Thursday, December 29, 2011

Babystepping into the New Year

I used to be a big goal setter, but as life's gotten more complicated, I've gotten to be more of a little goal-setter. I know a lot of people have followed the example of Ben Franklin or George Washington in the way they set their goals.  Not me.  I'm more like Bill Murray's character in What About Bob? I'm all about the babysteps because they work for me.  (Forget exercising for an hour four times a week--my goal is twenty minutes three times a week.) 

I like to start my New Year off with a tradition I borrowed from Cheryl Richardson, the famous life coach.  She tells her readers to write down all the stuff they accomplished in the past year, even the small stuff.  Lately, we've turned this into a family tradition where we all sit down together to help each other remember what we've accomplished.  It's always surprising how long the lists can become.  (Sometimes we remember more things to add the next day.)  This year, my list will include teaching my daughter to drive, posting a video on YouTube, buying a vacuum cleaner with a retractable cord, and taking my kids to the pool a lot this summer.  What have you accomplished this year?

There are very few goals that I set without achieving them.  That's why my husband doesn't want me to ever have a bucket list.  He's afraid I'll check off all the boxes then wonder why I haven't died yet.  Last year, I made four resolutions, and kept three out of four.  Which one didn't I keep?  Number one:  simplify. If anyone knows an easy way to simplify my life, please let me know. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

In the Bleak Midwinter

I've been noticing this Christmas that some of the Christmas carols are wonderful examples of writing.  This morning, for example, I thought a lot about the little town of Bethlehem's "dreamless sleep," a phrase that says so much about the hopeless little town.
One of my favorite carols is "In the Bleak Midwinter," by Christina Rossetti.  What a beautiful yet simple description of the nativity.  It's even more beautiful when Julie Andrews sings it. 

In the Bleak Midwinter
by Christina Rossetti

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain;
heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
but his mother only, in her maiden bliss,
worshiped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him:  give my heart.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hiding Our Gifts

"There's absolutely no point to that Incredibles movie," my son said last night.  Maybe he said it just to irk me because it's my favorite Pixar movie.  Or maybe he's just not as intelligent as I thought he was.

The Incredibles family, like every family, has gifts and abilities that can bless other people.  But they're not using their gifts because people get mad at them, sue them, and criticize them.  Even worse, they've started to ignore their gifts and focus instead on their weaknesses.  Mom Incredible takes her flexibility for granted and focuses instead on her oversized bottom.  The kids are also sucked into this negative thinking.  Their gifts are overlooked and viewed negatively.

I asked my kids, "What if we decided to never try to help people because we might make someone mad?  What if I decided not to write anymore because some people don't like what I write?  What if we forget about all our abilities and only think about our weaknesses?"

Pretty soon my kids were coming up with ways we are just like the Incredibles family at the beginning of the movie.  There's a lot of negative thinking around us, and sometimes it's good to recognize it for what it is--a whole lot of poopoo that's just gonna drag us down and make us sad.

Christmas is a great time to remember the gifts we've already been given and to recognize the good in other people.

On a side note, I hid my son's birthday present and can't remember where I hid it, which is really a problem because it's his birthday--yikes. 

So here's my question for today:  Why are you hiding your gifts?   Or, if you prefer, where are you hiding your gifts?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Merry Christmas and Please Don't Kill Yourself

I've known for a long time that the holidays are a peak time for suicide.  That fact hit home again last week when we learned that a neighbor had ended his battle with depression in a terrible way.  I'm always sad when I hear someone has died, but it's even worse with suicide.  I feel sad and guilty.

I've always been a fan of the movie It's a Wonderful Life.  I think it's a beautiful anti-suicide story.  However, lately, I'm wondering what would happen if we changed the story a little.  What if George and Mary were divorced?  What if George had been out of work for several months or years?  What if George didn't come from a prominent family in his community?  What if George lived in a big city?  Would his life still be worth living?  Would people still come to help pay off his debts? Could we still find a long list of good things that happened because he was born?

I wish I could be an angel like Clarence to help all the George Baileys find answers to these questions, but I can't.  So I'll just say what I think:  Your life is worth living.  People still care about you.  These people may not be the same people that you wish would care about you; they may be different people than you are expecting.  You may have to look for them.  And they may not help you pay off your debts.  But, even if you're not a George Bailey handing out loans to your friends, you've done good things in your life and there are many people who benefit because you're alive.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Middle School Books I Love / Hate

My kids' school library got a huge load of discarded books from the public library, and I get to help "preview" them.  Basically that means that I read the first chapter and flip through the rest, looking for anything that might be inappropriate.  (Can I just say that I think I've found my new calling in life?  I love reading first chapters.) 

The books for elementary age kids are always great.  But the books for middle school readers are a bit spotty.  Here's what I love about some of the middle school readers:

  • Main characters from other cultures.   I think it's good for middle schoolers to see things from another culture's vantage point.
  •  Main characters who are trying to make the world better.  I read one book (Acceleration by Graham McNamee) about a teen who discovers a serial killer's diary.  Even though the book has violent elements and a few swear words, I like that the boy steps out of his selfish world to become a hero.  (I recommended it for grade 9 and up.)
Here's what I hated about some of the middle school readers:

  • Main characters who rebel against the rules and don't learn their lesson.  I read one book about a shoplifter who didn't feel guilty and never got caught.  That really bugged me because I know a lot  of  kids who've gotten caught shoplifting.  (And yes, I'm happy to report that I threw the book in my trash can, where it deserves to be.)  If you're writing for adolescents and you want to cover a subject like drugs or shoplifting, at least show the consequences.
  • Coming of Age stories written for an adult audience but marketed for teens.  Just because kids understand it doesn't mean they should be reading it.
Middle school is tough.  And books can be a great coping mechanism.  When I was that age, I was a huge fan of L.M. Montgomery's books (Anne of Green Gables, etc.)  What did you like to read in Middle School?

