Thursday, July 31, 2008


The summer before Stan and I got engaged, a friend and I decided we would go on vacation together. For some reason, and I've never fully understood why, Ilene and I thought that camping would be the best thing ever. I owned a tent and sleeping bag, borrowed my parents camp stove and lantirn and we loaded up my little Toyota and took off.

We decided on a place called Whiskey Town, a lake and campground in northern California near Mt. Shasta. It was terrific. We swam, ate talked and took long naps. The only problem was there were no showers. The only time we saw water was when we went swimming. The temperature hung around 112 so you can imagine how we looked and, well, smelled.

Ten days of camping without showering and we were a sight. We named ourselves the Women of the Woods (WoW) and decided to just enjoy ourselves.

The highlight was when we ventured into a small logging town for the 4th of July festivities. Homemade pies were for sale on the lawn of the Parsonage, the Fire Department had a corn roast, the library sold homemade lemonade and little old ladies were selling handmade doilies and quilts, there was a band playing in the square (yep, a town square!) and then there was the parade.

Two things became very evident as we sat on the curb eating homemade ice cream and watching that parade: this was indeed a very small town, and logging was the big operation. Here came everything from little kids on tricycles decorated with crepe paper and playing cards clipped to the spokes, all the way up to these hugemongous logging trucks that were also decorated with ribbons and Christmas lights. It was a blast.

Every now and then I trot those memories out and re-examine them. Small town life can be charming, but those WoWs were happy to get home to their showers, let me tell you!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Betty Co-ed

School's about to start, and it has me thinking. This fall my best friend, Beth, and I will have known each other for 40 years. It seems hard to believe, since I certainly don't feel like a grownup a lot of the time. Especially when Beth and I get together. We laugh and goof off like we're still in high school!

My mother used to sing for us an old song from the 1930s called "Betty Coed" that we loved. It was sweet and silly, and I thought I'd share part of the lyrics here with you in honor of school starting, and the blessing of still having my sweet friend in my life.

Betty Co-ed has lips of red for Harvard
Betty Co-ed has eyes of Yale's deep blue
Betty Co-ed's a golden haired for Princeton
Her dress I guess is black for old Purdue!

Betty Co-ed's a smile for Pennsylvania
Her heart is Dartmouth's treasure, so 'tis said
Betty Co-ed is loved by every college boy
But I'm the one who's loved by Betty Co-ed!

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Moment's Reflection

When giving our hearts to a child, it is more than giving them our love. It is in forgiving them as well as asking them for their forgiveness when we have offended them. Children need to know that in making a mistake they will not be loved less. There is no dishonor in asking a 3-year-old’s forgiveness when you have lost your temper or hurt them in some way. It teaches them the value of humility, and that love can indeed bear all things.

Time for a child is as much as they can get with us. Most children don’t care about “quality time.” Children just want to be with you. And the time they do get to spend with you is precious to them.

We can all remember time spent in our childhood with various adults in our lives – aunts, uncles, grandparents, family friends, ward members, teachers and so on. In most of those memories we cannot always remember what we were doing, but we can remember the feeling the encounter left us with.

The Savior has taught us by His example and His words that children are special. They are to be treated as such. They are a gift from Him to us. To all of us. They are not our right, they are not our property. They are our treasures. They are our blessings.

I hope I never forget this.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.
Eleanor Roosevelt


Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon who’s "The Last Lecture," about facing terminal cancer became an Internet sensation and a best-selling book, has died. He was 47. He was an amazing man who influenced many with his positive outlook on life and on facing death.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Influences that last

I have been thinking lately about a teacher who made a profound impact in my life. My sophomore English teacher in high school was a woman named Joann Hamm. I still feel her influence in my life.

The year she was my teacher it was her first at our school, and she was somewhat avant-garde in her approach. She had a huge display in her room that had "Thoughts for Thinkers" written across the top. Each month she would display a thought from someone there which we would discuss. But every day she had a section of the blackboard (yes, we had blackboards in those days!) that she had marked "Words of Wisdom" with a quote from a usually famous person. She required us to keep a notebook in which we would collect these quotations. At the beginning of each class session we would discuss the daily quote and what it meant. And believe me, even at that young age we had some pretty lively talks!

