Saturday, September 12, 2009

"The Route" to finding one's self is paved with good intentions

Many years ago, I learned a valuable lesson. I needed to be addicted to something.

And since I don't believe in alcohol, drugs, tobacco or any other vices (okay so a few chocolate items may make me waiver...), I turned to ser-'vice'. Serving others became my "vice". And something magical happened. I became happier, more fulfilled and began to understand myself and my role in this really big world better by simply focusing on others.

But I never quite seem to accomplish enough...

So when my good friend Gale Sears (who is the embodiment of Mother Theresa herself when it comes to service and sharing her talents) asked me to review her new book, The Route, I couldn't have been more thrilled at the opportunity!

Gale and I talked about service and she related how the things she learned through her experiences provided the message of this book. When Gale began her "route" delivering meals to the elderly for Meals on Wheels, she'd been at a time in her life where she needed to find fulfillment after the joys and hardships of raising a family. A call for volunteers on a local message board jumped out at her and thus began her adventures into the homes of some eclectic characters who found their way into her heart while Gale in turn found the best parts of herself.

Based on her own thoughts and feelings towards the people she came to love and serve, The Route, is a fictionalized story of a woman who is unsure of herself and her position in life yet has the desire to find purpose in her mid-fifties. She finds a posting that calls for volunteers to deliver meals to the elderly. Figuring that she couldn't screw it up too bad, Carol decides to try it out.

A run in the first day with a little trailer park tyrant who sends daggers through Carol's heart almost weakens her resolve. Carol, however, is determined not to shy away from the challenge. As time marches on, she not only comes to understand these people's histories, lives and imprint on the world but she comes to understand her own ability to love unconditionally and process her life and relationships as she puts things in perspective and gains peace and purpose.

As I spoke with Gale about the story after reading it, I had to admit that when I initially picked it up, I did not think it would be a story that would make me think too deeply. I judged it to be a feel good light read - something akin to a stroll through a daisy filled field on a pleasantly warm summer day. But for someone who has always thought that the only way to do things was on a grandiose scale (I relate to the guy whose idea of a nice presidential portrait was to create Mount Rushmore), it did make me think about the small things n life.

I have always had the desire to serve - and I do so on a regular basis - but I have always thought that my simple acts of service could never amount to a pile that could even hope to fit into Abe Lincoln's rocky left nostril. So I get down on myself because I don't have the ability to change the world - or a mountainous visage for that matter.

But the thing that Gale's book taught me is that I am changing the world - the world of those whose lives I have touched through the small and simple things. And by touching one life and their world with what I have always considered to be minutia , a ripple effect is created and a little bit more of the world is changed,...one person, one small and simple act of kindness at a time.

So until I can learn how to make monuments by carving people's lives in stone, it's enough to simply and quietly help others along the rocky paths we call life.

And one day, in the grand scheme of things - I hope for a few people out there at least - I will be able to say that when it came to their lives, I made mountains out of molehills

You can order Gale's book The Route through Amazon here or through Deseret Book here. And you can jump on over to read Gale's blog on service here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I think I can, I think I can....

My good friend Wendy Elliot asked me to review a project she's been working on. It's called "The Complete Novel Plotting Workbook".

I admittedly thought that there is not much reviewing I could do on something like this. I mean I'm used to reviewing stuff on the basis of literary achievement; plot and character development, interwoven story lines and grammar and syntax. But how does one go about reviewing something that is designed to help one do these things without caustically throwing it back into your face if you miserably fail???

I changed tack. I decided to 'play' with my new little workbook and attack a project that I never, ever thought I could do - a fantastical adventure novel. I mean since I am the furthest thing from a fantasy writer that there is, I figured if Wendy's little workbook could open that realm of my functional no nonsense brain, she'd have a winner.

A month later, I am practically running around my house in spandex somewhere in the future fighting evil and time traveling through my dreams. Using my little workbook, I have garnered an excitement for fantasy and other realms that I never thought possible. My characters have become a part of me (much to the angst of my two middle teenage sons who think mom has finally fallen off her rocker) and the plot twists hit me at the most unexpected times (usually when I'm jousting or playing with light sabers with my youngest who thinks mom is now pretty cool!

Good and evil have taken on personas that have made them into characters themselves. I have thoroughly enjoyed living through them and living the story I've created in my head using Wendy's little workbook which now has a permanent place in my purse in case a thought comes to me while I am living a more respectable life...

Now if I can only put my weaponry down long enough to format it and get back to writing, I might see the benefits of my daydreaming and middle aged identity crisis.

And for those who wonder, my sanity is not the important issue here. The issue is that I once again learned that with the right tools, anything is possible including creating alternative worlds where good does conquer evil after hard fought battles and happy endings do exist - even when paired with laser-eyed monsters and giant sized horny toads.

Check out Wendy's little workbook and have some fun yourself. You can get one HERE or you can get one through her Blogsite HERE

Happy writing everyone and may I see you in a book real soon!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Taking a break from work long enough....

Shannon Tanner thinks she has it all until she finds out that all is not as it seems. Her trusted fiancĂ©e is a criminal who has stolen from her family and is out to kill her now that she’s found out his secrets.

Enter the FBI and Agent Rick Holden who goes undercover as Shannon’s aging aunt in order to protect her without sacrificing either of their personal beliefs or integrity.

Fear and desperation push Shannon to the limit. The question now is can life, with Agent Holden’s help, return to a semblance of normalcy as her heart begins to hope and heal?

As part of the virtual tour for Tristi Pinkston’s new mystery novel, Agent in Old Lace, I have arranged to meet local operative, Agent Fink, here at Dunkin Donuts so we can get an inside look at undercover missions and what they truly entail.

Now if I only knew what agent Fink looked like. Wait, was that a plant moving??? I get up only to discover that there is a rambunctious two-year-old pulling at the palm fronds from the other side while his mother holds his wrist carrying on a conversation with her acquaintance from her perch at the outdoor bistro set. I sigh and head back to the waiting bench.

“Hey you,…..do you go by the name Anderson?” asks a deep masculine voice which belies the show of femininity that sparked the shocking pink lipstick and electric blue mascara.

“Uh,…..yeah. May I help you?”

“I’m Agent Fink, Ima Fink – that’s my operative name. I thought I’d come undercover so you can get an inside view of the real job. This line of work ain’t for sissies you know…”

“I can appreciate that. I can’t imagine any sissies dressing like that. You’d have to be IMENSLEY secure with yourself and your abilities.” Agent Fink tries to cross his legs and accidentally kicks me in the shin. He mumbles and apology and quickly tries to cover up by pulling his flamingo print skirt down over his ample knee.

“My, what big feet you have….”

“The better to run after scoundrels and stomp all over ‘em with…” he smiles.

“And what hairy knuckles you have….”

“I was going to get a manicure but the business of catching bad guys doesn’t wait for good lookin’ cuticles.” He/she looks at his hands from an arm length and frowns. “They are a mess though aren’t they? Oh well I’ll try to squeeze one in at 10. So what questions do you have about undercover FBI business – non-specific of course - and my fellow ‘gal pal’ Ricky Holden. This is his story you know….”

“Yeah I know.” I look at Agent Fink’s 6’4” 290 pound frame appraisingly growing ever mindful of the curious glances and ask, “Is it commonplace for you guys to uh, ….dress up?”

“Only when the situation warrants it.”

“And does today warrant it?”

“Naw, but it’s fun to dress up every once in a while and I thought it’d be a gas to show you the finer nuances of the job as we talk about Shan and Ricky’s story.” He shifts and belches. The stench of stale glazed donuts wafts past me.

“Speaking of gas….” I say waving my hand and weakly smile. Agent Fink slaps my knee and laughs.

“You’d do well in this job. You’ve got some pretty quick wits about you…”

“So back to the story. In doing my research, I found out this is Mrs. Pinkston’s first foray into mystery/suspense. I think she did a marvelous job of telling the story and it captured me from the very first page! Is detective work always that exciting and full of bouts of adrenaline?”

“Sorry, I was just enjoying today’s law enforcement donut special,…I think they call it Glazed Over – anyways, I think they got a hit here!” He wipes the residual glaze from his mouth without ruining his lipstick. “But in answer to your question – I dunno. I’m more in the PR side of things – you know meeting with you people and splainin’ the finer points of the job. I let the experienced guys like Rick take on the more serious stuff.”

“I see, so how come you have an undercover name and a full blown wardrobe?”

“Cutbacks. This economy is killing everyone! I got myself a side job as a singer at a nightclub down the block. I didn’t want anyone to recognize me and besides, I figure if things keep going downhill, I can help fill in as an operative when needed. It’ll save the agency money since I already have the training AND the er,…ah,….’supplies’.”

