March 13, 2017

I Don't Do St. Patricks Day

holiday traditions, st. patricks day traditions, kids tradtions


Confession: I don't do St. Patrick's Day.

My mom did it. Every. Single. Year.

We woke up to a treasure hunt with clues left on shamrocks all throughout the house, which led to a chocolate pot of chocolate coins. I have no idea where my mother found a chocolate pot, but there it was, every year.

I console myself with the thought that my mother only had two kids, whereas I have six, but then I remember that she also worked full time and that makes me feel like a failure.

I did dye the milk green one year. That was a standby growing up. The leprechaun would dye the milk green while leaving the shamrocks. Well, I dyed the milk green and then left to run errands. My ever conscientious seven year old daughter thought that there was something seriously wrong with it and dumped it right down the drain before I got home. Served that leprechaun right for not leaving clues.

Here's the thing, though. I probably could pull off a leprechaun treasure hunt. And two thirds of my children are still young enough to appreciate it.  I just really don't want to. I have so much on my to do list already that adding that one unnecessary thing just weighs me down. More than it should. And I can't really figure out why.

Maybe it's because I had four kids in five years, and when I was really right in the thick of it, trying to put together a leprechaun hunt really would have killed me. Maybe it's because I'm worried that my oldest two will feel like they missed out on something because I never did it when they were kids. Maybe it's just straight up laziness. Maybe it's just one more thing to do and it will not determine the life or death of my children. Or, maybe I'm just not as good of a mother as my own was.

Whatever the reason, my mom guilt makes me feel it every. single. year. And every single year, I ignore it, make green smoothies and green scrambled eggs, make sure everyone is at the very least wearing green so they don't get pinched at school and call it good. And, who knows, maybe that's enough after all.

March 1, 2017

Where do you get your ideas?

writing advice, writing tips, writing inspiration, author advice

I have gotten a lot of questions since my first novel, Dear Jane, was released. One of the most common had been "Where do you get your ideas?"
And the answer: Honestly? Everywhere.

I actually can't remember exactly what sparked Dear Jane. I do remember vividly, however, that I knew the title before I knew anything else. I knew I wanted to tell the story of a Sister missionary who receives a Dear Jane letter.  From there, the story just slowly unfolded.

Ever since I was a kid, I can remember rewriting my life. Usually in that space between waking and sleeping. I go over interactions that I had that day and rewrite them using words that I wish I had said or wondering what would have happened if they had said something differently. That kind of daydreaming has led to many a story. I take what might have been and twist it and turn it until an entirely new reality is formed. Characters are born, conflicts are magnified and it blossoms into an entire novel.

Alternately, I pay attention to the world around me. I don't like to use the word eavesdropping, but if you're having a conversation next to me, I'm not going to cover my ears and hum. Once again, my talent for creating a world around a conversation comes in handy and I take odds and ends of the overheard conversation and weave it into something new. I've heard other authors say, Don't tell me anything you don't want to end up in a book, and that is entirely true. It likely won't be your life story, but it just might be a silly detail that I thought was particularly memorable or an unusual phrase that rings true. There are a few family members who heard echoes of themselves in the pages of Dear Jane.

If you're thinking about writing, wondering where you can find your ideas, don't look to far. I imagine that you've been telling stories your entire life, whether to yourself as you fall asleep at night, or to the entertainment of your family at reunions, it doesn't matter. Figure out where your stories live and write them down. You're the only one who can.

February 27, 2017

It's Snowing Again? Best Activities for a Snow Day with Kids

It's coming down pretty hard here, even though a week ago we thought that spring was around the corner. I'm back in my sweats, scheming up soup for dinner, while the kids are asking to go sledding. If I can get it together enough to bundle everyone up, we'll go. But in the meantime I thought I would consult my snow day go-to list. And as I was going over it, considering what we might do today, I thought that maybe you could use a few ideas too. Most of the links below are to fellow bloggers, but a few are affiliate links. Just FYI.

Outside:
You're a good, brave, amazing mom for being willing to bundle everyone up to go out and play for twenty minutes, just to have them come back inside and beg for hot chocolate. This half of the list is for you.

