Ironman and Ironwoman

Saturday marked the culmination of a year of training and preparation at our house. My husband competed in (and completed!) the St. George Ironman, swimming 2.4 miles, then biking 112 miles, then running 26.2 miles—all in about fourteen and a half hours. Way to go Dixon!!!!

It was an exciting, thrilling day, and it was a lot of fun to be a part of his hard work and success. I am so happy for him. And honestly, I am so happy it’s over, because it was also a difficult year and an exhausting day. Saturday as we stood at T2 (transition area where competitors finish the bike and start the run)for an hour and twenty minutes, I noticed a woman wearing a shirt that said, Ironmate.

No kidding, I thought. Not to diminish my husband’s spectacular accomplishment—something I could never in a million years do—but it also takes a “woman of iron” if you will, to hold it all together while he is training and triumphing. To give you an idea of what I mean, here’s a brief overview of competition day.

4:30 am

IRONMAN—leaves to catch his shuttle out to Sand Hollow Reservoir where the race will kick off (no pun intended) with the swim.

IRONWOMAN—begins packing everything but the hotel sink into the backpack she will wear today. Come to think of it, the sink would be useful too. When traveling with a toddler, it’s always good to have a source of running water.

5:30 am

IRONMAN—begins the arduous task of getting into his skin tight wetsuit.

IRONWOMAN—begins the arduous task of dressing everyone in three layers—a t-shirt for later when it’s hot, a sweatshirt for warmth now, and a jacket to keep out the wind that will inevitably come and go throughout the day. “Layers keep you warm, plus I don’t have to carry a bunch of heavy coats,” Ironwoman explains to her screaming toddler as she wrestles a sweatshirt over his head.

6:30 am

IRONMAN—is psyching himself up for the swim. “I can do this. I can do this. I’ve trained hard, and I CAN DO THIS.”

IRONWOMAN—is psyching herself up to step on the bus that will strand her and her children out at the reservoir for the next three (ended up being four) hours. “Did I pack enough diapers? Did I remember the baby’s leash? I should have brought something for us to sit on, but there is no way I could carry the camp chairs–maybe a large towel would have worked. I can’t believe I left my sunglasses back in Provo. I hope Andrew will keep his hat on today. I need to watch Hannah’s skin too. She is so fair and burns easily. Did I bring enough water? Did I remember to pack . . .”

7:00 am

IRONMAN—is off and swimming.

IRONWOMAN—is staring out at the sea of 2000+ matching swimcaps and praying for the one that is her husband. The swim scares her. People have died doing this event. She will be grateful when he is out of the water.

7:30 am

IRONMAN—is winning the mental battle and getting into his groove.

IRONWOMAN—is feeling pretty good. She packed well. So far she’s fed the kids Mcdonalds scrambled eggs and hashbrowns for breakfast, made a blanket tent for her daughter and set her up inside with a new DVD on the laptop, played bubbles with the baby, and is getting out the puzzles and books to keep him entertained.

8:30 am

IRONMAN—Is hauling. He owns the swim today.

IRONWOMAN—is positioning herself and the kids at the swim finish to see her husband, though he’s told her he won’t cross until at least 9:00 am.

8:42 am

IRONMAN—gets out of the water and runs toward the transition area. He’s stoked at his record time.

IRONWOMAN—is shocked to see her husband so early. He totally rocked the swim!!! She is so happy for him. She knows the hard part is past, and he’ll do great on the bike and run. But because he is so early, she doesn’t have the camera ready for a picture.

10:00 am

IRONMAN—is flying. On some of the downhill portions of the race, he’s clocking 44 mph. He knows Ironwoman would be upset with him if she knew how fast he is going. He goes fast anyway. He is the Ironman. He is invincible. He will be in trouble later.

IRONWOMAN—is still stuck on the bus, waiting to return to the fairground parking lot. The baby is losing it big time. Singing the “Wheels on the bus’ song has lost its amusement value. The bus driver has compassion and allows the baby to pretend to drive the bus while they wait, and wait, and wait . . .

1:30 pm

IRONMAN—is realizing he shouldn’t have pushed it so hard on that first bike lap. All those people he passed are passing him now.

IRONWOMAN—is so impressed and happy with her teenagers for driving down to see their dad compete that she doesn’t freak out at them for making it from Provo to St. George in THREE HOURS AND FIFTEEN MINUTES!!!!

3:30 pm

IRONMAN—is having technical difficulties . . . with his left knee. It is slowing him down considerably.

IRONWOMAN—is at T2 with her kids. She is holding her baby who is hot and tired and arching his back and screaming his lungs out. Ironwoman is developing some seriously iron arms holding this kid. Her youngest daughter really needs to go to the bathroom. She is standing next to Ironwoman and hopping up and down, repeatedly stepping on Ironwoman’s toes. “You have to hold it,” Ironwoman tells her. “We’re not missing Dad finish the bike and start the run. We’re ALL in pain right now.”

4:07 pm

IRONMAN—coasts into T2 and is glad to be done with the bike. His first step on his left leg does not encourage him about the run.

IRONWOMAN—has been standing at T2 with her family so long, that they are all somewhat lethargic and do not spring into action for the coordinated yell and sign waving. Still, Ironman sees them, and that’s something.

4:14 pm

IRONMAN—starts his run, pauses to say hi to the fam.

