Monday, April 27, 2009

Pencil it in

I keep myself organized with a wall calendar.  I like that everything is posted there for the entire family to see.  Of course, the youngest two kids haven't caught the vision of checking the calendar yet.  I'm also pretty sure that Larry never looks at it.  If he did, he'd not be so frequently surprised about our plans.  But #s 1 and 2 always have a pretty good handle on the schedule.

This method also has its limitations.  The biggest one is pretty obvious.  The calendar is on my wall.  At home.  It doesn't come with me to the doctor or the dentist or the hairdresser.  So as I'm setting appointments, I'm always hoping that nothing conflicts.  I'm also banking on the fact that I will remember by the time I arrive home to write the appointment on the calendar.  If I have errands to run first, I may be in trouble.

Years ago I bought myself a planner.  I really wanted it to work out.  I used it very sporadically with limited success.  For several years at least its only function has been that of address book.  Secondary address book.  I have a primary one, which I received as a graduation gift from my young women presidency, that contains most of my addresses.  There are only a few entries that are current only in the planner.  Fifteen minutes of transcribing would eliminate the need for it entirely.

Here are my hang-ups with my planner:

1)  I'm not bad at writing things down in it.  I am bad at remembering to always have it with me.  I am also bad at checking it to see what I have going on that day as it simply becomes part of the clutter on my desk.  Or on the counter.  Or on my nightstand.  Like everything else.  

2)  I don't like seeing only one week at a time, I prefer putting my schedule in a larger context.   Perhaps I should have listed this first.  It's a big problem for me.  And yes, I know planners come with monthly inserts.  But then the little squares are too small to write more than one item in.  I often have four or more.

3)   When I use my planner, it becomes the place to jot down my  to do list.  This makes for a very filled up, hard-to-read, easy-to-miss-events calendar--even with the larger weekly sized squares.

4)  I can never get over the feeling that I need that wall calendar, so I end up recording information in duplicate.  That gets old pretty darn quickly.   And if I'm not perfect about writing appointments in both places ... well, I'm sure you can imagine the potential problems.  I think that if ever I want to make the transition once and for all I will need to give up the wall calendar.

For the gluttons for punishment still reading at this point, I will now share the story that necessitated this dry, wordy build-up.  It may not, in truth, be funny enough to have warranted this post.  What can I say?  The muse is still on holiday, I am assuming somewhere warm where she is sipping fruity beverages and getting a very nice tan.

Last summer I was given a small, paperback 2009 planner.  I thought, okay, not as bulky, cute--maybe this will work.  So far this year there are only three weeks that I've written in.  The first week of January, the second week of February, and the week before Easter.  I found the planner today, under a pile of papers on my desk, opened to that pre-Easter entry.  I chuckled to myself as I remembered filling in everything that had to be done that busy week and never looking at it again after that.  I checked out the page more closely.  The events happened three weeks ago.  But the dates read May 3rd through May 9th.  I hadn't noticed.  

The really funny part is that when I saw what I'd done, I was annoyed because I now cannot use the planner next week.  I'd written in pen.

Friday, April 24, 2009


My muse must be on holiday, for I am uninspired.  Bemoaning this fact to #2, she procured a dictionary from the library, opened up to a random page and asked me for a number from 1 to 20.  The 18th word on her selected page was "knowing."  That is my writing assignment.

No redos.

KNOWING is a good word.  I like to know.  In fact I hate NOT knowing.  That's the worst part about childbirth.  When is that baby going to come?  Well, here is your due date, and a 4 week period surrounding that date will be considered "full-term."  We won't let you go much later, and we'll try to keep you from going earlier, but really, we're not sure.  Somebody please shoot me now.

So what do I know?  Less than my 7 year old.  At least, that's his perspective.  He knows much.  He knows all sorts of facts.  Some of those facts can be verified in reference books.  Others are of a more, er, obscure origin.  He knows how to light a fire.  He knows what a pterodactyl sounded like.  He knows how to talk to animals.  But not sheep.  He can't talk to sheep.  He can also see in the dark with his one owl eye, but I suppose that's really more of a super-power than knowledge.  

My 14 year old knows that I am a mean, nasty mother who never lets her sleep in and expects her to do preposterous things like bathe.  She also already knows whatever it is that I am about to tell her.  I'm useless.  I know.

#3 knows how to play the guitar.  She knows how to sing very loudly in the shower or in her bedroom.  She does not know how to sing loudly when she's performing with her guitar.  Thankfully, at our house we know how to plug a mic into a guitar amp.

