Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lumpy Features and other Christmas Highlights

Well the rush of shopping, wrapping, baking, and shopping some more has finally ended. Yesterday I cleaned a mountain of dishes, pans, wrapping paper and ribbons. Today my favorite part of the holidays begins - the part where I get to sit around and relax while the children enjoy their new toys. I thought we'd never get here.

Since I finally have a quiet moment to get reacquainted with the concept of sitting, I thought I'd share a few of this year's Christmas highlights for the Reese family.

Christmas Memory Number One: The family was gathered a few evenings ago with the plan of playing a game. Worn out from our day's festivities, no one volunteered to make the trek downstairs to select a game. So we opted for Twenty Questions, the Christmas version. Nat stumped us with the word Toy Soldier, then I did just as well with Snowflake. Brandon's word, however, was guessed in just three tries. What are the odds? "Is it bigger than a breadbox?" Yes. "Smaller than a mountain?" No. "Is it Santa's Workshop?"

The game started to derail with Whitney's word selection: North Pole. Not the place. An actual pole.

"That's not even real!" her father shouted.
"It's in a movie! I saw it!"
"That doesn't make it real! You can't use imaginary objects!" (Faces were red, tension was high.)
"So you're saying I can't use Rudolph? Or Frosty? What about Santa? Are you saying I can't use Santa just because I've only seen him in a movie?"

We thought that ended the argument. Whitney won. The North Pole--the pole, not the place--is a legal word. But not one to give up easily, Dad's next word choice not only stumped us, but brought the game to a screeching halt: Santa's Pet Squid.

Christmas Memory Number Two: We got Brandon a karaoke machine for Christmas. If you know Brandon, or have followed this blog, you know what a perfect gift that is for him. Later that day he told me I was the best mom possible. Not just the best mom. Or the best mom ever. But the best mom POSSIBLE. Can't top that.

Christmas Memory Number Three: Santa brought the soon-to-be grandbaby a Winnie-the-Pooh play mat for Christmas. It features all the Pooh favorites - Eeyore, Piglet, Roo - as well as some lesser knowns, like the elephant Lumpy.

In fact, the box proudly proclaims: With Lumpy features in the Pooh Garden.

If that didn't make you laugh, you need to read it again.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Do you tell your real age?

I had a birthday yesterday. I love birthdays. A year older never has made me sad. Probably something to do with having cheated death a couple of times. I'm always just happy that I got one more year out of the bargain.

I celebrated by leading my church choir in our annual Christmas program. There were a few glitches, but none of them involved me and a legendary fall off the stage while conducting (again), so I can't complain.

There's something about birthdays and aging that I just don't get. Maybe one of you can help me figure it out. Here's the thing. Based on my picture above (about two years old) if I were to tell you I just turned 29, you'd probably think one of two things:

A. LIAR!
B. Whoah. 29? Are you kidding me? What happened? Those years have NOT been kind.

BUT, if I were to tell you I just turned 59, you would probably think something like:
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? 59? WOWZERS! What's your secret? You look AMAZING!

So, given the two different reactions, why does everyone go around claiming to be 29?

By the way - As you probably guessed, I'm neither of those. How old, you ask? I don't suppose you'd believe 69? =)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Contest Winner and Phase Two Begins!

I have been smacked in the face with real life during the holidays, and as a result haven't posted the contest winner of phase one. I am so sorry. I won't go into details about the last five days, since I'll either bore you to tears or make you think I'm lying. Let's just say it involves: a constipated dog, a kid with mono, another with a cold, a wedding anniversary, my husband's birthday, a church Christmas party, a family party, a family member's baptism, a choir program (that I'm directing), and a marathon shopping day. Whew.

But - I have not forgotten the contest! And that there is a winner! This morning I put all the names in a bowl - there were a lot of them I'm happy to say - and as I did I one-by-one kept thinking "I hope it's her" "oh I hope it's her" "oh no, I want it to be her". I think I did that with every contestant for one reason or another. Which made it a given that I would be so happy when I drew the name (other than feeling bad it couldn't be all of you.)

Anyway...the winner, chosen at random, is my good friend Cathleen Rackley. Cathleen is an incredible lady - I don't know how much she would want me to share on this blog, so I'll just say that she's a walking story waiting to be told, and an amazing example to anyone she meets of making the best out of the worst life has to offer. She has also been a great supporter of my work, even before she knew anything about it. There was that time she did reminded me of Kathy Bates and the movie Misery right before warning me that I better not have killed off the good guy. I think that was followed by wicked laughter. (I'm loosening my collar right now.)

But seriously, congrats Cathleen! You deserve it.

And it's not too late to win more prizes. Just write read the book, write a review, and share. Details are here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wow! Talk About Amazing Friends!

I'm speechless today. Grateful. Tearful. Thanks to all of you who showed such amazing support yesterday. As I feared might happen, Amazon is still showing that they're 2 to 3 weeks out in the shipping, and they didn't put the book on sale like my publisher asked them to. I so wanted to run around saying "don't do it! wait!"

But that's kind of impossible in cyberspace, so I held my breath and waited, feeling guilty that I'd asked people to make a purchase under such inhospitable circumstances.

And then I did what I have to admit was one of my "Yes, this proves she's an idiot moments." At twelve noon I started watching Amazon closely, refreshing every minute or so. The sales rank number was ridiculous. I didn't write it down (wish I had, just for laughs) but it was approx. 7,000,000. Yep, seven millionth in sales.

So I start refreshing, waiting for that number to change, and it doesn't. Over and over again. I start to feel sad. Having a party and nobody's here. I blow on my virtual party horn. A sad little tune. I do this for a full fifteen minutes. Start consoling myself: I didn't send out reminders. They didn't mark the price down. Won't guarantee it by Christmas.

But NOBODY? Come on!

Then it dawns on me. Mr. Publisher Man told me they recalculate every hour. It's not going to show a difference for a full hour. Maybe not for a full day if it's only a little blip. So I walked away. It was hard, but I did it. Checked back in an hour.

Wowser! It had jumped from a rank of seven millionth to #130,148! The next hour got even better: #29,048. By the third hour it was at #11,277.

The number has fallen since then, back into the range of the second hour, and it will continue to fall. And I don't know how many sales that represents. But it does put me up into the world of respectable books. Gives me a jumpstart that would have been impossible to reach any other way.

I still feel so guilty about asking you to buy a book at full price with slow shipping right before Christmas (especially one written by an author who's part-idiot). But I'm just floored that so many of you did.

Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you!

And in case you're wondering - I'll be announcing the winner of phase one soon!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Big Day!

Well, the day has finally come! Twenty-six years with my hunky husband, and target date for purchasing Where Hearts Prosper. Twelve noon mst. If you haven't heard (and where have YOU been?) A bunch of sales in that hour will boost my rankings, so if you're going to get it, that's the time. Amazon still hasn't received that shipment, or at least they haven't updated the site. I'm still watching anxiously. But don't believe the note that says they are 2-3 weeks out for shipping, because that will change as soon as the books arrive in their warehouse - which should be any second now. At the same time, don't count on it if you're planning on Christmas gifts. Email me instead and I'll do my best to get one to you.

Enough about that - that twenty-six years thing is even better, don't you think? A cute little friend of mine is getting married today, and we were asked to write words of advice on a card at her wedding shower.

I wrote: FLIRT!

Yes, that's my advice. Don't stop, not matter how many decades pass. They say that it's impossible to be depressed while running. Well, I say it's impossible to be annoyed with your hubby while flirting.

Speaking of which, mine is eating breakfast right now, and it's our anniversary, so I've got to go practice. Twenty six years and he still makes me twitterpated!

See you at noon!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Party Plans

You know how whenever you plan a big party, things never go quite as planned? Like at your wedding when the baker shows up with a cake so ugly that your mom writes a pretty note in caligraphy to put on the cake table that says Don't worry. The bride hates it too. (True story. Thanks for watching my back Mom.) Or when you give a baby shower for your neighbor and the little mom goes into labor an hour before the party? (True again.)

Well, with my track record I should know better than to plan anything. I've got what feels like the whole world showing up on Amazon to buy my book tomorrow at noon, (my traffic numbers are through the roof - thanks to all of you!) but as of right now, it is still not in stock. (Heavy Sigh.)

