Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How to Make an Easy Vision Board

I have wanted to make a vision board for a long time now. (If you don't know what a vision board is, here's a quick definition: it's a collage you can make to help you visualize your goals. You can have one for all your goals or just for a specific goal. Some people make a new vision board every year.)

In the past, motivational experts have recommended cutting out pictures from magazines or newspapers to make your vision board. Personally, I don't have that many newspapers and magazines lying around. Nor did I have the time to look through them for the types of pictures I wanted.

But we have the internet now! It's so much easier to make a vision board, and since I couldn't find an online tutorial, I'm making one for you right here.

I began by doing a google image search for words that had to do with my personal goals, words like simplify, sanctuary, read, and run. (Be careful what you search for, though. For example, "fun" brought up some questionable images, so I chose to use my own family pictures for "fun.") When I found a picture I liked, I clicked on it, then clicked on "view image," then right clicked on the image again and selected "save image as".  I then saved the image to my desktop as "vision 1." I saved the next image as "vision 2" and so on.

I chose to use my personal mission statement as a guideline for selecting my pictures for the vision board I've pictured above. I also included some of my personal family pictures that exemplify certain parts of my mission statement.

After I got all the pictures I wanted, I put them all into a word document, using the "insert picture" command. Then I printed it out, cut out the pictures, arranged them on a poster board, and used spray adhesive to stick them on. (Trust me, spray adhesive works much better than a glue stick.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tribute to My Dad

My father passed away this past July 5, and I've wanted to honor him with a blog post for a while now. I flew home just in time to be with him, my mom, and my brothers right before he died. It was a peaceful time, in a way, because the last few years have been so difficult, due to Dad's dementia. We felt that he had moved on to a better place in the spirit world, where he could be with his parents and other loved ones.
I was able to be home for three and a half weeks, the longest I've been home since before I got married. It was wonderful to spend more time with my mom and other family members.
I want to share with you a little of Dad's biography that I shared at his funeral. (I'll omit details about my brothers and sister for privacy sake.)
Herk had a happy childhood in Bethesda, MD. They lived near a dairy farm, and Dad would play ball in the field where the cows grazed. He could hit the ball and throw father than the other kids, so the neighborhood kids began to call him “Hercules,” Herk for short.
Dad loved to build things. By age 7 or 8, he was building tree forts galore in the woods behind his home. He appreciated good wood, and knew how to identify the different types of trees. One of his major forms of exercise throughout his life was cutting down dead trees and chopping up wood for the fireplace. At Christmastime, when he was growing up, he made decorative Yule logs to sell. He took orders for them at the local hardware store.

Here's a little video about Dad's tree fort obsession:

Dad was always concerned about others. He grew up near the Baptist Home for Children, which was an orphanage. I think he realized that he was blessed to come from a good home and to be physically fit. This was also the time of the Great Depression, and he could see that some of his school friends suffered financially. He would sometimes go with his mom to take a basket of food to a family of one of his classmates. He felt protective of his siblings and the other kids at school.

When he was 16, he was thinking he might like to be a doctor. Then on Dec. 7, 1941, he was listening to a football game on the radio. He could hear the announcer calling people over the PA system: “Would Admiral So and So report to the front office” or something like that. He noticed that all the head military people and government officials were getting called away from the game. Dad was a worrier, so naturally, he was concerned and curious. Later, he found out that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor.

Though he was only 16, he went right out and joined the army. So when he graduated from high school, he was in the Army Reserve. He went to American University, where he played on the basketball team while he was in the Army Reserve. Dad joked that he was high scorer on the team for the year, but it was only because all the other men were off at war.

His father suggested that he should try to get into one of the military academies. Dad took the tests, hoping to get into West Point because he got sea sick and didn’t want to go on ships. Well, he got accepted into the Naval Academy, where they placed him in the engineering program. He was in the top half of his class. Because it was war time, they pushed him through in three years instead of four.

He graduated in 1947, which was also the year he married his first wife. They moved first to Newport News, VA, where their first son was later born. Dad went out to sea in destroyers for a few weeks at a time during those year. 

