Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 Stocking Swap

This year I participated in a really fun activity for Christmas-- a stocking swap! Sponsored by The Well-Rounded Woman, the stocking swap helped women get their stockings filled for Christmas morning and have it still be surprise. I signed up because I was tired of buying one or two things for myself just to keep up appearances for my kids; and I did not want to nag my husband about another gift related project. I was given Jennie's name (from An Experimental Mommy Life) to buy stocking stuffers for; and my name was given to Jamie from Mom on a Journey.

To decide what to buy for Jennie I read almost her entire blog. From her entries I could tell she liked to cook, so I found a magnetic set of measuring spoons, as well as a rubber spatula. I also learned she liked butterflies and found some bookplates with butterflies to include. To this I added a Toblerone, a candy cane, some soap and bath beads, and a key chain of the Eiffel Tower from my trip to Paris last year. A week or so before Christmas these items were shipped off to the other side of the country for Jennie's DH to place in her stocking.

A few days before Christmas I received a package from Jamie. I set the package aside after giving my husband instructions to fill my stocking with its contents. Then on Christmas morning I awoke to a stocking of treasures: a candle, a box of pumpkin bread mix, a tin of cookies, a 2009 monthly planner, and some Crystal Light drink mix. These items were well-suited to me so I am grateful Jamie did such a good job!

Many thanks to Tara at The Well-Rounded Woman for the stocking swap--it helped to make my Christmas a littler funner this year! And I will definitely be participating again next year in the fun!

Planning for FHE in 2009

Take some time before the new year to plan your FHE schedule for 2009. Here's how:

1. Write down all the dates of the Mondays in 2009 (or Sundays if you do FHE on Sunday).

2. Check these dates and make note next to each one that is a family member's birthday, a major holiday, or is a time when your family will be out of town. You will likely not be having a lesson on those weeks.

3. Plan topics of lessons by week of the month. For example, your topics may look like this:

week 1 - Lesson from the Friend magazine
week 2 - Lesson from FHE manual
week 3 - Lesson based on topic in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet
week 4 - Lesson from most recent conference issue of the Ensign
week 5 - Family activity

In addition to these topic selections, you might enjoy lessons based on scripture parables, scripture mastery scriptures, chapters from the RS/Priesthood manual (Joseph Smith book this year), Gospel Essentials manual, or other help books offered at church bookstores.

On your paper of dates, write the topics next to each appropriate week. If you are using a manual of some sort, be sure to include a chapter number so as to eliminate duplication in case someone forgets what was taught in previous months.

4. Decide a set rotation of who will be assigned the lessons. Usually we have our children teach one of the lessons a month. Then my husband takes a week and I take two weeks. But if you have older children, you may choose to have them teach more frequently. Write the names next to the dates and topics on your paper. This is your completed plan for 2009!

5. Post your schedule in a safe place so you can refer to it throughout the year.

This is what works for our family. I hope it works for yours too!

Scripture of the Day: D&C 88:119

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Year of Miracles #36

This year one of the gifts I gave was an album of pictures from the life of my father-in-law who passed away last April. I spent probably 15 hours scanning in photos, uploading them to Shutterfly, organizing them, and then getting accurate caption information from my MIL.

I have to admit that I have not had very positive past feelings about my father-in-law. Without going into detailed explanation, there were simply some things I did not agree with in regard to his attitude and behavior. Although I disagreed with him I tried hard not to let this prevent us from having a positive relationship and things were pretty good between us.

But as I worked on this album a little miracle happened. I could really feel my heart softening toward my father-in-law. I did not learn much new about him, or come to understand his motivations for his behavior better. But I was definitely touched by the Spirit as I worked on the album. And I became grateful for his willingness to work hard for his family his whole life, the many family trips he took his kids on, and the efforts he made to help his kids make good choices for their future. I guess the Spirit of Elijah helped to turn my heart more toward him.

Scripture of the Day: D&C 2

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Police Beat #21

A day late...
but still funny (hopefully)!

Sept. 12: A custodian reported screaming near the MCKB at 4 a.m. The screams were later discovered to have come from a female student sprayed by a sidewalk sprinkler.

(Comment: I would scream and yell too if I saw the sidewalks being watered. Hasn't BYU gardening staff heard about the necessity of water conservation?)

Sept. 13: Police responded to a call reporting suspicious characters at the OIT construction site on the south end of campus. Upon arrival, the suspects were discovered to be construction workers.

(Comment: That's what happens when construction workers keep whistling and making catcalls to co-eds.)

Sept. 16: Police received a call that a 21-year-old male was distributing literature about veganism near the Tanner building. Police asked him to move off campus. The man was not associated with the university.

