Monday, August 25, 2008

Back to School, But Still Time for Fun

Summer sports are coming to a rapid close as the beginning weeks of school rearrange our schedules. I love this time of year, especially in a few weeks when the weather gets considerably cooler and the leaves begin to change.

I also love this time of year because it’s easy to revel in the nostalgia of the season. I remember the excitement of getting ready for the first day of school—all the delicious new school supplies, new school clothes, maybe even a new backpack. Then school starts and after the first few days, you realize you’ve got about nine more months of homework to go.

I remember taking advantage of those last days when it was still light enough to play a good game of kick the can, baseball, or tag. It seemed those nights went by quickly and it wasn’t long before the darkness of winter settled in and kept us indoors longer than we liked.

I’m sending my first child to kindergarten this week! She’s very excited and I hope that she enjoys school as much as I did. I want her to look forward to this time of year, every year, without apprehension. Starting school is a big change for any kid, big or small. Participating in some family activities can help ease the transition process. Spending time together as a family can help you identify your child’s needs and or worries about going back to school.

It’s definitely a busy time, but there’s still time to enjoy the outdoors and fun activities of the fall season if we plan. Start planning right now to go on a leaf-color-changing drive up the canyon or just around the city parks. Take time to get in another barbeque or hot dog roast up the mountains. Pick vegetables out of your garden or go to a farmer’s market and have a delicious harvest dinner. Even going for walks as a family is a wonderful way to re-connect with nature and your family. Go soak up that brisk night air and run barefoot through the grass before it gets too chilly.

Try to remember what it felt like to be a kid—really, if more of us would do this, we’d be better prepared to help our own kids navigate through life. As school gets us all into the mode of “bookwork” remember to take time to play and enjoy the learning that goes on with unstructured play and make-believe.

Return to the neighborhood

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New Tall Tales Set with Music by Rachelle

I wanted to tell you about some fun stuff today! Many of you know that I am a huge fan of music. This year has been a busy one and for a couple months, I worked my tail off writing the lyrics to seven new songs and then helping to compose music for those songs.

Introducing the new Tall Tales Set from Story Time Felts with an original CD produced by Sage Mountain Studios I worked with Craig Hancock, owner of Sage Mountain Studios to create a unique mix of songs for this CD which children all over will love!

There are seven original songs based on the American Tall Tales and they are so much fun. For a sneak peek of "Johnny Appleseed" Click below.

The felt stories are awesome and so detailed. My kids have really enjoyed listening and telling the stories. The background board is a great size--big at 23" X 31" and perfect to use for all the different stories. My kids also enjoy listening to the CD in the car and my 2 year old keeps requesting Casey Jones when we go somewhere.
Here's a list of the stories and songs included:

Johnny Appleseed
Casey Jones
John Henry
Annie Oakley
Paul Bunyan
Pecos Bill and Slue Foot Sue
Davy Crockett and Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind

If you don't know all of these stories, I suggest you check them out. Most of them are based upon Americans who really lived and then the tale got stretched a little over time. :)

To learn more about this set you can visit Rachelle's web page or to purchase it you can also find it online at

Monday, August 18, 2008

Going for the Gold- Michael Phelps Style

Michael Phelps. Have you ever heard of him? One of the greatest Olympians in history. This dude must be part fish.
Michael Phelps won his eighth gold medal at the Olympics in Beijing on Sunday. This is a huge record for any one Game.
Michael is only 23 years old and he smashed seven world records this week. Despite the fact that he won 8 gold medals in Beijing, he is also the highest achieving Olympian of all time with a total of 14 gold medals in the 112 year history of the modern Olympics.
I watched almost all of Michael Phelps' races and I listened to an interview with Jeremy Schaap from ESPN as well as some quick interviews after his races. I was impressed with what I heard.