Book of Mormon 12 Day Christmas Reading

This is a scripture reading program for the twelve days leading up to Christmas.  We wrote it for our Relief Society sisters to use in their homes.  It includes short summaries about some of the prophets from the Book of Mormon who looked forward to the coming of Christ.  We also included the prophet Isaiah and Joseph Smith as well as our prophet and apostles today.  On the last day, we watched the movie The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd.
We designed this experience so that people could adapt it to their own needs.  Some may want to read only a few lines.  Others may want to read everything, including the scripture references.
Twelve Day Christmas Experience

Day 1:  Testimony of Isaiah       
The Prophet Isaiah lived over 700 years before Christ was born.   He foretold and testified of the Savior’s divine mission and birth.  He prophesied that even though our Savior would be perfect, He would be “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”  Isaiah bore testimony of the power of Christ’s atonement, saying “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes [or scars] we are healed.”
Isaiah also bore testimony of Christ’s power and priesthood.  He wrote that “his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
[Read Isaiah’s testimony in Isaiah 7:14-15, Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 53 (compare Mosiah 14). Listen to “For Unto Us a Child is Born” from Handel’s Messiah.]

Day 2:   Testimony of Nephi       

“but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah” (1 Ne 19:23).

Nephi, the first prophet who wrote in the Book of Mormon, prophesied of Christ to people in America. He said, "...we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ... that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. ...there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ... whereby man can be saved.” (2 Ne 25:26).   Nephi saw in vision the Savior’s birth and ministry before and after the Lord’s Crucifixion. 

Many of Nephi's people believed his words. They trusted in the promise that Christ would come to visit their descendants. Their hearts were filled with gratitude for this loving Savior who would redeem them from their lost and fallen state, and they rejoiced as they came to rely on the goodness and merits of "him who is mighty to save.”.

[Read Nephi’s testimony in 1 Nephi 11:9-13; 1 Nephi 12:4-8.]

Monday, November 28, 2011

pathetic pantyhose problems

I used to like Kate Middleton.  Then I heard that she's single-handedly responsible for bringing pantyhose back into style.  Now I'm not so sure about her.  I know, I know.  I've seen Princess Diaries.  Pantyhose are a princess thing.  I should be forgiving.

By the way, writing tip of the day--You don't spell them "panty-hoes."  (It must have been a Freudian slip in my first draft.  Sorry to anyone reading my ARC.)

Seeing as how pantyhose are back in style, I thought I'd be princess-like and wear a pair to church.  Now here's my problem with pantyhose--they're always falling down.  I guess that's because I'm tall.  Shorter women I talk to have confessed that the waist band comes up way too high on them.

Anywho, after putting on my pantyhose, I felt that something wasn't quite right, but I was in a hurry.  Before I sat down at my pew, I surreptitiously hiked up my pantyhose because they were already slipping down on me.  After the first meeting, I agreed to substitute in a primary class of four year olds.  By this time, the waistband was around mid-thigh.  It didn't stay there either.  Every time I moved, the waist band slipped lower until it was just above my knees.

About half-way through the lesson, the children figured out that there was a draft coming in through the window.  Normally, I would have said, "Don't worry about the window.  We're talking about really important stuff here."  But this time, I took advantage of their distraction to remove my pantyhose.  Before anyone turned around, my pantyhose were safely stowed in my purse.  All it took was a couple of yanks.  I figure if Anne Hathaway can put on pantyhose in the backseat of a limousine, I can take them off in primary.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why I don't have a cooking blog

The Bad Caramel Apple
Last month, I found a recipe for caramel apples.  It looked good, so, even though it broke my rule that all recipes should be quick and easy, I printed it out.  Tonight, I decided to make it.

I followed the recipe exactly--including the part where it said the caramel should reach 335 degrees.  I was wondering why it smelled a little burnt and why it looked much darker than most caramel.  Hmmm.  Finally, before I dipped all the apples in, I decided to check that cooking blog again.  Sure enough, the 335 degrees was a mistake.  It should have said 235 degrees. 

So my family happily ate their uncaramelized apples on sticks.  I could teach Michelle Obama a thing or two about how to help kids avoid obesity.  Just give me a week in the Whitehouse kitchen.

In my defense I was once a pretty good cook.  It's not a coincidence my husband proposed on the same day he tasted my homemade rolls.  Then we got married and had two kids with gluten allergies, so cooking is a lot more complicated now.  (I also had better hair before I got married.  My hair hasn't looked quite right since I lost my favorite round brush on our honeymoon.)

That's why I like writing.  It's so much easier to fix my mistakes. 

I'm making orange rolls for Thanksgiving this year.  We'll see what happens.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm getting ready for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine's Day.  Why Valentine's Day?  The release date for my book has changed again.  It's coming out on Valentine's Day.  And to think, two weeks ago I was chillaxin' and thinking I had until May. 

So I've been freaking out, trying to make sure the book's as good as I can make it.  I'm probably driving my sweet editor crazy.  Last week, for example, I decided I've used the word "just" too many times.  (I used it so many times that I was starting to sound like Mercer Mayer, the author of Just for You, Just Me and My Dad, etc.) 

Anyway, I definitely won't be celebrating one holiday at a time.  (Anyone know any good romantic Christmas songs?)  But I am determined to take time to be grateful during November.  And here's a  little of what I'm grateful for:

My daughter has turned sixteen.  I'm really proud of her.  She is very independent and hard-working.  And now she can drive, which would be very convenient if I were only brave enough to let her get her license.  She's also very patient with me and my writing eccentricities. 

