Monday, March 31, 2014

What are you reading? Watching? Editing? Writing? Listening To?

So glad you asked!

Right now I'm rereading The Selection. And it's even better the second time around! Seriously, who knew a dystopian fantasy version of The Bachelor could be so, so good?

I can't wait for the third one to come out next month! I totally recommend this book. Although I will say there's a sprinkling of language here and there. Nothing awful. Just a couple words I wouldn't personally read out loud.


Currently watching New Girl, which I definitely cannot recommend because of what my dad calls schmankiness.

But I can tell you that I was super jazzed to see Lindsay from Freaks and Geeks back on my TV screen! 

Linda Cardellini isn't always my favorite. I was kind of so-so about her on ER, but I liked Lindsay. And Jess's sister Abby is basically a grown-up version of Lindsay. Things like that just make me happy. 

And now I'm going to pretend that Sweets was Bones's long-lost little brother this whole time. Because Abby and Jess are sisters and Zooey and Emily are sisters and so Bones and Sweets... just makes sense. It's like those SAT questions with the colons and double colons.


Anyway, I'm more excited about what I'm editing! Because my friend Christy asked me to edit her book! And it's super exciting! I don't have a picture for this one, but it's going to be great! I would tell you about it, but it's her book. So instead I'll tell you about what I am writing.


I am writing a modern high school epistolary version of Jane Austen's novels. It's so much fun! Here's a cover blurb I wrote just in case it's ever finished and I submit it and it gets published. (Sometimes I like to be prepared.) 

Lizzie's family is big and crazy. Nila's best friend just moved to England. Fiona's good at school and nothing else. Alice and Vivian are two sisters who couldn't be more opposite. And Catherine reads vampire novels. What do these six girls have in common? Not much.

But they do all attend Kellynch High School where their English teacher, Ms. Elliot has just given them a year-long journaling assignment to write down everything that happens to them, from beach trips to boys to picking out ball gowns.

Quirky and cute, this is Jane Austen with a modern makeover. A laugh-out-loud read that will reunite Austen's fans with their favorite heroines and send the younger set straight to the originals to find out what happens next!

Of course, this could all still change. That's the beauty of drafting. And yeah, I know it's a little weird to write a cover blurb for your own book. It's like writing about how cool you are in a resume or a cover letter. Just feels icky. But as a writer, I never know if I'll actually finish a project until I start to write about it instead of just writing it. Once I do that, it becomes real to me. And this one is really happening, guys. I wouldn't have told you about it if it wasn't.


Lastly, here's what I'm listening to. Don't know why. It's just the song of the week.

Also this one...

And with that, I guess my only other news is that I broke up with my boyfriend. Or he broke up with me. It was mutual. But we're both super happy to have dated and also super happy that it's over. Isn't life weird like that?

Monday, March 24, 2014

What is hand, foot, and mouth disease?

I soooooooo wish I did not know how to answer this question. If only I were as ignorant about this as I was just a week ago. If only... If only... Que lastima! and if only...

Okay, okay, I'll stop moaning.

According to the CDC's website:
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children younger than 5 years old. However, it can sometimes occur in adults. Symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease include fever, blister-like sores in the mouth (herpangina), and a skin rash.



And mouth:

It is also known as the bane of my existence.

Maybe it's time for a story...

Once upon a time in the blissful life of yore (last Tuesday), I took Miles and Caleb to the park. It was just another morning in paradise. The sun was shining. The trees were blooming. All was well. Except Miles wasn't acting like himself. Normally an active, adventurous kid, he was hanging back, just wanting me to hold him and rest. But I didn't think much of it.

When we got home, I told his mom about it, and she took his temperature. He had a slight fever but nothing to worry about.

The next day, he had a little bit of a rash on his legs and around his mouth, so we made an appointment with the doctor, still thinking she would tell us it was nothing. And then came the phone call from the mom who'd had a play date at their house the Friday before. She said her son had hand, foot, and mouth. 

We had to look it up. It's not good, folks.

That definition from the CDC doesn't mention how contagious it is. Or how hard it is to keep a two-year-old from touching a three-year-old when they're brothers and best friends. Or what to do when there's also a not-even-three-month old baby in the house. Or how painfully Purell stings when you put it on for the fifteenth time in two hours!!!

And there's definitely nothing on the CDC website that tells you what it's like not to be able to nanny the other kids you love to see every week because you are now a potential carrier, even though you don't have any symptoms. I miss my kids.

