Thursday, November 19, 2015

Writing in November

I always feel so much more energized in November when it comes to writing. I have been participating in PiBoIdMo the last few years. (See sticker on the side.) This is a challenge to come up with a new picture book idea every day for the month of November, and it usually gets my creative juices flowing in the morning.

I have also been dropping everything to write every morning from nine to ten. This seems to work for me--choosing a time and sticking to it. If this pregnancy wasn't wearing me out so much, I'd write from nine to ten every night as well, after my babies are asleep.

I've been happy with my progress, and I've surprised myself by putting middle grade aside for now and working on a science fiction young adult novel I started a couple of years ago. It's been fun. Happy November. Now comes the hectic holiday season so let's see if I can stick to it:P

Friday, October 23, 2015

Spike Lava

Awakening from a hundred years sleep of a difficult pregnancy and a sudden move back to our Favorite City here. In the meantime, here's a picture of a HUGE tortoise that wandered onto my mother in law's tennis court. My daughter named him Spike Lava.



My kids were sad when we found the owner. I wasn't. He was fun, but a voracious eater and a pooper. I am not a pet mom, just a baby mom. (Oh yes, and it's a girl!..not the tortoise...the baby.)


Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Official Announcement

Nearing the end of the morning sickness...I mean, ALL DAY sickness, and here is my official announcement.


Today I had my first ultrasound. It is always so amazing to see your baby for the first time. I'm just under 12 weeks, but there is a little two inch human inside of me already moving around with its long legs and big head and I LOVE HER (or him). (But I'm sure it's a girl.)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Excuses

Exciting news--we're expecting! Oliveros the Fourth is due sometime in early March 2016. In the meantime, excuse me while I lay around, feel pukey for about six weeks, and probably blog very little. It's hard to see beyond the second half of the first trimester. My entire perspective is colored by feeling bad, and at this time I have a lot more sympathy for those with chronic illnesses. Not empathy because there is nothing chronic about the way I feel, but sympathy because it's a small taste for those who feel bad always. My heart goes out to you.

On the bright side, at the other end of this will be a baby. Totally worth it.

Friday, July 10, 2015

An Angie

Every writer needs an Angie in their writing lives. An Angie reads your work as the roughest of drafts, sometimes as you are writing it, and definitely long before betas get their hands on it. An Angie tells you how wonderful it is, that you are the best writer ever, and even posts on Facebook how brilliant she thinks you are. Sometimes when you read your writing to an Angie over the phone, she cries (on the parts she is supposed to cry on). An Angie makes you believe in your work like nobody else can, especially in those most vulnerable stages of writing, and she keeps you writing. An Angie declares all your work should be published. And you know it needs work and you know being published will take a lot more patience and perseverance, but for now it's just what you need to hear.

Sometimes an Angie goes on family vacations with you because she's also your sister.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Day at the Beach

Last week we spent a day on Mustang Island. Ever since J was small, we've made a trip to the Texas coast about once a year.

My kids are so care-free at the coast. I love that they can just let loose and run through the waves and throw sand and dig and dig and let the water run over their toes and find seashells. And they could do it all day long. I love that my (now) three year-old fell asleep in my arms because she was so tired.

(But honestly, it's not as carefree for me because I'm watching out for my kids most of the time, particularly K. She thought she was a mermaid and kept trying to run into the waves to join her under-the-sea family.)

K running out to sea.

A throwing her arms up in excitement because THE OCEAN!

A throwing her arms up in excitement because SEAGULLS! (And also she's feeding them.)

J sitting by the ocean, chilling with his cousin.

K deciding if she can't stay in the ocean, she will bring the ocean back with her...bucketful by bucketful by bucketful.



Monday, June 22, 2015

The Happiest Place on Earth (Sometimes)

Over a month ago, we went to Disney World. It was a first trip for us. My husband went as a child. I've been to Disney Land, but my kids have never done Disney. And it was THE. HAPPIEST. PLACE. ON. EARTH.

We saw PRINCESSES. We rode lots of rides. (My five year-old had the stomach for Expedition Everest. My eight year-old did not.) We ate lots of yummy food. This was my favorite from the princess breakfast in Epcot's Norway.



