Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Noses and Noggins, Diplomas and Gardens


I am still so amazed at how quickly the month of May passed by, and our family had quite an eventful month. We had many changes. Some were good, and some were…well, not so great, but we survived! At the beginning of the month, we got to experience the fun of seeing my first novel released. My children had fun throwing me their own little book release party and we dined on pizza, soda, and donuts while watching their favorite movies. I have to admit, it was the BEST release party ever! I also had my very first book signing. My sister spent the day sitting by my side and we had a fantastic time visiting with everyone!

Mother’s Day, came and went, and I have to say, it wasn’t an easy day for me. My children and husband spoiled me and I couldn’t have been more grateful for such a wonderful family. However, the loss of my own mother weighed heavy on my heart. I’ve missed calling her, spending time with her, and as the days continue to pass, I feel the loss more deeply.

 The weather began to warm, and my kids and I enjoyed spending more time outdoors. BUT—with the coming of warm weather, we’ve also experienced an increase in injuries. My boys, as many of you know, are only 14 months apart. This makes for some interesting times in our house. They love to wrestle, climb trees, throw rocks and play ball, and their little sister is determined to keep up with them. We’ve had bumped heads, bloody noses, fat lips, scraped knees and even lost a toenail along the way. 
This month, we’ve also inherited a puppy. His name is Sarg. He is a little Boston Terrier pup and it’s been quite an adventure for our family. We have never had animals indoors and trying to potty train a dog and a two-year-old at the same time is, needless-to-say, very—VERY—difficult. But my children have had a great time with their new dog and so we press on!
We’ve spent a lot of time hiking and we finally got to have our very first hot dog roast of the season. We love to roast hot dogs up Santaquin Canyon and most evenings you’ll find us up at “our” spot near the gate. My dad has come to spend some time with us as well, and we’ve had many adventures rock hounding in the desert. We planted a mini garden, with peas, sunflower, pumpkins and corn and the kids are so excited to see their plants grow.

At the end of the month, my boys got to graduate! My oldest graduated kindergarten and I loved watching him “Walk” for his diploma!  My youngest son graduated from preschool and I had so much fun watching my little boy in his gown, hat, and tassel while he sang and hopped about the stage. 
Our family has had a busy, busy, month, but we are so excited for summer and we’re looking forward to many more adventures!


 Every Spring my grandparents grow the most amazing rhubarb garden. One of my favorite things to do was cut a stalk and eat it raw. I'd pucker up and enjoy the tart
experience. However, my taste buds have recently "matured" and I find that eating rhubarb is a much more pleasant experience when you add loads of sugar. After many failed attempts, I finally discovered this amazingly yummy recipe and I thought I'd share. So here it 

 Rhubarb Strawberry Crunch


  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 3 cups diced rhubarb
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup rolled oats


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, mix white sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, strawberries, and rhubarb. Place the mixture in a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  3. Mix 1 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, butter, and oats until crumbly. You may want to use a pastry blender for this. Crumble on top of the rhubarb and strawberry mixture.
  4. Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until crisp and lightly browned.

Nutritional Information open nutritional information

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 253 | Total Fat: 10.8g | Cholesterol: 27mg


          one day when I'm feeling more adventurous, I'm going to try these...


Friday, May 27, 2011

Take a Ride and come on out to visit me: Book Signings in June

Here is a list of my upcoming book signings! If you all get a chance, come and see me. I'd love to see everyone.


Nephi, Utah
965 North Main Street
2 p.m-6 p.m
Will have copies of The Alias for sell


Payson, Utah
66 South Main Street
1 p.m-4 p.m
Will have copies of The Alias for sell


Monday, May 23, 2011

First Book Review...Yikes!!

