Wednesday, December 30, 2015

In Which I Brag (Just a Little)

- a post by Jeanna Mason Stay

My awesome 8yo girl Vanna White-ing the project
Today I am here to brag, just a little bit. I was so excited and proud of this project that I had to share. I’m not even bragging so much about me as just about how pleased I am with how it turned out.

Around May of last year, I started thinking about this idea I had.

It started small. I was reading a bedtime story to my kids from a big collection and thought, “I could write this—or probably better.”* So I started dreaming up the idea of my own collection of stories, just for my kids.

And then it got bigger. My husband is a hilarious storyteller. His stories are goofy and nonsensical and pretty much wonderful. So of course I would need to include plenty of his writing as well.

Then bigger again. I have a brother who would like to write but simply has bigger priorities in his life right now. I bet I could get him to write a couple of small stories. And while I’m at it, I have a sister-in-law who writes. And I have nieces and nephews who write and draw. And and and . . .

The epic conclusion. I will compile a bedtime story book, in time for Christmas, composed of stories from members of my family of origin (hereafter called “foo”) and my hubby’s foo. Parents, siblings, nieces, nephews. And also illustrated by all these people too. Anyone who wants to join in can. It will be awesome.
And also my son,
because he's a natural.

And so my project, Here Be Dragons,** began. 

However, I really didn’t count on being pregnant. Also, I’m not much of a designer. Also, it’s surprisingly difficult to solicit illustrations for stories from five-year-olds. In grand creative fashion, I kept on pushing back all my deadlines. First it was August to have all the content so that I could thoroughly edit everything. Then it was October. Then it was the end of November. Then it was really, truly, absolutely December 7th***—because I had a coupon from the printer that expired on the 11th, and you had to order by the 11th to get things shipped by Christmas anyway.

So November (which is usually NaNoWriMo for me) turned into CraProCompMo (Crazy Project Compiling Month). And so did the beginning of December. All the way until December 11th, around 5 p.m., when I finally started uploading and ordering the thing.

Lots of silly stories--and also some
pages where the reader gets to
write or illustrate their own!
It came in time for Christmas, and it is utterly gorgeous. I may or may not occasionally just hold it in my lap and stare at it, stroking its cover. Also, because I’m a copyeditor by nature and by previous profession, and I didn’t have all the time I wanted for editing, I may have already discovered four mistakes that I’m trying not to think about too much.****

One of my favorite spreads, with art
by my lovely grown-up niece
Anyway, I realize that for most people this would not be as exciting as a publication/sale/contract notice, but for me it is such a thrill. I’m so proud of the work everyone did, and the stories and illustrations are so fun and silly and lovely. It’s not professional, but I love it. So I had to take a minute to brag. Thanks for listening!

* Note: This is not an insult to children’s authors. Children’s lit is hard and awesome and important. This was merely a commentary on the specific book. But the point is that the kids still loved just being read to, regardless of quality.
** Though it was not yet named.
*** One brother got around this by telling me that he had made the deadline—if we were in Hawaii.
**** Fortunately, all mistakes so far have been fairly minor things that most people wouldn’t notice. However, my husband thinks I should never actually look at the text again, just to preserve my sanity.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Advice? Tips? Tricks? "Life-Hacks"?

by Kasey Tross

I noticed recently that I seem to be giving out a lot of (*cough*unsolicited*cough*) advice lately. I like to collect useful hints and tricks (often called "life hacks" these days) and when they're especially good, I really like to share them.

1. Baking Cookies- When baking cookies, if you want to ensure they're uniform, turn the baking sheet over and run it under cold water. When you put the next batch of dough on, they won't melt on the sheet and spread out (I have a million other hints for cookies, but I think this one is the best).

2. Making Caramels- When making caramels- especially the microwave ones- if you're not sure whether or not they're done, then take a small amount (1/4 tsp or so) and drop it into a glass of cold water- this will instantly cool it and you can check the consistency. If it's smooshy, you'll want to cook it longer. If it holds its shape well, then it's done!

3. Falling Asleep- At night, if you're having a hard time falling asleep, try the 4-7-8 breathing trick. Take a long, deep breath for 4 counts, hold it for 7, then exhale for 8 counts. This will slow your breathing quite a bit. Then count 10 of your own natural breaths and do the 4-7-8 again. It used to take me about 30 minutes to fall asleep- every since I learned this I'm always out in less than 5!

