Wednesday, November 27, 2013

NaNo Winner 2013 and Very Little Time to Brag About It

I joined a writer's group about five years ago and that first year I learned about something I couldn't really pronounce. I think the awful acronym prejudiced me at first. NaNoWriMo Was that a language used in Star Trek? No. It stood for National Novel Writing Month. Okay, got it. But what month was it? November. Surely it was a joke, wasn't it? Who would choose November to be the month where they abandon most other pursuits and devote inordinate amounts of time to writing, from scratch, a brand new novel? I'm usually making other things from scratch, like homemade rolls and pies. You know for that little, itty-bitty holiday we call THANKSGIVING! Sorry for the all caps, but I opted out of NaNo four years in a row because I felt surely a man chose the month. If you know me, you know I enjoy my baking. Don't mess with my baking! I digress. November is busy for me for lots of other reasons too. Family birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas preparations. So I'd always passed. Until this year. About mid-October some stray thought caught me by surprise. It sounded a little like this, "You know that idea for a book you had back in April? You should write it for NaNo." That might have been all that came of it until a certain friend suggested it too. And before we knew it we were on our way to planning and plotting how we could make it work.

My personal goal was to finish before Thanksgiving. Which is tomorrow.
And I did it.
(I know, more all caps, but at least I only used one exclamation point.)

The new novel is written.
I landed at 50, 892 words over the course of 20 writing days. 
It's a rough draft and won't be ready for readers for quite some time, but it is full of pure fun and I had a blast getting it down on the page. It has a working title that I am not announcing. Kind of like a baby name you don't want family members to get attached to using. 

That is the extent of my bragging.
School is out in 5. And my girls and I are going to start the baking! 
Pies, rolls and sauces, oh my!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Storm Watchers Reprint and More Rain Tributes

This is a reprint from three years ago. If you do the math that means my littlest one in this poem is off in school, leaving me to watch the storm without her. Oh how I already miss her wide eyes discovering our world.

Storm Watchers

We sat on the lattice-back patio chair
You and I
To watch a storm
Because in the desert, rain is a spectator sport
Water spattered on the rocks
Tapping rhythms
You sang the alphabet song
Somewhere around H-I-J-K
The thunder clapped directly above our heads
Like you had the fast-moving gray clouds for an audience
Your eyebrows snapped up like rubber bands
“What was that?” Your shock sent up a hand to cover your mouth.
“Thunder.” I explain.
You still scanned the yard and the soggy grass
Looking for a culprit
A gust of wind pushed the rain horizontal
And I knew our moment on the edge of the storm was over.
You clung to me with your four-year-old arms and legs as we scrambled inside.
We stood behind the glass door,
Watched our dusty patio chair get drenched
And laughed.


Live in the desert long enough and one rainy day can yield far too many lines of poetry...and it's just not the same without a child's wonder!


What a gift, this rain in the desert
For my thirsty and sun-baked soul.
I keep checking the window to watch the steady, heavy rain  
Like I've never seen it before
Soaking into the soil and pooling in places 
So dry I thought they could never be wet yet 
Water is everywhere now and even my ears though dry feel wet inside as I soak up the sound of roof-pounding, shower-streaming water.


And when I'm done waxing poetic, even though there is no sunny day here, I still feel like a little clearwater (for the record this was wAAy before my time but you know you want to sing the chorus!)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Autumn: A Non-How-To and Poem Re-Post

I could probably come up with a better post title, but it's late and the heat wilted me today. 
So I went for the straight-forward approach, tell it like it is. 

First: The "Non" How To Make a Wreath that doesn't cost $50.
Why is it a Non-How-To?
Because I am NOT an expert. This is my first attempt at making a wreath. I don't even call my self crafty, unless we're talking about hiding chocolate. But I wanted a fall wreath and one that didn't cost more than a trip to see real foliage. So this is what I did. And if you are brave enough to copy my non-expert craftiness, please send me a picture -- I'd love to see new and improved versions of my beginner's luck. 

Straw wreath - a couple of dollars at WalMart
One bunch of fall foliage flowers and leaves - $5 - conveniently next to the wreaths
One roll of burlap ribbon - $5, maybe a little more
One package of wreath making pins - totally forget how much but they were also right next to the wreath bases. 

And heavy duty wire cutters. I borrowed a pair from the kindest neighbor on the planet. If you don't own any, you will have to use different flowers that don't require cutting.

I clipped the flowers and leaves from the bunch that I wanted to use. I removed the plastic from the straw wreath. A lot of straw went flying. Probably could have made the wreath in a barn instead of on my table, but that's hindsight for you. One note of caution (this is code for how I almost ruined the entire project): don't cut the twine that is responsible for keeping your straw wreath base in tact. It's not pretty. 