(Comment: Doesn't that guy know the Tanner building is where the business majors study? Veganism is a totally lost cause on those capitalists. Try the HFAC next time buddy.)

Sept. 18: A student was cited for retail theft after being found with three books valued at $130 from the Bookstore.

(Comment: Three books totalling $130! Must have been text books, in which case the the sheer cost of the books is criminal and the publisher(s) should be prosecuted.)

Sept. 21: A male student reported receiving vulgar and threatening text messages from out of state. The case has been turned over to detectives for investigation.

(Comment: {what the text message said:}

I saw yu on road 2day.
Yu were luking gorgeous,
Yr face so divine,
Yr walk so great.
My heart started to sing a lovely song: Who Let The Dog Out! lolz)

Scripture of the Day: 3 Nephi 1:15 - 17

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Cheer

Hi all! Just a quick note to report on our lovely Christmas Day. I will upload pictures in the next day or so.

First, you should all know the "garbage" did not get taken out. The kids received their pillows on Christmas morning. Even better was that my SIL sent cute embroidered pillow cases that had the kids' names on them. They loved that!

Second, Steve did a great job gift-wise this year! He stuck close to the list I gave him and bought me some new tennis shoes, a professional grade cookie sheet, as well as a few other things I asked for. It was so nice! In fact, I did not get anything from him I did not like (no parrot or Ove Glove). I think this is the first time in all our marriage that has happened. Yay!

Third, my parents gave me a new bike. Talk about a surprise! I have been riding my Dad's old bike for about 8 years (a man's bike); the new bike is a woman's. Now I have to get Steve to move the birthday basket thingy over to the new bike. Or maybe I won't....

Fourth, Christmas evening I went to see Doubt with my parents and my Aunt Kay. It is a very thought provoking movie and I enjoyed it. Meryl Streep was amazing as usual.

I hope your Christmas was wonderful, too.

Scripture of the Day: 3 Nephi 1:13-14

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Joseph Smith

Today marks the birthday of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was born on December 23, 1805. You may have heard before how his birthday was on winter solstice, the time in winter when the days starting getting longer (more light fills the earth). And then he died during summer solstice, the time in summer when the days start getting shorter. I love the symbolism of this, but was unable to verify online if it was true or not (the solstice days are not always on the same day every year).

In the January 2009 Ensign there are testimonies of the Prophet Joseph Smith from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency. This one is my favorites, from President Thomas S. Monson:

"Step by step, facing opposition at nearly every turn and yet always guided by the hand of the Lord, Joseph organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He proved courageous in all that he did.

"Toward the end of his life, as he was led away with his brother Hyrum to Carthage Jail, he bravely faced what he undoubtedly knew lay ahead for him, and he sealed his testimony with his blood.

"As we face life's tests, may we ever emulate the undaunted courage epitomized by the Prophet Joseph Smith."

Happy Birthday Brother Joseph!

Scripture of the Day: 1 Nephi 1:7-8

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Lists

Conversation between me and my hubby last night:

DH: "So, would you like a parrot for Christmas?"

Me: "Uh, no."

DH: "Why not? Don't you like birds?"

Me: "Parrots are a big mess. My cousins had one and they were a mess. Plus, you probably would teach it to say stuff like, 'Clean the house, Betty.' "[Betty is his nickname for me.]

DH: {laughs} "That's a great idea. Are you sure you don't want a parrot?"

Me: "Yes, I'm sure."

DH: "Well, what about an Ove Glove?"

Me: "You are kidding me, right?"

DH: "No. They were talking about the Ove Glove in nursery today and how it is a great gift."

Me: "I don't remember that."

DH: "Well, they were. Okay, what about a turtle neck?"

Me: "I am not a big fan of turtle necks. Unless it is real cold out."

DH: "You are too hard to buy for!"

Me: "Would you like me to make you a list?"

So I did. We'll see how it goes.

Scripture of the Day: 3 Nephi 1:6

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Year of Miracles #35

Two money-saving miracles this week:

1. I filled up my minivan gas tank (17+ gallons) for under $25 on Thursday. I was shocked! I think it has been more than five years since I have been able to do that. Am I remembering correctly...?

2. Remember how my washer and dryer have been breaking down every so often this past year? I think the washer has broken down twice this year and the dryer was out of commission for more than a month early this past year. Well, I had just invoiced a client with the intention of using the funds to buy a new set (or a reconditioned set). But then two days ago an e-mail was sent out by the RS president -- a family in our ward had a set (working) they did not need and wondered if anyone needed them. As soon as I saw the e-mail I called them up and was able to secure them for us. Yesterday my hubby went and picked them up. They still need to be installed, but I am really grateful for the savings this affords.

