Saturday, December 24, 2011

School Christmas Program

Our elementary school likes to be politically correct. Our Christmas program is now the "holiday" program. In their effort to not offend anyone, they've actually offended the majority of community members by trying to take Christmas out of the holidays. Sure, we get a sign here or there but generally the program is very secular and many years it's had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas.

This year I went to the dress rehearsal of the program. I noticed that my daughter was singing some song she'd made up about an Irish man and an American man because they were supposed to be representing St. Stephen's Day in Ireland. This holiday is actually religious but it was difficult to see that on stage. After the rehearsal my daughter came home and I talked to her about the song. We then decided she'd sing, "Silent Night," instead. She practiced all afternoon. (I still don't know why she was dressed up as an alligator).

After her performance many people, including her music teacher who had put the program together, complimented her. Her teacher said the song "touched her soul." I was so proud of her. The song was so sweet and, for a moment, reminded all of us about the true meaning of Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Performance

My daughter is a member of Applause, a performing choir, that performed at a local mall yesterday. She is the tall blonde. They all did a wonderful job. I love that they learned sign language for this song, A Gift of Love.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gabby's Secret

I'm so excited! My new children's chapter book, Gabby's Secret, is now available on the Kindle and on the Nook. 

Back Cover:

Third-grader Gabby Honeycutt is devastated when her teacher asks the whole class to participate in the school talent show because everyone will discover her horrible, terrible secret--she's talentless.

Or is she?

What do you think? It's a short chapter book for kids ages 6-8 (third grade reading level) and was inspired by one of my daughters.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Life is Fragile

My oldest son graduated from high school in 2005. In the last few weeks, two of his classmates have passed away. One died from blood clots in her lungs. I did not know her but feel sad for her family and friends. She was only 24.

The second classmate, Tyler Black, who died over the weekend in a single-engine plane crash on his way to Aspen, I did know. He was in the theater program with my son. He was quite thin and for one of the dance shows he was dressed up as Superman and did some hilarious dance moves. I don't even remember who else was onstage with him because he was so funny he stole the scene. My son was cast as Captain Hook in Peter Pan during his senior year. Tyler was cast as his sidekick, Smee. Tyler played this character so well. He was creepy yet endearing. He and my son made a great combination on stage. Since that time, I often saw Tyler in the audience at various performances supporting his friends.

Tyler's mother has been the choir teacher at our middle school for many years. She's taught most of my kids and was especially encouraging with one of my daughters inviting her to perform in a song competition. She's worked hard to help kids in middle school learn to sing. I cannot imagine the despair she feels at this time.

I have lost both my parents, my maternal grandparents who raised me after my parents died, my paternal grandfather, my sister-in-law, and a very close family friend. Losing a loved one is so painful. My grandmother often said that losing a child was the worst possible pain. I think that the day my mother died, part of my grandfather died with her. He said several times he wanted to jump in the coffin with her. So heartbreaking.

I am thankful for the plan of happiness and to know, really know, that life does not end with death. Though it is very painful to lose someone, death is simply a step in our eternal progression. It is this knowledge that has allowed me to go forward in mortality. I know I will see those I've loved and lost. And I know they are never very far from me.

I don't think the pain of losing someone ever fully disappears, but it isn't that sharp, stabbing pain as time goes on. I still miss those I've lost to death. And I become emotional when I speak about them, but I have faith I will be with them again someday.

Life is very fragile. We never know what will happen. Tyler had no idea that this plane trip would be his last or that his post on FB before boarding that plane would be his last. His family had no idea. We must make each day count. We must love each other. We must forgive. We must let go of anger and grudges. We must let those we love know that we love them. Every day.

We never know when it will be the last goodbye. I still remember vividly the day my father left for work and I got up to tell him goodbye, something I didn't usually do. I even ran to my bedroom window to watch his car leave the subdivision. It was the last time I saw him.

I hope that the families of these two young people will find some comfort. I hope they will feel the arms of the Lord wrapped around them as they trudge through life without their loved ones. And I hope that we will find joy with those who are yet alive. That we will take the time, especially during this season, to right any wrongs and to let those we love know that we love them because life is so very fragile.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Long Month

November was a very long month as months go. Seems like our family was hit with trials all at once. Through these experiences, I've been able to learn a few things.

1. There is no peace like the peace that comes from God. He is there to comfort us and help us when things are difficult.
2. God wants to bless us, even in times of difficulty. One of the sweetest ways is through priesthood blessings.
3. I am raising eternal children and an eternal family. Activities are fun and watching them develop talents is important, but everything is secondary to living the gospel.
4. Don't stress about the small stuff. It's okay if the house is messy or the meal isn't gourmet or my shoes don't match my purse. Stress about what is truly important: saying prayers, studying scriptures, attending meetings and the temple, serving others, family unity, having FHE, focusing on the Savior, and living the gospel--the rest of it doesn't matter too much.
5. Prioritize the most important things.
6. Love others as the Savior does and don't be selfish with blessings. Kindness and love go a long way in soothing a soul.
7. Heavenly Father knows and loves each one of us and He watches over us and inspires others to help when necessary. It is our responsibility to be prepared to be inspired. What a blessing it is to see this in action.
8. Don't be so judgmental and critical of others' actions or inactions because you just don't know what they may be struggling with or what burdens they may be silently carrying. Better to give someone the benefit of a doubt than to assume something that isn't true.

Life is a beautiful thing. It is such a blessing to live in mortality and to learn to rely on God. He knows all and understands all, even when we don't, or especially when we don't. If we learn nothing else in this life, we must learn to trust in Him.

I am truly thankful for all that I've been blessed with. I don't live in a mansion or drive a fancy car. I'm usually dressed in sweats with no make-up. I don't go on exotic vacations every year or get may hair and nails done each week. But, I have what matters most. A loving, honorable husband who is steadfast and immovable and loves me and our children, children who are trying to make the right choices each day and showing me how to be a better person, extended family that quietly serves and sets a Christlike example for me, and I have the most important thing of all, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Book Giveaway Winner

Thanks to all of you who entered the contest to win a copy of my book in recognition of Down Syndrome Awareness Month. I appreciate the support!

Without further ado, the winner is . . . .

Drum roll, please.



You can email me your address at talleyrl(AT)yahoo(DOT)com.

Thanks again to everyone who entered.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Book Giveaway

Today is the last day of the month and the last day to enter my contest to win a copy of my book The Upside of Down. It's easy to enter. The rules are here. You might want to enter to win a copy for yourself or maybe as a gift for someone for a birthday or Christmas.

October is Down Syndrome Awareness month. I've discovered there are still so many misconceptions about DS. People are still so fearful of DS and that tends to breed prejudice. My son does have some challenges, but he also has talents and strengths. He is currently in speech therapy so he can learn to better communicate verbally. He is also still working on potty training. But, he is also doing well learning his letters and he's reading words from flashcards. He's also a whiz on the computer and can use the DVR remote better  than I can.

He signed his part in the Primary program yesterday and it was very sweet. He also stood proudly with all the boys while they sang, I Hope They Call Me on a Mission. He wore a suit, white shirt, tie, and "future missionary" name tag. He was adorable.

