Month: November 2013

@NaNoWriMo – The Aftermath

This is so true. Congrats Nanowrimoers!

Thanksgiving 2013

Happy Thanksgiving from this smiling girl!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with lots of yummy food.  I’ve had quite the busy day.   It all started yesterday when I flew to my parents house in Cali.  We had a full house so I am at the local Hampton Inn which I love.  Very comfortable room and it makes visiting my family more of a vacation than a family visit, which is good!

Then I got a kiwi crate and did a cute craft with my nieces (all 5 are here.  So fun!).  The craft was turkey namecards and they turned out very adorable.

Isabel punched out the craft real quick
Isabel punched out the craft real quick
Olive was the crafting queen
Olive was the crafting queen
One of these was done by my niece. One by me...
One of these was done by my niece. One by me…
Thanksgiving Kiwi crate
Thanksgiving Kiwi crate

Then this morning we continued the Thanksgiving festivities with the Folsom turkey trot 5k.  This is the 3rd year in a row I’ve done turkey trot (last year I did one in Utah, year before in Folsom).

I’m not much of a walker and even less a runner but its fun to get some energy out before the big meal, challenge yourself and help give back to the community.  This year I mentioned it early and we ended up with 11 of us attending- Me, Dad, Seth, Megan, Sam, Anna, Madi, Olive, Lucy, Nelle,Isabel.  All of the kids did great and everyone finished.

The girls ran together the whole way.  So cute
The girls ran together the whole way. So cute
Lucy doing a great job on the run
Lucy doing a great job on the run
Nellie running and smiling
Nellie running and smiling
My niece Olive
My niece Olive
Starting the race
Starting the race
A finisher!
A finisher!

My feet are pretty blistered and body was sore but I’m doing pretty well on the pain recovery.  I was feeling strong enough to help out with the kids and I decided to take them to the pool at my hotel to get them out of the chefs hair.  It was a lot of fun but I’m definitely very tired!

A little fuzzy but here they are heading out to the pool

Once we got home from the swimming we got busy making a huge meal.  I was pretty tired but I made the mashed potatoes which you could say is my specialty. The secret is heating up the cream/milk and butter together so they become one liquid and mixing that with the mashed potatoes.  Its so creamy!

I'll dream about these for many months...
I’ll dream about these for many months…

We ended up with 21 people at thanksgiving dinner and it was quite the endeavor for my Mom and sister.  Here are some photos


Seating for 21
Seating for 21

So it was a very Happy Thanksgiving at the Wagner house and I hope it was the same for all of you.  God bless you and your family and let’s have a wonderful Christmas!  Love you all!


Thankful for Faces


I used to do this long list of all the things I am thankful for on the blog but eventually you run out of items and end up thanking the in and out crew and the pasta I had for dinner (not that we shouldn’t be thanking those things but not top of my list!).  I thought it would be fun to just show in pictures.  The faces of people I am thankful for today. Happy thanksgiving!

Ready for Christmas

I know it is near blaspheme for some of you to start celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving (not sure why but some people become so upset!).  Usually I can’t resist turning on some Christmas music or sneaking in a Hallmark movie, but this year Thanksgiving is so late that I decided to abandon pretense and start my celebrations early (or on time really).

This is my first Christmas in my house and in fact last year my life was in boxes and Christmas was extremely stressful time for me.  Waiting for your house to be finished is an anxiety sufferers nightmare.  Awful.  I think that was why I wanted to do it up even more than normal this year.  I wanted to make my first Christmas at my house extra special and festive, so all you early Christmas haters will have to deal! 😉

I will have 2 Christmas trees this year.  One in my room and the main room.  I have set up the one in my room and the other one will be delivered next week.  My fake tree had 3 sections of bad lights so I decided to do something different and get a fresh tree.  My family always got a fresh tree but I’m usually gone so much in December that it didn’t make sense.  This year my family is coming to Utah so I could go fresh!

I am also going to get my tree delivered to my door from Five Star Christmas Trees which I’m very excited about.  They are even going to set it up and pick it up which is great because I’m only one person and trees are big!  I will post a photo of the fresh tree when it is finished.

I have memory trees with photos and ornaments from all over my life.  This year I have a temple square, nanowrimo, disneyland, new home ornaments. I also learned how to decorate a tree on my mission.  You put the ornaments on in 3 layers  balls in the very back, then filler a little closer, unique special ornaments out front.  The balls and filler can be a color theme but then I like the special ornaments to be special and a little pop of different colors.

Anyway, here is my Christmas tree for my room:

My tree at night. (I love the colored lights on a personal tree)
Isn’t it fun to have a Christmas tree in a bedroom! I highly recommend it.

I have also been busy adding decor around the house and on the outside (quite the task I might add).  I’m greatly proud of it!