4. Being On Time- When you need to get your family ready to go somewhere, institute "Couch Time." For example, church starts for us at 9am. It takes us about 10 minutes to drive there. So for us, Couch Time is 8:30am- that is the time that everyone needs to be sitting on the couch, dressed to the shoes, coats on, hair done, with everything they need. Everyone present at 8:30 gets a little treat (mini marshmallows, M&Ms, Starbursts, and Skittles work great). That gives us another 15 minutes to handle any last-minute things (there's always someone who can't find their shoes) and usually gets us to church nice and early.

5. Storing Wrapping Paper- Now that Christmas is done, you might need a place to store your wrapping paper. Go into your closets and look up- see if there are any closets that have a narrow area between two walls. Install a board to act as a shelf from one wall to the other (about a foot below the ceiling- be sure it's only got walls on the ends and that the front and back are open). Slide the wrapping paper rolls up there so they hang over the edge. Now you can see all your wrapping paper but it's up and out of the way. When it's time to wrap, you just reach up and grab the roll you want, then just slide it back up there when you're done.

6. Drying Towels- I've noticed lately that after a busy day of cooking my dishtowel is usually wet and my oven is usually still hot- so now I open the oven door a crack and drape my dishtowel over the opening, using something heavy (like my metal trivets or a cookbook) to hold the towel in place. The hot air from the oven dries the towel in minutes. (Use caution if you have little ones around who might get curious about the hot oven!)

These are my little tips- I hope that at least one helps you out! Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 27, 2015


By Beckie Carlson

I've been thinking a lot about words and how we use them.
In my Relief Society lesson today, we talked about questions we have and the right way to get answers from our Heavenly Father. We not only have to have the right question, we have to be willing to act upon the answer we get. This can be easier said than done. I have a standing rule in my life: Don't ask questions you don't want to know the answer to. I started this mantra years ago while my husband was still alive. I realized, many of the questions women ask their men have no good answer.
"Does this make me look fat?"
Seriously ladies, is there a safe answer to that? If he says yes, he just called you fat and you are in tears. If he says no, you know he is lying because you already know you do. We set men up to fail all the time. It isn't fair. Don't ask if you can't handle the answer.
This is true when I pray. Many times, I have worked out an answer on my own, as we are supposed to do, but I'm really not ready for the answer. I'm either afraid the Lord will not agree with my predetermined answer, or he WILL agree and I will have to do something hard or unpleasant.  This is probably why I have stress in my life. I have cursed myself due to my lack of confidence and faith in the answers I need.
I was recently reading a book entitled, "How to get married in a year." Go ahead, laugh. I bought it for a 'friend' and thought I would just 'preview it' to make sure it was good. And, it was cheaper than therapy.  The book is pretty interesting. It is like a work book that asks the reader (patient) to do a great deal of introspection and self reflection. You might think a book with this title would give you maps and locations of the most eligible bachelors, but it doesn't. The book's goal is to help the reader be a person ready for marriage.
I was doing well with the assignments, on track for the year mark, until I got to one question.
"What brings you joy?"
I literally set my pen down and sat back. What did bring me joy? What was joy? What was/is the difference between joy and happiness. Is it different than excitement or anticipation? Euphoria...what about that?  I couldn't go on. I  didn't  know.
Part of me thought of my children. I love them more than anything. Is love joy?
I thought of the high I get from teaching. Is that joy?
I reflected on the satisfaction I get from writing something great. Maybe this was joy?
Realizing I didn't know what brought me joy caused a sort of 'shut down' in my year plan. I didn't know what brought me joy. Maybe I wasn't a happy person. Maybe I was depressed or even depressing! No wonder I was single.
My focus has changed. I would still like to get married, but I realize I have to figure me out first. I need to discover what brings me joy. I need to define joy for myself and seek it out on a daily basis.
What brings YOU great joy??

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ghosts of a Christmas Past

by Patricia Cates

In a little square box tucked away in a drawer
Lie oodles of ornaments holding memories galore.
Some came from my grandma, and some came from hers
Some came with red sequins, some came with white furs.

There are reindeer and house pets, and little glass balls
Russian dancers and wise men, even miniature dolls.
Old tinsel found wrapped 'round the leg of a dove
By the finger of sister with all of her love.

She trimmed that fir tree every yule with such glee
That household, that family, one woman plus three.
For the men had all passed much too early in life
And now it was up to a diligent wife.