“Well, Agent Fink, glad to see you have things well under control and that our safety is in the hands of such fine people as yourself…” I say as I rummage through my purse looking for my antibacterial hand sanitizer. I look up but he has disappeared into thin air. The rambunctious two-year-old points towards a dilapidated phone booth with the remnants of a pink flamingo print skirt being jerked inside by a rather large and homely guy who should be wearing pants.

If you want a story of suspense, intrigue and romance that helps you believe in happy endings even when life hands you its darkest moments, get a copy of Agent in Old Lace. By Tristi Pinkston Order it here:


It will not disappoint!!!

Author’s note: Although I had a good time with this ‘interview’ I want it noted that I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for those who unselfishly give of themselves through law enforcement as they strive to keep us safe and better our communities.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It's time to get to work, dang it!!!

All last month I wrote to my heart’s content (and then some) and surrounded myself with other wonderful writers who inspired me and gave me the bug to get back to work.

I’ve been putting off finishing up my next manuscript because it means change and this last year has already meant a lot of change for me. Sometimes as writers, we come to live with our characters so long, they become a part of us - or at least a part of our ‘virtual’ family. And when major change is on the horizon for them, you take the ride also and live what they live, and feel what they feel.

That can be good and it can be bad.

It’s good because in order to tell a good story filled with emotion, you have to get into the character’s head. You have to see the world through their eyes and live the scenes like they would. It’s bad because of all the before mentioned reasons which means that as a writer, you cry, you hurt and ultimately, you are forced to grow with them – and growth can be very painful.

Most writers understand this and I’m not sure if that makes us an eclectic bunch or a group that simply lives on the verge of insanity. Either way, it’s our reality and our characters and our stories come to define much of who we are.

But now that I’m caught up on the housework, the extra jobs I’ve had to do, writing pursuits and other diversions, I have no more excuses to avoid the inevitable and I need to get crackin’.

So, although I will continue to look for “Life Savers” and share them with you, I’ll only be posting them every four or five days since I seriously need to chain myself to the computer and head into the winds of change because the sooner I get these voices out of my head and onto paper, the sooner I can sleep at night without feeling like the ghosts of stories past and present will haunt me forever!

And that brings me to this week’s “Life Saver”;

“Even a mosquito doesn’t get a slap on the back until he starts to work.”



So wish me luck and offer a toast with creative juices – I’m going to need it since I now have to get to work,…even though a good stiff slap on the back sounds a LOT more appealing at the moment….;-)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The road to others 'hell' is often paved with my good intentions...

As I looked at today’s ‘Life Saver”, there was only one story that I knew could possibly go with it. Let me give you today’s gem of thought and then I will expound….

“I have faith in fools – my friends call it self confidence!”



Years ago I was the president of a small software company called Careware that wrote and distributed software programs for care giving agencies like childcare facilities, nursing homes and home health care groups so they could fully automate their process and keep track of all government reporting.

In the middle of the venture, I started noticing some major changes going on in my business partner who also happened to be our software programmer. Longer hair, track marks in the crux of his arm and glazed over, doe-in-the-headlight stares naturally lead me to think he was quickly getting caught in the web of narcotics.

Imagine my surprise when he sat the board down and announced that he was going through some rather significant changes – namely he was becoming a she through gender reassignment surgery.

I was aghast! He was barely passable as a nice looking 6’6” male but I knew he’d make an absolutely horrific looking female! I, however, kept my mouth shut and managed to get through the sideways glances when we’d go shopping for office supplies, when people would snicker as she/he/it would use a falsetto voice to communicate and kept from gagging when my opinions (as the only other female in the office) were solicited on necessities from the Victoria’s Secrets catalogue.

My parents always taught me to be gracious under any circumstance and so – even though I did not agree with his choices – I remained a friend and a sounding board.

When the day of his/her final surgery actually arrived,….yes the one that lops off and inverts certain uuhhh,….’parts’, I had compassion and figured that in some sort of way, my friend would need comfort through the transition. I mean it was after all a pretty permanent and drastic surgery which would irrevocably change his life forever. I was sure that there would be some sort of mourning process although I had not the foggiest what that would entail –nor did I really want to know. But nonetheless, I wanted to be compassionate and lend some sort of support.

But what to send????

There are not many cards that do justice for such a surgery. “Get well soon” didn’t seem to fit the bill. “I’m sorry for your loss” wasn’t quite appropriate. Since I didn’t agree with his choices, I had a hard time with “Welcome to your new addition”.

Flowers seemed to ‘girly’, balloons too juvenile - nothing seemed gender neutral enough to make me comfortable without sending mixed messages to him/her.

That’s when I got a flyer in an ad circular for lovely gift baskets done by Mrs. Fields. Perfect! I called the number and had a nice basket sent to my friend’s room in the specialized Seattle hospital.

Two days later I got a call from my new “female” friend.
“Hiya, Stace. Thanks for the basket. It was lovely,” he said in his best falsetto, although slurred from the pain meds, voice.

“I’m glad you liked it. I was trying to find something that was appropriate for the occasion since you will always be my friend but you also know how I feel about the choice.”

“You made that quite clear,” he snickered an octave lower. “Were you aware that the tag on the front of the basket says, and I quote, ‘Mrs. Field’s assorted cookies with chopped nuts??’ It became the talk of the gender reassignment ward the moment it was delivered.”

“Uuuuhhh, gee,…I’m soooo sorry, I’m not sure what too say…..”

“Normally I would take offense, but knowing you, Stace, means that I can know with an absolute certainty that you didn’t have a clue what the tag said and didn’t mean anything but sincere wishes….”

So much for good intentions. All I can say is that is good my friends know the meaning of my heart even if the translation loses a bit at times.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Staying grounded keeps you from having the wind harshly knocked outta ya

Recently, I was invited to a black tie event at La Caille. This was a problem.

I mean I clean up pretty well but I’m more of a wash and wear sort of gal and settings that have anything more than one fork tend to make me break out in hives. I admittedly use my high heels as an alternative hammer when I can’t find the real one in the garage clutter and I use the Channel #5 I inherited from my mother as gym bag spray for my sons. It’s the only scent strong enough to kill the offensive odors that merrily waft as they take over the rest of the house making it smell like dirty sweat socks and moldy underwear.

My point being, black tie affairs and I go together about as comfortably as thumbtacks on a hemophiliac’s mattress.

But since I was there to support a friend who thinks I am superbly cool since I’ve accomplished her dream of publication (silly girl, didn’t she read my last post???), I felt the obligation to go because I really do admire her and wanted to share in her night.

I sat next to Ron Boone (Jazz commentator) and another guy, Johnny ”The Jet” Rogers, that is apparently extremely well known in the football realm since he was a Heisman Trophy winner and played many years in the NFL. It was a classic moment when I asked him if they all had to have tight ends to fit into uniform and wondered aloud as to the exact purpose of a linebreaker?

After kindly informing me that the term was “linebacker” and explaining the purpose of said large guy, he then smiled and casually told me that “Tight ends are an occupational hazard – especially for the tight ends who work it during game play and practices.

I was ready to sink into the ground when my friend with the most blessed timing walked up and asked if they all had been properly introduced to her friend, the famous humorist and author.

Realization sunk in and their eyes lost that “what a dumb bunny” glaze and were replaced by a look of respect normally reserved for those worthy enough o fall within the realms of their own inner circles.

I was in heaven as I, for the moment, got to field questions about my adventures on TV and radio and was even given kudos as I wowed them with recollections of my interview on the nationally syndicated Lars Larsen show. I mean only the coolest get to be on his show – and on the day of Thanksgiving to boot!!!

It was then that I noticed the pinched, fake smile on my friend’s face as she subtly tried to pull me away from my new admirers with a few inconspicuous nods of her head. I excused myself and followed her to and area hidden by massive ferns and fuchsia bougainvillea.

Before I rounded the corner in a panic, I quickly checked my nose to make sure nothing inappropriate was falling out of it. I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized I was safe.

“Stace, I love you my friend, which is why you need to remove that horrible piece of parsley the size of a fly that’s stuck between your incisor and front tooth before you end up blowing it into one of their faces.” She then kind of squeamishly pointed towards my mouth and half grimaced and sympathetically smiled.

It was then that I remembered why black tie and I do not mix and even more importantly why it’s good to keep myself continually grounded. And that brings me to today’s “Life Saver” which is;

“It’s important to be cool – just don’t get your nose nipped off by Jack Frost when your coolness factor enters the sub-zero region.”

