Friday, September 28, 2012

Project Life: Or As I LIke To Call It, My Experiment With Digital Scrapbooking.

A few months ago I decided to try something new...

Digital Scrapbooking.

Here are some of my first creations:
Please ignore the typos. = )
I am learning that I need to edit everything at least three times before I print it, post it, or tweet it.

For my digital creations I use:
Photoshop Elements 10
 Templates and the digital Clementine kit from Becky Higgins' Project Life
Patriotic Picnic Collection by Lori Whitlock
Hello Summer Collection by Echo Park
All-Star Collection by Echo Park
Wanted Collection by Cosmo Cricket

You can learn more about Becky Higgins' Project Life products at
You can learn more about digital scrapbooking and find all of the digital scrapbooking products that I use at

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Early Anniversary Gift

Yesterday some packages arrived. 

With our anniversary coming up I decided not to even look at the labels on the boxes in order to be surprised when our anniversary is here.

Tonight James pulled one of my presents out early. This sweatshirt. 

Hilarious! Where does he come up with this stuff?

I can't help loving that man of mine!

A lot of people have asked me where James got my hoodie. 
It was from

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Today is my little sister's birthday. 

Happy Birthday Dayna!!!! 

Here we are on the day you came home from the hospital. I sat in the car while Dad went into the hospital to get you and Mom. Mom always told me that she remembered seeing only the top of my head with my eyes peeking out of the back window of the Plymouth Duster waiting for you all to come out. We got home, I wanted Kool-Aid and then we took these pictures (I thought that my Kool-Aid 'stache was so funny).
 I had little sister and my life would never be the same.

I wouldn't trade you for anything though. I will never forget our back-to-school fashion shows, our moments of brilliant choreography (and thinking about it just now, I realize that we danced everywhere we could), or our knock-down, drag-out fights. 

We have had quite the adventures you and I. I hope that we have many more.

I love you sister!!!

I hope you have an amazing birthday and that all of your dreams come true!!!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Advice: Everyone Is Free To Wear Sunscreen

I am having a hard time writing the rest of cancer story. I am not sure how to put Mom's last weeks of life into words just yet. So I write about other things.

Recently one of our Target team members left Target to pursue a bigger dream. This girl started working at Target when she was in high school. I like to think of the high schoolers as growing up at Target so when one of them decides it is time to spread their wings I get nostalgic. I get nostalgic for a time and a place when  I was younger, fearless, and ready to conquer the world.
(I get nostalgic a lot lately.) 

We had a going away dinner for our Sarah and one of the girls said that they felt like they should say something inspirational. What advice do you give to a small town girl fearlessly heading out into the world to pursue her big city dreams?

 "Everyone is Free to Wear Sunscreen" was mentioned.

 I hadn't thought about it for at least ten years and then there I was later that night watching it on YouTube over and over again. 

Watching this at 34 years old. Different things stood out. Some advice included I felt like I needed to be reminded of, there was other advice that made me think "so true." Some of the advice made me laugh, some of it made me cry. Needless to say I was inspired all over again by the advice that Dayna and I listened to over and over again in 1999.

My favorites quotes from "Everyone Is Free To Wear Sunscreen":

Do something everyday that scares you.


Don't waste your time with jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long. And in the end it is only with yourself.

Enjoy your body, use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It is the greatest instrument you will ever own.


Get to know your parents you never know when they will be gone for good.

The older you get the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

James' Birthday Celebration

Last week we celebrated James' birthday. We started our grand celebration with the presentation of his gift (a Dallas Cowboys football helmet signed by one of his favorite players) and dinner at Market Street Grill in South Jordan. If you are ever at the Market Street Grill you must try their clam chowder. It is amazing! 

On Friday we celebrated with a dinner party at the Wyatt's. My in-laws Randy & Dina are amazing dinner party hosts. I am lucky to have them to help me with these birthday celebrations. Our menu consisted of steak, grilled shrimp, corn on the cob, and potato salad. Randy & Dina do such a great job with the food everything tasted so good. While Randy helped me serve the cake Dayna asked him if he had been a chef. His response, "No, but I get around." I think that Randy & Dina could give Martha Stewart a run for her money.

For dessert we had homemade ice cream and this yummy football themed cake from Dippidee in American Fork. It was a key lime flavored cake with raspberry creme filling. It was so delicious! Dippidee has the funnest flavors. I must go back there soon for a cupcake. They are to die for!!! 

In August I would ask James what he wanted for his birthday. His first answer was, 
"A crown. A crown that would rival the Queen's." 

I asked him again a week later. He answered, "A sombrero."
He doesn't remember telling me this and says that he must have been half asleep. 
But I will never forget it. It still makes me laugh.

Then on the week before his birthday he wanted a John Deere tractor and for a few days he specifically wanted a John Deere cotton picker. He knew the model number and everything. 

Taking these requests into account his mother made him the crown that he is adorned with in the picture below. They also bought him a bottle of hot sauce with a sombrero on the label. Last but not least, they gave him a remote control John Deere tractor. 

Maybe next year he will be a little more careful with his birthday requests.

I love you, James!!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

April 2012 Conference: The Race of Life

It was a quiet Sunday morning. The best time to be on MomWatch. It was on quiet Sunday mornings when you could feel a peace that I can only compare to the peace one feels in the temple. I let Mom sleep through most of the morning knowing that she needed her rest and knowing that it was only when she slept that she was able to forget about the cancer taking over her body. When she woke up I helped her get to the bathroom and then completed the morning medicine regimen. Then I asked, "What should we do now?"

Her answer was that we should turn on conference. It was close to the end of the morning session at this point and I wasn't sure we wouldn't turn it on to find them singing a closing hymn or saying the closing prayer. Instead we heard the words of our prophet, Thomas S. Monson...

"At some period in our mortal mission, there appears the faltering step, the wan smile, the pain of sickness—even the fading of summer, the approach of autumn, the chill of winter, and the experience we call death."

Mom and I looked at each other and then our eyes and ears were glued to the TV. The small bedroom we refer to as the "sick room" was filled with the spirit. It was as if the words of the prophet were spoken directly to us.

Watch Thomas S. Monson's talk here:

and then the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed this:

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, my Mom's favorite hymn. She sang in church a few years before. As the choir sang we were filled with the spirit testifying to us that God was mindful of our family and was with us in our time of need. We were both crying at this point, our hearts and souls full of the love of an eternal father. I looked at Mom and said, "I think that they just sang that song for you."

Just as I composed myself there was a knock on the front door. It was a young mother from Mom's ward, a .girl that I had grown up with. She had this look on her face like she wasn't quite sure what she was doing knocking at our door and yet at the same time knew that she needed to. She handed me a note for my mom and was gone. This is what the note said:

Dear Sister Neel,
My thoughts were all of you during President Monson's talk today. As well as the last hymn! The very beautiful song you sang in sacrament meeting months ago! The Lord is surely spreaking to you this day! You are a most blessed daughter of God. Thank you for your wonderful example and service. May you find courage, strength, and comfort this day. I LOVE YOU! And hope someday I can follow in your footsteps...t

I have seen this woman since that awkward day at Mom's front door, but I haven't been able to tell her how much her note meant to us that day and what it continues to mean to me. It's priceless.  A third party witness to our experiences of that day.