Sometimes she'll stop in the middle of the conversation and ask, "Mom, are you listening or are you thinking about your novel?"  Last week, we were listening to some music in the car that we don't usually listen to, and she asked, "Can you do your research some other time, Mom?"  She knew I was researching even though I didn't tell her.  My children suffer so much, and I'm grateful they suffer because it makes them better people, right?

What are you grateful for?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

November Give-Away Winner

  Thank you to everyone who participated in the November Giveaway Hop!  Our Winner is: 


Monday, November 7, 2011

November Give-Away Hop

Thank you to I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Tristi Pinkston for hosting this hop!

Fill out the form below for a chance to win a $15 gift certificate

Here are the other blogs involved in the giveaway hop:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Nickname Dilemna

In my family, a nickname is a mark of affection.  My father gained the nickname "Herk" as a child because he was as strong as Hercules.  (At least his friends thought so.)  Everyone who knows him still calls him "Herk." 

When I was born, my mom named me Rebecca and told everyone in the family not to give me a nickname.  Much to her disappointment, my dad and brothers called me "Becky" most of the time.  They also came up with a bunch of other nicknames--Beck-boo, Rubuckuh, and Buppy were a few of them.

My mom didn't even try to fight the nickname tradition with my younger brother, who gained the nicknames Moof and Frog-face.  Or with my sister, whom we called Keeby, Kiwi, and Carrie.  I even give nicknames to some of the characters in my books.
When we had our fourth son, my husband and I had a lot of trouble agreeing on a name.  Finally, we decided to give him my favorite name as his first name, my husband's favorite name as his middle name, then call him by a nickname we both agreed on.  I'll admit we're a little demented.  I guess that's how you get when you're raising a bunch of boys.

The nickname thing worked great until my son got to kindergarten.  Before classes started, I told the teacher about my son's nickname and how no one ever calls him by his first name.  The teacher acted like she got it.  But on the first day of school, my son's name tag showed his first name.  The teacher explained that after all the children learned to write their first names, they would be able to go by their nicknames.  Well, it's been two months now, and everyone at school calls him by his first name. 

Now I'm wondering:  Are we just really weird to use nicknames?  Do you have any nicknames? 

Thanksgiving Skit

This is a skit that my mother-in-law wrote for Thanksgiving.  There are no speaking parts other than the narrator's. She has used it as an activity for nursing home residents and as a Thanksgiving activity for the grandchildren.  I have used a modified version in a class of second graders.  (I didn't have the second graders sing a hymn, and I shortened it a little.) My mother-in-law usually uses the following props:  pilgrim hats, a fish, toy guns, toy bows and arrows, sea shells, Native American headresses, pumpkins, squash, a piece of corn, and a piece of jewelry to be used as a gift.  


In scene one we see the puritans in one of their secret meetings, in defiance of King James I.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Kissing the Leper

Growing up with a disabled sister, I got used to people staring.  Caroline screamed in quiet places and would sit down on the floor in the middle of busy walkways.  Occasionally strangers reached out in service to us.  Because it was so unusual and touching for someone to help us, I remember some incidences in great detail.
Once I was alone with Caroline when she sat down in the middle of the mall.  This was back in the eighties when malls were very crowded, and we seemed to be right in everyone's way.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get her to move.  After what seemed like a very long time of having people trip over us, a woman stopped and asked if she could help.  Together, we dragged Caroline to the nearest bench.  I'm sure this woman has long forgotten her service, but I don't think I ever will.

Yesterday, I read a story that Jay Fox told at the BYU English Department Awards banquet last April. He said:

Jack Sing had leprosy and was treated with sulfone drugs, but not before the disease had done a lot of damage.  He was the branch president in Kalaupapa for 31 years.  In 1978 he was given a distinguished service award at BYU--Hawaii.  When he came to campus in his tennis shoes and baseball cap to receive the award, President Spencer W. Kimball attended the ceremony.  By this time Jack's face and hands were severely disfigured from the disease and you could see that many of those attending the meeting were standoffish and even reluctant to shake hands with him.  I saw President Kimball come up to him, put his arms around him and say, 'Jack, you are my brother!'  He then kissed Jack Sing.  This was one of the most compassionate acts I have ever witnessed and a great example to all of us.

In these two examples, it didn't take much extra time to perform an act of service.  Reading this story yesterday reminded me that service doesn't have to be a big project.  Have you ever had someone serve you in a simple way?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Literacy for Boys

My kids like to make fun of me a lot.  There's the time I made salmon tacos, for example.  And now that I have a teenage driver to scrutinize me, everyone thinks my driving is a bit subpar.  That's why it's so surprising to notice how much they actually do follow my example.  In the past few months, three of my boys have been writing their own books.  And, thanks to me sitting around reading books instead of doing something more productive, all my boys love to read.  (This whole example thing also works with my husband, by the way, who started an exercise program after I started getting fitter.)

I always thought the ideal way to get kids to do something was to sit them down, give them a lecture, and set a goal--or just simply nag.  I thought if I wanted to help my kids with spelling, I should drill them on spelling lists.  It turns out that the process of writing books has helped them with their spelling as much as the old drills.