He has such a funny sense of humor and loves to make others laugh. He loves to jump on the trampoline. He loves to eat pudding, string cheese, and apple sauce. His favorite cartoon is SpongeBob (I think it makes his brains fall out his ears, but he loves it and can even say SpongeBob). His laugh is infectious and he has the brightest eyes.

Would I wish a child with DS on anyone? Absolutely not. I would only wish a child with DS on someone who would be thankful for such a blessing. I would only wish a child with DS on someone who could see beyond the challenges and see the child the same way that Heavenly Father sees him/her. I would only wish a child with DS on someone who would value that child and do his/her best to allow that child to reach his/her potential. Not everyone is cut out to raise a child with DS--many of us, like me, never knew we had it in us. Having a child with DS does bring challenges, but those challenges are so minor compared to the tremendous blessings.

I may not have planned to have a child with DS, but I am ever so grateful that Heavenly Father entrusted my son to me. I have learned far more from him than he will ever learn from me.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Those with Special Needs Are Not Burdens

My daughter's high school English class had a discussion about people with special needs after reading, "Of Mice and Men." The question posed to the class was whether or not people with disabilities are burdens.

My very tender-hearted daughter, who spent 2 years in middle school working with kids with special needs, was astonished to find so many in her class who believe those with disabilites really don't deserve to live. One girl was adamant that people with disabilites are like animals. Another girl believed they shouldn't be cared for. Others agreed that people with disabilites are complete burdens on everyone. My daughter was relieved that one young man pointed out that everyone in that room was a burden.

My guess is that none of those kids have ever worked with nor been around someone with special needs. How sad to have such a narrow view.

Are we raising our kids to see those who have challenges as nothing more than animals? Are we so focused on perfection that we relegate those who are "imperfect" to sub-human status? Do we consider those with challenges as burdens?

We like to think we've come so far when it comes to discrimination, but the truth is, there's still plenty of prejudice and ignorance to go around when it comes to people with special needs.

Let's teach our children the truth. We all have challenges. Some may be more visible than others, but we all have them. Let us be kind and and merciful when we encounter those who have disabilites. After all, however merciful we are to others, for whatever reason, is how merciful God will be with us.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book of Mormon Combats Evil

We have a history teacher in our school district who is teaching her students that there are no heroes or villains in history, no right or wrong, no good or bad. She says it's a matter of perception.


We haven't had people commit horrible acts of violence throughout history? Hitler or Stalin or Hussein? If we don't admit these men committed heinous acts against millions of people how will we learn and prevent such things from happening again?

No heroes? What about the men and women who have lost their lives protecting our freedom? The founding fathers? Ghandi? Florence Nightingale? Mother Theresa? If we don't recognize heroes how can we emulate and model heroic behavior?

Last year, my middle school daughter had a teacher who told her she needed to stop listening to her parents and form her own opinions. Interestingly enough, he never told the other students this--you know, the ones that agreed with him. He only focused on my daughter because she disagreed with him on social issues and took a strong stand that right and wrong do exist. He unsuccessfully tried to sway her thinking to embrace the idea that morality is relative.

I used to scratch my head when people would say that the Book of Mormon was written for our day because it was written so long ago--how could it be for today? As I was thinking about these teachers and the false ideas they are attempting to plant in the minds of students I started reading in Alma when Korihor came to town. He taught the people similar things as these teachers. He told them to stop believing the "foolish traditions of their fathers" and to not worry about what they were doing because there was no God.

Korihor demanded a sign before he would believe and when he was struck dumb as that sign, he begged for the curse to be lifted and said he now believed. Too late. He ended up begging for food and was trampled to death. He'd been deceived by the devil who had appeared to him as an angel.

Many are being deceived today and seek to further that deception in our society and in our schools. If we read and study the Book of Mormon we will know how to spot and combat ideas that will lead us away from truth and away from God.

The Book of Mormon is our defense to combat Satan and his attempts to carefully lead us down to hell.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Trip to Utah

We spent this last weekend visiting our kids in Utah. My son and his wife are trying to purchase a home in Payson and we wanted to see it. We had a lot of fun together. We drove up Payson canyon and took some photos I wanted to share. The canyon is an explosion of colors. I've never seen such vibrant, magnificent colors. If you live anywhere near Payson, UT you need to take a drive up this canyon. It's breathtaking. These photos don't do justice to the spectacular show of colors, but they do showcase my rather awesome family!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Homecoming Queen

This story warms my heart and gives me hope that kids with Down syndrome can enjoy the same things as kids without DS. I love the expression on this beautiful young woman's face when her name is announced. They say everything is bigger in Texas--apparently so are the hearts of the voting student body in this high school.

I hope we can all see people with DS as people, not as chromosome counts.

Thanks to Elodia Strain for posting the link on the Writing Fortress blog.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Down Syndrome Awareness Month: Book Giveaway

In recognition of Down Syndrome Awareness Month I am going to give away a copy of my novel, The Upside of Down. While my book does have a sub-plot about DS, it is not about DS. The story is about an LDS woman who thinks she has indestructible faith until her life is turned upside down and she must decide whether or not she still has faith. The title is a play on words.

Too many people still have misconceptions about Down syndrome. I didn't know much about it until I had to learn. Since then, I've realized that people with DS are much more like those of us without it than not. They have distinct personalities, likes and dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, talents, dreams, struggles, etc. Because their struggles are more visible, they tend to be targets of ridicule and name-calling. Many people in our society are still ignorant of what people with DS can do and how people with DS can make the world a better place.

We become so focused on perfection we fail to see the blessings of imperfections. Currently, the medical profession is working to eliminate DS from our society. Not by curing it, but by preventing it through abortion.  Specialized testing is now available earlier in pregnancy so more pregnancies diagnosed with DS can be terminated thereby practicing selective birthing.

The message: those with DS are sub-human and should not be allowed to live simply because they have an extra chromosome. Sounds Hitleresque to me.

I want to make people aware that while parenting a child with DS has its unique challenges, it also has great and wonderful blessings. I can't imagine my life without my son. I have found great joy in the simple things I took for granted with my other kids. I have learned patience and acceptance and total reliance on my Heavenly Father to guide me in how to best serve my son. I've learned things I did not learn with my previous nine children. My son's life has been a gift to me.

So, my gift to you is a chance to win a copy of my book. The contest will run through midnight, October 31st.  I will use to choose a winner on November 1st. If you'd like to enter:

1. Become a follower--1 entry
2. Tell 3 friends about my book--1 entry
3. email me at talleyrl(AT)yahoo(DOT)com or leave a comment here to let me know what you did.

Thanks for your interest!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Writing Ups and Downs

First, for a writing "up." The cover for The Upside of Down is on a Goodreads list of breath taking covers of 2011. If you like this cover and want to vote for it here is the link Thanks!

