Monday, June 30, 2008

Happy 4th of July

Independence Day is the holiday which I equate most with recreation. Everything about this holiday rotates around celebrating outdoors.

I grew up in a small farming community and it was always tradition to get up early and go to the flag-raising ceremony. I loved singing the patriotic songs and as I grew older and learned more of the significance of our flag and our freedom, I enjoyed it even more. Watching those red and white stripes rise high into the clear blue sky brought a surge of pride and joy to my heart. I still feel so lucky and blessed to live in the land of the free, the home of the brave.

As a family, we always attended the local 4th of July parade. I have taken my own little family to the parade several times as well. Our parade has all of the customary floats, clowns, horses, etc. but it also has tractors and the “Young Farmer of the Year” award was and is still actually a pretty big deal.

After the parade, a fun family picnic out on our patio was a great tradition. We often played water games, baseball, volleyball, Frisbee, and sometimes we headed up to the Snake River. Boating is a great sport that is enjoyed by many on the 4th of July. Amidst the sweltering heat, the cool river was a welcome relief for swimmers, jet skiers, water skiers, wake boarders, etc.

And we can’t forget fireworks. Are fireworks a sport? If you ask my uncle, he’d probably say YES. We drove out to his farm which is about 30 miles from the nearest town and shot off loads of fireworks in the cow pasture. He even had a homemade cannon that rattled the windows of his home when it went off. Out there in the great outdoors, the stars were nearly as bright as the fireworks and we had a great time.

I’m grateful for the memories I have of this great holiday and for the memories I’m making with my own family.

I hope you have a happy 4th of July. I hope you get a chance to run around with a sparkler and write your name in the steamy night air. I hope you get to have a great picnic with people you love and maybe even have a “tank war” with those little tank fireworks later on. I hope that you enjoy the sport of Independence Day and remember how great our United States of America is!
Return to the Neighborhood

Friday, June 27, 2008

Backyard Sports for Kids

We’re entering the sweltering season of summer heat now and I wanted to share a few ideas to keep the kids entertained while beating the heat.

It’s summer so kids want to be outside, even if it is 100 degrees. We bought a kiddie pool for our girls last year for about forty dollars and it has a little slide built into it. They love it and I laughed pretty hard when my 2 ½ year old went down the slide for the first time into the chilly water and sucked in her breath. You know that feeling when the cold water gets on your stomach—don’t you?


That little pool has offered hours of great fun. It’s usually just for an hour at a time and we always make sure to slather the kids in sunscreen first. So I’ve already gone over what a great summer sport swimming is, what else is there to do?

Well, for starters you can check out your city’s recreation program. There should be all kinds of sports and activities offered for kids of all ages—everything from soccer to gymnastics, basketball to drama. There are also thousands of summer camps of every type and variety offered around the country. Just Google “summer camps for kids” and you’ll see what I mean.

Since my kids are young and also because I grew up on a farm miles away from the city’s recreation program, I’d like to mention some activities you can do right in your own backyard.

Frisbee
Water balloon volleyball
Sponge Toss
: take water-soaked sponges and throw them at targets
Play limbo using the backyard sprinklers or hose
I also found a cool website with hundreds of games for kids, with rules and descriptions of how to play http://www.gameskidsplay.net/We loved games like kick the can, capture the flag, hide and seek, etc.
Scavenger hunts or Treasure hunts are always great and you can have a different one every other day if you want based on a different theme that teach kids fun stuff: Pirates, Coins, Letters, Numbers, Plants/flowers, Bugs
What about the sport of bug collecting? This is fun for all ages! You can get your kids little magnifying glasses and bug kits at the dollar store.
And we can’t forget reading! The summer reading program across the nation is “Catch the Reading Bug!” When it’s hot outside, visit your library and pick up some great books to read.

And I have to mention my kids’ favorite outside game of all time: Sandwich! Yes, you read right. The name of the game is “Sandwich.” Remember my kids are age 5 and 2, but this is a favorite that we made up.

Last year we’d go for summer evening walks and when we got back the girls always screamed that they wanted to play “Sandwich.”

Here’s how you play. My husband and I would sit out on the lawn and then say, “Oh, I’m so hungry. I’d really like to eat a sandwich right now. Hmmm, how about a Gracie sandwich?” Then I would jump up and chase my screaming little girls and grab them and pretend to eat them. Sometimes we would roll them up in a blanket and have a “Maggie burrito” if we were really hungry. The girls love it and would run around in circles and want us to “eat” them again and again. Sometimes we would pretend to put mustard and mayo and pickles on them and tickle them while we made our delicious sandwiches. Pretty silly, huh? But loads of fun!

