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.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Graduation for #4

My daughter graduated from high school last weekend. Her older siblings made a surprise visit from Utah to see her graduate so we had a weekend full of fun.

We have our graduation exercises on the football field at our high school. Two years ago, for my older daughter's graduation, it rained and rained. And, to top it off, my youngest daughter barfed all over the man sitting in front of us. This year, thankfully, the weather was perfect and no one was sick.

I enjoyed the speech by a local elementary school principal who said they'd learned most of what they needed to know in elementary school. He shared valuable advice tied to each letter of the alphabet. It was a fun speech.

We don't have a valedictorian or a salutatorian because the administration didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings (yet, kids are cut from the football team, only a handful start for basketball, and I've comforted more than one child who didn't make it into the high school play so I'm not sure why we don't have the traditional valedictorian and salutatorian). Instead, the kids choose a classmate to speak (and doesn't that hurt kids' feelings?) and this particular young man gave a speech that was all over the place. I'm still not sure what he was talking about. However, the speeches by two young women chosen by the faculty were completely inappropriate. Filled with sexual innuendos, digs at conservatives who attended a rally for John McCain (students came specifically to this rally held at the high school to berate, belittle, and harass McCain supporters using profanity and showing vulgar signs and were incensed when asked to tone it down or leave), and then went on to say how they could now add the "hot" teachers on Facebook and even named a teacher (who's married) that they'd be adding. Their speeches were immature, rude, and embarrassing. However, they weren't surprising, which is a sad statement for our high school.

Fortunately, none of this dampened our excitement and pride as child #4 received her diploma. I was very proud of her. She worked hard and we had a huge celebration for her graduation.

Here are some photos:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Goodreads Giveaway

If you'd like a chance to win a copy of my book, The Upside of Down, be sure to visit Goodreads and register for a chance to win. I'm giving away 2 copies to people living in the U.S. The giveaway is June 1-June 30.

Click here to enter.

I've had some wonderful feedback on this book and I'm thrilled not only that readers like the story but that some have changed their perspectives after reading it. Thank you to all of you who have already read it. I really appreciate it and I appreciate the ratings and reviews on Goodreads. Thank you!!