Last week I received my very first review of my new novel, The Alias. If you are familiar with LDS fiction, then you have probably heard of Jennie Hansen, the author of several LDS suspense novels. She is by far one of my very favorite authors, along with Dorothy Keddington (Return to Red Castle) and Kerry Blair(Closing In). I started reading Jennie Hansen’s novels when I was about thirteen-years-old, and her work had a profound effect on my youth. I LOVED Run Away Home, and those of you who haven’t read her novels are definitely missing out on some great reading. Currently, along with writing novels, Jennie Hansen reviews LDS Fiction and I had the privilege of having her review The Alias. I had a lot of mixed emotions about my first review. As a new author, I knew I’d have my share of good and a very good dose of bad. Jennie liked my protagonist, my story line, and the fiction arc. She picked apart my other characters and she was a little harsh about the style in which my characters conversed. However, I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. The opportunity to have one of the greatest authors of LDS fiction offer me advice is a blessing. I do have a difficult time with dialogue and my family and friends who know me well know that I “talk” with a certain style. To put it lightly, I am a hick, but very proud of it. However, I do overuse words and I often repeat myself. So, needless to say, as I read my first review, I smiled a little, I cried (okay, I bawled) a little, and I had myself a HUGE bowl of ice cream. But I have to admit,having my favorite author say that she can hardly wait to read my next novel left me grinning. I’ve taken her praise to heart and her critique to mind. I am eager to get back to work and throw myself into my writing.
To read Jennie Hansen's full review, visit the following link: 


Friday, May 20, 2011

Creamy, Cheesy Goodness

I am certain by now my family and friends have realized that I am by far the furthest thing from a gourmet chef. To be honest, I have never excelled at cooking. I can’t follow a recipe to save my life. The words and numbers get scrambled and I usually end up with cookie dough that tastes and resembles something more like play dough. Also, I am an adventurer. I LOVE to experiment and take recipes to a “whole new level”. My family does not appreciate this, but it’s an impulse that I just can’t seem to curb. However, once in a great while I do stumble across an amazing casserole or dish that I excel at, and I simply delight in the murmur of approval and the sound of spoons against my Corelle dishes. Once I discover a dish that I can cook, it becomes a favorite in our house. I cook that particular dish so often that soon it reaches a point of being comical. (We eat tater tot casserole at least twice a week) My husband teases me about this relentlessly, and when the kids finally start to moan and groan, I realize its time for a new cooking adventure. In the following days, my kitchen usually resembles something from a hoarder’s nightmare. My pots and pans are scattered across the countertops, my cupboards bulge with new ingredients, and the aroma of burned food fills my house. My children do not enjoy this time and their eyes alight when I finally offer them a peanut butter sandwich.                                                                    
But to finally get to the point of this blog—I have discovered the greatest ingredient of all. While trying to bring new life to our tater tot casserole, I discovered a block of cream cheese lying dormant in my fridge. On a whim, I tossed half the block into the mixing bowl and—WALLA!  My tater tot casserole suddenly had a new face. My children loved it! Now, I’m not the sort of person who can just stop at that. The next morning I ran to the grocery store and filled my basket with cream cheese. I have discovered that it tastes great as an addition to quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, and even macaroni and cheese. I even went so far as to chunk it on top of our homemade pizzas. Cream cheese has now become one of our very favorite pizza toppings. Add chunks of cream cheese into your scrambled eggs and…umm. (my sister, Candi, who is an amazing cook, suggested this) I realize that many of you have already discovered the miracle of cream cheese, and I’m guessing it was probably many years ago. (I’m always a little behind the times) But, I just had to share with you my excitement and wish you all “happy cooking” for the coming weekend.   

