Thursday, October 30, 2014

That time I bit off more than I can chew

Brick work done, now just need to fill with topsoil and build the Cottage/Shed

A few months ago I made mention of a project I was getting ready to tackle. My ever patient husband had agreed to let me purchase 1000 reclaimed antique bricks for the purpose of building some new garden boxes. I promised an update on that project upon completion and - sigh, gasp, fist-pump! - it's finally done... Well, at least the brick part of it.

The truth of the matter is, this was a big project and I knew it. What I didn't know, however, was just how big it was.

It started early this spring... in a corner of our yard formerly know as the "Playground."

As tends to happen, our kids had outgrown their playset. The day we decided to let the it go, was a sad day. It'd already sat virtually untouched for a couple of years and the idea of holding on to it for the enjoyment of our (distant) future grandchildren didn't appeal to me or my husband. It was time to let someone else love and care for our awesome swingset. 

And so, we sold it.
Which left us with a big, bare spot... And even bigger ideas and plans! 

I decided to build a garden "cottage" (aka shed) where the trampoline was and move my garden boxes to the newly vacated playground area. This, of course, meant we needed to pipe water to the area.

That was one of those moments (days really) where having a large lot was NOT exciting. To get water to the new garden box area we had to trench 97 feet across our yard through sod, rocks, and the most ridiculously hard clay you can imagine. (At least we didn't have to go the whole 150ish feet across the yard. That might have been a deal breaker!)

Once the water line was run, I moved our peach tree and our apple tree to their new homes. The peach tree managed the move gloriously... the apple tree not so much.

Then, Prince Charming authorized the purchase of my BEAUTIFUL bricks. 

With the help of our children, moving roughly 5000 lbs of bricks wasn't too daunting. We stacked them along the parameter of the garden area so they'd be out of the way when I began construction.

Now, I've done a lot of handy-manish projects, but brick laying has never been one of them. I had a pretty good idea how things should go, but to solidify my ideas I attended several sessions at the University of YouTube. The masonry pros made it look easy and before long I was confident that I understood the technique.

So I got down and dirty. Literally. As it turns out, masonry isn't as easy or as clean as I thought it should be. 

I can't tell you how many hours it took to lay those darn bricks, but each and every one of them was grueling. It did't take me long to realize that trying to make PERFECT BOXES out of IMPERFECT BRICKS was a PERFECT TEST of my IMPERFECT PATIENCE. 

And, oh how I celebrated the moment I placed that last little brick! I tucked my tools in my garage with a vow that I will NEVER do masonry work again. 

We will fill these beauties up with topsoil (and a new apple tree) early next spring! Then, I get to build my cottage. And, no, it will not have bricks on it.... a covered porch, stone work, and shutters, but not a single little brick! 

Diary of a Missionary Mom: Give me some meat!

Dear Elder,

I appreciate your weekly emails. I'm glad you are doing well. From the breakdown in your emails, I gather that you are keeping busy. Monday pdays, football (aka soccer), photos and emails. Tuesday finding. Wednesday meetings. Thursday dinners with ward members. Friday more finding. Saturday games with the youth. Sunday meetings ....

Yep, I've got your weekly routines down.  What I don't have, however, is MEAT! You give me lots of gravy, but frankly, I'd like more than sentences that end with, "it was good" or "it was awesome." I'll bet it - whatever it is - was awesome! But, do you know what? It'd be nice to know a little more about it than the fact that it was good.

Here's a revolutionary idea: How about when those cool things happen, you actually tell me about the event. You know, from start to finish. I suppose a cursory note about how awesome it was can be part of the text, but for heaven sake, dear son, it doesn't need to be the beginning and the end to your story.

"... Elder B caught his handlebars on a railing as he rode by. I had to fix his bike.... It was awesome."
 - Hmm? And what about Elder B? How did he fare his little debacle? Did he flip or fly? Did he meet pavement or lawn or shrubbery? Is he okay?

"... We met with a man from the ward today. He told us his story from the War. It was awesome."
- Great. And it was awesome because? *shrugs*

"... We helped Sister So-and-so tame her yard today. She literally had trees growing out of her walls. We tackled it as boys do and it was awesome."
- Tackle? As in a full-body take down? Or with an arsenal of tools? How big, exactly, are these trees you speak of? Fingerlings? Staunch logs? Did you need a chainsaw? ... And, how do trees manage to grow out of walls? Is this normal?

I'm not asking for novels or even essays. A couple brief sentences would suffice. I mean, come on, all I'm asking for is a little meat to go with all the gravy!

Love, your ever patient and easily satiated, just wanting a little more, Mom.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

My Name is Bryan - by Stacy Lynn Carroll

I met Stacy Lynn Carroll recently at a writer's retreat. We had a great time chatting about our families, our past projects and our current work. As soon as she told me about My Name is Bryan, I immediately knew I had to read it.

My Name is Bryan is a novel based on the true story of Bryan Carroll, Stacy's very own father in law, who in 1979 at the age of 18, took a jump that changed his life forever.

From the back cover: 
If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump too? Bryan chose to dive. Moments later, as he lay on the beach, unable to move his arms or legs, two questions ran through his mind: Would he walk again? And would he ever have kids? Based on the incredible true story of life, love, and never giving up.