Now, for a writing "down." I wrote a short ebook Hook Me: What to Include in Your First Chapter to help aspiring writers know what to include in a first chapter. It's based on my experience reading many, many first chapters from novice writers. I placed it on Kindle and on Smashwords for $.99. Earlier this week, someone posted a very negative reviewon Amazon giving it 2 stars and warning people to stay away. The reviewer even said that after reading the entire book he/she asked for a refund of the $.99. Others who've read the book then posted 5-star reviews. Interestingly enough, the 2-star reviewer changed his/her rating to 1-star and then another very negative review popped up with another 1-star. Bad reviews are nothing new, but this one seems odd, almost as if the reviewer(s) is on a personal vendetta or crusade to stop people from purchasing my ebook. I have no idea what sparked such a response nor how my book might have offended the reader(s). It's been interesting to watch and disappointing that someone would be on such a crusade to stop every potential reader from purchasing the book simply because he/she didn't find it valuable. I don't understand it. The reviews are here if you want to read them

Writing makes me feel bi-polar at times. Up one minute, down the next. Some days I feel like quitting and never writing another word and other days I feel like there will never be enough time to write all that's in my head and heart. Quite the strange business. I've often thought it would be easier to be a brain surgeon, but as my friend Josi Kilpack pointed out, you can't continually revise a brain surgery you have to actually get it right the first time.  Guess I'll stick to writing.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Blue Rose

This is circulating on the internet. Thank you to my sister for passing it along to me. I do not know who wrote it, but this sweet story brought tears to my eyes and I wanted to share it with you. May we all acknowledge the blue roses around us.

A Blue Rose

Having four visiting family members, my wife was very busy, so I offered to go to the store for her to get some needed items, which included light bulbs, paper towels, trash bags, detergent and Clorox. So off I went.

I scurried around the store, gathered up my goodies and headed for the checkout counter, only to be blocked in the narrow aisle by a young man who appeared to be about sixteen-years-old. I wasn't in a hurry, so I patiently waited for the boy to realize that I was there. This was when he waved his hands excitedly in the air and declared in a loud voice, "Mommy, I'm over here."

It was obvious now, he was mentally challenged and also startled as he turned and saw me standing so close to him, waiting to squeeze by. His eyes widened and surprise exploded on his face as I said, "Hey Buddy, what's your name?"

"My name is Denny and I'm shopping with my mother," he responded proudly.

"Wow," I said, "that's a cool name; I wish my name was Denny, but my name is Steve."

"Steve, like Stevarino?" he asked. "

Yes," I answered. "How old are you, Denny?"

"How old am I now, Mommy?" he asked his mother as she slowly came over from the next aisle.

"You're fifteen-years-old Denny; now be a good boy and let the man pass by."

I acknowledged her and continued to talk to Denny for several more minutes about summer, bicycles and school. I watched his brown eyes dance with excitement, because he was the center of someone's attention. He then abruptly turned and headed toward the toy section.

Denny's mom had a puzzled look on her face and thanked me for taking the time to talk with her son. She told me that most people wouldn't even look at him, much less talk to him.

I told her that it was my pleasure and then I said something I have no idea where it came from, other than by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I told her that there are plenty of red, yellow, and pink roses in God's Garden; however, "Blue Roses" are very rare and should be appreciated for their beauty and distinctiveness. You see, Denny is a Blue Rose and if someone doesn't stop and smell that rose with their heart and touch that rose with their kindness, then they've missed a blessing from God.

She was silent for a second, then with a tear in her eye she asked, "Who are you?"

Without thinking I said, "Oh, I'm probably just a dandelion, but I sure love living in God's garden."

She reached out, squeezed my hand and said, "God bless you!" and then I had tears in my eyes.

May I suggest, the next time you see a BLUE ROSE, don't turn your head and walk off. Take the time to smile and say Hello. Why? Because, by the grace of GOD, this mother or father could be you. This could be your child, grandchild, niece or nephew. What a difference a moment can mean to that person or their family.

From an old dandelion!

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

Leave the rest to God.

"People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel!"

~ Anonymous ~

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Perfect Family Day

On Saturday we took the whole family to watch their brother's soccer game. After the game, we took a trail near the river and walked to one of our favorite restaurants, Serious Texas BBQ, for some Texas Tacos. WE finished lunch and then made our way back along the river stopping to play in the water. My husband taught the kids how to skip rocks while my youngest just played in the mud. The cool water was the perfect compliment to the warm day.

After a stop at Sonic for some refreshments, we drove home. I cut the boys' hair and then made pizza for dinner. We watched, "How to Train your Dragon," for our family movie. Cute show.

It was a relaxing, fun day that we spent entirely with the family. We don't often get days like that. Usually we are running from here to there to everywhere with lots and lots of activities. It was a nice day and each of the kids commented on how much they enjoyed it.

I am thankful for simple days like that remind me of what really matters.

Here are some photos from our day:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Speech Therapy Rant

I am quite aware that my son has Down syndrome. I have been aware of that for over five years. I also freely admit that he has a speech delay and may have other struggles down the road. It is no secret that he has Down syndrome and I took off my rose-colored glasses years ago.

I have never sent any of my children to pre-school or kindergarten. I am a SAHM and I have chosen to teach all of my children to read and do math so when they enter school in first grade they are prepared. My children enter school reading 2-4 years above grade level. I take my responsibility as a parent very seriously and want to make sure my children are life-long learners. Not all parents would make the same decision as we have regarding pre-school and kindergarten. We are fortunate that we have the opportunity and freedom in our country to make the decisions we feel best serve our individual children and it does no one any good to be judgmental of those decisions.

For the second day in a row, I was judged for my decision to homeschool my son. I was chastised by a professional today who has never met my son and knows nothing about him. I was calling to get information about speech therapy in my area and instead was treated like a horrible mother because I did not enroll my son in school at three years of age so he could receive all the services he needs. Umm, excuse me? How can someone who has never met my son decide what services he needs? Unless of course he's lumped into the "Down syndrome box" where every child with DS needs every available service. Any child that needs services should absolutely receive them, but I strongly disagree with the idea that all kids with Down syndrome are the same anymore than all kids without Down syndrome are the same. Not all kids with Down syndrome need all services. My son no longer needs physical therapy and has never needed occupational therapy (according to his doctor and previous therapists).

He does need speech therapy but because he is not enrolled in school he cannot receive it unless it is through a private speech therapist. The problem? Finding a private speech therapist is next to impossible. So, my taxes go to pay for these state services but my son cannot use any of them because he isn't in school. Did it occur to anyone that one of the determining factors for my husband and I to feel comfortable in sending him to school will be his ability to communicate verbally? The very service they are denying him is exactly what he needs to be able to attend school in the future.

My son is not ready for school away from home yet and we can make that decision because we are his parents and know him and his abilities better than anyone else. In fact, he is currently enrolled in a virtual kindergarten program we do every day at home and he's doing fine. He can match letters and recognizes all the letters of the alphabet. He understands "the same" but not "different" yet. He is also learning his numbers.

Don't get me wrong, he can totally communicate but he needs to be able to do so verbally. All I want to do is find a therapist that can help him do that.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Exercise is Killing Me!

I used to play basketball in high school. In college, I took aerobics classes and then found exercise shows on TV after I had kids. I loved working out to "Gilad's Bodies in Motion" in the 90s. I then found "The Firm" and "Tae Bo" videos/DVDs. I've worked out over the years, some times more than others depending on pregnancies.

One of my older daughters has returned home to go to a local college that is far less expensive than her out-of-state first year. And she's discovered P90X, a new exercise program on DVDs. My nephews have been doing P90X for a few years and talked a lot about it but I never thought much about it.