The shipment is on the way to Amazon, and that note that says they ship in two to three weeks should disappear any second now. BUT if you are planning on buying books as a Christmas gift, and the note is still there tomorrow, please don't place the order. Just email me and I'll make sure you get the books before Christmas. (info @ suzannevreese.com)

Meanwhile, I'm crossing my fingers and toes that the shipment arrives before the party, since a note from my mom won't cut it this time.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Can You Top That?

As you know, I'm having a contest. It's easy to enter - just spread the word about my new book. The exact boring details are on my website for your reading pleasure.

Over the weekend I received a submission from a lady who has become a definite front-runner for my grand prize $100 Amazon Gift Card. Her blog is the Petticoat Posse Roundup and she had some way nice things to say.

You'll have to go to her blog to see it all, but here's an example. In response to some excuses for not indulging in a new book (namely mine) she says:

"I have bills therefore I work and the boss makes me do the work of 3 people therefore I am too tired to eat let alone indulge myself with a novel."


My response: Have a friend take a full body photo of you in your work clothing and then surf the net for a good deal on getting that photo turned into a lifesized cardboard cutout display JUST like they have at the video stores as movie displays. If you really want to trip your boss out get three of them made to make him think you literally cloned yourself in your loyalty to the company. Put it at your work station then spend your shift playing hookie hookie. At home, in bed reading "Where Hearts Prosper".

Great stuff! My whole family was engaged in hysterical laughter for a few minutes there.

A $100 gift card will be given away in January for the person who promotes my book in the most amazing way - determined totally by me. I've had some wonderful, amazing friends do wonderful, amazing things so far - can any of you top that?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Waiting for Winter

After spending my first fourteen years of life in California, then the next thirty or so in Utah, I've been known to grumble that I don't need any ">@#*! snow to put me in the Christmas spirit.

(Can you believe I just did a search for swearing symbols? I've never typed those before and had the worst time making them look right! I do, by the way, speak in those symbols. I have this wierd affliction that keeps me from using the actual words. But I digress...)

Given my lack of enthusiasm for anything cold, I have never before felt a need to associate snow with Christmas. And don't get me wrong. I love that I can still walk to pick up my son after school with just a light jacket. I totally don't mind that I can run to the mail box barefoot. It does not pain me at all that I don't have to shovel the driveway before pulling the car out.

But I have to admit that my Christmas tree, stockings, lights, our visiting elf Tiny, and the hundreds of santa statues, feel a little premature. Lonely even. Like we set them out way too early. Christmas couldn't possibly be in just three weeks could it? I can still walk to my son's school with just a light jacket for heaven's sake!

I guess I need to start thinking about Christmas cards, shopping, neighbor gifts and all that good stuff. But, I don't know, it just doesn't feel like there's any rush. Winter isn't even here yet.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Contest Contest Contest

In case you haven't heard (I feel like a broken record): Tell your friends to buy Where Hearts Prosper on December 11 and I'll enter you in a drawing to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

I talked to my publisher today because I noticed that my Amazon site says they can't get the book to people by Christmas, and several of you have said you're planning to buy it as Christmas gifts. He assured me that he'll have Amazon stocked up and prepared by the 11th so that the books can be shipped immediately.

He also apparently got all light-headed with the idea of hordes of people on Amazon buying one of his books in a single day, because after that he said the most hysterical thing ever.

Remember how I said in my last posting that Amazon ranks their book sales hourly for the bigwigs, but that we're not going to worry about them? Remember how I said we'll just worry about the rest of the books that get ranked daily? Well, Mr. Publisher says I should worry about the bigwigs. He says, and I quote: "You only have to sell 500 books in one hour to get ranked in the top 50."

After I pulled myself up off the floor (hysterical laughter will do that), I read it again, and it still said the same thing. Only 500 hundred books in one hour. Ha! Ha! Seriously, my goal is 50 for the entire day.

But Mr. Publisher says I should have confidence in my friends and give them a set hour to purchase the book. Because according to the Amazon Way, a bunch of purchases in one day is better than the same number in a week, but a bunch of purchases in an hour is better than the same number spread out over a day. And if by chance I do have a bunch of sales in one hour, I'll keep that ranking until some other book sells more than that number in a single hour (even if it has already sold a bazillion copies and sells a bazillion more, just not in a single hour).

So here it is, the official request: December 11, 2008, from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm is the date AND time to purchase Where Hearts Prosper from Amazon.
(If you don't make it in that hour don't sweat it, I won't even tell Mr. Publisher.)

And remember - I'm only asking you to buy the book on that date if you're going to do it anyway because you know and hopefully tolerate me, or maybe even just because the book looks interesting.

BUT what I REALLY need you to do is tell your friends about my book, this contest, and the December 11 target date. Either post a link to my website (http://suzannevreese.com) on a blog, or send out a few emails and be sure to include a reminder to purchase the book on the 11th (at noon) if they're going to do it anyway. Then send an email to contest@suzannevreese.com telling me how you spread the word and I'll enter you in that drawing. And tell your friends to do the same thing!

Because seriously, I don't have 500 friends. And Amazon is gonna be ticked at Mr. Publisher if they're stuck with all those books.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Party party party...

Today's the day I've been looking forward to for months. My books release date. Woo hoo! Thing is, other than the fact that my computer went whacko and is in cyber-surgery and I'm plunking away at my old backup, the day isn't different from any other. No parades, no ticker tape. But Where Hearts Prosper is available online, along with a bazillion other items, so I guess that's what counts.

If you're thinking of rushing out to buy it (I know there's a stampede) hold on to your little horses. It may be available today, but December 11 is MY date for purchasing it from Amazon. And there is a good reason for this random request, in case you're wondering.

Amazon ranks their books daily (unless you're one of the big kahunas, than its hourly, but we won't worry about that for this explanation). So this means that if you have a novel that sells, say, 49 books every day for ten years, you'll be outranked by a book that comes along and sells 50 books in one day, even if that book hasn't sold any until that time. And the new book will stay ahead of you in the rankings until the day that you manage to sell 50 books, even if you continue to sell 49 books every single day and the other newbie book sells zilch. I know it's kind of an odd system. But there it is.

So my goal is to have my friends show up on the 11th and buy 50 books (calm down, that's no all together, not each). That's not a bestseller, but it will make it look like one. (Kind of like that hunky soap doctor in the commercials.)

And just to make things fun - if you mention my book and post a link to my website: http://suzannevreese.com on your blog or website by the 10th, I'll enter you in a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card. Just drop me a line to let me know you've done it at contest @ suzannevreese.com.

Now excuse me while I go look for my party hat.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Contest Time! I need your help!




This is part of an email I'll be sending out to my friends. Since we're all friends here, please consider yourself invited to spread the word and win prizes! Send a message to five friends, or post something on your blog, and I'll enter you to win a $25 Amazon gift card. Just copy me or send the link to: contest @ suzannevreese.com. Even bigger prizes are available if you actually read the book and recommend it! Finally, one last favor to take note of: if you've decided to buy the book (just cause you love me or whatever) please do it ON DECEMBER 11 FROM AMAZON!

See my website for a preview or more info!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's All About ME! ME! ME!

I received a rejection letter yesterday from a blog referral site. They said I hadn't been here enough for them to put my link on their site. There are no hard feelings. I know it's true. Only twice last month and once so far this month. Bad me. Bad, bad me.

Part of that is because I've been crazy-busy getting ready to be an author-type person.

The other, I have to admit, is really lame. But here it goes, true confessions. I read a comic strip a while back that referred to bloggers as narcissists. Now, I'm not usually one to care what others think of me. Obviously. I'd probably do my hair and makeup every day if did. Maybe even buy new clothes every once in a while instead of wearing my daughter's rejects. I'd definitely work on reducing my embarrassing moments quotient. But the word narcissist struck a chord with me - a sour one. I won't go into detail about why, but I have good reason.

So every time I've started to blog since then, I've decided that whatever I have to say about ME! ME! ME! just isn't all that important. Because, hey, I AM NO NARCISSIST!

So I'll try to get over this phobia and be better about keeping the blog up-to-date. If there's anything worse than being called a narcissist, it would have to be getting rejected. Because that means somebody doesn't love me! And they have to love me! Please, please, please love me!