IRONWOMAN—trying to be encouraging tells IRONMAN he only has a marathon left now. He does not look encouraged. A cheer, a photo, and she waves her husband off. Next order of business: finding a bathroom before daughter wets her pants.

8:45 pm

IRONMAN—is pleased his knee has held up for most of the race, but it is starting to hurt again now.

IRONWOMAN—and her family are as close to the finish line as they can get (in the huge, swelling crowd of people). The cameras are ready. The sign is ready. Youngest daughter has fallen asleep on the ground. She is shivering. Ironwoman puts daughter in the stroller and tucks blankets in around her. Ironwoman holds the baby, who is tired, cranky and all around disgruntled with the situation.

9:15ish pm

IRONMAN—the finish line is in site.

IRONWOMAN—Here he comes! He’s still alive! We’re almost done!!! Both the video camera and the camera suddenly have dead batteries.

9:30 pm

IRONMAN—is sitting on the ground on the finisher’s area. He is not feeling so hot.

IRONWOMAN—finally fights her way through the crowds (while pushing an overloaded stroller carrying a sleeping, possibly sick, child)to her Ironman. She is alarmed that he does not look well. Her teenagers spring into action, getting their dad up and moving toward the food and massage tents.

10:30 pm

IRONMAN—is getting a massage and some pizza.

IRONWOMAN—is sitting on a park bench nursing her nearly inconsolable baby (he was almost weaned before this weekend, but that plan’s out the window for now). Her daughter is still in the stroller, shivering uncontrollably, though Ironwoman has placed every blanket and article of clothing she can find on top of her. A kind volunteer offers one of the ahtletes’ mylar blankets.

11:00 pm

IRONMAN—is feeling like he is going to live. He is gathering his things.

IRONWOMAN—is very relieved to find out Ironman is okay. Aside from simply being glad he is okay she wasn’t sure how she was going to get him, two sick, tired little kids, the stroller, his gear, and his bike the three blocks to the car on her own. Ironwoman bids farewell to the teenagers who have to drive home tonight. She lays down the rules (no going over 75mph; at least two of you awake at all times)before they leave. She knows she will not be able to sleep tonight until they are home safely.

11:30 pm

IRONMAN—is taking a hot shower.

IRONWOMAN—is nursing the baby again while coaxing her daughter out of her clothes and into PJ’s.

2:45 am

IRONMAN—is relieved to hear his kids made it home safe. He is worried about his knee.

IRONWOMAN—can finally sleep now that her kids are home safely. She is out cold in about 30 seconds.

8:00 am Sunday morning

IRONMAN—casually mentions to Ironwoman that he might want to do another Ironman competition someday.

IRONWOMAN—as she is changing the baby’s third messy diaper in the last hour—the result of trying very hard to keep him hydrated with lots of bottles of applejuice the previous day. “Now is not the time to discuss this.”

The Slothful Blogger

For the past few months I have been a slothful blogger, neglecting to post even a sentence or two as the rest of my life has been so crazy and complicated that I literally haven’t found a minute to spare—until tonight that is.

The house is quiet right now. Four are asleep, one is at work, one is at her first Homecoming Dance. While I wait up for her (and try to banish BYU’s depressing score from my mind), I thought I’d do as Rob Wells suggested and blog twitter style. No doubt writing something so short will be a challenge for me, but as it seems to be the wave of the future as well as my only possibility for blogging at all, here goes . . .

Summer is officially over, and I’m not quite sure where it went. But I’ll never forget one week that was spent at Lake Powell with my family. Best moment of the trip? When my nine-year-old said, “you were awesome Mom!” as I hauled myself back into the boat after skiing. After all, how often do we hear that from our children???

After Lake Powell I headed to California and had the privilege of witnessing love at its very best as I watched my grandmother’s devotion to my grandfather, who is suffering through the last stages of Alzheimer’s. This deserves much more than a twitter post, and I hope to write more later about the tender feelings I both saw and felt on this trip.

Love was also at its best in August when my husband worked incredibly hard to get our family moved. It was grueling, exhausting—a literal nightmare as we moved out of our home of 13 years and into a small rental house. Worst moment of the experience: When I returned alone to our empty home to clean. Thirteen years of memories—bringing babies home from the hosptial, first day of school pictures by the front door, family dinners, holidays, and all of the other precious moments of everyday living—assaulted me. I sat on the floor and bawled for a good, long time.

School started—too soon as usual. But this year not everyone went back. For the first time in a long time, I am not alone. Baby Andrew keeps me on my toes and by himself could easily entertain me all day. His older brother, graduated now and working nights, is also home during the day. And our fourth grader is here as well. After months of prayer and researching and more prayer and more researching, we made the difficult decision to remove her from her charter school and teach her at home. It is wonderful. It is hard. It is all consuming. It is what she really needs. I am throwing my whole heart and soul into this, and we are still praying—that it works.

Our rental house is a blessing. It is three blocks from our old home. Our children still ride the same buses. They go to the same schools and dance studio. Their friends can still come over—except that there is no room for them. Our rental house is a nightmare. Two bedrooms, one bathroom, no dishwasher, no air conditioning, and lots of mosquitos. Enough said.