What I really thought was great is what I heard after winning his 8th gold medal. I wish I had the exact wording, but I’ll give you a kind of summary. The TV announcer interviewed him and asked him something to the effect, “Did you ever think that you could do it? Did you really believe that you could win all 8 gold medals?”
I was on the edge of my seat waiting for his response. He said, “Yeah, it was definitely a goal and I felt I had a good chance. It is a dream come true.” He said that he’d worked hard and told himself that he had a good chance. I was hoping that he wouldn’t be too modest and just tell us that YES, he told himself he was going to win all 8 medals. Because I believe that you have to believe in yourself to make those dreams come true.
I think Michael does believe in himself because in another interview he said concerning his one-one-hundredth of a second win over Cavic. “Luck has something to do with it, but the best athletes deliver under any circumstances.”

Like I’ve said before, I love the Olympics because they are so inspiring. We get to witness people making their dreams come true. People who work hard and believe in themselves and do all they can to accomplish their goals.
I believe that with any goal, no matter how great or small, you must BELIEVE that you can do it!

Phelps was asked how he could focus with 17 races, 8 of which were finals. He said just “by taking it one step at a time. One race at a time and once they were finished, move on.”

This is exactly what we must do with our own goals. Break them up into smaller manageable goals. I think after watching the Olympics, we could all set a few goals of our own. It’s a pretty simple process if you follow the gold medalists and do something like this:

Believe in yourself
Set goals
Believe in yourself
Break big goals into smaller, manageable steps
Believe in yourself
Work hard and achieve those goals!

You’ll see yourself achieving some pretty amazing things. Go for the gold!

Return to the Neighborhood

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

And The Winner Is...

Tristi Pinkston!

Okay, I'm a tad late announcing this, but boy this summer has just flown by!
I reviewed Farworld by J. Scott Savage and was able to be a part of giving away a free ARC. I had my daughter draw a name out of a bowl and Tristi will win a free copy of the ARC Farworld!

Thanks everyone for playing and definitely put Farworld on your list as it's coming out soon.

Click here to learn more about Farworld

Monday, August 11, 2008

Is a Silver Medal Really Something to Cry About?

The Olympics are in full swing and I'm enjoying the chance to watch this lively competition!

Swimming has been getting a ton of attention right now and boy, does the U.S. have some winners!

I watched the women’s 4 X 100m freestyle relay swim the other night and it was fantastic. There were so many amazing athletes involved with this swim and they were fast and fabulous. What caught my attention was that the American women’s relay team were not favored to win this competition, but on the last leg the amazing 41 year old, Dara Torres swam like a shark and swam past many to grab the silver medal in this race. But instead of celebrating for winning silver in a race they weren’t expected to win, the women looked disappointed.

They weren’t jumping up and down. They weren’t smiling. They were looking like they were discouraged because they had missed the gold by a close margin.

This bothered me. I thought they should be celebrating. There were hundreds of swimmers who didn’t qualify for the race and didn’t come close to getting silver. I think it’s a huge accomplishment that they finished in the medal round.
Natalie Coughlin, Lacey Nymeyer, Kara Lyn Joyce, and Dara Torres performed very well and I am proud of their success in the relay.

I understand that we should always strive to be the best, to win—but a silver medal is still winning in my book. Yes, strive for the best. Go for the gold! But if you get the silver and the bronze, celebrate and smile for everyone watching and cheering you on.

Tonight, Matt Grevers in the 100m Men’s backstroke just won a silver medal, right behind Aaron Piersol with a gold medal—both U.S. swimmers. When interviewed, he said he was excited, “That silver looks beautiful. One, two, it’s what we wanted.” He is happy with his silver medal and he should be.

I love the saying, "It is better to shoot for the stars and miss than aim at the gutter and hit it."
- Anonymous

And the next saying explains why all Olympians should be happy and proud to wear any medal:

"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars."
- Les Brown

Friday, August 8, 2008

Experience the Olympics

The Summer Olympics are officially here! I am so excited to see the Opening Ceremony tonight on TV.

I have always enjoyed watching the Olympics, but now that I have kids, I’m remembering some reasons why I enjoyed cheering on the athletes when I was a kid.

