Traditions: Turkey Leftovers

Thanksgiving was fantastic. I enjoyed visiting with family and stuffing myself full of turkey and all the trimmings. This year, we went to Grammy Thompson's, so we don't have any leftovers. But normally, we have tons of turkey lurking in our fridge.

What do you do with all that meat?

We'll, here's what I do. I bag about half of the leftovers into quart-sized freezer bags, label with Thanksgiving Turkey, and (you guessed it) I freeze it. Amazing concept, eh? Over the next three months, I will pull the turkey out for sandwiches, soups, casseroles, stir-fry recipes, etc.

The day after Thanksgiving (or Christmas), I usually put together a Turkey Vegetable soup in the crock pot. Bake up some rolls, and you have an easy and delicious meal ready.

I also love to make Hot Turkey Sandwiches. My very favorite layering technique is (from bottom to top):

Gravy, slice of bread, turkey, gravy, slice of bread, turkey, gravy, slice of bread, gravy.

Mmm . . . Add a side of potatoes, pop it in the microwave until it all toasty and warm and you're in Turkey Leftover Heaven.

If you're looking for something a little lighter, try these delicious wrap recipes. Just replace the chicken with turkey.

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving. Now I'm off to start my Christmas decorating!

Traditions: Count Your Blessings

One of my favorite church hymns is Count Your Many Blessings.

1. When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Count your blessings;
Name them one by one.
Count your blessings;
See what God hath done.
Count your blessings;
Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings;
See what God hath done.

2. Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings; ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.

3. When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold.
Count your many blessings; money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.

4. So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged; God is over all.
Count your many blessings; angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Text: Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1856–1922
Music: Edwin O. Excell, 1851–1921

There have been many times in my life when I've been jealous of what others have, or feel like everything is crumbling around me. Sometimes I talk with my kids or my husband about all the blessings we have. Other times, I have to literally get on my knees and count every blessing I can think of and thank my Heavenly Father for them. Either way, I find comfort and those negative feelings are lifted.

During my Unwritten Contest, I asked contributors to share a story of someone who was a blessing to them as they've been writing the "novel" of their life. Here are their responses . . .

Cindy Beck: Someone who has blessed my life. There are so many people, that this is a tough one to answer. However, from an eternal perspective, the one who blessed my life for forever is the missionary who introduced the gospel to my husband and me ... Elder Richard Delewski.

Tristi Pinkston: This was a lovely post, Danyelle, and I want to point something out. Not only have you been blessed through these challenges, but as you've faced them with faith, you've allowed them to turn you into the incredible person you are. You've influenced me positively in a hundred different ways.

Rebecca Shelley: As for someone who has blessed me. My 9th grade English teacher, Mrs. Brown, was the first person to really believe in me and my writing. She told me I could write a book. I believed her and did it. I wish I knew where she is now so I could thank her.

Kim Nelson: My hero in that regard is, without question, my own dear mother, who left us so suddenly on March 12, 2008. On the evening of her viewing, what touched me the most was how many people came who worked with her. These people knew her in a situation outside a religious setting. They did not necessarily share her values or her beliefs, but every person who came had positive memories of how my mother had treated them. Every kid in the neighborhood was welcome in her home, and there were some who actually LIVED in it! There was always company for holidays. The missionaries, or a struggling single, or a family from the ward who had just moved in, or the parents of her childrens' friends. All were welcome in my mother's eyes, and I owe my own outgoing, positive nature to her. I am happy to be much liker her, and I miss her more than I can say.

Gaynell Parker: All of you in AuthorsIncognito have inspired and uplifted me, but the person I have to point out, was my mom. She took me in as an 18 year old foster child who had no one to love her. She taught me what it was to be loved unconditionally and showed me what it meant to be a mother. All I learned (the little it was) I learned from her fine example. She went on to be "back on the bird committee" as we jokingly tell each other (she loved birds and claimed she was in on the creation of them)about six years ago. I still keenly feel the loss at times. I feel more sorrow with her being gone than my own mother, since I didn't even know her.