#2.  Where to begin?  Well, #2 knows how to be funny.  Larry and I are pretty proud of that fact.  She now knows how to sew an Easter dress.  She knows how to spell a lot of words that I cannot.   She knows how to be an incredible friend and support to her disabled sister.

I know that I am ready for sustained warm weather.  I know school will be out before I know it.  I know that I am putting off my brain surgery indefinitely.  I know that coming to Idaho was a good move.  I know that I spend too much time on-line.  I know that my husband adores me.  (I adore him, too.)  I know that the folks in D.C. are ridiculously out of touch.  I know that if I track what I eat I will lose weight.  Knowing how to motivate myself to follow that course seems to be the problem.  I know that I'm currently crushing on a 27 year old Idol contestant with a phenomenally sexy voice who may or may not be homosexual.  Don't worry--Larry knows it's someone's voice that gets me every time.

I don't know exactly how things will work out for us with our business and personal finances, which frustrates me.  Knowing that I have no control over any of that frustrates me as well.  But I also know that no matter what, the most important things will remain intact: my husband, my kids, and the Gospel.  What else, really, is there to know?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Withering interest

Nearly 21 years ago I was assigned to read Wuthering Heights in my sophomore AP English class.  I think I may have read three chapters.  It was all I could take.  I have no idea how I managed the chapter quizzes and final test on the book.  Maybe I failed them. 

Ever since, this title has rested on a dusty shelf in my mind labeled "To Read."  This past Christmas, a paperback copy was wrapped and under the tree with a tag addressed to "Mina."  I anxiously began.

Last Thursday night, I finished.

It's important to note that I often get through a novel in 2 or 3 days, depending on how much I like the book and how much time I can steal from my other responsibilities at the moment.  Lately, I've been able to steal a fair amount of time.  Since starting Heights, I've read The Host, Spires of Stone, The Friday Night Knitting Club, Tower of Strength (which I reviewed here), the entire Twilight series for the second time, and the Midnight Sun partial draft.  I also moved, I felted two purses, I sewed two dresses and guided the sewing of another dress.  However, anytime I'd pick up Wuthering Heights, and I'd fall asleep after a chapter or two.

How do I hate thee, Wuthering Heights?  Let me count [a few of] the ways ...

I dislike the multiple narrators.  Mr. Lockwood, to whom the story is being related by Nelly the servant, seems entirely extraneous.  I see that his existance just provides a platform for the telling of the tale, but I think it's too much.  It's even a little consfusing at times when Nelly is describing accounts given to her by yet other characters.

The main characters, Heathcliff and Catherine, are anti-heros.  They are in love, but their insanely bad behavior and selfishness not only destroys their lives but the lives of most all around them as well.  I read a piece on this book that claimed that this was a more true to life situation than the typical love story with a happy ending.  Well, happy endings may be slightly unrealistic, but I can't say that I often find violent, malevolent, murderous, vindictive narcissists falling in love and ruining everything they touch, either.

Even the non-evil characters are not really good.  They are spineless and manipulative in their own rights.  There is not a redeeming personality in the lot.  There isn't even an endearing one. Nor were they characters I loved to hate.  I will conceed that by the last two pages the younger Cathy and Hareton appeared that they would fare well together with the all rest of their family finally in the grave.  Yet it hardly seemed redemptive of the story at large.

I don't get in to the Gothic themes of the mid-nineteenth century.  Plot twists become over the top for literature not meant to be fantasy.  The crazy first wife in Jane Eyre is about the most I can handle;  I at least found that story line somewhat intriguing.  Heights, no.  It's plot was just, in my opinion, long and drawn out and messy and not the slightest bit interesting.  I'd call it a train wreck, but I had no problem looking away.  It was maintaining enough interest to continue that was difficult.

I am glad I read and finished this book.  I am also glad that I ate a plate of escargot once on a cruise.  That way, if offered them ever again, I can simply reply that I'm not in the mood for snails at the moment.  But I think that neither Wuthering Heights nor escargot deserve the "classic" status that they enjoy.

Friday, April 17, 2009

F2: Friday's Feast, OCCD

Obsessive Compulsive Checkout Disorder.

I have had this disorder in varying degrees my entire grocery shopping career.  And right now I am at a high point.  Or maybe that's a low point.  I guess it depends on who you're askin'.