Finding books for my boys is completely different than it was for my daughter.  My boys tend to love a great series.  If they find one book they really love, they will read everything the author has written.  And they love books about fighting.   I asked them to tell me what their favorite books were this year, and here are their answers:

books about animals
books that are based on a song

Beginning reader:
Dodsworth in New York (series)
Magic Treehouse series
Frog and Toad series

Fourth Grader:
Bullies in the Headlights by Matthew Buckley
Harry Potter series
Gladiator series (I'm not sure if I've approved this one yet.)
Diary of a Wimpy kid series

Sixth Grade and Up:
Christopher Paolini books
Fablehaven series
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Cirque du Freak series

Please let me know if you have any favorite boy books.  I'm starting my Christmas list.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Quotes for a Bad Day

My online personal trainer, Jonathan Roche, sent out a list of quotes last week that I have on my refrigerator.  Yeah, the quotes are supposed to be motivating me to lose my last three pounds, but they're also helping me feel more positive about my writing and other things. So here they are for you to enjoy. I'd also love for you to comment and share your favorite quote.

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." - Carl Bard

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." - Thomas Edison

"Don't give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you." --John Wooden

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." --Martin Luther King Jr.

"I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself." - Mikhail Baryshnikov

"If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves." - Thomas Edison

"It's not who we are that holds us back, it's who we think we're not." --Michael Nolan

"Life is not about waiting for the storms to's about learning how to dance in the rain." -- Unknown
"We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment." - Jim Rohn

"What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" - Robert H. Schuller

What's your favorite quote?

[Note:  My husband (the editor) says I should make sure to check all my citations.  As far as I know, all these quotes are correct, but I could only find them on the internet.  The internet is a reputable source, right?]

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Undercover at the Book Signing

To calm my fears about marketing my book, I thought I'd do a little research.  I started with something easy:  book signings.  Last weekend, there were plenty of book signings to attend in my city, so I picked out a book that looked interesting and headed out to the signing.  My plan was to schmooze with the author a little while I got the book signed, but things didn't go exactly as I planned.

My first observation about the signing I attended was that the book signing tables were really tiny.  I mean, their size took me back to my high school days of having to remember a #2 pencil for the scantron test.  I have seen authors sitting at much bigger tables, but those were at bigger stores.  So, note to self:  whatever displays or handouts you bring to a book signing have to be adaptable to different sizes of tables.

I noticed one author sitting at her table all by herself.  No one was talking to her, and she looked kind of pitiful just sitting there trying to smile at people as they passed.  

I wanted to get a book signed by the other author, though, so I proceeded to the second table.  This author was standing up behind her table, talking to someone.  She didn't notice when I picked up one of her books.  I stood there for about a minute without any eye contact from this author.  I thought, "Oh well.  She's busy.  I'll come back later."

When I came back later, she was still talking and still didn't notice me, even though I stood there for a while.  Maybe in her mind, she was thinking, "Nobody really came here to buy my book.  I might as well make myself comfortable chatting it up."  Or maybe she was thinking something entirely different.  I know I'm being critical of this author, but it's mostly because I can see myself doing the exact same thing.

So, here's the second thing I learned:  It's better to sit behind the table and look pitiful than it is to make other people feel pitiful by ignoring them.

That's about all I learned from the book signing I attended.  I did, however, find that there's a lot of good tips about book signings on author blogs. Here's one from the Writer's Vineyard. Here's another by Connie Sokol.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Blind Date

"Do you want to get together and play spin the bottle?"  That's what it said on the note my husband wrote to ask me out on our blind date.  He thought if he wrote something really obnoxious, I wouldn't want to go out with him.  He'd had a few bad blind dates and really didn't want to add another to his list.  Plus, he was dating someone else.

There was another problem too.  He had a mustache.  I have always had issues with facial hair.  If I had to rate my disgust for it, it would look something like this (with 10 being really gross and 1 being sometimes acceptable):

  1. a well-groomed goatee
  2. a 3-day to 1-week old beard
  3. a well-groomed, short beard
  4. a longer goatee
  5. a short mustache
  6. a medium-sized beard
  7. a mustache on a woman
  8. a long mustache
  9. a love patch
  10. a handlebar mustache
So it's a really lucky thing that I promised my friend I'd go out with him before I read the note.  It's also a good thing he didn't have a handlebar mustache.

We ended up having probably one of the longest blind dates in history, during which we ate at Chick-Fil-A, browsed a bookstore, watched a movie, read short stories out loud, made milkshakes, and went grocery shopping.  A few dates later, he shaved off his mustache--phew.

The bad thing about having a successful blind date is that it makes me want to set other people up on blind dates.  Sad to say, I don't have the talent for it at all.  Either that or the people I set up just happen to avoid me for months afterwards.

Have you had a memorable blind date?  I'd love to hear about it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


My son working on a scout service project

My oldest son hasn't been very motivated to do his boy scout merit badges lately.  I thought I'd solve the problem by telling him that he wouldn't be able to get his driver's license until after he'd earned his Eagle Scout rank.  After I made this threat, I realized that I had a lot of work to do if I wanted him to finish by the time he's sixteen.  We spent the summer finishing up the personal fitness, personal management, and family life merit badges.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Joseph Smith Play

This is a play about the life of Joseph Smith that I wrote about seven years ago for the youth in our ward.  It is ten pages long and has about eighteen parts.  The cast list is at the end.

Joseph Smith and the Ghosts of Church History
by Rebecca H. Jamison

Act 1 Scene 1

[A church dance:  music is playing and couples are dancing.  Enter Emmett, a popular nerd, and his dance partner, Shoshawna.  They’re doing a disco, break-dance, hip hop thing.  The other dancers gather around Emmett in a circle.   The music should last a minute or less.  When the music ends, a few dancers come up to talk to Emmett.]

Marlow:  Hey, that was some great dancing, Emmett.

Shoshawna:  Yeah, too bad the dance is over.