And if you forget what it means to stay truly grounded, I’m here to tell you that whether it be boogers or other little green things that appear where they shouldn’t be, something will drag you back to reality in less time than it takes a massive linebacker to knock the wind out of an unprotected quarterback. And to the proud who are yanked harshly back to that truth, the feeling is quite similar too….;-)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Success is fleeting,... unless.....

This past weekend, I had the honor of attending the LDS Storymakers Writing Conference. It was a wonderful experience being surrounded by so many talented people who made me realize the importance of working hard and never being complacent.

There are a few times in life when I amaze myself. Today is one of those days.

Not because I am so wonderful and creative, but because I simply have the most incredible dumb luck at times! Once again I digress as I get off on one of my ADD tangents. I’ll begin at the beginning….

After getting home and mulling over all that I learned and feeling a bit overwhelmed by the gratitude of being able to help, meet and learn from so many wonderful people, I finally remembered that I needed to do my blog posting .Since I had arranged the tour over a month ago, there was no way that I could have foreshadowed my thoughts and feeling on this particular day. I looked at today’s Life Saver and smiled. It read;

“Unless you’re the lead dog, the view is always the same.”



Publishing is an interesting business. As authors we are always trying to step up one more rung on the ladder. If you are unpublished, you want to get a contract. If you are published, you want an agent, a bigger contract and a national audience. If you have a national audience and an agent, you want to be on the best seller lists. And once, you’re there, you want to stay there and do it better and better and better…..

I’ve been lucky and had an amazing amount of success – success that others merely dream of. I’ve hit the national market, done TV, radio and hit the charts high on Amazon. I’ve seen my name in print in prestigious publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Financial Content and big papers across the nation. I’ve seen my name go as far as England, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. But I look at J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyers and Richard Paul Evans and even some of my closer acquaintances like James Dashner, Josi Kilpack and Janette Rallison and think, “Man, I have a LONG way to go!” I watch other closer friends like Candace Salima, Annette Lyon, Michele Bell and Tristi Pinkston who have more knowledge in their little pinkies than I have in my entire noggin and think, "There is no way I can ever catch up!"

Discouragement sets in and before I know it, success is out the window and I’m a failure. Thankfully, God knows me well and slaps me up the side of the head every once in a while and places opportunities in front of me that get me outside of myself and focused on others in a positive way. It’s when I have the ability to serve and follow in the footsteps of the only lead dog who matters – the Savior.

And when I do that, the level of success suddenly does not matter but the route in which we get there – flowing in His footsteps following His lead – does.

I came out of Storymakers so incredibly grateful that I have been placed in positions where I could help fulfill the dreams of others, learn from others, teach others and spur the hope of others. But mainly, I am grateful for the opportunity to be used as an instrument in His hands for blessing the lives of others.

It’s true; success is fleeting -- unless you look at it as an eternal proposition. And if you do, not only your success, but that of others, becomes an eternal gift that is satisfying where ever you may be on the success spectrum.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The grass is always greener when they use sewage

Last summer, there was an article in the Deseret News titled 'Utah using technology, law to save water', and I have to admit, I chuckled....a lot!

The article referenced several 'government authorities' denoting concern for the fact that we need to reserve our precious stores before they dry up and yet, some of the biggest waste I see is at parks, facilities and buildings that are run by,…. you guessed it, our concerned government.

I will give them this, they are right. We’ve had many years of drought and despite the bounty of moisture this last little bit, our water index is still not way off the charts. And why? Because Utah is a desert.

People want to live in Utah pretending that it is a veritable oasis of endless lush lakes, reservoirs, streams, ponds and mountain brooks. If this were true, we would actually be in a place called Minnesota, land of ten thousand lakes or on a freeway in Seattle after a rainstorm during monsoon season.

Even though this spring (what spring???) has left us guessing as to what it would’ve been like a few weeks before Noah could’ve sailed off into a snowstorm, it’s not yet enough for the mandatory one year supply we all strive for and we are technically still living in a desert which is NOT in Seattle or Minnesota.

So that gets me to thinking, when I go by an apartment villa that is bigger than the Wasatch mountains themselves and see that the sprinklers are on in a rain storm next to the sign that says Low Utilities, Great Rates, Come on In, I am going to wonder where they got their magic wand. I'm even going to ask to borrow it so I too don't have to pay taxes to the water deity and can hopefully keep my sprinkler, shower and toilet flush bill at its lowest possible rate. That would certainly make my budgetary numbers a heck of a lot more appealing!

It also means that when I see the broken sprinkler at the city's water improvement district shooting 30 feet into the air at a rate of 13,000 gallons per second, I am going to assume that they are watering with sewage or that they subscribe to the same rule my mother taught me to live by; DO as I SAY and NOT as I DO.

Either way, sewage or archaic rules, it kinda stinks if you ask me. Now that I mention stink, that reminds me of today’s “Life Saver” which is what my dad used to tell me whenever I got bit by the green envy bug;

“If the grass on the other side of the fence is greener, then it must be all the ‘fertilizer’ they are using. Because in my humble opinion, it certainly couldn’t be the water….”

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Remembering that love is what is most important....

Admittedly, this is a hard week for me.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been some rather bright spots and I try to keep perspective on life and all that jazz but there are a few times when life kinda kicks you unexpectedly and this happens to be one of those weeks.

So when I looked at my blog schedule to see what Life Saver I got to write about today, I had to smile amid tears. It read:


“He who dies with the most toys is still nonetheless dead.”


Either this is the definition of irony or it’s one of those moments when God is trying desperately to give me comfort by reminding me of what is truly important. Let me start at the beginning……

One year ago today, I spent the last moments I could in my mom’s hospital room. It was one of the last days she was coherent and she was afraid to die. Not because she was unprepared, but because she didn’t want o leave us – especially my youngest brother who was serving a mission in Mexico – as motherless waifs. Dad had passed away nearly four years before and she, even though we were grown (if you can call six kids between the ages of 20-40 grown), didn’t want to leave her family behind without a parent.

“Stacy,” she said, “Do you think I’m going to die?”
“I don’t know, Mom. We’re going to fight this till the very end. And I don’t know if we’ll win or if the cancer will but I do know this, if taking you from us is the Lord’s plan, then we will be here with you holding you as you are ushered from this world into dad’s waiting arms.”
“Just promise me, that you will take care of our family. Promise me that Taylor will always know that he has a mother who loves him..”

That was when I knew she wouldn’t make it – she was passing the torch.

One year later, as I prepare for my brother to come home (his official release date is June 29), I cannot help but remember the promises I made to her. And I have cried bitterly at an economy that hasn’t allowed me to put into play all the dreams I had for his homecoming. I have ached as I realized that he won’t come home to a parent or his house or even his ward on a permanent basis.

I somehow wanted to make up for all of this and give him something similar by giving him the house she would’ve or the car, take him on trips and help him refocus. I had in mind grand Christmas presents and anything his heart desired to take away the pain of losing his mother.

But I can’t do any of this and feel as if I failed miserably in keeping up my end of the bargain because in today’s world, I am just lucky enough to keep a roof over all of their heads. As much as I want to, I can’t lavish everything on him because I still have four others at home to provide for too.

But I can give him love and support and let him know everyday that he has a mother who loves him. She may be in heaven but her arms will always be wrapped around him – and so will mine.

So I think that today’s Life Saver was meant for me and I pray that I can take it to heart and remember that it’s not the material things that are important but the gifts of the heart and the memories we make that mean the most.

The accidental doctor...

Yesterday’s blog alluded to Josh and his propensity for getting into trouble. It’s not the kind of trouble where he gets sent to the principal’s office all the time (although his record isn’t quite clean there either) but the kind of trouble that festers after taking root in a curious mind - kind of like Curious George who I affectionately refer to as the ‘idiot monkey’.

And yes, on more than one occasion, that has made me wonder if that makes Josh my idiot child or me the idiot mom who can’t stay one step ahead of her son when she knows that he and trouble go together as deliciously as spaghetti and meatballs.

When he was in his terrible two phase, we lived in a rather modest three bedroom tri-level. He made use of every inch of that place and drove me almost to the outer reaches of sanity. We ended up in the ER more times than I care to count – so frequent in fact, that they had a whole box superhero popsicles just for Josh since they calmed him right down and made examination and stitching easier.

After one very grueling summer, I went to my husband and presented him with a theory – if Josh had more room, maybe he’d not wonder off so much seeking out trouble.

We were into a new house by the end of the summer because as my husband says, a happy wife IS a happy life.

Unfortunately, a new house payment necessitated a bigger salary check which meant a change of jobs. Job stability didn’t stress me out nearly as much as a new insurance policy. Under the old regime, I knew I wouldn’t be brought up on child abuse or neglect charges by his medical care professionals because,….well,….they knew Josh. But I had no idea how we’d be received by a new team of doctors.