I’d love to hear some of your favorite summer games. Get out and have fun and beat the heat!
Return to the Neighborhood

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer Felt Contest Winner!

We have a winner! And I'm a little behind announcing it, but CONGRATULATIONS to Annette Lyon!! She won the hostess exclusive story from May. I'll be sending her a set of cute felt figures with a story to tell.
I put all the names in a bucket and had my daughter draw one out, pretty official-huh?
Thanks for playing!

Here's a sneak peek at the July Hostess Exclusive


Flight to Freedom

By Rachelle J. Christensen



“Help! Help!” Mosquito buzzed in a circle outside the greenhouse. “Help! My family is trapped inside.”

“Oh no! My family is trapped too,” Housefly cried. He flew closer to Mosquito and they both looked at the shining glass of the greenhouse.

“We were traveling and wanted to see the beautiful flowers and then someone shut the door,” Mosquito said. “I got out before it closed tight.”

“I followed a butterfly outside and now I can’t get back in,” Housefly said.

“The humans who closed the door said something about bug spray.” Mosquito buzzed and bumped against the glass.

“We have to do something before they hurt our families,” Housefly said....Read the rest of this story when you get the set!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Heaven Scent Blog Tour--Meet Rebecca Talley


I’m excited to be a part of Rebecca Talley’s blog tour for her new book, Heaven Scent. Here's a little book blurb from Amazon.com

"She'd wanted her father to pay more attention to her, and she'd wanted her family to be like it used to be. She hadn't wanted everything to change so drastically that she may not even survive it. As Liza proves herself a basketball star, everyone - from college basketball recruiters to the gorgeous Kyle Reynolds - seems to take note of her. Everyone, that is, except her own father. While her father is busy at his law practice, Liza learns about a strange new religion from Kyle. Could Kyle's religion help her family? Or is it already too late for her father to make amends? When yet another broken promise finally leads to tragedy, Liza doesn't know if she will ever be able to forgive her father. It will take a good friend, a new belief, and a miracle straight from heaven to help Liza see that she still has a choice. The compelling story of a high school basketball star, this is a novel every girl will want, and none will be able to put down!"

Heaven Scent—what a cool title. It meant so much more to me after I finished reading the book and realized just what a play on words the title is. I love the foreshadowing that Rebecca does in this book to build up to quite an amazing event and storyline. She has a great blend of a little romantic tension and plenty of physical and emotional action.

This is a great read and was a good reminder to me of how it must feel when people don’t know God. It’s hard to imagine not knowing how to pray because I pray every day and have known prayer all my life. I’m grateful for the personal relationship that I feel with my Heavenly Father, the knowledge that He really knows ME, and cares about me. Thanks Rebecca, for the great story and good reminder woven so artfully within the story.

Now I get to interview Rebecca Talley! Heaven Scent is Rebecca's first novel and she is the author of a picture book, Grasshopper Pie.


Questions:
Where did you come up with the idea for this book?

I've had experiences that have made me realize that the connection between heaven and earth is real and those we've loved and lost are never far from us. I wanted to write a story with the message that no matter what life throws at us, there's always hope.

Did you or your kids play high school sports?
I played basketball in high school, though I didn't play as well as my character. I wanted to create a character that played basketball the way I had always hoped to play.
And, no, my kids do not play sports. They're all performers. I had envisioned sitting in the bleachers watching my kids play sports, but I spend my time in theaters watching them perform in plays and talent shows. I love watching them perform!

Will there be a sequel?
I have a sequel in my head, but writing it depends on how well "Heaven Scent" is received.

What advice could you give to aspiring writers?
Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Never give up. Learn the craft, meet other writers, go to conferences, take classes, but most of all, write the story that's in your heart and stay true to that story. Oh, and grow a very, very thick skin.

I heard there's even a perfume available that goes along with this book. Tell us about it and where the idea of the perfume comes from.
Karlene Browning helped me design a custom fragrance. In fact, she'll be giving away a bottle on her blog, www.inksplasher.blogspot.com. I decided I wanted to tie in a fragrance because Liza's mother wear a distinctive perfume and it plays a pivotal role in the story. If you're interested in the perfume you can see it at http://customscentsonline.blogspot.com/2008/05/hope-heavens-scent.html.

What is the next project you are working on?