Then they moved to Charleston, S.C., where their second child was born. Dad attended UCLA for graduate school while they lived in Monterrey California and then in San Diego. After that, he went to sea in amphibious assault ships for two years. In San Diego, they lived in a Quonset Hut. My aunt came to stay with them for the summer and said it was her favorite summer vacation, living with them and traveling to see the sights of California.

In 1958, his career took a turn, and he felt like he was really contributing as a Project Officer evaluating sonars, torpedoes, and Anti-Submarine Warfare tactics in Key West, Florida. Later, he worked for two years in Washington D.C., where he was able to effect improvements on entire classes of ships for the Navy. 

By this time, He had four sons and wanted to spend more time with his family, so he quit the Navy and took a job with General Electric in Syracuse, New York. He divorced his wife in about 1965. Dad loved his boys and was very sad about the divorce and how it affected them.

He took a job working for the Civil Service as a Senior Executive Director of Sonar Programs. He bought a home in Virginia because he felt Virginia had the best colleges for his songs. He also liked the fact that his yard had a creek and some woods around it. His two oldest boys lived with him at this time. Later the younger two spent summers with him.

Dad was a great teacher, and he once volunteered to teach inner city kids. He also taught a management class to help people at the Navy to be better managers. One of the things he taught was called “The Latimer Law of Reciprocity.” It was that if you want to know how someone feels about you, you should first ask yourself how you feel about them. If you like them, chances are that they will like you also.

He met my mother in 1966. She was his secretary at the Navy, and he broke the unwritten rule that you shouldn’t date your coworkers, especially not when you’re the boss. His life began to brighten up at this point. They later married.

I was born in Virginia a few years after they married. My brother was born a couple years after that. When he was only a week old, they discovered that my brother had a life-threatening kidney problem. As usual, Dad dove head first into solving the problem, getting the best medical attention and taking detailed notes about how to help Henry get better. It took about a year of surgeries and hospitalizations before he was better.

After that, my brother and I had an ideal childhood, playing in the creek, hanging out at the pool, and running wild with the neighbor kids. Dad often had me tag along as he went up and down the street collecting donations for the Kidney Foundation. He had a great rapport with all the neighbors around us. He was always concerned about others.

He also took me along on his errands when I was little, and he liked to brag to everyone about his sons.  He told me once that all of his children turned out very differently, but they all had one thing in common—they all genuinely cared about other people. That made him really proud.

After my sister was born, and they found out that she had Down Syndrome, Dad told Mom that it would be okay, and that God gave her to us for a reason. Dad didn’t usually speak religiously like that, but he definitely felt that his life had a purpose, and especially so with regard to Caroline.

He was laser focused on improving Caroline’s life, including her health and her behavior. At this time, mom volunteered to be the PTA secretary at Caroline’s school, but she didn’t really like going to the meetings. Dad said he would go to one of the meetings in her place. When he got there, and started listening, he said, “What we need is money.” The moms on the PTA just sort of looked at him and said, “yeah, good luck with that.” So Dad put together a presentation and called around to some organizations like the Lions Club to speak with them. Pretty soon, he had thousands of dollars in donations coming in to help these kids. He also started selling cookbooks, wrapping paper, and jam to raise money. He was very pleased when the school was able to buy walkers so that some of the kids who had always been in wheelchairs could walk up and down the halls on their own. All this money also helped the teachers to go to conferences where they learned about facilitated communications. A few of the students learned to “talk” for the first time through computer technology. While Dad was president of the PTA, the school built a new handicapped accessible playground.

Later Dad was on every kind of committee and board you can imagine on behalf of special education, vocational programs, and therapeutic recreation for the disabled.

During the last few years, Dad’s been on the receiving end of service. I think he would want me to publicly thank my two brothers who helped my mom so much. Henry has arranged a lot of services to help Mom while Randy has visited Dad multiple times every day.