LeDawn:  We’ve missed you at church lately, Emmett.   Where’ve you been?

Emmett:  Oh, I’ve been kind of busy with my coin collection and [pauses then speaks proudly] my Tae Bo Video.

Bollywood Movies

Bollywood is India's version of Hollywood.  I like to watch Bollywood movies because they're generally clean, optimistic, and original.  Indian standards for movies are very different from American standards.  For example, you'll never see a man kiss a woman in a Bollywood movie.  Kissing is taboo in India.  Sometimes I'm surprised by what they consider appropriate, so it's best to check the ratings before watching.  Bollywood movies include a lot of singing and dancing, kind of like an American musical.  My husband finds the dancing sequences to be annoying, so we sometimes fast-forward through them.

If you're new to Bollywood movies, you might want to start with one that's designed for American audiences.  Bride and Prejudice is the Bollywood version of Pride and Prejudice.  Unlike most Bollywood movies, this one is in English, so you won't need to read subtitles.

Munnabhai M.B.B.S. (2003) is the first Bollywood movie I ever saw

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

I don't think I'll ever forget how terrified we all felt on the morning of September 11, 2001.  I wondered if things would ever be the same.  Would my children grow up in peace?  Would our government collapse?  Would my sister, who lives in a group home, be safe?  I wondered about my brother who lived just outside of New York City and my other family members who live near Washington, D.C.

Looking back over the last ten years, I feel blessed that we are as safe as we are today.  I'm very grateful for our military personnel and their families.  They sacrifice so much for my safety.  Because of them and many others, my family lives in peace and security. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How to Save Some Money

Have you noticed that everything is getting more expensive?  I have.  Even some of the senators are complaining that they can't get by on $174,000 a year.  Maybe it's time for them to make some personal budget cuts like the rest of us.  Here are some of the ways my family has cut our budget lately:

  1. Phones--We looked at our phone bills and cut out every service that wasn't necessary.  I have friends who've switched to cell phone only or internet only to save money.
  2. School Pictures--Last year, I decided to quit paying the school photographer and hire my own--Target.  Using coupons, I saved about $20.  This year, I was the photographer.  The pictures are exactly what I wanted, and it saved me $80. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How I Wrote A Novel

People have been asking me how I ever found time to write a novel.  Well, I have a confession to make--it took me five years. I like to compare my writing process to the story of the tortoise and the hare.  It's easy to make a heroic start at a project like the hare sprinting at the beginning of the race.  What's harder (but more fulfilling) is to make a little effort day after day.  I'll admit I didn't always take the time to write when I should have.  There were months when I was incredibly consistent with my writing, but there were also a couple of years when I hardly wrote at all.

I found some advice from other writers to be particularly inspiring.  John Bytheway, a motivational speaker and writer, said that he found the time to write his first book by giving up his television time.  I haven't given up TV altogether, but a lot of times I've skipped my TV time to write.  Sometimes I've just spent a few minutes writing.  Other times I've had an hour or two to write.

Lance Larsen, a poet and BYU professor, gave an inspiring address for writers called "Coaxing the Muse: Thoughts on the Creative Process."  He said that you can't write well unless you're writing every day and reading good books.  I blame Lance Larsen for turning me into a copycat.  He taught me to read excellent books and look for ways to imitate another author's techniques.  Sometimes we get into a "don't plagiarize" mindset and think we should be completely independent of other authors' ideas.  I've learned that you can imitate without plagiarizing.  In fact, I can point to specific aspects of my novel and tell you what book I was reading when I wrote those parts.

Brad Bird, the writer and director of Incredibles, explained that he had to revise his script over and over again.  But, he also said that at some point he learned that he had to stop revising and let the public enjoy his story. This helped me realize that if I'm too much of a perfectionist, no one will benefit from my art. 

This year  I set a New Years' resolution to finish revising and submit my novel for publication.  I wrote my final chapter in January and sent off a manuscript to a publisher.  I collected a rejection letter in March but forced myself to send the manuscript to another publisher that same week.  In April, I signed a contract to have it published.  My happiest thought after signing the contract was that now I'll have an excuse to write another novel. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Solving Problems with the Scriptures

Being a mom, I usually have a lot of little problems that need to be solved.  Sometimes I feel like I run from one problem to the next like the night watchman in the movie Night at the Museum.  Although I've read a lot of parenting books and had a lot of great advice from friends and family, the best advice I've gotten has come from the scriptures.
I recently read the book Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Wendy Watson Nelson.  One part of the book really resonated with me.  Sis. Nelson encourages us to do what she calls a "30 day challenge."  This challenge involves reading the scriptures with a question in mind for 30 days in a row.

At the time I read about the 30 day challenge, I had a lot of little problems that needed solving.  Mostly these problems were little nagging issues like getting my son to do his homework, managing the budget, and getting over some of my negative thinking.  Sis. Nelson said it didn't matter how many questions you had.  Some people might want to pray about the same problem every day for 30 days.  Others might have 30 different questions.

I wrote down a list of nine questions or problems I was having to start off my challenge.  At the time, I was reading the New Testament gospels, so I just kept up with my regular reading, except that at the beginnning of my study, I would thank Heavenly Father for helping me with any previous questions and ask him to help me with whatever question I had that day.  It was a very simple process--pray about the question and read.

From the start of the experiment, I was totally amazed at how quickly and profoundly my questions were answered.  For example, one day I asked about how I could fit more service into my life.  That day, I read about the Savior feeding the 5000.  I thought about how the Savior didn't call in the caterers but simply used what he had.  The story taught me that I can serve simply because what I have is enough. 