To carry on a tradition from a hundred years past
And hang every ornament, down to the last.
To the Hoffman's and Chaney's, the Allman's, and kin
I now promise to treasure the gifts I've been giv'n.

So each year I shall take out these small sparkling things 
And remember the love we all shared, and I'll sing!
Silent Night will be first and bring bittersweet tears
For the people I've lost over forty five years.

I'll remember each one of you and thank you for being
A part of my life, and in dreams I'll be seeing
Your sweet happy faces, and warm abode too
I'll dream of your voices and big hugs from you.

I'll bring out the albums to show off your boy.
To prove that he was, my dear father, a joy!
My children will learn of traditions and know
That we all come from you, and your parents, and so...

On 'til it goes back generations and then
With strength we'll create family memories again.
In your honor we celebrate all that's been shared
These gifts that you've given and all of your care.

So join us, please join us, ghosts of a Christmas past
In our hearts, at the table, in stories at last.
Until next year my cherished family of yore 
Thank you for these things and one year more.  

Author's note: The woman I mention is my grandmother, nee Mary Catherine Chaney. She is my paternal grandmother and was born in 1902, and my grandfather, Gordon Samuel Hoffman, in 1898. My grandfather died of a heart attack in 1963. My father, born in 1929, was killed in a car accident when I was 4 months old. Despite her losing her only son a few years after her husband, my dear grandmother kept the tree trimming tradition alive. Some of them date back to the early 1900's. The oldest of these I now keep in a silver box tucked away as they truly are irreplaceable. However my grandmother made many beautiful ornaments with her Garden Club in the 1950's and 1960's. Now my children place them on our tree and I have the privilege of telling them family stories. Sadly she passed away in 1996, and then my sister in 2005. Now it's up to me. Although the poem is childlike and basic in form, it was written in 20 minutes, with love. I plan to work on it. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

No More Tears for Main Characters

By Kathy Lipscomb

One of the best writing advice I have received was a few years back at a Wifyr (Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers) writer’s conference. I signed up for the week long intense course where a class of 10 shared the first 20 pages of our manuscript with each other and with a published author.

After we had all had our first 10 pages critiqued, our mentor author, Kristin Chandler, told us: No tears.

As in, don’t have your characters cry or near tears or anything close.

Honestly, I thought she was crazy. I mean, we’re writing young adult fiction here, and most of our main characters were females. I don’t know about you, but I am an emotional wreck way more than I’d like to be. Crying is my go-to emotion, not because I want it to be. It just is.

So, how come having our characters cry is a bad thing? Isn’t it realistic?

Kristin Chandler taught us two important things. 1) It comes down to how we portray emotion and what we want the readers to feel. Crying is a release of emotion. When our characters cry and release that emotion, so do our readers. The emotion and tension that we worked so hard to build vanishes. If you want or need tears, make it happen at the right moment. And only once.  

2) Look at the writers you love that have amazing emotion. You’ll notice that most of them don’t use tears. J K Rowling is notorious for killing her characters (I believe for good reasons), and Harry Potter doesn’t cry when he witnesses it happen. Each scene is intense, but the release of that tension happens later or not at all, depending on what the ending result needs to be. Does the character need to hold onto that sadness? Will the character turn that emotion from sadness to anger or frustration or a false sense of humor? If so, they probably won’t mourn, because they need that emotion to stay inside them.

After mulling around on this lesson of no (or only one time) tears, I started to see it in other books. I saw that when a character (my own included), burst into tears, I became less sympathetic. Less intrigued. Less wanting to continue reading. Rather I wanted to skim to the next part. The emotion didn’t drive me to read anymore, just as Kristin said. I also noticed that there were a lot of tears in books. It seems to be our fallback as writers.

Getting rid of the tears makes us better writers. It makes us dig deep and learn how different emotions make us react. And those reactions make our scenes more intense, and build tension for our readers. It may sound crazy to get rid of tears. It may sound like it shouldn’t make a big impact. But it does. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Tis the Season to Read

A girl after my own heart...

Recently I saw the movie "The Proposal" (it's hilarious) and at one point in the movie Sandra Bullock's character says that Wuthering Heights is her favorite book and she reads it every Christmas. 

I thought to myself, How nice to read your favorite book every Christmas. Like a little gift to yourself!

