Memories of Mom, for is hosting a Queen for a Day contest and they asked me to help them celebrate Moms and stories. You can get all the details at the end of my post, but all you have to do is share a story about your mom. Here's mine ...

My whole life, whenever I ask my mom how she has managed to learn or do something, she says, “Oh I don't know. You just think you can do it, so you do it.” I’ve never seen Connie Hall shy away from a project or challenge of any kind. She has a quiet confidence and sense of self-trust that seems to subconsciously drive her interests and creative pursuits. She doesn’t talk about plans or necessary preparation. She just dives in. She isn’t limited by a lack of resources, or discouraged by mistakes. In fact, if something goes wrong, it seems to ignite more passion in her and she works with even more determination. She knows instinctively that things will work out and work out in a beautiful way. 

Since girlhood Mom has had an artistic flair with a sure grasp of what belongs and what doesn’t belong, at least visually. She spent hours with a dollhouse that her father built for her. She painted and decorated and built and arranged furniture and then she did it over and over again.  She attended high school in the 1950s and her favorite subject was home economics, where she especially took to sewing. She often designed her own clothes and even sewed dresses for formal dances. For Christmas one year, her mother bought her a longed-for Jantzen sweater with cut outs in the collar. She also began making Connie a surprise circular skirt from white felt to go with this sweater. One day, she left the skirt at the sewing machine to answer a phone call and while she was away, the light bulb in her machine burned a hole in the skirt. She did not have the time or the money to begin again, so she asked Connie to draw her a shape or flower of some kind that she could use for a “project” she was working on. My mother assumed this project was for her volunteer work at church, and she drew her a clover shape. Grandma cut dozens of these clover shapes from her scraps of felt and then set rhinestones in the center of each. She used one to cover up the hole and attached several others to the body of the skirt. She then scalloped the edge of the skirt and sewed a clover into each scallop. When Mom opened her gifts on Christmas morning, she was delighted and amazed. Her skirt was the prettiest she had ever seen and so unique, featuring the shape she had designed herself! When she wore this outfit, people would always stop to compliment her. She and her mother kept the secret—that in covering up the mistake, they had created something far better than originally planned. As I have thought about my mom’s ability to boldly share her talents and design and create without hesitation, I believe this experience with her mother undoubtedly shaped her. It was one of those ordinary moments that over the years has become extraordinary in it’s influence. 

There's no photo of the skirt in my story, but this is my mother, her little sister and my grandmother around the same time. 

There's no photo of the skirt in my story, but this is my mother, her little sister and my grandmother around the same time. 

When I was just a little girl, my father built a small-animal veterinary clinic. He didn’t want to spend money on artwork for the walls of the cat and dog waiting areas, so he commissioned my mother to create something. In college, she had majored in dance (her favorite form of creative expression), but she also took an art class where she learned the basics of mosaic. Mom decided to create two murals, one of lions and the other of penguins. This was not a small undertaking. As I remember it, each glass mosaic was huge—probably in the neighborhood of 5 feet long by 3 feet tall—featuring thousands of pieces of glass. Each picture took up the full space above the chairs on either side of the check-in desk. At about this same time, we moved into a new, but older house—somewhat of a fixer upper. My mom immediately set out to freshen things up. Because my dad’s practice was so new, money was tight. There was no budget for home improvement, but that didn't stop my mom. I remember sitting in the parked car behind the carpet store, with my younger brother. We waited for what seemed to be forever as Mom dug through the large garbage bins for scraps. She again employed her mosaic skills, this time with shag carpeting and a bucket of tar, to create a colorful patchwork rug that covered the floor in our large living room. She fashioned a TV shelf from an old door, which she hung from the wall with a big, black chain purchased at the hardware store, and she made her own drapes, sewing in small weights, so that they would hang properly. Keep in mind that all this repurposing was done without the help of Pinterest or DIY shows! 

On another occasion, I remember my mother wanting a stained glass lamp for our newly remodeled kitchen, as they were all the rage in 1975. Rather than spend her money on one lamp, she used it to sign up for a stained glass course from a master artisan and she then worked diligently to become gifted herself. She set up a small corner in our often chilly garage and spent hours there, cutting and soldering with all kinds of colored and textured glass and yards of lead came. She first created lamps and windows for our home and then ultimately designed and sold dozens of windows to people in our community. I remember getting off the bus at a friend’s house, to play after school one day and realizing that my mother had made the window by her front door. I remember thinking, “My mom is really cool!” A few years later, Mom read a book about a system of color analysis for complementing skin tone and dressing for success. She agreed with most of the concepts she studied, but had additional ideas of her own that would help make these concepts more understandable and useful for women, so she signed up to teach classes at a local community college and subsequently started a business to do color draping and personal shopping for the clients she met in class. To this day, she has people who call her up, and beg and plead with her to take them shopping. 