How to hide Christmas gifts in a hurry

Three pillows for my three munchkins.

Make sure you tell the spouse so he doesn't throw it away!

Scripture of the Day: 3 Nephi 1:5

Friday, December 19, 2008

Police Beat #20

Happy Friday all!
And happy birthday to my wonderful mother!

Sept. 24: A female student reported a suspicious man who entered her dorm room in Hinckley Hall on Sept. 7. She had been taking a nap while her roommate was at church. When she awoke, she discovered the male in her room looking at her roommate’s laptop. When she questioned his actions he said he was looking for Emily or Emma and then fled the scene. The man was estimated to be between 40 and 50 years old.

(Comment: See, good things can happen when ditching church! She saved her roommates laptop!)

Sept. 27: A student and her roommate were walking by Miller Field when they noticed a possibly unclothed man in the shadows. They reported that he was an estimated 300 pounds but were unable to estimate his age. He told them “hello.”

(Comment: Only on BYU campus are flashers polite enough to greet with a friendly, "hello.")

Sept. 24: Police responded to a call at 4:00 p.m. to check on two male individuals who were spitting off the balcony of the Joseph F. Smith Building. One male was reportedly in his 20s and the other in his teens. When officers arrived, the suspects fled.

(Comment: Doesn't it warm your heart to hear how well those Big Brother/Sister programs work?)

Sept. 26: A student reported his bicycle stolen. The bicycle, worth $400, disappeared sometime between February and March.

(Comment: Six months to report a missing bike? Hmm... must be an avid bicycle rider.)

Sept. 25: Two students got into an argument over a parking stall, resulting in a verbal threat from one to the other. When the police came to settle the dispute, the students apologized to each other and went their separate ways.

(Comment: {singing} As I have loved you, love one another...)

Scripture of the Day: 3 Nephi 1:4

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hymnal Scripture Study

You may have noticed at the bottom of each song in the hymn book are a few scriptures the go along with the text of the hymn. If you are looking for a new way to brighten up your scripture study time, try working your way through the hymn book one song at a time. First, sing the hymn. Then look up each of the scriptures and ponder/discuss the doctrine associated with each one. You could do this with just the Christmas hymns next week if you do not want to make this a permanent change but want to focus in on the Savior in your family study time.

In other news:
1. We have had lots of beautiful rain here and it really makes it feel more like winter! Yay!
2. I had a fire in the fireplace yesterday early evening and I was the only one home. It felt a bit indulgent and I loved it.
3. I think I am almost (so very close) done with the shopping. Need to buy a box of cereal for Patch--yes, I give a food item to each of my kids. A fab cheap gift idea.
4. The gourmet lemon cake has left the building. I am both sad and happy.
5. Had my eyebrows waxed yesterday.

Scripture of the Day: Isaiah 9:6

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blog Block

Yep, I have blog block today. I am not sure what to write about, so here are a few things that are swimming around in my head.

I am nearly done with my Christmas shopping. I need to pick up a few things for my husband, but he doesn't want me to get him anything. He's like that about his birthday and Father's Day too. But how am I supposed to get the kids to keep believing in Santa if everyone gets something from Santa except him? Just doesn't work in my mind. He told the kids to just draw him pictures (again same as his b-day/father's day). Mostly I just ignore his request and pick him up a few inexpensive things I would have had to buy him anyway. Is that bad? I don't think so.

I also need to pull out all the gifts I have picked up for the kids and see if I have to do some balancing-out shopping. It is hard to remember everything I have bought. I forget too easily. Sometimes I try wrapping things ahead of time and then forget what it is I have wrapped. Then I have to peek at it by using a razor blade to cut the tape (a trick I learned as a naughty kid). Does this ever happen to you? The forgetting part I mean, not the razor blade/peeking part.

I used to love watching Dr. Phil, but it has gone way too serious now and the people he has on there seem beyond hope to me. Or at least beyond the help that a 15-minute television segment can provide. And if I do watch I take a risk of having Sweetie Peach see something I would just rather not expose her to at the tender age of 5.

Two weeks ago I put the lights up on the front of my house and got 2/3 of the way done when I realized the remaining strands would not plug into the last strand hung. The "male" part (that's what the guy at the hardware store called it, so don't give me that look) of the next strand would not fit into the "female" part of the last strand hung because one of the prongs was too wide. And they do not make an adapter for this problem. Now Christmas is a week away and I still haven't finished. The neighbor made a comment about it, but I am severely lacking motivation to put up the other strands. Kind of like how it took me so long to finish decorating my Christmas tree (which I did get done, by the way--a week after it was started--but done nonetheless).