The other thing that she introduced me to was keeping a journal. She pounded into our heads over and over again that this was not a "diary" and that she wanted us to write about what we thought. Sometimes she would have us sit in a circle around her and she would try to get us to think outside of ourselves. At 15 the world pretty much revolves around yourself, so this was something to tackle. But she would sit quietly and say to us, "Just think, somewhere right now there is someone being born, someone is going to the bathroom, someone is eating dinner, someone is dying."

And we would think. And think and think, and soon we learned that we weren't the center of the universe. We learned there were different ways to look at things. And, in my case, I learned to love words. I love the power they have, how they can indeed make you think, how they can motivate you, comfort you, inspire you, help you to grow and learn. I love to read words, listen to words and to write words.

Ms. Hamm gave me a precious gift that year. I will forever be grateful to have had her as my teacher.

Do you have a teacher who impacted your life?

Friday, July 18, 2008


I have a higher and grander standard of principle than George Washington. He could not lie; I can, but I won't.

Mark Twain
1835 - 1910

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Memory Tag

I saw this on my friend's site and thought it would be fun.

1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I had together. It doesn't matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember!

2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. If you leave a memory about me, I'll assume you're playing the game and I'll come to your blog and leave one about you.

Can't wait to read the memories!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Making Choices

Have you ever noticed that when you are supposed to learn a lesson that the Lord sends His spirit to you to help you learn it? He also has been sending me friends with hearts of pure gold. In my effort to try and concentrate on the positive I am being taught by some of the most amazing women. My friend Rachel posted a poem that touched my heart as well as taught a lesson.

My friend Nancy sent me an email about making choices. When we wake up each morning we each have a choice to make, we can choose to be happy or to be sad. When bad things happen we can choose to be a vicitim or to learn and go on. When tragedy hits us, we can choose to live or to die. Which choices will you make? Which will I? Well I am choosing to be happy, to learn and to live.

Adjusting my attitude is so hard, since it seems to me that life today throws us more than curve balls, it's throwing anvils at us. But with the friendships I have been blessed with, the women around me at church who inspire me to reach higher, I know that the Lord is telling me I am on the right path.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Putting Myself Out There

I've been dealing with discrimination for many years. There are so many people out there who judge me based on my weight and not on my heart that I have learned to keep inside myself. This is a hard thing for me since I am naturally interested in people (from my years as a reporter) and like to talk and find out about others. But it has become increasingly hard for me to do this when I sense others disapproval of me.

In my new effort to have a more positive outlook (as per President Hinckley's example) I am trying to put myself out there again. Sometimes I think that we see only the outside and if we can get a glimpse of what a person is truly like we'll see that the two don't always blend. The movie "Shallow Hal" illustrates this quite nicely, I think, when Hal is given the chance to see people as they are inside. A quite beautiful woman looks hideous because she is selfish and greedy, while someone who is very unattractive looks very handsome because they are loving and compassionate and generous.

And truth be told, don't we all have flaws? Mine are just so obvious that it's easy to make a snap judgement of me. Others can hide theirs easier. I think if we can overcome our fears and be open with each other we can learn, truly learn, that we are all brothers and sisters. Discrimination of any kind is wrong, and we know that. But sometimes we need to be reminded. These old adages like "you can't judge a book by its cover" hang on year after year because they are true.

I just wanted to say that if you have a problem with someone give them a chance. Maybe they are dealing with something you know nothing about. A good friend of mine used to say that if you scratched the surface of anyone you will find a hero underneath. We're all heroes, doing the best we can in this life. We all want to love and be loved, we all want to be seen and heard for who we are, not what we are.

I hope I can do that. I know I'm going to try.

Friday, July 11, 2008


"I am asking that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I am suggesting that as we go through life we "accentuate the positive." I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good ..... Look for the sunlight through the clouds."

Gordon B. Hinckley

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Waiting for the Bell

I've decided to take a chance and post one of my short stories. It's one I wrote last Christmas. It's sort of fanciful, titled WAITING FOR THE BELL. I'd love comments and/or suggestions. I hope you enjoy .....


The snow had fallen steadily most of the morning. Shaking her handlebars Maude could feel the cold seeping into her. A classic bicycle she had a couple of spots where her paint had chipped off and the ice had settled in. She strained to hear if the bell had rung yet. It was the last day of school and she could hear the sounds of the Christmas party in her girl Lucy’s class. She had helped her bring two dozen ginger snaps that morning balanced precariously on the book carrier over her rear tire. Lucy was almost vibrating with excitement. Holidays seemed to do that for the girl.