Most of all, I want to thank my mother for all she’s done. She’s had to be more of a maternal figure for Dad, and she’s been an amazing support for him through many difficult and grueling hours.

Life goes on. Death is not the end. Dad’s life continues, and he’s still doing good works. He is near us, watching over us.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

My Favorite Hikes

We go on a lot of hikes during the summer, and it's gotten to the point where I need to keep track of all our favorites. My husband suggested I start a new blog just for our hiking adventures, but that sounded like a lot of work, especially since I haven't been keeping up the blog I already have.

I was lucky enough to take a few little hikes in Virginia this summer, but for the purpose of this blog post, I'm going to list the hikes near Salt Lake City, Utah, where we live. I'm going to categorize these as hikes with waterfalls (my favorite), hikes near lakes, shady hikes, and harder but beautiful hikes.

Hikes with Waterfalls:

Rocky Mouth Falls: Click here for details and directions.

Hidden Falls in Big Cottonwood Canyon: Click here for details and directions.

Farmington Canyon: Click here for details.

Stewart Falls: Click here for details and directions.

Bridal Veil Falls: Click here for details and directions.

Doughnut Falls in Big Cottonwood Canyon is also fun. I just don't have any pictures. Here are the details.

Shady Hikes:

Big Springs (Provo Canyon): Click here for details and directions.

Millcreek Canyon: We like to try out a different hike each time. Most are shady. Click here for details.

Porter Rockwell Trail in Draper: Details and directions here.

Lame Horse Trail: Click here for details.

Little Cottonwood Trail and Temple Quarry: Click here and here for details and directions.

Hikes to Lakes:

Cecret Lake: details and directions here.

Mirror Lake: details and directions here.

Silver Lake: Details and directions here.

Bells Canyon: Details and directions here.

Harder But Beautiful Hikes:

Lake Mary, Martha, and Catherine: Details and directions here.

Butler Fork Trail: Details and directions here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Husband Project

Father's Day is coming up, and I've been thinking of some nice things I can do for the men in my life, my husband and my father.

Last year, after completing the library summer reading program, I picked up a free book called The
Husband Project: 21 Days of Loving Your Man--On Purpose and with a Plan. The book gives 24 easy ways to show your husband that you care. I did my first husband project last fall, but I'm planning to do it again this month, and I wanted to share my list with you.

Here we go, 21 simple ways to show your husband you care:

  1. Let him have his free time when he gets home
  2. Do something he enjoyed before you got married.
  3. Brag about him on social media.
  4. Make him a treat he loves.
  5. E-mail sweet nothings to him.
  6. Back rub.
  7. Do something to look nice for him. (I might take a shower today after all. Lol.)
  8. Have a special treat together in a special place.
  9. Help him with one of his projects.
  10. Wear something just for him.
  11. Eliminate something that makes him crazy.
  12. Tell him something he does that you think is great.
  13. Set up reminders to think and pray about him.
  14. Cook something special for him.
  15. Get rid of one piece of clothing he doesn't like and replace it with something he will. (My husband likes everything, so I get to get rid of something I don't like I guess.)
  16. Let your husband know that you find him attractive.
  17. Give him the night or morning off.
  18. Take him out for his favorite meal.
  19. Give your bedroom the bed and breakfast touch. (This one sounds hard to me, but I think it just means to buy some lotion and special food.)
  20. Leave a special note for your husband to find.
  21. Watch a guy movie together.

Oh, and by the way, paperback copies of Chemistry Lessons are now available. The kindle edition comes out on June 21!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

GIVEAWAY for "Chemistry Lessons"

Here's your chance to read Chemistry Lessons before its release date on June 21. Fill out the form below to win my proof copy on June 10.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Cover Reveal for Chemistry Lessons

I just got my new cover back from the designer, so I wanted to show you my new baby. The book is in final edits. It'll be arriving in June 2016. (Yes, I have renamed it AGAIN, but this title is the one.)

Here's what my editor had to say about it: "I had the chance to read your story and really enjoyed it! You do a fantastic job at creating round and believable characters and the story had some great redemption and forgiveness themes."

