Wednesday, December 31, 2008

12 Days of Christmas--Medieval Style Contest continues

by Marsha Ward

Somehow I think I missed announcing that a group of friends and I joined Joyce DiPastena in a neat holiday giveaway. Beginning on Christmas Day, we started giving away a gift a day for 12 days, running through January 5th. Today is Day 7, so get over to my blog to see what's still up for grabs. Go read the Rules, and then enter for a remaining day, or all of the ones left.

The winner of the Day 6 $25 Scentsy Gift Certificate from Kellydawn Zollinger is Jobie Marshall of Oregon. Congratulations, Jobie!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

By Marcia Mickelson

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions because I don't follow through on them. They're great ideas when you think about them in December, but by the time February comes along, it's too hard to follow through on them. So, I save myself the trouble and inevitable disappointment by not making any.

I do, however, have a goal. I am close to finishing the novel I started in March. I have 3-4 thousand more words to write, some editing to do, and about 5 MORE's. Then, I will be finished and it will be ready for a final edit and final read-through. I'm giving myself a self-imposed deadline of January 20th. It's really just a random date, but very doable if I apply myself. I've been a bit lazy the last month and have indulged in a little extra TV, but I need to get back on track. Once the kids are back in school and on a good bedtime schedule, then I can resume a good routine. I will finish by the 20th. I will finish by the 20th. I will finish by the 20th.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

by Marsha Ward

So I took my strained back on a walk (cold therapy, right), though the ice and snow drifts to the community mailbox array. On the way I dropped two garbage bags off in the park's collective bin (I'd call it a Dumpster, but that's yanno, a trademarked name). I didn't want to have them sitting around during the next storm, which I could see coming in from the west.

The mail had collected over the last couple of days, and since my box is the standard 4- x 6-inch slot, it can get filled up with junk mail pretty fast. I knew I had to make this trek, pain or not.

It was worth it. There was a key in my box along with sundry Christmas cards, ANWA renewals, and sad economic missives. In one of the big boxes reserved for packages, I found what I didn't expect to come until after Christmas: my Christmas present to myself.


I never saw the series until it was off the air, but my son converted me, and I've become a fervent fan since he did. After all, it IS a Western. With great writing.

I know Joss Whedon doesn't believe in God, but Merry Christmas to him and to all my friends everywhere.

(You may substitute your favorite seasonal holiday, but I'm a Christian, so "Merry Christmas" is my first choice of greeting at this time of year. Almost no one I know minds.)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Lights

By Marcia Mickelson

On Saturday night, we took our kids to a neighborhood here in Corpus Christi that really puts up Christmas lights. The entire street decorates and puts on huge displays. Families were standing outside, many of them handing out cookies, candy, hot chocolate, or other treats as the sidewalks were filled with people walking by to see the lights.

There was a band playing Christmas songs in their driveway and groups of carolers standing outside homes down the streets. One home was displaying a huge projection screen on their garage of the Dallas Cowboys football game. Police was directing traffic and the streets were jammed with cars looking for a parking spot.

The weather was in the high 60s. It was a perfect night to stroll down the sidewalk looking at the lights and collecting treats. I was amazed at how excited these families were to decorate their homes and share their festivities with people that came from all around town to see what is called Candy Cane Lane.

My husband and I feel quite relieved that we don't live on this street. We would feel too pressured to go all out in decorating the outside of our home. The neighbors would hate us. We are lucky if we get a few strings of lights out. We didn't this year, by the way. It's much better to take a nice drive to see other people's lights than to go through all that trouble ourselves.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I've finally taken the plunge and signed up for Facebook. Wasn't sure what it was even all about but it's been a ball! In just a few days I've gotten caught up with several cousins and even found a couple of my husband's old missionary companions. There are a few other people I'm really trying to find. No luck yet, but I'm going to keep searching.

The biggest problem I can see at this point is that it can be very time consuming, if you let it, especially if you give in to requests that begin with: "Hey sexy," Hmmm. Not sure how he got in my friends list. I think I confused him with someone else.

But guess what? I realized you can actually unfriend someone. Not that I want to unfriend anybody, but who is this guy? It was at that point I realized I hadn't checked the married box. It's checked now though and It's so good to see photos of cousins who live all over the country, the ones I haven't seen in ten years or more.

Well, keeping it short today. I've got an article I've got to get finished for a friend of ours. See you next Monday!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pay It Forward: A Giveaway

Come by my blog for a Pay It Forward Giveaway. If you want a chance to win a copy of my book and are willing to give something away on your blog, then come on over.