I don't often take pictures of my food. Just if it's that good. My children enjoyed the food, too, especially all the fun things we picked up in off-meal times with our snack credits. (Truthfully there was a little bit of stress with those dining credits. Will we have enough? Will we have too many by the time our trip is over?!)


The above is one of the many times K and I sat out on a ride together. Not being a fan of standing in line but sitting in the shade and eating things, this suited me just fine.

My son got to do Jedi Training at Hollywood Studios and fight Darth Vadar in person. Then when Darth Vadar asked the Jedi trainees if any wanted to join the dark side, J raised his hand. (Nice.)

He was also chosen in Fantasy Land to pull the sword out of the stone because he was "small of stature and large of courage."

AND PRINCESSES! (I know I already said that).


A with her new jewelry box. (I didn't expect to actually buy things while I was there. But I did. And so did my mother-in-law. Oh did she.) My little Anna and little Elsa got to see the real Anna and Elsa. It was epic. It was also epic for me because I got a fast pass, and we didn't have to wait an hour and a half.

So PRINCESSES! Darth Vadar! Swords! All the rides! Swimming at the resort! Lots of fun and lots of happy.

But it was also really exhausting. My two year-old became very talented at falling asleep. For the amount of sleep the kids didn't get and the sheer number of long days, they held together pretty well...considering. Even this one.





I'm glad we went. Really.

BUT....

I was kind of glad to just get that out of our system, and I think I'd like to go to the beach for our next family vacation.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales

My son and I are big fans of Nathan Hales' One Dead Spy. It is the first of a series, and we are very excited to read the rest.

He is just so funny, and the humor doesn't escape my son. Before I even cracked the book, J kept pointing out all the funny parts.

Best thing? It's history, and he does such a good job with making it come to life. It's also a graphic novel. I'm finding there are graphic novels I really hate, and some I really love. This is under the I really love category.

When I went to the library, the librarian had a couple other Hazardous Tales...according to her computer. Then she couldn't actually find them in the library. (Strange.) So I might just have to buy the rest of the books. There are some books that are good pick-up-and-read-once library books, but there are others that you just need as part of your home library. This is one of those books.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Oliveros Mining Company

When we visited Grandma and Grandpa in Kansas a few weeks ago, we went to one of our favorite places--the Deanna Rose Farmstead. It's been around since I was a kid, but has grown significantly. Most of it is interactive and geared towards learning. My kids love to bottle feed the baby goats, milk the "cow" (next to the real dairy cow), visit the Indian sod house and the one-room schoolhouse, and  fish in the pond among other things.

Their favorite activity this time? Mining for "priceless" rocks. (Actually, they cost way more than they're worth. The farmstead is free on the weekdays, but some activities cost.) Here are a couple pics of their mining adventures.




Our current read aloud is Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. There have been a few times I've referenced the farmstead in our reading. When Almanzo described his school house I reminded the kids of sitting in desks in the one-room school house and writing on slate boards. When the stove was described, I could remind them of the school house's wood-burning stove they opened and looked into.

Coordinating the book and the activity wasn't done on purpose (but I'll pretend I was that good of a planner). I'm a big fan of hands-on activities for my kids--they stick better than classroom learning alone.

(I lied. Mining was a second favorite. My kids' first favorite was eating ice cream.)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Things as They Really Are

My son and daughter gave a talk on the Holy Ghost last Sunday during Primary. It was the same talk. J gave the talk for Senior Primary. A gave the talk for Junior Primary. (I whispered a simplified version of the talk into A's ear, which she repeated into the microphone. A couple months ago she refused to give the prayer in Primary. She's come a long way.)

They held up objects which described the different roles the Holy Ghost plays in our lives: A's baby blanket to emphasize how the Holy Ghost can comfort us, a compass to demonstrate how the Holy Ghost directs and guides us, and a mirror.

A mirror because the Holy Ghost helps us see things as they really are. I love that. I love that in this crazy, mixed up world, there is Someone to help me unveil the truth. It's hard to see sometimes. There are so many lies that repeated over and over almost make sense. And so I'm grateful for the discerning power of the Holy Ghost.