I chose to wrap the burlap ribbon around the entire wreath (mostly to help secure the section I cut loose--see above caution) - but if you want to conserve ribbon, you could wrap the exposed side only-(this is a personal choice somewhere in the realm of how to organize your sock drawer--at the end of the day you are the only one who will know or care :)

Secure the flowers with the extra long looking wreath pins as you see fit. That's right, I don't have a flower placing pattern for you to follow. This feels like stating the obvious, but I don't have any flower-arranging credentials so you are better off figuring out this step on your own. 

Tie or create a bow with the burlap ribbon. 
Hang on your door. Pretend it isn't 100+ degrees and enjoy!

Here is a re-post of a poem I wrote in 2011.

Hand Picked Fun

I don’t know what happened to my bathing suit
Summer up and left                                                                                       
Mom moved the sweaters
From my big sister’s drawer
To mine
And the sun inched west a little sooner each day
Taking all the fun with him

Until we piled into the maroon station wagon
And drove north
Long enough for us to wonder if Dad got lost

We found the trees. Green leaves gone to yellow and orange.
Did the colors bring the cool air?
I thought so, but they told me it was the other way around.

Rows and rows of heavy laden trees.
We picked for hours, climbing, stretching
Dropping, joking
With cold noses and fingers
We filled our bags and bushels full of red, ripe apples.

And the country store had heated, fresh pressed cider.
One sip and my brother laughed at my eyes
Popping from the burst of flavor
Sweet and spicy
And warm.
Like those apples had figured out a way
To store all the rays of summer sunshine.
Just for me.

Tamara Passey

Monday, July 1, 2013

Poetic Thank-You for the Coppervale Studio Tour

When I signed up for the ANWA summer retreat, I knew I was in for several days of pure writing bliss. What I didn't know was that the weekend would start with a bonus. James Owen, author of Drawing Out the Dragons and SO much more, offered our group a personal, guided tour of his studio. I returned to the cabin and wrote this tribute and offer it as a thank-you to James for sharing a view of the space he's artfully created to create art!

A Poet’s Visit to Coppervale

Only the eyes of an artist can see
That forsaken paint-chipped walls haven’t outlived their usefulness,
Aren’t barriers but building blocks
To create a space, a world, to provide a life
It takes the eyes of an artist to see
Forty or fifty or 100-year-old floors can be used for more 
Than Sunbeam classes or sermons,
How aging floors can support dreams
Walking, waking dreams of dragons
And superheroes and signals
Only the heart of an artist and
The touch of an artist’s hand
Can rescue delicate, resilient roses and
Replant them and let them grow
Like dreams, in their fertile home soil

Tamara Passey

Rescued Heritage Roses

Heritage Roses

Heritage roses, came across the plains with the pioneers, rescued and replanted

Saturday, June 8, 2013

On A Day Like Today

On my mind
On a day like today
Thoughts of awe for the miracles
That have woven their way into my life this last year
Mostly in disguise and using totally ordinary names such as

A certain child's prayer
Voluntarily-completed household chores by non-complaining children (c'mon, you know that's a miracle!)
A service mission opportunity for my son
Surgery and relief from chronic pain for me
Unexpected vacation time with my husband in NYC
Answers to a certain child's prayer
An overwhelming response to the Gift Bags for Moms project (I still cry when I think of it)

In my heart today
Feelings of gratitude and humility
For the miracles in my life also known as friends
Friends both near and far, old and new
We, who have laughed and cried together
Served side by side
Watched our children grow up before our very eyes
Friends who have cared and called and carried me with their thoughtful words
Even though they didn't know they were doing it, or maybe they did
Friends who have been the greatest examples in the simplest of ways
I give thanks for all these miracles and many more
On a day like today



Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How Does American Mothers Inc. Honor Moms?

This post originally for the AZ American Mothers Blog.
I'll have more details (and pictures) later.

How Does American Mothers Inc. Honor Moms?
With luxurylaughter and love!

First luxury - this year the American Mothers Inc National Convention was held at the New York Waldorf Astoria. Yes, the Waldorf Astoria. Of course any hotel stay is a luxury for a mom, but the Waldorf provided historic, plush surroundings complete with fine dining and attention to detail. Even the dessert sported the iconic Waldorf logo.

Next, laughter - the attendees and honorees were treated to lunch with Kathie Lee Gifford. (Yes, the Kathie Lee!) She shared stories filled with humor and faith about what it means to raise children with character. She took questions and made time for pictures, too.