Every morning, bright and early, we hear—through the same open windows that are letting both cooler air and mosquitos in—the sounds of construction. Backhoes, concrete trucks, hammers. It is the most wonderful sound to wake up to. We hear it all day long, and in the evening we go over to see what has progress has been made during the day. We take pictures. We walk through the rooms and dream about the day we will get to move into our new home. What a blessing it is, especially during these difficult economic times, to be able to build our dream home.

No one will have to share a room in our new home, and the timing couldn’t be better. Andrew is now a twenty-pound force to be reckoned with. He moves—fast! He eats—everything! And he is one of the most curious babies I’ve ever had. Oh, for the day I can put up a gate and he can play safetly in his own room. Except that by then he may have learned how to climb over the gate. He is Mr. Mischief, and he is a ton of fun. We all don’t know how we ever lived without him.

Thirteen is a difficult year. It’s worse when your parents make you move to a little old house, when your room in this house is a cubicle made from office dividers, when you don’t make the dance team you wanted to, and when the girl who bothered you at your old school transfers to your new one. As our oldest daughter approaches seventeen and leaves some of her teen angst behind, I’ve been dismayed these past few months to see our middle daughter moving into it. What’s a mom to do except provide lots of chocolate and hugs.

Eighteen is a difficult time. Especially if you’re a boy whose parents reallywant you to serve a mission. Especially if you have a girlfriend who is a great person. Especially if you are working full time and didn’t head off to college in September. Life is full of huge decisions and responsibilities. Everything has changed and keeps changing. Friends are getting married. Friends are entering the military. A year ago our son was a kid. Now it seems he’s expected to be an adult. What’s a mom to do to help him through this strange and hard time of life? Our favorite four letter word. PRAY. A lot.

My daughter is home now. Her date came to the door and thanked me for the opportunity to take her out. Major bonus points for that boy 😀 Carissa looked beautiful tonight. She has always been beautiful, but this past summer between her sophomore and Junior years, she’s really started to blossom—losing thirty pounds, getting her braces off, discovering things she likes and is good at. She’s a different girl than she was a year ago. She’s happy, self-confident. Delightful. I am happy for her and with her.

Being a wife and mother often takes every minute of my day and every ounce of energy and emotion I possess. Though I may be slothful with blogging, my days are a blur of activity from their very early start to their quite late finish. It seems there is no time for blogging, promoting my books, or lately, even writing. I am behind on my email, my checkbook, and my laundry. Yet my life is overflowing with blessings. I am never bored. Each day is full of challenges. And, as a wise character in my current work in progress explained . . .

“It’s all about joy.”

Heading to bed now, so I can cope with the joys tomorrow is sure to bring.


Last night our baby slept from 8 pm to 3 am—SEVEN HOURS!
Unfortunately I didn’t sleep much, as I was worrying about Andrew’s older brother, working his first night shift at the Sam’s Club in South Jordan. Thankfully, he arrived home safely this morning and said it was cake to stay up all night (guess if I was 18 again, I might think so too).
The seven hour milestone—as opposed to the up-every-two-hours program we’ve done for the past six months—gives me hope that sleep may soon be in my future again.

Happy, happy. Joy, joy!

Line upon Line

Since the birth of our son about five months ago (five months already!! Why does time have to go so fast?), I’ve had very little time to write. It isn’t just that having a baby again—after so long— has thrown me for a loop. Though yes, it certainly has. Rather, it’s the combination of all my children and their various ages and needs, which it seems I can never quite meet. The result has been that my new writing pattern is to start at about 9:30 in the evening and write until 11:00. It isn’t much time each day, but I can’t seem to get started earlier and I can’t seem to stay up later, as I’m still getting up with our baby a time or two in the middle of the night.

During these short sessions the most I’m able to get on paper is about 5 pages worth of story. If you do the math, at this rate it’ll take me about 100 days to complete my usual 500 page length manuscript. Factor in editing with my critique group, and I’ll be working at least a month beyond that. But that’s not too bad, so long as those five pages I draft each night keep taking the story where it needs to go. And, for the most part, they do. I have to admit that it’s still always a little bit thrilling to open up that document the next night and reread the pages I wrote the previous night—and find that they make sense! They entertain me. The characters are talking to each other like real people; the story is speaking to me. What a blessing this continues to be in my life. There are plenty of talents I lack, but my imagination is still alive and functioning. And for that I am grateful.

During the crafting of each story I write, there are always a few sentences I come to love. Maybe it’s that they made me laugh as I wrote them, or they tugged at my heartstrings the way I hope they tug at readers. Or maybe it’s that I had to beg my editor to keep them—as is the case with one of my very favorite sentences in All the Stars in Heaven. Why, some may wonder, would I beg to keep a sentence? After all, it’s just one line out of the thousands in each book. Because each is important, as they are the details that make the story and characters ring true and form the tempo of my writer’s voice. That voice is a little different in All the Stars in Heaven than it was in Counting Stars but I hope readers enjoy it as well. Here’s a sampling of some of my favorite lines from the story.

Her father had said they were always watching, and she wasn’t taking any chances.

“Hey, whatcha doing? That’s my moose.”

“I’m a beached boy. You know, like the band, except old and all washed up.”

“You’re just that kind of guy–the kind that does things like clean out the fridge, help friends with their homework, and babysit.”

This was new and dangerous and . . . she could hardly bear to think of giving it up.

I do what I have to to keep her alive, and you’d better remember it keeps you alive too.”

“Get your shirt on Jay, This is a G-rated house.”

