Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thank you, SANTA! HO HO HO!

After Lizzy and Jenny opened their presents on Christmas morning, I said, "Say thank you to Santa. He can hear you." They mumbled a halfhearted "thanks" and kept playing. A while later, I spied them in the backyard yelling, "Thank you SANTA! HO HO HO!" Apparently, they didn't believe me when I said Santa could hear them, so they took matters into their own hands.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Silly Show

Last week, Maia, Lizzy, and Jenny decided to produce "The Silly Show." First, Maia said, "Ready, Set, Go!" Then Lizzy and Jenny ran across the family room, slid into the kitchen, and dumped their faces in bowls of whipped cream. The funny thing is that Lizzy and Jenny wanted to do it several times! We all got a kick out of it. Thanks for planning that one, Maia!

Messiest Car Ever

Our family is notorious for having the messiest car ever. I have one friend that is hesitant to allow her daughter to ride with me. I try to tell her that I clean the car all the time, but when she looks inside and sees the pit of despair, she doesn't believe me.

Before we left for Utah for Christmas (to see the fam!), we cleaned the car. Look at what we pulled out before we put suitcases in! My next-door neighbor, Mandy, was horrified and awestruck at the same time--and made me take a picture.

Monday, December 12, 2011

12 Years Old!

Jake just turned 12 years old on December 12! Can't believe he's so old--and I'm so old!

Jake enjoyed his birthday party: about 20 12-year-old boys making pizza and watching a movie. I think, though, that they liked Pin the Tail on the Donkey best! He also loved receiving the priesthood and going into the Young Men's program. He is really excited to be able to pass the Sacrament and go to all of the youth activities!

Wearing the Christmas treats

Tonight, for family night, we delivered Peppermint Jo-Jo's to neighbors for Christmas. First of all, if you haven't had Candy Cane Jo-Jo's, you are missing out on one of the best things in life! Jake, Maia, Lizzy, and Jenny had a great time delivering gifts to neighbors. Hailey was a little bored, so we gave her chocolate-covered marshmallows to keep her happy. She certainly was!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sad news

It has been three weeks, and I can finally write about it. After seventeen weeks of being pregnant, I miscarried our little boy. Jeff and I were devastated. I lost a ton of blood, had a D&C, and had to stay overnight in the hospital until my blood pressure was high enough to send me home.

Jake and Maia were sad, but it didn't seem to affect them too much. Jenny didn't really process it. But Lizzy has kept talking about it. Three weeks ago, she said, "Our baby died. But we already have a baby [meaning Hailey, 8 months old]."

I thought that was all she would say. But then last week she said, "Mom, I miss Jesus. I want to see him. Maybe when we see him, he'll give us our baby back." I thought that was cute and told her that she was right--our baby was with Jesus.

Two days ago, she said, "Mom, what's our baby's name that died? I want to name it 'Asher.'" Jeff and I thought that was a good name, so we're going with it.

It's amazing how attached I became to a baby I never knew. But, we love baby Asher and are looking forward to meeting him one day.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Music Man Starts Tonight!

The Music Man is in town! This super cute local play is produced by a good friend of mine, Kirsti McCleary. Maia will be Amaryllis on Oct 13 and 21; Jake will be Winthrop on Oct 14 and 20. It's playing in San Clemente, CA. If anyone wants to go with me, I'll get you tickets!
(This is Maia--Jake is in a different cast)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pierced Ears!

Yesterday, Jeff and I took the kids and Maia's friend Kylie to the mall. Maia and Lizzy got the idea that Lizzy should get her ears pierced. Lizzy was super excited about it, but she looked a little nervous . . .

Once Jenny saw that Lizzy got earrings and a lollipop, she stepped up to the plate.

"Do you want us to hold your hand, Jenny?" we asked repeatedly.

"No." She was stoic, even when the Hello Kitty earrings pierced her ears. Her only tell was the leg that kicked three times after the pierce. Her first words belied her true intentions for hoisting herself into the chair: "Can I have a lollipop?"

Here's the happy group of girls with their new earrings--and lollipops!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

So Tired!

Jeff and I took Lizzy, Jenny, and Hailey to Disneyland on Friday night. We had a fabulous time, and the girls fell asleep on the stroller ride to the car. Jenny made herself at home in the basket below the seat!

Happy Back-to-School Day!

Jeff went to a meeting in Downey and brought back some YUMMY cake! Red velvet and chocolate--mmmm! So we celebrated happy back-to-school day! We liked the red velvet the best.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Adventures in Book Publishing!

