Monday, December 17, 2012

Today's Christmas Thought

Well, Christmastime is here. One of my favorite Christmas albums ever is the one by Michael Crawford. The way he sings "O Holy Night" speaks to my soul. Among the many beautiful songs on the album is one called "Scarlet Ribbons." It's a sweet little song, whose story goes something like this:

It's Christmas Eve, and a man stops in front of his daughter's bedroom door, where he catches her praying for some scarlet hair ribbons. Touched by this humble and simple request, he rushes out in search of said ribbons. Of course, it's late at night on Christmas Eve, and all the stores are closed. He returns home, empty-handed and disappointed that he will have let down his daughter the next morning. He goes back to her room to admire her sleeping face, and there, at the foot of the bed, miraculously, are some beautiful scarlet ribbons. He stares in awe, then ends the song with these lyrics:

If I live to be two-hundred,
I will never know from where
came those lovely scarlet ribbons,
scarlet ribbons for her hair.

Well, I can tell you EXACTLY from whence they came: HIS WIFE!!!!!!

Honestly, are you as exhausted as I am? Not that my husband isn't any help at Christmas, but I am the one doing most of the legwork here! Case in point: Today, we were driving in the car, when he mentioned that he thought we should get our son his own set of scriptures for Christmas. I told him I thought it was a great idea and asked him what kind he thought we should get.

"Well, I know he wants his name embossed on them."

"Okay," I replied and started spouting off all the different styles and prices, when he said,"He's only 10 so I was thinking of getting him the cheap ten-dollar student kind."

"Those don't exist," I said.

"That's what I paid for mine."

"Yes. Back in 1985."

"Well, I'll stop by a Deseret Book Store this week and start looking." Actually, we all know that's code for I have no idea what I'm talking about. Besides, you can't START looking the week before Christmas.

Scarlet ribbons, indeed.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

An Open Letter to the Kardashians

Dear Kardashians,

Stop it.


For the love of all that is good and right in the world, I beg you to knock it off. Why, you ask? I'll tell you.

I try to not be a selfish person. Yes, occasionally I sneak into my closet and enjoy a piece of dark chocolate away from the kids. Sometimes I like to hold onto the remote control during prime time. But in general, for the most part, I really try hard to be unselfish.

This is not one of those times.

But I'm asking you this for selfish reasons. You need to stop it, because what's happening out there is killing me. You're creating a whole clueless army of mini Kardashians. And they must be stopped. They're standing in the security lines at the airports of the world, wearing their velour track suits with rhinestone words on the hineys, hands full of glossy, designer handbags that cost more than my rent, tripping over their stiletto heels. But who can blame them? It's probably hard for them to see anything from behind their giraffe-like eyelash extensions.

And then.

And then, after they eventually figure out that they have to unbuckle their high heels before removing them from their feet for the TSA x-ray machine, they pull out what I can only assume is a large rodent small dog from one of the many glossy bags (you're only allowed two, by the way). So then what happens? They hold up the entire security line while TSA agents stand around in their blue shirts trying to figure out what to do. AND THE REST OF US HAVE TO WAIT. We don't want to wait. We don't care about their scrappy little dogs. WE WANT TO GO HOME!

In closing, Kardashians, please. I'm begging you. Turn off the cameras. Turn on the privacy filters. Shop at Target and let the rest of us get on with our lives.

Cindy Stagg

P.S. Don't even try to keep up with me.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

All I Want for Christmas

I want to start out this post by giving a little shout-out to my nephew, Tyler Swan, whose high school football team will be playing for the Utah 5A State Football Championship next week. Go Diggers! (Yes, the students at Jordan High are known as The Beetdiggers, which, I know, sounds like a school Dwight Schrute would attend).

With the NFL in full swing and high school football the big talk in our family these days, I've already decided on what I want for Christmas this year.

Can you guess what it is?

No, it's not season tickets.

And it's not a jersey representing my favorite team.

It's not even a football autographed by my favorite player.

I want...

...and I promise this is good...

a yellow penalty flag!

You've all seen it. Somebody grabs somebody else's face mask and the referee blows the whistle and tosses a yellow penalty flag onto the field. All the players stop and the ref tells them what they did wrong, then penalizes the offending team with loss of yards.

Can you imagine the real-world applications for my very own yellow penalty flag? I mean, how perfect is that? When my kids come in from school and leave a trail of backpacks, shoes, coats, papers, and legos from the door to the kitchen, I can toss my flag and yell, "Penalty! Cluttering! Loss of dessert!"