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


 When I was a young girl, my family spent a lot of time together. We went on picnics, rides in the desert, camp outs in the mountains, and we simply enjoyed spending time with one another. My best memories of my parents are the times when we would travel to the Buckhorn wash in Emery County, Utah. We explored the canyons, hiked the washes, and my parents instilled within me a love of nature, history, and God’s majestic earth. These memories are a blessing. Remembering the time we spent together has carried me through many trials. The memories bring warmth and happiness to my heart and fill my soul with joy. Since my mom passed away last month, I’ve thought a lot about the times that we spent together, the things that I learned, and the legacy she left behind. Sometimes remembering is very painful, and I’m reminded of all that I’ve lost. Other times, remembering brings such happiness and gratitude that my soul fills with peace. The memories of my mom are what I hold to during this time of grieving and loss.
However, the last several weeks have been difficult for me. My sister and I are now facing the heart-wrenching task of sorting through her belongings, her clothes, and all the items she possessed in this life. It hasn’t been an easy task, and I’m certain those of you who have lost someone dear can relate. Each trinket, article of clothing, and even her shoes still reflect a little bit of who she was. It's been very difficult to place those items inside a box. Yet a part of me realizes that although we are packing up those things she had on earth, we aren’t losing her to the depths of dark boxes and cold storage units. We are not packing away the things that truly matter in this life. I read a quote recently by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. He said, “Our firm personal testimony will motivate us to change ourselves and then bless the world. My mother had a testimony of the Gospel and she never failed to share her love of Christ with her family and those who knew her. She never failed to teach my sister and I those things she believed in and stood for. We may be packing away the physical items that surrounded her in life, but I am blessed in knowing that even in death, her testimony and example remain. My memories of her uphold me during this difficult time. No woman is ever old enough to lose their mother, but I’ve been blessed with the legacy she has left me, and I hold onto those thoughts as I face the years ahead. Her testimony was simple--powerful--and her presence on this earth, if only for a short time, blessed the world.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The three Rs...reading, writing, and riding

Jumping in the car (well....van), cranking the music, and going for a long drive, is one of my favorite things to do. With no errands to run or destination in mind, I feel free--happy. My kids quiet, my mind clears, and I can think to the beat of the music while I delight in the view of the valleys, streams and farms. I love to discover new places and the kids and I have discovered many "favorite" rides. Our best ride is the drive around Bird Island, near Lincoln beach at Utah Lake. We love the lake. My boys have a fantastic time discovering new birds along the shore line, and of course, we always have to stop to admire the spiders and insects in the rocks. We find a fossil or two, and then go on our way. I truly enjoy this time with my kids. Not only do they learn to appreciate the beauty that God has created on this earth, but they learn about new and amazing things. With each trip, their world broadens a bit more.

Riding and driving is also the best time for me. I love to write novels. Like an artist, the locales we visit and the amazing things we discover inspire my stories. I like to write about the places I visit and love the very best. I always try to incorporate the mountains, lakes, and towns we find into my novels. It feels like I'm bringing a little bit of that area home with me. I'm also a "people watcher". Some people might call that "staring", but I think of it more along the lines of "discovering".  I enjoy seeing how different people live their lives. Everyone has something unique to offer this world-- the farmer, the fisherman, the grocer, and so many, many more. Each person I see along my way inspires the characters in my stories. With just a passing glance, a new character can suddenly pop into my head, and slowly, a story begins to form. Seeing people and visiting new places help to bring my characters and plot to life. I can find the story's "personality" in my mind, and I love to create my new character's individuality. While writing the novel, my characters become real in my mind. I'm able to discover their background, their fears, their joy, and unique nature. And just as my characters come to life, so do the locales in which my stories are set. I enjoy researching new places and even more, visiting new places. 

Taking rides with my family is the inspiration for my creativity. I may not ever see all of my novels in print, but I am determined to never lose sight of my ability to create and discover. Like a souvenir, my stories are memories of the places I've seen, visited and loved. I'm blessed to live in such a diverse area with cities, valleys, mountains and deserts. I hope, like me, that the rides we take and the places we discover will leave lasting memories for my children, and will one day inspire in them the desire to create in their own unique ways.

Friday, May 6, 2011

When your child doesn't fit in the box....