I found out two weeks later when we made our first trip to the ER.

I nervously entered the Instacare and placed my name on the waiting list. When it was my turn to do the paperwork, the nice lady asked who his primary care physician was. I told her we’d just changed insurances and he didn’t have one yet. My second son, Mitch, (the one who had a better vocabulary at five than I can ever hope to have) quickly informed the lady, “Oh yes he does! His name is Emergency Room and Mom takes us there to see him about every day with Josh!”

I smiled, although the knot in my stomach made me want to puke, and tried to explain about my “curious” son without coming across as a monstrous mother. The doctor then came around the corner laughing and gave me another “Life Saver”,

“So you have one of those do you? You know, I’ve always wondered, if most accidents happen at home, shouldn’t we all just move? It’d make my job a heck of a lot easier….”

Even though my pocketbook couldn’t afford such a transient lifestyle or the lawsuits brought on by not keeping a toddler with a devastation level equal to a category 5 hurricane under lock and key, I do know that God must’ve smiled on me that day because there, at the Instacare amongst stitching kits, gauze, Neosporin and prescription pads, was a doctor I could really bond with!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Life is a tough balancing act...

Many of you have read or heard about my adventures as I try to keep my son’s stomachs full. Admittedly on more than one occasion, I am more of a failure at this than a success – or so their grumbling guts consistently tell me.

Last night was one of those nights.

I had one son who was off to scouts and then to soccer practice, another who went to his job before hitting the library and running somewhere around 23 errands and the third who had to do a history project before his hockey workout.

Meanwhile I was up to my armpits cleaning the garage that I optimistically thought “would only take a few hours” trying to get all the ABOP (Anti-freeze, batteries, oil and paint) center stuff ready to haul. And of course my husband decided to stay late at the office to chat.

Nine o’clock rolled around and they all stood there looking at me with Meguire’s Diamond Coat Car polish dripping from the end of my nose. The bottle had exploded when I tried to grab it with a broom handle from the top shelf that my step ladder and stubby legs wouldn’t reach. But I digress…..

Josh knowing that the end of the world would be here before I got anything cooked, piped up, “I’ll take care of dinner tonight, Mom”

I didn’t worry too much since all he knows how to do in a kitchen involves pouring and using a spoon.

“Okay, I’ll take you up on that offer but add a banana to the cereal so at least it’s a well balanced meal.” He smiled and headed back into the house.

Fifteen minutes and half a dozen rolls of paper towels later, the smell of the neighbors BBQ had my own stomach quivering at the thoughts of food. I went inside to find each of my sons with a hamburger in each hand.

Apparently in my maternal absence, Josh had learned how to use the grill without burning his eyebrows off – but that’s a story for another time. I grabbed one of the burgers and lifted the bun. No tomatoes, no lettuce - the closest thing to something from the fruit and vegetable group on those burgers was ketchup. There was plenty from the meat group however, since he’d done a double stack for each of them times two.

“Couldn’t you have at least pretended to care about a balanced meal?” I pleaded.

As only Josh can, he grinned that wonderful teenage smile with a mouth full of hamburger and gave me today’s “Life Saver”;

He then held up each hand with grease and ketchup dripping from his fists full of double stack hamburgers and said, “I did, Mom! My idea of a balanced meal is one in each hand!”

And with that he took another bite and reveled in his creation. Who was I to argue? My own life has been a terrible balancing act as of late. At least I could gain comfort in the fact that someone in the family was thinking about some sort of balance,… even if it meant four all beef patties and ketchup on a couple of sesame seed buns

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

All about the munckins who steal our hearts

My boys are convinced that there is a hierarchy to our family and it starts at the bottom.

They all want to know why our youngest, the cute little bugger, is the favorite. He’s really not but I can’t convince the older ones of the truth of that statement. He is a charmer though. He’s sweet tempered and looks like a Precious Moments figurine with his big blue eyes and blonde hair.

I try telling them that he’s not the favorite but merely has the golden spot.

He came at a time when I didn’t know if I could ever have more children. And then when my doctor announced twins, my heart did a joyous loopity-loop! Four months into my pregnancy, we found out that one (my one and only little girl) was growing in the wrong place. He kindly sedated me and immediately rolled me into surgery to end the one pregnancy since it was her life or all of ours. It was tenuous at best as to whether Maison would survive or not. Thanks to a merciful God, he did. And once the crisis was over, I was told I could not have any more without putting myself in dire straits.

I appreciate Maison because he’s the end of an age for me. Just like a mother marvels at her firstborn’s life – each toe, finger and hair, a mother appreciates and takes in every minute, every milestone and every momentous occasion as she plows down motherhood’s path with her last knowing that an era is coming to an end.

I was no different. I could not, however, for the life of me convince my three older sons that birth order was the simple truth of the matter – he wasn’t my favorite, he was simply the last.

Through years of patient explanations, I finally convinced them that I sincerely did speak the truth. And then my oldest decided to serve a mission in Argentina.

He wasn’t down there long before the people wanted to see pictures of his family. He proudly flipped out his wallet and showed anyone and everyone his ‘la familia’ until about the 12th time after hearing the same thing again and again.

“Oh look at the little one. He is sooo cute! I bet he’s your mom’s favorite!”

Justin wrote home good naturedly complaining that even when he moves 5,000 miles away, he still can’t get away from living in his younger brother’s adorable shadow.

Being sensitive to his plight, I wrote back and gave him today’s “Life Saver” which is what my father used to tell me after my youngest brother was born;

“A dog who attends a flea circus will most likely steal the whole show. And a kid that cute will always steal the hearts of anyone who has eyes and a soul.”

He then followed up with a discourse on how life wasn’t fair but we have to learn how to deal with it. He’d then laugh and tousle my hair while saying, “Come on, Stace, can you resist a smile that charming?”

I remember looking at my brother and melting before I grabbed him and took him upstairs to get ready for bed.

Those maternal feelings have served me well through the years since I have become a surrogate ‘mom-figure’ to that brother since my parent’s untimely passing. Mom won’t be there to greet him when he comes home from his mission in 60 days. Mom won’t be there to stand proudly by him, physically anyway, on the day of his wedding. And mom won’t be able to hug him when his heart is breaking or smile with him when his heart is full.

But I will and it’s all because of his cute smile, big blue eyes and trusting faith that suckered me long ago and made me fall in love with a sibling who opened a new world for me.

Justin truly understands but prays he won’t have to stand in as a parental figure to his youngest brother because of birth order. He tells me and Brad to get our cancer screenings regularly.

Justin and I came to realize that day that we have more in common than we’d like to admit. By birth, we are the oldest in our families but by choice, we are suckers when it comes to falling for the wiles and cuteness of our youngest siblings – and that isn’t always a bad thing…;-).

Monday, April 20, 2009

Patience is turning me into a mental patient!

If patience is a virtue, then I am most definitely NOT a virtuous woman!

Patience is a very hard thing for me. I tend to want things and answers now and not a minute later than instantly. But this is not always the way it works. Matter of fact, as I’m coming to find out, it rarely works this way. I guess God keeps giving me those lessons on patience hoping that one day I will learn its virtues.

Apparently I’m a slow learner because they keep coming at regular intervals and with increasing frequency. Like the other day, the sun had finally made an appearance after hiding for the better part of the fall and winter. The temperatures were up and so I thought a nice walk would be in order. I grabbed my walking shoes and a water bottle and headed off.

I forgot one small detail though; one shouldn’t take a blood pressure pill with a diuretic right before heading out where bathrooms are few and far between. I hadn’t been gone long when my fast pace and pumping heart kicked that medication into overdrive and sent me frantically looking for a public restroom along the route.

I whizzed (no pun intended) down the hill to a local gas station where I knew there were clean restrooms. Just as I reached for the door, a sweet older lady smiled at me and then slipped in and locked the door after sweetly telling me, “I’ll only be a minute”.

I stood there with my mouth gaping and my legs crossed. I didn’t dare move for fear that any mild movement would certainly turn me into a leaky faucet. I stood immobilized praying that she would finish up her business and get the heck outta Dodge so the new sheriff could claim her potty in peace and overwhelming relief.

I think she must’ve taken a bath in the bowl.

I must admit however, that old people have a way of really putting things into perspective. When she finally did emerge, she smiled again – a bit broader as she watched me inch into the restroom with crossed legs – and gave me a bit of old- timer’s wisdom. This nugget has become today’s “Life Saver”;

“How long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you are on. Praise be to the Good Lord who allowed me enough agility to beat you to the bathroom door. The old plumbing ain’t what it used to be and they would’ve needed a mop and a ten gallon bucket if I’d been the one waiting out here. ‘

Easy for her to say. Her minute was filled with the relief of dry Depends and a happy bladder. I looked back over my shoulder at her as she headed out to her car with a slightly more jovial step in her jaunt. I smiled.