1. Go Sledding. This one is pretty obvious and hardly needs to be pointed out, but it's always the first thing my littles want to do. And if you don't have sleds, in a pinch, old cookie sheets are quite sufficient.
snow day, kids activities, preschool activities, fun stuff to do with kids
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2. Snow Paint: My kids LOVE this. And as long as you have Spray Bottles and Food Coloring on hand, it's free and easy. Make as many colors as you have spray bottles and let them loose in the back yard. You'll have the most colorful yard until it all melts. This would also work if you have a few little water guns hanging around from last summer.
winter activities, snow day fun, preschool activities
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3. Conduct a Science Experiment: This requires indoor and outdoor participation. Test to see how much water is really in snow. All you need is a jar and a ruler and you're done. A fun way to incorporate learning into your play.

4. Let them help you shovel. No, seriously. Get a Snow Shovels for Kids , kids garden trowels or anything resembling a shovel, assign an area and let them go. The big kids will not think this is fun, but the littles, who still get a thrill from helping, will love every bit. I couldn't find our mini snow shovel when the last bit storm hit, so my three year old insisted that I give him the real shovel. And it was hilarious. And he loved every second of it.


Inside:
You are my kind of mom. You know that after putting twelve layers on the baby, they'll trip going down the steps, the ill fitting mitten will fall off, their hand will touch snow and THEY WILL BE DONE. You have no qualms about just taking the whining and keeping them inside all day.

winter activities, things to do with kids, fun stuff with kids, snow day

1. Window Painting. No, I'm not suggesting you let your kids loose with paint in the house. I am suggesting you squirt said paint into a zip lock bag and then hang it on a window. It is a surprisingly entertaining activity for big kids too.
snow day, cabin fever, stuff to do with kids, winter activities
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2. Homemade play dough. There are a million recipes for play dough out there. I've linked to a couple, but I prefer the non cook ones, just because I'm lazy.
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3. Sensory Bottles: I love these things. Everyone loves these things. There are so many variations that you can make, they never get old. I do try and keep them put away and then pull them out as boredom busters when necessary. That way they stay very exciting. One quick tip: don't use flimsy water bottles. They will break really easily and then you'll have blue corn syrup everywhere. Don't ask me how I know this.

4. Indoor Snow Painting: Okay, so the snow paint sounds fun, but you don't have a spray bottle or you just don't want to go outside? Gather up a bunch of snow in a large Tupperware bin and pull out the paint brushes. You can use tempera paint or just water and food coloring, but it has the same effect without the frost bite.

Hope that helps make your snow day a little bit easier to take. And that spring gets here finally! Good Luck!

October 27, 2016

Eight years ago today. . .

I had pretty much given up on ever giving birth.  I was convinced that I would be pregnant for the rest of my entire life. After a weekend of last minute Halloween activities and prep and lots of false labor, I was in despair.  And as a last ditch effort to induce labor, (I had tried everything else. No. Really.)  I decided to clean my house. My entire house. And, while I was at it, I might as well make a nice dinner.  And so I did.  From top to bottom, I cleaned everything.  I did dozens of loads of laundry, washed every dish, swept every floor and picked up every toy.  I made chicken, funeral potatoes, rolls, salad.  It was a nice dinner.   And just as I was putting the chicken into the oven, it hit.  The first contraction.

I straightened up and looked at the clock.  4:00.  I wasn't about to call the midwife. I had been having random contractions for weeks.  And so I headed upstairs to switch the laundry. And sure enough, another one hit.  So, I called my husband.  Then I called the midwife.  Then I called my mom. John arrived home a remarkable 10 minutes later.  Before my mom did, to take over the parenting duties. The hypnobirthing training had kicked in and I wanted to make John start doing the breathing, because he was stressing me out more than the contractions were.  They were about four minutes apart by this time.  And 5:00 in the evening.  And yes, that meant rush hour.  By the time we arrived at the hospital, 30 minutes later, the contractions were 2 minutes apart.  I couldn't walk into the hospital.  John deposited me in a wheelchair in front of check in while he parked the car.  Thirty minutes and a decent amount of screaming later, I was holding a perfect little baby boy with dark hair.
*************************************

Five years ago that little boy woke up, determined that today was NOT his birthday and that he was still 2.  Until he saw the presents.  And for the remainder of the day he proudly held up 3 and a half fingers and proclaimed, "I'm fwee."

Oh, good heaven. My baby is fwee.

*************************************


Local Authors and You Event


If you love meeting authors, this is your chance. Salt Lake County Library System is hosting a great event Saturday, November 5.  The Local Authors and You Event will feature dozens of local authors from all genres. There will also be several workshops over the course of the afternoon. Best part? All of it is FREE! 

