Just because.

I love general conference. Sigh.uchtdorf-doubt

Book reviews: A regency romance and a middle-grade series

When Deseret Book contacted me about reviewing Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson and Books 2 and 3 of the Janitors series by Tyler Whitesides, there was some excitement at our house. I loved Donaldson’s first book Edenbrooke, and my sons Grant and Clark had already read Janitors book 1 and liked it. So we all agreed to read the books and collaborate on the reviews.

I’ll go first.

Blackmoore, by Julianne Donaldson


This is the story of Kate Worthington and Henry Delafield. She’s determined to not marry and travel the world, but her friendship with Henry has some unfinished business, and seems to be meddled with on all sides. She takes advantage of a long-awaited opportunity to spend the summer with Henry’s family at Blackmoore, their vacation home since childhood. It’s just as magical and mysterious as she always dreamed, but she’ll have to face both her feelings and her fears before she can truly figure out her future.

I liked this story, but found it much more predictable and regency-cliché than Edenbrooke. There were story elements reminiscent of Wuthering Heights, Emma, and even Jane Eyre–with some gothic undertones and a flawed, sometimes misinformed main character. I occasionally lost patience with Kate, and were she my friend in real life, I would think she cries too much, but I still cared enough about her and liked the story enough to be interested in how everything resolved itself in the end. It was an entertaining read, and can be easily recommended as a clean, “proper romance.”

Janitors series by Tyler Whitesides

Janitors 2: Secrets of New Forest Academy

review by Grant, age 10


The Elementary school Spencer and Daisy go to is no longer safe for them! It’s crawling with toxites (little monsters that breathe in student brain waves and breathe out drowsiness, distraction, and confusion)! The Bureau of Educational Maintenance is taking over the school and Spencer and Daisy must leave. There is only one place to go. New Forest Academy. Walter Jamison says a man named Robert Monroe is there. He’s a janitor. They must go to that school. It’s the only place that’s safe. They go to New Forest Academy, and but it has some of its own problems. Spencer and Daisy must work on staying alive more than passing tests!

Janitors: Secrets of New Forest Academy is full of danger, toxites, weapons, clues, glop, mystery, adventure, action, dumpsters, and glopified toilet plungers! The book has no swear words. I hope you enjoy the book!

Janitors 3: Curse of the Broomstaff

review by Clark, age 9


When my mom first told me we were getting a free copy of janitors 3, I was really excited. Not just because I like the series, mostly because my, ok let me get this right, my friend’s sister has a friend whose uncle is Tyler Whitesides. For those of you who are reading this, you have probably already read Janitors, and Secrets Of New Forest Academy (Janitors book 1 and 2). In Curse of the Broomstaff, Spencer, Daisy and their rebel friends, Walter, Penny, Alan, and Bernard must destroy all Glop, before it destroys education. It leads them to the Aurans, guardians of the source of the magical Glop. As it turns out, Spencer discovers his true powers as an Auran, and finally discovers how to get Marv out of the Vortex.

In my opinion, this book is for kids ages 8 – 12 (grades 3 – 6).  I liked this book because it’s creative, original, and magical. This is the best book in the Janitors series, but I’m sure book 4 will be better.

And there you have it, straight from the readers’ mouths.


blackmoore janitors 3

Pretty Darn Funny (with a giveaway)

Those of you who have weathered the years of Diapers and Divinity may remember that last year I won a video contest that was part of a release party for a new web series called “Pretty Darn Funny.” I told a humorous story about my son Clark and won a CRUISE (it was so fun!!). So now I’m indebted to this web series for the rest of my life. When I got word that they were about to release season 2, I knew I wanted to support them and share the news.

Screen Shot 2013-08-18 at 10.46.54 PM

Basically PDF (that’s a very clever acronym for “Pretty Darn Funny,” not to be confused with a digital document) is a bunch of cute, clever episodes about the adventures of an (almost) all female comedy troupe that’s trying to fill a void in the genre of clean comedy. The thing is, their routines really aren’t that funny, but they are. Their mishaps, and lack of fame, and just down-to-earth, hilarious day-to-day lives are all just fun. It makes for some great entertainment.  Anyway, I think you need to know that TODAY IS THE DEBUT OF SEASON TWO, and there will be a new episode released every week for …. I actually don’t know, but I think it’s about six weeks.