What about when someone cuts me off in traffic? "Penalty! False start! Loss of 3 car lengths!"

And I'm all about maintaining my personal space. "Penalty! Personal Foul! 10 yards!" 

Oh, I'm getting giddy with anticipation, just thinking about all the uses for my yellow penalty flag. There is no arguing with a yellow penalty flag. You MUST obey the yellow penalty flag.

There is no stopping me with a yellow penalty flag.

I see no flaws in this plan.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Love 'em. Always Have. Always Will.

So on Facebook, I've joined in with the crowd posting daily status updates of things for which I am grateful. I figured today's thing deserved it's very own blog post.

Today, I am thankful for cars. There. I said it. Yes, it's a material thing. But anyone who knows me, knows I love cars. Why?

For starters, I used to work on our cars with my dad. He taught me how to change my own oil and check my lug nuts. We replaced the clutch on his '75 MGB. Once, he even had me stand by with a fire extinguisher while he welded the fuel line.

Ah, memories.

And that's the point. My dad and I built a close relationship because we spent so much time together beneath the hood of a car. He told me stories about his 1964 1/2 Mustang. After a day of grease monkey-ing, he'd take me to 7-11 and buy me a Slurpee and a classic auto trader magazine. Man, I spent hours staring at the pages, picturing myself behind the wheel of a '57 Thunderbird or a '55 Bel Air.

Cars are also what launched my writing career. Every writer will tell you that they were always a writer, and I am no different. For me, cars just happened to be the first thing I ever got PAID to write about. Because of it, I have had some pretty amazing adventures. I've driven a Toyota FJ Cruiser along the San Andreas Fault. I've flown on the Ford corporate jet to their proving grounds and spent a day driving the F-150 all over the desert. I got to ride in a Lexus stock car with a professional race car driver, where 210 miles per hour felt like melted butter. Oh, my heart is racing just thinking about it!

Beyond that, a car is a miraculous thing. The internal combustion engine -- a common thing anymore, but what an idea. Add a turbo charger, modify it here and there, bore this, plane that, and pretty soon, you are the envy of every car lunatic in the world. My favorite car lunatic story is that of Hau-Tai Tang, who, as a young Vietnamese boy, fell in love with a Mustang delivered overseas to the army base near his home. After the war, his family immigrated to the U.S. where he continued his love affair for the car. Mr. Tang grew up and became chief engineer of the 2005 Mustang project.

I mean, how cool is that?

Finally, to me, it's all about what the car represents. It's not status or success; it's freedom. It means I can get behind the wheel, pedal to the medal, and go anywhere I choose -- even if it's just to the grocery store.

Tell me this isn't the sexiest car you've ever seen. 
(And people think I love James Bond for the acting).

One Day...

So yes, today, I am thankful for cars.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Excuse Me, Your Age is Showing

Today I had the chance to observe a perspective teacher do a counting lesson with a kindergarten class. I remember being a young college fresh, so inexperienced.

So not digital.

She was using the smart board, which, if you've never seen one, is like a giant, wall-sized iPad. In the course of teaching this lesson, she marked and moved things around on the smart board. When she swiped to the next screen, it inadvertently skipped a couple of pages.

"Oops," she said, "J.K."



What the? I wondered if the students wondered why she was reciting the alphabet when they were supposed to be counting. In reality, I think it went right over their heads.

But really, has life become so fast-paced, so instantaneous, so digital, that we are now speaking in initials? That we speak the way we text? By the way, does anyone else think it's funny that text is now a verb?

Just to be sure, I asked my 9-year-old if he knew what "J.K." meant. It went right over his head.

"So what does it mean?" He asked.

"Just kidding," I replied.

"No, really, what does it mean?"

"It means just kidding," I said again.

"Oh. Well that's dumb. Why don't you just say just kidding instead?"


Saturday, October 27, 2012

I WAS a Size 6

I've picked up a long-term sub assignment this month. It's back at my former school, which has been a lot of fun. It's been nice to talk to former co-workers and it's always a treat to get bombarded with hallway hugs from past students.

So I've been there for a few weeks and I have a couple left to go. In this time, I have learned something new about myself: I'm a stress eater and I have a drinking problem.

Lest you show up on my doorstep to haul me off to Jenny Craig or AA, allow me to explain.

