Thursday, November 13, 2008

My feelings are hurt and I need to vent

Again I apologize for not keeping this blog updated as often as I should. I am putting the finishing touches on Book Three (as yet untitled) of the Duty Series so that is my excuse (this time). But I wanted to take a few minutes out to express my feelings about something that upset me and made me sad. It wasn't the economy or Proposition 8 backlash or any of the important things that are going on in the world today. It is because I got my missioanry son in trouble with his mission president.

Tommy set up the website before he left but since his email time is so limited on P-Days I compile the emails he sends me to create the 'letter'. I then post it on the missionsite. I have always been cautious to edit what he says (since he is talking to me) but apparently I wasn't cautious enough. He and several other missionaries (along with the senior missionary couple) went on a hiking trip in Ethiopia about two weeks ago. Tommy sent me an email with a lot of details about the adventure and I posted it (almost verbatum) on his website. I also posted the pictures he'd sent on his memory card. Some were silly - like one of him holding a bat and another of him and his companion standing on a rooftop. But I thought they were cute and I was posting them on an obscure mission website - not the Evening News...

Anyway, this Monday when I was emailing with Tommy he told me that he'd gotten a call from Pres. Christensen. The president said he had gotten an email from someone in America complaining about Tommy's website - and the last letter in particular. He had read it and agreed that it was 'over-the-top'. He had also browsed the pictures and felt that some of them showed immaturity. He asked Tommy to remove several pictures and edit the letter about his mountain climbing adventure.

Now, let me say right here that none of my hurt feelings are directed toward Pres. Christensen. I support him completely and in retrospect I can see that the letter wasn't uplifting and that some of the pictures showed questionable judgement. I wish more than anything that I could go back . . . but I can't.

I'm hurt that whoever read the letter and thought it was objectionable wrote to the mission president instead of me (or Tommy). And I'm SICK that Tommy got in trouble over it when I was the one who made the posts.

Tommy was very kind about the whole thing. He said it's okay and he even thinks the president still likes him! I feel very chastened and fixed the website immediately. My brother reminded me that in order to repent I had to go through all the R's of repentance - but I can't seem to get past Regret.

My husband wants me to close down the missionsite all together. I'll ask Tommy how he feels about it on Monday - but there's a good chance that's what we'll do. It makes me sad because I had a lot of fun maintaining it and I felt like it was a great way for others to share in Tommy's missionary experiences. But there is room for error (obviously) and closing the site would eliminate the possibility for future problems. So unless Tommy feels strongly about keeping it - the missionsite will be a thing of the past. And hopefully my guilt will be too (eventually).

There, I do feel better!

I hope something good will come out of the whole experience. I'll try to be more cautious in what I say (and write) and I'll try not to judge others too harshly. We all make mistakes and we can all be forgiven. Tommy forgave me for putting him in an awkward position with his mission president. I'll forgive the anonymous person who - either with good intentions or not - created the incident. So maybe when it's all said and done we're better people!!!! (But I'd still take it all back if I could)


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Christmas is coming...Again!!!!

This year has flown by for me and as I approach the Christmas season (again – wasn’t it just a month or so ago that I put up the decorations from last year?) I dread the thought of not having everyone together - again. It’s not the first time we’ve been unable to gather as a family for the holidays. I survived two years while our oldest son Jamie was in Sweden. And last year Laura and her family were in Idaho, Grace was in Utah and Jamie and Paris were floating on a Disney cruise ship. Somehow I survived all of that. This year we will all be able to gather except Tommy, who is Addis Ababa, Ethiopia serving a mission and Baby Banx (who won’t be born until January). So even though our family will be almost ‘complete’ at the holidays, each absence leaves a huge hole. As I’ve thought about this, my mind has been drawn to Christmases past and I’d like to share one particular memory. I’ve entitled it “In Search of the Perfect Christmas” (and by the way – I’m still searching!!!)

For years when the holidays approached, I started dreaming of the perfect Christmas. I was haunted by childhood memories, enticed by television commercials, inspired by classic movies and challenged by the covers of December magazines. In my memories and in the media, the perfect Christmas looked so easy, almost effortless. But after years of trying to provide a perfect Christmas for my own children I had to admit that perfection always eluded me. One way or another, the season never measured up. I accepted full responsibility for the failure and usually spent January slightly depressed, planning what I would do differently the next year.