“I’m going to have nightmares down here. The Jolly Green Giant attacking on one side, and Charlie the Tuna on the other.”

Let-me-run-my-fingers-through-those-curls-and-taste-that-flavor-on-your-lips—yeah, that’s it.

There had been times of discouragement certainly, but a glimpse of the night sky sprinkled with stars or of the full moon was all it took to remind her to stay on course. After all, if man could walk on the moon, so far away, she could someday walk away from the life she hated.

And the winner is . . .

These days there are so many things to blog about and so little time to blog. Since I’m having difficulty finding time to post more than once every few weeks, I thought I’d list a few of the things I’d like to blog about and you, the creative reader, can imagine what I might have said on those topics. It’s really a win, win situation—I’ve at least posted something (alleviating my reader-neglect guilt), and you end up with a much shorter blog to read, thus freeing up your time as well 😀

Here’s today’s list.

The 2009 Storymakers Conference quite literally rocked . . . still can’t get “I Wanna Be A Bestseller” out of my brain.

The wonderful, wacky, Whitney awards. I will post on this soon, photos included (I’ve got a great one of Stephanie Meyers presenting Brandon’s award). Who knew we were all such a bunch of goofballs?! EVERYONE who was there knows now.

Annette Lyon’s secret obsession with horses. After writing Tower of Strength, she swore she’d never write a book with a horse in it again. Guess what showed up in her chapter last week at critique?

Heather Moore won a second Whitney award and Best of State! Holy cow, I have such famous friends. When is some of that going to rub off on me?

Speaking of fame, another good friend—LuAnn Staheli—wrote a book that is going to be on Oprah. I’ll be posting my own, humble book review soon.

My four-month-old son is -now 15 1/2- pounds and twenty-six inches—about the same size his sister was at age one. But he still thinks we are starving him and wakes up a couple of times each night absolutely ravenous. My fondest wish for Mother’s Day? Sleep. On a regular basis would be nice. But I don’t really mind so much if I don’t get any. My fervent prayer last Mother’s Day was that we would defy the odds and get him here safely. I am so very, extremely happy to be this little (big) guy’s mom. He is our own personal miracle.

Another miracle . . . I finally have a second book coming out! All the Stars in Heaven is now available for pre-order at and online at Deseret Book. It’s scheduled to arrive in stores at the end of June. I’ll be posting excerpts, deleted scenes and other fun stuff in the coming weeks.

And finally . . .the thing I most want to blog about in my sparest of spare time, is my amazing husband. There ought to be a Whitney or Best of State or Best Always All Around Forever award for the most outstanding, supportive husband. Sorry to all you readers who think your guys are great, but my man would win this award hands down. Here’s a little example why.

Shortly after I registered for the Storymaker conference, my husband found out he had a conference the same weekend. This posed a slight problem, as I was counting on him to play single parent to our five kids that weekend. Turned out it was no problem, as Dixon explained to his boss why he couldn’t attend. Another employee from his office went to the conference, while my husband did an amazing job running things at home. He also ran our baby over to the Marriott every couple of hours so I could nurse him.

When I came home Friday evening there were about a half dozen extra kids at our house—teens in the basement watching a movie, and a kitchen full of cousins playing Killer Bunnies at the table. Dixon was busy making pizzas for all of them. The house was clean, the baby (having been hanging out with Dad quite literally—in the front pack) was happy. I went into the bedroom to do a little preparation for a panel I was on the following day, and my husband brought dinner in to me a while later.

The next morning he bought me flowers on the way home from his run. And that night, while I attended the Whitney Awards alone (alas, our baby kept my date away), Dixon drove circles around the Marriott, waiting for me to be done, and trying to keep our baby pacified until I was.

As usual, I feel in debt to this wonderful man I married. No matter what I do, it always seems he does more for me. We may not go dancing very often anymore; we haven’t made it to Hawaii yet. But romance is alive and strong in our household just the same. For while I was speaking about romance at the conference, Dixon was at home, sacrificing his weekend for me, reminding me what true romance is all about. Behind this published writer there is an extremely supportive man. And I’m so very grateful for him.

The Not-So-Savvy-Shopper or A Somewhat DELIcious Experience

It was with great anticipation a few weeks ago, that I headed out to attend the Daily Herald’s Savvy Shopper class. Though I’d been cutting coupons and receiving the Savvy Shopper emails for quite some time, I didn’t really have the hang of the program, nor was I saving money like I wanted to.

Amy, the Savvy Shopper, promised to change that. And at the end of her class that was jam- packed with information, I could see why. I left inspired—and somewhat overwhelmed—armed with her syllabus as well as a full page of notes. I couldn’t wait to get started, to shop and save.

After spending considerable time putting together my shopping binder, I headed to Smiths for my first Savvy Shopping experience. Once there I matched cereal sales to coupons for killer deals. Then it was on to the granola bars which, sadly, Smiths was out of. But no problem, per Amy’s suggestion, I’d simply ask for a rain check at the checkout.
Next, I headed to the beer aisle, in search of a nifty thing called a “beer rebate.” Feeling more than a little sheepish, I walked slowly up the aisle, studying each case of beer, looking for a tear pad with a rebate that would save me serious cash. I hoped not to run into any neighbors while I was shopping and could only imagine—if I did—the phone calls my husband might be receiving.

Bishop, are you aware your wife was in Smiths on Monday morning, shopping for alcoholic beverages?!