So anyway, the only viable solution to keep the baby from getting sick is for Mom and Baby Kate to stay quarantined in the master bedroom while Dad or I watch the boys. And we also do lots and lots of hand-washing and disinfecting and all that. It was working fine, and we thought we were in the clear until Friday night when Caleb came down with a fever. Now he's got it too, albeit a milder case.

But still... Sigh.

Just one more week. We can do this. Assuming the virus doesn't mutate and nothing else comes up, we're all clear next Monday. In the meantime, I'll be the one over here in the corner, wearing a sign that says, "unclean" and avoiding all human contact.

Well... not quite all. By the time we found out the official diagnosis, I'd already exposed The Boyfriend to it. I told him maybe he shouldn't come near me for a week or two, but he decided to take his chances. :)

So instead we went to San Francisco on Saturday and walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. Good times.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

If you're from Africa, why are you white?

Okay, this is not a valid question because I'm not from Africa. But I do get asked this question a lot: "If you're a Mormon, why are you normal?" And the tone people use strikes me as eerily similar to Karen from Mean Girls.

Actually, I should clarify. I don't think anyone has ever asked me that question out loud. At least not with those words. Usually the question comes implicitly when, after months of thinking I'm just as normal as they are, people find out I go to that weird cultish church that endorses polygamy, opposes gay marriage, and gets made fun of on Broadway.

And so the question I get is more like, You're a Mormon? Really?

Yes, world. Yes, I am. I go to church. I go to the temple. I'm all in.

I think all religious people get this question from time to time or some sort of variation on it, whether it's asked out loud or implied in our coworkers' faces. People wonder how we could believe in something beyond reality, and especially how in a culture that celebrates free thinking and individual achievement, we could get suckered into the mind-numbing traditions of our unenlightened forefathers.

That's why I wanted to address this. I want to make it very clear that nobody suckered me into anything. Yes, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Yes, I was brought up in the church and have never strayed very far from it. But I'm not some poor, blind soul who has never had a thought of her own. I totally believe it's possible to be an intelligent rational human who has explored lots of options and chosen a faith and all the traditions that come with it.

In fact, something I love about my church is that we are encouraged to think for ourselves. One of the first lectures I attended at BYU was a physical science general ed class. To begin the course, we talked about the scientific method and the difference between laws and theories. Here's a picture of my favorite building on BYU's campus:

Anyway, we also talked about different ways of knowing if something is true. We can know something through our senses, like knowing that it's cold outside, that chocolate tastes good, and that the sun rises every morning because we see it happen. We can also know something with our minds through logic and reason, like mathematical and scientific principles. When we can't personally experience a phenomenon with our senses, we can experiment and hypothesize to try to prove its validity. I personally find a lot of religious ideas to be quite logical, but I recognize that many people don't. Regardless of our natural propensity to accept religion, God invites us all to experiment upon His word (Alma 32:27). Jesus tells us repeatedly to ask, seek, and knock. He also tells us that we'll know if something is good by seeing the metaphorical fruits that come from it. Sounds a lot like the scientific method to me.

This is actually a sunset, not a sunrise, but you get my point.

This brings us to another way of knowing something is true. I believe we can know things with our spirits or our souls that our minds and bodies cannot yet comprehend. The process of coming to know something spiritually is unique because God requires us to have faith and trust in Him first, before He will confirm our feelings. But He does confirm them. Sometimes it takes longer than we would like or expect, but it happens. 

That's how I can say that I know Jesus Christ was the Son of God, that He lived a perfect life, that He sacrificed Himself to make up the difference for my shortcomings, and that if I do my best to follow His example, I will someday be able to live with Him and with my family forever.

I don't know this because I was there with Him in Jerusalem. I didn't watch Him heal lepers or feed thousands of people. I don't know it because I've reasoned it all out in my head. I'm not sure I could do that, even if I tried. There are parts of His life that can't make sense if we limit ourselves to current science. But I do know He is my Savior. I know it because I have studied it out in my mind and I have tried my best to follow His teachings, and little by little I have felt something in my soul, telling me it's true. 

Spiritual knowledge rarely comes all at once. Sometimes it takes a lifetime of patience and persistence, obedience and faith. But it comes, and with it comes so much more--the peace of knowing your life has a purpose, the assurance that God loves you and cares about the details of your life, and the resolution to live up to your potential, to what He sees in you.