The Dork Diaries

(photo by

by Elodia Strain

In fourth grade it was my glasses. In fifth, the fact that I was taller than all the boys. In sixth it was that not all of my clothes were—let’s say it with a French accent—Esprit. And in tenth it was the car I drove to school: the family station wagon.

To what am I referring, you ask? The things that over the course of my youth made me feel un-cool, dorky, dweeby, nerdy— whatever you want to call it.

But that’s the great thing about growing up. There comes a time when all the things that used to make you feel dorky, just make you feel, well, you. And so today, by way of this blog, I’m proudly celebrating the top 20 reasons I’m a dork—and proud of it!

  1. I still remember every step to the Macarena.
  2. I love Wheel of Fortune and am a proud member of the Wheel Watchers Club.
  3. I sometimes go to movies that are aimed at people half my age. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, anyone?
  4. I cringe when my younger brother says “Hecka.”
  5. I used to say “Hecka” when I was his age.
  6. I still use zit cream.
  7. I want to wear high heels with jeans, but I’ve never gotten farther than my front door.
  8. I like doing my taxes.
  9. My husband and I have dozens of pet names that would probably make you want to throw up.
  10. I was Valedictorian of my high school class.
  11. I may or may not watch The Hills.
  12. I often bust moves when I’m running on the treadmill.
  13. I don’t know how to whistle. I just can’t figure it out.
  14. I watch Novelas on Univision.
  15. And I like them.
  16. I still have N*SYNC and Backstreet Boys music in my collection.
  17. And I listen to it.
  18. I know how to make balloon animals.
  19. I’m a little bit afraid of the MAC counter.
  20. I sometimes pretend I’m Rachael Ray when I’m cooking.

So all you blog readers, spill: What things would make it into your "Dork Diary"?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cherished Traditions

Tonight we went to downtown Ogden to see the lights. The Christmas Village is growing and is a whole lot bigger with more displays than when I was little. It was fun to see the whole thing through my 4-year-old's eyes. As we drove down the hill and all the lights came into view, he said, "I'm so glad we're going to Christmas Town!" He even got to ride the train around the block.

Then we went to my parents' house and had Norwegian pancakes and the annual viewing of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Well, by then it was a little late and we just saw the first part where Clark takes his family out to find the perfect Christmas tree. And it's just as well, because we'd have had to skip parts for the kids- you're better off watching the t.v. version if you have young-uns- but it was fun because it's a tradition, and as wacky as some traditions get through the years, they're still comfortable. They're still home.

We have a few holiday movies that are must-sees. A Christmas Story is number one on the list, despite the fact that my daughters aren't really fans. (Boggles the mind. How can you not like that movie?) My parents and husband and I enjoy It's a Wonderful Life, but my siblings and children hate that one, too. My dad has a tradition of stashing himself away in a vacant room on Christmas day and watching it by himself. My youngest sister found out he did that and was all kinds of distraught, thinking it was tragic that my poor dad watches that sad movie all alone on Christmas day. (Like he's in there sobbing into his bowl of popcorn, "Oh, no, George Bailey, no! You have so much to live for!") In reality, my dad is so glad to get away for some much-needed alone time that he's kicking his heels in unabashed glee.

My kids and I love Elf. That's already become a Christmas movie tradition for us, and I also like The Grinch, both animated and Jim Carrey. Then there are the old- time kids shows, like Rudolph, (which used to give me nightmares and make me throw up as a kid, what with the scary Abominable Snowman and all), Frosty the Snowman, and the 70s cartoon, Twas the Night Before Christmas. (There's a certain person of some significance in my stake who resembles Joshua Trundle, but I won't say who).

Such good stuff, and all the more fun because there are a few select weeks during the year when it's acceptable to watch them. Perhaps that's why I love them so much. They herald in the season for me, and they're a treat. Now all I need is a James Bond Christmas Special. Ah, then life would be complete. :-)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Getting Back on the Bike

By Marcia Mickelson

When I was twelve we lived in Victoria, TX, oddly just an hour or so from where I live now. When we lived there, I used to prowl the neighborhood on my bike with my sister and cousins. We moved from Victoria to New Jersey and left the bikes behind. We'd outgrown them. That was the last time I owned a bike. I never did get another bike in New Jersey. I think I lost interest or something.