Now might be a good time to mention that while she was pursuing these interests and developing these many talents, Mom was quite busy at home with five children, ranging in age from high school to pre-school. In addition to keeping up with all of our activities, she often volunteered to teach ballroom dance or sew costumes for school and community productions both large and small. Birthday cakes and Halloween costumes were always homemade and she spent hours in the summer, canning and preserving the harvest of Dad’s big garden. She was mastering the balance of motherhood and personal fulfillment long before it was a topic in the media, and she was happiest when she was doing both. After I left for college and once all my siblings were in secondary schools, Mom decided she wanted to go back to school, so she began working on a degree in interior design. She eventually graduated and again went to work helping people, this time to beautify and personalize their homes. Her special niche was working within a limited budget. She helped clients honor the sage advice to, “Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make Do, or Do Without” in that she encouraged them to see through needless extravagance, make do with items they already had and loved and save for quality purchases that would make the biggest impact in the outcome of their combined efforts. She did not need to affiliate her services with a store or product of any kind, because happy clients kept the referrals coming. 

As empty nesters, my parents were able to finally build their dream home on a quiet little lake northeast of Seattle, Washington. Dad set the budget and Mom worked within it to compose her crowning work, which perfectly melds her love of color and design, with my Dad’s love of nature and animals. In this home Mom has been able to furnish and decorate to her heart’s content, and you’ll be glad to know that there is a wood floor for dancing and really nice carpeting that she did not have to lay herself! The walls showcase several pieces of meaningful art mixed with a lifetime of photographs that celebrate an ever growing family which now includes twenty two grandchildren. I know if someone were to ask her today how she has nurtured such a large, happy family and managed to pursue her interests, enjoying so many rich experiences, she would say, “You just think you can do it, so you do it!” 

Note: I'm still tinkering with my story, and I'm looking for a few additional photos, but I'm anxious to publish this post so that I can officially invite you to join with me in a fun campaign for Mother's Day. is hosting a Queen for a Day contest.

What are some stories from your mother’s life that inspire you?

Storyworth wants to hear about extraordinary moments, acts of everyday bravery, and the stories about your mom that you’ll just never forget. This is your chance to celebrate the woman that made you who you are - and if that woman happened to be your mother, grandmother, aunt, or someone else, we welcome you to honor them by telling their stories too! The winning entry will receive a $150 spa certificate. But, as of last week, they’re also going to post one of their favorite stories each week on their blog, and award that storyteller a $50 certificate to the restaurant or business of their choice. Send your stories and photos to our Community Lead, Hope, at She’ll work with you to edit your story before it is shared publicly.

Once I get my story finished I'll be uploading it to my page at StoryWorth and attaching it to my family tree at It's interesting, because just now, as I'm writing this paragraph, I received a phone call from my Dad. My mom is in the emergency room, because she was experiencing symptoms that suggest she may have had a small stroke. Everything will be ok, but this is a reminder to me that my beloved mother is not going to be available to me forever. The very BEST gift we can give our moms for Mother's Day is to set aside some time to write or help her write some of her story. You can use a solution like StoryWorth, or not, but in the end, it is these stories that we will treasure and it is these stories that we will be able to pass down to the next generation.

Do it, this year!

I'm excited to invite you to give a try. Because I'm a HUGE fan, they've given me a special 20% off code to share with my friends. All you have to do is click HERE to learn more and subscribe. 

My friend Julie Nelson

This is how I remember Julie's family in Chicago!

This is how I remember Julie's family in Chicago!

When Geoff and I moved to Chicago, IL in 1990 (so that Geoff could attend the Loyola Stritch School of Medicine we had been married just barely 6 months. We moved into an apartment in Forest Park and I was very eager to go to church and hopefully meet some friends. On the very first Sunday attending the Westchester ward (congregation) I saw a young father that looked familiar to me. Either that day or very soon after, we met Roland Nelson and his wife, Julie. Turns out Roland had lived in an apartment building very near one that I lived in at BYU, so I undoubtedly saw him walking to and from campus. Anyway, when we met, they seemed so "old" to me. They had been married 8 years and they had 2 children. I remember thinking, "Wow. I wonder what it will be like to be married that long and have children!" Julie was very welcoming and before long we were invited to dinner. As I got to know Julie better, I watched her closely. I liked the way she did things—I watched her relationship with her husband and I watched how she cared for her children. I was two thousand miles from my home and parents, and spent a lot of time alone, as Geoff was busy with school and studying. I was impressionable and I admired Julie a great deal. In 1992 I found out I was pregnant, which was a bit of a surprise, since we had planned to start our family closer to the middle or end of 1993, so that Geoff would be almost finished with medical school. Clark came in February 1993 and I needed to continue working full time to help support us. This meant I also needed to find someone to watch my baby, which especially with your first child is an overwhelming thought. Julie ended up being one of the people that tended Clark for me. I don't remember all of the details, but I believe she watched him two or more days a week. I also remember that I wished she could watch him full time, because I knew her home was a wonderful place to be. She was kind and loving, but also confident and capable. I knew that she was not just watching Clark, but teaching him and disciplining him in a way that I approved of. I wanted to parent like Julie did. Anyway, the point of these recollections is that my wonderful friend Julie has recently authored her second book on parenting. After Julie left Chicago, she managed a large day care facility and eventually got her masters degree in marriage, family and human development. Oh, and she also had three additional children and continued to manage her own home. 