See? I am sooo not a narcissist.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Edit-itis

I'm wondering if I'm the only one who suffers from this particular malady? I have a stack of books next to my bed, another in a basket by the couch, and yet another in the bathroom. All of them are perfectly reasonable books, some better than others, but none horrendously written. Yet they all have one thing in common - I've only gotten through a few chapters before giving up.

I usually love reading. But because I'm in the editing stages of two novels, I can't seem to shake this rather serious case of edit-itis. I'll jump into a new novel, excited about the upcoming adventure, but then instead of thinking about the story I'm thinking: "Author intrusion!" "Two pages of narrative summary? Come on! Cut...cut...cut!" "Telling, telling, telling. Show me something!"

It's not that these authors are bad...it's just that my brain can't stop looking for the defects in their writing. And the pleasure has been sucked out of the reading. In fact, I'm getting pretty good at Sudoku, since that's where I usually end up in my brief moments of downtime. J.K. Rowling is the only author I've found so far that I've been able to get through without the disease kicking in.

So I'm curious. Does anyone else suffer from this rather serious malady? Is there any hope? Any suggestions? Any other authors whose writing is immune? Help!

My Ninja


I do realize I have five children. Maybe six. I'm never sure if I should count my son-in-law in that number - on the one hand he's a fine young man that I'm pleased to have as part of the family, and I wouldn't want him feeling slighted by being left out; but on the other hand, saying I have six feels like I'm trying to take credit for raising a child I didn't raise. Some day maybe I'll ask him, if I'm thinking about it when it's not five o'clock in the morning. But I digress...whether I have five or six, I only have one who currently jumps in front of a camera lens or microphone at every opportunity. So if it looks like I'm playing favorites - well, the blame lies with them. And so here he is...my ninja.

I'm kicking myself, however, for not getting pictures of my 18-year-old this Halloween. There are pictures out there somewhere, just not on my camera. She and three of her friends spent most of the day working out costumes - that was after weeks of planning. They floated up to the house at close to ten o'clock: four decked out prom dresses that represented the four seasons - not the music group. One had a white dress with hair painted white and sticking straight out, another was in a yellow-sequined dress with sunflowers, another a brown gown wrapped in leaves, and my Whit was decked out in a flowing light blue with tulips. They were all coated in glitter. They did go to a couple of houses and ask for candy, just to say they did, but mostly they just did it for the fun of it.

Considering they could have just as easily been part of the group that left splattered pumpkin carcasses all over the road - once again I'm thinking what a lucky mom I am.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My New Author Website! Woo Hoo!

Here it is at last! Check out my new website! SuzanneVReese.com

It's a work in progress, but it's a start.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Home!



Here's what I haven't done in the week and a half since my son arrived home: written, edited, blogged. Here's what I have done: talked, laughed, hugged, hiked, talked, watched movies (two years worth), played board games, frisbee golf, speedmitton. I could go on, but you get the idea. Yesterday somebody asked me if we've done anything special since Daniel got home, and I said yes, everything has been special.

His homecoming has been marvelous beyond works - unexpectedly, surprisingly wonderful. In many ways I don't even recognize him. But in all ways I love having him home: safe, sound and all grown up!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Title Change

I just heard from my editor that my book has received a new title. It's actually the second change, but I didn't publicize the first because...let's just say I wasn't wild about it. But my editor went to bat for me, and I'm cringing at the thoughts of the bruises she may have suffered in my behalf, but she convinced them to put it back on the bargaining table.

So...Still Here...briefly turned Cypress Storm...has become...

Where Hearts Prosper.

(Thank you, thank you...hold your applause.)

PLEASE don't say anything if you liked Cypress Storm better (okay, go ahead and tell me, I'd really be curious, a little mortified maybe, but curious).

But I'm pleased with the final choice - the book is set in the tiny town of Prosper, Arizona, so it seems especially fitting, and hopefully a couple of people will also like it, at least enough that I'm not embarrassed to death by the sales numbers.

The release date is now December 1st, so think Christmas!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gushing!

1. My Sunshine Girl had her first ultrasound today. She reports that Baby is singular, healthy, and a mover. She laughed when I asked if that meant the baby wiggled. "Most babies wiggle," she says (a proud Mama already). "This baby kicks, kicks, kicks, kicks, kicks. The head was on top when we started, and at the bottom when we finished." She was appropriately nervous about what this might mean about Baby's personality, but I think it just means that she's gonna get plenty bruised in the next few months, and then Baby is going to arrive with the same bright and happy personality of his/her Momma. I am so ready for that.

2. My Elder touches down on Draper soil TWO WEEKS FROM TODAY!!! That pretty much speaks for itself.

3. On Monday, my Natalie did me the honors of typing the words THE END at the bottom of my young adult paranormal romance, Perfectly Normal.

And as you can imagine, today I am gushing!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Why I Had My Smooshy Face



If there was ever a moment when I wondered why I decided to have another kid after my other four were more than half-way done growing up, my smooshy-face little cutie answered it this morning. (Not that I'm admitting I have, I'm just saying if, especially now that I'm looking at the prospect of being a grandma while still in the mommy business.) He was reading the comics while eating his breakfast, like he does every morning, and he pointed out the 'Baby Blues' comic strip to his dad. The sister in the strips asks her little brother what three things he'd take with him to survive on a desert island, and he says "That's easy, food, water, and mom." Then my little Brandon says, "Duh. Who wouldn't take those things?"

And that's why I had him. The cutie pie.

Expecting!

Not me, thank goodness. I get to do it the easy way this time!!! I've added a ticker to the right - now that I'm free to announce my big news! I'm gonna be a grandma!! Woo hoo!! My beautiful baby girl is going to have one of her own. Life doesn't get any better than that!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Youtube Debut




My Whit put this together, a first video for both of them. She was sooo sick of the song by the time she got done, but it shows how much she loves her little bro. He's talked in a dreamy voice about the day he can make it onto Youtube (it's so sweet when they're naive like that.) At least this is one dream I can make come true!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

No Pity Party for me

Okay, this is the last of my quickie posts. Promise.

My missionary son has no sympathy for the fact that my a/c is broken. He says he doesn't even remember what a/c feels like, and at least it's not 110 here.

He's right, I know. I have no right to complain. The thought of him in that sweltering heat for two solid years really does make me physically hurt for him. I think about it every time I even start to grumble and it brings me up short.

So let me say in a little teeny voice that it may not be 110 degrees, but it's hot enough for a blasted wildfire to get out of control in the backyard. And I may not have to walk 25 miles a day, uphill both ways, (okay, I'm kidding with the uphill, but he does sometimes do the 25 mile thing, makes me want to cry...I can't even imagine) BUT (Oops, that mother sensitivity thing almost made me lose my train of thought, and this is me not complaining, not me sympathizing...anyway...) my knee is in a brace and sore and the kitchen and laundry room are upstairs but the only cool room is downstairs so I either have to stay in the heat or keep going back and forth on the stairs with a stiff achy leg and the repairman couldn't do anything today so I have to either spend the night on a concrete floor in the basement or in my hot bedroom and I can't sleep anyway because of the knee situation and we just got back from a week at Bear Lake and I haven't even unpacked and the kids started school yesterday, the day after we got home, so they've been too busy to be much help but I can't stand to be upstairs because of the heat even if I could move around on my knee so everything's just a disaster up there. Whew.

But I know it could be worse. Way worse. So I'm not complaining.

Really.

That was so lame!

The coolest thing happened while at Bear Lake, and it requires me tooting my horn, which I'm not good at but I guess I'm supposed to now that I'm some kind of author-type person. (as is obvious from the perfect grammarness of that sentence - and do NOT tell me grammarness is not a word, because I'm totally loving it.)

Anyway...

I've been working on my next manuscript - which is a TOTALLY different genre (young adult science fiction) I know, how on earth did I get there from inspirational fiction? I don't know, insanity maybe. But I'm loving it and loving my story. I should say TOTALLY loving it (as you can see, I'm getting into the young adult thing here.)

So, anyway, while at Bear Lake this past week my 16-y-o decided to read what I have so far - which is 12 of about 20 chapters. Now let me point out that she is mind-numbingly voracious with books. I mean, we're talking a stack of books every week from the library. And she's hard to please. She loves Twilight. And Inkheart. And Harry Potter. And Jane Austen. She has good taste, as you can see. The rest are mostly "okay" or "fine" or something similar.