Yesterday I was exhausted from staying up way too late working on a report. So I spent the day taking it easy and read Austenland. I will have to do a review on it soon. Need a summary review now? Pretty darn good.

Then last night I watched the finale of The Biggest Loser. I was very happy to see Michelle win. I was not a fan of Vicky or Heba/Ed. Still, all three of the finalists looked amazing.

Today I weighed in at WW and was up a bit. Not surprising considering the lack of sleep and exercise I had had for the past several days. I was good about not eating any of the delicious looking treats that were delivered to out home, though. Except for the chocolate mint pretzels Mimi Right dropped by--I admit to having some of those (they were very worth it, too). But I did not eat any of the chocolate peanut butter cookies delivered last night. And then this morning a box with a lemon cake, Mexican wedding cookies, and chocolate muffin looking item were delivered via UPS from a gourmet company in California. It turned out to be a gift from a man I do some consulting for. If anyone who lives near me would like any of these gourmet goodies let me know (seriously!). I would much appreciate getting them gone before my ability to resist is completely gone.

Well, I guess that is enough of what my brain is thinking about these days. I promise to come up with a better post for tomorrow.

Scripture of the Day: Luke 2:19

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Love this quote

"In God’s eternal plan, salvation is an individual matter; exaltation is a family matter."

--Russell M. Nelson, "Salvation and Exaltation", Ensign, May 2008, 7–10

Another great reason to make sure you are having daily family scripture study!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Year of Miracles #34

This marks my 250th post (which is a miracle in itself)!

This weeks miracle was related by a sweet sister, Annette, in my ward as she spoke in sacrament meeting today. As a young couple still in college, she and her husband were struggling financially to meet tuition, pay their bills, and still afford diapers for their baby. Annette's parents had to move out of country and were unable to take their food storage with them; part of the the food storage was parceled to Annette and her husband. In her talk she mentioned how grateful they were for the food and used it quite often to help keep their grocery bills as low as possible.

After a while Annette's husband graduated and got a good job here in Arizona. They moved to a nicer home and were finally able to live off of an income that was generous enough to meet their family needs without too much stress.

Shortly after moving Annette and her husband opened another of the cans of food storage only to discover it had gone bad. In fact, it looked as though the food had been inedible for quite a while. This was surprising considering the other cans had been perfectly fine. Annette realized the food had been good only as long as she and her family had truly needed it and felt this had been a blessing from the Lord who watches over us all and knows our needs. She also directly attributed this miracle to be the result of consistently paying a full tithing.

Scripture of the Day: Luke 2:17

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gifts to Enhance Scripture Study

In all your Christmas shopping you may want to consider picking up a gift or two that will help encourage family and/or personal scripture study in your home. Here is a list of 12 suggestions I have compiled to get you thinking.

1. Scripture markers (or colored pencils) make great stocking stuffers. These erasable ones look good.

2. Bookmarks -- these Seminary ones are my favorite, but you can even buy cute ribbons for your scriptures if that is the way you want to go.

3. Scripture stories retold--the Church has a nice set you can purchase for a very affordable price. They are also available on DVD.

4. A study journal to record thoughts or impressions; or you could opt for these insertable study notes pages instead.

5. Reading charts-- here is a free one you could print out and use.

6. Audio scriptures -- sometimes listening is a great way to get scripture study done!

7. Gospel Art Kit -- many of the pictures have the scripture story verses printed on the back.

8. The Book of Mormon for Latter-Day Saint Families -- this hard-back volume makes a nice gift but is more on the expensive side. It has a lot of pictures and helps the regular scriptures do not have.

9. Preach My Gospel is the standard curriculum for missionaries and has great insights into the scriptures.

10. Scripture stickers provide visual cues to help readers find specific stories or verses. These are helpful for seminary students, especially when they are competing in scripture chases.

11. Commentary books -- David Ridges has a wonderful series out. I own his New Testament ones, which I found very insightful. Another one I want to try out is Unlocking the Book of Mormon.

12. Hymns on CD -- music always helps to bring the spirit!

(Note: I was strongly tempted to include my book in this list, but you all already own it, right? ;-)

Scripture of the Day: Luke 2:16

Friday, December 12, 2008

Police Beat #19

Happy Friday! I couldn't refrain from making comments today. Hopefully they do not detract from the laughs.

Nov. 25: A student reported a theft that had happened three weeks ago. The student said he went into the bathroom, and when he came out his backpack was gone. The backpack contained a packed lunchbox, a fork and a bus pass.

(Comment: he must be really worried about that fork.)

Nov. 26: A concerned person reported seeing a man driving with unrestrained children in the back seat. Police called the number registered to the car and spoke with the man, who said he buckled his children in but they had removed themselves from the car seat. The man said he would comply with the law in the future.