Weston Elliott: I have had many influences, but the most poignant example comes from my father. His dying words to me were "You can do anything you set your mind to."

Ali: As for a previous chapter in my life and the person who most influenced me, I'd say my sister, Heather. I have been blessed by so many, it's hard to name just one, but at this time of year I'm always reminded of the loss of my mom when I was 19 and the friendship I discovered with my sister because of mom's death.

Heather and I had sort of a love/hate relationship before Mom became ill. But when Mom was dying, we had to work together and serve Mom together. We discovered that she was weak where I was strong and I was weak where she was strong. We came to have a great love and respect for each other we wouldn't have had otherwise.

After Mom passed away, Heather took me in. Mom was my only parent and when I lost her I kind of lost my way for a while. Heather and her husband took me in while I got my feet back under me. She was not only kind and loving, she was also a tough drill sergeant who taught me so much about growing up, about being an adult and how to face life with my chin up.

When I was ready to fly on my own, Heather let me go. But she's never really let me go of me. She is my mother now, by choice, because she loves me. We are the truest sort of friends because of the trial we faced together. Our hearts are knit together with more than just love, but with service and sacrifice as well.

Sara Register: So many people have influenced me throughout my life, but one person that sticks out is my Pennsylvania grandma, Annie. I have not met a person yet who can live up to her spunk and kindness. She helped me move from Utah, my comfort zone, to way NOT comfort zone! She is amazing!

As for me, I keep trying to narrow it down. There are many, many people who have blessed my life. The person who helped shape my life into who I am today though, would be my mom. She had a huge heart. Our door was open to anyone (or any pet) who needed help and love. Our home was a humble little trailer, but it was filled every day with friends, love, and laughter. All because of one generous and strong woman - my mother. What an incredible example she was to me. I miss her every day, but am extremely grateful to know that families are forever and that we'll have an eternity to laugh and love each other.

Thank you to each of you who share my "online" life. Your comments and support uplift me every day. I hope you each have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!

Traditions: Thanksgiving Feast Recipes

Growing up, my family's holidays were centered around a huge extended-family feast.

On Easter, it was ham baked in pineapple and brown sugar. Thanksgiving and Christmas we had a wild turkey thanks to my hunt-a-holic brothers and a store-bought turkey, each roasted to perfection. The dining room table would be piled high with side dishes galore. And the side bars were lined with pecan pie, shoo-fly pie, fruit pies, and pudding pies. Once the prayer's Amen was heard, we'd all descend on the food like we hadn't eaten in years. We'd eat, and eat, and eat some more until we were gorged to the point of unbuttoning and unzipping our pants for comfort.

If there is one tradition I have passed on to my children, it's this one - only on a smaller scale. Since we don't have a lot of extended family nearby, our feast has less variety. I admit I do miss the three different types of corn and two different stuffings. But we aren't feeding 30-40 people. (Thank goodness!)

I'm really excited to share some of our family's favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Enjoy!

Sweet Basil Rub (for the Turkey)

2 Tbsp Salt
1/2 tsp Granulated Garlic
1/2 tsp Granulated Onion
1/2 tsp Paprika
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Whole Basil
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Mix salt, sugar, garlic, onion, paprika, and lemon juice together. Next add pepper, basil, and olive oil. Mix until well blended. Rub all over the outside and inside of turkey. Bake according to the turkey instructions. The drippings make an incredible gravy!

Great Aunt Erma's Baked Stuffing

1 loaf of Bread
1/2 cup Onion
3/4 cup Celery
1 Egg
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
Milk (or rice milk & water)

Saute onions and celery in butter.
Grease a 9x13 casserole pan.
Break up bread into small chunks in a large mixing bowl. Add onion and celery; mix together. Sprinkle parsley, salt, and pepper on top of mixture until top is well covered; mix together.
Mix milk (about one cup), egg, and baking powder in a small bowl. There should be enough liquid to lightly moisten the bread mixture. If needed, you can add more milk. Add 1/2 to bread; stir gently. Add remaining liquid; stir gently until bread is lightly moist.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or brown on top.