I have this thing about paying with exact change whenever I can. I like the neatness of it. Also, it keeps my wallet from feeling heavy. Yesterday, when picking up pizza for my daughter and her friends, the total was $23.86; I did not have the exact change, nor any change, for that matter. And I realized -- I'd spent all of my spare coinage on multiple trips to the vending machine in the teacher's lounge. Doritos, Cheetos, fruit snacks... Snickers, Reese's peanut butter cups, trail mix... I know. I have a problem. But seriously, who calls the school, asks for the sub by name, and then complains about how they don't care for the quality of instruction their child is receiving?!? I would have told her to come on down and teach it herself, but my mouth was full of potato chips at the time. In her defense (as well as mine) she didn't understand that Title 1 help means remediation, not acceleration. But still. Complaining to the substitute?!?

On another occasion, the principal, a good and decent man, found out that I had a headache. After an hour of doing kindergarten assessments, I returned to my room to find a bottle of coke on my desk and a text on my phone saying I would need to get some ice. Does that make him an enabler? I don't know. I was too busy guzzling my room temperature soda to analyze his role in this situation.

This brings me to my drinking problem. Yesterday, as I cleared my desk for the weekend, I had a drinking glass, a travel mug, a water bottle, and yet another bottle of Coke to take home.

The goal pants are getting tight.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

It Only Took Nine Years

Several years ago, I was on one of those crazy, nighttime grocery store trips with my two girlfriends, Liz and Jen. Because, you know, sometimes that's the most fun a mom gets to have. Liz and Jen are two of the funniest people I know.

So anyway, we're walking down the spice aisle at H.E.B. when Jen notices something. It's a small bottle of cinnamon and sugar mixed together, for some inordinate price of $3.29 or something like that. She picks it up, holds it in my face and says (with her loud Texas accent): "Seriously, HOW lazy is America?!?"

Maybe you had to be there, because it was all in the delivery. I promise, it was very funny -- and I don't think it had anything to do with the fact that it was 10:00 at night and we were using the grocery store for entertainment.

Fast forward to yesterday. My hubby and I are walking through Costco (at the perfectly acceptable hour of 4:00 p.m.). After placing a package of uncooked tortillas in my cart, I looked up and beheld something to finally add to Jen's "Lazy List" along with the pre-mixed cinnamon sugar:

Need I say more?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Dress Code: Pajamas

It's been an interesting weekend. Much like my son, my weekend started last Wednesday.

But now it's Monday and the dust has settled, my mind has cleared up a bit, and now I'm ready to write about it.

So back to last Wednesday. I was at a meeting for entrepreneurs, hoping to do a little networking. The subject of the meeting didn't really have anything to do with my objectives, which was all about securing angel investors for your company. I'm a one-woman show, and all I need is some people who need a good copywriter. As I was thinking up creative ways to sneak out of this 6-person meeting, the old iPad alerted me that I had a new e-mail. It was my friend, notifying me that Midway Elementary had a new opening for a kindergarten teacher and that I should apply so she could put her son in my class. Ten minutes later (clearly I had not yet figured out a way to sneak out) my formal principal called to also inform me of the position. As I hung up with him, another friend called with the same message.

I sent my husband a text to inform him of the job. Just to give you a little background, we are house shopping, and the thought of some extra money is really tempting right now.

By this point I had been out of the meeting room for a few minutes, so I figured I could go back in for my stuff and act like I had an excuse to leave. I sort of had one, right?

I drove to the school, tracked the principal down, and asked him about it. He invited me to apply and I told him I would think about it. That night I went home and did a little soul searching. I am still trying to prove to myself that I can do other things besides teach school. It's not that there's anything wrong with teaching; I'm just not passionate about it. I really, really want to earn money as a writer. However, the teaching job was for a one-year contract, so I figured I could do anything for a year, and teaching is a pretty good thing to do for a year.

I spent Thursday getting paperwork together and applied for the job -- with that tight feeling in my chest.

Friday, I interviewed, and I questioned myself all the way there. A few hours later, the principal called to tell me he decided to go with the other candidate, who had just finished her student teaching on that very team. I have to admit, it was an effort trying not to sound elated.

In the end, I'm flattered that so many people were looking out for me. I was told flattering things about myself as a teacher. And yes, sometimes I do miss it.

But do you know what? I've spent this entire morning writing and doing writing-related things. And I feel light and happy; and most importantly, I feel at peace. This whole doing-what-you-love and following your passion? I'm a believer.

Besides, you can't teach school in your pajamas.