Go find it all here:

Website: http://prettydarnfunny.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/prettydarnfunny

Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/pdfunny/

I even got to meet the lead actress (“Gracie,” played by Lisa Clark) and she is really just the kind of person you wish you could hang out with all the time. And the producer of the series is the husband of my talented friend Jana, so basically I want you to enjoy this show and appreciate it. (I think you would even if I didn’t like all those people in real life.)

Anyway, Deseret Book is going to offer a prize I can give you as a giveaway associated with the launch of season 2. I have no idea what it is yet, so we’ll just call it a SURPRISE. Get up to three entries by:

Here’s a fun teaser to get you in the mood.  It’s a parody of Footloose… but “mom style.” Pretty darn funny, indeed.

If you like what you see, either the parody or the new episode, help them get the word out by sharing and liking and all that other social media jazz, and then come leave a comment so you can get your entries in the mystery drawing. Winner will be announced Wednesday-ish. Probably. 🙂

(And if you’re going to Education Week at BYU this week, I’m teaching Tues.-Thurs. at 4:30. Come say hi. And pray for me.)


Reflections on an amusement park


I spent 11 hours yesterday at the amusement park with my son Clark. He got some money for his birthday, plus saved up some of his allowance and decided he wanted to spend a day at Lagoon. Since he’s too young to go unsupervised, and we already established that it’s too expensive to take the whole family, he invited me to come and he paid my way.

Here are a few observations from a day of rides, walking, and people watching:

1. Unfortunately, I did not get the memo that all females over the age of 13 were supposed to wear tank tops and denim booty shorts.

2. I assumed that if I’ve always loved roller coasters ever since I was young, that would not change now that I’m getting older. I was wrong. I seriously think that a ride called The Spider gave me a mild concussion.

3. I’m not sure if there’s any kind of graduation or licensing program for tattoo artists, but there should be.

4. Young love is SO, SO awkward. Clark said, “There sure are a lot of people here on a date.” I’d venture that about 1.5% of them are destined for long-term happiness.

5. Why would a grown woman with substantial girth wear black stretch pants and a HelloKitty plush backpack? Why?

6. I couldn’t believe how many people were there with babies in strollers. It exhausted me just watching them chase and care for their young, little families. I know I tried to pull it off too, but now that I’m old and tired, I wonder why I forced myself to endure stuff like that.  My little kids would have been just as content to play a few board games at home with me, and I might actually have some money left in my savings account now.

7. Most people had way too little clothes on, but once in a while someone wandered past in jeans and a sweatshirt. It was about 93 degrees. I almost got heat stroke just watching them walk by.

8. No matter how vigilant I am about sunscreen, I never remember to consider where my hair parts on my scalp. I suspect I will have fake dandruff for a week or two.

9. Clark is a pretty fun kid.

10. Because I let him take the lead on what he wanted to do, and because he’s not a controlling order freak (like I’m learning that I am in some ways), we probably traversed the whole park a dozen times. I can’t even guess the miles we walked. I took an Aleve last night when I went to bed and only woke up with leg cramps once.

Despite my cynical comments and my utter exhaustion by the end of the day, it was great to spend a full day with my sweet 9-year-old son. It was also great to be completely unplugged from the rest of the world (I even forgot my phone) and just live in the moment. But I may not need to visit an amusement park again for a couple years.

Random photos as a substitute for real blogging


You may or may not have noticed that my summer blogging has been abysmal.

This is, of course, a reflection of a very exciting and covet-worthy life of adventure. Or not. It’s possible that it’s also a reflection of a frazzled mother who is playing three months of cruise director (sans cruise ship) while simultaneously over-committing herself in the category of on-the-side-personal-projects. Go ahead and guess which scenario is more true.