I could go on and on about all how my questions were answered, but I'm sure it won't feel as amazing to my readers as it felt to me.  That's the thing about getting answers from the scriptures.  You have to try it for yourself.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Running Into My Old Flame

If I knew ahead of time that I was going to run into a guy I used to date in college, I probably would have put a little more effort into my appearance.    But, hey, I was just taking a day trip with my husband and kids.  Truthfully, we were all looking a little disheveled.  I was quite relieved that with all the people around us, my old flame didn't recognize me.
It made me wonder what I would have done if he had recognized me.  Obviously, I want to look attractive and confident.  I don't want to do anything that will make him think, "Phew, glad I didn't end up with her."  It'd be better if he thought, "Hey, I must have been pretty cool back then to get a date with her." 

Jane Austen's Persuasion begins with just such a situation, only in Anne's case, she still has feelings for her old flame.  Though she has a few days to prepare for their meeting, she doesn't pull it off too well.  Austen writes that "a thousand feelings rushed on Anne, of which this was the most consoling, that it would soon be over."  Anne's petrified reaction didn't make a great impression on Captain Wentworth, who later reported that she was so different he wouldn't have recognized her.

Stumbling words along with a shocked expression won't help my case. Here's my plan for the next time this happens to me:
  • Smile.
  • Act surprised to see him. Say something like, "Wow, I'm surprised to see you.  How have you been?" Don't say it's good to see him, unless I actually feel that way.
  • Be grateful for the life I have now, so I can confidently explain how great my life is.
  • Put an attractive picture of myself on facebook.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gluten-free Emergency Kits

All I have to do is think about disasters like Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, and the earthquakes in Japan to remember that we all need to be prepared.  Since two of my sons have a gluten allergy, I think it's especially important to have extra food on hand for them. 

I like to keep an emergency kit with a three day supply of food for each member of my family.  Over the years, we've let the kids test out the kits to see how long they last and whether they like the taste.  We've found that a kit with a high protein content helps us feel satisfied longer.  (We found the ideas for our kits in an article by Miriam Blackham Een at this link: )

Here's what we put in our kits. By the way, this is a great emergency kit for those who eat gluten also:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Line Dancing

I've been practicing my line dancing this week as part of my research for the novel I'm working on.  No, I haven't been hanging out at the dance clubs.  I'm just living in fantasy land with my line dancing dvd.  It's a great workout.  Here it is:

I checked it out from our library.  Christy Lane may be older than I am--at least she looks older, but she's got the moves.   

Samuel the Lamanite Skit

Here's a short skit I wrote for the cub scouts.  They used it for a Faith in God requirement.  It's also fun to act out this story at Christmas time.

Samuel the Lamanite Skit
by Rebecca H. Jamison

Narrator 1:  About six years before Christ was born, the Lord sent Samuel the Lamanite to Zarahemla,  where he taught the wicked Nephites.

Wicked Nephite #1:  It’s okay to cheat on a math test.  By the time we grow up, no one is going to use math.

Wicked Nephite #2:  Yeah, and stealing is no big deal as long as you don’t get caught or if you steal from a Lamanite.

Samuel:  You’ll be happier if you repent and keep the commandments.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Favorite Black and White Movies

I've sat through my share of really bad black and white movies.  I've also seen some really great black and whites that I can recommend.  Here are a few of my favorites (not in any particular order.)  I've had good luck checking these out at my library.

The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer is a funny movie about a teenager who has a crush on a man who has a crush on her older sister.  Cary Grant plays a rich bachelor and does plenty of slap-stick stunts to keep us entertained.  Shirley Temple plays the teenage sister.  Myrna Loy plays the older sister, who's also a lawyer.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why I Keep Taking My Children to Church

I've sometimes heard people say that if you don't get anything out of going to church, then you're doing something wrong.  Well, as a mom, I'm here to tell you that sometimes it might seem like you're not get anything out of going to church even when you're doing everything right.  During sacrament meeting, you walk the halls with a rambunctious toddler.  During Sunday School, you help your three-year-old get used to primary or play with the children in nursery.  During Relief Society, you walk the halls with the toddler or feed a baby in the mother's lounge or teach a Primary class that doesn't want to listen.  Every mother has days like these.  If you take the children to church by yourself, you'll have a lot of days like these. 
These are sooo not my kids!

Looking back to the days when all my children were young, I wonder why I didn't quit.  Why didn't I just stay home and let the toddler take a nap?  I remember my three-year-old standing up in the middle of Stake Conference to announce, "It's time for a coffee break."  I don't know where he learned that trick from, but it

The Clothing Swap

Our church clothing swap has saved me big bucks over the past six years.  This year I got 3 pairs of jeans for my boys, 3 boys' shirts in good condition, and a couple of dress clothes for my son's school uniform.  I estimate that it saved me $50 or more.  More importantly, the clothing swap is an easy way I can help my neighbors to get through these hard economic times.

This year, I enjoyed meeting our missionaries at the clothing swap.  One of the elders had outgrown his suit and was able to find a new one.  Both of them were so happy.  It reminded me how much they're sacrificing to be able to serve the people in our neighborhood.  I'm glad someone's donation helped them.

Our swap usually happens in July--right before the start of the new school year.  A few months before the swap, we start seeing posters announcing the date and reminding us to start collecting clothes.  About a month ahead, the Relief Society President announces that we can take our clothes to some of the volunteers in our neighborhood.  These families help to take the clothes over to the building on the day of the swap, but they also get first dibs on the clothes.

We swap clothes for every size and gender, including women's plus size and men's Sunday clothing.  The leaders like to emphasize that "You don't have to swap to donate! You don't have to donate to swap!"  To donate, we bring our clothes pre-sorted by size and gender.  We can drop them off ahead of time to one of the volunteers, or we can bring them to the church on the morning of the swap between 9 and 11 am. 

