporate. After about 1 minute, turn off heat. Stir in salad dressing and lemon juice and let it get slightly warm in the hot pan, then pour over salad and serve. Top with fresh ground black pepper if desired.

*ali's notes*
  • I couldn't afford the sea scallops at Costco, so I used grilled chicken strips. I chopped them into bite sized pieces, and then proceeded with the recipe as above.
  • I doubled the recipe, because I was feeding to my whole family--worked out just fine.
  • I bought the Cardini's Caesar and I'm with Kalyn on this one--it's my favorite now.
  • I used bottled lemon juice. I mean, come on. I said easy. Squeezing lemons for a mere teaspoon is not my idea of easy, or fun, so there.
  • I added grated Parmesan cheese to the top too. Yummy!

This recipe was delicious and while my kids were like ahh, not so much, David and I loved it. The dressing was a bit tangy and delicious warm. We'll have it again for sure!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I've never done one of these things, and frankly, the thought rather terrifies me, but here we go!

My Trek List:
Season of Sacrifice by Tristi Pinkston
Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys by Janet Kay Jensen
FarWorld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage
The Host by Stephanie Meyer
Fields of Home by Rachel Ann Nunes
The 13th Reality by James Dashner

Okay, maybe I'll do more, but I'm a slow reader, so I'd probably stop right there. If you want go on your own LDS Author trek this summer, just visit LDS Fictions' blog and get 'er done!

6-7-8 Writers Conference

Today I was a lucky girl and got to go to Cedar Fort's (a publishing house) first ever writers' conference. It was a truly exceptional conference.

Most of it was, obviously, very 'writer' intensive. Doug Johnston, Abel Keogh and Janet Kay Jensen all spoke and provided really helpful information focused on promoting myself as a writer. Great stuff!

However, I thought I would share with you some tidbits from the keynote speaker, Eloise Owens. Ms. Owens is the creator of Momentum Selling, and the author of Get Off The Beach - What Legendary Surfers Know that Salespeople Need to Know ... Now.

The first thing that struck me as interesting was that she asked us to commit to being present during her time with us. Since I've been thinking a lot about living in the moment, that was pertinent for me. Also, she asked that we tell the truth. Later it became clear that what she really meant by that was that we be honest with ourselves and our audience because that's where the 'money', or sale lies.

I also thought that telling the truth and being present went hand in hand. If we are not wholly present, how can we tell the truth? We are not living our truth, but hiding from it, denying it.

Target Training International identified 23 attributes or qualities that professionals possess. Ms. Owens told us that the quality that made it to the top of the list was Self Management. In order to be successful in life you need to be able to know what gets you up on the morning, what keeps you working and what motivates you enough to get you up off your knees when the trials come and back to work.

Ms. Owens suggested we look in the mirror and be honest about what we see. Not the freckles on our face, or the gray hair, but the sort of person we are. What motivates us? She listed six types of attributes and suggested that everyone is all six, but that there is the one thing that gets us out of bed in the morning and something else, a second attribute that is our strength--and then there's the something that we really need to work on.

Have a look at the following six qualities and see which ones fit you best:

Theoretical ~ You love data, knowledge and information
Utilitarian ~ You demand results, you are practical and money focused
Aesthetic ~ It's the experience that drives you. You are artistic, driven by emotion and the need to create
Social ~ You long to change the world and influence others
Individualistic ~ You are a leader. You are focused on quality and you need to control your own destiny
Traditional ~ Your strength are your beliefs and you are systematic in your approach.

So which one of these attributes most motivates you each morning?

Which is your strength?

Where do you need to focus more, to build a strength from a weakness?

Ms. Owens spoke about the three sizes of waves: There's the whitewater--that frothy fun stuff that spins around our ankles and knocks against our bodies, but doesn't push us under. There's the outside--this is where most average surfers hang out. The waves are challenging, but there's still safety--these are comfortable waves. The third kind of wave is the Monster wave. This is the wave that only the best of the best will dare to take on, but that's why they are the best!

Milton Willis, famous accomplished surfer, said, "The bigger the wave, the quieter the ride." I'd say, it's like being in the zone. When all the tidbits on skill and technique are forgotten and you lose yourself to the moment--you just do it.

So, bring clarity to your life. Figure out where your strengths lie and what livens your heart and mind and then acquire the skills to achieve your dreams and then live it. Be present in your life, tell the truth about who you are and what you're here to do. Be great at whatever it is you're here for and then ... enjoy the ride!

Monday, June 02, 2008

And the Winner REALLY is ... - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

We had seven people enter the contest and DAN is the big winner!

Just so you know I'm honest, I copied the comments to Word, cut the text of the messages so it just left the names, printed it, cut between them, folded them up into tiny squares, mixed them up in a bowl and had my hubby pick one out. Honest to goodness, Dan's the big winner!

Dan wins a $15.00 gift certificate to OR an autographed copy of Tristi's book Season of Sacrifice.

Dan, I'll email you, but you're also welcome to post here and let me know which you would prefer.

Congratulations Dan!

Weekly Health Report

Boy, am I sorry I started this!

Now that I've started, I feel obligated to report--which was sort of the point to begin with, but since I don't have anything to report, I feel kinda dumb!

Sucked on the diet.

Sucked on the exercise.

BUT I'm here, am I'm back on track so ... That's good, right? And I can't possibly be alone in my lack of commitment/willpower, right?

Anyway, I'm not beating myself up and I'm picking myself up and getting right back to work, so it's all good. Well, sort of.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Reflections of Christ

Many of you may have already seen this, but I'm a little slow on the uptake. I wish there was a way to just post it here, but unfortunately there is not.

However, if you love the Savior, this is not a waste of your time, and it only takes a few minutes anyway.

Go to Reflections of Christ to view a beautiful tribute to the life of Christ.