But then, just as Amy had promised, there it was—a tear pad on top of a pack of Budweiser. As quickly as possible I ripped one off (one and only one, I want to be a savvy shopper, not a greedy one) and left the Coors behind. Once I was safely ensconced on the bread aisle, I read the rebate form and found that if I bought $15.00 worth of deli items, I would get $15.00 back. How simple. How exciting! Though I’d been embarrassed to be seen searching amongst the beer, I had no qualms about Budweiser picking up the tab for my dinner. I bought a pizza, some lunch meat (both rare treats at our house), and some feta cheese for a spinach salad (all it took to convince my husband that this was a good program).

The rest of the shopping trip went well. I matched more coupons, then headed to the checkout to make my purchases and see my savings.

About this time—and because it had taken more time to shop—my sweet, three-month-old son decided he’d had enough and began howling. He doesn’t really cry, but makes a very loud scream-howl type of sound when he is hungry. It is not pleasant, and there’s nothing that will quiet him at this point, except me. And I wasn’t exactly available to nurse at that moment.

Hurrying as fast as I could, I threw the groceries on the conveyer belt and handed the cashier my coupons and fresh values card. In return he gave me a slightly irritated look that I read as Bad Mom. Can’t you get your kid to be quiet? I couldn’t, and felt far worse for Andrew, hungry as he was, than the impatient employee.

As I stood there, trying to calm my son, and thinking about his need to eat, a phenomenon known to all nursing mothers kicked in—my milk let down. It was then I remembered I wasn’t wearing any nursing pads (for those non-nursing readers, these are wonderful little pads that are worn in your bra to collect your milk, so your shirts aren’t constantly and embarrassingly wet). In my haste to get everyone out the door to carpool, I’d skipped the make-up and the nursing pads. And while I didn’t really care that the male cashier was seeing me without mascara, I did care that in about thirty seconds he’d be seeing me with two round, wet spots on the front of my black, fitted shirt.

Panic set in, and I did the only thing I could think of—I pulled my diaper bag backpack off my shoulder and clutched it to my chest, as if I were afraid someone was about to rob me and make off with the Huggies inside. You can imagine just how savvy I was feeling right about then. The cashier was giving me an even stranger look now, and I didn’t dare glance down to see if my shirt was the reason why. It seemed to take forever for the last few items to ring up—and even longer for him to deduct my coupons, which by now, I really didn’t care about. In fact, I probably would have paid twice the price for all the items in my cart, JUST TO GET OUT OF THE STORE FASTER!

The courtesy clerk asked if I needed any help.

“Yes,” I felt like saying. Isn’t it obvious I need a lot of help? I’m the mother of five—five (and that is a scary number, I’m telling you). I have to keep track of schedules from four different schools. I have to worry about college applications an AP exam dates for my oldest. Two of my children are in braces—at two different orthodontists, of course. I have science fairs, birthday parties, field trips, and check-ups to coordinate. I have to remember what appointments my husband has and when. I spend my evenings running around our kitchen table, helping my girls with geometry, algebra, biology, and health. I do at least four loads of laundry every day, and I’ve constantly got a sink full of dishes because all these kids are always fixing food, eating us out of house and home. Which is why I decided that now, during the most insane period of my life, is a great time to learn to be a savvy shopper, so we could maybe get our grocery bill to be less than our mortgage! Except that this youngest child, my baby, doesn’t seem to care for this program. He doesn’t care about groceries—won’t even take a bottle. He only wants to nurse and will continue to scream until he does. So hurry and get those groceries bagged, buddy!

At last the cashier handed me my receipt, and still holding the diaper bag to my chest, I grabbed my cart and steered my screaming infant out of the store. As I loaded my car, I realized I’d forgotten to get the rain checks, but even the thought of getting my family’s favorite granola bars for free was not enough to get me back inside.

Andrew screamed, and my milk ran in rivulets down the center of my shirt the whole drive home. My savings did not feel like much of a victory, but rather a mess. Sort of like everything else in my life right now. I fed Andrew, put the food away, did more laundry, washed more dishes. Then my family came home.

They were astonished to find a pizza in the freezer, something to drink other than water or milk (and no, it wasn’t beer, though I could use a good, strong drink by about 4:00 each day), and something for their lunches besides peanut butter and jelly. Everyone was appreciative and excited. Some even showed it by being a little more helpful. I felt the tiniest bit savvy when one of my kids—upon seeing Salami in the fridge—said, “cool, Mom.”

Guess food really is the way to their hearts. It was enough that I’ll try savvy shopping again . . . in a month or two.