I didn't get on a bike for several years. I rode my college roommate's bike once and screamed the whole time. I'd forgotten how to ride a bike. Okay, not really. I know you never forget how, but I just couldn't do it anymore. I haven't ridden a bike since, but I finally decided to give it another try. My parents bought this bike for $5 at a garage sale and I've slowly been riding it, trying to get accustomed to it again. I've gone for bike rides with my 8 year old. I love going with him. I let him lead and just follow. He hasn't taken it easy on me, though. I think he enjoys that he's so much better at something than I am. I'm looking into buying a trailer so I can pull my little one behind me and go on bike rides with him. I think he's getting tired of the jogging stroller anyway.

On Saturday, we took the bikes to the beach. I'm really enjoying my husband having a pick-up truck now even though I used to make fun of pick-ups a long time ago. Riding on the beach is so cool. I loved it. When my 6 year old finds something that he loves, he says, "I want to do that every day." That's when I said after our ride on the beach. "I want to do that every day!"

One of these days, I'll have the whole bike thing figured out. At least I haven't fallen yet, but I've come close.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Am I Crazy? Or is this a...?

I think I may be going crazy. I’ve been editing and Christmas shopping and absorbing the stress radiating off my pre-finals husband all week so maybe I’m just seeing things. But…what does this look like to you?

I mean today when I air-popped some organic popcorn and found this in the bowl, I was sure it looked like…Well if I tell you then it won’t be as fun. But maybe I’m just the only one who sees it.

Still, not too long ago fellow Ink Lady Tamra Norton saw Texas in her chili, like a message from the beyond saying that her penned-in-Texas book was about to take an amazing journey. So I’m thinking maybe this is my food message. Like the time my grandmother swore she saw the Virgin Mary in the masa in her tamale.

So tell me, what does this popcorn look like to you?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Maslow really knew his stuff

So I've been sick for two weeks and am finally feeling like I'm back among the living. Cyberspace has sped right along without me, and the inboxes are stuffed full.

But feeling under the weather has made me appreciate Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs all the more. Man, that guy was really on to something when he came up with his triangle. (Actually, he built on the work of Skinner and others before him, but anyway. The Hierarchy of Needs was his own creation).

So at the base of the triangle, you have your physical needs. In order to build upward and appreciate other facets of life, one first has to have those physical needs met. After the physical comes safety, then love, then self-esteem and finally self-actualization where we reach the pinnacle and find our full potential.

Mmm hmm.

Some of us are still on the lower levels, but hey, it's all part of the game, right?

So anyway, I was sick over Thanksgiving. THANKSGIVING. What a waste! So much fantastic food and I barely enjoyed it. I did force myself to eat more than one piece of pie because, really, it's pie, but the satisfaction level was dismally, depressingly low.

I also had all this time to get some writing done, work on the house, decorate like crazy--I envisioned myself singing the Happy Little Working Song a la Enchanted in a beautiful Cinderella dress. Instead, I was sick. Absolutely drained. Had time to write. Didn't care. Had time to decorate. Didn't care. Had delectable food to eat. Didn't care.

I was sunk below the bottom-most level of the hierarchy and couldn't enjoy the most basic levels of the pyramid because of it! When you don't feel good physically, it's hard to make yourself enjoy anything else. It makes me appreciate friends of mine who are currently seriously sick and undergoing procedures and treatments. Makes me appreciate my mom who's had a minor stroke and botched heart surgery, who's on so many meds she sometimes veers to the left while trying to walk in a straight line.

When I was in high school, my history teacher had a bunch of lame sayings on his wall. One of them was the old, "Health is a crown on the well person's head, but only the sick seem to see it." I'm ashamed to admit I thought of this lameness more than once while I was sick, and I vowed that once healthy, I would never again just take it as my due. Good health is a blessing, and now that I'm starting to feel it again, I'm so grateful for it.

Of course, I had preschool this morning which totally wiped me out. Which is why I figured the laundry and dishes can wait. I'd rather sit and blog. ;-)

Missed you all!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Website!

Okay, so here's the spill, our new website is up and functioning! You've got to check it out and send the word along to anyone you know who might be interested. It's a website my daughter dreamed up where you can buy, sell and trade formals and wedding dresses. It's entirely free to post ads and buy dresses. Contact between buyer and seller is via a secure form, and they arrange the sell of the dress. Anyway, it's pretty cool. We've even put together a little "commercial" for her new site. Watch it here and let me know what you think. Go right to her website if you'd rather

That's it for now. I just had to share the good news!