I could go on about this subject for a very long time, but it's kind of something you have to experience for yourself. So please do. If you've had faith in the past and faltered, try it again. If this is all totally new to you, experiment. And if you are already on the path of discipleship, keep pressing forward. It's worth it. Your happiness in this life and after you die, is worth everything to God. It's pretty much all He cares about. In my church, we have a scripture that reads, "For behold this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). He created the universe and came up with an amazing plan for you, just to help you become as happy as He is. It's awesome. And I mean that in the sense that it actually fills me with awe.

So, yes, I believe. And yes, I worship with others who believe as I do.

I also live a normal life. I do my best to respect others and I don't often have the opportunity to talk about my religion in an everyday context, so it may not be obvious to people when we first meet. But just because I know things with my soul and choose to live up to what I know, doesn't mean I'm part of a cult. It just means I have faith.

I hope that clears up a few things. If you still have questions, please ask. Ask me or ask any of the other millions of normal Mormons out there. We like to talk about ourselves. (Who doesn't?) And we'll answer honestly and tell you what we know with our spirits if not with our senses.

Oh, and all those polygamy/gay marriage/Broadway musical questions? We'll answer those too. Honestly, at this point, we're used to them. And we'd much rather you ask us than the people making fun of us. That's only fair, right?

Sorry if this is too defensive, too preachy, or too boring for the blog. I just wanted to put it out there because it's a big part of what makes me who I am. Plus it's almost Easter. Seemed like an appropriate time to share my testimony of Christ.

Speaking of which, here's something else that's been on my mind lately: Easter seriously has the best candy of all the holidays. I mean honestly, jelly beans, peeps, and mini Cadbury eggs? There is no touching that trifecta. I dare you to disagree. :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How old are the kids you nanny?

Well, to give you the short answer, they're 2 months, 2 years, 2 years, 3 years, 3 years, 5 years, almost 6, 7, and 9 years old. But don't worry; they're not all from the same family.

I actually work with four families on a regular basis. Some of them more often than others. Confused yet? Don't worry. It's about to get a lot more ridiculous.

For the purposes of this blog, just in case I want to refer to them later, I'm going to give all these kids names. But since they're not my kids, and I want to protect their privacy, I won't be using their real names.

So the Cannon family has three kids. I work for them Monday through Thursday mornings.

Caleb is three. He loves trains, swings, making friends at the park, playing pretend, and helping take care of his little brother. He's usually very obedient. He calls me Hi-hee.

Miles is two. He loves to throw things, run around, play in the sand, splash in puddles, and eat snacks. He makes the best facial expressions. He's not much of a cuddler, but if he's nervous or tired, he clings to me and I love it. I call him Bug or Buggy most of the time. He calls me Hi-hee, like his brother, or Dedee or sometimes Ma.

Kate is two months old and she's very cute. Right now she stays home with her mom while I take her brothers to the park. Someday I'll start taking care of her too. Maybe by then I'll know her personality better.

The Denkers have two kids. I watch them on Wednesday afternoons.

Miranda is five. She is an artist. She would happily paint all day every day if I let her. She's in kindergarten. She's taking ballet. She loves nature and collecting things. She's a little bit mischievous and likes to be in charge. She likes to make gifts for people. Half the time I leave their house with something Miranda has made for me.

Tyson is two. He likes airplanes, going to the park, and reading books. He will eat almost anything. Sometimes out of nowhere he just says, "Heidi, I love you." I love him too.

The Jensens also have two kids. I watch them all day on Fridays.

Jack will be six in a couple of weeks. Hands down, he is the coolest kindergartener I've ever known. This kid has a mohawk and likes to ride skateboards at the skate park with the teenagers. He is super into Legos and will play them by himself for hours. But when it comes time to clean up, he's a professional at dragging his feet.

Emma is three and she is so adorable. She has curly blonde hair that she sometimes lets me braid. It helps when I let her watch a little TV while I'm doing it. She loves to look at books, even though she can't read. She also likes puzzles, "playing" the piano, and talking. A lot of talking. Like all day long. :)

Then there are the Park girls. I watch them every other Tuesday night.

Samantha is nine. She's obsessed with dragons. Sometimes she pretends she is a dragon. She likes to write and tell stories. And she gives great writing advice, which I am happy to take.

Nicola is seven. She's a total girly girl. We're reading The Penderwicks together and we're both loving it. I've read it before, but it's more fun when you get to read it out loud. Nicola is also very lovey and gives great hugs.

Both Park girls call me Miss Heidi.

Altogether that's nine kids. Five girls, four boys. And each one is my favorite, depending on the day.

Sometimes I wonder what it will be like when I have my own kids (assuming that ever happens). I wonder how I'll feel about my kids and whether or not it will be very different from the way I feel about these kids I have now. I know that I love all the kids I take care of, and I can only imagine that love will be intensified when I'm a parent.