This took me like an hour. I know it doesn’t look like it but it did! So fun!
I usually don’t like things that are too kitschy but I liked these large christmas border. So fun!
I’ve had this wreath for 5 years and it still looks great!
I think this nativity cost me $15 but I really like it.

So there you have it!  Are any of you preparing for Christmas or are you waiting? What traditions make your holidays unique?

My friends who celebrate Hanukkah they are combining Thanksgiving and Hanukkah which is super fun.   Check out the for recipes and ideas. There are a lot of things I’d like to try down the road.  Yum!

I love my Christmas house!

10 Reasons Why Men Must Start Reading Fiction Again

This is pretty great. Why men must start reading fiction again.


humphrey bogart readingAccording to recent statistics, men have all but stopped reading fiction. Do they watch great television? Yes. Do they read non-fiction? Some. But the novel – that great interior journey – seems to have been lost to them.

It wasn’t always this way.

The path from boyhood to manhood used to go something like this: Boys got dirty, played with plastic guns, disturbed bee hives, and wandered the streets of their neighborhoods with their buddies un-chaperoned. By adolescence, they were expected to be rowdy and wild – maybe dabbling in the rebel art of cigarette smoking, drawing a sharpie tattoo, and practicing the skill of talking girls into peeling off their panties (beginning with the whole “I’ll give you a cookie” approach and graduating to “Come on, baby, you’re just so beautiful –I need you!”).

Next, somewhere in their twenties, boys began dressing like men – assertively and with a…

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Nanowrimo Winner and My First Poem


So I did it!  I finished my second year in Nanowrimo.  I’m not saying the book is great.  It’s not as good as my book from last year but that came from my heart so its hard to compare.  Still, I learned something from thinking about my characters and their lives.  Little details like how they manage their time or a scene that was captured in a satisfying way.

It may be that I take side characters and flesh them out more.  There may be more to say with them than on the 2 main characters.  I think it would be fun to right a children’s book from the perspective of the little girl Callie who reads and can’t quite decide what she believes in including Santa.  I think there is a story there.

Anyway, I enjoyed writing it and I learned a lot.  It has also motivated me to work even harder on my book from last year because I know it is better.  I know it has more potential.  It’s energizing!

One of my goals for this story was to do a bunch of writing firsts.  I had never written complete fiction before and I have never really written poetry before.  I had a couplet that I wrote in college and it just about killed me.  Very difficult.

So, I did my best and wrote a Christmas poem to share with all of you.  It’s not really here for critique.  Just a first stab at a medium I love (which reminds me I need to do a poetry post soon).  Here goes!:


The Lonely Christmas

The tree and lights, the hot cocoa and marshmallows

The presents and bows, the mistletoe and couples

It was Christmas time and all seemed to be matched

But for me and my ring finger had yet to be catched.

I tried to be cheerful and ignore the stares of pity

But alas I was cold and couldn’t be witty.

Leaving the party I grabbed my coat and hat

And went for a walk to try and find some merriment.

I looked at the snow and it seemed icy and alone

The wind whistled and let out a deep moan.

Out to the street I walked a block or two

Until I came to a church with an empty pew

The stained glass shined on the alter of white

And I asked God ‘why did I have such a plight?’

Why couldn’t I be a mother, wife and friend?

Why did everyone’s life start when mine seemed to end?

No answers came and I couldn’t help but cry

When a man with an old gray coat caught my eye

Even inside he was cold and looked awfully weary

I gave him a smile and said ‘I hope your Christmas is merry’

He shrugged and said with a sigh ‘life had been hard’

Then he showed me an old battered Christmas card.

‘Merry Christmas my dear’ said the writer with a flourish

And then she added ‘our love I will always cherish’

“She left me on Christmas and it hasn’t been the same”

In fact, for years Christmas took the blame”

“I’m sorry” I said “How did you make it through with hope?”

He smiled, laughed “I certainly did sit around and mope

But one day I prayed for God to help me find Christmas again

And He said to me ‘get down to the church and watch who comes in”

So I went and watched for the a spot in the pew to be filled

And each year there appears someone who needs a rebuild”

Then he looked at my eyes and placed his hand over mine

With a pat and a look sincere we went up to the shrine.

Next we lit a candle and the alter seemed ablaze.

Wishes  were scattered on papers amidst light rays.

“Take the cancer away” one said, “keep Tom here” another.

“Free Sally from drugs” and “be with my baby, love mother”

“Now look up” the man said. In the glass I saw the Lord on the wall

Feeble and tired, lonely and scared he suffered to overcome our fall

“Look at His face on the cross.  His Christmas day was full of pain

So how can we be called Christians if our days are not the same?