So she gets through all 250 pages while I'm out on a hike. And when I get back I'm greeted with: THAT WAS SO LAME!!!

Let me tell you, that does not do my heart good. I like my story, it is sooo not lame.
What was wrong with it? I ask gently, trying to be the good, patient mom; not the sensitive ego-maniac author.

"I'm reading along", says she, "and it is SOOO GOOD. I mean it is really good. And I just want to know what happens, and then all of a sudden...IT STOPS!! It's like, not even written any more. Like there isn't even a story. IT JUST STOPS! IT WAS SO LAME!!!"

The next day, she saw me editing and groaned. "Why are you changing things? Just keep writing the story!"

That's my girl. Does my heart good.

Good News and Bad News on the STILL HERE Publishing Front

Well, my editor had a baby and decided to be a stay-at-home mom. (and I really am happy for her.) My publicist left and a new one was hired. The end result being a delay in my release date - which is now December 1. So think Christmas presents!

The good news is that I'll be launching a HUGE contest (think three figure prize) when the book launches, so please pm me at sr.reese @ comcast.net if you'd like to be notified when the time is right!

Big Huge Giant News!!!

Remember I'm just posting a bunch of shorts to get caught up. This one is huge!!!! But I'm not at liberty to share with the world yet, so I'm just chewing on my tongue.

More later, obviously.

Me and the Water Weenie

Okay, so this one needs a picture too, but it ain't gonna happen.

Sometimes I forget I'm old. Like this week, which we spent at Bear Lake with the hubbies family. On day six I made it out on a water weenie, which I had to do because my hubbies twin was trying to convince 80-y-o grandma to try (don't worry, I didn't allow, and we're working on having his head examined.) But if she was even thinking about going, I of course couldn't say no.

The good news is, if you have to tear a ligament in your knee, the MCL is the way to go - I should be as good as new in about a month or so.

Stupid weenie.

The fire

Oh my gosh. What a couple of days. Yesterday I was terrified half the day, and in mourning the other half. During the day I stood out on the porch, my phone clutched in my nervous little fingers, talking to one neighbor then another, about the odds of our having to grab our most precious possessions (pictures of course) and run. The flames were leaping and dancing everywhere, right along the trail that was protecting us. We knew if they jumped to the other side we'd have to make a run for it. I told my kids about it at dinner, and my Nat says, "So that's what you do in an emergency, talk on the phone to the neighbors?"

Yeah. Duh.

Then last night after dark we all stood at the windows and watched the bright flames dancing along the hillside just above us. There aren't words for how ominious that was. The kids (and their texting friends) were afraid to go to sleep, for fear the flames would make their way down to us.

This morning Brandon looked out at the charred mountain, our mountain, and said, "I'm sad for all the animals. And I'm sad for the trees. And I'm sad for our mountain."

I know exactly how he felt. Later in the day I pulled into the neighborhood after doing errands and looked up at my beautiful mountain, such a familiar sight, all black and scarred, and blubblered like an idiot.

Catching Up

It has occurred to me that I have a TON of things to blog about, (so many goodies, how do I decide?) but I have been putting it off because I can't find my camera and I have some way great pictures of the amazing and dreadful goings on in my backyard that I want to post, but since I don't seem to be able to find the camera in the mountain of garbage on my countertop (I'll explain why in a sec), I'm just going to post a bunch of short shorts, and I'll add pics later.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Still Not Panicking


Ok, let me make it clear that I am not one of those hysterical women that panics over every little thing - like, say, when a hurricane is heading towards your son while he's in Mexico...or like, oh, I don't know. Maybe when a massive wildfire is raging out of control IN YOUR BACKYARD!!! Nope, not panicking. Not even worried. (That white fence in the bottom of the fence...yep, that's mine.)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The end is finally near!




After two long years, I finally got THE letter. The one confirming that my missionary son has a ticket home! Yeah! It's really going to happen! That quiet teenage boy...turned man in the blink of an eye...is coming home October 8 - two months from now! I asked him how he thinks he's changed the most, and says that he's not as materialistic.


Which is such a relief, because...here's the thing:


Your bed? Well, I guess if you're picky, that would include your bedroom -- Nat would like to know if you'd mind hanging your hammock in the hall? Little sisters, I know they can be pains. Speaking of which, your other little sister, Whitney, she's loving your car. It runs on natural gas you know? About .75 cents a gallon. Pretty sweet. But she did save your phone for you (like, duh). She just took the number it goes with. Then there's your I-pod. The girls tell me you wouldn't want it even if it did still work, because it's so old and outdated. Which leaves your laptop. The one I'm currently writing this blog on. The one I've written almost two full novels on. Yeah. That one. We're going to have to discuss that .


But please don't freak out. Think of the lady who lives in the stick hut. The one who can't even think of what else she'd want. Remember how happy she is.


Besides, you still have your clothes. Assuming they fit with all the weight you've lost.

And I promise, no matter what, I won't let your sisters hang a hammock in the hall.
Don't worry, I've got your back. That's what moms are for.

The corn was as high as a puppy dog's eye...


By popular demand - okay by request of my daughter who lives in Logan, but she's pretty darn popular - I took a picture of the mutant corn. It's kind of hard to see (seeing as how small it is), but it's right behind my little doggie (isn't he adorable?) and you can tell how small HE is by the size of his gigantic tags (don't those vets realize that all dogs aren't German Shepherds? I mean seriously, imagine having to lug those things around just to prove you'd had your shots, but I digress...)
Behind the corn, towering over it, is our pumpkin patch, behind that a swing, and in the top left, also towering, are some gladiolas. Yep, sad little plant. I did call extension, and other than the same ol party line (did you fertilize? is the soil well-drained? plenty of sun?) they had no idea. But we're not dead yet, so I guess it's not toxic.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mutant Corn

If there is one thing I know how to do well, it's kill plants. Inside, outside, wherever they are, I can kill them. My house plants all look like they're on life support, and my vegetable garden isn't much better. One year I planted three zucchini plants, and managed to come up with the same number of zucchinis. If you know anything about zucchini, you know how pathetic that is.

I'm pleased to report that my zucchini crop is doing well this year, but my corn crop is just down-right scary. The stalks are loaded with ears of corn. But they are only about 2 feet tall. That's the stalks, not the ears. I'm not making this up! If that weren't wierd enough, the little tuffs that grow out of the top of the stalks have corn kernels growing out of them. It's kind of freaky. But we did have some little corn cobs last night - they were slightly bigger than the pickled cobs that go in salads - and they seemed fine. I have no idea why those stalks are dwarfs - I'll be calling the experts tomorrow. I just hope they don't laugh at me. Or tell me not to eat the stuff.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Idol Buzz


The other day my friend called and asked if I followed American Idol last season, which of course we did. Every episode. Sometimes several times.


She then asked, sounding suspiciously like a game-show host, who I wanted to win.


"David Archuleta," I said quickly. Then thought about it. "But I really liked David Cook, so I was good either way."


You'll be happy to know that was the right answer. Not like the schmuck she'd called before me, who also claimed to be an Idol fan, but then didn't even know the contestant's names. She went on to explain that she had some tickets to the upcoming Idol concert that she couldn't use. And while she could have sold them, she and her husband were feeling generous, and wanted to find someone special to give them to. By special she meant someone who actually followed the show and would be excited to be there. Her final test was to listen to my kids screams when I told them. (Not really, she'd hung up by then, but they did scream, and I did call her back to tell her.)


So on Monday, off we went to the E-Center. And I am here to tell you that those kids have an impressive set of lungs. And I'm not talking about the contestants. The young Idols were amazing - great voices and stage presence. But the performance that stuck with me (and I mean that literally) was the audience. We knew we were in trouble when we climbed past a group of girls wearing "I Vote David Archuleta" t-shirts. By the end of the night, my family was crowded at the end of the aisle, pushing as far away from them as possible.


The show itself was great. Amazing. We clapped, we cheered, we laughed. Then it ended, and an even more amazing thing happened. Every person in the building turned into a chipmunk. And I'm not making this up. There was a big, brawny guy behind me, who said in a squeeky little high-pitched voice "The car's that way." My children talked the same way. "Go over there." "That way's too crowded." The chipmunks were everywhere.