As a young girl, I was diagnosed with ADD (attention deficit disorder). It has since then been renamed ADHD, and is broken down into three subtypes, each with its own set of behaviors. But, regardless of what it is now called, those of you who have children with this disorder know it's no easy diagnosis. From the earliest years of my school-hood I didn't fit inside the box. I was different. I was difficult to handle, and often, I made life downright nasty for my poor parents. The elementary years were by far the most difficult. I couldn't sit still long enough to learn what I needed. My mind drifted (my mind still drifts). I was easily frustrated, and quickly became bored with a task. I would jump from one idea to the next. Needless to say, I didn't do so well in school. My grades were....well, I'm sure you can guess. I couldn't remember facts or details, and I had a very difficult time retaining the information I learned.

Dealing with my "disorder" was not easy for my parents, especially my mom, who stayed home to raise my sister and me. I remember sitting for hours after school while my mother reviewed those things I had learned in school in an attempt to help me retain information and facts. She sat by my side while I completed my homework every night and I can easily remember how difficult I made this time with her. I cried, I howled, and I was really nasty. I can also remember her patience and her persistence. It frustrated me to no end. I thought "perhaps if I cry loud enough she'll give up and send me away", but she didn't. She kept at it. She did her best to make learning fun, and she found new ways to help me with my unique style of learning. Flash cards and memorization became my "best friend". And one of the greatest things she did, was read to me. I hated reading. I wouldn't pick up a book to save my life, but everyday, even as I grew older, my mother read to me.

As we moved into my Jr. High years, I still continued to struggle, but thanks to my mom's persistence and very hard work, I had developed skills that I could use in the classrooms to learn and to help me retain the information and the knowledge that I needed to be successful. My grades were less than average, and I struggled socially, but things were improving. My mom still sat with me, day after day, while I completed my homework. I am only now beginning to realize what a sacrifice this was.

Then, when I was about twelve years old, I finally managed to pick up a book on my own(with a whole lot of cheering from my mother). I remember the book clearly. It was called Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn. With my mom's encouragement ringing in my head, I set to work and began to read. I finished the book in one night. For the first time in years I had sat still and I was calm. I was amazed--enthralled. I'd read a book all on my own, and I'd loved it. It was then that the learning bug bit and all my mother's hard work came rushing to my aid. Using the skills she had taught me and the methods she had given me to cope with my ADHD, I soon became the top of my class. I LOVED to read. I couldn't sit still for anything, unless you stuck a book in front of my face. I also quickly discovered that not only did I love to read, I loved to write.

Writing and reading soon became my new medication. While reading or creating a story; my mind slowed down, my feet stopped tapping, I quit talking, and I could stay focused on one activity. My anxiety faded. As I grew older, writing became my stronghold from the storm. In high school I still struggled to learn, to retain facts, and to finish tasks and assignments, but I worked hard. I remained at the top of my class. I received several academic awards and I excelled where I had once failed. When things seemed too chaotic, I'd take some time and sit and write.

Today, I still struggle with inattention and hyperactivity. I jump from one task to the next. My house will prove it. I hate housework just as bad as I hated homework as a child. Still, I remember my mother's patience, and I use the lessons she taught me to remain on task and to retain the information I need in order to create a home for my family and children. And when things get too hectic, writing is still my balm. I can sit still for hours while I focus on creating a new story. I have fun with writing, and as my children get older I'm so blessed to be able to share my love of reading and writing with them, just as my mom did for me.

My oldest son has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. It's been difficult to watch him struggle with the same social hindrances and learning disabilities that I faced. My heart breaks for him when I see his frustration building and I understand how hard it is to cope. I know we have a hard journey ahead, but I am blessed to be able to understand how he feels and to know those struggles he will face. I am blessed to have my mother's example and I know, with patience and persistence, he and I can overcome the burden of ADHD together. In time, with guidance and direction, he too will understand ways to cope and I know that he can succeed in all that he does. And just as writing and reading became my medication, I know given time, he will discover his own method to channel his energies and creative "over-load". Every child is gifted in different ways. Like me, my child may not fit inside the box, but therein lies our adventure. I simply need to lift the lid.