Thursday, March 3, 2016

What I've Been Reading

I love to read, and thanks to audiobooks, I can do it while I'm driving and cleaning. Last September, I started a new policy that if I see or hear an f-word or any similar word within the first two chapters, I stop reading it. Not only do I not want my kids to hear that kind of language in our home, I don't want to hear it in my home. So I can guarantee that all the books on my list are much cleaner than average. Here are some of my favorites:

Sprig Muslin by Georgette Hyer
This one's a fun Regency with tons of twists and turns.

A Heart Revealed by Josi Kilpack
I loved the characters in this book. I couldn't put it down and thought about it long after it ended. It's a more serious, thought-provoking Regency.

The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer
I just finished the third book in this series. Not only is the world original and entertaining, I can never predict what's going to happen next.

A Most Inconvenient Marriage by Regina Jennings
This is a light, Christian historical read that takes place after the Civil War.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
I watched this movie a few years ago and just didn't understand why everyone loved it so much. But I took my friends' advice and read the book. Now I get it. It's a little more serious than Pride and Prejudice, but it will make you feel all those kinds of emotions in a new way.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

How to Write Faster

I'll admit it. I'm a very slow writer, as evidenced by the fact that it's been almost year-and-a-half since I published my last book. (I promise the next one will be good. I'm working hard to get it ready.)

But I am getting faster, and I wanted to let you know a few of the things that have helped me get my next project off to a faster start:

1. Get organized. For me that means I need to figure out the plot before I start writing. Two resources that have helped me with that are the snowflake method for outlining and Dan Wells's youtube videos on 7 point story structure. Click on the links to see for yourself. These two tools have helped me immensely this year.

2. Make sure you're excited about every scene you write. Author Rachel Aaron taught me that a key part of being able to write quickly is enthusiasm. If you're dying to get to the computer, you're more likely to write fast. Read her awesome blog post about it here. (Believe it or not, being organized also helps you to get excited about what you're going to write next.)

3. Avoid perfectionism. This is a big one for me. I've always heard that I need to quit editing myself when I draft, but it's just so hard not to. One tool that's really helped me is my Alphasmart 3000. It's a little word processor that's more like a big calculator than a laptop. I write on it when I'm drafting scenes, and then I download what I wrote into my regular computer. I'll bet you're thinking I'm crazy right now. I mean, the screen is soooo small, isn't it? Well, that's one of the benefits. You can't edit much of what you write, so you just have to keep going forward. Plus, it's cheap if you buy one used, it runs on two AA batteries, and the batteries last for months.

4. Write with Other People. Writing with my critique group helps motivate me to set deadlines for myself. We require ourselves to submit ten pages every week. Other people I know do sprints together online on facebook or twitter.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Heart Stockings

This week, I received my Deseret Book catalog in the mail. Thumbing through, I noticed that they are selling something called "heart stockings" for $9.99 each along with a little book that shares how families can start a new tradition of leaving notes and candy in each others' heart stockings. This is supposedly a great way to cheer up in the winter months.

"Hmm," I thought. "I could make those out of paper for nothing."

It took me about fifteen minutes to make eight of them and hang them up. I've made woven hearts like these before, but if you haven't, you can find simple instructions for making heart baskets, which are the same thing, on this website or this one.

Our heart stockings didn't stay empty for long. My kindergartener got right on it, filling them up with notes that he had the rest of us help him write.

The notes were pretty hilarious too.

Mine read, "To mom, I hope you have a nice Valentine's Day. And that you have a great year. And that you help me play wii on Fridays."

My oldest son's read, "Happy Valentine's Day. If you're reading this, of course you're going to think about Valentine's Day, but don't forget about the death. People die on Valentine's day."

There was also one about how disgusting real hearts would look hanging around the house.

With a bunch of boys in the house, nothing stays serious for too long. The boys responded with heart-shaped skull valentines and similarly macabre notes. It definitely kept us from feeling the winter blues today.