Friday, August 31, 2012

A Little Bit of Pride

I woke up this morning feeling a little bit excited. Now that the Republican National Convention is over, and all the speeches have been made, for the first time in my adult-voting life, I can finally say that I actually like our guy! The first time I was old enough to vote was in 1992 when it was George H.W. Bush running against Bill Clinton. Bush was nothing to get excited about. And then came Bob Dole. I mean, seriously? And then George W. Bush came along, and to quote American Idol judge Randy, "he was just o.k. for me." Last time around, we had John McCain, who hails from the great state of Arizona, but who fell dreadfully short for me. Honestly, I was just tired of voting for the guy that I disliked the least.

That's not to say I dislike anything our democratic presidents have done, but I'm excited for the possibilities that the Romney/Ryan ticket brings. The speeches I heard this week were inspiring to me. I like the enthusiasm and the energy I felt when I listened to them. It was probably very much the same feeling many Obama supporters felt four years ago. I don't need CNN or Fox News to tell me what I do or do not like. I loved the theme that America is a great country, without exception.

When Mitt Romney first announced his candidacy, I was wary. I'm sure there were many Mormons who jumped on the Romney bandwagon simply because he himself, is a Mormon -- and I just couldn't do that. As the primaries went on, I kept finding myself drawn to Santorum, actually. But now that Romney is the nominee, I support him fully, and it has nothing to do with my religion. His political ideals closely match my own. I like his running mate. I think they mean business. And I'm excited about the possibilities they represent.

Of course, I am proud to able to say that for the first time in history, a Mormon is a serious contender for the White House.

And that's what's so great about this country. Anything can happen. We create our own history. We can cheer for our own guy. Vote for who you will, and so will I!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I'm starting to think my 9-year-old has a future in politics -- as long as his platform is built on super-hero Legos. For the past couple of weeks, he has been doing that thing kids do when there is something they really want: dropping hints.

I'm working at the computer when he comes in and says, "Mom, I think the Captain America Lego set is a pretty good deal because it comes with like, 92 pieces."

And I'm too lazy to calculate the cost per piece, so I say, "hmm," hoping that I can just finish revising the current page I'm on.

Another time, I'm painting a piece of furniture in the garage when he comes out to tell me this: "I was just thinking how awesome it would be if I had two sets of the all the Marvel Heroes Legos because then I could really trick them out and even share them with my friends and I was thinking that I could give some to Layton because he is the only friend I have who is REALLY into Legos."

It's a noble and benevolent thought, but those things are stinking expensive, and I'm sweating to death painting a yard sale dresser that cost me less than any Lego set.

Later, I'm battling my wok for homemade Pad Thai when he saunters in and says, "I was just researching the complete Avengers Lego Set and I think it would be a good investment. Plus, they have all these cool details you can add to your Lego guys, and I already have the markers to do it. But I'm going to need some stickers to give Captain America some helmet wings, because, you know, he doesn't come with them."

I fling a noodle at him and say, "You're right. He's supposed to have wings, isn't he?" And then I think what a rip-off it is to pay twenty bucks for a 92-piece set that doesn't even include helmet wings.

I'll admit he did add some pretty cool detail to Loki's sword with nothing but a magic marker. And Iron Man is looking fine with his now bright-blue arc reactor. However I'm far more impressed with his campaign strategy, slipping in subtle hints here and working it into the natural flow of a conversation there. Sometimes he's just so in-your-face about it that you can't help but pay attention. But like most politicians, eventually the sound bites turn into rhetoric and you find it pretty easy to tune them out.

Especially when you're the one who has control of the banks.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Calgon, Take Me Away!


Okay, I need to vent for a minute. As weepy as I got the other day when school started, I was expecting to have a little more freedom by now. Thursday and Friday were fine. Saturday, we spent at the lake paddle boarding (Have you tried it? I love it!). By Sunday night, Jamison was complaining of a sore throat, and he woke up Monday with a fever of 101.

After a much needed work-out this morning, I spent a couple of hours taking him to the doctor and getting a prescription filled. He has strep. After TWO DAYS of school.

Are you kidding me?

Is it a dirty little secret that we moms all breathe a collective sigh of relief, respite, and a glory hallelujah on the first day of school? Or is it just me? My husband gave me a gift certificate for a massage on VALENTINE'S DAY that I was really hoping to have used by now. So there's the side of me that whines.