What is P90X? Well, it's death by exercise. No kidding--Tony Horton, the creator, is an exercise madman. This guy is definitely the inspiration for the Energizer Bunny. He's 45 and totally ripped. He looks better than most guys half his age. But, the guy really belongs in a torture camp.

This exercise program is not for the wimpy (me). It is a serious program that boasts a complete body change (if you stick with the program and follow it closely) in 90 days. I think all it will do to me is send me into cardiac arrest. But, I am going to stick with it nevertheless. My daughter will make sure of that.

I did Plyometrics this morning which is one of the 13 DVDs and is basically aerobics on crack. Lots of jumping and barely any time to breathe. But, if I can keep up with it without sucking so much air by the end of 90 days, I will really accomplish something. I want to be in better shape as well as take some weight off.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Book Review: Ribbon of Darkness

Back Cover:

A split-second decision could change the world’s darkest hour to one of triumph--but who is willing to pay the price?

Kennedy Campbell has been running away for a long time--using her position as an international journalist to escape the ghosts of her family's past. She finds some solace working in an Afghan refugee camp, until the Taliban attacks them and Kennedy is forced to flee. She is pulled into a terrorist's realm of darkness as she fights to save those around her, but will it come at the expense of her own life?

Ethan Barak leads a double life, helping MI-6 bring down arms dealers all over the world until his father is murdered by an old associate. Ethan makes his next mission a personal vendetta by tracking down the killer to Indonesia.

While there, he finds himself in a position to either avenge his father or stop a terrorist attack on the Malacca Strait that will jeopardize innocent lives across the world. Can he look past his father's murder to save others?

The line between justice and mercy is blurred with each passing second, and international intrigue becomes intensely personal as the age-old struggle for redemption is brought close to home.

Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? Well, let me tell you, this is one fast-paced, gotta-keep-reading novel. If you love suspense, this is one book you have to read. And, if you haven't experienced a suspense novel, this one will hook you for sure.

Page after page I kept thinking, "Okay, I have to go to sleep now," but I couldn't because I had to keep reading (or clicking since I read it on my Kindle). I had to find out if Ethan was going to be a good guy or not and if Kennedy would ever get out alive. I also had to see if there'd be enough smooching--there was. I kept finding my heartbeat speeding up either because of the action or because of the smooching.

I loved Kennedy, she was strong yet feminine. She wasn't about to take anything lying down and she was with Ethan throughout the whole ordeal despite his attempts to baby/protect her.

Bellon does an excellent job with her descriptions. I felt like I was right there handcuffed to a pipe in the bathroom or in the middle of the boat or hiding in a closet trying to keep my breathing quiet so I wouldn't get caught. I could "see"  the setting and the people.  Bellon is a master storyteller and this book will keep you hooked until the last page.

And, I love the cover, too.

I definitely recommend this book. You can purchase it at Amazon. It's available in paperback or for your Kindle.

This book is also eligible for a Whitney Award.

PS I won this book in a contest. My opinion is my very own and no one else's.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Great Bench Building Eagle Project

Two years ago my then 13-year-old son got approval for his Eagle project. Behind our elementary school we had a bunch of dirt. Some parents got together and decided to make that area useful by turning it into a learning garden where they could plant different types of plants to teach the kids about different growing zones of the country. Another young man took the planning of the garden and its initial creation on as his Eagle project. He then named the garden area after his older sister who'd passed away at age 12.

The garden has grown and has some really cool features like the peace pole and a shade area and unique paths. The kids work in it during the fall and spring (when it isn't too cold). It's a great place to sit and watch birds and insects, except there was nowhere to sit. Until now. My son's Eagle project has been to build benches for the learning garden so the kids can observe nature and write in their journals.

The original plan was to build these benches two years ago but then my oldest son decided to get married and that threw all of us into a tailspin as we planned (and I sewed) for the wedding and reception. Then it was too cold to work on the benches so we hoped to complete them last summer.

As part of the project, my son had to solicit a donation to pay for the supplies. He wrote a letter and then patiently waited for a reply. The reply didn't come and didn't come and we discovered that the company had never received his request. So he had to wait again to go through the process and when the approval came through, it was too cold to build and polyurethane the benches.

This summer he finally had the funds and we had no wedding to plan. So we embarked on the Great Bench Building Project of 2011. It has taken us all summer to get them built between all the summer camps, trips to Utah, and family visits. We've been polyurethaning them for the last three weeks. My son has had to organize and supervise building and then polyurethaning parties and it's taken so long because while we've had an extremely dry summer, every time, and I mean every time, we've pulled the benches out to polyurethane them, it's rained.

I guess we don't need an Indian Rain Dance we just need to try to finish an Eagle project to get it to rain in our area. And not sprinkles. No, we've had downpours. And we've had to rush outside and haul the benches inside the garage and stack them up to keep them out of the rain.

But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We only need one more coat of polyurethane. And what is that I hear outside? Oh, yeah, it's thunder . . . .

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Winner of Blog Hop

Thank you to everyone who participated in the blog hop. Wasn't it fun? Thanks to Tristi Pinkston for sponsoring it. If you haven't read any of Tristi's books, you are missing out! Be sure to visit her blog and learn about all of her books--she's multi-talented for sure.

Without further ado, the winner of a copy of my book The Upside of Down is . . . . (drum roll, please) Alison. Yay!!! I hope you enjoy the book, Alison. I'll contact you for your address.

Thanks again for the support! Happy reading!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Awesome August Blog Hop

Welcome to the Awesome August Blog Hop, where bloggers from all over the Internet have come together to throw a summertime party!

Every blog on this hop is offering a fun prize, and entering is quick and easy. Simply follow the instructions on each blog, leave a comment, and bop right along to the next blog. You can win multiple times, so be sure to check out all the participating blogs!

On my blog, you can win a copy of my book The Upside of Down

To enter:

1. Become a follower of my blog.
2. Subscribe to my newsletter (located in the right hand column). I promise not to spam you. I send out a newsletter every quarter or so.
3. Leave me a comment and tell me that you've done both things. If your e-mail isn't available through your profile, I'll need you to leave that, too - I can't tell you if you've won if I can't contact you!

This blog hop runs through Wednesday night at midnight, so be sure to enter before then! The winner will be notified by e-mail.

Now that you've entered my contest, come meet all my other blog friends and see what fun things they are offering!

Awesome August Blog Hop Participants
1. Tristi Pinkston, LDS Author
2. Karen Hoover
3. Michael Young
4. Kristy Tate
5. Cindy Hogan
6. Julie Bellon
7. Margot Hovley
8. Laurie Lewis
9. Mandi Slack
10. Melanie Jacobson
11. Joyce DiPastena
12. Renae Mackley
13. Debbi Weitzell
14. Donna Hatch
15. Carolyn Frank
16. Marsha Ward
17. Stacy Coles
18. Bonnie Harris
19. Danyelle Ferguson aka Queen of the Clan
20. Diony George
21. Lisa Asanuma
22. Susan Dayley
23. Christine Bryant @ Day Dreamer
24. Stephanie Humphreys

25. Ranee` Clark
26. Tamera Westhoff
27. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
28. Heather Justesen
29. Rebecca Talley
30. Jennifer Hurst
31. Aimee Brown
32. Cheryl Christensen
33. Rachelle Christensen
34. Imaginary Reads
35. Andrea Pearson

Learn more about Awesome August Blog Hop here.

