Monday, June 30, 2008

The Great Minivan Adventure, Day 2

My day started out pretty good, but the ending hasn't gone so well.

I got up early and did some writing, then drove the van to the dealer to get the AC fixed. July 4th road trips pretty much require chilled air, especially since it's a van and only two windows roll down. And believe it or not, the windows in this van actually roll down, with these antique little roller-looking things.

Anyway, I got the van dropped off, and then caught the little shuttle guy back to the house I'm staying at. They are in a bit of upheaval, having just returned from their trip to Dallas, but I hid myself in the office and worked. Also I got the van on the insurance and temporary transit permit without any trouble.

I was kind of hoping the repair would be done by lunch, but when it wasn't I just ate the snacks I had brought with me. I called once and was told they were still working on it.

The little shuttle guy quits a little before the service dept closes, so I called him to come and get me, figuring I could just stay and wait at the dealer until they finished.

Unfortunately, they didn't finish. This is where the day goes bad.

Even after the repair, the van climate system is blowing hot air. They will try again tomorrow, and hopefully be done before noon so I can get home and not have to stay an extra day here.

I really don't understand how this could happen. I actually packed enough stuff to stay an extra day - isn't that supposed to guarantee that I won't need to use it? (sigh)

The worst part of the delay is that I really want to get back in time for Anna's puppet show at Activity Days tomorrow night, but that will only happen if I can leave by 9:00, and even that would only work if I drove straight through without any bio breaks or anything.

All of this was on top of the little snacks I ate for lunch running out early. I just finished my footlong sandwich, and my blood sugar is slowly recovering. It's still not good enough for me to get up and take a picture of the van. You'll just have to accept this one for now, taken from my table here at Subway.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Greetings From Santa Fe

I drove to Santa Fe today - the first of four 10-hour driving days this week. Why? Let me tell you.

We are buying a van from some people Kara knows from the clinic. The car we have - specifically the leather - is a problem for her. She can ride in it, but still gets pretty sick if the drive is very long.

A lady Kara knows at the clinic is selling a minivan that Kara has ridden in and knows will work. She is selling the van for less than the blue book value on our car, so we decided to go ahead and get it.

Only the van is in Santa Fe. Fortunately, the lady and her daughter drove back home today, and I tagged along. Actually, I drove half the way, allowing them to make the trip in one day, which is great for them.

Tomorrow I'm going to take the van to have the AC replaced. Other than that, it's in really great shape. Also, I should be able to work from here just as easily as from home, so tomorrow won't count as a vacation day. Hooray!

I'll drive back home on Tuesday, work and pack Wednesday, and Thursday the whole family drives back to Santa Fe, where we will spend the 4th of July before finishing the drive to Utah on Saturday.

Then it's two weeks of work, work, work for me and play, play, play for everyone else. It should be fun.

Pictures to follow.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Back On Board with Angel Flight

Before we began our grand healing adventure here in Texas, Kara and I volunteered with a service organization called Angel Flight, which provides non-emergency medical transportation in private aircraft.

I was the Utah wing Webmaster for a while, and later served as the Utah Wing Leader. Kara came on board as Mission Coordinator, helping to pair patients with pilots. We also both had the chance to fly as Mission Assistants and help at airshows and other events. It was a lot of fun, and we both really enjoyed it.

For a quite a while, Kara was able to do her Mission Coordination work from here in Texas, but eventually she became too sick and had to quit. Once the rest of us moved, I had to step down as Wing Leader. Dropping out of Angel Flight was one of the hardest parts of this whole move.

With Kara feeling so much better, we have decided to jump back into the group. Beginning the end of July, we will be working together as Mission Coordinators for the Utah Wing. We are both very excited to be working with our friends again in this great organization.

Angel Flight has been a big blessing to us in our lives, giving us both an opportunity to serve and providing service to us. As Kara's health deteriorated, she was flown by Angel Flight between Salt Lake and Dallas several times. The pilots all volunteered their time and the entire cost of the flights.

We are both very excited to be in a position to give back, if only just a little of our time.

If any of my faithful Utah readers are interested in helping out with Angel Flight, the wing is in need of volunteers for a number of non-pilot positions - especially in community and hospital outreach, and event planning. (I'm sure the wings in other states could use some helpers, too.)

The organization has been around for more than 25 years, yet many people who could benefit from the service the pilots provide still don't know about it. To paraphrase one of the leaders, "It's amazing how hard it is to give away a free service like this."