Sleepy, But Smitten





So I missed my goal again last week—the one about blogging every Thursday. It isn’t that I’ve got nothing to say. In fact there are so many, many great things to blog about and . . . so little time. And I’m still running on so little sleep. Our sweet boy, now ten weeks old, is still a bit (more than a bit, actually) of a night owl. The result is that I’ve got a cumulative sleep-deprivation building up, and it’s starting to mess with my brain. I’m beginning to crave sleep the way some people crave chocolate or a great steak. Closing my eyes for more than an hour or two at a time has become my new obsession, my fondest desire, my favorite dream . . . oh, except I don’t have those right now. You have to achieve REM sleep for dreams to occur. Sigh. Someday we’ll get there again. But I’m not complaining. As you can see from the above pictures, Andrew is adorable. We may all be zombies around here, but we’re also completely smitten by the little guy. Day or night, as the case may be, we’re madly in love with him and enjoying every tired minute.
But I am so behind on my blogs. For example, have you noticed the cool little button on the top right of my page? I’ll tell you all about it soon, and about the great new book it’s showcasing by author Annette Lyon. If you like historical fiction, are interested in learning more about the Manti temple, or simply want to read a great love story, this book is for you.
There is also exciting news from author and good friend LuAnn Staheli. When Hearts Conjoin, the book she ghost wrote about the conjoined Herrin twins, has just been released and is already selling like crazy—and for good reason. What a fascinating story. Go, LuAnn! More on that book soon too.
Have I mentioned that Heather Moore’s (H.B. Moore on her books) novel Abinadi is a Whitney finalist? Last year Heather won the Whitney award for best historical novel, and it’s easy to see why she’s in the running again. Her meticulous research, combined with excellent storytelling, makes Abinadi a must read. As with Heather’s other scripture-based novels, this one will make you think about the scriptures, and the people in them, as you never have before. Good luck Heather! Winners will be announced April 25th. Visit the Whitney site if you’d like more information.
And one last piece of exciting news (especially for young readers), author J. Scott Savage’s next Farworld book will be released this September. Farworld, Land keep is a sequel to his best-selling Farworld Water keep that was released last fall. Personally, I can’t wait to see what happens to Kyja and Marcus and where this next book will take them.
In the meantime, I’m hopeful I’ll get to take a nap sometime soon :)

Kicking and Screaming

Last Friday was our daughters’ school skate night at Classic Skating. As is our tradition—for the past umpteen years—we loaded the Suburban with kids, scooters, and stroller and headed out. Once there my husband and I blatantly ignored the sign suggesting that those over age 25 NOT skate, and we got our wheels and laced up.

Soon we were out on the floor rolling to such classics as YMCA and Thriller—just like they played back in the day when we were the students. Of course I’d made sure to wear my glow-in-the-dark white, and when the lights were low, my husband and I linked hands for the Snowball skate. Ahhh . . . memories.

Perhaps that’s why I always have fun at skate night. It reminds me of a time when life was simpler. A time when I communicated with my friends via the avacado green telephone in our kitchen. If I needed privacy while talking, I stretched the spiral cord around the corner and into my bedroom where I could sit on the carpet with my back against the door.

This was also a time when TV was free. We simply pushed the “On” button and turned the knob to one of five channels.

When it came time for writing the dreaded term paper, I sat down at our IBM Selectric typewriter. And while I typed, I stuck a cassette tape into the boombox on top of my dresser.

Yes, life was good—and simple. At the tender age of twelve I could operate every electronic device in our home, including our brand new microwave that took up approximately three feet of the kitchen counter.

Life is good now too, but it isn’t so simple anymore. Now, along with the two cordless phones in our home—phones that are always dead and can never be located, as our children don’t seem to understand the concept of hanging them up—I have a cell phone, where my family can reach me at the worst possible times.

“Mom, rehearsal got out early, and the director is locking up the building. Can you come and get me right now?” As I’m 3/4 of the way through the grocery shopping on the other side of town.

“Mom, I slipped at recess and got mud on my pants, can you bring me some new ones?” When I’m in the dressing room at Penneys trying on pants—pants I desperately need, by the way. If I fell in the mud I’d be in trouble with only one pair that fits right now!

“Mom!” Uncontolled sobbing into phone. “I—need—” More sobbing.

Me–“What? What do you need? Which child is this?” While cars behind me beep because I haven’t moved and the light has been green for ten seconds.

See what I mean? Cell phones, while a blessing, have also really complicated my life. Occasionally I forget to bring mine with me when I’m out. The result is usually two hours of uninterupted bliss, during which I actually accomplish what I went out for in the first place.

Along with communicating by phone here, there, and everywhere, I have an email account with 2400 unread messages (and no, I’m not exaggerating. As of this morning the exact total was 2426). It isn’t that I never respond to email—I do every day. It’s just that a lot of good info comes my way from the various links I’m on (writing, parenting etc.), and I feel the need to read them . . . I’m just not sure when that will happen.

As if keeping up with email I already had wasn’t too much for me, I joined Goodreads a while back. At first I thought it would be great fun, rating books I’d read and getting reading suggestions from others. Wrong! Aside from the fact that I haven’t found the time to rate the books I’ve read these past few months, I can’t begin to keep up with all that my friends are reading. Just the subject line on several of my unopened emails is enough to overwhelm me.

You have 64 new updates from your friends . . .

For a while I kept a notebook next to my computer and jotted down books that sounded good. When the list reached five pages I threw it out—and quit opening my Goodreads mail. It was too depressing. Even as fast as I read, I’ll never be able to get to all those great books.

Then my previous editor, Angela Eschler, asked for a recommendation on Linkedin. Because Angela is so awesome and truly a brilliant editor, I was happy to accomodate her request. But I had to join Linkedin to do that. Little did I realize that other people would want to link in with me. And it’s not that I don’t want to—it’s that I have very limited time at the computer. And I most often choose to use that to write . . . except not on this blog.

Which is yet another technilogical wonder I both love and can’t seem to handle. Blogging is such fun . . . blogging eats up the time I should be working on that troubled chapter. My friends on Writers in Heels all seem to blog on a very regular basis and they write more books each year than I do. I’m not sure what my problem is, but if I blog once a month these days I’m doing really good.