The bicycle next to her was grand. There were no chips in her paint and her chrome was polished and shining, even though snow covered most of her. She had been sleeping most of the day and Maude noticed that she too had now cleared the snow off her handlebars and seat. A long sigh came from her.

“You okay?” Maude asked.

“Oh sure. It’s great standing here all day waiting for something to do.”

“It can be hard,” Maude agreed. “My name’s Maude, by the way. I belong to Lucy Philpott.”

“I’m Henrietta,” her companion replied. “Mary Odem is my owner.”

“Which class is your girl in?”

“She’s in sixth grade, Mrs. Fitzgerald’s class,” Henrietta admitted.

“Lucy is in Mrs. Fitzgerald’s class as well!” Maude cried. “Both our girls know each other. How wonderful!”

“I suppose,” Henrietta said. A small sniff let Maude know she’d noticed her appearance. But the little bike had dealt with the likes of Henrietta before, and ignored her reaction.

“I wonder why we haven’t met before. I know most of the bikes that bring their children to school.”

“Mary doesn’t ride me very often; at least not to school. She was forced to this morning since both her parents had to be at work early. I can tell you, Mary was so upset I was afraid she was going to leave me lying in the snow just for spite!” Henrietta shivered again, snow flying everywhere.

They both heard a burst of laughter from inside the classroom and the sound of the children’s voices raised in a happy rendition of Frosty the Snowman. Maude felt warm at the sound. She had overheard Lucy asking her mother for a new wicker basket to put on Maude and she was looking forward to Christmas with as much anticipation as her girl.

“I wish it was time to go,” Henrietta said, her voice tired.

“How did you and Mary get together?” Maude asked.

“The usual way,” Henrietta answered. “Her parents bought me for her.”

“They bought you for her?” Maude repeated. “Were you a birthday present?”

“No. She wanted a bicycle and they came into the store and looked until she picked me. Her father said it would allow her to get around without them having to drive her everywhere. But Mary soon lost interest in me. She only rides me when her parents cannot or will not drive her. How about you? Did Lucy’s parents give you to her for her birthday?”

“Well, no,” Maude said slowly. “Actually, Lucy has no father and her mother works very hard to keep things together. My girl had to work to get me for herself.”

“How could a young girl buy you herself?”

Henrietta’s voice displayed her disbelief, and Maude tried to be patient as she told her how Lucy had come to get her. The memory of that day was one of Maude’s happiest. A large store, it wasn’t a fancy bike shop like Henrietta had come from, but was full of excitement and mothers pushing shopping carts, and small children stroking her and looking at the other bicycles around her.

Then Lucy had shown up. Mrs. Philpott was with her, her younger brother too. Her eyes had lit up when she’d spotted Maude. She’d run her hands along her handlebars before turning her shining face to her mother.

“Isn’t she beautiful? And I have just the right amount. Can I buy her?”

Her mother’s careworn face smiled at her daughter. “Of course, sweetheart. You stay here and keep watch over your prize and I’ll go find a sales clerk.”

And just like that Maude came to be Lucy’s.

Over the next few months she’d learned how her new owner had come to purchase her. Every day after school she had something to do, just an hour or two, usually earning only a few dollars, but she was a hard worker. Babysitting little ones so Mrs. Cagle could do her errands, helping Mr. Glover weed his garden over the summer, and delivering the baked goods Mrs. Wickham made to earn extra money for her family. But by far Lucy’s favorite after school job was helping old Mrs. Sullivan.

Lucy stopped by two to three days a week to help out. She would clean the bathrooms, straighten up the living room, change and wash the bedding, and other simple tasks that Mrs. Sullivan, an elderly widow, had trouble doing for herself. None of the chores were terribly difficult for a ten-year-old girl, and Lucy was used to helping at home.

Maude had learned that at first Lucy did it because she liked Mrs. Sullivan, but soon the grateful woman had taken to paying her. Now Lucy was a regular, and had saved the money from all her “jobs” to get Maude.

“I help her get to school, to her after school jobs, and to run errands for her mother. I know she needs me,” Maude added, “and being her bicycle is the best job in the world.”

Henrietta was quiet for so long that Maude thought perhaps she’d gone back to sleep.