So the Christmas after my daughter, Emily, was born in 1991, I determined that the year had finally arrived. This time I would do everything exactly right. Our Christmas would be perfect. Then on Christmas afternoon I would have the glow of satisfaction instead of the gloom of disappointment that I was becoming accustomed to.

So, I began my preparations early. I bought magazines, attended classes, made lists, scrimped, shopped and wrapped. I decorated, Christmas-crafted, baked and preserved. Several family members accepted our invitation to eat Christmas Dinner with us and the prospect of company pushed my efforts to new heights. I wallpapered my kitchen, painted the bathroom, shampooed the carpets and even cleaned behind the refrigerator.

I sent Christmas cards to everyone in my address book. I hung garland over the doors and put holly leaves on every flat surface. I put up two Christmas trees, taped paper snowflakes to the windows and hung angels from the ceiling fans.

We attended holiday parties and hosted one of our own. I made the kids sit on the lap of every Santa we saw and we watched all parades within reasonable driving distance. We spent hours cruising through strange neighborhoods, admiring their Christmas decorations. We went caroling and delivered homemade jelly to our neighbors.

The kids got out of school the week before Christmas and I scheduled activities for every waking moment. We made cookies and gingerbread houses. We strung popcorn and cranberries, played Christmas music 24 hours a day and wore only Christmas colors.

Finally, Christmas Eve arrived. Warmth seemed like an important element of the perfect Christmas, so when the sun set I started a blazing fire even though it was 70 degrees outside. I gathered the children, freshly bathed and dressed in coordinated Christmas pajamas, in front of the fireplace. We sang Christmas carols, just like the families on TV, waiting for Butch to come home. I knew he would be charmed to see this heart-warming sight when he came through the door. He got home right in the middle of Jingle Bells. He waited until we were between verses to comment: “It must be a hundred degrees in here. Somebody turn on the air conditioner.” Our fireside concert ended abruptly at that point and I went in to warm up his dinner while the children watched Christmas videos until bedtime.

After they were settled, I started pulling sacks and boxes from their various hiding places and divided them into appropriate stacks. Butch went upstairs to change clothes and never came back. I went up to check on him and found him lying on top of the covers, sound asleep. He worked long hours during Christmas so I knew he was tired, but I hated that he was going to miss the joy of Christmas Eve assembly. Hours later I had everything put together with a minimum of leftover screws. The gifts were stacked and arranged to their best advantage. Finally I could sit back and agonize over whether each child had really gotten what they wanted. Accepting that it was too late to change anything now, I went upstairs. I covered Butch with a quilt and collapsed beside him.

After what seemed like minutes, but was actually a luxurious two hours, my children started coming to wake me up. I sent them back to bed at 15-minute intervals until five o’clock when I surrendered. Butch and I staggered downstairs to watch the reactions to their gifts. Everyone seemed adequately ecstatic with their new possessions. The kids settled down to play and Butch stretched out on the couch. I went into the kitchen to prepare the perfect Christmas breakfast. I scrambled eggs, fried bacon, rolled out homemade biscuits and mixed up orange juice. By the time it was all ready, everyone had fallen back asleep. I curled up on the couch by Butch’s feet and surveyed the chaos. Sleeping children, scattered toys, scraps of paper, candy wrappers and an occasional pine needle covered the floor. This scene didn’t fit into anyone’s idea of a perfect Christmas.

I dozed off, but the phone rang about an hour later, waking everybody up. It was my brother saying that his entire family had a stomach virus and wouldn’t be able to come for dinner. Trying to overcome my disappointment, I re-heated breakfast. After we had eaten, the kids returned to their new toys while I cleaned up the kitchen and started on the perfect Christmas dinner. I peeled potatoes, stuffed turkey, dissolved Jell-O, kneaded roll dough and mixed cake batter. I could hear laughing from downstairs where the kids were playing. Butch was trying to put together a train track in the den.

I decorated the diningroom table to match the cover of a popular woman’s magazine and set out our best dishes. I had tried several new recipes and thought the food looked wonderful arranged around the table. I called for my family to get dressed and come to dinner. One by one they arrived. Their idea of dressing for dinner and mine were obviously different. I was wearing my Christmas dress, complete with hose and shoes. Most of my children were still wearing at least part of their pajamas. Butch had on cut-off sweat pants and a T-shirt that had (at least once) been used to polish his Sunday shoes.