(Comment: This guy sounds like a bad parent until you read the next one...)

Nov. 27: A Bookstore employee found a three-year-old wandering around the Bookstore alone. After employees could not locate the parents, police took the child into custody. The child's father called roughly two hours after the child went missing. The father said that he and his wife had left in separate cars, and each believed the other had the child.

Nov. 28: Police received a complaint about a man with a rope on the east side of the library attempting to lasso people as they walked by. The man was gone when police arrived.

(Comment: {said with a Texas drawl} He musta caught hisself a Woman!)

Nov. 30: A student employee's mother called BYU police after her son had not returned home from work when she expected. Police checked on the student's workplace where they found the student was still working.

(Comment: Time to cut the apron strings!)

Scripture of the Day: Luke 2:15

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ham and Cheese Strata

I am always looking for healthy new recipes and here is one I adapted from the current month's Weight Watcher's magazine. This one is great for breakfast or brunch, or even a dinner (my family likes breakfast foods for dinner). It tastes yummy, but requires some planning ahead.

Ham and Cheese Strata

4 cups cubed whole wheat french bread
2 cups fat free milk (I was out so I used powdered)
2 eggs
2 egg whites
2 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. fresh parsley (I used dried)
1/2 t. salt
6 oz. chopped low fat ham
1/3 c. each chopped broccoli, onion, and bell pepper
1/2 cup low fat grated cheese

Mix together the milk, eggs, egg whiles, mustard, parsley, and salt in a medium to large size bowl. Add the bread cubes, ham, and vegetables. Stir to wet the bread. Let sit for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Pour mixture into a non-stick-sprayed baking dish. Let sit in the fridge over night or for at least eight hours. Before baking, sprinkle the cheese on top of the strata. Let sit on the kitchen counter while the oven warms to 400 degrees (about 10 minutes). Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 8 at four points per serving.

Note: the recipe I adapted called for turkey sausage instead of ham. It also did not call for veggies, but I wanted to try and increase the serving size so I added them.

Scripture of the Day: Luke 2:15

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Amber Alert?

This morning Patch yelled to me, "Mom! Code red! Code red!"

Not knowing what in the world he was talking about I asked, "What do you mean, code red?"

His response: "Code red, baby Jesus is missing from the nativity set! He's missing!"

Kitty chimed in on the conversation saying, "He's right here. I was playing with him while I was waiting to practice piano."

A short while later I read this news story and thought it was too humorous to pass up. Maybe I need a GPS device for my nativity set too.

GPS, hidden cameras watching over Baby Jesus

By: Erik Gorski

(AP) — When Baby Jesus disappeared last year from a Nativity scene on the lawn of the Wellington, Fla., community center, village officials didn't follow a star to locate him.

A GPS device mounted inside the life-size ceramic figurine led sheriff's deputies to a nearby apartment, where it was found face down on the carpet. An 18-year-old woman was arrested in the theft.

Giving up on old-fashioned padlocks and trust, a number of churches, synagogues, governments and ordinary citizens are turning to technology to protect holiday displays from pranks or prejudice...

For two consecutive years, thieves made off with the baby Jesus figurine in Wellington, a well-off village of 60,000 in Palm Beach County, Fla. The ceramic original, donated by a local merchant, was made in Italy and worth about $1,800, said John Bonde, Wellington's director of operations.

So last year, officials took a GPS unit normally used to track the application of mosquito spray and implanted it in the latest replacement figurine. After that one disappeared, sheriff's deputies quickly tracked it down.

Sensing opportunity in that kind of success story, New York-based BrickHouse Security is offering up to 200 nonprofit religious institutions a free month's use of security cameras and LightningGPS products it distributes.

Chief executive officer Todd Morris said the idea was born after a few churches asked about one-month rentals instead of longer contracts that are the norm. The first 20 or so applications came from synagogues, he said.

Scripture of the Day: Luke 2:14

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Angel

(This isn't Megan, but there is a slight resemblance.)

Today I got to babysit one of my good friend's little three-month-old, Megan. It has been a long time since I got to snuggle with such a little one! I told her I would buy her a pony if she would come live at my house, but somehow I don't think that will happen ;-). Still, I had 90 minutes to breathe in her sweet baby smell and feel her soft cheeks. She feel asleep while I was rocking her for about 30 minutes of the time and it was a bit of heaven.

After she woke up some suspicious sounds came from her diaper region (or as my DH says, "there's a duck in your pants!"), but within a minute her mom came knocking at the door. Just in time!

Thanks Kathya for allowing me to watch your little angel!

Scripture of the Day: Luke 2:13

Looking for a few great gift items?