Get The Code

Powered by... Mister Linky's Magical Widgets.

Good luck!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Whitney Awards: Nominate a Novel

Have you read a great novel by an LDS author? Would you like to recognize that novel? You can!  Just visit The Whitney Awards and nominate your favorite 2011 titles (yes, my book, The Upside of Down, is a 2011 title). The deadline for nominations is December 31, 2011.

If you aren't familiar with The Whitney Awards here's some info:

What are the Whitneys?

The Whitneys are an awards program for novels by LDS authors. Elder Orson F. Whitney, an early apostle in the LDS church, prophesied “We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own.” Since we have that as our goal, we feel that we should also honor those authors who excel and continually raise the bar.

The Whitney Awards honor novels in the following categories: General Fiction, Romance, Suspense/Mystery, Speculative Fiction, Youth Fiction, Historical, Best Novel of the Year, and Best Novel by a New Author. Novels can be nominated by any reader (via this website or by mail), and nominees are voted on by an academy of industry professionals, including authors, publishers, bookstore owners, distributors, critics, and others.

The awards were founded in 2007 and operate as an semi-autonomous subsidiary of LDStorymakers.

Who are we?

The 2011 Whitney Awards Committee is comprised of six members:

•Josi Kilpack (President)
•Annette Lyon
•Heather Moore
•Jana Parkin
•Sarah M. Eden
•Luisa Perkins

For more information about the roles and responsibilities of the committee, see the official rules.

The Whitney Awards are sponsored and endorsed by LDStorymakers, the authors guild for the LDS market.

For more information on The Whitney Awards or to nominate a book (yes, go nominate one right now!) you can visit The Whitney Awards here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Purging the House

I can't believe the summer is almost over. It makes me sad. I love having my kids home. We've accomplished a lot this summer.

We cleaned out, purged, repainted, and moved kids into different bedrooms. I love having clean bedrooms. I didn't repaint my bedroom, but I cleaned it out. Surprisingly, I eat a lot of granola bars and fruit treats, play with a lot of toys, drink a lot of water bottles, and wear a lot of small socks and underwear, at least that's what I found under my bed. My room seems to be the most popular room in the house and my kids hang out in it all the time.

I also purged my linen closet of old towels and blankets. I think some of those towels I'd gotten as wedding gifts--yeah, it was way past time to purge. I cleaned out our utility closet and all my kitchen cabinets and our china hutch. I've donated lots of items and thrown away others. I think we've been through every room in the house now and it feels wonderful!!!

Now to keep it up and not allow the mess to build up again. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ribbon of Darkness by Julie Coulter Bellon

Back cover copy:

A split-second decision could change the world’s darkest hour to one of triumph--but who is willing to pay the price?

Kennedy Campbell has been running away for a long time--using her position as an international journalist to escape the ghosts of her family's past. She finds some solace working in an Afghan refugee camp, until the Taliban attacks them and Kennedy is forced to flee. She is pulled into a terrorist's realm of darkness as she fights to save those around her, but will it come at the expense of her own life?

Ethan Barak leads a double life, helping MI-6 bring down arms dealers all over the world until his father is murdered by an old associate. Ethan makes his next mission a personal vendetta by tracking down the killer to Indonesia. While there, he finds himself in a position to either avenge his father or stop a terrorist attack on the Malacca Strait that will jeopardize innocent lives across the world. Can he look past his father's murder to save others?

The line between justice and mercy is blurred with each passing second, and international intrigue becomes intensely personal as the age-old struggle for redemption is brought close to home.

Sounds exciting, doesn't it? Julie Bellon is a fantastic suspense writer. One of her many strengths as a writer is her use of description. She includes all the senses to make you feel like you are right in the middle of all the action. In one of the scenes, Kennedy is trying to get away from her captor and it made my heart beat faster. I could "see" the places and even feel the atmosphere.

I love Kennedy. She is strong and certainly not a victim . She isn't about to take life lying down, that's for sure. I haven't finished the book yet, but I'm anxious to keep reading and see what happens. I know I won't be disappointed. Bellon is an excellent writer and I admire how she can capture the moment so effortlessly.

Ribbon of Darkness is on a special sale right now for $8.88 for the Kindle edition at Amazon. Go check it out--you can have a copy on your Kindle in under a minute! You can read the first chapter here.

To learn more about Julie Bellon visit her blog

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Painting My Guts Out

Have you missed me? I've been AWOL from the blogosphere for most of the summer. I've posted here and there but, for the most part, I haven't been online much.


Well, I wish it was because I'd been writing the next bestseller and had been offered a huge 5-book contract with movie rights and everything, but that's simply my fantasy.

The real truth is that I've been painting my guts out. All. Summer.

Child #3 decided to come home from college and live here for a while. She'd been living in Provo and this month would've lived there for a year and gained residency, or so we thought. Even though she'd been living on her own, paying her own bills, and bought a car on her own in Utah, since we'd claimed her on our taxes as a dependent for 2010, Utah would not recognize her as a resident. The difference in tuition between resident and non-resident at Utah Valley University was well over $4000 per semester and since we make our children pay for their own college expenses, she couldn't afford it. The state of Utah wasn't willing to work with her for residency and UVU couldn't care less if she stayed or not. We have a local college here that is $600 per semester for tuition so it made much more sense for her to come home and go to school here.

But, in coming home we had a ripple effect on bedrooms. We moved the boys from upstairs to the basement, the younger girls from their smaller bedroom to the boys' previous and bigger bedroom, and we moved my daughter into the smaller bedroom that will also act as the guest bedroom. It made more sense to do this because all the girls can use the big bathroom and the boys can now use the smaller bathroom downstairs to get ready.

I had already painted the bathroom and completely changed its decor. We then started to move out furniture, clothes, toys, and far too much junk from each bedroom. We decluttered and purged each bedroom (my kids belong on that show Hoarders: Buried Alive) which took quite a bit of time. Then we started painting. And painting. And painting. Did I mention we started painting?

I've watched far too many HGTV shows and thought I could spray paint the boys' furniture and steel bed frame without incident. HA. Not even close. Horrible experience painting their furniture. Never again.

Now ir's done. The rooms are clean, freshly-painted, and redecorated. I can see the carpet in each kids' bedroom. I can see the floor of the closets. It feels so much better. The bathroom looks beautiful and elegant. We have paint in our hair. Sore muscles. We're exhausted. And the summer has disappeared.

But, the upside is that when Hoarders: Buried Alive comes knocking at my door I can honestly turn them away :).

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Exciting Event: Tristi Pinkston's New Book Launch

Author Tristi Pinkston is excited to announce the release of the third novel in her Secret Sisters Mysteries series.

Titled Hang ‘em High, this novel takes place on a dude ranch in Montana. When Ida Mae’s son invites her to come for a visit, of course she brings Arlette and Tansy along with her. They are expecting to spend the week looking at horses, avoiding the cows, and making amends in Ida Mae’s relationship with her son. What they don’t expect is to be stuck on the ranch in the middle of a blizzard and to be thrust headlong into the middle of a mystery.
Help Tristi celebrate her new novel in two ways. First, come participate in the two-week-long blog contest, where you can win a book nearly every single day! All the details are up on Tristi’s blog.