I'm writing an LDS romance. It's a fun story, not life-changing, but a lot of fun.
Thank you so much for hosting my book on your blog!

Thanks Rebecca! This was fun.
Heaven Scent is available at Deseret Book, Seagull, LDS Bookstores, Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, and Target.com.
Rebecca will be touring for the rest of this month. You can check out Rebecca's blog for a schedule of other blog stops about her book.

Monday, June 23, 2008

STAND UP FOR YOUR DREAMS

I really love music! I especially love songs with a message of motivation. I wanted to share one of my favorites by Rascal Flatts. Songs like these help me keep my chin up when things don’t go exactly as planned. As a writer, I get to deal with lots of rejection in the form of emails, letters, etc. but I've decided that with every rejection, I'm one more closer to my goal of publishing my best-selling novel.
With that attitude I've had some great successes that I'm going to be featuring soon.

Some things that I want to write, others might not feel as strongly about, but I’m going to write them anyway because that’s who I am and that’s what I stand for. So for anyone out there trying to achieve a dream in the face of difficulty, this one’s for you!

Here’s the lyrics to the song:
STAND

You feel like a candle in a hurricane
Just like a picture with a broken frame
Alone and helpless
Like you've lost your fight
But you'll be alright, you’ll be alright

Chorus:
Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend, till you break
Cause its all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad you get strong
Wipe your hands shake it off
Then you Stand, Then you stand

Life's like a novel
With the end ripped out
The edge of a canyon
With only one way down
Take what you're given before its gone
Start holding on, keep holding on

Chorus:
Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend, till you break
Cause its all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad you get strong
Wipe your hands shake it off
Then you Stand, Then you stand

Every time you get up
And get back in the race
One more small piece of you
Starts to fall into place
Ooohhh

Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend, till you break
Cause its all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad you get strong
Wipe your hands shake it off
Then you Stand, Then you stand

Here’s the link to the video at CMT. It isn’t the most fantastic music video ever done, but at the end I really like how they show people who they’ve featured throughout the video trying to accomplish something with these words.
PASSION
DETERMINATION
COURAGE
GRACE
DESIRE
EXPRESSION

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Swimming—The Ultimate Summer Sport

I enjoy swimming. I don’t get to go as often as I used to but I enjoy it when I have the chance. I’m guessing that what defines people’s like or dislike of swimming is knowledge. If you know how to swim, you generally enjoy it.
I grew up near the mammoth Snake River in Idaho. When I went to Utah State University for college and someone showed me the Logan River, I actually laughed out loud. “That’s not a river, that’s a creek!” I said.

The reason I said that is because the irrigation canal right across the road from my house was about the same size as the Logan River. It was then I realized why my mom and dad thought learning to swim was so important. Our “little” irrigation canal is about 12-15 feet across and in most places 4-6 feet deep. It was a great country swimming pool and we spent a lot of time floating on tubes on hot summer days through the mossy, murky waters. My mom was always worried and wanted to make sure we were careful and now that I’m a mother I realize she wasn’t just a worrywart.


My mom enrolled us in swimming lessons at an early age and I’m pretty sure all of us kids completed the Red Cross swimming requirements. I remember taking the swimmer and lifesaving course with a bunch of boys two years older than me who were working on their Eagle Scout requirements. These are very important skills because I’m sure my mom had wondered, “What would happen if one of my kids fell in the canal?”

When my brother was about 6 or 7 years old, this happened. He was walking a friend home along the canal bank and when he returned home, my mom was horrified to find him soaking wet and to learn that he had fallen in the canal, all by himself. But he got out and he didn’t drown and that’s all that mattered.

I just finished two weeks of swimming lessons with my 5 year old daughter. This is the third year we’ve taken lessons, but the first time that they really start to “learn” how to swim. She was pretty scared of the water and hated getting it in her eyes, but by the end of the two weeks I watched her steamboat with a little help across the pool with her face underwater. I also watched her doing the “rainbow back” which is the back float. Now I definitely wouldn’t be comfortable with her falling into any canals yet, but I’m certain that if she keeps it up, she will learn the skills in swimming she needs and also come to enjoy swimming. Of course, we’ll have to go swimming more as a family to give her more exposure and make sure she keeps taking lessons.