Great Aunt Erma's Creamed Mushrooms

1 box/container of fresh Mushrooms
3/4 cup Milk
1 Tbsp Flour

Slice mushrooms and cook in a skillet with butter until all water is cooked out.
Add milk and flour. Constantly stir until the sauce thickens. Serve hot.

Fabulous Fruit Salad

1 can (29 oz.) sliced peaches, drained, with juice reserved separately from other juices
1 can (20 oz.) pineapple chunks, drained & juice reserved separately from other juices
1 c. mandarin oranges, drained & juice reserved separately from other juices
3 whole or 4 whole bananas, sliced
1/2 jar maraschino cherries, drained
1 whole egg
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp flour
3/4 c. peach juice (from drained canned peaches)
3/4 c. pineapple juice (from drained canned pineapple)
15 large marshmallows

1. Mix peaches, pineapple, oranges, bananas and cherries together in 1. a bowl. Set aside.
2. In saucepan, mix egg, sugar, flour, peach juice* and pineapple juice*.
3. *Add reserved mandarin orange juice, if necessary, to make 3/4 c. peach juice and 3/4 c. pineapple juice.
4. Cook until soft custard stage, stirring almost constantly.
5. Remove from heat. Add marshmallows.
6. Stir until blended. Pour dressing over fruit. Chill.
7. Store salad in refrigerator overnight.
Serve Chilled.

A Happy, Happy Birthday

Saturday was my 31st birthday. Isn't that awesome?

It's been a great year. I finished my first book last August and sent it in to my publisher. I was hoping to hear back from my editor about an acceptance (hopefully!) before my birthday, but oh well. Maybe before Christmas? My editor did tell me they sent my manuscript out to readers and the feedback has been very positive. So that's a fabulous birthday present right there! Seriously, this past year has been filled with many, many blessings and wonderful events. There were some hard times and sad times mixed in there as well. But all in all, my 30th year was great.

Saturday was lots of fun. I woke up with the urge to clean everything in sight. Now, that normally wouldn't sound like fun - cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Yuck, right? But when I just feel like cleaning, then it's fun! I was surprised how much I got done in one morning! John went to run some errands and the kids even joined me in cleaning without a battle (a rare occasion indeed!). By the time John got home, we had cleaned and vacuumed the dining room, all of the kids bedrooms, and the playroom; started a new load of dishes in the dishwasher; started and folded a load or two of laundry, and straightened up the living room. All before 11 am. Now that's what I call on the ball!

After my cleaning frenzy, I showered and went to lunch with a few of my girlfriends. We went to Chipotle and just enjoyed chatting away. Wow, it was soo nice! We were there for over 1 1/2 hours, just talking, laughing, and enjoying being together.

Then I went grocery shopping. Hey, it was Saturday - that's grocery day at our house. John and I compromised though. We only made up a short list so I wouldn't spend my whole afternoon shopping and fighting lines. That worked well. Then I was able to spend the rest of the afternoon with the kids and John. We played Sorry (my four-year-old's new favorite game) and watched a movie. We all got caught up in other things, that we didn't have enough time for dinner and cake before John and I needed to leave for an evening Church meeting! Oh well. At least our babysitter can cook.

After our meeting, a few of our friends joined us for ice cream at Dairy Queen. I had a wonderful Oreo Brown Earthquake. YUM!

One of the nicest parts of my birthday was all the emails and phone calls from friends and family throughout the day. Wow! You all made me feel so special. Thank you!

I thought I'd post a few cute pics and a video from my postponed birthday dinner on Sunday. Our youngest has recently started setting the table. Isn't she cute?

My oldest daughter . . .

. . . and my youngest daughter. They both love cake!

Thank you all for being my friends and for being a part of my life. Here's to a fabulous 31st year!

Rest for the Weary

This past week has been long, difficult, and sleep-deprived. My two younger children both had the croup. My youngest little girl's croup finally went away, only to be replaced by a runny nose. Yuck!