For a split second, I thought it was a special-effects trick. Until I realized that my voice was fine. Then I thought maybe it was the beer fumes. I did eventually figure out that it's what happens when your ear drum is IMPLODING!


Fortunately, the chipmunk-voice-effect stopped when I left the building. Unfortunately, it was replaced by the sound of a million tropical birds singing inside my head. I dreamed that night that I was in Disney's Tiki Room and the two David's were singing to me, "In the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room, where the birds all sing and the flowers bloom." The other guests were screaming of course.


You'll be glad to know that most of the birds have left. I'm now down to just a couple of small robins.


And I have a strange urge to go to Disneyland.


Now if I can just find another kind, generous friend to send me there. Cause that was pretty sweet.


But if I do go, I'm packing my earplugs, just in case David shows up.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Just Make a Wish and Blow Already...



Wow, summer has gotten away from me, like it always does. One minute I'm wondering what I'll do with a house full of kids for three months, and the next I'm shopping for school clothes and wondering what I've been doing with my time.

Anyway, last week we traveled to Logan to celebrate my daughter's birthday, and I just had to blog about what happened. She gave me permission - as long as I didn't disclose her age. Not because she's embarrassed about growing older, but because, well, she's not three any more. I'll tell the story, then you'll understand.

After we sang Happy Birthday to her, being the wizened, mature girl that she is, she decided to liven things up by blowing...as...slowly...and gently...as...possible...to...see...how...long...it...could...take...to...blow...the candles...out...

She...leaned...closer....and...closer...

Her Dad called out, "Careful, you'll burn your lip!"

At that very moment, you guessed it, she yelled, "I burned my lip!"

Yes, it's true. On a birthday candle. She even had a little brown mark just above her lip.

I don't know if that's a first. Maybe there's an epidemic of burned birthday lips I've never heard about. I do know that it was classic Jen. So Happy Birthday Baby - I'm so glad you're around to keep us laughing for another year.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Move over pioneers

An amazing thing happened this morning. I got up early - at least it was early by late-night musical during the summer standards - to see my daughters off to a youth conference. While they were getting ready I puttered around the kitchen and the garden, until my little one got up, at about 9:30, which was still early by the same standard.

Anyway, the remarkable thing is what I said about his breakfast: "I've got some hot cereal that I ground from our breakfast blend, and while I was at it I ground some flour and made these muffins, and if you want you can put these strawberries that I just picked on your cereal."

I stopped then, when I realized what I had said, and waited for applause from the heavens. My pioneer ancestors had to have been proud. Never mind that there are towels on the floor sopping up the water that the kids dripped while running in and out yesterday, mountains of dirty clothes in the laundry room, groceries still in their bags, and dust an inch think on every flat surface of the house...for that little moment in time I was about a domestic goddess.

Whew.

And now I'm just glad I got it out of my system.

Monday, June 16, 2008

No Swearing Please...

I need to clarify - based on feedback I've received - that the script did not include any swearing on my son's part. I'm sorry to all those who may have fainted, gasped, or otherwise suffered by the misunderstanding.

I sent out a disclaimer to some of my friends about the musical. It is absolutely amazing and inspiring with some of the best music I've ever heard. It does, however, contain quite a bit of swearing. I didn't know this until we accepted the part and received the script. After a bit of a shock to my system (I confess that neither my husband or I swear, ever. It's just not a challenge to either of us.) We conferred and decided that we needed to proceed, since we had made a commitment, and that we could take the opportunity to teach some lessons about vulgarity to our son. We have, and I'm comfortable that what he's gaining from this experience has counter-balanced the negative. It's still uncomfortable to watch the innocent little guy in the middle of the baseball scene (father takes him to the 'civilized' sport, where a bunch of rowdy immigrants spit and curse). Confessions again - while half of me is cringing, the other half is doubled over laughing, it really is a funny scene. So there you have it - take my disclaimer for what it's worth. I really encourage you to come, just leave the little ones at home--and please don't throw any tomotoes at me! I've already got enough conflicted guilt to last me a lifetime.

Full House

Two performances down, four to go. Saturday night they said that 1100 tickets were sold for that night alone! Standing ovations both nights - and not even a sign of stage fright. Even though his character has a name - Edgar, he plays the part of Little Boy. There is also a Little Girl, Mother, Father, Younger Brother, and Grandfather--all nameless. After Friday night's performance, he asked his sister if she'd noticed him scratch his leg in one of the last scenes. He said he was so tired he was itching all over, and he just couldn't help it. Then he said, "But I think it's ok, cause Little Boys scratch sometimes."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Long Days, Short Nights

Thursday I picked Brandon up from school, and on the way home he said, "I can hardly wait for practice tonight, because I get to see all my friends." "You do realize they're all adults don't you?" "Yeah, so?"

After a week of school days followed by late-night rehearsals for my son's upcoming musical, I woke him on Saturday morning for an 8:00 a.m. rehearsal. I found him a few minutes later lying on the couch, dressed in his school uniform. "Brandon!" I said, "it's Saturday! You're going to a practice." He groaned and dragged back downstairs. "I'm sooo tired."

So am I kid...so am I...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Stage Mom

I've hesitated writing this blog, in fact I've started and stopped it several times, because I'm afraid of being perceived as a crazed mom who's living out her childhood fantasies through her child. To set the record straight. phhhhbbbbllllttt. It's not true, but I have no proof. So there. Ok, now that I've gotten that out of the way, here's the blog that I've written:

I have never met David Archuleta's father, I only know what I've heard about him in the media, but I suspect much of what has been reported is a distortion of the truth. I base this on the fact that he and I are in similar positions.


Like David's dad who was behind the scenes during most of American Idol (until he was rudely dismissed), I've cast myself into the role of stage mom for the duration of my son's play (hopefully I won't suffer the same fate). I'm there for three reasons. Probably the most important is to be the snarling Momma Bear sitting in the corner, just in case anyone gets any unsavory ideas about my boy. The second is to protect the cast members from the enthusiastic, talkative little guy--which I admit doesn't usually work since I'm sitting in a corner across a large room when I observe him talking an adult's ear off, or wearing googly eye glasses or bouncing a ball he had stashed in his pocket. The final reason is so that I can help him figure out what he's supposed to be doing when he rehearses after the practices. That's the uncomfortable one. I never pictured myself as a stage mom. Never had much taste for them in fact.

But here's the thing, while I won't pretend he's got David's talent (who does?), they do share one common trait: they both have a passion for performing, and for doing it really well. Brandon practices for his upcoming play a lot, in fact the other performers have commented that he puts them to shame with how much he has memorized. And when he does, he shows a surprising perception for subtle differences in tone and voice fluctuations. He'll come to me and say, "Should I say this line like this...or like this..." The two will sound almost exactly the same, with maybe one word being emphasized, or his tone harsher in one than the other. He'll repeat the line over and over until he gets the sound he likes.

He always looks at me at rehearsals after saying one of his big lines, and smiles. I know it appears that he's just looking for my approval, and I'm sure that's part of it. But I think mostly when he looks at me, he's giving me a visual high-five "I got it!"

It's a fine line - this pushing vs. encouraging, one that I'm not thrilled to be walking. But a mom's only as happy as her unhappiest child, and this is what excites him, so here I am - cheering him on and hoping I don't damage him along the way.

Mr. Archuleta, if you'd like to talk I'm all ears.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Hard Hat Area

I just spent a few crazed hours figuring out how to make my own header. It's not very good, but better than the stock one I've been using. Of course that required that I change the background, since the colors clashed, and of course I had to change the sidebar since my picture's now in the header. So...(drum roll please)...my new totally mediocre look! Woo hoo! It's just a practice, since I've got to set up an author's site soon, which will hopefully look way better than this one. But it's a start! Come on in...have a look around...put up your feet...and of course help yourself to a complimentary virtual chocolate!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Take Me Out To The Ball Game...

Many of you have praised my son for his guitar playing - thank you! One of these days I'll post a video of him playing a song like Pipeline, or Johnny Be Good, it's amazing. He wrote me a sweet little mother's day song Sunday morning, and wanted to perform it before family arrived for dinner, because he said he'd be embarrassed to play it for them. I asked him what he was talking about, since he loves to perform (make that LOVES to perform), and he pointed out that he only likes it when it's good, and this song isn't very good. Hmmm, a perfectionist. I guess that's a necessity for a real performer. I thought it was wonderful, but whatever, I'm a little biased.