As it happens, I'm in between library books at the moment, so I headed to my bookshelf to see what favorites I might like to read. I came across a very pretty hardbound copy of Anne of Green Gables that I had picked up at the Goodwill Outlet, and I hadn't read it since I was a little girl but I remembered loving it. I was in the mood for something nostalgic and classic (kind of like Wuthering Heights is) and so I grabbed it and started reading.

What FUN! Now I know that this is going to be my read-aloud book for my kids for our screen-free January. I can't wait to share the quirky and lovable character of Anne Shirley with them. I've already started practicing my voices for the book (I always do voices when I read aloud).

Do you make books a part of your Christmas traditions? Here's another idea for you that I came across on Facebook (and I'm in love with it): 

When I told my kids about this Christmas Eve tradition they BEGGED me to do it! My husband is not a fan of the idea- he hates reading- but I told him he could take his iPad to bed and watch a movie or something. ;-) I just love the coziness of it, and I already have books I've bought as gifts for all my kids anyway so...hmm...

However you choose to incorporate books into your holiday festivities, I hope you have a very merry Christmas this week!

And a boy after my own heart (he stole his sister's spot in front of the fire when it was her turn for shower).

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Taking the Plunge

by Jewel Leann Williams

I wrote a little while ago about courage, and how I had something I knew I needed to write about, but was afraid to.

Well, I started it.

Right now, it's not really Saturday. I'm writing at 4:30 am on a Wednesday morning. It's the 10 year anniversary of one of the worst and longest--and yet proudest--nights of my life. I was one of the dispatchers working when an officer responding to a homicide was shot and paralyzed after a pursuit with the suspect. I won't go into details because that's not the point.

What this has to do with my writing is that this incident is one of the many--we'll call them wounds to my soul for lack of a better term--that I received during my career as a 9-1-1 operator and police dispatcher.

I retired in 2011--okay, I took one of those severance packages that my city was offering everyone to tighten the budget belt, I didn't formally retire. The plan was that if my grandiose writing plans didn't work out, I would come back in a few years. I never went back.

In the past couple of years, and more this past year, I've been having nightmares, I'm hypervigilant, I am very, very irritable, and my poor kids can't go out in the front yard or jump off of things without me fearing for their lives.  The realization that this wasn't just tiredness or getting too old to be chasing a two-year-old came when I was at lunch with my old boss, and we talked casually about me going back, or rather how I had decided I was not going back. Just the thought of returning had an effect on me. I had to get up and "refill my soda" to hide that I was sweating, my hands were shaking, and my heart was pounding through my blouse.

Later I started reading through all of my materials from when I was on the Critical Incident Stress Management team at my department.

It couldn't be.... but maybe it was?  Was I suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

I toyed with the idea, and it explained a lot. It explained why I never saw my old friends from my work, even though I was very close with some of them. It explained a lot of my personality and mood changes. The inability to sleep, the nightmares, the irrational fears...

Something else happened a few months ago. A good friend who I'd worked with, was making some comments and posts on Facebook that led me to believe that she was also suffering PTSD symptoms. I asked her about it and we started a conversation about dispatchers and PTSD. We decided that we needed to do something to help.

I personally decided that this needed to be something I wrote about on my own website.

That's where we were when I wrote about courage. Why do I need to be brave?

Well, PTSD is a big deal.  Many people think that it's just for people "out there" in the field, the thick of the battle. For me to suggest that dispatchers, 9-1-1 operators, could suffer from it as well, is insulting to some. There is research to back it up, but that isn't going to change feelings.

It's also sort of "crazy talk"-- I'm not crazy. I'm not going to do anything drastic, I'm not suicidal, and I would definitely say that what I'm dealing with is mild compared to most sufferers. I've not been to a psychologist--yet--that takes courage and great medical insurance, a little more of both than what I have right now. So I'm not necessarily saying that I am suffering from PTSD, but something is going on. And in retrospect, I can see how it goes on for a LOT of the dispatchers I've worked with over the years, in one form or another.

I also was trained in methods to mitigate the effects of the years of trauma. A lot of dispatchers aren't, not by a long shot.

The reason it's important for me to speak out is because there are dispatchers out there who think if they even entertain the thought that they might need help, they will be cast out, deemed as a sissy or crazy, and lose the respect of their coworkers in the dispatch center and on the road.

I'm away from that now, and I can point out places where I could've sought help and it would have changed my trajectory a little. Maybe they can do some of those little things and help themselves. Maybe it will start a conversation. Maybe I can help someone.