The poor girl has been so tired! Yesterday, my hubby put her down for her afternoon nap about 2:30 pm. When we left for the adult evening of Stake conference at church, she was still sleeping. The babysitter said she woke up around 6:30, but fell back to sleep before she could even make her some dinner! So she put her back into her crib . . . where my little girl slept straight through until 7:30 this morning!

Now, it's only 10:30 am, and she came up to me and said, "Nap, nap." Off we went into her room, where she curled right up into her pillow, popped her binky into her mouth, and closed her little eyes. Her poor little body is just so very tired. I hope the rest gives her body what it needs to recover and get rid of this nasty cold.

Now, if only we could pass some of that nap time over to Mom and Dad . . .

Nordic Bo Peep and Long Lost Sheep Costume GIVEAWAY!!!!

Check out this awesome giveaway!

Nordic Bo Peep and Long Lost Sheep Costume GIVEAWAY!!!!

Queen of the Clan Giveway Update!

Commissioned Watercolor Portrait GIVEAWAY! This giveaway is absolutely beautiful and precious. Be sure to check it out!

Commissioned Watercolor Portrait GIVEAWAY!!!!

Unwritten Contest Winner

Courtesy of my four-year-old, the winner of the Unwritten Contest is . . .

Gaynell Parker!!!

Congrats! Please email me your mailing address & I'll get your autographed copy of Red Dragon Codex by R.D. Henham in the mail!

Thank you to everyone for their stories. Be sure to check back next before Thanksgiving to see your stories in the "Count Your Blessings" post.

Autism Benefit Concert

Friends of GIANT Steps is hosting a holiday concert on Friday, November 21st. All the proceeds go towards enhancing the GIANT Steps Ausitsm Preschool program. This is the preschool my oldest son attended. It's absolutely incredible! If you live in the Provo, UT area - be sure to check out more info about this wonderful family-friendly event.

Here's the official press release:

Proceeds to Go to GIANT Steps Autism Preschool

Noteworthy and the Utah Valley Handbell Ringers will be the featured performers at "A Family Holiday Charity Concert" on Friday, November 21, at 6:30 p.m. at the Provo Tabernacle. All proceeds will go directly to the GIANT Steps autism preschool in Orem.

Founded in 2004, Noteworthy is a nine-voice, all-female contemporary a capella ensemble based out of Provo, Utah. The group performs for thousands each year in Utah, the west, and throughout the United States. Additionally, Noteworthy has taken home numerous awards for its unique arrangements, choreography, and vocal percussion.

The Utah Valley Handbell Ringers was formed in 1993 by director Karen Eskew-Wyllie. Choir members volunteer their time and perform with 56 bells cast in bronze or aluminum, each tuned to a single note.

The concert – organized by Friends of GIANT Steps (FOGS), a nonprofit organization comprised mostly of parents of current or past students in the GIANT Steps program – is intended to be a family-friendly event.

"I couldn't be more excited about the upcoming Christmas concert," said Annie Campbell, president of FOGS and mother of two children with autism. "It's not very often that we go to a concert that children will enjoy as well as parents. It only makes it better that all proceeds go directly toward helping children with autism."

Tickets can be purchased at the door and are $10 per person ages 12 and older, $5 per person ages 3-11, $25 per family (up to two adults and three children), and $7 with student ID. Children ages two and under are free.

Refreshments will be available for purchase during intermission.

Traditions: A Thankful Tree

Last year, our family started a new Thanksgiving tradition called a Thankful Tree. I can't take the credit for coming up with the idea though. I read about it in Family Fun magazine. Our whole family loved creating the tree, then writing what we were thankful for on the leaves. Here's how to make your own Thankful Tree . . .

You'll Need:
Tree Branches
Silver or Gold Glitter Spray
Construction Paper (red, yellow, orange, brown)
Leaf Templates
Hole Punch
Craft String or Yarn

1. To begin, you'll need some fun branches. Be sure to choose branches that have already fallen to the ground. Cutting branches off a tree is not only unhealthy for your tree, but results in sappy branches. Last year we had a big wind storm come through and I found some wonderful branches in our own yard. This year, our yard (and the neighbors' yards) all had slim pickings. But I found a wonderful branch full of long and short smaller branches in our church parking lot. I was so excited to bring it home (although I'm sure some people wondered why I was making the kids move around so I could fit a fallen branch in our van!)