Tears came to my eyes as I looked around the table at my family. Cathy watched me warily. She was 11 - old enough to realize that I was upset, but not sure why. I guess I hadn’t used the right kind of paint on her Christmas sweatshirt because it was already starting to peel. Laura (7) was wearing a purple windsuit Eavy Mae had given her for the fourth straight day. Jamie (6) was pointing out all the food items that he absolutely would not eat. Grace (4) was itemizing the gifts she had asked for but did not receive. Tommy (2) was hanging upside down over the side of his chair, examining a cobweb in the corner of the dining room. Emily was alternately banging her spoon on her highchair tray and rubbing cranberry sauce in her hair. Nothing was how I had meant for it to be. We were completely hopeless.

Butch started carving the turkey and mentioned that it was a little dry. The kids served their plates. Jamie hated everything. Tommy spilled his Christmas-red Kool-Aid on my new white tablecloth. I sat there in dazed despair, wondering where I went wrong. What Christmas event or activity could I possibly have missed? Didn’t I plan well enough? How could I have failed again?

It wasn’t until much later, after the decorations had been packed away and the trees discarded that I finally understood my mistake. In all the baking, wrapping, bow-tying, gift-giving and song-singing I had somehow managed to exclude the Savior and his birth completely from our Christmas. We went through all the preparations and then left our honored guest standing outside our door. Nativity scenes had become just decorations, like stockings and the trees. We gave gifts, but didn’t associate them with the wise men. The scriptures had collected dust during the holidays since we had been too busy to read them. Our family prayers had been sporadic and repetitious as we rushed from one holiday event to the next. We sang Away in a Manger along with Frosty the Snowman until we couldn’t tell the difference.

Since then I have come to accept that there will never be a perfect Christmas at our house. Instead of competing with imaginary families, now my goal is to include the Savior in every aspect of our Christmas. We won’t attend every Christmas event, but we will see some lights, talk to Santa and read about the Savior’s birth. Our scriptures may be sticky but they won’t be dusty. The kids won’t get all the gifts they ever dreamed of, but they will get some things they want or need. We are going to count presents less and blessings more. We won’t eat the perfect Christmas breakfast, but I’ve found that my kids like canned cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate as much as eggs and bacon. By involving the children in the planning and preparation of our Christmas dinner, I spend less time in the kitchen and more time with my family. We also eat food that everyone likes instead of things that just look nice on the table. We will take the time to offer prayers of thanks for all that we have. There are so many beautiful Christmas songs about Jesus and his birth. We are going to learn a few new ones and sing them often.

Then I guess my Christmas afternoons will always be spent thinking of things I want to do differently the next year. I’ll remember cross words I shouldn’t have said and good intentions that I never put into action. But I hope that with effort we’ll make improvements every year. And we’ll try to more effectively incorporate the Savior into our celebrations. I hope that in our home He will feel welcome, loved and appreciated. After all – the only truly perfect Christmas took place in Bethlehem over two-thousand years ago. And there’s no competing with that.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Heaven on Earth - My Paula Deen Weekend

My sister Julie, my Grandmother Grace and my sister Amanda.
Aren't they beautiful????

This summer I was talking to my 89 year old grandmother and she expressed an interest in going to Paula Deen's restaurant in Savannah, Georgia. I told her that my sisters and I would take her. She wasn't sure she be up to the trip but made me promise if we couldn't go to Savannah, that we would at least come to Headland and have a "Paula Deen" weekend there. When we realized that a trip to Savannah was too ambitious - Our Paula Deen Weekend was born.

My sister Julie lives in Elkmont, Alabama (almost at the Tennessee line). She and her husband Larry have four children (three are in Utah attending school and/or working and one is in Uruguay on a church mission). She has a full-time job at Athens hospital, visits home health care paitents and teaches a class at a local college. Amanda lives in Montgomery. Her husband, Jeff, is a radiologist and they have three children (ranging in age from 10-17). She is a stay-at-home mom (I use that term loosely, she runs marathons, plays tennis, collects money for charity, supports candidates for political office and plans luncheons for 700 people - so she's always on the go).