It was nice to know that even when age does get the best of you, patience still isn’t a virtue but you can somehow manage to deal with the infirmity with a quick wit and a smile that makes others glad they had the ability to wait.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I like being peculiar - it makes me different!!!!

We are a peculiar people – or so Brigham Young said. But that’s okay. It’s good to be different!

Besides being known as an industrious and hard working people, we are also known as having integrity, generally honest, thrifty, clean cut, sober and we also know how to laugh at ourselves.

Everyone from the FBI, CIA, and ICE to Alaskan Bus Tours loves it when they see a Mormon walk in to apply for a position because they too know, from years of experience, that these things are true about the general Mormon populous. And I for one am proud to be part of such a heritage.

But what makes me even more proud is that most Mormon’s I’ve had the privilege of associating with know that there ARE things to be taken seriously,…..but themselves is not one of them!

And since I am the one usually leading the laughter, I decided to post this Utah Census form so that you too can decide whether or not you are a true Utah-ish Mormon because today’s “Life Saver” just happens to be;

Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves for they will never cease to be amused!


Laugh on, Friends!


Utah Census Form

1._____________________ _____________________

(GIVEN NAME) (SURNAME)

2. Descendant of:
A. Brigham Young _____
B. Heber C. Kimball _____
C. Laman and Lemuel _____
D. Cain _____

3. Tribe of Israel : _____________________

4. Number of occupants residing in home in each category: (List in chronological order)
A. Nursery _____
B. Junior Primary _____
C. Senior Primary _____
D. Young Women's _____
E. Young Men's _____
F. Relief Society _____
G. Elder _____
H. Dearly Departed _____
I. High Priest _____

5. Occupation [Please select all that apply]:
A. Amway dealer _____
B. Shaklee dealer _____
C. Nonie juice dealer _____
D. NuSkin dealer _____
E. Melaleuca dealer _____

6. Automobile:
A. Station Wagon _____
B. Van _____
C. Suburban _____
D. School Bus _____
E. Double Decker _____
F. BMW (Big Mormon Wagon) ________

7. Favorite place to eat the night before Fast Sunday:
A. Chuck-A-Rama _____
B. Hometown Buffet _____
C. Sumo Sam's All You Can Eat Feeding Trough _____

8. Favorite Hero:
A. Nephi _____
B. Abinadi _____
C. Samuel the Lamanite_____
D. Steve Young _____
E. Johnny Lingo _____

9. Which of the following do you bring to church [check all that apply]:
A. Scriptures _____
B. Franklin Planner/ Daytimer _____
C. Pen/Pencil _____
D. Lifesavers/ Cheerios _____
E. Tic Tacs _____
F. Game Boy _____
G. Big Gulp _____
H. Cooler _____
I. Sony Walkman _____
J. TV Watch _____
K. All of the above _____

10. Do you prepare your church lessons:
A. A month in advance _____
B. A week in advance _____
C. While in the bathtub _____
D. While on the toilet _____
E. During Sacrament Meeting _____
F. During the closing prayer of Sacrament Meeting
G. During the opening prayer of the class you're teaching _____
H. Just wing it [according to the promptings of the Spirit] _____

11. Do you think pews should be permanently equipped with Big Gulp holders:
A. yes___
B. no ___

12. How many years has your family sat in the same place for Sacrament Meeting:
A. 10-20 years _____
B. 20-30 years _____
C. 30-40 years _____
D. Over 3 generations ____

13. How much time does it take for you to fall asleep during a high council talk:
A. 1/100,000,000th of a second _____
B. 1/999,999,999th of a second _____
C. 1/999,999,998th of a second _____

14. Which day of the month do you go home/visiting teaching:
A. 31st ______
B. 31st ______
C. 31st ______
D. 31st ______

15. How many church basketball fights were you in last year:
A. 1-10 _____
B. 10-20 _____
C. 20-30 _____
D. You'll have to ask my lawyer _____

16. Which of the following has been your most effective Family Home Evening:
A. Arguing about getting along
B. Having an opening and closing prayer with dinner
C. Gathering around the television to watch, "Everybody Loves Raymond"

17. How many times a year do you make:
A. Green Jell-O salad _____
B. Funeral potatoes _____
C. Cabbage and Top Ramen salad _____
D. Turkey, cashews and grape-stuffed croissants_____

18. How many water-filled two-liter bottles do you own:
A. 1-2 thousand _____
B. 2-3 thousand _____
C. 3-4 thousand _____
D. Enough to fill the Great Salt Lake _____

19. Which of the following do you feel is the most secure facility in the nation:
A. Alcatraz
B. Fort Knox
C. Ward Libraries

20. How many structural engineers do you hire annually to insure you'll win the Pinewood Derby: _________

21. Keeping the Word of Wisdom in mind, how much of the following do you consume:
A. Chocolate: ___pounds daily X 365 days annually= ____
B. Cola: ____gallons daily X 365 days annually = ____

22. If you had to choose between witnessing the Second Coming or attending a BYU/UofU football game, which would you choose?
A. Second Coming _____
B. Football game _____

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lemondade or Bust

A few years ago, a national headline caught my attention. It was about the plight of a six year old girl and her highly illegal lemonade stand.

Apparently, a cranky neighbor who I am supposing was either jealous of her financial success or worried about the masses of traffic she was attracting, had called the police and reported her for not having a valid business license. Maybe the cause for said crankpot's displeasure was an inability to compete with the rock bottom prices offered by the kindergarten graduate or perhaps he was offended by the bait and switch to yellow when she ran out of pink lemonade.

Either way, the whole situation was so absurd, that even David Letterman had a heck of a time with this one at the expense of the crabby neigh-sayer and to the immense pleasure of many free-enterprise loving Americans.

I hear that this is not completely unusual. Matter of fact, we have a cantankerous 'ole fart' who lives on our street. We chidingly call him the governor of the neighborhood behind his back. It probably is not much of an insult though because I personally think he'd get a kick out of having a title and knowing that he attracts that much attention.

He is the one who patrols the front yard watering the dry spots until they resemble marshlands as he surveys all that goes on, up and down the street, at all hours of the day and evening. I've seen pearly white cherub fountains shooting continuous streams that are more water conservationally minded than him.

No matter. He needs an excuse to hose down anyone who looks at him sideways.

He chews out anyone on a scooter/bike/rollerblades/skateboard or tennis shoes that is going faster than an arthritic snail and points out how shocking it is that they are not wearing a helmet and thirty other pieces of protective equipment.

He issues his own neighborhood warning tickets and keeps track in the little notepad permanently Velcroed to his side and is ready at a moments notice to cite someone on any one of 339 infractions or simply make notes for the police should they need to be called in for reinforcement at a later date or time.

As a villain, his waving index finger and stern grimace is more well known by the kids on our street than the Joker in his classic purple suit and white pasty face with the ridiculous red smirking lips.

As I peered out my front window and watched him casually play with a pair of handcuffs dangling from the belt loop on his military camouflaged shorts and puffing out his chest in his Alcatraz tee shirt while reprimanding a wide eyed speechless eleven year old, I decided that enough was ENOUGH!

I threw open the door, marched right on out to the side walk, across the lawn, leaned over and harshly waved my own finger in my five year-old son's face.

"This neighborhood has had enough of your tyranny! You're going to your room until you can learn to play nice, Mister!" I then grabbed his wrist and caustically spat out today's "Life Saver" while marching him back to the house,

"Anyone who thinks you are too small to make a difference has never been alone in a tent with a hungry mosquito or lived on a street with my son!"


I guess every neighborhood has to have at least one.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

When life hands you cow pies, make a splendid garden of opportunity!!!

Years ago, when I began my career as a journalist, I was given a lead by my editor to go cover a story in West Jordan about a sub-division who was growing monstrous vegetables. None could understand why this one little plot of land was so lucky when it came to the produce patch mother lode.

A little bit of research gave me my answer,….load and loads of crap – literally.

It turns out that this bit of suburbia had been built upon what was once the old Bateman Dairy Farm and the miles and piles of cow manure that once was, became the scoop about poop.

How was I supposed to go to my editor and tell her that my story which she was planning on putting on the front page above the crease was nothing more than a load of cow pucky?

It was then in a torment of frustration and angst that I looked up to the cork board above my desk and saw a little Ziggy comic my father had once kept on his bulletin board above his desk. Although I’d never really paid attention to it before, my father’s wisdom came to me from beyond the grave and gave me today’s “Life Saver”;

Even in a pile of manure, a flower will grow.