Kathie Lee Gifford & Tamara Passey - AZ
April 26, 2013

Montserrat Wadsworth - NV, Michelle Lehnardt - UT, Kathie Lee Gifford & Kim Hoey Stevenson - DE
April 26, 2013

Finally, Love! It started with warm greetings at registration and orientation, continued with  encouragement on speech day to settle nerves and finished with video tributes, celebration and hugs for everyone.

All this for mothers. Yes, the mothers. Mothers of the year, of the country, of the children they care for with dedication--in mostly ordinary but sometimes heroic ways.

Judy Ward AZ MOY, Mari Goodman AZ Mother of Achievement, Tamara Passey AZ YMOY
April 27, 2013
Thanks to AMI for valuing the work and sacrifice of mothers!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Of Words and the Way We Say Them

Of the several General Conference messages that have been on my 

mind since the weekend, this talk has had the most opportunity for 

application so far. Why is that? Oh, maybe because I'm a mom and

in any given day I talk to my children about a dozen different things. 

Some as ordinary as what they want for lunch and others as serious 

as what they are overhearing at school.

I've found myself reviewing and reflecting what I say, when I say it 

and probably most importantly, how I say it. 
I've made "perfect mildness" my new mantra.
Here's why:

"We can learn from that voice from heaven. It was not loud, scolding, or demeaning; it was a still voice of perfect mildness, giving firm direction while giving hope." 
"How we speak to our children and the words we use can encourage and uplift them and strengthen their faith."

~Rosemary M. Wixom , The Words We Speak, April 2013 Conference

This is a video of the full talk.

And then I came across this article:  10 Things I Learned When I Stopped Yelling

I appreciate the author's honesty and candor and # 6 about missing out on 

life moments made me stop and think. So here's to taking deep breaths and 

using a mild voice.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Conference Packets and How I Get Schooled . . . By My 7 Year Old

A tradition that started out (I think) as a single Conference activity page my children received in Primary once - has become a 553 page printable packet. Okay, I'm exaggerating. But that is how it felt the first time I tried to print one. I don't even know when I discovered what mother's were making for their kids. Cue the guilt. Fast forward to the day after Conference weekend where I see the discarded paper (and ink) and have to wonder, did it help?

This year, this week, it's been a little busier than usual so here is how the following conversation unfolded between me and my daughter on the morning of conference:

Me: Conference is about to start, do you want to print a conference packet?
Her (emphatically): No!
Moment of silence.
Me: What will you do during the conference sessions?
Her (exasperated): Um, listen!

So this brings me back to how I felt when I discovered the varied and novel-length packets, activities, games and three-day scavenger hunts through crocodile infested waters that some parents  provide their children as a way to help them 'get more out of Conference.'

Though I feel like I'm speaking blasphemy, here goes - could what we do to 'help' our children be a distraction from what they need most?

Let me explain. When I attended General Conference with my family, we drove 30 minutes to the Stake Center, listened by radio for two hours (until the year we had satellite) and then drove home. This was in the days before, well, everything. So what did I do? I listened. What it hard? Maybe. Did I understand everything I heard? I'm sure I didn't. But you know what? What I did hear and understand,  I liked. And I remember wanting to go back. In fact, I'm astounded at how much I did understand and remember.

So maybe this: don't underestimate your children. Don't print 30 page packets unless the Spirit prompts you in that Ensign-story-like way. Let them listen.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Three + Things I Learned Meeting the Governor (and Driving with my Daughter)

I never thought I'd have a reason to meet the Governor!
It turns out every year the Arizona Governor graciously meets the honored women from American Mothers Inc. This year AMI also honored Governor Jan Brewer with the "Mother of Accomplishment in Government" Award.

Once again, I felt honored and humbled to be there. Ironically, I felt a little less nervous than when we were introduced in the House and Senate a week prior. Maybe less nervous because my bio was not read out loud this time? Actually, I think it was because I was able to bring my daughter as a guest. (I could have brought her on the other visit, but she would have missed an entire day of school rather than just one class.)

Three things I realized:
1. My daughter is a great navigator. No wrong turns and we got there on time!
2. A long drive + no siblings = perfect way to find out what is happening in 9th grade.
3. Wanting her to have a good experience is a much better focus than me not wanting to do/say the wrong thing! In fact, when it was all said and done, I loved hearing her impressions of the visit.

Three more things I learned:
1. The Governor is gracious and witty.
2. She got involved in politics out of concern for her children's education.
3. The Executive Tower at the Arizona State Capitol  has a breathtaking view of Phoenix.