For more on the Holy Ghost, read this.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Your Idea, Not Mine

My sister called me the other day. She needed backup. My niece was writing a story for school, and she was stuck. My sister threw out some ideas, but my niece said, "I can't use those ideas! They are your ideas!"

I told my sister who told my niece that you can take an idea and make it your own. (I mean, obvious exceptions of course. There is Real Life Plagiarism. I'm not going to write about an eleven year-old boy who goes to wizarding school.) So many books that are out there have similar ideas, but they are their own story.

My son and I are working on two different books right now but with the same idea. It's been a lot of fun. His cousin actually made up the character, which my son turned into drawings. My son threw in an angle on said character which I seized. We've bounced ideas back and forth as I work on my chapter book and he works on his ongoing comic book. It's been a lot of fun. In spite of our sharing of ideas, these books are going to be very different.

On the other hand, I've found myself working on a novel with a brilliant, original idea and then come across another book that sounds similar. Yet, its author and me came up with these ideas independently of each other. It's like the Universe is bouncing ideas off of us.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Need for Gratitude

***Huge blogging break due to traveling and sickness and old-fashioned laziness.***

I recently visited my parents for a couple weeks. My husband drove us from Texas to Kansas, stayed for a few days, and flew home to work while we visited family. At the end of our sojourn, he flew back to Kansas and drove with us back to Texas. This has been the arrangement of the last few summers and it seems to work. He visits the family, but doesn't have to take time off work. I don't have to drive alone.

However, I always forget that it's hard to be without my husband. I have my parents, but it's different somehow. My kids aren't nearly as well-behaved. Perhaps it's because I discipline less. The relief I get from my husband seems to be more, although my mom and dad help in their way. This time, it seemed harder because our space was tighter. My parents are staying in an apartment while their house is built. It's large as far as apartments go, but there were days we were stuck inside due to sickness and both my parents were working.

There was this stay-inside-with-sick-child moment when I was feeling particularly down and stifled. And so I prayed. Immediately my mind turned toward my friend who was fighting for custody of her children. And the blog post I'd read that morning of my college roommate's cousin who had lost her husband. It came to my mind that I must be grateful.

And so I tried. I tried to be more grateful that day and think about the blessings who are my children who I get to see everyday. I tried to consider that my husband may be gone for a couple weeks and not for forever.

I began to think of gratitude as something of a need, a spiritual need. I treat it much like something nice, like frosting on the cake. But it's the cake's leaven and what makes it rise. (There I go with the cake analogies again...) Gratitude can lift us. We need it to lift us.

Gratitude is a Spirit-filled principle. It opens our minds to a universe permeated with the richness of a living God. Through it, we become spiritually aware of the wonder of the smallest things, which gladden our hearts with their messages of God’s love. --Bonnie D. Parkin, former General Relief Society President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Monday, May 25, 2015

In Memory




K walking through the headstones of Leavenworth National Cemetery where her great-grandparents are buried. Memorial Day 2015.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Going Paper and Ink

I love my book that still isn't. I have three books I'm working on, but hands down my favorite is TFFP. While April's writing spree helped, I still feel immobilized by this story. I know what I want it to be. My vision of what this book is to be is so much greater than my last book. I guess I'm afraid of not getting the story out right. I'm afraid of it being sub par. 

But fear isn't going to get me anywhere. I'm trying a new tactic with this book: paper and ink. I've gone paper and ink before, but typing seems to connect my brain better to the manuscript. It's what I'm used to. However, I'm not going paper and ink so that I can actually write the manuscript like I would in a word document. I bought a journal so it could be the ideas and brains before the rest of the manuscript is drafted. This is (some of) what I wrote on the first page, as a sort of memorandum to my writing self.

Fill this journal with a load of back story, character sketches, and scenes that will never be. 
Fill it with ideas that make no sense. 
Edison found 2,000 ways not to make a light bulb work before he succeeded. 
You will find 2,000 ways to not make this manuscript work. 
Nelle and Mr. Snodgrass--their story will one day reach what is in your heart and mind. 
And this journal will get them there. 