And then there's the side of me that feels guilty for whining. I'm a mom, and it is my job, after all, to take care of my kids and make them my first priority. And I do it gladly (sometimes most of the time). However, throw in a husband who travels frequently, a small business to get up and running, a household to run, church responsibilities, a myriad of other little things, and well, I'm a little stressed at the moment.

"And technically, there are still a few weeks of summer left," she said, through gritted teeth.

But I'll post about that later, because my daughter just handed me an assignment that we are supposed to do together.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What Their Mama Saw

Today is the first day of school, and I'll admit, I've been counting down the hours the last few days. Still, there is a part of me that gets a little weepy, sending them off into the world, even if both schools are within a few minutes of home. One is starting 8th grade, the other, 4th.

What they looked like this morning:

What their mama saw:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jett!

Yesterday was a bit of depressing day. You know, just one of those days where nothing goes quite right. As I laid down to sleep last night, the last thought that went through my head was this: We have bad days like this so we can better recognize the good days.

Well, when I woke up this morning, it wasn't hard to recognize that this was going to be a GOOD day. I was absolutely delighted (and quite surprised) to find out that my newest little nephew decided to join the world at 2:42 a.m. -- two weeks earlier than expected!

The kids and I drove to Salt Lake City as soon as we could and gave that baby some love!

When my brother, Anthony, was born, I was in second grade and I took him to school for show-and-tell. This blog is now the closest thing I've got to show-and-tell, so here he is!

 Jett Anthony Alvey
Doesn't he have the sweetest little face?

Charlotte, Tony, and little Jett
Can we all just take a moment and be jealous of Charlotte and how good she looks, just hours after giving birth -- WITHOUT drugs?!?!?!?!?

I'm so glad that my brother and his wife moved to Utah and had a baby! I am going to spoil that kid rotten! For those of you who like stats, I can tell you he weighs 6 pounds 3 ounces and he's the same length as two plastic forks laid end to end. We measured. It was very scientific.

Thanks for a good  fantastic day, Jett!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My New Job... One Day

So if I haven't mentioned it before, I kind of have a thing for sea turtles (and giant tortoises). Crush and Squirt from "Finding Nemo" always do my heart good. When I was in Hawaii last week, I finally got to see some sea turtles up close and personal. I'm pretty sure I took well over 60 pictures of the first one I saw, swimming in a shallow lagoon. And delusional as this may sound, I was really tempted to jump on its back and go surfing... you know... like riding a unicorn over a rainbow.

Fortunately, I had my zoom lens, because the problem was (besides being physically impossible) that there were two women on the beach whose sole purpose in being there was to keep people a minimum of 6 feet away from the sea turtle. They were very official looking with their matching rash guards and lanyards. If you've ever seen an episode of "Arrested Development," they were kind of like the prison guards who yell, "NO TOUCHING!" every time  Michael Bluth tries to hug his dad.

And then it dawned on me. THIS is my dream job: to be a sea turtle body guard. I'm sure it pays slightly less than I'm making now, which is almost zero, and I realize that the cost of living in Hawaii is quite high compared to the main land. So I've got some numbers to crunch. But can you imagine the fun I could have, yelling at tourists to stay back? I've taught kindergarten, and tourists are kind of like kindergarteners, so I've got experience.  I'm thinking I'd need to get some dark shades and an ear piece.

I'll tell you one thing, those sea turtles would be safe with me. They'd know I've got their backs. And if I'm lucky, just maybe, one of them will give me a ride on his back.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hawaii, In a Few Words...

Before last week, this is what I knew about Hawaii:

Hula Girls

I also knew that people love to visit Hawaii, but I never knew why. My friends would say things like, "Oh, you've got to go," or "It's so fun there," or "It's so beautiful." Those are pretty vague descriptions. You could use those same phrases to describe Disneyland or your local shopping mall (trust me, I've seen beautiful malls).

So last week, I finally got to go and see Hawaii for myself. And now I know why there are only vague descriptions of this incredible place: there are simply no words to describe it. My husband and I were standing at the top of a mountain in Waimea Canyon on Kauai, overlooking this lush, green valley that sloped down into the ocean. I was mesmerized, as I couldn't tell where the sky ended and the earth began. I looked at him and asked, "How would you describe this?"

He thought for a moment and then said, "I can't."

I can post a picture, and even that doesn't capture the essence of how beautiful it was.

A week was certainly not enough. We visited Pearl Harbor, where the flag happened to be at half-mast in honor of the lives lost in Colorado. There is something so stirring about a naval officer standing guard at a national monument where the flag is at half mast.