He loves us but on Christmas Day He wants us to know

why He and all His followers must have an occasional blow.”

I looked at his face and then at Lord “but how do I pretend to be full of glee?”

The man looked at me and said “You don’t and neither did He”

“But He does know our wishes and He does listen to our pleas.

If that reason alone we should remember He always calms the seas.

Christmas is a time to be merry for sure but its also much more.

It’s to remember why we are happy and sad and then to share.

Transfer our love of the Lord and His great day as our present to all.

And only then will we have a true reason to stand tall.

“You are right” I replied “He is my greatest companion and friend

His gift is for all and brings us Christmas till the end.”

A tear comes out of my eye and the old man gives me a hug.

“Merry Christmas” he says with a wink “There is still time to love”

I look at the old man’s eyes and I think of a girl who is often weary

“I’ll find her and make sure that her Christmas is merry”

I get up to leave the chapel and look back at the old man in pew.

But to my surprise the room is empty and my curiosity grew.

Searching the pews and alter I noticed something new among the wishes

A Christmas card and written on inside said ‘now go find your missions”

As I went back into cold I smiled at the snow and looked at North Star

Christmas wasn’t about what I don’t have but how I could spread joy far

One thing was for sure. If I knew Jesus lived I must make it clear.

“Whether young, old, single or married, Merry Christmas to all everywhere”


Hurray a winner and my first poem!  So exciting!

A Familiar Thanksgiving


My mind is decidedly random and you can never guess what is going on inside by what’s being said outside.  Anyone else like that?

Well, today at church was definitely such a moment.  The missionaries were speaking about missionary work and even though that is my favorite topic I found my mind wondering.  I think I was hungry but I remembered a talk given by Elder Perry in 2001 (and yet still fresh in my mind.  I’m like that.  I can tell you all about the lectures from my favorite classes in school and its been 11 years since I graduated…yet I can’t remember where my keys are half the time. Strange!)

Anyway, the talk is called ‘A Community of Saints’ and the main purpose is to discuss how we as members of the church can take the trappings of the church for granted because we are so used to it, but I find that slippery slope to exist with almost anything in life.  Familiarity leads to cavalier attitudes and we can sometimes lose what is really most important because we think we are bored or it isn’t living up to our standards.

Elder Perry gives an example that I love.  Please forgive the long quote but I think any of us with Moms can relate to a moment when we think our family is so ‘uncool’ but everyone else thinks it’s great:

We all have life events that, when we recall them years later, acquire new and important meaning. When I was in junior high, I was honored by the school administration when I was asked to become a member of the student hall patrol. On the days we were assigned to be on hall patrol, we were instructed to bring our lunch to school and eat it together. It was always a special treat, and there was always a lot of competition to see whose mother had prepared the most desirable lunch. Often we traded lunch items among ourselves.

One day when I was assigned to be on hall patrol, I forgot to tell Mother that I needed a lunch until I was almost ready to leave for school. An expression of concern came over Mother’s face when I requested a lunch. She told me that she had just used up her last loaf of bread for breakfast and would not be baking until that afternoon. All she had in the house to make a lunch was a large sweet roll left over from the previous night’s supper.

Mother made delicious sweet rolls.She always arranged them in a pan so there was one large one across the top of the pan and then rows of smaller ones down the length of the pan. Only the large one remained. It was about the size of a loaf of bread in length but, of course, not in thickness. I was embarrassed to take just a sweet roll for lunch when I imagined what the other patrol members would have, but I decided it was better to go with the sweet roll than go without lunch.

When it came time to eat lunch, I went to a far-off corner so I wouldn’t be noticed. When the trading of lunches started, my friends wanted to know what I had. I explained what had happened that morning, and to my dismay, everyone wanted to see the sweet roll. But my friends surprised me—instead of making fun of me, they all wanted to have a piece of the sweet roll! It turned out to be my best lunch trading day of the entire year! The sweet roll that I thought would be an embarrassment to me turned out to be the hit of our lunch hour.

As I have reflected on this experience, it has occurred to me that it is often part of human nature to attach less value to familiar things simply because they are so common to us. One of these familiar things could be our membership in the restored Church.


I love that last quote “often part of human nature to attach less value to familiar things simply because they are common to us”.  Could this not be a problem with Thanksgiving and the entire holiday season?  Because the traditions are so repetitive and seemingly ordinary do we forget to remember how special those moments truly are?

For example, most of us expect to have turkey on thanksgiving but usually it is not until it is our turn to cook the bird that we realize how much work it is to make the ordinary turkey!

I’m going to try and keep this in mind during my Thanksgiving with my family and the Christmas season to come- appreciate the ordinary and the common because it will not always be here.  I challenge you all to do the same!

So, my brain wandered off somewhere pretty interesting today and I’m glad it did!