Check out the holiday gift guide on -- so many cute ideas it is hard not to get excited about shopping!

Be sure to check it out!

Monday, December 8, 2008

BOM Study Guide for Tweens

In my web searches I discovered a study guide written by a mom (Heather Martinson) for her son. The intro to the study guide says:

"When my oldest son was nine, he had a desire to read the Book of Mormon on his own, but he found that the book was too difficult for him to understand or to make meaningful. For two years I kept my eyes open for a Book of Mormon study guide for children, but I was unable to find one. Then, when he was eleven years old, I started writing this for him. I would give him one day’s worth of study at a time. He used this study guide until he started seminary."

You can use this study guide from the web or you can download a Word document. Both are available here.

The above cute picture is from Sugardoodle that serves as a chart to measure reading in the Book of Mormon. Download that from here.

Scripture of the Day: Luke 2:12

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Year of Miracles #33

Harrison and his parents

This week I was able to see some true miracles that have happened. None of these miracles happened to anyone I know personally, but the fact that they have happened may greatly impact my nephew tremendously.

My nephew Harrison has cerebral palsy. He is nine-year-old and has great difficulty with his muscle control. Although his verbal skills are ever improving, he still has a hard time speaking. He cannot walk or sit up on his own. But despite all of his challenges he is wonderful to be around. His personality can light up a room.

For the past few weeks my brother and sister-in-law (Harrison's parents) have been learning more and more about the positive impact cord blood stem cells can have in treating children with cerebral palsy. Evidence of the benefits--miracles of advancement in medicine--have been documented in news stories that are now on You-Tube (here and here).

The possibility that Harrison's capabilities may be even somewhat improved through these new treatments is wonderful and exciting. Today our family joined with theirs in fasting for guidance in seeking out potential treatments in this new area of medicine. Hopefully this will lead to a new miracle or two to share in the future.

Scripture of the Day: Luke 2:11

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Lousy Saturday

So I have been sitting at this computer most of the day writing a report. A long one. LONG. I was here yesterday too. And the day before that. I think. I am losing track of the days. It is Saturday, isn't it?

This report is not completely boring. Just kinda. It is about pave stone manufacturers. One in particular, which I should probably not divulge. But it is interesting to learn that a pave stone project (like a patio or driveway) can cost upwards of $10,000. Yikes! That's way more than I would have guessed. And that would be a basic project. Not even one of those ones with a nice sitting wall or multi-leveled. And no nice fire pit. Those are all optional extras over and above.

It is hard not to feel poor or covetous when hearing about all that. Who is it who can really afford those kind of things on their home? Don't they have retirement to save for? Or college educations for a kid or two? Do they have the money because they don't pay for health insurance? Sometimes I just don't get it.

Then a few hours ago I went to pick up Kitty from a birthday party today and noticed a friend driving a new minivan. Brand spanking new. The exact kind I want. As I stood there waiting I chanted in my mind, "Thou shalt not covet" about 20 times. But really I was coveting. I hate to admit it, but I was. Guess I need to do that Moses/10 commandments scripture study theme again.

Now I am back home and working on the pave stone report again. I have about four more hours to go today on it. Guess I am not getting the grocery shopping done today. Or the laundry. Or the housecleaning. And can I just say thank heaven tomorrow is Sunday and I firmly believe in the Keep the Sabbath Day Holy 10 commandment? One out of ten ain't bad, right? (Actually, that whole adultery one I am good at obeying, too--so really it is two out of ten. Yay for me.)

Hope your Saturday is going better than mine.

Scripture of the Day: Luke 2:10

Friday, December 5, 2008

Book Review: The Enchanting Miss Delacourt

A few weeks ago I mentioned I had been reading a great book by a new author. Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind, by Heidi Ashworth, was such an enjoyable read -- I blazed through it within a day -- that I thought I would share a little more about it.

I first stumbled on Heidi's blog last summer through reading some of the Segullah featured entries. Her writing was clever, but what caught my eye was that she was coming out with Miss Delacourt (her first book) this winter. Myself being a newbie to the publishing industry, and an instant fan of her witty writing style, I began to be a regular reader. The more I heard about Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind as a Regency-style romance the more I wanted to read it (I am an easy target when it comes to a good love story). So I pre-ordered it from Amazon and was excited when it came earlier than expected.

The plot of Miss Delacourt starts with the disastrous journey Ginny (Miss Delacourt) and Sir Anthony take to check on the precious roses of Sir Anthony's take-charge grandmother. I found myself laughing out loud several times at Sir Anthony's perfectly composed behavior (despite an amazing downward spiral of events) and Ginny's quick-witted tongue. Eventually Ginny and Sir Anthony end up as quarantined house guests where the secondary characters help their romance to blossom and really bring the story to life. Ashworth even includes a small plot twist at the end which adds to the believability of the characters.