“I’m kept in the garage next to Mr. Odem’s car,” she said at last. “Sometimes Mary’s parents talk before going into the house and I can hear them. Mr. Odem talks about how it means more to work for things than to have them handed to you. But Mrs. Odem always talks him into letting her give Mary what she wants.”

Now it was Maude’s turn to be quiet. As they both sat there the snow started falling again just as the end of day bell began to ring.

“I think Mr. Odem’s right. Here I was thinking I was a finer bike than you but I see you are much better than I could hope to be. You will always be an important part of Lucy’s life. Even when she is a grown woman with children of her own she will remember the little bike that made her so happy. I will have no such place in Mary’s childhood memories.”

As their girls came out they could hear Mary on her cell phone complaining about the snow, demanding her father pick her up. Maude could feel Henrietta’s disappointment that she wouldn’t be taking Mary home from school.

Lucy came out full of smiles and excitement. She began brushing the snow from Maude and talking about getting home before it got any later.

“Goodbye, Maude,” Henrietta whispered. “Merry Christmas.”

As Lucy climbed onto her and began pedaling Maude knew it would be.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Writer's Musings

I've been thinking about a question I read on a literary agent's blog that has me thinking. He asked if you could be told that you would/would not be a published writer, would you want to know and would you keep writing? It's an interesting thought.

I think that the thing that keeps me writing isn't so much that my book will be published but that I have so many stories I want to tell. Someone who has read some of my short stories told me that they were surprised that I switched between so many genres: mystery, women's fiction, romance. That isn't too surprising to me, since I love to read all forms of writing (fiction and non-fiction alike) I also like to write all types. And that is what is important for me--the craft of writing. Yes, I have a literary agent who is in the process of trying to sell my mystery novel. Yes, I am trying to find an agent for one of my other books, and yes I have a bunch of short stories out to magazines for consideration. I am trying to sell my writing. But I think the more important thing is that I love to write. I love to tell a story.

One of the most exciting things to me is to sit down at a blank screen and start a new book. I never know what is going to happen as I do that. I have the outline, the rough idea of who the characters are and what is going to happen to them. But I am always surprised by the turns and events that happen to those characters as I write. They are as real to me as my living friends. When I am in the midst of a book, as I am now, they tip-toe into my head and tell me what's going on as I cook dinner, do laundry, visit teach and so forth. I see things, hear things and I am compelled to put it down in my notebook so when I am back at the computer I can see if they are interested in these things I've discovered and can use them in their world.

A lot of people say that writing is a lonely life, and in many ways it is. But it is also such a full and interesting life. I go places when I write that I probably will never venture to in reality. Much like reading can take you places, writing does to. And I'm looking forward to seeing where this next book takes me next!

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I haven't written anything for awhile. Not much going on for the Mullis family! Kevin went to Aaron's Camp and had the experience of a lifetime. He came home more committed than ever to the idea of serving a mission. It has completely changed his outlook on life. We're very happy and glad he had this opportunity.

Recently I've been going through some old photos and decided to share some on the blog. These first two are of the boys the summer AJ was 4 and Kevin was 2. When AJ was little he discovered an old kerchief of mine and decided it was a superhero cape. He wore it EVERYWHERE we went for a few years. He got a lot of attention when he wore it because people could see he was Superman which reinforced that he should keep the cape on. So, except for church and bed, he wore it almost always. He is wearing it in these two photos.
The boys decided to take a couple of squeegies and sponges and a bucket of water and go out and clean their swing set. They were awfully cute and Stan had to help them out a bit because he couldn't stay away from them. You can see from the boy's expressions that this was a serious job!

The last photo is from the Christmas the boys were 6 and 8. They had new sweater vests they were proud of, and I took their photo before we went to church that Sunday.
I am very proud of my sons and what nice young men they are growing up to be. This last summer before AJ leaves on his mission has made me somewhat melancholy, however, for the days when they were little and could still sit in my lap. Sometimes it seems as if it were last week that I brought them home from the hospital, walked them to their first day of school, and put bright lipstick on so I could kiss their little hands and they could have Mommy's kisses with them all day at school. Although those days are gone, the sweet memories they leave me with warm my heart, and sometimes bring a tear of gratitude. I am so grateful to my Father in Heaven that he blessed me with the priviledge of being a mother.
Happy 4th of July, Friends! Let us enjoy the blessings we have and be grateful! Time to go light a sparkler or two!