The little word cloud above sums up the summer quite nicely, but here are a few pictures to make you feel like you’re here.

splash pad zoo trail mix TG point farm flowers temple tuesdays 2013-06-29_23-10-00_714 2013-06-04_16-37-30_232 2013-06-19_15-18-41_206 2013-06-21_08-53-08_666 2013-07-12_08-49-18_957 2013-07-21_19-21-26_746 2013-07-22_13-33-20_870 2013-07-23_12-20-53_866Education Week

So there you have it.  (I’ll post later about some of the books the kids and I have been reading.)

Keep in mind that I neither took nor posted pictures of these less desirable summer activities: children fighting, laundry piled to ceiling, lame dinners because it’s too hot to cook, me in a swimsuit, what the car looks like at the end of a road trip, and the bottomless pile of papers on my desk that I keep thinking I will get to soon.

How’s your summer going?

Women’s Conference Weekly: The greatest champion of womanhood

[Hey, I stayed up way too late last night and gave my blog a facelift. I’ve never done pink before, but I’m hoping this is subtle enough. Feel free to look around the new digs.]

Imacon Color Scanner

Here are some notes from the class I attended  at BYU Women’s Conference called “The World’s Greatest Champion of Woman and Womanhood is Jesus the Christ” by Cheryl Savage and Ann Marie Toone. Please forgive that I am not the most excellent note-taker in the world, but I tried to capture some points and thoughts and quotes that stood out to me as I listened, and hopefully you’ll find them enlightening as well.

From Cheryl Savage:

She opened up by describing her large, young, busy family, and then said, “This is my stage and my season. I am a warrior.”

She used one of my favorite President Packer quotes:

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.”

Womanhood comes with its own set of messy mortality.

Satan has done his best to destroy women, but Jesus Christ is stronger than Satan.

Don’t measure your worth or your day by society’s standard.

Elder Craig C. Cardon:

“After we do all we can do, His compassion and grace are the means whereby “in process of time” we overcome the world through the enabling power of the Atonement. As we humbly seek this precious gift, “weak things become strong unto [us],” and by His strength, we are made able to do that which we could never do alone.”

Remember the big picture. Allow the Savior to help you. Find your joy and never forget it.

Cheryl posted up the complete transcript of her talk on her own blog, so go check it out in all its glory. I’m sure you’ll feel uplifted. (Oh, and she quoted my book a few times, which was so nice of her, but I still feel a little sheepish about it.)

From Anne Marie Toone:

Jesus Christ demonstrated deep familiarity with women’s lives. He appreciated them and ennobled them.

  1. Each woman is a beloved daughter of Heavenly Parents.
  2. There is a plan.
  3. The Holy Ghost will help us know our role.

The Lord accepts our righteous offerings. He needs His daughters to receive, accept and fulfill their role.

He created men to need women, and He created women to need men.

He gives righteous women more lasting influence than women of the world. (I love that. I believe it so much. This is our great power.)

Women are expected to lead and counsel together with men.

Heavenly Father expects his daughters to use their influence to change the world.

She referred to Luke 10 to show that the story of Mary and Martha demonstrates that women could also participate spiritually in Jesus Christ’s work.

Christ was the greatest champion for us in the preexistence.

Question to consider:

If the Savior is my greatest champion, am I His?

These were both great talks. I could feel the spirit and the cheerleading of my Heavenly Father. He wants us to know how loved and needed and powerful we are. I know women and their work is valued and honored in His plan.

How do you know personally that Jesus Christ is a champion of you?

[Go here to see some of the women’s conference transcripts that are available as well as information about rebroadcasting on BYUTV.]

Women’s Conference Weekly: Set your DVR!


As promised, I will be sharing more of my notes from the BYU Women’s Conference over the next several weeks, but I wanted to make sure that you all know that many of the talks will be rebroadcast on KBYU and BYUTV this coming week. You won’t want to miss these talks. The ones I heard in person were wonderful, and I’m excited to see those I missed while attending other workshops.  Click on the link below to check the schedule, and move quickly to get them recorded:


(As far as I can tell, both of those channels’ websites give you the option of watching live online, so you’re not out of luck if you don’t have satellite TV.)

Coming next week on Women’s Conference Weekly: Notes and thoughts from “The World’s Greatest Champion of Woman and Womanhood is Jesus the Christ” by Cheryl Savage and Ann Marie Toone