Most of all, it will be Messy. And there will be doodles.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Hands without Reproach

Last Sunday during Primary, a handful of us mothers with our dresses covered in bathrobes and paper bags over our heads, answered questions posed to us in disguised voices. (The bags were decorated like faces. Truthfully, it had a pretty--unintended--creepy effect.) The children were to guess which mom was their mom.

Our answers weren't always clear, especially mine. I used a southern accent when I spoke--a bad southern accent but an accent that wasn't mine, nonetheless. And still, my son figured out who I was. Afterward, I asked him how he knew, and he said he recognized my hands. Well actually, he said he recognized my chappy hands. (So, I have old hands and a much younger face. I don't match.)

This made me think about my mom's hands. I could pull them up into my mind's eye in a minute. And I think I always could. If I were to look at a hundred mothers' hands, I'd recognize my mother's hands. Same with my dad. Isn't it beautiful that we know these people so well in our lives, down to the contours of their hands?

I pray that with these hands my children know so well, hands they will forever know from other hands, I can always do worthwhile, uplifting things. I pray I can have hands without reproach.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Skies Like These

Tess Hilmo's Skies Like These was a great library find. Her first novel, With a Name Like Love, has been on my TBR list so naturally I picked this one up when I saw it. It was a quiet book, but I'm finding while I love all books, I lean more toward books with less action and more people. This book was very much about the people.


Jade spends a few weeks one summer with her eccentric aunt in Wyoming. There, she befriends "Roy" Parker, a boy who swears he's descended from Butch Cassidy. He's all cowboy and filled with plans on getting his dad back on his feet again after losing the family business. He tries to talk Jade into a few crazy schemes such as robbing a bank or posing as undercover spies on a ranch. Jade's always there to talk reason to Roy's lawless side, yet she's also filled with ideas (...more lawful) on how to help Roy's family.

It seems the book is more about Roy and less about Jade. Jade's internal struggles really center around Roy's struggles instead of her own. There are some beautiful scenes in this book--the nights spent on her aunt's roof looking at the stars and floating her "worry" boats down the stream. What I loved about this book was how real it felt. Circumstances didn't tie up nicely at the end, but it ended just as it should have--still leaving me with hope and a sense of completion.

And finally, this book was filled with setting in an amazing, transcendent way. Wyoming is beautiful, and I've been there a couple times. But I want to go back and see it again through Jade's eyes. Of course, this time I'll pay more attention to the skies...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Outside the Kitchen Window

We have this lovely courtyard outside our kitchen window. (I could just call it a side yard, but doesn't courtyard sound so much nicer and more proper?) We also have a larger yard behind the house, but the smaller courtyard has become our outside area. Here we barbecue, play basketball, get wet, and garden. Here the birds come.

There's a bird feeder attached to a tree here in the courtyard. We've enjoyed filling it with birdseed and watching the nature show from the kitchen windows. Today my kids were enraptured by the tiff going on between a squirrel and a dove as they both vied for the feeder. By the time I grabbed my camera with its long lens, the squirrel was retreating. He ended up prowling the ground for dropped seed. Who knew the dove was the more dominant creature?

Enter squirrel.

The dove declares it is HIS feeder. The squirrel retreats.

Dove triumphant.

The second time I put seed out, the birds had a feeding frenzy. At first I thought the sound of the feeding birds was sweet, but honestly it started reminding me of the movie Birds which once sufficiently freaked me out. It started out like this:


and soon became this:

Watch out. We're coming to get you. Chirp.

That evening I sat outside and took a few pictures of the birds that dared come near.




Aside from the moment I thought they wanted to attack my family, the birds have been a welcome sight. My son has even learned a certain birds' call (not sure which bird...) and has called out to it over and over. The girls have followed his example with their cute little imitations. We've looked up a few bird names of these visitors outside our kitchen window. All in all, nature has been an excellent classroom.