Once I started reading Bryan's story, I could not put it down. It was both heart wrenching and heart warming. I cannot even imagine the grief that would come from going from a healthy, strong, active young man, to a quadriplegic in a matter of seconds. And yet, Bryan's story is not one of anger or bitterness, but instead one of hope and perseverance. As I read I kept finding myself trying to imagine what it must've been like to be in his shoes. And, with each new obstacle he faced, I was inspired by his positive attitude and humble perspective.

This is a great story for readers of all ages. It is available for kindle and in paperback on Amazon  and other online retailers.

About the Author: 
Stacy Lynn Carroll has always loved telling stories. She started out at Utah State University where she pursued a degree in English. Go Aggies! She then finished her BA at the University of Utah (to be closer to her then boyfriend, now hubby) where she got an emphasis in creative writing. After college she worked as an administrative assistant, where she continued to write stories for the amusement of her co-workers. When her first daughter was born, and with the encouragement of a fortune cookie, she quit her job and became a full-time mommy and writer. It seemed like fate when Matt and Stacy married. She was a writer, and her father-in-law had a story that demanded to be written. She and her husband have three children, two Corgis, and a fish named Don. If you enjoyed this book, Stacy would love and appreciate your reviews on Amazon and Goodreads! She also loves to make new friends. Follow her on Facebook: Twitter: @StacyLCarroll Or visit her website:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What in the world are you doing?... I mean me. What am I doing?

So, perhaps you've noticed it's been quite some time since I posted to my blog. Let's be honest, it's been MONTHS! I'd like to say that I've been lazy, but frankly, lazy is a word I don't typically keep in my vocabulary. BUSY, however, is. 

Of course, I'm happy to fill you in on where my time has been spent for the past 4 months, but first, I'd like to share with you where my current focus is.

What am I CURRENTLY working on? -

Let's talk writing projects for a minute. I currently have a few in the works.

Hacked is a contemporary romance SHORT STORY about a girl named Susan... or Ginger?... or Susan? As you may have guessed, there is an element of hidden identity and a twist of suspense. Susan - um, Ginger - is a (Computer) Security Analyst for the US Government. The story starts when Susan's identity gets compromised and she is sent from the Virginia NSA campus to the Bluffdale, Utah NSA campus under the new identity of Ginger. Of course, it can't be as simple as that and when love - or at least what she thinks is love - complicates the picture, she begins to discover that things aren't always quite what they seem to be.

My second short is actually a NOVELLA (meaning it's longer than a short story but shorter than a novel.) It's an LDS themed contemporary romance about a girl named Julia who, during her sophomore year at BYU happens to be dating the star basketball player, Adam. She thinks life couldn't get better until she meets a UofU med student named Wyatt. As if a love triangle isn't enough, a third twist throws chaos into her life when she begins to entertain the idea of serving a mission for the LDS church.  - No name for this Novella as of yet. I simply refer to it as Defining Julia. 

Of all my projects, Beautiful Daughter is my very favorite! It's a tender look at who we are as women and our ultimate value in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.

I've also - after pondering for a few years about the right way to handle this amazing story - gottten a good start on Lucas Kai. Unlike most of my other novels, Lucas Kai is not a romance. It is a "based on a real events" story of three women who, after each having their own battles, find their lives intertwined and mended through the beautiful miracle of a baby named Lucas.

What am I NOT spending my time? -

So, clearly, I have a lot of projects on my plate (and those are just the writing ones.) Because I've realized I may be one step away from masochism, I've decided to let a few things slide, at least for now. It is with a sad, but realistic heart, that I step away from my "Wonhundred Word Wednesday" posts for a bit. I will also be cutting back on author interviews and book reviews for a spell. Of course, I won't be completely closing the door on these (I have a review posting later this week, in fact), but I need to put my focus other places for a while.

And now... What have I been doing the last four months? - 

*Anchoring family TRADITIONS:
Catching some rays, some Zzzzs... oh and some fish at Fish Lake.
* Cheering on the Chilakins: 
Olivia took  first place in county with the Shot Put! 
Mason, our long legged runner! 
Olivia perfecting her sprint. 

*CeLEbraTiNg with the fam:
4th of July with Grandpa W.
Mom & Dad W's 50th Anniversary
Mason's birthday and priesthood ordination.

*Having fun with our "cardboard" Elder - 
Oh, brother! ;-) 
Taking flat-Tanner for a walk
*Camping (aka, finding dirt, eating junk, and smelling like o'de campfire) - 

Stunning views at Smith and Moorehouse
Endless beauty, Soapstone Basin 
Descending into the "Bear Den"  - Smith & Moorhouse 
My mom's first RZR ride

*Taming the yard-

Our dresser re-build. Converted it to a cat house (yeah, keep scrolling down, you'll see what I mean!) 
1000 reclaimed antique bricks to build new garden boxes.
*Playing - 


*Did I mention Camping? - 

With the cousins at Soapstone

*And the piece de resistance... We added a new member to our family. There is one animal I've sworn I'd never own. One. Just one. Well, guess what? Our awesome dogs, Lilah & Cooper, are the proud owners of their very own.... 

Kitty Cat! 
Meet Clairise... aka: the face of "Hell Freezing Over!" 

And that is my summer in short. Lots of go, go, go and do, do, do. As always, keeping it Krazy!

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