Nana's birthday was September 22nd - so we cleared our calendars for the weekend of September and we drove down to Headland. It was the first time the sisters had been together without husbands or children since I got married almost 30 years ago and it was heaven getting to talk and laugh and visit with each other. We stopped at CVS to buy a Ped-Egg and other pedicure related items (our combined gift for Nana). Then we arrived in Headland just before noon. We made a quick stop at the Headland Piggly Wiggly to purchase ingredients for cobbler (the only recipe we had chosen in advance).

After dropping off the groceries and picking up Nana, we went to a nice little cafe on the Headland town square. We each ordered something different so we could share and taste. I got chicken salad. Nana got quiche, Julie and Amanda got little flatbread sandwiches Then we split 2 slices of chocolate chip pecan (as Paula would say PEE-can) pie for desert.

We took Nana home and made Paula's peach cobbler. Once it was done we went grocery shopping (again). We were able to get everything in Headland's Piggly Wiggly except Chilli Cheese Fritos, Easy Off Oven Cleaner (the cobbler leaked a little on to Nana's oven), leeks and shrimp. Since the moment we arrived in Headland Amanda had been running into people she knew. So when I saw her chatting with the meat man at the Piggly Wiggly (when she was supposed to be locating shrimp) I thought she had been diverted from her task by yet another old acquaintance. Then I found out that she was asking the meat man about the shrimp! She told him we needed shrimp but it didn't have to be fresh (meaning it could be frozen). He asked why in the world we would want shrimp that wasn't fresh. Anyway, it turns out they don't have shrimp of any kind available in Headland, so Amanda and Julie dropped me off at Nana's to continue cooking while they went in search of the missing items.

I mixed up the dough for the cheese biscuits but when I preheated the oven, smoke billowed out from the peach juice on the bottom of the oven. I turned off the oven and turned on the automatic cleaning feature - then saw that it takes 3 hours to clean. Unsure what to do, I just put the biscuit dough in the refrigerator and started chopping vegetables. By the time my sisters got back (with FRESH, Cajun seasoned, steamed shrimp) the oven had burned off enough of the peach juice for me to stop the cleaning cycle. Nana told us that at Paula Deen's restaurant they walk around with biscuits on a tray offering them to the people waiting in line. So when some visitors arrived (Nana's sister Mary Owens, her husband Lee and Nana's youngest brother Jim), we wanted to bake the biscuits so we could walk in and serve them on a tray like Paula Deen. But the oven was 'locked down' until it cooled enough after the interrupted cleaning cycle. It didn't cool enough until after our guests had to leave so we didn't get to serve biscuits Paula Deen style. That was the weekend's only disappointment.

During the Auburn game we made Shrimp and Grits, Corn Salad, and finally were able to bake the Cheese Biscuits. This was our menu, with Peach Cobbler for dessert. The recipies are all available on Paula Deen's official website ( but I've listed them below for your convenience.

Everything was delicious. After eating we watched the Alabama/Georgia game. Then we stayed up half the night visiting and watching Amanda give Nana a pedicure (the Ped-Egg was a big hit). On Sunday morning for breakfast we reheated biscuits and ate them along with fresh cantaloupe and some of the pound cake that Nana's brother Sam had sent over. We washed the sheets on our beds (against Nana's strict instructions) and visited until lunchtime. Then we reheated our dinner from the night before and ate it one last time. It was just as good the second time around (thanks to a trick Julie taught us which I'll share in the corn salad recipe). Then we sadly packed up, said our farewells and headed home (after a brief stop to see Uncle Sam).

It was a perfect weekend and I hope we get to do it again sometime (my grandfather suggested that we come back every weekend). I feel like after spending time with these three incredible women that I am somehow improved. I've felt like a better wife and mother and person in general all week (maybe I DO need to do this every weekend). I appreciate my sisters for making the necessary adjustments in their lives to make room for a Paula Deen Weekend in Headland. I'm also thankful to their husbands and children for sharing them with me. Life is short and being with your sisters and grandmother really is Heaven on Earth.