With confidence, I wrote my story and later on even won an award for it. The fun tone of it mixed with history was so popular, that my paper got more letters than they knew what to do with. Their readership went up and my stock as a new and upcoming writer soared.

To this day, when introducing myself in that area of the valley, my fame precedes me when I refer to myself as the journalist who cared about a load of crap. Apparently dairy kings and cow pies can create more than just a banana squash bonanza – it can create opportunities that bloom into the lives dreams are made of.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Simply enjoy the journey when you have to lead the sheep

I hate the spotlight. I hate cameras, being in the public eye and most of all I am really uncomfortable with the pressure of being an example and an inspiration to people who need it.

Don’t get me wrong,…. I love to help people find happiness through finding a better way. And if I can direct them towards their Savior – like a flagman would direct traffic during road construction - I’m more than happy to do it. But I am uncomfortable taking credit for the gifts and inspiration He has given me. I’d rather the spotlight be on Him. But since His work is done through others, I do the best I can through writing, through public speaking and other appearances to help people keep that focus on Him.

Recently, I was on my way to California to start my national TV and radio tour. To gain sanity, I planned a stop in Arizona where I could catch my breath with my Grandma and my Aunt. Since I was alone, I put myself on a strict schedule and was adamant that I adhere to it. I was clipping along a quite a good pace, when I came around a corner about 20 miles outside of Page on a road that descends quickly into the Indian reservation.

With the road improvements that have happened recently along this stretch of highway, I usually can make pretty good time through this area. And so I was naturally quite confused as to way there was back up of cars that equaled the Glen Canyon Dam I’d passed not 30 minutes before.

While sitting there, my mind took over and I started fretting about the tour and being in the public spotlight. My nerves started getting the better of me and I was about to go totally wonky when the reason for the back-up came into view.

It was an old Indian woman herding her goats and sheep down the two lane highway all the way back to her home at the base of the mountain.

She was completely unaware of the following she had or the back-up which she was causing. I had to smile. And in one of those precious moments that Heavenly Father gives to us when we are driving ourselves nuts, I found sanity as I enjoyed the slower pace and envied the old Indian woman who was oblivious to her following while she just enjoyed the walk with the animals.

That brings me to today’s “Life Saver”; If you have to be a leader with a large following, go slow on a two way street.

At the bottom of the hill, was a man with a truck and dogs who was obviously ready to take the herd back to where they were supposed to go. He was waiting patiently for her to do her part and bring the animals safely to him.

Today, whenever the stresses of leadership overwhelm me, I remember that old Indian woman and simply remember to slow it down and enjoy the journey as I lead His sheep back to home and the safety of His care.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Grace and decorum; the 'ant'-ithesis of my life...

I have always been fanatical about keeping my home in order. That doesn’t mean to say that my home is always in order, it just means that I go crazy when it’s not….

Our last home was a small tri-level with a natural propensity to attract bugs of every kind. Did I also mention that I hate anything that is creepy or crawly? That is probably what led to my obsession with keeping things in order. If the little creatures can’t find anything to hide under, they won’t come a callin’!

But raising three small sons can be a challenge where OCD cleanliness is concerned. On a day where I had decided it was time to go where no mom should ever have to go, I tore apart the couch and thrust my hand into the sides and corners where all the small stuff slips – or disintegrates into unidentifiable masses.

I found what I believed to be a pile of sandwich crumbs but as I tried to grab hold and pull it out,….it shifted. Not one to let a crumb – or a gaggle of them – get the best of me, I kept grabbing at them and trying to pull them out.

Suddenly my arm started tickling horribly and I reached over to scratch it only to discover that I had ants invading where no ant should ever be allowed to go!

With one fall swoop throwing caution and modesty to the wind, I tore off my clothes and danced around naked in a rather hasty and uncouth version of a Polynesian slap dance.

After assuring myself that I’d eradicated every little creepy bugger from my personal being, I looked up through my basement window as I was heading to get the vacuum and noticed that a group of neighbors was watching me from outside at street level.

They had the most interesting looks on their faces – something between what-the-crud-is-she-doing and I’m-glad-I’m-not-that-stupid!

For the first time in my life, I understood why Adam and Eve ran to hide when they realized they were naked and grabbed anything – including a dirty old fig leaf – to shield themselves from peering eyes and years of ridicule.

Later that week after the blush of shame had disappeared from 9/10ths of my body, my good friend from down the street called. She gave me the wise bit of advice that is today’s “Life Saver”;

“Stace,” she said, “A man who lives in a glass house should change in the basement,…..unless the basement has windows, in which case, spare us all and close the drapes first!”

If only the ants would’ve heeded that advice and given me the luxury to do so. So many could’ve been spared the sight of watching me wiggle and jiggle as I tried to get the ants out of my pants and I wouldn’t have had to move to a bigger house that had the foundation sealed by an exterminator and drapes installed before I moved in.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lighten up, or you'll be over come by the dark force

My son recently decided that he wanted to run for student body president which is not normally a problem. But when I asked him what the timeline was to accomplish the campaign of all campaigns, the conversation went something like this…

Friday Evening…..
My son - “Hey, Mom, will you sign these release forms for me?”

Me - “What are they for?”

My son - “I’m running for SBO President for next year.”

Me - “Can you handle that with everything you are already involved in?”

My son - “Oooooh, sure! It just takes good time management and refusing to procrastinate. By the way, I need eight posters, twenty handouts, a speech and a twelve foot banner. I figured that since you were so good at stuff like this, it’d be no problem for you to help me out.”

Me - My eyes go wide as I looked at my to do list that I was already ten days behind on. “And when do you need all of these items by?”

My son - “Monday morning at 6am.”

Me - “I was afraid of that….”

And so I got to work designing the campaign of a lifetime. I was so into creating a dynamic crusade, that I forgot one very important element – the assistance of my son.

My buttons were witty! My banner kicked booty! My posters were polished and snazzy and the speech, well let’s just say Obama’s wit and magnetism would’ve suffered in comparison had he been speaking opposite me.

My son – “Uh,….mom?”

Me – “What, I’m in the middle of writing my speech!”

My son – “Don’t you mean my speech???”

Me – “Wha…? Oh yeah. That’s what I mean. But I've got to get it done so I can,…I mean we can practice, practice, practice! I want it to go off without a hitch!”

He then got a little scared at the glint in my eye. The thoughts of ruling the school through one of my offspring was obviously going to my head.

My son – “Are you doing this for me or to make up for the year you didn’t make the drill team?”

Me – “You know about that?”

My son - “Mom, everyone knows about that. You still scream about the injustices of it in your sleep.”

Me – “Oh. But this could be my, I mean our chance! We just need the right opportunity! I know we’re wired for success, honey! Think of what we could do and the records we could break!!!!”

That is when the wisdom of youth put things back into perspective for me and helped me plod on with my vision and a dream.

“Mom,” he said looking deep into my bloodshot eyes and gave me today’s ‘Life Saver’,
“Be careful, all power corrupts.” He then popped my last bit of beef jerky into his mouth, took my last swig of Crystal Light and then slapped me on the back while grinning that most captivating grin, “But we need the electricity. Glad you have the energy. Hopefully I can wave to you from the winner’s stand. I love you 'watts'!”

Isn’t it fun living vicariously through our children?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"I want a divorce!" said the elephant to the ass..,

I have spent the better part of my years (I won’t lie, ALL of my years) surrounded by conservative people which have helped shape my views on America and the Democratic process.

I have my opinions, and usually am not one to flaunt them. But I just could not resist this little gem that came from my dear Aunt in Arizona since I as of late, feel so overwhelmed by the liberal tone that seems to think spending trillions of dollars in other countries and on pork barrel entitlements will somehow fix what is going on here at home. If we have to spend trillions, then why for heavens sake, can’t that money go to the citizens, who by the sweat of their brow, have heretofore keep our economy alive?

And since I am in the minority but still love the freedoms of this country and the ideals of Democracy, this brings me to today’s “Life Saver”;

Democracy is three wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

And now for your reading enjoyment…..;-)

DIVORCE AGREEMENT

Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Obama supporters, et al:

We have stuck together since the late 1950's, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has run its course. Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way.

Here is a model separation agreement:

Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass each taking a portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy! Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.

We don't like redistributive taxes so you can keep them. You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU. Since you hate guns and war, we'll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA and the military. You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnell (You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them).

We'll keep the capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart and Wall Street. You can have your beloved homeless, homeboys, hippies and illegal aliens. We'll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO's and rednecks. We'll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood .

You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we'll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us. You can have the peaceniks and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we'll help provide them security.