Second, come to the book launch!
You are invited to an
August Authorama!
Saturday, August 13th
Pioneer Book, 858 S. State, Orem
12 – 4 pm
Games, prizes, balloons, face painting,
and Dutch oven cobbler
prepared by world champion cook
will all be there to sign books.
This is one book launch event
you will not want to miss!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Time Capsule

If you read a previous post, you'll know how excited I was when I learned my mother's high school graduating class was going to be opening a time capsule in celebration of its 50th class reunion. I was hoping there'd be something from her that would give me some insight into her life since she passed away 36 years ago.

I waited for the report on the local news channel and even watched the clip of them opening the capsule. Much to my disappointment all it contained was a newspaper from that time period and a directory of school district employees. Blah. Not exciting at all.

In my mind, I had built up this incredible experience where they'd open the capsule and there would be letters from students, including one from my mom. In my imagination her letter talked about her dreams and aspirations, her life in high school, and maybe even a bit about her personality. I fantasized that I'd be able to get that letter and hold it in my hands, a tangible piece of my mother.

She wrote a book of poems that I illustrated back in the early 1970s after my father passed away. That book gives me some insight into her heart and what it was like to be widowed at such a young age, but I still yearn for more.

I suppose I'll never really know her until I have the opportunity to see her again. I know many people do not believe in life after death, but I'm as certain of that as I am that the sun will rise each day. I've had far too many experiences to deny the existence of life after death. I know someday I will be reunited with my parents and I will have the opportunity to truly know each one of them.  And this is what gets me through the times when I miss them more than usual. The times I wanted to share with them in mortality like the births of each of my children, birthday celebrations, Christmas, vacations, graduations, marriages.

Through the years I've learned to live with their absences and no longer feel that stabbing pain of mourning, but missing them has never ever left me. You'd think after 35 plus years I wouldn't even think about it, but my parents are a part of me. Though I did not know them much in mortality, they live within me, and someday, I am confident, I will spend eternity with them and this time apart in mortality will only be a small memory.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Time Capsule from My Mom?

I'm on pins and needles . . . .

My mother was part of the first graduating class of San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara, CA in 1961. She was very active in her class. She was a cheerleader and a Homecoming princess. This weekend that class is celebrating its 50th year reunion. In addition to the regular reunion activities, they will be opening a time capsule.

My mother passed away in 1973 when I was a little girl. I never had the opportunity to really know her. I remember that she was beautiful, something I can see in photos. But, I never knew her personality. Was she funny? Compassionate? Kind? Silly at times? Strong? Sensitive? Did she believe in God? I honestly don't know.

Since my father had passed away in 1968, after my mother's death my sister and I lived with our maternal grandparents. I often asked my grandmother to tell me about my mother but her memories were more about surface things like how she wore her hair and what clothes she liked. Grandma never really shared much about what my mother was like inside, the kind of person she was. As a result I've yearned for information about my mom, wondering through the years if I'm anything like her.

This time capsule has me very intrigued. I wonder if my mother put anything in it. And, if she did, what she put in there. Will it give me a glimpse into her life? Into her personality? Will there be a letter? A photo? I'm so curious, almost ridiculously so, because I feel like after all of these years without her, I might have some communication from her. Of course, it wouldn't be to me because I was born a few years after the time capsule, but maybe she left something that will give me some insight into her.

I don't even know how I'll find out about the capsule. I have contacted a friend whose mom was one of my mother's friend and who is in charge of the reunion and I'm hoping she'll let me know if there's anything in the capsule from my mom. Until then, my mind is racing with all sorts of possibilities.

This is a family photo when I was about 6 months old.

My mother and me when I was about 7 weeks old.

Christmas. Grandma had a flocked tree with the same decorations for years and years.

We're in the backyard of our house close to the beach in Santa Barbara.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Righteous Leadership

Political parties are revving up for the upcoming elections in 2012. As I watch the various campaigns and promises I am reminded of the account of King Noah in the Book of Mormon.

Zeniff was a righteous man and king. He instilled the value of hard work within his people and they were industrious.Zeniff conferred the kingdom on his son, Noah, and then he died. Noah did not walk in the ways of his father. He was lazy and glutted himself on the labors of his people. He and his priests lived a riotous lifestyle and had many wives and concubines. They did not keep the commandments of God.

As a result, his people became wicked. He, as their leader, set the example of a corrupted lifestyle. He lead them away from God. When Abinadi came to King Noah and his people and called them to repentance they sought to kill him. Eventually, they burned Abinadi because they did not want to hear the word of the Lord. They were content in their iniquity and had no desire to live the laws of God. Because of their refusal to repent of their iniquity, Noah's people were put in bondage to the Lamanites. If Noah had been a righteous leader, or if Zeniff had conferred the kingdom on a righteous son, their outcome would've been different. The account of King Noah teaches us that our leaders do have an affect on our society and we must be careful of who leads us.

As we consider who we'll vote for, we need to consider whether that person will lead us toward the light or the dark. Will he/she affect our society in a positive or negative way? Will he/she lead us toward God or away from Him?

Many want to deny the existence of God or our dependence on Him, but whether you believe in God or not does not change the fact that He is real and He is eager to bless us when we keep His commandments.

Many good men and women in politics are tarnished by the acts of a few. We've seen examples recently of politicians who chose to have affairs, father children out of wedlock, and use the internet for evil purposes. My brother-in-law, J. Paul Brown, is one of the most decent men I know. He is currently serving the state of CO as a representative for our area in SW CO. He is honest, hard-working, and smart. He is the kind of leader we need in our states and in Washington D.C.

As I look for those for whom I will vote, I will determine whether or not they will lead us in a good direction. I hope that as we near the 2012 elections we will all take the time to learn about our candidates and make sure we vote for those we feel will best represent us and will be honest in their dealings. It didn't take long for the effects of King Noah's wicked leadership to destroy their society. For evil to prevail, good men must do nothing. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Provo and Eternity

We spent last weekend in Provo, UT. All of my older kids live in Provo so it makes it nice to only have to travel to one place and we can all be together. Even though there are so many of us, I love when we're all together.

We've lived in CO for almost 17 years. We've been working to make our home and surrounding land self-sustaining and we've put a lot of time and money into our property. I love living in the country. I love having the space. I love the quiet (well, that's relative considering I have so many kids). I love the dark nights and the sky filled with sparkling stars. I love the country lifestyle. I love the privacy. I love so much about living here.

And yet, I feel myself pulled toward Provo because that's where my older children live. I realize they may not live there forever, but, right now, they do and I feel this pull. Of course, we aren't going to move right now so I have to settle for visiting them. I love to visit them, but I'm always so sad when we leave. I miss seeing them every day. I hate leaving part of my family in another state.

Yes, that's part of life. I know they need to grow up and move on and live their own lives with their own families. But, no one ever prepared me for this part of mothering. No one ever told me how hard it would be to let my kids leave. No one ever told me that I'd miss them this much. My husband teases me that I need to cut the umbilical cord, but I don't want to. Where did all the years go? How did it zip by so fast?