Cheese Biscuits
2 cup self-rising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening3
/4 cup grated sharp Cheddar
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 stick butter, melted
Directions:Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together using a fork; cut in shortening until it resembles cornmeal. Add cheese. Stir in buttermilk all at 1 time just until blended. Do not over stir. Drop by tablespoonfuls, or use an ice cream scoop, onto a well greased baking sheet. Brush dough with melted butter. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes Difficulty: Easy Yield: 16-20 biscuits

Shrimp and Grits
4 servings cooked grits
4 tablespoons olive oil1 cup diced tasso ham* (we used bacon)
4 tablespoons diced leeks
4 tablespoons diced onion
4 tablespoons diced green peppers
20 medium to large shrimp, peeled and de-veined, with tails on
1 tablespoon white wine (we used cooking sherry)
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
Cajun Seasoning to taste
DirectionsCook grits according to package directions; set aside and keep warm.Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tasso (bacon) and saute until crisp. Add diced vegetables and saute until onions are translucent. Add shrimp and saute for 30 to 45 seconds, or until pink. Remove from the pan and set aside. Deglaze the pan with cooking sherry. Slowly add the cream and let reduce until thickened. Season with salt and pepper and Cajun seasonings, to taste. (Paula suggests a more attractive presentation - but we opted for what was easy). Pour grits into a casserole dish. Put shrimp and vegetables on top. Pour sauce over everything.

Corn Salad

2 (15 ounce) cans whole kernel corn, drained (I prefer shoepeg)
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 (10 1/2 ounce) bag coarsely crushed Fritos chili cheese corn chips (we used regular and it worked fine)
DirectionsMix first 5 ingredients and chill. Stir in crushed corn chips just before serving (if you expect to have leftovers, reserve about a cup of chips and mix them in the next day to provide new crunch)

Peach Cobbler
1 stick of butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1 cup milk
1 large can sliced peaches
1 small can sliced peaches
Melt butter in 9 X 13 dish in 350 degree oven until golden brown around edges. In bowl mix sugar, self-rising flour and milk. Pour batter mixture over hot butter in the 9 X 13 baking dish. Spoon the peaches into the batter. Gently pour juice from large can of peaches over the top.Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees (or until golden brown). (One of Julie's patients suggested doubling the 'crust' portion of the recipe and topping the cobbler with cinnamon sugar - so that's what we did.) It's great alone or with cool whip or ice cream on top!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dreams do come true...

In the 1960's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke these words "I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers."

Almost 50 years later I live in an Alabama where little girls and boys of all skin tones do live and play and go to church and school together as brothers and sisters. It's easy to take the progress we've made for granted, so I wanted to make a few comments on my blog today.

I work at an elementary school that is racially diverse. This past week one of the teachers read a book about Rosa Parks to her third graders. She had to stop frequently to discuss the issues raised in the book because these children have no concept of segregation. They were all appalled and confused. So finally the teacher said, "Back in those days the white and the black people did everything separately. They went to different schools and different churches and used different entrances and different water fountains. In fact, black and white children couldn't even play together. So (she point out two boys in the class) couldn't have been friends back then." The little African American boy looked down at his arm and said, "I'm black? I thought I was brown." He hadn't even realized that what we were talking about involved him! And it was in that moment that I knew. We've come a long way. Not that we don't still have a ways to go - but I think Dr. King would be proud of us.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bridging to a new stage of life and a Reality Check

Today our youngest son, Clay, bridged from Cub Scouts into 11 year old Boy Scouts. I'll confess to not loving the whole scouting thing. I know it's good and my boys have liked it - but honestly I'm tired of trying to keep up with uniforms (which oddly we can never find even though we only wear them on rare occasions), remembering to sew on patches, pack for campouts, buy food for campouts, take sons to campouts, worry about sons while they are on campouts, clean up/wash clothes after campouts, visit summer scout camp and watch the same skits performed the year(s) before, coming up with/financing/executing eagle projects, remembering where we put the scout books, earning badges, etc. So I really thought I would be thrilled when the day came that ALL my sons had successfully completed the scouting program. But as of today I no longer have a cub scout and never will have again. And it's not all that fun. So I guess when Clay gets his eagle and leaves Boy Scouts - I'll look back at all that scouting stuff with some nostalgia. And I hope that I'll feel a little differently about the experiences listed above - knowing that each campout I pack for is bringing me closer to my last one.

Anyway, we held the bridging after church. Another boy in our ward bridged with Clay so we had a nice ceremony, an even nicer lunch and a good turnout. The one thing I LOVE about scouts is all the great leaders we've had over the years and all time they put into it. Clay's cubmaster had knee surgery on Tues. but still got things organzied for today's ceremony.