2. Once you've chosen your branches, get out your vase. If you have young children, be sure to use a vase that either unbreakable or that you won't cry if an accident does occur. Lay out your branches, and begin removing some of the smaller branches and putting them in your vase until you like the fullness. You may need to "trim" your branches. Try to do this at the end that will be in the bottom of the vase. Discard all unused branches.

3. It's time to make those branches extra pretty! Remove them from the vase. Take the branches and the glitter spray outside. Hold one branch at a time while you spray it with the glitter. Be sure to turn the branch so you get all the sides. Once they are dry, replace the branches in the vase.

4. Now for the more tedious part of this project - making the leaves. If you know somewhere that has leaf die-cuts, you may want to purchase them. I couldn't find anywhere that had the right size. But I did find these wooden craft leaves for about fifty cents each. They make great templates that will last year after year. Pull out your construction paper. Be sure to use lots of reds, yellows, oranges, and browns. Trace & cut out your leaves.

5. Use your Hole Punch to place a hole on the end of the leaf stem. Then thread the string through and tie a knot at the end. I used a brown craft string. Yarn works well too. I found brown to be a good color because it blends in with the branches. Once the leaves are done, arrange them around the tree. Place some pens nearby. Last year, I put the leaves and pens on a silver tray next to the tree. This year, I placed the leaves all around the tree, with a pen holder filled with pens next to it.

Voila! Your Thankful Tree is complete! All you need to do is place it somewhere everyone can access it. Last year, I placed our tree on a side table. This year I decided to try the fireplace hearth.

I was surprised how many leaves our family filled out last year. Each day, the kids filled out one leaf with something they were thankful for. Our then three-year-old told me what he was thankful for, and I wrote it out for him. The older kids had fun coming up with things they thought our one-year-old was thankful for. Be sure to remind your family members to put their names on their leaves! The kids loved putting their leaves on the branches. Our oldest daughter put a lot of thought into the placement of each of her leaves. It was amusing to watch! Our tree was gorgeous with all the fall colors. The best part was on Thanksgiving Day, we each took turns taking a leaf off and reading it to our family. We saved them all in a Ziploc bag and labeled it with the year.

Here are a few samples of last year's leaves. You may be surprised by some of the things your family is thankful for. I laughed when our three-year-old said he was thankful for the vacuum and carpet cleaner. I asked "Why?" and he replied, "Because they make the house so pretty!" (Too bad they don't do the work all by themselves, eh ladies?)

With all the hustle and bustle of early Christmas preparations, Thanksgiving sometimes gets lost in the holiday shuffle. This is a wonderful activity to help our families remember the spirit of the Thanksgiving season.

I would love to hear what your family does to celebrate Thanksgiving. Please leave your ideas in the comment section! Also, don't forget to enter the Unwritten Contest! It ends on the 15th!

Unwritten Contest

For the past few months, the song Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield has been going through my mind, over and over again. I've been thinking a lot about the choices I've made over the past fifteen years - choices that have led me to where I am today.

If you're not familiar with this song, here are the lyrics:

by Natasha Bedingfield

I am unwritten
can't read my mind
I'm undefined

I'm just beginning
the pen's in my hand
ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in

No one else, No one else

Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

I break tradition
sometimes my tries
are outside the lines

We've been conditioned
to not make mistakes
but I can't live that way

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in

No one else, no one else

Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in

No one else, no one else

Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

The rest is still unwritten

The writer in me loves the analogy of my future as an unwritten book. It's up to me to chose how to write the words that will be in each of the chapters that will make up my Book of Life.

And just like writing a book where the characters "take over" and make choices the author wasn't expecting, my life has turned in directions I would never have expected.

As an idealistic teenager, I never would have pictured finding myself in an abusive marriage and divorced before even turning twenty years old. I wouldn't have written my Mom's graduation to Heaven when I was the tender age of nineteen. I never thought of motherhood as filled with IEP's, speech therapy, and behavior interventions.