It's been extra fun to read Julie's book, because I can hear her voice. She is funny and real and she uses personal stories to illustrate principles she is writing about. She reached out to me on Facebook to see if I would read her book and tweet about it, or share it in some way and now that I'm (nearly) done I want to do so much more. 

This book is 100% AWESOME. I've been reminded of things I know and need to do better, I've felt inspired to implement new ideas and with each chapter I find myself feeling really positive about my desire and ability to improve. I think that's most likely the goal, right? Sometimes you read (especially with marriage and parenting books) information and feel like "I just kind of suck!" You know? But that's what I like most about Julie's book. She is real. She uses humor and candor. She is clearly very intelligent and has done the research, but she just talks to you, as one who understands. She is, most importantly, a mother, who has been there and actually still is there. She's like me. We've both "launched" a kid or two, but we still have a long way to go and so when you read, you get this very helpful mix of what's proven and what's practical. I find myself saying, "I need to try that!" 

One of my favorite chapters is about family dinners, which with teenagers is something I really believe in. On many days, sitting down to dinner together (as difficult as that can be) is the ONLY time you will see, let alone talk to your teen. Julie reminded me of the things I already know (no electronic devices) but sometimes do not follow through on very well. She also gave me some great ideas for "Reprogramming the Script" which is needed, especially with teens, when conversations can become too much about homework or other unappetizing topics. She talks a lot about turning on your parenting power to influence your children in powerful ways. For example, you can make a secret goal with your spouse to sneak in at least one compliment to each child during the meal. Or you can increase a sense of awareness for each other by doing something a bit more intentional. I loved this idea:

Family RAK. Start by putting a cotton ball under a dinner plate. When dinner begins, everyone looks to see who has the cotton ball (“Warm Fuzzy”). That person secretly chooses another family member that they will do Random Acts of Kindess (RAK) for before the next mealtime. The Warm-Fuzzy person secretly puts the cotton ball under the RAK person’s plate before the next meal, and you do another reveal to discover who had the RAK done to them. Have them share what RAKs were done while you eat. This person then becomes the Warm-Fuzzy person and chooses another family member, and so on.
A photo I took in 2007 when we made the effort to see the Nelsons on a trip to Utah. Our families had done some changing in the intervening years!

A photo I took in 2007 when we made the effort to see the Nelsons on a trip to Utah. Our families had done some changing in the intervening years!

I'll end by sharing one other bit of wisdom. In the "Keep it Real and Call Your Grandma" chapter, Julie advises channeling your inner (or future) grandmother. In other words, at the brink of meltdown madness, try to step back and imagine what your grandmother would say or do. Grandparents are kid experts, they have survived the tough years, learned to overlook the stuff that won't matter and relish in the little things that will. She says, 

One way we can summon that older, wiser version of ourselves is through journaling or photography. When your toddler has taken your favorite tube of lipstick and “painted” you a pretty picture on your bedspread, step back and grab a camera. Through that “lens,” we envision a grandma looking, laughing, and sharing this story in future years. Writing down this frustrating, funny or cute experience in a journal will help capture emotions in a healthy way.

As a scrapbooker, I've learned and used this approach many times, with toddlers and now teenagers, and I'm grateful for every single photo that has possibly prevented a less appropriate response. 

I'm delighted that Julie sent me her book and that I can now recommend it to you. 

Collecting Family Stories: 2 Awesome Solutions

I can hardly believe I have been home from the RootsTech 2015 event for two months. I presented on March 14th -- yikes! Where does time go? My intention was to come straight home and write a post or two to share some of the cool experiences I had and here it is April already! Oh well. It's never too late to share good and helpful information, right?