You can make this a great experience for your kids too. For many of us, the Olympics may have been our first introduction to many different kinds of sports. Most kids know about basketball, soccer, and swimming—but what about relay races, high jumping, the pommel horse, the vault, rowing, archery, ….I think you get the point here. There are hundreds of different events during the Olympics. Take a minute to watch a few with your kids. Talk about the different kinds of sports and what it takes to be able to do different things.
Ask them questions-- Do you think that Olympic diver is pretty good at archery too? Why or why not? This is a great activity to help kids realize that we are all different and we can all develop different talents. We don’t all have to be the best soccer player; there are so many things that we can learn and do.
We are so blessed that Heavenly Father created us to be so diverse and full of so many possibilities and potential.

When I watch the Olympics, it reminds me again of that potential we all have in us to succeed. I hope you all have a minute somewhere to recognize the great effort these athletes from all over the world have made to get to the Olympics. And I hope you remember your own individual worth and see the potential for success in your life.

During the two weeks of the Olympics, I enjoy feeling like my dreams aren’t so out of reach. I love hearing stories of triumph—even if it doesn’t come with a gold medal. But
watch out if they ever have the Homemaker Olympics, I could probably give you a run for your money in the fastest diaper changing contest with least wipes!

Hey, something cool I saw on the news the other night. You can go to and see tons of live video and detailed stories about the Olympics. They have several reporters in China who are posting their own pictures, blogs, and videos about their experiences.

Enjoy the Olympics!
Return to the neighborhood

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Preparedness Principles by Barbara Salsbury

I’m excited to be a part of the blog tour for a wonderful book, Preparedness Principles.Do any of you need some great ideas for a Christmas present, wedding present, or other? This book will fit the bill because it needs to be in every home library. Barbara Salsbury has done an excellent job in gathering all kinds of helpful information into this manual.

Preparedness Principles is touted as the complete personal preparedness resource guide for any emergency situation. At 355 pages, I haven’t read the whole thing, but I really love the wonderful index with hundreds of topics you can look up at a glance. There is SO much information in this book that can help you and your family to be prepared.

Barbara has provided a wonderful gift for all of us in this book so that we don’t have to panic. She doesn’t want us to overdo, overwhelm, or panic as we prepare-- but take it step by step.

Preparedness has been on my mind over the past year and at first I didn’t know why I felt so strongly we needed to work on things with our food storage. We’ve always had a pretty good pantry, but last summer I felt that we should try to get some more staples for our food storage. There happened to be an opportunity to buy wheat and I decided that even though I didn’t even own a hand grinder, I would buy some. My husband didn’t think we needed to buy too much, but I felt differently. I also stocked up on some other items. Shortly after, the wheat prices started to skyrocket and I am still so thankful for the promptings I received to prepare. It’s hard to explain the true peace that comes into your life when you are prepared. I don’t have a full year’s supply of food yet and there is much to be done, but I feel at peace because I am trying my best to do my part, little by little, to prepare.
I hope that many of you can read Preparedness Principles and start taking one step at a time toward a greater peacefulness in your life as you prepare.

Barbara Salsbury is also the author of Beating the High Cost of Eating, It’s Time to Plan, Not Panic, and Just Add Water.

This book was published by Cedar Fort and you can visit their website to find out more info and purchase the book here.
Here's a link to view and buy this book on

Happy Reading!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Review of Room for Two by Abel Keogh

Room for Two
"Sweetie, I'm home." I tried to put as much kindness into my voice as possible. I didn't want to have another argument - at least not right away. Silence. "Sweetheart?" A gunshot echoed from our bedroom, followed by the sound of a bullet casing skipping along a wall. Everything slowed down. When a life is destroyed, when guilt says you played a role in its destruction, how do you face the days ahead? Twenty-six-year-old Abel Keogh chooses to ignore the promptings he receives concerning his wife's mental illness, and now he feels he is to blame for her choices. If only he had listened . . . At some point in our lives, each of us face devastating afflictions and must eventually cope with loss. Regardless of how it happens, the outcome is still the same - we are left isolated, alone, wondering what we could have done differently, and where we can turn for peace. This is Abel's story in his own words. His search for peace and the miracle that follows is proof that love and hope can endure, despite the struggles and tragedies that shape each of our lives.