But with each "wouldn't have", I've grown and received tremendous blessings.

My bruised soul couldn't have imagined that less than a year after my divorce I would find an honorable, incredible man who has treated me like a valuable and loved queen - even after ten years of marriage.

There are no words that accurately express the love I still feel from my mom, and the tenderness I feel knowing she and I will be together again for eternity after this life. Families are forever.

Thanks to my incredible son, I have been blessed to be immersed in a world full of people with all different abilities, each of whom have touched my life in a special way. I have been blessed to learn that motherhood isn't just having a child grow under your care, but rather it's a journey full of discovery, acceptance, and love.

Through this short journey of fifteen years, I have not only grown - but have been uplifted by incredible people along the way.

My sister had the courage to chase after her dream of graduating from the state police academy.

Natalie put her career as an incredible artist on hold to bring her beautiful daughter into the world and be a stay-at-home mom.

After her dear husband passed away, Helen found joy and purpose in helping others by volunteering at her local hospital and organizing a neighborhood ladies group for other widows. They each enjoy having a "family night" every Monday, going to plays, celebrating their birthdays, and supporting each other.

Karen didn't just raise her children with autism, instead she advocated for young children throughout her county by working with other parents to raise money for an autism preschool and served as president of the Autism Society in her area for many, many years. Today, she is attending college to get a Masters degree as she continues her journey to help educate children with autism.

Pam and Kevin have adopted seven children into their loving family.

Many years ago, Sue, with her husband, created the Olathe Special Olympics team and has continued supporting and organizing activities ever since.

Dana calls her friends just to ask how their day is going and to let them know she's thinking of them.

Some things we do are "big". Other things seem small, possibly even inconsequential. But both have big impact on those around us. We've each had many, many experiences that have taken us through our own personal refiner's fire. And we've had many blessings along the way as well.

What I love about Unwritten is that it reminds me the journey is not over. No matter where we are in our lives today, our tomorrow is unwritten.

If you're in the middle of a chapter, you get to choose what to write on the next page. And if you find yourself at the beginning of a new chapter, you get to explore and discover what that chapter will hold.

I'm sure you're thinking this is an odd way to introduce a contest. You're right. And that's because this contest is unusual in itself.

To enter the contest, leave a comment on this post and tell me two things:

1) What do you want written on your page tomorrow?


2) Share a story of someone who was a blessing to you as you've been writing the "novel" of your life.

Be sure to post your entry before noon on November 15th. I will post name of the winner that afternoon. Each of the stories submitted will be compiled for a "Count Your Blessings" blog before Thanksgiving. Submissions can be humorous, uplifting, etc. But they should all be sincere!

The winner will receive an autographed copy of Red Dragon Codex by R.D. Henham (a.k.a Rebecca Shelley). If you have a Dragonlance fan on your Christmas list, this is THE perfect gift!

From Amazon:
For fans of The New York Times best-selling A Practical Guide to Dragons, a new series of fantasy fiction focusing on the power of dragonkind.

The Dragon Codices chronicle adventures with each of ten dragons of Krynn. From the fiery, evil red dragon to the playful copper, each dragon's tale is unique. Sindri Suncatcher, narrator of A Practical Guide to Dragons, shared these tales from his travels with library scribe R.D. Henham.

Mudd lives a peaceful life in his small town, tinkering with the mill and any mechanical devices that he can find. But his peaceful life soon changes when, out of nowhere, a red dragon attacks, burning the town and kidnapping Shemnara, the village seer. Only one clue is left behind--a cryptic note telling Mudd, "Seek the silver dragon."

About the Author
R.D. Henham is a scribe in the great library of Palanthas. In the course of transcribing stories of legendary dragons, the author felt a gap existed in the story of the everydragon: ordinary dragons who end up doing extraordinary things. With the help of fellow scribes, R.D. had filled that gap with the Dragon Codices.

“Red Dragon Codex is fun tale of wonder, adventure, and dragons aplenty. R.D. Henham is a fine new storyteller, off to a very promising start.”