Anyway, the title of this blog is about baseball, and the story really is. Yesterday he had a baseball game, he played rightfielder. He tried to convince me to skip the game, it's the end of the season and he's tired of standing in outfield for an hour. He's not the most motivated player in the world, plus he's at the age that they mostly know how to play, but not really. They're as often as not to throw the ball randomly towards the pitcher's mound as to an actual player. One of the mothers commented that it's hard not to laugh sometimes and I hardily agreed. At one point the ball was hit directly into right field, and my son watched it, while standing in place playing an air guitar. The father next to me said, "The right-fielder's in the perfect position for that. What's he doing?"

"Practicing his air guitar," I said. A few minutes later the ball went to the same place, and the same thing happened.

"That right fielder's just standing there!" The dad said, "Who is that kid anyway?"

"Mine," I said. "He's mine. Sorry."

The guy was embarrassed, rightfully so. I told him it was okay, but he should be sure to catch him at the Sandy Amphitheatre next month when they put on Ragtime. I told him we were headed to a rehearsal directly after this, which is where he'd rather be. There's even a baseball scene, where he sings and dances and isn't ever expected to touch a real ball, so it'll be fine.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Climbing out of my hole.

I finally got my manuscript and other requested documents off to the publisher. I've been working on it a little bit here and there for the last month, and when I thought I was close to being done I sent an email off to the publisher saying I should have the materials there by Friday, the next Monday at the latest. I woke up that Monday with the goal of getting it sent off by lunch. Same for Tuesday. Wednesday, at around 4:00 in the afternoon, I felt bit light headed, and wondered what that was about. Then I realized I hadn't eaten yet that day. Did the same thing on Thursday, except it only took until about 1:30 for the dizziness to start. I had no idea it would be so difficult. I did however finally get everything off on Friday afternoon - the manuscript, marketing ideas, my bio, my picture. Whew, it's feeling kind of real now.

I spent the rest of the day shopping, since my kids seem to think there should be food in the house. The sun's out today, and I've been out enjoying it, which is just what I needed after sitting in a hole for two weeks.

And just for the heck of it, here's my suggestion for a back cover, tell me what you think!

The heart can’t hide from a current of love that flows as steady and strong as the river.

January 11, 2005: A massive storm rages throughout the west. Angry, churning water spills over the banks of the Virgin River, already at twice its’ normal capacity, resulting in what will become known in the area as the flood of the century.

Carmen Anderson has spent her entire adult life avoiding the place she fled as a teenager—Prosper, Arizona, a tiny town sitting on the banks of the Virgin River. But when her teenage daughter Paige begins to act rebellious, the devoted single mother makes an impulsive decision to move back to Prosper and its’ wholesome values. When Paige is unexpectedly stranded in the town during a flood that takes out its only access bridge, Carmen sets out on a desperate journey that jeopardizes both her career and a proposal of marriage from a dashing coworker to get to her daughter before she uncovers a painful secret—the mystery of what could have driven Carmen away from a people who still love her fiercely, even after fifteen years of painful separation.

What I Would Have Said...

My husband and I went to church with our oldest daughter yesterday. She's in a married, single's ward at USU, and goes to the same building we attended in the long ago days that we were also in a married, student ward at USU. I was smacked with a face full of deja vu, and struck with how little has changed. There were a whole bunch of young people, even more babies. The thing that was obviously lacking was money. But the nice thing is that it didn't matter much. None of them expect to have money, or to dress in the latest thing, so it doesn't matter.

While in the meeting, I had a crazy wish that the bishop would call me up to speak. Trust me, speaking impromptu in church is not something I generally, or ever, hope for. But I did have my reasons. In the years that I attended that long ago student ward, it seemed that the speakers from the "outside" world had a recurring theme. Time and again they would get up and say "It's not going to get any easier once you graduate." I would get so annoyed with that. I wanted to stand up and say "So why are we here then? Why don't we just give it up and get jobs and get on with our lives if it's not going to get any easier?" I told myself that if I ever came back, I would tell those students that the sacrifices they are making to be in school are worth it, that it does get easier!

Now that I've had a couple of decades of perspective, I can better see what those old folks meant. In a lot of ways they're right, it doesn't get easier. The struggles they're facing now are still there, multiplied. The bumps that they are navigating will turn into such highs and lows that they'll think they have whiplash. They'll face challenges they can't even dream of, hardships they wouldn't think they could endure.

But despite that, or maybe because of that, I can tell them that the sacrifices they're making to start their families with a foundation of education are well worth it. Their educations will strenghten them, and their children, in a way that will cushion all those bumps they're bound to face and make the ride bearable.

Sitting in that meeting reminded me of being a spectator at a marathon, as if all those bright young faces were lined up, poised for the gun to go off. I didn't get to tell them to hold on for the ride, but if had, that's what I would have said.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The News We've All Been Waiting For!

Okay, maybe not all of us have been waiting for this news. But I have.

Yesterday I signed a contract. It was an offer to publish my novel!

Woo Hoo!

Yes, it's true. Cedar Fort has offered to publish my manuscript entitled 'Still Here'.

It's inspirational fiction about a mom, her daughter, and a flood. Here's a summary in a sentence:

A dedicated single mom discovers the resilience of family, faith, and love when she returns with her rebellious daughter to the small town on the Virgin River that she fled as a teenager, at the same time that a massive flood hits the area.

Right now I'm caught up in getting it polished and off to the publisher, but I'm slowly starting to realize the many ways that my life is going to change. It's all exciting and good. And trust me, there will be more to come on this subject!

Preen, Poop and Other Stuff

Life has been happening. Yeah, yeah, it always does, but sometimes with more oomph than other times. There are so many things I could blog about, and so little time to blog, I'm just going to give a reader's digest version.

First the Preen. I love the stuff. I love Preening. I have been waiting for weeks to get out and do it in my garden. And just in case you don't know what I'm talking about, that does not mean snipping the pretty flowers and making the garden look tidy - though I did do a little of that - what I am talking about is the pre-emergent called Preen. I buy it in an industrial size box at Costco, and spread it liberally around my garden several times a year - that's Preening. The box has a list of flowers that it shouldn't be sprinkled around, but I've developed a philosophy that if it doesn't get along with Preen, it doesn't belong in my yard. Have I mentioned that I live on 2/3rds of an acre? Lots of weeds, lots of Preen. But the weather has been so crazy, I haven't been able to get out. For weeks now little weedheads have been poking up through the snow, taunting me. Finally, Monday, the sun came out and I preened. It was great. Used half the giant box. Tuesday snow fell. It's still here today. Unbelievable. But at least I've preened. Take that you nasty weeds!

Second, poop. Not mine, don't worry, I haven't gotten quite old and senile enough to go there. My dog's to be precise. The little guy's been constipated for two days now. The vet didn't seem too worried when I called his office. Gave me some little tidbits of advice, said to bring him in today or tomorrow if it hasn't cleared. And it has improved, but not cleared, so no decisions yet on what I'll do. But let me tell you, for two days now I have lived, breathed (literally) nothing but poop decisions. I won't go into details, other than to say my carpet and my sanity are in serious jeapordy here.

Third, big news! My son, the talented guitarist who I talk way too much about, the one who has rocked my world since the moment of his conception, has done it again. As you may know, Brandon likes to do musicals. He likes it a lot. So I'm always on the lookout for productions he can audition for. I was watching for a Broadway Kids show that's done locally, but missed the auditions by a day. Then I learned about auditions for a production of Ragtime, and since there wasn't anything else on the horizon, decided to suggest it to him (to suggest is the same as to do with the little guy, so I always suggest with caution.) I told him there was no way he would get into the show, and I mostly believed it. There is only one part for a young boy, not even any in the ensemble, and it is big, bigger than the community theatre he's done in the past, and they are looking for an older boy than him. But I also told him it would be a good experience, so that when there's a part he really wants, he can do it confidently.

It mostly worked! After his audition he told me that he was not nearly as nervous as the last time he auditioned for something, but still nervous enough that you could hardly hear him the first time through. The patient director asked him to do it again in a big voice, and he did. So, he figured, the next time maybe he wouldn't be nervous at all.