I also know that I've always wanted a big family. I'm the oldest of seven and over the years my ideal number of kids I'd like to have has ranged from 4 to 14, though typically I opt for no more than eight. But the longer I go without getting married, the less likely it is that I'll get to have that kind of family, biologically speaking. So right now I'm extra grateful that I get to be a part of these kids lives, even if it's only temporary and even if I'm not a parent to them. I like that I'm spending this time of my life being a pseudo parent because this is how I remember my mom. She was young when she had me: 24, I think? My mom had five kids by the time she was 30. I didn't want to waste my twenties stuck in an office, not being with kids while I have the energy to have fun with them, just because I happen to be single.

Oh, and speaking of being single... Now might be an appropriate time to announce to you, my blogging audience, that I have recently acquired a boyfriend. Yep. And it's all his fault that I haven't posted in so long. But we're really happy, and that's all I'm going to say about it.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

You're a published author? How did that happen?

Yes, I am. I'll do a little show and tell so you can see all the stuff I've written.

1. This Journal.

It's a question and answer thing (like this blog) so I wrote all the questions that the journal-writer is then supposed to answer. And it's sort of based in the New Testament. There are verses that correspond to some of the questions. It's cool. You should check it out.

2. Tiny Talks volume 11.

This was the first real book I wrote. I was so stressed about it. I always have a tight deadline when writing Tiny Talks and the first year I didn't know what I was doing so it made things even worse. But I'm proud of the way it turned out.

3. Tiny talks volume 12.

I was much better at doing this the second time around. But it was still pretty stressful.

4. Tiny talks volume 13.

This one was fun because I had moved to California so I wrote most of it in the Pleasanton library. I also got a couple of my friends to help me brainstorm story ideas. And I used the names of kids I know and nanny for, which was awesome. Plus it gave me a built-in Christmas present that year.

5. Tiny talks volume 14.

I LOVE my illustrator. Okay, he's not mine. I've never even met him in person. But this volume looks awesome! And now I'm totally stoked to see what he comes up with for next year. I'll say this too. Writing Tiny Talks this past year, was soooo much easier than it has ever been in the past, even though I was working full-time and had just moved into a new apartment. I feel like I've got my system worked out as a writer, and that's so cool.

6. The last item in our show and tell portion of the post is my author website, which proves I am officially an author and which I am going to be better about updating someday. Once I learn how to do that. I'm such an internet dunce. It's amazing I haven't blown up the blog yet.

Anyway, it's called You should probably check it out.

And that concludes show and tell.

As for how this all happened, well, that requires a little bit of story time.

Once upon a time (as all good stories should begin) in an editing class at BYU, I sat behind a girl named Kelly. Through her I heard about a publishing company in the nearby town of Springville called Cedar Fort.

 I interned there that next summer and the following fall, I was offered a job as a book editor. It was shocking. I probably looked like this when I got the phone call.

Except I was 23 instead of 1 or 2 or however old I am here.

One day at Cedar Fort, I was in a meeting in which we were discussing a series called Tiny Talks. The then-author was no longer interested in writing them, so we needed to find someone else. and I volunteered (as tribute). Just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

At first I felt weird about writing Tiny Talks because I'm not a mom and I hadn't worked in primary since the summer after my freshman year of college when I was in charge of the nursery.

But now that I work with kids, I don't feel as ill-qualified anymore. Plus I realized that it doesn't really matter if I have my own kids as long as I can write a book that works for the kids and parents who use it, and I think and hope that Tiny Talks does. At the very least it works for my sister in law, Alecia who teaches primary and is totally awesome and probably my biggest fan. :) I love her.

Here we are cruising around the San Francisco Bay.

Anyway, the story ends with "to be continued" because I'd like to keep writing tiny talks for at least a few more years to come (cross your fingers that they sell well enough to not get cancelled). And at some point in the not-too-distant future I'm hoping to add more books to my show and tell list, specifically I would really love to publish fiction someday. That's been a goal of mine for years now and I think I'm finally writing something that I'll want to have published as my debut novel. But enough about that. I don't want to get ahead of myself and spoil the surprise! Just know that I feel very blessed to be published and that even though I don't usually talk about my books, it's not because I'm not proud of them or because I don't love them. The truth is I do love them. They're awesome. And I'm glad I get to write them.

Speaking of which, I'm going to get back to work! I'm almost done with a first draft of that debut novel and I can't wait to finish it! Wish me luck!