The swap is from 12 pm to 2 pm.  Usually, women's clothing is in the cultural hall on labeled tables.  Children's clothing is separated into size groups in the smaller classrooms.  Men's clothing usually takes up a larger classroom.  Any leftover clothing is sent to Deseret Industries, a local non-profit thrift store.

I've never been to a smaller swap, but I think it would be a lot of fun.  One of my neighbors organized a Halloween costume swap.  (In this swap, the costumes were borrowed then returned after Halloween.)  I've also heard of women having accessory swaps.  Wouldn't that be fun?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Losing My Baby Fat

As a mother of six, I've definitely gained my share of baby fat.  It seemed that with each pregnancy, I gained about five pounds, so that by the time I was pregnant with my last, I was about thirty pounds heavier than I wanted to be. 

I was determined while I was pregnant the last time that I wouldn't gain any more weight than I had to.  Of course, it helped that I got a bad case of heartburn during that pregnancy and had to eat smaller, more frequent meals.  This kept me from overeating.  I started listening to Jonathan Roche's blogtalk radio show, which is free on iTunes and .  From him, I learned some simple changes that could help me lose weight.  Most importantly, I learned that any movement can count as exercise.  This was a huge concept for me because I was always too exhausted to "exercise" during pregnancy.  Now that I could count mopping or shopping or taking out the trash as exercise, I was "exercising" more often. 

I gained thirty pounds during my pregnancy, but six weeks after I had my nine-pound baby, I weighed ten pounds less than I did before I got pregnant.  (No, I'm not recommending having another child as a weight-loss method.)  Around this time, my insurance sent my husband and me a letter about a free health coaching program.  Since it was free, I signed up immediately.  I figured I could use all the help I could get to lose the rest of my baby weight.  Having a health coach helped me stay motivated to complete my goals.

One of the things I discovered about weight loss is that it has a lot to do with attitude.  Back before I started losing weight, I would think things like, "After I lose all this weight, I'll buy myself some new jeans."  My new attitude became, "I want to look great now--no matter what I weigh."  I didn't spend a lot of money on clothes, but I did put more effort into how I looked every day and I did buy myself jeans that fit well.  I also decided I was never going to diet again.  Whatever changes I was making I was going to make for the rest of my life.  I also accepted that sometimes I was going to make mistakes.  If I ate too much one day that didn't mean I should give up and eat even more.

One of my favorite quotes is by Karen Lamb:  "A year from now you will wish you started today."  I often thought about how I would feel in a year if I quit eating dessert every night and just ate it once a week.  I made myself a list of all the reasons I wanted to lose weight, and as I lost weight, I found more and more reasons to add to my list.  For example, I love having enough energy to run with my kids, shopping for a smaller size, and not having to worry about heartburn anymore. I also got a great deal on my new life insurance policy.

I've lost about twenty-eight pounds and have a few pounds left before I reach my goal weight.  I weigh myself once a week, do cardio intervals three days a week, and strength train two days a week.  I actually spend less time exercising than I did back before I started losing weight but, because of the intervals, I'm in better shape.  I have slowly taught myself better health habits over the past 2 years like drinking water and eating vegetables.  I am still a work in progress.  My goal right now is to not eat anything after 8 pm at night.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Modesty, Dress, and Grooming Skit

This skit is based on the dress standards found in For the Strength of Youth.  It has parts for both Young Men and Young Women.  The skit is about 10 minutes long.  We added a song at the end about how everyone has a royal heritage.

Vance, Lance, and Chance Go on a Date
by Rebecca H. Jamison

Cast:     1. Vance
            2. Lance
            3. Chance
            4. Shoshawna Shepherd
            5. LaDawn
            6. Olympia
            7. Ribbon dancers
            8. Joseph
            9. Joseph’s body guards (2)
            10. Donny Osmond Fans (3)
            11. Casual Clothing Models
            12. Esther
            13. Esther’s Royal Entourage

       [Boys enter front stage dressed very casually in baggy clothes with baseball caps on.]

Vance:  Dude, these girls are psyched to go on this date with us. [funny laugh]  We must be cooler than I thought.

Lance:  Yeah.  I never thought I could get a date with Shoshawna Shepherd.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Busyness

It seems like every year, our summer gets a little busier than last year's.  Last weekend, feeling a little overwhelmed by it all, I sat down to read our new Ensign, where I found a poem called "Traveling Light" by Sharon Price Anderson about the handcart pioneers.  Here's the quote that really struck me:

Those who go leave
all but seventeen
pounds of poverty
carefully weighed.
Each ounce considered,
they abandon offense,
desert regret,
lessen their load,

I'm not usually a huge fan of poetry, but I loved what I got out of this poem.  The handcart pioneers really had to think about what they were going to carry on their journey--they could only bring 17 pounds of stuff, which had to include clothing and blankets.  It made me think of the extra load I carry of worry and regret.  I don't have room in my summer for stuff like that.  So here's my goal for the rest of the summer:  I'm leaving all the negative stuff behind.

I also found this quote by an unknown author yesterday:  "Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, it empties today of its strength."

Choose Your Own Adventure Young Women Activity

My daughter's young women leaders planned an activity to teach the young women about their power to choose.  They wanted to play a short and fun "Choose Your Own Adventure" game with the young women that would show them how different choices can lead to different outcomes.  The leaders did not want the girls to have choices involving right and wrong, so we came up with this game.
Choose Your Own Adventure

You just got home from school. It’s Friday afternoon and you are so excited for the weekend. It’s also time for your favorite show—Middle School Makeovers. You love, love, love makeover shows. Maybe it’s

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Finding Time for Your Passion

How do you find time to pursue your passion?  Whether that passion is playing the guitar, quilting, or playing golf, we all have something that brings us joy.  More than likely, our passion plays a part in our life's mission.  It's our way of serving and helping others. 