Great plan! Way to go Mom!

Except for one thing:
He got the part! The director was blown away that Brandon, a kid who doesn't do anything small, had memorized the line he gave him to read at callbacks. And so he will be 'Little Boy' at the Sandy Amphitheatre's production of Rag Time this June. It's a big part, on a big stage, and he is stoked. I'm a little nervous. The cast meeting was filled with a group of very professional and talented adults...and my Little Boy.

So that's been my life this week...crazy, stinky, and busy...minus one more huge detail that deserves it's own blog. So stay tuned...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Blatant Bragging

video

My littlest son has been way over-billed lately, but I just couldn't resist putting this on. His guitar teacher asks the students to write a song in order to earn a trophy, and since his school is holding a music composition contest, this was the perfect time to get him motivated. Maybe it's just me, the nauseatingly puffed-up and proud mom, but I'm thinking it's kind of amazing for an 8-year-old. Now if my technical skills are a fraction of his guitar skills, we'll see if I can actually get this posted!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

What was that whizzing by?


I could be wrong, but I'm fairly sure I saw the Easter Bunny zipping through my yard the other day. But that can't be - it's still March! Here I am, minding my own business, waiting anxiously for Spring, and I'm told that Easter has come and gone! What's up with that? I mean seriously, the hard-boiled eggs were frozen!


Now I understand the timing of Easter has something to do with the moon, or the stars, or the rotation of the sun, or something. Okay, obviously I don't understand it all that well...but I'd sure like to have a chat with whoever decided the system. I mean, everyone knows Christ wasn't actually born on December 25th, or even in the winter, yet we don't seem to have any trouble celebrating on that day every single year. So why can't we pick a day for his resurrection and stick with that? I mean, seriously, there's still snow on the ground.


I have this nagging fear that the seasons are as confused as the holidays this year. I realize this sounds crazy, but maybe Old Man Winter was taking a nap when the Easter Bunny came unexpectedly, and he doesn't realize it's time to leave? Maybe he'll never go!
Which reminds me of a sign I saw yesterday that I've decided I need to add as a tag to my signature: I'm not suffering from insanity, I'm enjoying every minute of it!
Truer words were never spoken. Happy Spring everyone!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Them Thars Monsters Out There


My 8-year-old came in from playing the other day and said, "You want to know something wierd?"

"Sure."

"You know that big hole in the neighbor's fence?"

You bet I've noticed the big hole. It's about 4-feet wide and 4-feet high. Just about the size a 4-wheeler would cause if it happened to plow into it while removing snow or doing wheelies or whatever. I worried when I first saw it that maybe OUR 4-wheeler had been the guilty culprit, but if so no one has fessed up.

"Sure," I said.

"Well, have you noticed how the edges are really jagged?"

"Uh, sure." (I know, I'm very verbose when talking to my son.)

"Well..." he hesitated. Then took on a very serious composure. "First..." his voice deepened, filled with the gravity of the importance of his next statement: "Dresden and I believe in monsters."

"Oh, I see."

"Yeah."

"So you think a monster made that hole?"

"Those jagged edges look just like teeth marks."

"Oh. So you think a monster bit a hole in the fence?"

"Yes."

"Wow. I hadn't thought of that. I thought it looked like maybe a 4-wheeler ran into it."

"No." He headed to the door. "That's not what it looks like."

"Oh. I see."

I wanted to grab him and squeeze him tight, just to keep him from doing any more growing up. If I could just keep him like this a little longer...

Monday, February 11, 2008

My son's shoes


I'm saying a prayer for the USPS and Mexico mail systems. I just got back from the post office where I mailed a pair of shoes to my son in Mexico. This is the picture that arrived while I was gone. They have a guarantee, which is why I asked for a picture of the "worn spot". He has a pair of stiff Rockport's that will have to suffice until the new pair arrives. Oh my. There's not much I can add that would say more than that picture.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Winter Punch



Church was cancelled today. My husband had a meeting in the morning, and came back saying he'd just been in the worst storm he'd ever seen. The news folks didn't seem to notice. There were no headlines, no red strips running across the screen warning people not to drive. The weather reports just said either 'light snow' or 'snow expected in the afternoon.' Guess they didn't look outside. The pictures here are our backyard, the the one you can hardly see (appropriate since we could hardly see either) is during the storm, the other is the view from our backporch after the storm. That's a six foot fence you see back there. And a couple of gray specks in the middle of the yard are the top of our four foot rock wall. The mountains are something though aren't they? Every time I think of looking through California classifieds for jobs, I look out at those and decide I can stick it out a little longer.

Fond Farewells

Our family has spent the weekend bidding farewell to an amazing man who shaped our lives and our church.

My daughter tells me that whenever she thinks of President Hinckley she'll think of cold toes. I'm sure she'll think of other things, but that's the first that will come to mind. My husband and I took the only two of our children who were available to pay our respects to the prophet on Thursday morning. We went straight in the building walked right through, pausing only at the casket. It was a reverent experience, with the feeling of saying goodbye to a beloved grandfather.

The rest of our children decided to go the next day, along with several friends, and one of the children who had already been (minus our missionary of course). News reports said that folks waited as long as four hours that evening. I'm here to say that it was actually five. And three of those five were spent standing outside in about twenty degree weather. Two of the members of the group (neither under my responsibility I must add) failed to wear coats. I do not know how that is possible, but I'm not making it up. The daughter who will remember her cold toes, who I'm sorry to say is under my responsibililty, did not wear socks or anything on her bare legs. Fashion first and always.

I'm happy to report there were no lost toes or limbs.

The event reminded me of a couple of years ago, being at a big event for the youth, 'Days of Celebration', held in Rice Eccles Stadium. When President Hinckley came out in his motorcar, you would have thought those thousands of teens were screaming over a rock star instead of a 90-something-year-old man.

I'm happy for President Hinckley, he lived such a long life and passed after such a short illness to rejoin his sweetheart. But I am so sad to be saying goodbye to the man who was so incredibly influential to my children. We've been so lucky to have him.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Stinky Mice and Urban Legends

I have great news! The mice are gone! Hoo-ray! Yeah! and Hallelujah!

But there's still a problem. Nothing is ever easy.

I'm sure you've all heard that if you use poison the mice will die where they can't be reached and start stinking. I've heard it too. I've also heard that's an urban legend because mouse poison causes extreme dehydration, which means they are, well, dry, when they pass on, therefore not stinky. I've also heard that that is an urban legend. So basically I wasn't sure, but I did know I was desperate and my sticky traps weren't doing the trick.

Here's what an authoritative web site had to say on the issue:

"If you treat for mice, what will happen to the mice?It is an urban legend that once rodents consume rodent bait, “they will go outside in search of water.” This is a blatant lie that the majority of the pest control industry has fed homeowners. Unfortunately, the rodent will die wherever the bait takes effect. Usually this will be in their nesting area, since that is where they spend the majority of their time. This leads to the next frequently asked question . . . If a mouse dies inside my house, will it “smell”?There are a lot of factors involved in whether a dead mouse will emit an odor. These include body content, humidity, temperature and several other factors. In most cases, a dead mouse will not even be noticed by the resident. In a worse case scenario, the smell will only last for a day or so."

So let's think about this, the factors of whether there will be a smell: body content, I have no idea except that my mice didn't seem to be eating much of anything; humidity, we live in a desert; temperature, it's sub-zero frozen wasteland these days; and several other factors. Hmmm, don't know any other factors, so I must be safe in using the bait. Right?

Wrong. Worse case scenerio a day or so of stink? I don't think so.

We are now on about day ten of the most putrid, disgusting, non-living stink in the basement. It's not too bad at first, but when sitting on the couch, if you turn your head to the left, or worse, lie down, oh my, the eyes start to water. You have to cover your nose. And then you just can't take it.

Any day now it's going to go away. Unless I rip the wall apart with my bare hands first. But I guess I shouldn't be surprised, since apparently it was an entire village of mice I was dealing with, which is the only explanation I have - there is a heaping pile a mice corpses behind my wall. That dreadful image of a mouse holocaust is probably the only thing keeping me from ripping the wall apart. That and the promise of "a day or so" of stink.

Does anyone know how long a SO is?