And now the Reality Check part of today's blog. I don't know how things have been in the rest of the country - but in Alabama Hurricane Ike has been FELT. I didn't think we would suffer any ill effects from the storm since we were completely out of it's path. But on Friday as I was leaving school one of the teachers I work with said her brother in law just called and said that gas was up to $4.00 a gallon (from $3.59 on Friday morning) and that it was predicted to reach $5. There was even talk that we wouldn't be able to get gas by this coming week. So she encouraged everyone to fill up on the way home. Sure enough, on the way home I saw that gas prices were near or past the $4.00 mark. I filled up my van and Grace's car and Butch stopped for more gas on the way home from work. All together I spent $200 on gas in a matter of hours. Prices did spike up to $4.99 in one area but have stabilized at about $4.00 and gas is still available for the moment anyway.

But on Friday night during all this 'hurry and get some gas before it's gone' drama my kids and I were talking about it. Clay asked, "So, if there is no gas next week what will UPS do?" I said I guess they'd have to call Butch and say don't come in to work because there's no gas to put in your truck so we'll have to suspend deliveries until gas is available. And if Butch doesn't work - he doesn't get paid. And since we live basically from pay check to pay check - it wouldn't take us long to be in terrible trouble financially.

We have been warned for so long to have our year's supply of everything - including money and fuel if possible. We've been warned to get out of debt and live modestly. And while I think I've taken these warnings seriously and made adjustments to the way we live and spend our money - I have made these changes with the attitude that we have plenty of time and there's no rush. But after this weekend - I plan to take a more serious approach. It wouldn't take much to bring this country to a total economic standstill. And I have a LOT more work to do before I'm ready for that.

On a happier note - work on the final book in the Duty series is coming along well. I hope to have it turned in to Covenant at the end of this month (or the first of Oct at the latest). And the release of Above and Beyond is only a couple of weeks away! How time flies!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I had a dream years ago - not long after my mother died. I was walking down the halls of the Salt Lake Temple and I passed a beautiful young woman. I could see her from a distance - she was talking to someone else - and when we finally 'met' in the hallway she looked over and smiled at me. It was my mother. At first I thought it was just a comfort dream - for me to know that my mother was happy and healthy and WALKING now that she'd left this earth. But later I decided that it was also a lesson in sisterhood. My mother is no longer my 'elder'. She's once again a young woman and when we meet again in addition to being mother and daughter - we will be sisters.

I thought of this again last week. I had a bad day and a particular disappointment and planned to just go to bed (I was exhausted) and wake up (hopefully) more cheerful in the morning. But Emily brought in her fingernail polish and insisted that she was going to give me a pedicure. I tried to talk her out of it. I didn't think anything could cheer me up. But she wouldn't take no for an answer. As I sat there and received this simple, personal service from my sweet daughter I did feel 'cheered'. And my toes look so cute!!!

I am eternally thankful for mothers and daughters and sisterhood.


I really intended to do a weekly blog and in the future I will - but (and I really hate to admit this) I forgot my own password for the blog and kept forgetting to ask Emily what it was. I finally had to email her at work to find out!!!! So now I have it safely recorded in my inbox and this shouldn't be a problem again.

Things are going well at the Green household. Just busy like everyone else. I'm really starting to enjoy my job. It's still a little stressful and makes it hard to accomplish the other things I need to - but working with the kids is very rewarding.

In book news - Above and Beyond and Spirit of Christmas should hit bookstore shelves in just over a month. I hope to have my copies by the end of that first week of October if not before. I'll mail out my preorders immediately. I am trying hard to make sure I keep careful track of all orders. But if you place a preorder and don't recieve your books/cds by the middle of October let me know. My biggest fear is that I'm going to forget someone!!!

And I've started on the final book in the Duty Series. My original plan was to do a Haggerty book next (and I've got it more than half written). But when I was doing the final edit of Above and Beyond I started getting so many ideas about how to resolve the story - I decided just to go ahead and do that book for March (when Covenant wants another one). The Christmas book has a Haggerty story in it - so hopefully that will tide the Haggerty Junkies over until Fall. And this way we can get Dane and Savannah settled!!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Grace is HOME!!!