My passion, of course, is writing.  I spent a lot of time developing my writing skills in college, but after I graduated and had a couple of children, I decided I'd have to give it up.  Fortunately, my writing had a pull on me.  I couldn't give it up.

I've found a great role model in one of my favorite artists, Minerva Teichert, who created stunning paintings and murals until her death in 1976.  I always imagined Minerva Teichert as a single woman with an art studio.  Then I read an article about her in BYU Today  I was surprised to learn that Minerva Teicherts's life was much like mine--only busier. 

She and her husband owned a ranch in Cokeville, Wyoming.  Among other tasks, Minerva cared for 75 chickens, sold milk, read stories to her four children, and grew a garden.  She regularly cooked meals for her family and some ranch hands.  Despite her busy life, Minerva found time to paint.  She kept a large canvas hanging in her front room--a painting in progress.

The article quoted her granddaughter Marian Eastwood Wardle:  “She was a multitasker—big time.  She’d be cooking at the stove and walk around [the corner] and put some brush strokes on the painting.” I could relate to that.  I do some of my best writing while I'm cooking, doing dishes, running errands, or folding clothes.  I often have to pause during my chores to write down a few sentences or ideas that I'll later transfer to the computer. 

Minerva took advantage of the time her children were asleep to work on her paintings.  The article noted that she sometimes even set the clocks forward so she could sends the kids to bed even earlier and eke out a little extra painting time.  I think many of us busy moms can relate to that.

I think the most important point that the article made was that Minerva Teichert didn't sacrifice her family time for her art.  Her art contributed to her family life.  She used her pictures to teach her children and others about the gospel, the pioneers, and other important subjects. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

In Praise of Men

Dad and me
In honor of Father's Day, I thought I'd write a list of reasons why I like the men in my life.  I'd love to hear your comments about why you appreciate men.

17 Miracles Movie

We saw this movie a couple of weeks ago and thought it was very well done.  It tells the story of the Willie and Martin handcart pioneers.  It's in theatres now.  We thought it would be appropriate for our older children to watch.  Some of the scenes are too distressing for our younger children. 

I found it to be very inspiring because of the miracles but also because of the sacrifices the pioneers made.  It makes my daily battles seem less overwhelming.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sleeping Beauty Skit

This is a skit about Sleeping Beauty and the Young Women Values.  A narrator reads the story while the young women act out the parts.  

Sleeping Beauty Dreams Big
By Rebecca H. Jamison

Sleeping Beauty was a young woman who dreamed big. Even when she wasn’t asleep—which she was a lot of the time—she dreamed. Her biggest dream was that she would some day marry a charming prince in the temple. But, truth be told, her most frequent dream was of true love’s kiss.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Persuasion Movies

Being obsessed with Persuasion, I have watched every Persuasion movie available.  My husband has earned a lot of points for sitting through all these with me.  Sometimes, he's enjoyed a good nap. Here are the movies in the order of my preference:

Don't be dissuaded by the cheesy DVD cover.  This 1995 version starring Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds is very faithful to the book.  It also contains great acting, costumes, and scenery.  The actors portray the characters just as I would imagine them.  I think it's funny that Ciaran Hinds, who plays the handsome Captain Wentworth, also plays Jane Eyre's Mr. Rochester, who is described as ugly. He may not be the most handsome Captain Wentworth, but he does a great job portraying his emotions.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Values Fashion Show Skit

For this skit, each young woman "models" a value. We used fashion show music and the young women loved walking the runway.

Personal Progress Values Fashion Show
By Rebecca H. Jamison

For this skit, we’ll need one young woman to be the announcer and eight others to “model” the values.

10 Virgins Young Women Values Skit

Here is a simple skit about the 10 virgins that reiterates the values statements from the Personal Progress book.  I copied the story of the 10 virgins out of New Testament Stories from church distribution.  The only props we used were little glass bottles to represent the oil.

10 Virgins Personal Progress Skit

Jesus told the story of the ten virgins to show us the importance of always being virtuous. Once upon a time, ten young women went to a wedding. They had to wait for the bridegroom to let them in the door. No one knew when the bridegroom would come.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Relief Society Beauty Pageant Skit

This is a little skit I wrote about ten years ago to encourage the Relief Society sisters in my ward not to compare themselves to each other.

The Relief Society Inner Beauty Pageant
A Skit about How We Don’t Need to Compete

By Rebecca H. Jamison
We welcome you to the ___________ Ward  Inner Beauty Pageant—where the world’s most beautiful and talented women compete for the title, Sister _____________-.  Competing today are women from every Street, Circle, Way, and Avenue in the ward.  So let’s hear it for the Sisters of the _________ Ward.

Since most of our contestants were just too modest to compete in the swimsuit portion of our pageant, we’ve decided to just forgo that part and move on to the celestial living category.  We’ll hear how each sister works toward her goal of Eternal life while we watch her strike elegant poses in her evening wear.

Our first contestant is Sister Snowdrop.  Sister Snowdrop has perfect children who never cause a disturbance in church.  She is working on her 20th generation in her family history.  Sister Snowdrop keeps an immaculate home.  She has memorized the Book of Mark.  She makes wool sweaters for the children in Romania.  And, to top it all off, every month, she takes a homemade goody to the sisters she visit-teaches.  Wow!  Let’s hear it for Sister Snowdrop.