So if you haven’t enrolled your children in swimming lessons—Do it! The most dangerous obstacle in swimming and water activities is fear. With knowledge, we overcome fear and are less likely to panic. With knowledge we often learn to enjoy things we used to fear. With knowledge we also discover talents we didn’t know we had.
I’m looking forward to watching the summer Olympic swimmers this year and when I go home for a visit, playing in the irrigation water with my kids. I’m sure in a few years, my kids will also enjoy that country swimming pool as much as I did!
Return to the Neighborhood

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Summer Felt Contest

Just a friendly reminder that my first summer felt contest is quickly coming to a close. All you have to do to be entered is live in the continental United States and leave a comment here or on this post here Read the post to find out more about what you can win!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

6, 7, 8 Writer’s Conference

This past Saturday I attended a writer’s conference at Cedar Fort headquarters in Springville, Utah. It was an amazing conference and one of the things that really sweetened it for me was the fact that it only cost me $25 to attend and I received a tasty lunch and a free book from the motivational speaker, Eloise Owens.
I was very impressed with Cedar Fort and have a brand new appreciation for this publishing company. I was most impressed about their motto: “Books that make a difference!”

Doug Johnston, the publicist, was in charge of the conference and he did an excellent job in setting it up. The speakers all offered great information. One of the key points for me was the fact that I was able to meet with an editor and pitch a few of my projects. Both the publisher and editor were very kind and sincere in their interest of my writing. I have heard from several other attendees that they felt the same way. Of course, we don’t know what will happen ultimately with the submissions, but an aspiring author always appreciates opportunities like these.
Cedar Fort also had tons of book titles on an incredible sale and Monday for family home evening, we read My Wedding Day by Deborah Pace Rowley and illustrated by Glenn Harmon.
I’m excited about the other books I picked up and I’ll let you know more about them in the future.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Welcome to the Neighborhood

I am excited to be taking part in the new website yourLDSneighborhood.com.
My husband and I are going to be a couple of the featured writers on the Sports/Recreation area of the neighborhood. At first I thought maybe Steve would just have to be in charge of the sports part and I’d do recreation, but I actually have a lot to say about sports. I may not watch a ton on TV, but I love to play several sports. So I’m kicking off with one of the reasons that I enjoy sports. I invite you to go visit the neighborhood at www.yourldsneighborhood.com and enjoy all of the wonderful articles, free give-aways, newsletters, etc.

Backyard Baseball Memories

I love playing baseball. I don’t really like watching it—don’t boo—it’s just I’d rather hit the ball than watch it on the screen. But my favorite kind of baseball is the backyard baseball of my youth. I grew up on a farm and our house sat on about 3 acres of various pastures for our horses and cows, so we had to improvise a little when we played.

We had a huge back yard which is about the size of a regular building lot nowadays. We had room for all 3 bases, even if it wasn’t regulation distance. The plates were definitely not regulation either. We used paper bags, pieces of paper, whatever we could find—but the best was when a little old lady that loved to crochet made a special “base” for my little brother. She put something on it to make the yarn really hard and we about wore that thing out.

We used real bats and a real hardball. This was and still is a fun family tradition. I can hear my dad telling me from the pitcher’s mound, “Rachelle, you don’t have to kill the ball.”

He just didn’t want me to smack it past the white birch trees which separated our yard from the pasture. But he did it, so I wanted to do the same. That was pretty much a home run hit, if you got it into the pasture because it was a little dangerous to go fetch the ball.

First you had to make sure and duck just at the right moment while running full speed so you didn’t clothesline yourself on the electric fence. Then, once you entered the pasture you had to watch out for cowpies, horse piles, and gopher holes. The tall grass made it difficult to find the ball so once you found it and chucked it back into the yard—yep it was pretty much a home run, grand slam, take a bathroom break kind of hit.

The other reason my dad told me not to kill the ball is because he knew about foul balls. Amazingly enough, we never broke a window, but we came close a few times! And of course it was always a good thing to have an ice pack handy because a few of those line drive hits smacked somebody in the head when they weren’t paying attention. Does this sound like a game you’d like to play? It really wasn’t that scary.

Even in the face of mishaps, I still look forward to a good game of backyard baseball. We had several assorted sizes of baseball mitts and if we were short, my dad would go without and he could actually catch a pop-fly with his bare hands. See, now that’s another reason he didn’t want me to kill the ball.

My dad even taught my sister and I how to pitch for the church softball team. My older sister ended up being my young women’s softball coach for a while. I spent a lot of time throwing a ball into a five gallon bucket, trying to get just the right arc into the “strike zone.” I guess that’s why I enjoy the game so much, because of all the great memories tied into it. I hope that I’ll be able to give my children the same love of sports that I enjoy. I’m definitely going to make sure they play a few games of backyard baseball with their grandpa this summer!