We ate a Dole Whip at the Dole plantation. Truly, there are no words to describe how delicious a Dole Whip is, so imagine my delight when I discovered a stand near our hotel in Waikiki!

We visited the Polynesian Cultural Center where Tahitian dancers shook their hips with super-human speed and I learned that New Zealand is called Aotearoa in the Maouri language. Consequently, I want to visit Aotearoa next.

We paddleboarded in Hanalei Bay, where the current carried us out in about 10 minutes and it took us an hour to paddle back! I also discovered something called an Acai bowl that day. It happened to be my birthday (I'm 26, thank you very much) and it was much better than any birthday cake I could have had.

Then there was the Na'Pali Coast. Lava tubes, towering vistas, red soil, blue surf, and trees that look like they came out of a Dr. Seuss book are just some of the sights to see there.

And that was just two islands. I've still got a few more to go. As a writer, I'm a little disappointed that I can't pin it down. So all I can say is, you've got to go. It's so fun there, and it's beautiful!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Here and Now of Summer

It's summer! And it's no secret that I think summer is the best. Sunshine, shaved ice, minimal amounts of clothing -- what's not to love? I've enjoyed every minute of summer, so far. I've played lots of tennis -- outside. I've gone swimming. I've eaten lunch outside. And there's still lots of summer left to enjoy.

But I've noticed something. If you're a bit of a Pinterest addict like me, you might have noticed it, too. Lots of people are already pinning pictures of pumpkins and hearty soups and even Christmas trees! May I offer two words: STOP IT! Can't we just enjoy the summer as it is, without thinking four of five months ahead? Let's bask in its warmth for as long as we can. I happened to be at the local Walmart on the 5th of July, and do you know what I saw? A few employees were taking down the red, white, and blue stuff and replacing it with school supplies. School supplies! On the 5th of July! I nearly tripped over my own flip-flops.

Anyway, I am going to enjoy the rest of my summer by doing summer-ish things. I'm going to spend some time at the lake. And go fishing. And hiking. I'm going to ignore my wool socks and eat my weight in watermelon. I'm going to give evil looks to people driving around in their convertibles with the top up. I'm going to sit outside and get lost in a book.

Who's in?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

In Which I Finally Post Something

Oh, there you are. I mean, here I am! I'm very flattered that in the last few weeks I've had no less than three people ask me about my blog. It has been a while since I posted anything. I'd like to say that I've spent countless hours happily pinning away on Pinterest. But that's only partly true.

First of all, I was sick. For like, ever. And then spring came, and I got all giddy because the sun came out and melted the snow. I also started subbing, which is nothing like real teaching. Sometimes it's a lot more fun. Sometimes you want to shoot yourself because middle school is a dark, dark place.

Then there's my novel. I love it, if I am allowed to say so myself. I'm in the middle of revisions, and it is a lot of work. A LOT. And it's getting better. And stronger. And sometimes, I sit outside on my red adirondack chair, and soak up the sunshine, and write and write and write. It's not a bad way to spend a morning.

Then May came along. And here's what happened:

I got hired by two resorts to do some (and by some, I mean a ton) of writing -- website content, brochures, you name it.

I also got an idea in my head for another project, which I am not quite ready to share yet. But the wheels are creaking.

I also decided to start my own business. And now I am in the process of actually starting my own business! I will share more details later, but it does involve writing.

And then I joined a ladies tennis league. I know! I haven't played organized, competitive tennis since 1990. That was in another century, People! But it has turned out to be highly enjoyable. I've met some nice people, and sometimes, my two-handed backhand actually works.

Then there's life: I now officially have a teenager. She's sweet and pretty and I'm sure I'm going to be locking her up in a tower very soon. My 16th wedding anniversary is approaching. The term "sweet 16" still applies, right? Fred is running as smooth as ever and everyone in the family loves her. As for funny things my boy says, he recently told me that he considers the start to his weekend to be Wednesday afternoons, once piano lessons are over. He hates piano lessons. And yet, he can play. He'll thank me one day.

So there you have it. For now.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Leap Day

Leap Day came and went last week, and leading up to it, I started thinking that there should be some sort of purpose for Leap Day. After all, it only comes once every four years. So this year I declared (as I am apt to do) that Leap Day should be a day that you do something you've never done before -- in other words, take a leap! I declared it, and so it became.