And as evidence that I haven't imagined all of this--
Here is the Governor's Press Release and pictures:

 Me (Tamara Passey) & Governor Jan Brewer 

Mari Goodman, Judy Ward,
Governor Jan Brewer, & Tamara Passey
Mr. & Mrs. Bond, Diane Matthews, Judy's Son, Judy Ward, Governor Jan Brewer, Susan Ray, Karen Miskin, Mari Goodman, Tamara Passey, Marissa Passey

Governor Receiving her award from AMI
Diane Matthews, Governor Jan Brewer, Susan Ray

View of Winged Victory & Phoenix & a bird mid-flight!

Marissa & Me

Just for fun, I've included a little trivia about the copper dome and white statue.
It's like we're living in the wild, wild west or something!

"The white statue that has been a permanent fixture atop the State Capitol dome in Phoenix for more than a century goes by several names.
She is called the Goddess of Victory, Statue of Justice and Winged Victory, but for a time the nickname Bullseye could have also been applied.
The zinc goddess was cast in Ohio and purchased by the Territory of Arizona in 1898 for $150. When the Capitol building was formally opened in 1901, the 17-foot sculpture was placed on top of the copper dome to serve not only as a symbol, but also as a weather vane. But it frequently didn’t get the respect it deserved because of the cowboys who regularly visited Phoenix at the time. After a hard night in the local saloons, the cowpokes often amused themselves by riding to the Capitol and firing their six-guns at the winged icon to make it spin. Years later, during a restoration, workers found bullet indentations on her wings."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Unexpected Honor

Well, here I am sharing something I never, ever thought I'd be writing about! And getting more personal than I usually do on the blog. But I couldn't find any way around it, if I wanted to say thank-you and spotlight a great organization. And I do, so here goes!

I was honored by American Mothers as Arizona Young Mother of the Year for 2013! To be honest, I didn't know mothers were still awarded with this honor- wasn't it the stuff of legends or myths? Much to my surprise this organization does still exist and they do a wonderful thing: Honor Mothers! 

I love this explanation of what they do, 

"We have never intended to say that our honored women are perfect, or that they are the best mothers in the state. But we hold them up as an example of mothers who find great joy in what they do. By honoring their accomplishments, and asking them to be our spokespersons, they can be a positive voice in a world that is increasingly dismissing the roles of mothers and fathers and functioning families." Janeen Wright

I do find joy in what I do as a mother. That is mostly because of the example of this great woman - my mom. She is the mother of seven children and you should see the way her face lights up when one of them walk into the room. She has taught me so much about enjoying every stage of life - of my children and my own life, too!

I'm so glad she and my dad were able to be there that night!

My Beautiful Mother
 These are two more women that were honored (there were more, but I didn't get all their pictures.) Mari received Mother of Accomplishment and Judy received Mother of the Year. Did I mention how humbling this was for me to rub shoulders with these wonderful mothers?
From Left: Mari Goodman, Judy Ward, Me
 Here I am feeling very thankful and also, if you look close (ok, please don't) you'll detect some relief. I had just finished the short speech I had been invited to give! Yikes! What could I say about mothering to a room full of fantastic moms? 
Humbled & Happy
 And a word about the man I love. He is a great father and his example teaches me so much. I have been blessed to always have his support. I can say this: he is a man that "gets it" when it comes to understanding how hard it is to be a mom.  
Steve, or  The Love of My Life in case it wasn't obvious!

And finally, for anyone still reading - is the quote I shared in my speech:

"The soul is healed by being with children."  ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Monday, January 28, 2013

Marriage Monday - For Fathers

It's not June, Father's Day is still five or so months away, but a few things have caught my attention and I wanted to share.

First, one of my favorite Family Circus cartoons - I don't have a link to it, so this will require your imagination (remember that little thing we used before google!!)
The mom and dad are hugging by the door and the young son is holding his mitt and says, "Are you gonna' hug her all day or can we go to the game?"

I don't even know why I liked it so much, except for the belief I have that every child deserves a dad and a mom that that hug each other. One of my earliest memories I have is of the year I started Kindergarten, my father would come home for lunch and he and my mom would hug in the doorway. I'd run and hug their legs before I'd leave for school.

Not much of a memory, I know, but the feeling --oh the feeling, happiness, warmth, peace, security and sweetness all rolled up into one little moment.

Imagine my surprise when our youngest began hugging our legs every time my husband and I shared a hug. It's gotten to the point where when we hug, it is like a magnet, or beacon, or we emit some sort of homing signal. She comes running from wherever she is in the house, I don't even know how she knows. And if we break before she reaches us, she pulls us back together so she can get in on the hug. Sweetness!

So enjoy these little links. The first is a video, the second is an article-but it's short and well worth the read!

Tribute to Fathers

Article-Three Things I Wish I Knew Before We Got Married


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