The Sprained Ankle that Is...and Other Mysteries

My eight-year-old son wrote a back-to-school essay earlier this year entitled, "The broken toe that wasn't." He's his momma's boy, isn't he? It was a story about an injury he had this summer involving a stubbed toe on a water slide. I ignored it for a couple of days, until the said toe became disgustingly infected. I broke down and took him to the doctor, who took an x-ray and determined it was also broken. I saw the x-ray myself. It was an obvious break, clear as day, even to my totally untrained eye. They rigged him up with the most adorable little walking boot you ever saw, and I tried not to feel guilty about waiting two days to take him to the doctor.

Then two days after that I got a call from the doctor saying that the radiologist thought it was just a shadow. She wasn't convinced, so she suggested we play it by ear and remove the boot when he was comfortable. Well he wasn't ready right then, but he was sooner than one would suspect for a break. So we'll apparently never know.

But I do know about his latest injury - an ankle sprain. It is a true and real sprain, I promise, despite the fact that at any given moment of the day he can be caught running, jumping, bouncing, springing, frolicking...you get the idea. These events are inevitably followed by an "Ouch! My ankle!" But it doesn't slow him down. He'll stop, feel it, and is off again. I keep hollering "Sit down!" "Put your foot up!" "Stop jumping up and down!" Seriously now, should I REALLY have to say that? One would think he's faking.

Except that a couple times a day he comes to me and says "Mom! Look, my ankle's getting huge!"

And yes, it is getting huger by the minute.

I think he's proud of it - the bigger the better. I'm sure he shows it off at school.

I'm fairly certain the authorities would frown on any attempts to tie him down, or drug him, but I'm not sure how else I'm going to let that poor ankle heal. If only the doctor would call and tell me the swelling is just a shadow...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Domestic Genius

I've been thinking about my mom today, and the time that she made a cobbler for the family. I can't remember if it was a plum or a cherry cobbler--I'm kind of thinking it was plum, although cherry makes more sense--either way the fruit had pits that didn't get removed before baking. It looked delicious, and we all dug in enthusiastically, until coming upon the errant pits. We teased the poor woman mercilessly. I like to think it was my older sisters, they were like that. But I'm sure I chimed in. And it still comes up from time-to-time, "Do you remember the cobbler mom made?"

But no more. I will not mention it, think of it, or laugh about it again. You can probably guess why, but I'll tell you anyway.

Yesterday we got home from church a little later than expected. It was almost three and we hadn't eaten since breakfast. I had started a roast before we left, but hadn't prepared anything to go with it. I put some brown rice in a rice steamer and dashed off to change out of my dress before coming back to make some muffins, gravy, and a salad. Quite the meal I would say. But the kids all pitched in, and we got it done in less than an hour.

I remember at some point peeking at the rice, while on the phone, and wondering why the water was so brown. It was brown rice though, so I didn't give it more than a passing thought. Finally the other food was ready, Rob had made it home, the table was set, so I checked to make sure the rice was done.

It looked strangely like something else...like...maybe...wheat berries?

Yes, we had steamed wheat berries to go with our roast and gravy.

I need to point out that we store our brown rice and our wheat berries in the very same type of container. And I was in a hurry. And I was hungry.

Pathetic excuses I know. Hopefully the kids will let me live it down eventually.

Meanwhile I'm in the market for cooked wheat berry recipes. It's surprising how few there are.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Car Wars

Well my theory was proven incorrect. What a shock. As it turns out, the mice did not make a suicide pact and throw themselves under my daughter's car tires. The rust-colored fluid was not mouse blood. You could knock me over with a feather - it was rusty coolant, disbursed after a "rear freeze plug" blew out. Apparently it (the plug) does that, the noble little thing, to save the motor when it is at risk of freezing to death. And as grateful as I am to that little freeze plug for dying as a martyr to save the car's engine, I would appreciate it more if would have planted itself in a more convenient location - since replacing the $10 plug is going to cost $500 in labor just to get to the darn thing. And of course without it, the car overheats after about 2 miles. Which it did on the same day that a belt broke on our other vehicle. I was driving my daughter home from flute lessons and all of a sudden there was a horrendous noise, followed by a burning smell. Drove straight to the auto repair place where they made the diagnosis - then swapped it out four hours later for the next dead auto. I've already got another car in the driveway that is up for sale because it won't pass inspection and isn't worth the investment it would take to get it there. I'm hoping someone who likes to tinker with cars will want it. Then last night my husband called (he's out town) and told me that one of his coworkers wants to buy our van - our only operating vehicle at the moment. Which would be great - since after 21 years of mommy-hood I'm ready to downsize from a van to a sedan. But if I sell the van now I have to go find a replacement - and I've already got all these other cars that need to be replaced. I'm starting to feel like a used-car salesman. And I just don't have the time since I'm busy being a mouse warrior. And not a very good one at that. What a life. Better go - I have so many things to conquer.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Rodent Wars

A couple of weeks back, I started to notice the tell-tale signs of a mouse invasion. I tossed out several sticky-pads, (they've added a great new touch by the way - medicine that helps them sleep! Which is sooo much better than the days when an angry mouse, hopelessly stuck in place, throws a hissy fit in the middle of the night and wakes up the house, filled with easy-to-put-into-hysterics women and teen girls...but I digress...)

Within a short amount of time the traps had snared two drowsy mice. After that they stayed empty, and I hoped the problem was over, although I admit I was too busy to notice, despite my daughter's insistence that they could still hear them at night. ("You just think you can hear them!") All that wishful thinking came to an abrupt end on New Year's Eve. My husband took my son to a Jazz game, and my girls and I loaded plates with every kind of fattening food imaginable and settled in for four hours of "Gone with the Wind."

Our mice, however, planned a more lively new year's event. As we sat on the basement couch watching our movie, they partied just above us, somewhere between the basement ceiling and main story floor. And when I say partied, I mean it. They ran, skipped, galloped, danced, and and tangoed back and forth, back and forth. I envisioned roller coasters, ferris wheels, rock bands, and a couple of high-rise condominiums. I don't know how many. I don't even want to guess. A lot. A lot more than should be in a single house.

So New Years Day for me was the start of "The Hunt". I'm told that mice generally stay within 10 to 15 feet of a food source, so the key is to find their food source, clean it up, and lay the traps there. But the area they were holding their carnival in was nowhere near any food source. I did discover, though, a cabinet with a discarded (and empty) bag of Chex Mix, and enough mouse poop to fertilize a garden. It was more like 30 feet from their siting, but close enough. I cleaned it up, and, out of desperation, put actual poison in its place. I generally won't use the stuff, but desperate times and all that...

Sadly, there was no sign of a nibble on those traps, or any other traps, by the next day, so I got truly desperate. I cleaned every cupboard and room that could potentially have any food anywhere near it. My kitchen and office both look like a bomb went off. Any food items in eatable packaging has been stored in plastic bins. I have about 100 traps scattered from one corner of the house to the next, all empty and untouched. Nothing. Nada.

I'm thinking those mice must have had a hot dog stand at the carnival, cause they're not eating my food. One of my girls suggested that they're cannibals. I don't know. Maybe.

So here's the wierdest thing. And I'm NOT making this up. Yesterday, my 8-year-old got home from school, and informed me (I had my head in the office closet, searching for mouse poop) that there was a trail of blood in the driveway. Seeing as how he's an 8-year-old boy, I was skeptical, but of course I went to investigate. There was a trail, but it looked more like rust than blood. It went all the way up the driveway, and ended at my daughter's car, which had just returned home after a day at the high school. There was no puddle of anything under the car, but both right-side tires were wet with the red stuff, which did smell oddly blood-like. And a scan with a flash-light at the under-side of the car did show what could be described as a small, non-descriptive, hairy blob just behind the front tire. We searched the road, and discovered the trail went on a long ways, but there was no sign of road kill anywhere. When we returned from our search, we realized that the car was making the entire garage smell like raw hamburger.

So here's my theory. The mice (highly-intelligent little buggers) saw that they were up against a crazed maniac, gave up, fled the house, and threw themselves under the first car tire they came across, leaving nothing but a rust-colored trail of liquid in their wake.

I know you think that's crazy. I think that's crazy. But since my traps - every single one - were still empty and neglected yet again this morning, that's the only logical conclusion I can come to.

Just in case though, I'm out to buy more traps...