So, I am going to talk about dispatchers and PTSD on my webpage. I'm going to tell some stories, and say some things, that might stab at some sore spots. I might lose friends, because of how close to home some things might hit.

It scares me, but I'm doing it. I'm doing it in honor of that cocky 22 year old who thought "I speak Spanish, I can do this 9-1-1 thing," and then fell in love with the profession and never looked back. Until I did.

Anyway, my first post is here:

Deep breaths.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Villains are People Too

It is safe to say that the driving force behind stories is conflict. Light versus dark. Good versus evil. Man versus nature. The popular girl versus the spunky, nerdy girl. As most stories train us to do, we root for the hero. It makes sense. We are in the hero’s mind. We follow his struggles and celebrate his victories. We despise the force going against our hero, the thing that is thwarting his quest.

But what about the villains? We may not like them, we may not cheer for them, but the story cannot progress without them.

So what make an excellent villain?

1.       The villain has to have a reason for destroying the world.
While we all know there are bad guys who just want to watch the world burn, but there is little credibility for the reader. Ever since I was little I always thought, “Why would the bad guy want to destroy the world. He still lives on it.”

I read a novella titled Fairest by Marissa Meyers. It showed the backstory behind the evil queen in the Lunar Chronicles series. It is a perfect example of how to make a reader understand a villain, but not necessarily like them. I’ll admit, the evil queen is nuts! But now I understand what motivates her.

2.       The villain has to be one of the most complex characters in the story.
While the hero can still be a hero without a tragic backstory, a villain has to have a background that explains what motivates him. They can be charming, yet brutal. They can be beautiful, yet destructive.

One of my favorite characters is a villain named Pagen Min. He is from a video game called Far Cry 4. He is certifiably crazy and cruel, but you (as the audience and player) can’t help but like him on some level. Sure he kills and he is a tyrant, but he is so darn friendly and charismatic.

Here is a clip from the voice actor who plays Pagen Min. He explains his theory of villains and his interview process on becoming my favorite bad guy: Troy Baker

3.       The villain has to stir deep emotions.
When you write about a bad guy, there has to be strong emotions attached to the character. They have to move the audience. There can be pity, hate, anger, sorrow, etc. as long as there is something.

Let’s look at Lord Voldemort. For the first three books of the Harry Potter series, we just catch glimpses or hints of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. But at the end of the fourth book to the end of the series, we see just how awful and evil Voldemort can be. We feel fear and hatred toward him every time he appears, and when his end is met, we feel more than victory. We feel satisfaction that good finally triumphed over evil.

So those are my top must-haves for a villain. Are there any you would add? Who is your favorite villain? 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Words of Encouragement

-a post by Jeanna Mason Stay
I have a file in my email called “Words of Encouragement.” It isn’t composed of awesome, but generic, quotes from amazing people like Albert Einstein or Gordon B. Hinckley. It is composed of very specific notes and comments, written or spoken just to me, from amazing people like my husband, my best friends, and other authors who have read and loved something I wrote.
I have it so that when there is a day I feel like crap in every way, there are these words that remind me that I’m not. If a particularly difficult review comes back, pointing out every single one of my flaws, I can see that I have strengths too.
Honestly, I don’t turn to it very often. I have a pretty wonderful life, even when I feel like I’m not doing enough, and I have wonderful people in my life who remind me on a regular basis that they love me. And most of the time, that’s enough. (It may also help that I’m not currently actively sending submissions out to agents. I think I’d probably need it more then.) But every once in a while, don’t we all need reminders that we’re shiny and neato and great? And sometimes we need that when everyone else is asleep or elsewhere. (My husband is fantastic, but his positive feedback isn’t going to be nearly as positive if I wake him up at 3 a.m. to say, “Do you think I’m wonderful?”)
Maybe this is just me, but maybe you need this too! If you do, start one now. You don’t have to go back and dig up positive things people have said to you in the past. Just start with them now. And for me, I only include comments that really hit me powerfully. So there aren’t a ton, but what is there is sincere and meaningful to me still, even if it was written years ago.
A couple of suggestions:
If you are reading this and saying, “No one ever says nice things to me,” I challenge you to discover that you’re wrong. Look for and listen for the positive. I bet that there are at least a few people who remind you that you are loved and special. But if you only listen to the people who don’t (or if you only listen when no one is saying anything—like at 3 a.m. on Facebook), then of course you’ll feel like you never get words of encouragement. But they are there somewhere; hunt them down.
And also, I challenge you all to use your own words to create and send such positive statements out into the world to people who need them and to people who have influenced or changed you for good. We are writers! We know the power of sincere, from-the-heart words. Even if you’re not a writer, telling someone the best truth about him/herself is a powerful thing, even if it’s not elegant and polished. Words don’t cost you anything, but they can make a profound impact.
Judging from Facebook (my social media of choice), Twitter, Tumblr, whatever, there are plenty of words of discouragement in the world. There is also plenty of bland cheerleading. But I think we could all use the profound, individualized words of encouragement that come from those who truly know us.
(Now I’m off to go write that note I’ve been meaning to write to a friend, because she is awesome, and she deserves to be told.)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Keep It Simple Sister