Knowing how I feel now, I cannot imagine facing eternity without my family. I think hell for me would be being separated from my family forever. And that gives me a tiny glimpse into how Heavenly Father feels when we make choices that separate us from Him. I'm sure He is as desperate to spend eternity with all of His kids as I am to spend it with mine. I can only hope that each member of my family will make the choices that will allow us to be together forever. I want my family to be eternal.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Interview about Sodium with Tristi Pinkston

I'm thrilled to have my fabulous guest, Tristi Pinkston, visiting my blog today. Tristi is a multi-talented author and all-around fantastic person. She amazes me with all she accomplishes and now, on top of writing her fun, cozy Secret Sisters mysteries she has created a cookbook filled with delicious, low-sodium recipes. I admit, I've never worried much about sodium. My blood pressure is low and I don't eat fast food very often. But, as Tristi points out, some of the foods we commonly have in our homes can have high sodium content. And, high sodium is not good for our hearts.

Tristi has tested each of these recipes and is now offering her new cookbook for a great price.

Here's my interview:

Why should we worry about sodium?
Sodium puts pressure on the heart and it causes the kidneys to work extra hard. We need a certain amount in our diets – at least 400 mg. – but when we are getting too much of it, we’re hurting our bodies. It’s recommended that you try for no more than 1,000 mg. per day.

I don't use table salt so I'm safe from too much sodium, right?

Sorry to say, nope. A lot of foods contain sodium naturally, and if you’re eating a lot of prepackaged or boxed foods, you’re eating the sodium that’s been used to preserve the food. You can live a very high-sodium lifestyle without ever reaching for the salt shaker.

What kinds of food have high sodium content?

Fast food is one of the biggest culprits. When you get a combo, you’re eating about 1200 mg. One taco has over 400 mg, and who can get full eating just one taco? I know I don’t. But then there are foods that we commonly have around the house. Cottage cheese, while being touted as a great healthy food, actually has 400 mg. in one serving. Salad dressings, ham and bacon, cheese, canned soups – if you take time to go through your kitchen and read labels, you’ll be pretty surprised.

How does too much sodium affect our hearts?

First, it causes the arteries to harden. Second, it increases your blood volume. Third, it increases your blood pressure. Imagine you have a really old, brittle garden hose, and you turn on a whole lot of water all at once. The high pressure of that much water pouring through the hose would make it break because it's brittle, and the same thing can happen to your heart, and does, for a lot of people.

What made you decide to write a cookbook with low-sodium recipes?

When I first tried to live the low-sodium diet, I was completely overwhelmed. I actually went hungry for two days because I couldn’t figure out what to eat and subsisted on carrots until I snapped out of it. Then I went into project mode. I always think better when I’m in project mode. I hit the Internet and started collecting recipes, and then I realized that they were all really labor-intensive and took a long time to make. I can’t live my life that way, so I took matters into my own hands and started making my own recipes. There’s nothing in my cookbook that takes more than a few minutes of preparation, and it’s all affordable and family friendly.

Which recipe is your favorite?

Wow. This is a hard question. I like them all—if I didn’t like how a recipe turned out, it didn’t make it into the cookbook. But I do have a few special favorites. The carrot cake is a definite. I really like the chicken carbonara, the Bavarian pot roast, the fruit salad with poppy seed dressing. I also really like the blue cheese and ranch salad dressings, and the taco seasoning. Those are must-haves for keeping your sodium low and still eating delicious food. Oh, and there’s the pepper beef stroganoff. And …

This book is currently on a pre-order special. Order between June 25th and July 10th and receive not only the first copies off the press, but as a bonus, I will send you a sneak peek - the first chapter of my new Secret Sisters novel, Hang 'em High, being released this August. In addition, get 10% off the cover price!

Title: Bless Your Heart

Cost: $9.99 Now: $8.99
Shipping and Handling: $3.50
Total: $12.49

To order, send an e-mail to with your name, address, and number of copies you'd like ordered. Tell me if you would like your book signed or not, and who you would like it signed to. I can accept check or PayPal.

Your book will be shipped as soon as I receive it from the printer, roughly 4 weeks. Spread the word, share the love ... and let's get our hearts healthy!

To learn more about the amazing Tristi Pinkston visit her website.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

(dis)Abilities and the Gospel

From the back cover:

Each day, parents and church leaders struggle to teach individuals with special needs. Using helpful information, real-life stories, and a touch of humor, (dis)Abilities and the Gospel provides ways for you to effectively teach people of all ages with autism, Down syndrome, bipolar disorder, memory loss, and other disabilities.

Inside this useful guide, you’ll find

• Guidance for building strong family relationships
• Steps to teaching prayer and scripture study
• Practical and creative teaching tips
• Programs to help with transitions, communication barriers, and behaviors
• Techniques to help others feel welcome and valued

Find the answers you need and overcome the challenges of teaching the gospel. (dis)Abilities and the Gospel will help you develop each person’s ability to learn and grow as you build peace in your home or classroom.

(dis)Abilities and the Gospel is a resource that may be read, reread, and used many times. . . . The authors have beautifully woven the frustrations that so many people have experienced into an action-living plan to help children with special needs.

—Lloyd Kinnison, PhD. Texas Woman’s University, Special Education Department

This book is an unexpected and very welcome gift to the community of churches and their leaders. It addresses so many of the problems that children, young adults, and adults with disabilities face in church activities.

—Brenda Winegar, Early Interventionist/Cofounder, Kids on the Move

I LOVE this book. I can't say enough good about it. Really. I read through it prior to publication and anxiously awaited its publication because it's such a wonderful book that is so badly needed.

As a former Primary President, Primary teacher, YW leader, and as a mother of ten active, energetic children I think this book is a must-read for anyone working with, teaching, or raising children. Yes, it's intended use is to help those who work with kids with special needs, but as I read and reread it, I was struck by how much of it is applicable to children without special needs.

The authors offer honest advice about how to cope with childen with special needs but the advice, tips, ideas, and other helpful information can be applied to all kids. I've worked with plenty of kids who are wiggly (right now I'm the Sunbeam teacher so believe me, I know wiggly) and these techniques can be applied. I LOVE the practicality of this book. It isn't some long discourse on special needs but is truly a useful guide with ideas people can implement immediately.

(dis)Abilities and the Gospel also offers thoughtful answers to commonly asked questions about people with special needs. I have wonderd if my son will be able to be baptized, go to the temple, and get married. Of course, each case is unique but the authors offer scriptures and quotes from the brethren that have helped me as I consider his future.

My son is only 5 so he hasn't attended school yet and he's barely started Primary, but I plan to give teachers both at school and at church a copy of this book. I love the idea about a personal portfolio parents can give to teachers. In my experience in public school, kids tend to be placed in a box. A personal portfolio with details about my son's strengths as well as areas he might need help may break through that "box," at least I hope so. Kids with special needs have such varying abilities and sometimes we focus on what they can't do. This book reminds us that we are all children of God and we all have abilities. I love that about this book. It's so positive.

I have met both of the authors and can say without hesitation they truly love and understand those with special needs. I have great respect and admiration for both Lynn Parson and Danyelle Ferguson. They have worked tirelessly to bring this book into the world and I am very grateful to each of them.

As a mother of a child with Down syndrome it's my great hope that the world will be a better place for him, that people will be more educated about special needs, and that he will have opportunities to learn and grow and become the man he can be--this book helps push my hope forward. Everyone should get a copy of this book, especially if you may work with a child with special needs.