Friday, May 8, 2015

A Thought for Mothers

Mother's Day is Sunday. Last Mother's Day my children bought me a waffle iron (with their dad's help of course) and asked me to make them waffles. Funny, right? But we have made some good waffle-making-mommy memories with that gift. We'll see what they have in store for me this year.

And of course, I can't blog about Mother's Day without mentioning my own. My mother has an amazing story of how she became a mother. I believe it's too personal to share in a public forum. However, I'm so grateful that she chose to be a mother and have all the children she had and make us an eternal family (...with my dad's help of course).

In closing here is a thought for all mothers because motherhood is wonderful...and hard. This from our dear, departed prophet, the prophet of my youth, Gordon B. Hinckley.


graphic found here


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sci-Fi Unexpected

I'm not traditionally a sci-fi person. Yet, now I have two middle grade sci-fi works in progress (or in writer's speak: 2 MG SF WIPs). Time travel must be excluded from that claim. I've always loved the idea of time travel. My first novel ever, Pieces of Moon, was a time travel novel, and I read most time travel novels I come across. (Okay, and clones. I love clones. But I don't want to be a clone, unless my clone cleaned my house.)

But outer space sci-fi has not long been on my radar. I suppose it was Super 8 and Doctor Who that officially sent me spinning in that direction.

I've always had a more fantasy and supernatural leaning, so outer space...it's new for me. But I'm loving it. I'm fascinated by the immensity and eternity of the universe. How unexplored and unknown it is. It reminds me of the ocean, but on a much grander scale, of course. My novels are still based on the earth, but with interaction with outer space and extraterrestrials. And the books are so very, very different from each other. I'm fickle, too. One day I'm convinced my funny, quirky book is going to be IT for me. Other days it's my sci-fi novel with a more literary bent.

So the moral of the story? Writing preferences change. My five-year-ago self would not have expected science fiction.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Music and the Boy

About a year ago, my son began piano lessons. Thus began his love/hate (probably mostly hate) relationship with a musical instrument. Somedays, especially when it means showing off for someone, he sits down and zooms through his memorized pieces (much too fast). Most days--usually when he's practicing--he wants to quit. I tell him he needs to stick with it, at least for now.

I remember hating piano. My mom made me stick with it, and when the time came that she would let me off the hook--I wanted it. So I stuck with it, and I'm glad I did. That would be great if J chooses piano, too, someday...even if now, he declares:

I don't want to practice piano right now! You can't make me. I don't need to practice the piano because when I grow up I'm going to be an NBA player, not a music player! 

(One day you'll thank me, J.)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Why I am a Mormon

This is the conclusion of my "Why I..." week. So why am I a Mormon? It's more than just identifying with a particular faith. It's the truths that particular faith offers, the truths that enrich my life.

The button below (which is also on the sidebar) links to my personal testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I'm a Mormon.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Why I Read

I was such a bookworm when I was young. And yup--I was a nerd. I suppose I still am a nerd. This is an acknowledged fact among my family and loved ones, and I'm happy to own it.

When I was young, more times than not I'd be found curled up somewhere with a book. In fact, I remember one family vacation to California spent on my cousin's top bunk reading all her Sweet Valley Kids and Little Sister Babysitter Club books. I also remember the sheer joy of one Christmas morning snuggled in my bed reading my newest gift (although I can't remember which book now) and eating Twizzlers. (Twizzlers are also sheer joy.)

My happy places? Libraries and bookstores. One of my favorite places to go in Provo, Utah when the stress of college got me down (other than the mountains!) was the Provo Library. It was once BYU Academy, and when I began attending BYU, it was just a tumble-down, dilapidated building. While I was there, they fixed it up into something beautiful, and it was there I found peace...among the books and quiet corners.

Reading has always been an important part of my life, a joyous escape. Oddly, when I was in high school, I didn't read as much. I suppose I was busy with other things and so busy reading all my assigned reading that I didn't have much time for it. (Which may be why the middle grade genre gives me much more nostalgia than YA.) But, in college and especially once I married (when I started getting into the classics for some reason!) I fell into it again.