I had the good fortune of being on a cruise last week, so my options were somewhat more open than if I had been home, complaining about the cold weather. And what did I do? Thanks for asking. I went parasailing! It was incredible! Exhilirating! And yet very Zen-like at the same time. I flew, 600 feet over the Sea of Cortez, and loved every nanosecond of it. I can't post a picture yet, because I'm on someone else's computer. But as soon as I get home, I will post one.

Anyway, the point is this: because I gave Leap Day purpose, I had the best day ever (despite the fact that I had to report my son missing to Mexican authorities -- but that's another post). And you know what I got from that? Every day should have purpose. Don't just wake up every morning and do what you've always done. Except, do eat breakfast, because it IS the most important meal of the day, after all. But do give purpose and meaning to each day. Think about what you're going to do, why you're going to do it, and then DO IT! If you don't know why you're doing something, don't do it. Make things happen. Cause something -- even if it's just making someone else smile.

Go ahead. Take a leap.

I dare you.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The End

So I've been writing this story. And it's been a lot fun. But I got kind of stuck there for a while, and I just wasn't sure how my heroine was going to work her way out of a sticky situation. Also, the situation was not sticky enough.

And then last Wednesday, I was waiting in my car; waiting for my children to come out of piano lessons. I spend a lot of time in my car on Wednesday afternoons, so I usually pack along my iPad and keyboard so that I can write in between schlepping the kids to their various places. And boy, did the story start to flow! So I went home and kept writing.

I subbed on Thursday and Friday, so I had to impatiently wait to write until well after dinnertime. And then Saturday came. And you know what? I spent about 12 glorious hours type type typing away. Thankfully my husband was willing to keep everyone else busy. I did take a break to cook dinner, leaving my heroine in the most precarious situation, but I came back to her and she managed to save herself and the boy in the process. Before I knew it, it was 12:30 a.m. and I FINISHED MY BOOK! I actually got to type the words The End.

Granted, I have about 7 or 8 more drafts to go, but the story is done! The editing and the re-writing shall commence; but for just a moment, I can enjoy the sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing THAT I HAVE WRITTEN A NOVEL.

And just to make things a little sweeter, a fellow writer-friend, upon hearing the news that I finished, brought me this to celebrate:

It's my first you-wrote-a-book cake!
Thanks, Jen!

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Day in the Life of PMS

Wake up after tossing and turning all night because you just couldn't get comfortable. Make your children's lunches without complaining, even though all you really want to do is sit on the couch in a zombie-like stupor. Get the kids off to school and then come home and clean up everybody's crap and get angrier and angrier the longer it takes you. Take a hot shower and realize it's doing absolutely nothing for your mood. Realize that you have PMS and you're angry for no apparent reason, AND there's nothing you can do about it. Think about saying a dozen swear words, but don't because you're a good Mormon girl who doesn't use such language. But dammit to hell, PMS sucks! Put on your most comfortable pair of jeans and favorite hoodie, because it's just going to be that kind of day. Sit down and make a grocery list and mute the Rachael Ray show because even though you like her recipes, you couldn't care less about the latest gadgets to give your valentine.

Get in your car and drive down the steep, icy mountain at high rates of speed with the radio turned waaaaay up loud, because driving fast often cures a bad mood. Make a stop at The Store for a $2.50 Ruby Snap cookie. Yes, singular. And you don't care that it costs $2.50 because the cherry chocolate filling is instantly calming to your soul, which makes it a good investment for peace at home. Continue on to the other grocery stores and lament the fact that everything seems twice as expensive and it makes you feel really old because you remember exactly what you paid for that same loaf of bread ten years ago. After grocery shopping and wondering what in the heck you dropped a hundred bucks on, go to Beto's because let's face it, as good as the cherry-chocolate cookie was, all you really want when you have PMS is salt. Get yourself a 99-cent burrito that ends up actually tasting pretty good, even though you wish that Beto's was still Sonic, because a cherry lime-ade would really hit the spot.

Drive home, radio still loud, and pretend to be nice when the room mom calls to finalize plans for the next day's class valentine party - even though the LAST thing you want to do is spend two hours with 25 sugar-intoxicated 3rd graders. Wolf down your burrito and put the groceries away before pick-up time begins. You could make them walk, but there are maniacs out there who like to drive down the icy mountain at incredibly high rates of speed.

Take them shopping because they want to pick out valentines treats for their dad, and what kind of monster would that make you if you said "no"?