We'll keep our Judeo-Christian values.. You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism and Shirley McClain. You can also have the U.N. but we will no longer be paying the bill.

We'll keep the SUVs, pickup trucks and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find.

You can give everyone healthcare if you can find any practicing doctors. We'll continue to believe healthcare is a luxury and not a right. We'll keep The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the National Anthem. I'm sure you'll be happy to substitute Imagine, I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing, Kum Ba Ya or We Are the World.

We'll practice trickle down economics and you can give trickle up poverty your best shot. Since it often so offends you, we'll keep our history, our name and our flag.

Would you agree to this? If so, please pass it along to other like minded liberal and conservative patriots and if you do not agree, just hit delete. In the spirit of friendly parting, I'll bet you ANWAR which one of us will need whose help in 15 years.

Sincerely,

John J. Wall
Law Student and an American

P.S. Also, please take Barbara Streisand & Jane Fonda with you.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Calling Kujo to strike down the young hearts of foolish old dogs

Kersten Campbell, author of Confessions of a Completely In-Sane Mother, is a woman after my own heart! Her book of quick witted essays on motherhood had me laughing until my sides hurt because I could relate to so many of them!!! The titles alone (Booby-Trapped, Zen and the Art of Zucchini, Alice in Mormonland, Hope and Schemes Oops, I Lost the Baby and Sew What?) are enough to make you want to laugh

But the one that brought back memories and immediately sent me once again tripping through the past was one called Older but Dimmer. It discusses in such glaring reality the gap between those of our children’s generation and our own.

It didn’t take me long to remember a time when I had wanted to reclaim my youth and show the younger generation that I was till hip. (Is that even still a word – oh,…no my son verified it, if you are cool you are now sic…)

On a dark October night I took a large group of teens (my brother, his friends and a few of my younger cousins) up to the Salt Lake City Cemetery and prepped them for a night full of ghostly fun by telling them one whopper of a story about the first caretaker who’d died mysteriously after burying someone who had been a dead ringer and found a wee bit too late..

For those who do not know the tale behind this old saying, it dates back to the turn of the 18th century when sickness, paralysis or a comatose state could make a person appear as dead. The fear was that they’d be buried alive and so to remedy this, if a mistake happened, they’d string a cord from the coffin to a bell planted in the ground above the supposed corpse. If it rang, the person was said to be a “dead ringer” and was exhumed immediately. If they saw someone who looked just like the person buried, they were also to have been called a dead ringer since the person obviously couldn’t be dead and was still walking around.

Back to my story – So I set this gaggle of adrenaline crazed youth up for the scare of a lifetime enjoying every delicious minute of it. I drove them by a house and told them that on the anniversary of the dead ringer’s death, his ghost could be seen on moonless nights in the attic of the old caretaker’s clapboard house stocking him and still looking to find justice from his troubled state beyond. (It’s amazing how the power of suggestion works at times…)

After “seeing” the shadows of the ghost in someone’s clapboard house that was in serious need of repair, my young friends wanted to see the exact grave of the “dead – ringer”. I had remembered a grave that looked like a door way with bars and an old bowl set deep into it with a bell hung right above it. It was perfect!

After spinning my tale a bit more, Chainsaw (a nickname,… but yes, that is what he went by) mentioned in a tone that was casual yet made higher by nerves, that he was starting to itch. He began twitching and itching at a rather dramatic rate which worried me since he is highly allergic to only one thing – animals.

“But there are no animals around! Unless of course you count Chavez over there – his hair is pretty long…”

Then what’s that coming towards us?”

It was about that time that we heard a rather distinctive snarling as the fiercest-looking Doberman Pincher I’d ever seen barreled towards us. And on his heels were two more.

They looked at me like I was the wise one. Were they daft???? As if I could direct them anywhere - I’d planned this whole night on a youthful and uncharacteristic whim!

“What’re you looking at me for? Run, you idiots!”

They did and I was left alone realizing that my aging body could not quite keep up with their youth, vigor and more nimble knees. And since I was on my own, I ran with all I had hoping for life and limb that I could make it to the fence before that dang dog could tear me apart1

As I barely managed to scale the fence with Kujo nipping at my backside, I limped to the car smiling. I had finally answered one of life’s biggest questions (and today’s “Life Saver”;

I now understand how a cemetery can raise its burial charges and blame it on the cost of living - It’s because people like me need to regain their youth by hassling the dead and the new wave of caretakers needs an army of dogs to keep the idiots out.

If you need a good laugh, read Kersten’s book It’s sure to tickle your funny bone!

When it rains,.... the dishes don't get clean

I’ve come to learn - and expect - that when it rains it pours.

And so when my cousin called to ask if she, her husband and her family could come stay for a few days, it was a call that invariably meant that something in the house would break. For days before, I gingerly pushed the vacuum, ritualistically performed ‘Hail Marys’ over the washing machine and fed an extra helping of Drano to the kitchen sink.

Meanwhile, I was begging my son, Josh, to empty the dishwasher so I could load it again and keep up on the mound of dishes that seem to multiply like rabbits – or hangers - whichever overpopulates at an exponentially quicker rate at the moment.

He would whine and I’d use a broom to sweep him off his bed and back down to the kitchen. I’d come back a few hours later only to find that the dishwasher STILL hadn’t been emptied. I marched back upstairs with my broom ready to give him a good swift brush in the pants when he said, “I started to empty it but the dishwasher never got turned on so I put them back.”

“Did you turn it on then?”
“Uhhh,….I thought so.”
“Get downstairs and empty it then!!!” I said in my best exasperated mother’s tone before turning my broom on end and poked him with a pretend bayonet before heading off to make sure the toilets were running correctly.

Two hours later, I went back to the kitchen only to find that the dishes still weren’t unloaded. “I’ll show that lazy, good for,….. aaarggh!” I grumbled as I re-rinsed the dishes and turned on the dishwasher before scurrying off to make sure the freezer wasn’t building an insurmountable ice dam.

Two hours later, I hollered up the stairs. “Get your fanny down here and empty the dishwasher! I know I turned it on so you can’t put it off any longer, Mister!!!” As he passed by me, he grumbled something illegible so I ignored him like I usually do when he mumbles about having to do chores. I am after all his mother trying to teach a sense of responsibility – and he is 15.

I watched from behind the wall with a smirk on my face as he emptied the dishwasher. Mom had prevailed yet again – or so I thought. As I was getting the plates out, I noticed dried on gunk where the corndogs ought to go. I immediately marched upstairs to confront my errant son and find the meaning of his willful anarchy.

“But I did as you said and emptied the dishwasher.”
“Didn’t the dishes look clean?”
“No but you were hell bent on having it done, so I did it!”
“Well now, you smart little pup, you get to load it with all those dishes you apparently never rinsed in the first place.”

And then my husband called.

“What’s up?”
“I’m arguing with Josh, over loading the dishwasher again.”
“Oh. About the dishwasher, I forgot to tell you that it’s broken. I think the pump went out and it’s not shooting any water upward.”

My face went a shade paler as I turned towards my son.

“He told you the dishwasher was broken didn’t he? That’s what I tried to tell you hours ago when you told me to unload it again!!!”

Mothers are a smart bunch and we know better than to make ourselves vulnerable to sons who tower over them. It’s all about positional authority once they start to grow and so I looked him in the eye and defiantly said, “Well consider the run around as payback for all the hell you put me through the first four years of your life!” I then swept some crumbs off his dresser onto the floor and marched down the hall.

I wasn’t sure if my confidence came across as genuine or not since I was thinking to myself what has become today’s “Life Saver”;

Never argue with a stupid person because when you do, they will drag you down to their level.

I still haven’t figured out if that more aptly describes him or me – but I’m pretty sure I’ll soon find out the answer if I argue with him long enough.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Spacey Stacy Does it Again

As of late, frazzled has become a part of my character.

I’ve been swamped with editing, writing, preparing presentations, running school government campaigns, painting my basement and keeping up with soccer and hockey schedules. My husband recently told me that I make Taz look like he’s going in slow motion,....times eight.

Much to my shame over the knowledge of my sons’ grumbling stomachs but lacking the timely resources to cope better, dinner, as of late, has consisted of whatever I could get through the nearest drive through or out of a bag of Wal-Mart trail mix.

The trail mix has become the meal of choice since a double fisted serving consists of enough protein (nuts), natural sugars and starches (fruit, crackers and pretzels) and fiber (raisons or craisons) to marginally meet the daily USDA nutrition guides. And there’s no clean up since the dog will happily scrounge for any leftovers that have fallen between and under the seats.