Since I liked Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind so much I took time to have Heidi answer a few questions about her book to share with you. Here are her responses:

1. How long did it take you to write Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind?
"I wrote it when I was expecting my second child, every Tuesday for eight hours at a time, when my oldest was at his Grandma's house. Twenty four chapters divided by roughly four weeks per month means it took about six months. I don't think I could have done it any faster--I simply couldn't write when anyone was in the house making noise or even threatening to require a speck of attention. Blogging has helped me to learn how to write surrounded by chaos. It's a good thing."

2. Are any of the characters based on people you know? If yes, who?
"No. And yes. Miss Delacourt and Sir Anthony were born as fully realized people and entirely their own persons like Athena from Zues's forehead--however once I was done writing and took an objective step back, I realized the central conflict was informed by a relationship challenge my husband and I dealt with when we first started dating (and which continues to make itself known now and then to this day). The secondary couple are loosely based on characters I have seen in some favorite movies, something about which I was perfectly aware at the time. They all just sort of came to me and told me their story. It was a very instinctual way to write, rather than an intellectual endeavor, and it was really fun."

3. Of which scene/portion of the book are you most fond or pleased about?
"As many times as I have read Miss D, there are bits and pieces that make me chuckle or think "hey, that was a great idea!" Since, like I said, I wrote this via my instincts rather my intellect (which is in very short supply) (chocolate helped) I can enjoy it from the perspective as if it is (almost) someone else's work. However, I would have to say that I am most proud of the last 65 pages or so of the book because I had to rework those pages at the eleventh hour under a time constraint. It was the most difficult writing I have ever done because I wasn't able to write instinctively--for the first time I had to think about how I was going to believably get from point A to point B. In fact, it was so painfully difficult that I actually told my husband that writing as a profession no longer sounded like fun."

4. I can tell from your blog, and from the repeating theme in Miss Delacourt, that you are very fond of roses; did you write with this symbolism in mind from the beginning or did you add it in later?
"They say that the best way to write a book is to just get the story down and then go back and put in the details, etc. That is not the way this book was written. Maybe I was subconsciously writing it in the back of my brain for years, I don't know, but it is pretty much exactly as it was the day I wrote each chapter (except for the changes I had to make throughout the last quarter of the book). It is hard to explain, but everything wove itself together. I had no ending or details in mind, I literally sat down and wrote a chapter a week and it all worked out (well, I got in trouble towards the end which is why I had to rework the last bit of it). To this day, it still amazes me how this story just came together and all the roses is a perfect example. I didn't start out intending for roses to be a big player in the story--they just appeared and just kept appearing until they made themselves almost their own character in the story. Like I said, it was a lot of fun to write this book because I didn't have any better idea of what was going to happen next than the reader does (well, except that the hero and the heroine would end up madly in love)."

5. What is the likelihood we will see another Miss Delacourt adventure (or a completely new Ashworth work)?
"I have never thought about making Miss D a character in another book nor do I see how she has much more to say, however, I suppose if she insisted, I would do it. I do have two other romance novels in the works, one a comedy like Miss D while the other is more serious and a bit gothic. I have to carve time out of blogging before they are ready to send out, though. I'm working on it!"

I don't know, Heidi, Ginny promised Lucinda Barrington and Lord Avery she would come and visit them... Maybe Miss Delacourt has more to say--or at least another house party to attend. And in their newlywed state I am sure Sir Anthony would be certain to tag along.

You can buy Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind on for immediate delivery. Or you can wait for its release to nationwide on Christmas Eve. Or better yet, head over to Heidi's blog and enter the giveaway she is hosting this week (a free autographed copy to go to 2 different winners)!

Note from Heidi: sadly Miss D won't be released to bookstores what with my publisher being mainly a library publisher. However, you can order it from any bookstore--also, even though its release is officially Dec. 24th, they released it already. Weird, huh?

Scripture of the Day: Luke 2:9

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Police Beat #18

I have been swamped with work this week--and definitely need a laugh. My favorite this week? The woman whose car was "stolen" (see second one below). That has happened to me before... especially when I was pregnant. Enjoy!

Nov. 17: Police responded to a call reporting suspicious individuals with red paint. It was subsequently determined that these individuals were paint contractors who were painting a fence on campus.

Nov. 19: Police responded to a stolen vehicle report. The complainant indicated she thought she had parked in a particular parking lot but was unable to locate her vehicle. An officer drove her to another parking lot, where they then discovered her vehicle.