I know I’m far from the world’s greatest baseball player and I probably couldn’t be categorized as the world’s biggest fan, but give me a game of backyard baseball any day—just make sure you have your mitt!
Return to the neighborhood

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Summer Felt Contest



I'm holding a fun summer contest with my Story Time Felts business. Read on to find out how you can win.
Every month we have great items on sale and a neat hostess exclusive introduced. I've been writing the stories for each of these hostess exclusives and have had a lot of fun being a part of this. Here's a little info about our June exclusive.

June’s Hostess Exclusive is available now. The story is about a little worm who wants to do something special for his father on Father’s Day.

Be a Hostess and you can have the set for free when your party hits $300 with 3 bookings. If your party reaches $200 with 2 bookings you can purchase the set for $5.50.

Remember that all past 2008 Hostesses can order this and any other 2008 Hostess Exclusives.

Here is a sample of the story.

Little Worm’s Father’s Day Surprise
Written by Rachelle J. Christensen

Little Worm inched his way through the dirt tunnel and thought about Father’s Day. It was coming soon and he wanted to get his dad the best present ever. His dad loved the fresh green leaves of the rosebush just above their worm tunnel, but Dad said it was very dangerous to eat them.
“The early bird gets the worm, son and it’s best to keep safe.” Dad told him when Little Worm asked why they couldn’t travel to the beautiful rose garden.
He knew Dad was right. The birds were always out and they caught many worms with their sharp eyesight...Read the rest of the story when you receive this set as a 2008 Hostess!

Okay, so I know you want to find out how to win and what you're going to win! For the first prize in my summer felt contest, I am giving away the May hostess exclusive! If you live in the continental United States you can be entered to win this story with cute felt figures just by leaving a comment on this post. I will randomly choose a winner from the comments on June 23rd and then mail you the May felt story. Check back on Monday, June 23rd to see if you won. Stay tuned for more chances to win FREE felt! If you'd really like to get a ton of FREE felt, ask me about my awesome STAR hostess program. You can email me at superfelt@gmail.com I have some great things in store.
Here is a sample of the May story.




Caterpillar Finds His Mother

Written by Rachelle J. Christensen

Caterpillar chomped on a delicious milkweed leaf and smiled at his mother. “Wow, we’ve almost eaten this whole plant.”

“Yes, we have. I’m going to have to look for more food,” Mother said.

“That’s a great idea. I’ll come with you.”

“Caterpillar, it is time for me to go on a journey and I must go alone.”

“Why can’t I come?” Caterpillar asked.

“Because it’s time for change and time for learning, my dear.” Mother Caterpillar kissed her little Caterpillar and smiled. “I must go alone. You must follow on your own journey in order to learn who you are.”

“But Mother, I can’t be alone. I won’t know where to find food.” ...Read the rest of the story when you get this set!

Monday, June 2, 2008

A New Invention


I have an idea for a new invention. They need to install beepers on little kid’s shoes. Yes, one of those nice little alarms with a remote so when the shoes are lost for the 12, 987 time this week, instead of scouring the house and yard trying to find the dumb things, you just push a button. Voila! The magical beeping sound instantly alerts you to the correct location under the couch, inside the car, under a bush, inside the dolly suitcase—wherever they may be, the shoes could instantly be found!
I think this would be a great solution to the problem of lost shoes. I would like it much better than interrogating a 5 year old and trying to get her to remember where she left her shoes.
I have a nice little shoe holder in her closet and actually she puts them away quite nicely if I remind her. The problem is now that it is summertime, we have flip-flops. Those must not be considered shoes in a “little kid world” because they never stay on for more than 5 minutes!
So if anyone would like to make millions by inventing the Shoe Beeper, let me know because I want to buy some. I could even help with advertising. We could say, “Lower your blood pressure, buy a shoe beeper today!” or “Going insane? No medication needed, just buy a shoe beeper today!” “No more #$*%& beeping language when you can’t find your child’s shoes, just push a button and hear the lovely beeping direct you to the shoes.”
Wow! This could be quite the thing, we could have beepers for the little Polly Pocket’s shoe the size of a dust mite that we must find or the certain special blanket that baby needs to sleep, and of course I know this one’s been thought of before so why hasn’t someone invented it? The remote control beeper.
I hope you all have a nice day and that you know exactly where your shoes and your children’s shoes are when you need them.

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