Workshop topics will include Short Stories, Character development and Self-Publishing. Authors will be selling and signing throughout the afternoon. If you have a favorite author, (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) and you already own the book, bring it for them to sign. If you don't own it, this is a great chance to get it. 


Hope to see you Saturday!!

September 7, 2016

The Best Planner I've ever Used

So, things are CA-RAZY around here lately.  School is back, football's about to start, school musical rehearsals, preschool, orthodontist appointments, church stuff.  It's insane.  I've been working off the calendar on my phone for a while and for the most part it's been great.  My husband and I synced our calendars so that when either one of us adds something, it goes on both calendars. It's been great for preventing miscommunication.
But, here's the thing.  The phone is so great for keeping track of appointments and activities, but not the personal stuff.  Like which days do I have time to work out? Am I caught up posting on my FB Author Page? Did I fill out that form for Healthy Mom's Magazine yet?  And I realized that there is too much to keep track of in my head and on my phone. I need something to write stuff down and see it all laid out.  So, I hopped on Amazon and ordered my favorite planner. (I swear, this is not a sponsored post.  I just love this planner SO MUCH.)
day planner, mom planner, busy mom planner, scheduler

I had the same planner last year and I used it a ton, but never quite got around to ordering a new one in January. Good thing it's a 16 month calendar and starts in August because it has saved my life the past couple of weeks.  Seriously. I have been so much more productive with this thing. I've been marking things off my list, I've been making goals.  It's awesome.
I just thought that I would share on the off chance that there are other moms out there who feel like their brain is about to explode.


organize, planner, day planner

The weekly pages on this planner are divided into six separate rows to keep track of different kids activities.   I love the way it's laid out. It makes it so easy to keep everything straight. 

*So, not a sponsored post, but does include affiliate links. Just FYI.

August 29, 2016

Song of Summer's End


My daughter goes to first grade tomorrow. And it feels like I am saying goodbye to her. I have spent every day with her for the past 6 years. Every day for at least 21 hours. I got to be there for it all. The first smile. Laugh. Word. Tooth. Joke. Time out. Tantrum. The good and the bad. I have been there. And now I have to give that up. The first spelling test. I won't be there. The first lunch in the lunch room. I won't be there. She will learn so much without me.

And more than just spelling and math. How to make friends and keep them. How to decide to be a bigger person and not make fun of less socially adapt kids. How to deal with disappointment all by herself. I won't be there for those moments. I will only get the leftovers. The few hours between school and bed. Those precious hours that homework has to be done, dinner has to be made. Chores have to be done, baths have to be taken. Those precious hours are not enough for me to soak in the goodness of my girl and to keep her close to me like I want to. And so I have to say good bye until next summer until she will spend every glorious hour with me again.

Maybe I'm selfish. Maybe I'm a bad mom for not wanting to let her go. But she is my baby and I don't want to give her up. Not yet.


*Originally published 2009

August 28, 2016

Stream of Consciousness

What am I going to make for dinner?
Pasta. No. We had pasta last night.  I wonder how much is left downstairs.  I bet I need to restock.

No-you cannot have a snack. I am just about to make dinner.  Okay. One tomato. But that's it.  No, wait let me wash it first.

Okay.  Is there any chicken left in the freezer?  What can I make with canned chicken.  Nothing that John likes. Life would be so much easier if he wasn't so picky.  It's like 100 degrees.  We can't have soup.

Shut the door!

Stupid flies.  I swear they wait for the door to open.    Did we really use that many dishes today? Maybe I should wash them before I make dinner.  Dishwasher is still full.  But if I ask the girls to come clear it right now, they will be in the way.

We have lots of beans. I should make something with beans. Beans and rice. John will have to deal.  I wonder if I can find a new recipe online.  Ehh. I'll just make something up. Should I make cornbread?

Eric, do you stink?  You do, don't you.  Go get me a diaper.  No kicking!  You don't kick mommy!

Now the living room stinks.  Two cans of beans.  A can of tomato sauce.  Is that it?  Hmm. Maybe I should have made cornbread. I could make biscuits. No. The food processor is in the sink.  Not washing that right now.  Oh, well.  I wonder if there is a way to make better rice.

I should put some brown sugar in there. I wonder if the cajun seasoning will clash with the barbeque sauce. What is in cajun seasoning anyway?

Shut the fridge please. No. You don't need any cheese right now. Shut the fridge.

We are having beans and rice.  You like it.

Put it down!  No! Put it down.