Nov. 19: A student reported a suspicious individual who was shaking bicycles at Merrill Hall. She then observed the suspect as he removed a bicycle and rode away. Officers responded and arrested the suspect for theft.

Nov. 20: Police responded to Amanda Knight Hall in regards to possible suspicious activity. A student was in a room making copies and when the custodian checked the area they were unable to locate the individual. The student was shortly discovered in another room.

Nov. 21: Concerned observers reported smoke near the Marriott Center during the basketball game. The smoke was rising from a barbeque setup by a local vender who had permission to be there. No further action was necessary.

Nov. 21: A minor fire occurred in the dumpster behind the Ceramic Studios. The fire was determined to be an accident.

Scripture of the Day: Luke 2:8

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

O Christmas Tree

There are not many things prettier than a perfectly decorated Christmas tree. I love walking through professionally decorated stores and seeing how lovely they can look with well- coordinated ornaments, garland, and an angel or star on top. I have always wanted one of those trees in my home but have not yet had such luck.

Monday night we started trimming our Christmas tree. My husband pulled our 4-year-old, pre-lit tree out of the storage shed and put it all together. It took a bit to make sure the cords were plugged together correctly to get all the lights to work, but soon enough it was shining in our living room.

I had the kids spend ten to fifteen minutes fluffing the branches to make it look more natural. This is the first year I have had them help me do it. This is my least favorite chore associated with putting up the tree, so it was nice to have the help. But I must admit there was some whining and complaining by my little comrades. "Is that good enough, Mom?" was said more than once.

After the fluffing I headed out to the garage to bring in the ornaments. I keep my ornaments sorted into two groups: the non-breakable ones the kids get to put on the tree and the breakable/favorite ones I get to put on the tree. The kids ones are kept in a plastic grocery sack. Mine are kept in a special container for ornaments I purchased at Target a few years back.

The kids tore into their ornaments and began what is my favorite part of decorating the tree: watching the kids put their ornaments on the lower half of the tree. Not that they don't want to put them higher, just that they can't reach that high. Only Patch is getting taller now, so I guess technically they can reach up about two-thirds of the way.

Funny, this used to be my least favorite part--to watch the kids put their ornaments on, clumping them in groups and leaving big bare spots. In the past I could hardly stand to watch the growing imperfection of it all. But now I find great enjoyment sitting and watching them, taking a picture or two, and knowing it can all be rearranged later. I must be mellowing in my middle age.

Within about ten minutes the kids had all their ornaments on the tree and were eyeing mine, still neatly nestled in their Target container. I gave in on a few pewter ones I love, but said "no" on the others. Those I will place on the tree soon.

But for now, nearly 48 hours later, the tree still stands as we left it Monday night. Decorations only going about 2/3 of the way up. Unevenly spaced. No star on top. No garland. Not even a skirt. That will all come soon enough. But in my busy day-to-day meantime, I find I am greatly enjoying the Christmas tree designed by my three cute kids. Maybe perfection isn't all it is cracked up to be.

Scripture of the Day: Luke 2:4-5

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It says I'm apple...

...but my favorite is coconut cream. Love lemon meringue, pecan, and pumpkin too. In fact, I used to work the pie counter at Marie Callender's. Talk about a yummy job!

You Are Apple Pie

You're the perfect combo of comforting and traditional.

You prefer things the way you've always known them.

You'll admit that you're old fashioned, and you don't see anything wrong with that.

Your tastes and preferences are classic. And classic never goes out of style.

Those who like you crave security.

People can rely on you to be true to yourself - and true to them.

You're loyal, trustworthy, and comfortable in your own skin.

And because of these qualities, you've definitely earned a lot of respect.

Monday, December 1, 2008

New Month, New Theme

This month's scripture study theme is Journey to Bethlehem. I have made a "map" (in the loosest of terms) of Israel with stepping stones winding from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Each day of the month Mary and Joseph get to move one step closer to Bethlehem and a scripture about the birth of the Savior is read.

Here is a {lousy} pic I took of the map on the wall at home. I wish it showed some of the details of the cities I had to draw--they look cute. And at the bottom is the manger with a star over it. You can see a close up of Mary and Joseph in the sidebar.

Another way to do a Christmas family scripture study theme was given a week or so ago. Or, you could print out verses and put them in an advent calendar that has little pouches or other containers.

My friend Heather made me the cutest advent calendar like that last week and I am loving it! Here it is in my kitchen. It has clear magnetic containers she has decorated that you pull off, open up, and then can put back on. The kids are so excited to use it (although this morning I was unprepared and the only candy I could find to put inside the container with the scripture was some candy corn--two out of three kids here dislike candy corns).

Scripture of the Day: Luke 2:1-3