Now I hand it to my children like a platter with a big, iced cake (see? can't get away from those cake analogies) and say here! see this! read this! I spend way too much on books for my children. (Shoes are a close second.) I am good about not spoiling them with toys, but books are another story. I spoil them with books! I haven't decided if this is a good thing or not.

I hope this is a legacy I can hand to my children. My love of reading. I believe you can't go wrong with a well-placed love of reading.

J always has a stack of books and magazines (and some kind of drawing pad) on his headboard. Usually there is a book light perched on top. He listens when I tell him to turn it off because he hasn't yet discovered the art of reading under covers.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why I Write

Writing has long been a part of me. It began with stories written on ruled paper that involved my Crush (whoever that was at the time--I had many). Truth is, those stories were way better than an actual junior high relationship because Crush was always sensitive and kind (way beyond his twelve years).

Fictional stories gave way to the drama of high school which I thoroughly chronicled in my many, many journals. I lug these journals around with me every time we move. If we moved to a cottage in Scotland, I would lug them halfway across the world. (I really want to move to a cottage in Scotland. Please, Life, make this happen.)

I had a bucket list when I was young, one of those items being write a novel. (CHECK.) The actual novel writing officially commenced in college. I watched a movie with a college girl like myself who wrote a novel on an iBook. So, naturally I bought an iBook. (What? Isn't that all I needed? The right computer?) Now, three (or maybe four) computers, a wedding, and three children later I've written two novels.

But it's become more than that item on my bucket list (which was probably next to live in a cottage in Scotland). It's become something I have to do. I have so many stories swirling around, STORIES and they can't go unwritten. And okay--a lot of stories that have never been finished and since been laid to rest.

I suppose the bare answer to why I write is I can't not write. I can go awhile without writing which happens often as a mother of three. But I always come back to it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Why I Homeschool

I began this journey only a few months ago, but I suppose "experiment" would be a more apt word for it. I do not intend to homeschool my children always. We had a good public school experience. J's teachers were all amazing. J was at the top of his classes. His teachers always said how well liked he was. His kinder teacher even called him her "prom king." He was going to be tested for the gifted program. He was one adjusted, bright, articulate, social, well-liked guy.

We were actively involved. My husband was in the PTA. I was good friends with half the PTA. We donated to our school. We supported the programs. My husband attended the field trips. I volunteered on occasion (partly because my friend was in charge of PTA volunteers). I was room mom. Things were good. Had we not moved, we would have been content to stay in the public schools.

But, we moved. And my husband's new schedule would have him traveling back to San Antonio frequently. We wanted to go with him when he traveled. It just made sense.

But deeper than that, homeschool is something I just wanted to do. I didn't feel compelled to do it. I just really, really wanted to try it. A few of my friends had taken the leap. I loved the idea of teaching my kids. I loved the idea of spending more time with my kids. J was gone so much during the day. A, K, and I always looked forward to picking him up. More days, than not, however, he was so tired and cranky when he got home from all that SITTING. So if I had a strike against public school, it would be mainly that...TIME. (Oh, and all that SITTING.) (So, two strikes.)

I think we'll probably put them back into school in a couple years when we are in a more permanent situation. Then I'll evaluate the year and the child and the option of homeschool intermittently. I have friends who do that, and I think that the middle school years would be a great time to consider homeschool. Bleh, those middle school years. They were not good years for my husband or me. Most people I talk to say the same. Okay, everyone I talk to says the same. (I mean, have you every spoken with somebody who said they loved middle school?) (If you did, in fact, love middle school, I stand corrected.)

Other perks of of homeschool I've discovered: My children spend more time together. I believe that their sibling relationships have strengthened. I get to see them more! (I know, I already said that.) There is less stress at home than at school...especially in a state driven so much by test scores. There is more freedom to do what they want--more time for creative play and more time outside! Family vacations aren't limited to school breaks. They spend more time at home with their family, where their characters and their spirits can form and grow.

At trip to the zoo during homeschool.

This is so right for my family right now, and I am grateful for the opportunity to homeschool my children.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Why I am a Mother

It's pretty straight forward, right? I am a mother because I had a baby--three, actually. But for me becoming a mother was something I'd always looked forward to. Family and motherhood are two major tenets of my faith. My mother was a good example to me of what I could become. And deep down it's just what I wanted.