I like to put things on the checkout belt in categories.  This habit became more ingrained when I lived in the mountains and needed to put all of my cold things in a cooler for the half-hour drive home.  One would think that a bagger would do that automatically.  Uhhhh, no.  One might then think that if a customer specifically asked that all of her cold things be put together, that they could manage it.  Wrong again.  I always had to look through my bags to take out the stragglers.  And if I'd asked, I would become extremely irritated at the necessity of that obnoxious, time consuming task.  So I stopped asking and became extra diligent about my categories.

Boxed items all are put on the belt together.  Then meats.  Freezer, refrigerated, and deli items. Cans and jars.  Any bottled juices.  Baking goods.  Fresh produce.  Breads.  That's pretty much it.  I do group non-grocery items together after the food items.  

This really doesn't take as long as it may seem it would.  That's why the boxes tend to go on first.  Those are bulky, easy to spot.  Once they're out of the cart, it's easy to sort the rest.  A lot of it is already grouped in my cart that way, just because of how the aisles are arranged.

I never thought that anyone noticed this.  Maybe they haven't in the past.  But the last time I went grocery shopping, the cashier, who was also bagging, commented on my anal behavior (her words).  Rather than criticizing, she was thanking me.  It was so much easier to bag that way, she said.  I told her she was welcome and felt gratified.  I instantly realized that any hope I had at rehabilitation was just dashed.  Reinforcement like that will sustain my OCCD for quite a while.

Visit CaJoh for more Friday Feast links.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

At the risk of being put on watch as a potential domestic terrorist by the MIAC* ...

A few weeks back Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) questioned Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Chairman Bernanke of the Federal Reserve about the constitutionality of the radical bailouts which began last year.  Continuing to point back to the authorization given by the House of Representatives, Geithner never answered the basic question of where in the Constitution authority is given to the Treasury to interfere so drastically with the private sector.  As Congresswoman Bachmann pressed the point, he had a look on his face that would say, "I do not know this 'Constitution' of which you speak."  It's like that old Andy Griffith episode where Barney cannot repeat one word of the preamble correctly.  But at least Barney thought he had it memorized!

I'm a member of a book club of several women in my ward who are interested in learning and discussing and becoming more involved in politics.  Yesterday, we had our second meeting, and reviewed the Constitution.  As I read the articles for the first time in decades I realized that while we site the occasional Amendment here and there, we as a society have forgotten much of the vision the Founding Fathers had for this great Democratic Republic.  

George Washington said:
"This Constitution is really, in it formation, a government of the people ... No government before introduces among mankind ever contained so many checks and such efficacious restraints to prevent it from degenerating into any species of oppression ... The balances arising from the distribution of the legislative, executive, and judicial powers are the best that have [ever] been instituted."  
-from a proposed address to Congress, 1789, as quoted by W. Cleon Skousen in The 5000 Year Leap
The Constitution is wrought with wisdom, laying out an incredibly ingenious format for a government, including the method for changing the document should change become necessary.  Dependence on case law and a desire to emulate other countries have in many cases kept us removed as a Nation from using this defining document to maintain our way of life.  Some see this as a positive progression.  Others, myself included, do not.  Republican and Democrat politicians alike seem to have trouble setting limits for themselves as the governing body of the country.  They all seem, for instance, to ignore the 10th Amendment.  (Kudos to Texas for invoking it yesterday.)  

Regardless of one's position on the usefulness and relevance of the Constitution, I think it is important for United States Citizens to know what it contains.  I think it is the most useful way to analyze the direction that the country is headed in at any given time, not just now.  Be informed.  Read and re-read the Constitution.  Pay some attention to politics.  And then use that information to become involved in whatever small way you can.  The greater the level of public involvement in politics, the better able we are to keep this a "government of the people."

*Read here to see why it's dangerous that I not only voted for Bob Barr and lean Libertarian, but that I obviously feel the country is moving away from the Constitution and am a States rights supporter.  Those are only a few of the reasons why you should apparently never sell me manure.

Monday, April 13, 2009

General Conference on-line Book Club

I'd like to bear my testimony of blogging ...

Well, not exactly.  I have had a bit of a love/hate relationship with this consuming pass time.  I often think I waste too much time on the blogosphere that would be better spent in service to my family.  But then there are elements of this community that are not only fun, but seem genuinely worth while.  Today I found one such element through my bloggy bff Erin.