You can learn more about Angel Flight here. The Utah Wing's web site is here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Marriage Comes Of Age

Today Kara and I mark eighteen years of weddedness. To celebrate, we're going to go grocery shopping. In our circumstances, any trip without the girls counts as a date.

We actually took the girls to a friends yesterday afternoon, then made some Anniversary Cookies out of buckwheat, maple syrup, and peanut butter. They're the first cookies Kara's been able to eat in years, and she loves them.

Afterwards we watched a video, then went to bed early.

This morning, we should have slept in, since Alyssa the Early Bird was not around. But instead, we got up, loaded the bikes in the truck, and drove to Granbury. The Moments-In-Time Hike and Bike Trail starts at the county library and ends at the municipal airport. What's not to love?

It was a beautiful day for a ride. The trail is short and easy, although I will likely be walking bow-legged for the rest of the day.

We get the girls back at 4:00 today, which means after grocery shopping we should have time for another video.

For Family Home Evening, we'll sit the girls down with ice cream and cookies and make them watch our wedding video. It gets funnier and funnier every year.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Harsh Reality

I was very excited to learn that my youngest sister Noreen has a blog now. That excitement was tempered when she tagged me with this Keeping It Real tag.

Doesn't she know Reality and Delusion don't mix well?

The rules are NO CLEANING/CHEATING. What you are about to see is real. Real enough, anyway.

#1 The Fridge - and as a bonus, the freezer. See if you can find the frozen yak.

#2 The Kitchen Sink - Kara had a little lamb, and left the pan in the sink.

#3 The Toilet - For some reason, I couldn't get the flash to work on this one.

#4 My Bed - I just finished using this for a Saturday snooze. Notice the bedroll behind the bed, where the girls sleep over some nights.

#5 The Closet

#6 Self Portrait

#7 Favorite Shoes - if it weren't for church and a fear of losing toes to the lawn more, I would wear these all of the time.

#8 What My Kids Are Doing Right Now - Anna is writing a puppet show for Activity Days...

while Alyssa is watching a Dora tape. Don't worry, Kara - Dora puts me to sleep, too.#9 A Place Where I Would Like to Go On Vacation - There are a lot of places I would like to go, but for a family vacation I would love to go to Sea World. Maybe next year - San Antonio is only 4 hours by car.
I tag Liz, Nicole, and Autumn. And Autumn - only one pair of shoes, please.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lyme Treatment Follow-up

Kara and I went to our Lyme doctor today. He's a well known specialist, but I don't think he's the key Lyme doctor.

Sorry. The antibiotics made me do it.

The visit went well. I'm finally getting a handle on this guy. He is eccentric multiplied by odd. If a novelist made him up, nobody would accept him as a believable character. But he does seem to know his stuff.

I have been gradually feeling more and more fatigued and mentally foggy as my treatment has progressed. He warned me this would happen, and today he gave me some things to try to combat this. We'll see how it works.

The girls went over to a friends house while we were at the doctor, so they were out of our hair until after Activity Days ended at 8:00. It was nice to have some quality time together. Even if it did involve de-boning five game hens and exchanging a bra at the store.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fireflies and Father's Day

Last night I stood looking out the front window, and saw a quick flash of yellow light across the street. I yelled for the family to come "quickly, quickly, quickly!" They did, and we were privileged to watch several fireflies dance around the house across the street. I suspect the neighbors wondered why we were staring at their house.

We've been in Texas nearly two years now, and that was our first firefly sighting. They seemed to be much more common when Kara and I lived in Austin. Since lightening bugs prefer humidity, the girls never saw them in Utah. Maybe we'll see some again tonight, and possibly even catch one.

That would be a good end to a great Father's Day. My day started with breakfast pizza, and I was given a couple of hand-made felt ties decorated with sticky foam shapes made last week in Primary. I wore both of them to church, as did most dads. I think it was some kind of inhibitions test. It's telling that the Primary President's youngest child just graduated from high school, so her husband wore a normal, "boring" tie today.

Anna set up a series of six additional gifts for me and all of my fatherly roles - Chapstick for all of the kisses I give; Multi-colored pens for the writer in me; Band-Aids for being the family medic; a cheese grater for the family chef; orange malt balls for the kid in me; and a couple of shirts for the "cool guy".

I also got an Alyssa snuggle nap (always a precious treat) and I played ukulele for about an hour.

Of course the highlight of the day was calling my own father and wishing him a Happy Father's Day.

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Spectacles and Festivities

Alyssa's glasses came in yesterday around lunch time. I would have posted a picture last night, but it took me until now to get her hair combed.