by Patricia Cates

In the spirit of the holidays, and with how crazy everything can tend to get this time of year, let me give ya'll a friendly reminder to pace yourself and to KISS. Any readers or writers out there who are LDS might be familiar with this phrase. We have an acronym for keep it simple, sister. We simply say KISS. I love that. I want to live that. 

A few people I have served with have done a fine job of demonstrating this notion. Let me give you a little background. It was probably eight years ago when I first heard this. I had just been asked to serve as a Miamaid Advisor and was at a meeting for our young women youth group. Our new YW president said that the bishop wanted us to keep it simple from now on. He wanted us to cut back on spending and some other things. She used that KISS acronym to explain how things were going to be. Luckily our leader had chosen a group of women who were very down to earth to help serve...basically a no frills group. (Being fairly new to the church, I personally was terrified of the calling.)

This change was a bit of a shocker for our young ladies. Their prior leaders over many years had truly magnified their callings. When YW events came up, they would adorn the cultural hall with lamps and plants and table decor so elegantly set, it would be suitable for a wedding reception. They would string lights, make incredible take home gifts, and gorgeously illustrated invitations and programs. The desserts they brought tasted and looked as if they had come from the finest restaurants in SLC. I only had a Beehive at the time, my oldest, and so she became accustomed to things being done in this fashion. 

But with this new presidency things changed. Our president was a 31 year old return missionary with 4 kids. She announced that we, as leaders, would do no decorating and make no food. She said the girls would do it all! They would have a budget. She went on to emphasize that our girls needed to learn; to set up, and organize events, and delegate, and make treats, and decorate, and use their own creativity. If the cookies weren't uniform in shape or tasted bad it really didn't matter. They would be the girl's cookies and that's what counted. They would own it! She emphasized strongly that this was all part of their personal progression towards becoming adults, wives and moms. This was their program...we were only there to lead and guide. I think she used the word guide a lot.

When asked what we would do if the girls forgot to make treats, phone calls, programs, or set up chairs by 6:45, her response was always, "Oh well, it's on them then." She felt they would learn from their mistakes, if any were made. It would be their responsibility, their choices, and they would be held accountable. Ah! 

The next president was one of the most humble and spiritual women to have ever lived in our ward. She also kept things VERY simple. Flash forward another three years and I am again in Miamaids. It is truly a great place to be. My youngest is now a Beehive and my middle girls are both Miamaids. We are all learning together. 

I wonder if the girls who did have to do it all themselves, are now more self sufficient? Are they possibly better at budgeting or party planning? It's probably a toss up, depending on the girl. I hope our former YW who are married now, or on their own, remember that it's okay to KISS, and that it actually feels a lot less stressful. I know am grateful that I have had amazing women show me the way. 

This year we have been spending less and letting the kids do a little more around the house. Hopefully that doesn't sound mean. Things are just lean. So I'm keeping it real for ya'll.

If anyone out there needs to keep it simple due to a cold or flu bug, or who is exhausted from staying on top of the daily demands of life, remember that the only thing that matters is the spirit of the season. Don't wear yourself out. Try not to compare yourself to your neighbor, sister or friend (even though it's hard some times!) Remember that they may have more help, money, time or energy and that's okay. We can just appreciate all of their pretty lights, delicious treats, and the time it takes to make that happen. If you want to keep it simple, do...and if you're feeling super fancy...go for it! 

As I close, from a distance I can hear one of my daughters vacuuming. I didn't even have to ask! Now that's music to my ears, or maybe that's a hint she wants to decorate the tree.         


Related Posts with Thumbnails