Come home and start dinner and undo the button on your most comfy jeans because there's no sucking in when you're this bloated. You make a shrimp stir-fry because that's what sounds really good, even though you know 50% of your children will complain. Enjoy a family dinner around the table even though, for no apparent reason, you want to yell at everyone. Finish your dinner and put on your elastic-waist pajama bottoms because the jeans are now the most uncomfortable article of clothing in your entire wardrobe.

Eventually, you make your way back into bed, praying either for the week to end quickly or the sweet relief of death. Whichever comes first.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Can You Relate?

I'm going to take a small stab at politics today. Just because I'm curious.

In many recent polls, a common question that keeps reappearing is this: "Do you feel that (insert candidate's name here) relates to you as an everday American?"

Who cares? Why does that matter? Of course they don't relate to me. I lead a very different life than they do. The sheer fact that they are running for president sets them apart from me. I don't want, nor do I need the President of the United States to relate to me. I can deal with my own life just fine, thank you very much.

What I do want from my president is for him or her to do what the oath says: to protect, preserve, and defend the constitution. Perhaps that sounds simplistic. But look at how complicated this whole process has become. I just want the president to ensure freedom and to not be a control freak about it. To get out of my way and let me live my life according to my own dictates -- as long my own dictates aren't infringing on someone else's freedoms. The constitution guarantees me nothing more than the opportunity. And that's all I need.

Now THAT'S something I can relate to.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Good-Bye, Big Red; Hello Fred

A few weeks ago, I took my 2001 Chevy Tahoe (known as Big Red in our family) in for a thirty-dollar oil change, and came out with a $2000 estimate for half of the problems they found. I've been keeping Big Red patched together for a while now, but essentially, she was starting to cost me more to repair than she was worth. Among other problems, she had a rear main seal leak, differential leaks, and oil pan gasket leaks. Big Red was bleeding to death.

It was time for a new car.

So I found one.

Much to my son's chagrin.

"But the new one has bucket seats in the back," I tried to explain.
"They're not going to be as comfortable as Big Red," he fired back.
"It has a DVD player," I offered, thinking that would sell him.
"Still not as good as Big Red."
"Why don't you want to get rid of Big Red?"
"We've had Big Red almost my whole entire life!"

And that's when it hit me. He is MY son. Emotional attachment to cars? Yes, please! When I was a kid, we had a Ford Gran Torino (you know, the car from Starsky and Hutch?). My dad sold it when I was about 14. He bought it when I was about 3. It was blue, and we named it The Blue Bubble. My sisters and I swear it even looked like my dad. The day he sold it was a sad, sad day. In fact, it was so sad, that my dad had to leave the house while the guy came to pick it up! So as you can see, it runs in the family.

I had to give Jamison a moment alone with Big Red to say good-bye. We took a drive around the block a couple of times that day.

It's taken a couple of weeks, but our new car, Fred, is starting to grow on him. He likes the bucket seats. And he's already watched Transformers 3 on a trip to Salt Lake City. And red is his favorite color.

By the way, Fred (which stands for Ford Red -- and short for Fredericka because all cars are girls) is a lovely 2005 Ford Freestyle. And for all intents and purposes, Fred is NOT a station wagon. I don't drive station wagons. She's a cross-over SUV that seems to have nearly cut my fuel costs in HALF!

Welcome to the family, Fred.
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Friday, January 20, 2012

Bearing Down in Salt Lake City

A couple of years ago when it was announced that the University of Utah would be joining the PAC 12, I jumped for joy. But only because it meant that I would get to go to an occasional basketball game when the University of Arizona was in town. Well, last night, my beloved Wildcats blew into town and pounded the Utes. Soundly.
I can be Ute fan. And generally, they're the team we cheer for in our house. Except when they're playing Arizona. But then we have this boy. And he is a RABID Utah fan. Even when they play Arizona. I tried explaining to him that when it comes to basketball, you ALWAYS cheer for Arizona; otherwise you're going to be disappointed. He wasn't buying it.

The boy in his Ute gear, and me, in the WINNING team's gear.

Dominating at the freethrow line.

Feeling a bit dejected.

The final score. And THAT'S how you Bear Down.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Could They Be Cuter? I Think Not.

So 2012 is off to a fabulous start. My adorable cousin, Ben, married an even more adorable girl, named Emry. And they asked me to be their photographer! They got married last Saturday in the Oquirrh Mountain LDS temple. The ceremony was beautiful, and it was such a privelege to be there with so many other family members.

It snowed the night before (a rare thing this winter) and depite the freezing winds outside, I think we got a few good shots.

Congrats to Ben and Emry!

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