Unfortunately my technology overload syndrome extends beyond the computer. Our telvision requires four remotes—one to control the TV, one for the satellite, one to run the DVD player, and one for the VCR (yes, we still have one of those)—and I can never keep them all straight. Good thing probably, as that keeps me from wasting valuable time watching the 100+ channels that came with our media package. I pay for this media package via automatic bill pay, which I do love, though online banking is something I now make time for each day.

My husband has also been trying to convince me of the merits of other online venues. On Valentine’s Day, when we were out to dinner with family, my sister-in-law shared with us some of the latest Facebook posts from our oldest daughter. These—in particular one about a party at our house when we were going to be out of town–prompted my husband to get with the program and get on Facebook. And within a few days’ time, I had a third teenager staring at the computer for hours on end.

“You’ve got to try this!” Dixon told me. “Look who’s on here. I haven’t seen him since high school.”

“Great,” I mumbled, thinking that I hadn’t seen the bottom of the laundry basket for about six weeks and that ranked a little higher on my priority list.

Thinking he was helping me out, my husband signed me up for Facebook. He, along with several authors I know, assured me it would be great for networking and promoting my next book. And I’m sure it would, if I had the time to write on walls and all that. As it is, I’m acquiring even more emails now—emails that I could simply erase if not for the fact that they involve people I know and therefore feel compelled to respond to . . . or at least save on my email until too many months have passed for a response to make sense.

And so the emails, like my laundry, continue to pile up. I’m forever behind both online and at home. I’m not sure when it will get better. I think I’ll cry if it gets worse.

My husband recently suggested we get TIVO, so we can watch all those shows we think look good but we ultimately miss because prime time at our house is help-with-algebra-and-biology-homework time.

Are you crazy?! was my thought process after this suggestion. If we start saving television shows I’m really sunk. If I miss something now—too bad. But if I know it’s waiting for me, it’ll be one more thing on my long to-do list. So I’m putting my foot down this time. There will be no more new technology in this house for a while. Perhaps I’m living in the wrong century, but you’ll have to drag me kicking and screaming into this next one because I want to live–away from all our gadgets sometimes. Like right now, when I plan to take my son out of his motorized swing and hold him in my arms while I sit in our old, creaky rocking chair.

At least I know how that works.

Brothers at last

For the past sixteen years our home has had a decidedly feminine aura about it. Pink princess wallpaper, canopy beds, fairy tea parties, American Girl dolls, Easy Bake ovens, blessing and baptism dresses, ballet slippers, dance recitals and the like have filled our life with all things girly. They have been sweet and wonderful years . . . except for those occasions when the unpleasant female traits (whining, crying, pouting) took over. How I love and adore my girls! How blessed I’ve been to be the mother of three lovely daughters. And how much fun we have together— baking, shopping, scrapbooking, painting toenails. I have a true girly girl, a more tomboyish girl, and one in between. I have one in grade school, one in middle school, and one in high school. And each is delightful in her own way. I love being their mother, and I love that they have each other as sisters.

I also love my son. At his arrival as our firstborn, eighteen years ago today, I originally wasn’t quite sure I was up to the task of raising a boy. After all, I’d only had sisters myself. I felt clueless about all things boy; that I had one was a little scary. But not for long. In the space of about a heartbeat, I fell madly in love with the little guy. He proceeded to fill our lives with wonder, his curiosity bringing a lot of laughter and joy to our home. He’s always kept us on our toes, with never a dull moment inbetween. I love being his mother, and I’ve always felt bad that he didn’t have a brother. In our home, with its overwhelming female population (even the dog is a girl), he’s survived and even thrived, but for quite some time we’ve both felt something—or someone—was missing.

Periodically, over the past several years, he would say things to me like, “you know, Mom, you could have another baby.”

To which I’d often reply, “You’re funny, son.”

When this continued as he grew older I started to think, Huh?! What kind of teenage boy tells his mother this? Aren’t teens supposed to be selfish and self-centered and all that? And he definitely had his moments (okay, days, weeks—years) in that stage, but the idea of one more child—specifically a little boy—continued to nag at the back of my mind. After a while, the nagging turned to dreaming about this little boy, and before I’d realized what was happening, I could not stop thinking of him. Someone really was missing.


By the time my husband and I figured this out, we were into our late thirties. Time was ticking, and our family was growing older. And just because we felt there was one more child meant for us did not mean he was going to arrive easily—or anytime soon.

Over three years and a few complications later, he’s finally made it. Andrew Fielding Holmes arrived January 2, weighing in at 7 lbs 14 oz. Six weeks later he’s about 10 pounds, and the rest of the family is about a month behind on their sleep. But it’s worth the sleep loss, the chaos, the craziness of having five children ages one month to eighteen. It’s worth every bit of stress and sleep deprivation when I see my boys together. Though there are many years separating them, they already have a special bond—one I’m certain was formed long before either arrived in this world.

So happy birthday, Spencer—your first with your brother. Though you’re on the brink of adulthood, ready and eager to take off into the world, we hope (and imagine) you’ll stick around a little longer. If for no other reason than to give Andrew some balance in our house of girls.