So you can understandably see why, when the other day, the smell of chocolate brownies wafted down to my office, I immediately raced to the kitchen to see who had done this marvelous thing and actually baked something in the oven – the appliance heretofore being used as a dryer for wet sneakers.

There stood my husband and three sons with a look of confusion which turned into countenances of rapture when I raced up the stairs and yanked the oven open.

“Finally, she remembered how to use it,” caustically remarked Josh.

“Don’t count on it, I watched Maison put his shoes in there less than an hour ago,” whispered Mitch not daring to hope.

Ignoring my permanent peanut gallery, I checked on the shoes and then turned to every hiding spot in the kitchen as I riffled through trying to find the stash of chocolate decadence. I was hungry. I hadn’t eaten since lunch the day before.

“Okay, where’d you hide ‘em? Come on, give it up! I know one of you hooligans broke into my recipe file and created a covert batch of chocolate something or another. I’m not backing down so you ‘d better fess up!!!” I said as I looked directly into each and every one of their guilty eyeballs with a finger popping them on the ends of their noses just for good measure.

My husband choked. “What,…..oh you mean,…..what,…we???” He began to laugh as he went for a banana and a cup’o pudding.

After holding them captive and using every interrogation trick in the book while scouring the kitchen looking for a square of chocolate sin, I noticed the burning candle next to the bread box. Earlier that morning, knowing I wouldn’t have time to clean, I’d lit the dang thing in a futile effort to hide the smells and stenches I didn’t have time to unearth and vanquish. I should’ve looked at the label before torching it.

It said, “Essence of Chocolate Bunt Cake”

I turned and smiled ever so sweetly at my lost looking sons. “False alarm, gang. I know I’ve been a bit spacey lately so how ‘bout I make it up to you? Get your sneakers out of the oven. I’ll let you choose the tonight’s drive through and I’ll even buy dessert for you too!!!”

Mitch who has always been too smart for his own good, rushed over to look where my line of vision had been before my demeanor and attitude changed. He too looked at the candle before shaking his head in disgust and putting his arm around my shoulder.

Despite all my flaws, I knew I’d done something right when he looked at me with compassion and gave me today’s “Life Saver”;

“Mom, try to remember - space can be a dangerous place, especially if it’s between your ears!”

He then grabbed his shoes and ducked around the corner to go hide my “Essence of Banana Bread” candle.

I smiled gratefully after him and pondered the moment. If you can’t find your way to a boy’s heart with food, then try to kill him with kindness. And if that doesn’t work, combine the two and you can get away with murder!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Eggs-tra! Eggs-tra! I Eggs-ort you to join me for a couple of Egg-cellant Adventures!!!

Easter is in a week and so along that vein, I figured I’d hop to it and get a jump start on eggs-ploiting the season.

Those who know me best know I am an egg–strodinary person. I’m not ‘yolkin’ folks! I will go the eggs-tra mile for friend and sometimes,… even foe. But that is only because I have managed by the grace of God and a few lucky stars to surround myself with eggs-ceptional people. That brings me to today’s “Life Saver”;

A friend is someone who thinks you’re a good egg even though you’re slightly cracked.

And so when I had the opportunity to take part in a couple of events this weekend, I jumped at the chance to eggs-pose myself to even more egg-strordinary people and a bounteous egg-cesses of bunnylicious loot! And these eggs-travaganzas are not eggs-clusive to the book worm types alone. No – there will be prizes and activities for the children that will leave them eggs-hausted after eggs-pending so much egg-cess energy thus later allowing mom to go home and eggs-perience the world of take-me-away books!

And if after that paragraph of presumptuous puns, you were eggs-pecting anything other than a couple of book signing events where you can meet your favorite authors, you must be a true basket case!

Here’s more information on the ‘hoppy’ proceedings;

The Pleasant Grove Library is hosting their annual Book Festival Fundraiser! On April 3rd, 2009 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Pleasant Grove Library, Provident Book and Humdinger Toys, Scholastic books, and fourteen authors are uniting together and selling their books and other merchandise to help raise funds for the Pleasant Grove Library. There will be author readings, door prizes, music, and more!

“We will have plenty to do for the whole family,” said Julie Coulter Bellon, the event’s organizer. “That should eyolk,…oops,…er,…..I mean evoke a hare of non-sugar induced eggs-citment!”

“With economic conditions the way they are, the library needs all the support and help it can get so our community will continue to have the services we've enjoyed in the past. All the proceeds from the Festival will go toward our library and its programs,” she said.

They are eggs-pecting a bevy of children who can eggs-cavate even the best kept deals from authors since apparently, toothless grinning children are eggs-ceptional for melting the hearts of moms-by-day and author-by-night personalities.

Some of the authors appearing are: Rachel Ann Nunes, Julie Coulter Bellon, J. Scott Savage, Tristi Pinkston, Julie Wright, GG Vandagriff, Suzanne V. Reese, H.B. Moore, Christy Hardman, Jewel Adams, Rebecca Shelley, Elodia Strain, Anne Bradshaw, and Stacy Gooch Anderson.

And if mom wants to run away by herself, then Saturday’s Night Out for Ladies at Provident Book, also in Pleasant Grove, is the time to do it! That event will be held from 6pm to 8pm on Saturday night and authors appearing there will be Stacy Gooch Anderson, Michele Ashman Bell, Julie Bellon, Janet Burningham, Terri Ferran, Kristen Landon and Tristi Pinkston.

“I love event’s like these,” said Karlene Brownig, an owner at Provident Book. “It gives me fuzzies to see all of those ladies scrambling with excitement (she really means eggs-citement) as they get to meet some of their favorite authors!”

Ad since they want people to be ‘hoppy’ they came, they will be giving away door prizes every fifteen minutes all through out the night!

Now that you know about them, surely you must agree that these events should eggs-ceed all eggs-pectations and add to the eggs-huberance of those awaiting the fluffy one (And no,…I don’t mean me…;-))

(Some creative license was taken while writing these interviews since technically the author did not interview the interviewees,….but you get the point.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Baggage We Carry...

I’m convinced that for most of my adult life, I’ve been allergic to food. Every time I’d eat it, I’d break out into fat.

I kept trying to lose weight but for some reason unbeknownst to me, it kept finding me! Despite all my efforts to NOT become the prototype for the new BYU Barbie circulating around my high school (you put a ring on her finger and her thighs blow up), marriage, lack of finances and kids took a toll and even diets and exercise (that handle on my recliner does constitute as an exercise device,…right?) couldn’t help after twenty years.

I knew it was bad when even in my dreams, I was hiding behind muumuus and baggy sweats. I went from being the toast at my almamater to eating toast with butter and gobs of jam to drown the depression of lost youth and beauty.

But worse than my outward appearance was the baggage I continued to hang onto internally. Hiding behind a wall of fat was a LOT more comfortable than facing the demons of unwanted attention and the guilt I harbored and had strived to hide my whole life. Besides (or should I say butt-sides), the permanent cushion I packed around on my backside was quite cozy too!

But when I finally had to face those inner issues and resolve them, something interesting happened. I had a desire to exorcise (I still wasn’t sure about exercise) the chains that held my physical body at bay. I turned to surgery and pretty soon, my outer body began to reflect the lightness I was feeling on the inside.

This does have a point.

Recently I had the opportunity to return back to my high school so I could turn in enrollment papers for my son who has chosen to be sophomore there next year. Although I was not quite back to my former svelte self weight wise, I was back to where I needed to be emotionally.

Or so I thought.

I had just returned from the hairdresser who’d given me a sassy, springy, youthful do and was wearing a new outfit I’d had my fashionably literate sister help me pick out. I was feeling quite good about myself as I headed down to the counseling center until a shadow from a rather large Polynesian swooped over me. I started to walk a little faster and he did the same. It was then, as my history clashed with my present (namely thinner thighs which I was still uncomfortable with) that I thought of my first “Life Saver”;


Fat people are harder to kidnap.

When I saw the drinking fountain, I made a beeline for it and hoped that my large friend would pass on by. He didn’t. He stood right behind me and in a smooth voice with post-pubescent seductiveness said, “I haven’t seen you around here lately. What’re ya doing this Friday?”

I choked on my water and then smiled as I slowly turned around. “I’ll be spending it with my two teenage sons and my husband. But thank you for asking.”

He stuttered and said in a rather contrite voice that instantly shot up a few octaves, “Sorry, Mam.”

Feeling much lighter and realizing that a quick set of male footsteps does not have to mean disaster, I genuinely smiled and told him. “Don’t be. You just made my day.”

It’s nice to know that although the baggage of the past will still make me want to run and hide at times, I can face the future with optimism knowing that a sassy haircut, a new outfit and a lot less baggage will take years off (at least a couple of decades!!) one’s life….