I was a registered nurse for about six years before I "retired" to raise my children. I remember one misty rainy day (I just love those misty, rainy days!) while working at a cardiology office in Kansas City. I took a lunch break, but not the usual eat-quickly-at-my-desk lunch break. That day, I needed a real break. I left the building and walked down to the Country Club Plaza. The Country Club Plaza is a beautiful shopping district in Kansas City filled with statues and fountains and Spanish architecture. It's beautiful--especially in a misty rain with the golden-hued street lights shining off the wet pavement.

I went to Barnes and Noble, of course. I walked through the children's section, and I thought about...not books. I thought about bringing my children to the store and sharing that moment with them. That was a pretty good indication to me that I was ready to be a mom. I yearned for those days of children and wonder over of my days in the doctor's office. (I did love being a nurse, and sometimes I miss it. I may go back to it! But for now--it's all motherhood for me. I do know a lot of amazing moms who manage to be both a nurse and a mom, including a couple sister-in-laws.)

Not too long after this memorable Plaza walk in the rain, I had my first--my one and only boy. J came into our lives ten days early. Three years and three months later, on the nose of a snowstorm, came A. Last but not least (but hopefully not the last) and with the cord around her neck came K just two and a half years later.

Motherhood has been radiant. It has also been hard and sad and painful and delightful and happy and joyful and hilarious. It has brought me to my knees repeatedly. It has refined my soul and my marriage. It has made me who I am.

Why am I a mother? Because it completes me.

The boy who made me a mom. We called him "Jumbo" because he was HUGE.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Truly Beautiful Place

Recently, I spoke with a friend of mine about questions in my personal life, questions that needed answers. She asked me if I'd gone to the the temple. I'm sorry to say I hadn't thought of it before she brought it up. But she was right. I attend the temple for spiritual enrichment, to receive blessings, to make promises, and to participate in special ordinances. But the temple is also a refuge from uncertainty. It's a place to go for answers that I seek. I've spent many reflective hours in the temple, particularly during college when my time was one hundred percent my own. Tomorrow I will attend the temple, and I truly believe I will come out with a clearer mind and a clearer direction.


The St. Louis Temple, where my husband and I were sealed for time and all eternity almost eleven years ago. Photo from lds.org

If you'd like to learn more about our temples, you may want to read this.



Thursday, April 23, 2015

I Didn't Fall in Love With Gilbert Blythe

I don't usually grieve the passing of a celebrity. It's sad when anybody dies, but if I didn't have a relationship with the person, there's no personal sorrow. However, when I heard Jonathan Crombie died, there were tears. Because I was once a middle school girl in love. The thing is, I didn't fall in love with Gilbert Blythe.

I fell in love with Jonathan's Gilbert Blythe.

photo from anne.sullivanmovies.com

He brought to life my first fictional love, even before Colin Firth introduced me to Mr. Darcy. My sister and I bonded over our mutual love of Jonathan's Gilbert. I spent many hours of my life watching and re-watching the Anne of Green Gables saga. When I was young, Prince Edward Island seemed as far-off and magical to me as Hogwarts does to my son. Jonathan led me to the pages (all the pages) of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne books. I remember borrowing each book one-by-one from my neighbor, and then moving onto the Emily books after that.

All the Anne books. I loved each one. So many amazing literary memories.

Lucy Maud Montgomery created Gilbert Blythe, and while he's swoon worthy in print, it was Jonathan Crombie who brought him to life for so many. I believe every girl who fell for Jonathan's Gilbert felt as though she was Anne herself. We unabashedly yearned for puffy sleeves and gabled houses and wide porches and Marilla's kitchen. The image of Jonathan's Gilbert brings to mind more than a love story but everything else Avonlea and Green Gables--sleigh rides in the wintertime, grieving Matthew's passing, standing up to Rachel Lynde, the White Way of Delight. The memories might as well be our own.