—David Farland, New York Times best-selling author

Whitney Benefit Auction

Are you looking for something totally unique and fabulous for Christmas this year? Well, I've got just the thing for you!

The Whitney Awards is holding an online benefit auction. The Whitney Benefit Auction will run for the month of November, with new items being added every day. All items have been donated, along with shipping, from a variety of donors.

There's a huge variety of items to choose from - autographed books, jewelry, clothes, art, collectibles, services for writers, photography, etc. The list goes on and on.

Be sure to check this one out! It's going to be awesome!


Yesterday, my older kids' school held a mock election. My daughter was so excited to come home and tell me all about it.

Her class spent the day learning about all the candidates running for president. They studied their views on different issues, as well as learning more about their backgrounds. MJ said it was really neat.

I asked her who she decided to vote for.

"I voted for McCain!" she told me proudly.

"Why did you vote for McCain?" I asked.

"Because when I was reading about what he said about education, he said that parents should have the right to choose where their kids go to school. I think that's important. We should be able to go to school wherever we want."

Wow. I just about cried. She had a real reason! She knew something about the candidate she voted for! It wasn't because he was popular, or because of what color his skin was, or if the candidate was male or female. It was because he said something she felt was important to her and her family. What an awesome seven-year-old!

Of course, then she told me something quite funny . . .

"Mom, did you know McCain is going to have a party?" she asked.

"A what?"

"A party!" she said.

Of course, I was thinking about the ball the candidates have after the election. "You mean after the election? All the candidates have a party after the election, honey."

"Yeah, but McCain's is party is special cause it's a Republican one!"

Hmm . . . I think the next thing we need to work on is learning that each candidate belongs to a political party - which doesn't mean balloons and cake!

I hope each of my readers takes the time to go out and vote. No matter who you choose to vote for - vote for the candidate you feel will lead our country wisely. Every vote is important!

Happy Election Day!

A Very Busy Halloween!

This year, Halloween was a very busy affair for our family. Here are some pictures from a few of the parties we attended . . .

Last Wednesday, our Church held a Trunk or Treat for all the kids. It was lots of fun! Our friends Michele, Dusty, & Charlie joined us for the early trick-or-treating fun.

Charlie (Monkey), MJ (Princess Genevieve), & Rob (Lion)

Michele & Anna (Pooh's Honey Pot!) on their way to the first trunk.

Enjoying the candy . . . Anna's perfectly puckered face!

A happy smile from Isaac

MJ looks pretty happy with her candy

Some pixie stick fun . . . Anna saw Daddy help Rob do this first, then wanted to get in on the fun! Aren't they funny?

Rob's yummy bubble gum!

On Halloween, we had several parties to attend. First, Rob's preschool . . .

Rob's class with their teachers - Miss Devine & Miss Steinhouser

My fabulous friends - The Mighty Preschool Moms! Danyelle, Amy, Hillary, & Michele Missing In Action - Laura!

Some mommy silliness. To see something TOTALLY cool - you should check out Hillary's blog. She's eight months pregnant,and for her Church Halloween party, she & a group of adults did the Thriller dance. Hillary posted it on her blog. It's AWESOME!

Yes, Rob still sucks his thumb. But doesn't he look cute in his lion costume?

Anna & Daddy

Next, we went to Anna's Kindermusik class party . . .

Anna's class and her teacher, Miss Amy

Isn't Anna just the cutest honey pot ever?

Next, we went to the older kids Halloween parade & parties at school . . .

MJ and her fabulous teacher, Miss Sharp.

Isaac's afternoon autism specialist, Miss Jill, and me! (yep, the lady with the horns - that's me. Isn't the Maleficent costume awesome?)

MJ in the parade

Isaac (the blue & orange Stitch costume) and Miss Jill in the parade

And a few pictures from Halloween night . . .

John was having fun taking pictures. Here's me as Maleficent.

And a few fun pictures of Isaac as Stitch!

Halloween was lots of fun. The kids had a great time and are now loaded up on candy for the next twelve months. Seriously. :) I hope your Halloween was fabulous!

Now, on to Thanksgiving!!!