This is a true story which reads like a novel. Abel wove his story in such an effective way that you can’t put it down once you’ve read the first page.

I am so impressed with his story and that he was courageous enough to share so many heart-wrenching details. I think his book will help many people because it provides insight into several different situations which are usually judged harshly and incorrectly by others. It is so well written and draws you in with amazing power.

He weaves a powerful testimony of the importance of following spiritual promptings throughout this story with examples of what happens when he does and does not heed promptings.

Abel Keogh is a columnist and editor of and host of the radio talk show The Abel Hour. He has been a website programmer and technical writer. Aside from writing, Abel enjoys running and lifting weights. He has a bachelor's degree from Weber State University. He and his wife, Julianna, are the parents of two boys and a girl.
Abel was kind enough to give me a little interview. Check out the Q & A's below.

Grief is a very strong emotion and you showed that well in your book. I noticed your description seems to match the grief pattern that is commonly experienced in all situations involving grief. Why do you think that people experience emotions such as anger, bitterness, denial, etc. during their grieving period?

Abel:It’s part of the process of emotionally coming to terms with reality. I think it’s a natural process. Once someone goes through it they’re ready to move on with their life and accept what has happened.

Was it difficult to write this book or more difficult to submit it for publication, knowing it was your story?

Abel:It was more difficult to write. When I was writing the first draft a lot emotions resurfaced that had been dormant for a long time. On subsequent drafts I was able to put the emotions aside and concentrate on the storytelling process.
I never had a difficult time with agents or publishers rejecting it. As a writer, rejection is part of life. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a memoir or a work of fiction. If you can’t take rejection then you should find a different occupation.

Can you tell us a little about the fiction piece you are working on right now?

Abel:It’s called “Angel of Light.” I don’t want to give up any more than that right now because the plot keeps changing slightly with each draft.

Can I just say that your book made me want to go running and I'm so jealous because I can't run right now! I'm very close to giving birth to #3. I'm not a long-distance runner but I love running about 3 or 4 miles and especially listening to my running mix on my iPod. Do you and your wife visit much during your runs now or do you listen to music ever? If so, what do you listen to?

Abel:Julianna and I talk on the occasions that we run together. When I’m running by myself I usually think about what I’m writing and how to make it better or overcome problems I’m having with a chapter. I’m not much of a music person. I only own two CDs and rarely listen to them. I don’t even own an iPod. Music’s never been a big part of my life.

Whoa! That's hard for someone who owns about 200 CDs to comprehend, but great idea to think about your writing!

What is something you learned from writing this book that was unexpected?

Abel:Writing a book is a very entrepreneurial activity. You’re creating a product that you hope will be enjoyed by people in the marketing place and sell well. It also involves a lot of marketing and hard work once the book is done. As unexpected as that was, I’ve really enjoyed not only writing the book but all the marketing and promotional activities that go along with it.

What advice can you give to other writers who have a story to tell?

Abel:Writing and selling a book is hard work. Be prepared for long hours in front of the computer and pitching your story to agents and publishers. If you’re not willing to put the effort into it, then don’t waste your time trying to be a writer.

What's your favorite piece of marriage advice?

Abel:Never go to bed angry. I laughed at this advice when I first heard it but I’ve found it to mean you don’t have to reach a conclusion or solve a problem before going to bed. Really it’s about putting the differences aside and letting the other person know that you still love them.

I like that a lot, because we'll always have differences, but we'll always love each other too.

What's your best parenting advice?

Abel:The best gift you can give your children is your time. In the long run that will mean more to them than all the toys and other worldly possessions. Nothing can substitute you being part of their life.

Excellent advice! Thanks Abel for the great interview.
You can visit Abel's website at
You can also get a super deal on his book published by Cedar Fort here at


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