The site is called Diapers and Divinity and the author is Stephanie.  She is starting up an on-line reading club.  Each Sunday she'll assign a talk from the latest LDS General Conference.  Those participating will read and hopefully get a dialogue going in the comment section of the weekly post.  Her personal goal with this is to base her scripture study for the week on that particular talk.  She's starting with Elder Holland's fabulous talk on the atonement.

I am so excited for this.  Every season my goal is to re-read all of the conference talks before the next session.  I have done it a few times, but I often don't quite get there.  This will be a great way to pace myself with a more directed plan.  If you're interested, link over to Stephanie's site for a better description of her club. 

Yeah, blogging!

Friday, April 10, 2009

F2: Friday's Feast, Easter Menu Light

My good bloggy friend CaJoh has created a recurring feature post called Friday's Feast, dedicated to all things epicurean.  If you're interested in his vision for the feature, click here.  

This week seemed like a no-brainer.  It's Easter weekend.  Time to meditate core beliefs.  Time to celebrate hope and new life.  Time, also, to eat.  Time to eat a lot.  I guess one upside here is that, opposed to Christmas Season which runs a month complete, Easter feasting generally only lasts the weekend.  That's a little easier on the waistline.

The past few years, however, I have tried to lighten up our Easter dinner, mostly to lessen the guilt of eating my weight in jelly beans, m&ms, and Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs.  I have given up some of the traditional foods that I grew up on and adore, but I have found the replacements to be quite elegant.

  • Ham
  • Cheese Potatoes (funeral-style)  
  • Artichokes
  • Jello-Salad
  • Rolls
  • Several Desserts

  • Roasted Pork Loin
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Fresh Fruit Salad
  • Orange Rolls (This one is worse.)
  • Green Salad
  • Carrot Cake bunnies

I got a recipe from Kelly a few years ago for a spiced maple marinade that gives the slightest sweet crust to the pork loin.  The sweet potatoes I peel, cube, and toss with a little olive oil and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and allspice before roasting.  The asparagus is only better than the artichokes because of the dipping factor.  I saute´ them in a little olive oil and freshly pressed garlic.  Now the rolls.  Regular rolls are healthier than these orange rolls of my grandma's that are an unglazed cinnamon-style roll.  They are scrumptious, though, and remind me of my grandma.  So they stay.

The carrot cake I make is pretty good, if I do say so myself.  It is my mother's recipe, lightened up just a touch.  It gets rave reviews.  I use applesauce in place of the oil, and I use neufchatel
 cheese in the frosting.  Still not a diet food, by any stretch, but I like to pretend it's healthier.  I need to try it sometime with wheat flour to see what that does to the recipe.  But not on Easter.  I make the bunnies by baking two 9" round cakes.  Each round makes one bunny.  Cut the round in half across the diameter and frost together taco-style.  It will sit on it's cut ends.  You then carve out a little chunk to create a neck and stick that on the other end of the cake for a tail.  You end up with a three-humped cake.  Frost that.  Add jellybean eyes and nose to the head.  The ears you can cut from construction paper and insert into the head.  I often surround the little guys with green tinted coconut and more jelly beans.  (The photo I got on-line.  I don't cover my bunny with coconut, because some of my kids don't like it.  I also make a slightly smaller head by cutting the notch further down the arc.  I think it's a little cuter that way.)

Have a blessed Easter weekend!   And bon apetit!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

But when she was bad ...

There was a little girl 
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good 
She was very, very good.
But when she was bad she was horrid!

This nursery rhyme took on new, personal meaning for me with the birth of #2.  She didn't have curls right away.  In fact, she was nearly two before there were soft little ringlets framing her face.  But her Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality reared its cute little pink head with in days of birth.

#2 was a delightful baby and toddler.  She was smiley and smart and funny and cute as a button.  Until she became upset.  And becoming upset was not, unfortunately, a rare thing.  Sometimes there was a clear cause of the tantrum, but many times there was not.  Not that it mattered.  Remedying the problem did not end the fit.  #2 held grudges.

One such grudge was created when Larry's parents took #2 and her older sister down to visit Larry's grandparents, about 20 minutes away.  #2 was about 4 months old.  They weren't going to stay long, and they were armed with some expressed milk and a bottle.  #2 was fine all during the car ride down.  She was fine visiting her great-grandma and grandpa.  Then she started to get hungry.  It wasn't even the hunger that sent her over the edge.  It was the bottle.  Forget the fact that it was filled with the good stuff she was used to.  Forget the fact that she was addicted to pacifiers, and therefore no stranger to the silicon nipple.  The combination of the two was absolutely unacceptable.  She screamed.