There isn't much about Jonathan Crombie's personal life on the Internet, but I'm very, very sorry that he died so young. He who masterfully introduced us to Gilbert Blythe.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sleeping vs Writing

I read this post on healthy writing habits by YA author, Bree Despain. It's made me think more about my own writing habits. Fortunately, I haven't formed an eating-while-I-write habit. Of course, I've never written on a deadline, and I imagine the stress of a deadline drives bad eating habits. (And I have mastered the eating-while-I-watch-TV habit.) My number one unhealthy writing habit is staying up too late.

The problem is, I don't stay up too late writing. I stay up late doing all the things I want to do as well as writing. These vary from night to night, but they are reading, social media, television shows, Netflix, blogging, hanging with my husband, and cleaning. Some of these things are very good things. Hanging with my husband? Good! Reading? Also good. Cleaning is good, but I can't go to bed until my kitchen is clean and I put it off until midnight. Social media and television? Not a bad thing, but definitely not a priority. (But DEFINITELY a priority when I need to chill at the end of a rewarding but exhausting mom day.) It's just hard to strike a balance.

I have this perfectly imagined (and yet to be realized) schedule in which I have the kids to bed and the house clean by eight o'clock. That gives me time to blog, write in my journal, write for at least an hour, and even dabble a bit in social media while going to bed at the responsible time of ten thirty. (A girl can dream, can't she? Some girls dream of new shoes and travel. I dream of schedules...and travel.)

But what am I going to give up before I become this perfectly disciplined creature? Sleep? I've found that my body and mood don't function well on fewer than eight hours of sleep. (My husband does great on six hours of sleep. I am jealous.) Inspired by Bree's article, I've decided that sleep will no longer be the thing I sacrifice. It needs to be other things. I want to be healthy and write. I think I can do both. (Note to self: This does not mean you can stay up until one and sleep in until nine.)

Sleeping A not long after K was born. Poor, tired, new big sister.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Little Hands Doing

Our hands are some of our most precious means of exploring the world around us. My children are very good at keeping their hands busy. Sometimes their little hands are busy hitting (K) or strewing all the contents of the house onto the floor (all of them), but there are those times when their little hands do lovely things.

Hands playing in leaves.

Hands feeding the cat. (She figured out quickly that plate wasn't going to hold the water!)

Hands playing ball.

Hands playing with cloud dough.

Hands touching fur at the wildlife center.

Hands clutching a wildflower.

Hands hanging from bars at the park.

Hands sharing.

Hands feeling a squishy egg. (Egg soaked in vinegar--try it!)

 Hands building a snowman.

Hands touching her first snow. 


Most of these pictures were taken during homeschooling hours. A perk in the long line of homeschooling perks is more opportunities for hands to be...doing!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Big Brother on Purpose

Last week, inspired by a friend with a fairy garden and a fairy garden sale at our local nursery, we built this:

He found a rock and is writing Silver City, with an arrow pointing to the garden. (The name was inspired by the Boxcar Children, which J has only watched, not read. Next read aloud?)

J, always wanting to make things more interesting and fun, made a mess of the miniature soda bottles after the girls went to bed (enlisting my help). When they woke up in the morning, he showed the girls what fun the fairies had had while they slept.

J excels at being a big brother. He has his teasing moments (oh boy, does he have those!), and he and his sisters have many excellent fights. However, he has just as many happy and fun moments with A and K. He's a great leader, often guiding them in play. He'll set up their dolls, lead them in skits, make up a game, or draw pictures with them. Lately, J has been drawing mansions for the girls. It's really sweet--they peer over his shoulders as he sketches out their dream house on his boogie board. He'll also play the peacemaker at times, attempting to strike a compromise between the girls if they're fighting. (As a mother, I definitely appreciate those moments!)

I try to hug him and thank him when he's playing so well with his sisters. I'm sure I don't do it enough. It's easy to notice the good moments, but I don't always verbalize my appreciation. (On the other hand, when he's teasing and fighting, verbalizing my frustration seems to come so much easier.)

I love this kid. He's such a blessing to our family in innumerable ways, and I believe Heavenly Father placed him first in line on purpose.