Today Anna had the first of her summer game parties. She decided to have just three other kids come over and play Wii games. It was a great success.

As an added bonus, we got a ton of work out of the kid cleaning up the house for the event. What a bargain!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Great Guavalicious Giveaway Winners

And the winners are:
Howard H, Candace E. Salima, berlinwritergirl, and stephanie humphreys.

To claim your prize, 1) send an email to dcarey68 (at) prism (dot) net telling me where you want the Guavalicious sent and 2) include in your email wording that lets me know you understand this is a gift which was made in my home kitchen without the blessing of the Health Department.

Thanks to everyone who played. Watch for these ideas in my novel, hopefully coming to bookstores before the 2012 Presidential Elections.

p.s. For ababe28 - Haole is the Hawaiian word for foreigner, but today generally means "white person."

Heaven Scent - Review and Author Interview

I am honored to host a stop on Rebecca Talley's Heaven Scent Blog Tour.

Heaven Scent is the story of Liza Compton, a high school basketball star who deals with disappointment and tragedy when her father confuses his priorities and begins seriously neglecting his family.

Kara and I both thoroughly enjoyed reading this book together. The story starts off with an exciting and effective beginning - so effective that I was inspired to spend days reworking the beginning of my story. The characters are likable and realistic, and the story is compelling and believable.

Heaven Scent was written for the Young Adult market, and the cover is decidedly feminine, but the story will definitely appeal to male and female readers of nearly every age.

I had the privilege of asking Rebecca some questions, and her answers are below.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

Ever since I was a kid, I've wanted to write. I started with "The Velt Book," a book made from felt (I do know how to spell it now), and then started a book in 6th grade that was similar to "Encyclopedia Brown." I loved my high school creative writing class and loved my English classes at BYU. I've written poems, short stories, picture books, chapter books, and non-fiction articles. I guess I've just always wanted to be a writer.

Before "Heaven Scent" you published a children's book, "Grasshopper Pie." Tell us about that.

"Grasshopper Pie" is a children's picture book (illustrated by my daughter and published by WindRiver 2003) that's based on an experience when my children tried to feed me a live grasshopper. It's a humorous story that was a lot of fun to write. I do school presentations on "Grasshopper Pie" and I love the kids' reactions when I get to the end when the mom in the story ends up with a grasshopper in her mouth. I really enjoy the school presentations.

"Heaven Scent" is your first published novel. Was this your first attempt at a novel, or do you have manuscripts hidden under the bed that you will never let see the light of day?

"Heaven Scent" is my first attempt at a novel. I worked on it for many years, on and off, in between pregnancies, nursing newborns, toddlers, kids, teenagers, and caring for my ailing grandparents (who raised me). I wondered at times if I'd ever finish it.

Were there events in your life that influenced or inspired you when writing "Heaven Scent"?

My mother wore a distinctive perfume. She passed away when I was a young girl and since that time, especially during trials in my life, I've been able to smell her perfume. Sometimes, she's felt so close, I could almost reach out and touch her. Smelling her perfume brings me great comfort.

Liza's mother wears a perfume that plays a pivotal role in the story. With the help of Karlene Browning at Urban Botanics, you have designed a fragrance that ties in to the book. Tell us how this came about.

I "met" Karlene a long time ago online and knew she designed fragrances. I contacted her to see how we could design one to go along with my book. She had me take a personality quiz as my main character's mom. She then sent me some samples based on that quiz and my family all voted on the one they thought would be what Liza's mother would wear. Karlene produced the perfume and sent it to me. She'll be giving away a bottle on her blog during the blog tour. It was fun designing it and it's exactly what I had in mind while writing the story.

Your life includes raising a large family on a small ranch. How does this setting influence your writing?

Since I grew up in a city in Califronia and now live in the country, I think I see things differently than I used to. I also like to explore how city life is different from country life and include that in my writing. I love the peace and quiet of country life.

What strategies do you use to make time for writing?

I usually schedule it in my daytimer so then I feel more committed to accomplishing some writing each day. I try to squeeze it in whenever I can and when I can't, I try not to be too hard on myself.

What should readers expect to see from you in the future, both near and long-term?

I'm currently working on revising an LDS romance with a city girl and country boy. It's been a fun story to write. I have another LDS women's novel about raising a large family also in the works. I'm shopping a children's chapter book around and am blogging quite a bit. I have ideas for more LDS YA novels and a middle grade novel for the national market. We'll see how that all goes.

What advise would you give to other writers and would-be authors?

Keep writing and never give up on your dream. Hone your craft, network with other writers, join writing and critique groups, and read as many books in your genre as you can. Most of all, write the story that's in your heart.