Everyone out of the kitchen! Out! Now!  I will call you when it is time to eat!

Sigh.  I should really fold the laundry. I'll have to do that tonight. Onions!  I forgot.  Garlic too.  Okay.  Rice is done.  Beans are done.

Guys. Come set the table.  No, just set the table. If you can't sing and set at the same time, then don't sing.  What did I just say?

Sigh.


*originally posted 2011

August 26, 2016

Loving

This week I had one of those days. I didn't feel all that great and my motivation was nada. So when my baby fell asleep on me--which doesn't happen often I didn't try and set him down so I could go get some work done. I sat on the couch and let him sleep on me for 2 hours.

This is a rare occasion for me. This baby does not sleep for two hours of the day EVER. And it usually takes lots and lots of work for me to get him to sleep while I'm holding him. Strange, I know, but that is who he is.

While he was asleep I watched his face. He is so beautiful. They are all beautiful when they are sleeping. The term angel here is cliche but appropriate. As I was gazing at his face I got a glimpse of what he might look light as a little boy, as a teenager, as an adult. And he will always be beautiful. But the thought of him growing up breaks my heart a little. And thrills me at the same time.

Motherhood is so full of moments like that. They can be hard to find in all of the screaming and running and dancing and singing. The quiet moments when you catch your child making a face and you know that they will have that same face as they grow. And you hope, desperately, that the person accompanying that face will live a good and happy and worthwhile life. And that your influence in their life will be for good.

And so I held my baby, sitting on the couch for two hours doing nothing but willing my baby to grow up healthy and happy. And loving him like I know he won't let me love him once he learns how to walk. Once he learns how to run. Once he learns how to drive. Hoping that loving him like that now will seep into him and nourish him for the rest of his life.

August 25, 2016

Why Harry Potter is So Amazing

I recently discovered a new podcast. Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.  And it's just bringing up my intense love of Harry Potter.  Generally, I try to keep my crazy under wraps, but I just can't anymore.
 I love Harry Potter.  For the following reasons:
1. Have you ever noticed anything about the names in Harry Potter?  JK Rowling didn't just make up funny words to name her characters.  Here's a few examples:

  • Sirius Black: Sirius is the Dog Star
  • Minerva: The Roman goddess of wisdom
  • Dumbledore: Old English for Bumblebee
  • Remus Lupin: Remus was a son of Mars, left to die along the banks of the Tiber, but saved and nursed back to health by a she-wolf.  Lupus is the Latin word for Wolf. 
  • Voldemort: Comes from a French phrase that can be interpreted as "one who flees from death." 
Right?   Right?  

Why yes.  I am a super nerd. 

2. The themes are amazing.  Tolerance. Love conquering death.  The power of friendship.  Faith in a greater purpose.  Everything you want to teach your kids in seven volumes. 

3. The writing.  THE WRITING.  My favorite line? "Tom Riddle hit the floor with a mundane finality."   Mundane finality.  After everything, after all he has done and all he has put the world through, he is just a human being like the rest of them and he has died like the rest of them.  You see now why I keep my crazy to myself?

4. The characters.  How do you read these books and not love them all? I cry for Harry, laugh with(at) Ron,  and just want to give Neville a hug.  And the twins.  And Hagrid! 

I think that's enough for one day.  Please let me know if you are a Harry Potter crazy person too.  We can chat!!




August 11, 2016

Dear Jane Blog Tour


Below is a list of fantastic bloggers who are participating in Dear Jane's blog tour over the next couple of weeks.  Be sure to stop by and say hello!

“Dear Jane” blog tour schedule:
August 10: Rockin’ Book Reviews
August 12: Wishful Endings
August 13: Singing Librarian Books
August 14: Courtney’s Book Nook | Jorie Loves a Story
August 15: Tristi Pinkston
August 16: Emmy Mom
August 17: Live to Read
August 18: Fire and Ice Reads
August 19: Mylissa’s Reviews and Book Thoughts
August 20: Getting Your Read On
August 21: The Things I Love Most
August 22: My Book a Day
August 23: Mel’s Shelves
August 24: Robyn Echols Books
August 25: A Bliss Complete
August 26: Katie’s Clean Book Collection
August 27: Inklings and Notions
August 28: Heidi Reads
August 29: Overstuffed
August 30: Literary Time Out
August 31: Mormon Mommy Blogs

Thanks again to all of these great bloggers for participating in the Dear Jane blog tour.

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