So, I was lucky enough to score a position as a RootsTech Ambassador, which means I had access to the media hub. One of the features there is the chance to create video interviews. I signed up. When I arrived, I figured I'd better go find someone to interview. Luckily I had participated in the Innovator's Summit the day before, where eight companies in what I call the "family tech" space, who had already been selected as finalists were vying for prize money designed to help them further develop and grow their solutions. As I watched this process I chose my two personal favorites based on which services I would most readily use and appreciate. I decided that's who I wanted to interview, so I visited their booths and asked if they would come talk to me on camera. I love that "ask you shall receive" principle. It's a good one. 

So, here is my interview with Adam from History Lines and Nick from StoryWorth ...

I'll be sharing more about both of these companies in future posts, but I hope you will visit their websites and do some exploring.

StoryWorth. As mentioned in the video, I've been using StoryWorth since November and LOVE it. My parents and my husband and I are all writing stories and these stories are automatically shared with other family members and stored in my account. On Sunday night, we talked with Clark (away at college) and one of the first things he said when his picture came up on Facetime was, "Hey Dad, that was a great story you wrote about our family trip to Hawaii." I was cleaning the kitchen Saturday afternoon and overheard Geoff as he recorded the story with his iPhone. StoryWorth is working. We are preserving stories, sharing them and then talking about them. This makes me super happy. 

History Lines. When I conducted this interview, History Lines was in beta, but as of TODAY, the full site is up, running and 100% live. In fact, you can save 40% on an annual subscription through this coming Sunday, April 19th. All you have to do is enter the promo code SHARE40 when you register. I have subscribed at this discounted rate and have already created two stories. To better understand the potential for this service, you'll want to watch their video at

As a scrapbooker, I've pondered the importance of photos and words many times and I've spent 20+ years bringing them together, so that family moments and memories will live on. Now, as I look back at what I've accomplished and realize all that I still want to do, I know that what really matters to me are the stories. Photos are wonderful, but without information they have very little to offer in just one generation.

I am after the stories. 
These two websites are helping me in this quest. 

Ginger Bunnies

So, I've got this new blog and I've been spending some time reviewing and archiving old blog posts that are sitting on the old BPC server (my blog lived there as well.) As I do this, I'm thinking a lot about the kind of content I want to either bring back or repurpose in some way. When I get caught up thinking like this, I often feel sort of paralyzed and I just hover, which is basically what I've been doing for the last month! But (I think) I'm ready to begin this process of reloading and refreshing this new One thing I know for sure is that I'm excited to focus more on the family history side of my passion for storytelling. I don't think I'll ever stop scrapbooking, but I definitely want to focus even more on creating pages and projects and posts that illustrate and preserve family connections across generations. The Easter tradition that I'm sharing today is a great example of the kind of stories I'm after. 


I'm certain that I have blogged about ginger bunnies before (I have yet to unearth a previous post) but I want to revisit this story, publish my fist-ever scrapbook page about these cookies, link to a recent post I contributed to and then share some more recent photos, along with additional ideas for preserving and sharing this kind of holiday tradition over time. 

Easter 1998. Two little boys and one (much younger) mommy excited about carrying on a tradition started by my mother. You can read all about it here. When my friend Wendy asked if I could write about an Easter tradition that has spanned generations I thought, why yes, I can! 

My parents drove over from Seattle last weekend to see my son, Trey in our high school musical and while Grandma was here—and since I had just written my story and culled through years of Easter photos—AND realized that I didn't have a single photo of my mom with a bunny cookie, I decided to do a little photo shoot with her and Miss Addie. 

And you know what? I was reminded that it's all about interaction. Involve the people you love in meaningful activity and then step back with your camera and shoot. I am mostly a spontaneous everyday picture-taker, but in order to get more of these kinds of images, I need to do some deliberate scheduling and preparation. I hope that I will do this more often!

When I have years of similar photos (like annual and holiday traditions) I love to create simple photo collages that pair time-lapsed pictures. I save these images in my photo library and then share them in a photo stream that is easily viewed on our family iPad. 


This is my first multi-page story that I have created with the Project Life App. I hope that once I get it printed, it will work (or be viewed) the way I envision it. 

I'm planning on using a variety of page protectors (sizes) such that the narrow page will sit atop the next larger page and so that both will precede the full 12x12 page. I'm thinking I will select some pattern paper to cut and insert behind these pages in the protectors (not sure yet) and I perhaps I will add some additional journaling. 

The cool thing about scrapbooking today is that there are so many ways to tell your photo stories. I'm super grateful for that, even as all the options sometimes overwhelm me. 

Mostly I'm grateful for a mom who when I was a little girl, turned necessity into invention and planted the seed of a very fun tradition that is now observed on behalf of grandchildren in three different states. 


It's these holiday and other family connections that I dearly cherish. 
Happy Easter Everyone!