Dress for Success

We’ve all heard many times that how we dress more often than not will reflect how we feel, act, perform etc. I’ve tried to explain this concept to my teenagers—as they slink off to school in sweats with holes in them—and I’ve certainly felt it myself lately, as I spend these last few weeks of pregnancy wandering around in mumu-type attire. I look dowdy, therefore I feel dowdy. Oh how I can’t wait to wear jeans with a zipper again! But that’s a whole other subject.

This morning the “how we dress is how we feel and act” concept really hit home with an incident involving my two youngest daughters. This week is spirit week at their charter school—a wonderful and timely break from the ususal uniform dress code—and today is pajama day. Unfortunately, neither of my daughters currently have a stellar selection of pajamas. My seventh grader took this in stride, borrowing a pair of her brother’s plaid pajama pants and pinning them so they wouldn’t fall off her narrow hips (sure hoping that pin stays in place today!), but my third grader was beside herself this morning, concerned over her year-or-two old fleece poodle pajamas that were clearly several inches too short.

After examining them, I told her I could let out the hem, so at 7:30 this morning, I was frantically unpicking stitches, hoping that extra inch might make her feel a little better. But it didn’t take long for me to remember that fleece and unpicking don’t go well together. At the least I was going to end up with a hole or two–probably making my daughter’s angst worse. When I broke the news to her that she’d just have to wear the PJ’s short, she had near tears in her eyes and said, “Please Mom, can I have new pajamas for Christmas this year?”

I assured her that, yes, she could (as I knew a pair were already under the tree), and then it occured to me that I should simply give them to her early—as in this morning. Now lest you get the impression we’re impoverished, let me assure you we’re not. But we are frugal, and we simply don’t buy things for our children at any other times except for Christmas and their birthdays. And even then gifts often tend to run on the practical side. Along with a few treats, they know their stockings will also have tubes of toothpaste, shampoo, and a new pack of socks in them. This is how they’ve grown up, so we’ve never really had any complaining. And my daughter wasn’t complaining this morning, but I could tell how much the too-short PJ’s were affecting her. And so on a spur of the moment whim, I told her to go look in the very back of the tree for a red American Girl bag.

Her eyes got big when I said this, and I could see the wheels turning in her mind American Girl? My mom got me something from American Girl? And I get to open it now?!Her older sister helped her locate the package, and with great delight I watched as Hannah tore into it and discovered the pink, silky polka dot pajamas she’s wanted for at least a few Christmases now. It was with great debate that I’d ordered these a few weeks back, as the products in that catalog are so out of our budget. But I’d happened to have a $10.00 off coupon, and I’d rationalized the purchase (that still ate up 1/3 of my $100. per child Christmas allowance)because Hannah is my last little girl, and there won’t be too many more Christmases when she wants little girl things. In about two seconds this morning, I realized I’d made the right decision—both in the splurge and in letting her open them early.

“Oh, Mom,” she first exclaimed. Then, “They’re exactly the one’s I wanted.” Shock in her voice. “They’re beautiful. They’re perfect. I love them.” And on and on her gushing went. It was one of those parent moments we savor, and I was truly loving it—other than feeling guilty my husband wasn’t home to enjoy it too.

On went the new pajamas, and there was much twirling in front of the mirror. Hair was curled, the bunny slippers (also a couple of years old, but still in good shape) were located and declared a perfect match. Hannah couldn’t stop exclaiming over how soft and pretty the fabric was. In a matter of a few minutes, I’d watched my daughter go from near despair to complete joy—all because of a pair of pajamas.

As I curled her hair, I brought her back down to earth again, reminding her that it was Thursday, the day of the spelling pretest. All year she has struggled with spelling, though it is her sincerest desire to do as well as her peers. One of her most fervent wishes is to get one hundred percent on Thursday, so she won’t have to retake the test Friday. Thus far, she hasn’t even come close. But this morning, as I quizzed her on words, she rattled them all off–as if she’d been spelling them for years.

“Hannah,” I said, when we’d gone through the whole list. “You just got them all right. You can get 100% today!” There was more joy on her face, as she realized her accomplishment.

“I can, can’t I?” She was thrilled with this realization, and ran out to her carpool confident and excited to go to school in those beautiful pajamas and to do her best in spelling. From here on out, I will remember this morning fondly as the morning of the wonderful pink, silky pajamas. Pure magic.

Throughout all of this emotion, my seventh grader had also enjoyed her sister’s happiness, but I wanted to give Alyssa some of her own as well. The previous night my husband and I had already discussed giving her one of her presents early—before she attends her first ever dance tomorrow. She’s been dreading this dance, as “boys are gross” (yay for her, I say. Just keep thinking that until you’re twenty-five), but her friend on the student council has persuaded her to come. As the dance is “best dress” this brought up a whole other problem—Alyssa’s best dress wardrobe being not a whole lot better than her pajama selection.

So this morning, following the great pajama incident, I let her open one of her presents as well, a darling ice-blue twin set she can wear with either of her two practical skirts—white or black. It was another score. She loved it, exclaimed over it, and suddenly couldn’t wait to get dressed up and attend the dance tomorrow. Feeling pretty at your first dance is so important. And she is pretty, even in her brother’s pinned up PJ’s today, but sometimes a girl just needs a little something to make them feel special. I’m betting that new outfit will do just that tomorrow, and she’ll have a confident smile on her face as she heads to the school gym, for a winter wonderland dance with all those gross boys.