It is SOOO great to have Grace home. She left Provo on July 31st - all alone - with Mapquest directions, an atlas and a fully charged cell phone. The plan was for her to sleep most of the day so that when she left she be rested and refreshed and ready for a long drive. She was headed to Nauvoo where friends of our family (the Hogans and Ackers) had gathered. She hoped to get there on Friday afternoon so she could have time to look around, attend the new pageant (we were cast members of the old one for the last two years) and then spend the night with the Hogans before heading on home Saturday morning. However several last minute things came up on Thursday - interupting her sleep - so she wasn't all that rested when she left Provo. She had to stop several times to take short naps - which delayed her. Then a wrong turn at Des Moines resulted in a detour to Minnesota. So it was 3:00 am on Saturday before she ever arrived at the Hogan's hotel room in Nauvoo. They took good care of her and after a few hours of sleep she followed the Ackers as far as Nashville (where they ahd to vere off toward Georgia) and then made it the rest of the way by herself. It was not a pleasant trip but we were thankful to have her home safely.
Emily started school last Weds. I can't believe she is a SENIOR!!! So far school has gone well. She starts seminary on Thursday so her life will be even busier. Andy and Clay start their new schools on Weds and I started my new job at my old school last Friday. I'm working with three exceptional education teachers who are wonderful. Once I figure out what I'm doing I'll be more comfortable - but I'm thankful to be back at Hueytown Elementary.
I got up early this morning and emailed back and forth with Tommy. He's doing well in Uganda and it's so fun to see him mature and settle in to missionary life. We still miss him and it's still hard to have him so far away, but I'm confident that he'll be okay.
And finally - we've been mesmerized by the Olympics around our house. It makes me so proud of our athletes and so thankful to be an American! GO USA!!!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

July 23, 2008 - Right Place/Wrong Time

Tommy is on his way to Uganda. His plane left about 45 minutes ago and he should be there in less than 4 hours. I'll be so thankful to have him settled at last, under the care and watchful eye of his own mission president (and the mission president's wife). He emailed me on Sat the 12th (2:00 in the morning our time) and said that was when he would have computer time the next Sat as well if I wanted to get up so we could 'chat' by swapping emails (something I used to do when Jamie was in Sweden). So on the 19th I got up at 1:00 am (just to be sure I didn't make a mistake in the time difference and miss him). Right about 2:00 he emailed me that he was there. I was so excited!!! I sent him back a quick email and waited, and waited, and waited. Finally he emailed back and said he only go 20 minutes on the computer and had over 100 emails that he'd been trying to wade through. He said he had to go but would email from Uganda. I couldn't believe it! I didn't even get to ask him what day he was leaving. Or why he was wading through 100 emails when he knew I was sitting there at 2:00 in the morning waiting to talk to him...It's a good thing I love him - and that he was in Africa. So I emailed Sister Libby who works in the mission office in Uganda and asked her if she knew when he'd be arriving there. She emailed back and said he was coming today. So this morning when I got up I had a nice long email from him. The traveling missionaries were all packed up so they had been allowed a little extra computer time - when I WASN'T there to chat back. But it was still good to hear from him. He was excited to get to Uganda and meet his new companion.

And on a related topic (my other kids say all I talk about is Tommy - which is not true - although this journal entry does kind of back up their claim) I joined an Missionary Moms email group shortly after Tommy got his call (like the next day - I needed reassurance). The group has been very supportive and informative and just a pleasure to me. One mom, Shannon Tolman, has a son Peter who is 4 months ahead of Tommy - so she was able to give me very practical advice about how to get him ready. She has some friends (the Cowans) who work for the Church and are currently assigned to South Africa. They go to the MTC frequently to let the missionaries 'practice' on them. While they were there on July 11th they met a missionary from Ethiopia (Elder Shegena) who was headed to Capetown. Elder Tolman is currently serving in Ethiopia and had met Elder Shegena before he left for the MTC. So the Cowans took a picture of Elder Shegena and his companion and sent it to Shannon. When Shannon saw that Elder Shegena's companion was from Alabama - she knew it had to be Tommy and forwarded the picture to me. What are the odds? How huge a blessing was that? To see Tommy happy and smiling in the MTC across the world? The picture is posted on my "About Me" page if you haven't seen it. Anyway, sometimes I am in the right place at the right time - or friends of a friend are anyway!!!