The visit was cut short.  She screamed for 20 minutes on the car ride home.  She screamed when she saw me.  She screamed as I tried to give her what she'd wanted in the first place.  She rigidly screamed for an entire hour in my arms before she settled down and nursed.  And then, of course, she fell asleep.

When she was a little older, maybe almost two, #2 would often get angry because of something she was not allowed to do or have.  I discovered a trick, quite inadvertantly, that worked very well.  I would put her in her crib and tell her she could come out when she stopped crying.  Then I'd watch covertly from the door.  After a certain amount of time, she'd throw her pacifier to the floor.  Gradually she'd shift her screams from whatever the power-struggle had been about in the first place to indignation over an out-of-reach binkie.  I'd usually let her go a few minutes like that, just to be sure the anger was fully transfered, and then I'd walk in and with an, "Oh, did you drop your binkie?  Let me get that for you," I'd swoop her out of the crib, insert the plug, and cuddle the pacified little monster.

I was often afraid to go places.  A fit could, and did, occur at any time.  Some folks were understanding, but a shocking number were not.  I got suggestions and glares and rude comments galore.  "Believe me," I'd tell them, "if there were anything I could be doing to make it better, I'd be doing it."  I vividly remember finishing a grocery shopping trip in tears with a crying #2 sitting in the cart and too much time invested to simply walk away.  An elderly lady had given me a, "Well, I never,"  in produce, and I couldn't pull myself together until we were in the car.  Poor, sweet #1 was so worried about me and kept asking what was wrong.  I didn't know what to say.  She clearly had no concept that this perpetual screaming was not normal.

It was at about age 3 that the tantrums stopped.  #2 has no memory of the Mr. Hyde episodes.  Interestingly enough, she has become my most even-keeled, pleasant kid.  It's as if she got it all out those few, miserable years.  There are still situations that make her get teary-eyed.  But they tend to be times when she feels uncomfortable or nervous.  And even then she tries very hard not to cry.  

**Photos taken Christmas Day 1997, within less than an hour of each other.  She was 13.5 months old.  I can't remember why she was crying.  It could have been anything, really.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Graduation Photos for "Pride (4 of 5)"

What a sweet-heart.  Larry fixed the scanner situation this morning for me.  If I'd have known it would take actually posting about something without the photos I wanted, I'd have done this sooner.  

So here are the photos that go with the post directly below.  Please read that as well, if you're happening upon this all for the first time.

My dad and me, all dressed up for the Geek Prom.  
Brigham Young University, April 1997 

Bachelor of Science, cum kids

Larry, all dressed up in a long sleeve t-shirt and tennis shoes.

With Larry's mom and dad

Pride (4 of 5)

Back in January my bloggy BFF Sherrie sent me an interview to complete, and I intended to do it over the following two or three weeks.  It's taken a bit longer.  For these last two questions, there are photos that I want to scan into my computer and add.  Our scanner has been non-functional.  But at the moment I'm having a hard time thinking of anything to post about that wouldn't make my readers go running for the nearest cliff to jump off.  I'm not sure if this will contain photos, but it is at least positive.

Sher asks, What would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment in life, other than having a family?

The accomplishment of which I was the most proud was getting my bachelor's degree.  It's not such a unique thing, and it's not like school was so very difficult for me.  It's that my dad was proud of me that day.

I grew up around the university.  My father was an undergrad student at San Diego State when I was born.  When I was 18 months old we moved to Western Massachusetts where he began a doctoral program.  That took him 8 years.  Dad had a tendency to get distracted by tangential research lines.  He told me once that if he could be a professional student, he would.  Well, by the time he became Dr. Dad, PhD, my parents had divorced.  My mother had no intention of moving, and so my dad stuck it out at UMass.  Making a name for yourself at the institution where you got your degree is rare, and he worked hard and did it.  For two summers I worked for him as a research assistant.  It was great.  If I were nearby, I'd take the job again in a heartbeat.

It was never a question of whether I was going to college, but where.  I considered several schools, but in the end only sent in an application to BYU.  It seemed safe, like I'd know what to expect.  I was accepted, and I went for a semester and was miserable.  (I don't handle change too well.)  Over Christmas my mother convinced me to stick it out for one more semester, and I was glad because this time I loved it.