I think people fear those with special needs because they are different and that fear breeds prejudice. But, aren't we all different? Don't we all have challenges? Don't we all have abilities? Using the guidance in
this book can help us to work together to not only understand those with special needs better but to teach them more effectively.

You can purchase (dis)Abilities in the Gospel: How to Bring Those with Special Needs Closer to Christ at Amazon. It is also available in bookstores.

To learn more about the fantastic authors:

Danyelle Ferguson


Lynn Parsons


Enter to win one of two $25 Amazon gift cards and a free 20 minute consultation with Danyelle! You can ask her about parenting, church surivival, adapting lessons - or even about writing and publishing. Two names will be drawn on June 30th & July 22nd. Each drawing will include 1 winner of a $25 Amazon gift card and free consultation; and a second winner of a free consultation. Winners will be announced on There are many ways to enter. You must leave a comment on the reviewer’s blog letting us know what you’ve done. Please include your email address.

1 Point Each:
- Leave a thoughtful comment about the blogger’s review.
- Add the book to your “to-read” list on GoodReads
- Follow the reviewer’s blog
- Follow Danyelle’s blog
- Follow Lynn’s blog
- Follow Danyelle on FB
- Follow Lynn on FB
- Follow Danyelle on Twitter @DanyelleTweets
- Follow Lynn on Twitter @ParsonsLynn

2 Points Each:
- Tell your friends about (dis)Abilities and the Gospel on Facebook with a person links to Danyelle Ferguson & Lynn Parsons
- Tell your friends about (dis)Abilities and the Gospel on Twitter with links to @DanyelleTweets

5 Points:
- Interview Danyelle or Lynn for your blog or write a blog post about why you’re excited about (dis)Abilities and the Gospel. Be sure to leave a direct link to your post in your comment so we can visit and say hello!

Yes, I did receive a complimentary copy of this book but it in no way affected my review.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Down Syndrome and Mistreatment

A girl with Down syndrome was denied an airline ticket on British Airways simply because she has Down syndrome. This 12-year-old young woman attends a mainstream school, reads on grade level, and has traveled with her church group. But when her mother called to purchase a ticket from British Airways she was told her daughter could not travel.

Here's the link to the article

Of course, this article bothers me. It goes to show that as a people we aren't as advanced as we think we are when it comes to treatment of people with disabilities. Apparently, plenty of ignorance still abounds when it comes to Down syndrome.

Admittedly, there are those with DS who could not travel alone, but there are also people without DS who should not travel alone. Just because someone has DS doesn't necessarily mean they can't do something and to automatically assume so is wrong and cruel.

Julie Bellon reviewed my book on her blog. The review was awesome, but the story she shared about the young man with DS was absolutely wonderful. It gave me tears. If you want to read an inspiring blog post about DS read this one.

I think what bothers me the most about my son having DS is the way people, like this British Airways employee, will treat him. He's already been called "retarded" by a neighbor. My son has a speech delay and we're still working on potty-training, but he's a human being with feelings. He didn't ask to have an extra chromosome  He just wants to live his life. He may have other challenges down the road, but that doesn't make him less of a person.

I'd love to meet someone, anyone, who doesn't have at least one challenge in life. We all do. It's part of being human. Yet, because people with DS have challenges that are more visible some feel it acceptable to mistreat them for it.

I guess the real question is: why do we ever feel it acceptable to mistreat anyone?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bike Riding, Book Writing, and Eternal Life

My husband will be accompanying all the priests in our stake on a mountain biking/camping trip in Moab, UT in a few weeks. We've been trying to go for a bike ride regularly to help him get ready for this trip.

We ride our bikes for 5 miles on the country roads near our home. The ride includes some small hills that seem much larger on a bike than in a car :). It's nice to be out in the warm weather away from the computer, phone, and TV and just enjoy the beautiful scenery as we bike around this loop.

I've found while riding my bike that if I look ahead and see the upcoming hill I get overwhelmed and think I can't do it. I feel discouraged and wonder why I ever started on the ride in the first place. I've discovered that if I keep looking just ahead of me, I mount the hills without any problems. It's kinda like the "one foot in front of the other" idea. If I only think about the immediate road ahead of me and see it in small chunks I feel much more capable of finishing my bike ride.

It's the same way with writing a book. I've published three novels and yet, sometimes, I wonder how I will ever write another book. How will I ever finish it? The task is too daunting.  I'll never make it to the end. When I look at the entire project, or the entire bike ride, it overwhelms me and I feel discouraged. But, if I take writing a book bit by bit, chunk by chunk, before I know it, I'm finished. And, as with concluding the bike ride, I can look back on what I've accomplished and feel good about it.

And to take this even further, it is the same with life and trying to reach the goal of eternal life. If I look at the whole thing, all the things I must learn and accomplish, all the faults I must fix, all the flaws I must overcome, it is overwhelming and I wonder if I'll ever make it to the celestial kingdom. Yet, taking it in small pieces, focusing on overcoming one fault at a time, I can accomplish my goal. I can look back and see how far I've come and feel good about it and that propels me onward. Eternal life isn't meant to come in one step. It is  a series of baby steps throughout life just as writing a book or riding 5 miles on a bike is a series of small chunks that are doable one at a time.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mitt Romney? No, thanks.

The other night the phone rang and my husband answered it on the speaker phone (because our handsets are always missing). It was a political call. (I sure wish I could be on a "Do Not Call" registry for political calls because they are so annoying). The man on the phone wanted to know if we'd like to donate $75 to Mitt Romney's campaign. My husband politely said no and the caller insisted we donate something else. My husband still said no. The caller wanted to know why we wouldn't donate. My husband replied that we don't support Romney. The caller went on to argue with my husband insisting that Romney is the only candidate.

Really? What did he hope to gain? Did he think we'd change our minds if he got all argumentative?

My husband told the caller that he didn't like Romney's voting record and that he did not represent us especially when it comes to abortion. The caller said that Romney is against abortion but wants to leave it up to the states to determine their own laws about abortion.

If that isn't the least courageous way to face a highly emotional issue, I don't know what is. What a pansy position to take. Abortion is a hot issue for me because I believe every child has a right to life. Nine out of ten women would've chosen to end my son's life simply because he has an extra chromosome. I believe abortion takes the life of an innocent child. Romney obviously doesn't feel that way or else he's trying to pander to both sides of this issue. Either way, color me unimpressed.

I also do not favor socialized medicine. I believe it will destroy our medical care system. I do believe we have problems with our current health care system and that we need to solve the problems, but I don't want to turn over my health care, nor that of my family's, to the government. I have never seen the government run a program efficiently and I certainly don't want my health or my family's health to be dependent on politicians. Romney instituted socialized medicine in Massachusetts. He doesn't have a problem with the government running health care. He and I sharply disagree on this and I can't support someone who believes that the government is better at determining who should receive health care than a doctor or the patient.

Romney is not the candidate I want to represent me. And that's disappointing. I thought he would be. I favored him in the last primaries but as I've learned more about his voting record and his stand on issues that are important to me, I've realized he is not the candidate for me. If he is the republican candidate I will have to abstain from voting in the 2012 presidential election.

And if anyone knows how to stop those annoying political calls, please tell me.