Thank you, Rebecca.

Thanks so much, Don, for hosting my book on your blog!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Summer Vacation Update

Although we're less than a week into summer break, things seem to be working out OK. The revised family schedule, where everyone keeps the school year bedtime but sleeps an hour later, seems to be working. I am feeling pretty good at the moment, with more energy than I've had in several months. And the girls are going to sleep at night without any trouble yet.

Anna is grudgingly accepting the additional chores we have been giving her. This morning I taught her how to make strawberry banana smoothies, as one of her new jobs is to make breakfast for herself and Alyssa. She's still afraid of the stove, but I have pancakes and waffles she can reheat in the toaster oven, and she has always made a mean bowl of corn flakes.

We had a very productive weekend, cracking the whip over the girls heads and getting them to help with only a high degree of complaining ("high" being an improvement over "severe").

Anna has an acting camp at the high school this week, and we're going to try a game party this Thursday. That always helps her get in the cleaning mood.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Summer Book Trek

OK. Peer pressure finally got the best of me. I've seen this Summer Book Trek thing on a lot of the blogs I follow, and so I decided to go ahead and make my list. So, here it is, in alphabetical order by title:

Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys by Janet Kay Jensen
Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage
Heaven Scent by Rebecca Cornish Talley
Seasons of Sacrifice by Tristi Pinkston
Star Shining Brightly by Marcia Mickelson
Strength to Endure by Tristi Pinkston

There will be others, but these are the ones I know for sure.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Mixed Bag Start to Summer

My grand plans to sleep in an extra hour this morning were thwarted by Kara's doctor visits in Dallas. Although my alarm was set for 6:30, hers was set for 5:30 and once awake, I was up.

Shortly after she left, she called to ask where the oxygen tank wrench was. She uses oxygen when driving, and last night I switched her tank to the one from the new provider. The old tank wrench should have still been in the truck, but she couldn't find it.

So I grabbed the new tank wrench and piled the girls in the car, ready to meet her half way so she could still make her appointment on time. Fortunately the call letting us know Kara had found the wrench came just as I started the car. We ended the fire drill with little spent gas and nothing broken except for Anna's attitude, which is extremely fragile in the morning.

Yesterday's end-of-school party went pretty well. It was extremely tame, but since it involved pizza, ice cream, and games, it counts. While I was at the eye doctor with Alyssa, Anna and Kara made fish from poster board, and we played a fishing game. There was also Uno Attack and Raving Rabbids.

Alyssa's eye doctor visit went well, but long. She will be joining the glasses club, and also gets to wear these cool patches two hours a day to help her right eye get stronger and not wander so much when she's tired. I'll post pics with the specs when they are in.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What Time Is It? Summertime!

Today is the last day of school here in the Aledo ISD, and I can finally use this picture I shamelessly stole from Danyelle weeks ago.

Seeing as how it's a half day today and I didn't have to pack lunches, I indulged myself with a second snooze. Alyssa was very concerned that her "man-man" thermos was not out, and it took a bit of explaining to convince her that she would be home in time for lunch.

I wish we had an exciting summer planned out like Autumn (leave it to someone named Autumn to plan an entire season) but we do have a few good ideas. I think Kara is excited about being home and well enough to enjoy the kids.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Guavalicious Contest Rules

As many of you know, I grew up in Hawaii, in the quaint little village of Laie.

Many of you also know that I have been working away at my version of the Great American Novel for the last little while. Due to a bout of homesickness brought on by a cruel Utah winter, my story is set in (surprise) Laie.

It was also in Laie that I learned to love the great taste of guava - the same taste I am about to share with a few lucky people in the form of my Guavalicious apple butter.

To enter the contest, simply add a comment to this post that completes the following sentence: "A story set in Hawaii simply has to include _____."

There are no right or wrong answers. I'm just curious to see what everyone has to say, both "insiders and outsiders". I also think it could be fun to try and use as many of these suggestions as possible. You can make as many as you want, but your name only goes in the hat once.

I will add a jar of Guavalicious to the prize pool for every four entries received before 8:00 pm Central Daylight Time on Tuesday, June 10th. I will then have my daughters draw names at random, and post the winners on June 11th.

In the event that less than four people enter, my fragile ego will be crushed and I will take a spoon and eat the prize myself.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Mmmm... Guavalicious

After hours and hours of continuous stirring, the Guavalicious is done. I deem the interest shown sufficient to hold a contest, so watch this space!

Contest rules will be posted tomorrow.

You could be a winner!