My sophomore year I met Larry and we got engaged my junior year.  We also got married my junior year.  I also became pregnant with #1 my junior year.  That was a big year, I guess.  I think all of those changes seemed bigger to my dad than they did to me.  I had felt very grown up for a very long time, and was sure of my decisions, but when I look at 20 year-olds now and think of myself then, I must admit that I cringe a little.

We moved to California in August 1994, just before #1 was born.  I was a senior at that point.  Larry started his graduate studies at UC Riverside that winter.  The following fall I started taking some classes at a local college and independent study courses from the Y.  We just made sure that our classes never overlapped and truly shared parenting for a while.  #2 was about 1 month old when I took my last BYU psych final.  I just had to transfer the credits I earned in California, and apply for graduation.  

I graduated in April 1997.  We drove up to Provo and my dad flew out.  My mother and father-in-law had three in-law children graduating that day and came as well.  

In my mind, like the certainty of college attendance, I always knew I would graduate, even with a marriage, an out-of-state move and two kids.  My dad, apparently, was not so sure.  I think rather than a lack of faith in me, he simply better understood the difficulty of adult life and how easy it is to never get to something that you vowed to do.  I understand that myself more and more as life goes on.

As the time drew near, he proudly informed his colleagues of my upcoming graduation.  He told me in a congratulatory card that they ought to award an honored degree "cum kids."  I can't think of another, non-family related, event that made me as happy and satisfied as that.

**Note:  The scanner is scanning to Larry's computer now, but still not mine.  He's working on it.  I'll post photos as soon as I can.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I'm a sucker for romance ...

... which may not seem too extraordinary.  Lots of girls are. 

Favorite movies?  Romantic comedies.  Favorite TV shows?  Well, those are rarely romantic, but it sure helps if there is some husky, manly lead character with great shoulders that I can lust after.  Books that I read over and over?  Romances.  Or maybe I should re-categorize that as love stories, since the traditional "romance novel" is generally trash I avoid.  I adore love stories, especially love stories set in times when men were gentlemen and women were modest.  Hence my Austen compulsion.  I often loose myself for days in the countryside of Regency England, falling in love over again with dapper young men in riding coats, preferably with a small fortune at their disposal.  I'm no classics snob, though, and I've even been known to fall for an old fashioned vampire and a modern werewolf all in one story.

I have discovered a new author who transports me to another time and place,
 introducing me to strong, compelling women and honorable men who love them.  Annette Lyon is an LDS author with six titles under her publication belt, four of which are historical novels centered around Utah temples in the 1800s.  Having read and loved Spires of Stone (which I would briefly summarize as Much Ado About Nothing builds the Salt Lake Temple), I was quite excited and very flattered to be asked by Annette to preview and review her new novel, Tower of Strength, set around the construction of the Manti Temple.  See a beautifully done book trailer by clicking here.

Tower of Strength features Tabitha, a young bride who is tragically widowed before the birth of her first son.  Fear has kept her from returning to her hometown of Manti for nearly seven years.  Now a woman with greater maturity and courage, the purchase of the local Manti newspaper brings her back home to face her past, in the form of her cold and accusing mother-in-law.  

Enter Samuel,  a simple yet charming British immigrant himself recently widowed.  Together Tabitha and Samuel find fast friendship and companionship that progresses into something more.  

Far from a sugary story of love at first sight with a ride into the sunset, Annette addresses themes of pain and loss and reluctance to love for fear of losing more.  And far from a flat telling of boy meets girl, Annette knits and purls rows of texture--equine adventure, news reporting, crime sleuthing-- and colorful characters who make you cringe and smile and laugh and cry.  The resulting creation is a compelling tale that you can wrap around your shoulders and warm up with.

Though the setting is early Mormon Utah, I am confident that my non-LDS friends would enjoy Tower of Strength as well as my Mormon friends.  Annette's writing has universal appeal.  Her characters are real, their stories ring true.

Find Tower of Strength at Deseret Book.  Annette's work can also be purchased on Amazon.  

On a personal note, I'd like to add that happy as I am to have found a new source of romantic prose, I am more happy to have become acquainted with Annette through her blog, The Lyon's Tale.  Annette is funny and kind, articulate and interesting, with diverse talents and interests.  (Plus, she's practically my long lost twin!)  If you're a grammar fanatic, or even just a sometimes wannabe writer like me, be sure to check out her Word Nerd Wednesday posts for an academic laugh.  (Ooh, it's Wednesday--click over now!)