I have been getting lots of questions from people interested in writing and publishing books. I love talking to people about their book projects, so I started this blog to connect with writers and anyone else who has a question about book publishing. I have tried just about everything once! I hope you like it--I'll be posting more of the book stuff there and keeping this blog focused more on my family. Go to if you're interested! My first post is below. . . .

Adventures in Book Publishing!

For the past seventeen years, I have participated in every aspect of publishing imaginable. First, I was a writer. Next, an editor. Then I became a typesetter and even tried my hand at cover design. Finally, after a long foray into academia, I settled into my life's work: publishing. I currently teach writing, visual communication, and other English/Communication classes at Arizona State University. I am also the publisher of Sourced Media Books--a new, traditional indie publishing house. In Spring of 2012, I will begin teaching a course on book publishing at Arizona State University.

I am one of those people who learns best from experience. I'm the jump-in-get-your-feet-wet type of person and can tell you I have made every mistake . . . once. I'm also quick to take advice from experienced pros and change course when I see myself going in the wrong direction.

After years of trying practically everything once, I can tell you all about traditional publishing, self-publishing, royalties, fees, agents, social media, and publicists from experience. I'm writing this blog to share what I know--so readers don't have to experience it all the hard way!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Interview with Debbie Osmond

I am going to be a guest writer on, a celebrity relationship website with the mission to promote enduring and healthy relationships. I wanted to write about how Aunt Debbie and Uncle Donny have made it work for 33 years. Aunt Debbie was so gracious and provided me with some excellent feedback on how she and Donny keep their relationship strong. I thought I'd post it here.

Is It Even Possible?

Can Celebrities Actually Have Enduring, Healthy Relationships?

Cheating. Scandal. Divorce. Too often, celebrity relationships end as a result of one of these unfortunate scenarios. Just this summer, George and Elisabetta, J.Lo and Marc, Derek and Minka, and Cameron and Alex called it quits. Even Buzz Aldrin and his wife of 23 years couldn’t make it last.

As celebrity breakups continue to provide headlines for the supermarket tabloids, we are sometimes left wondering, “Does anyone stay together, anymore?”

Fortunately, the answer is “yes.” Celebrities who take “for better or worse” seriously may not make the headlines, but they are out there. Two of those people are my aunt and uncle, Donny and Debbie Osmond.

Donny and Debbie were married in 1978 and have survived the highs and lows of show business together for 33 years. I asked Debbie how she and Donny have made their relationship last when so many have failed. In characteristic humility, she credits God and her family for helping to keep their relationship strong. But she also has a few practical tips.

Keep the Pressure Low. Donny is a perfectionist and rues over a single note gone awry. While he was performing in Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat on Broadway, he was struggling with considerable anxiety. Debbie eased his anxiety by keeping the pressure low. Every afternoon as he left for work, she would say, “Go have an average night, tonight.” She made him feel valued as a person apart from his performance on stage; and as a result, their relationship and his vocals were both stellar.

Keep Your Personal Life Private. Sometimes celebrities (like everyone else) allow work to consume them. As Debbie said, “The business can really take over your life if you allow it to. I enjoy having my family away from Hollywood so Donny can come home to a bit of reality, like enjoying the kids’ school activities, hiking, and just being a father. It helps everyone feel like show business is not our life but just a job.”

Love the High-Tech Communication. When Donny is away, he and Debbie constantly talk via phone or webcam. As Debbie says, “I love Skype! We laugh because we have a virtual dad!” It helps Donny, Debbie, and the kids and grandkids to feel connected when they can see and hear each other every day.

Unfortunately, there is no magic recipe for making a relationship 100% breakup-proof. But there are many celebrities who continue to keep their relationships strong—we just may not hear about them too often. Regardless of whether we are actors or actuaries, keeping the pressure low, guarding our personal lives, and utilizing technology to communicate are great practical tips that we can all benefit from.

Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D. is a faculty associate at Arizona State University, where she teaches Communication and English classes. She is the publisher of Sourced Media Books and co-author of Hope After Divorce and Full Bloom: Cultivating Success. Amy and her husband, Jeff, have five children and look forward to welcoming baby #6 in April 2012.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Jake's First Entrepreneurial Endeavor

Jake is a natural businessman. At age six, he was employing the principle of arbitrage quite effectively by making lucrative trades with a three-year-old--and Maia couldn't have been happier about it! At age eight, he was asking me for money instead of gifts for Christmas. At age nine, he started asking questions about the stock market. And last year, he asked for interest when I wanted to borrow some cash.

Last week was his first real entrepreneurial endeavor. He wanted a Nintendo 3DS, but he knew I wouldn't buy it for him. He looked through his drawers and tallied up his assets--an old Nintendo DS he got for Christmas three years ago and a used DSI from Christmas two years ago. So, he did a little research. He got me to take him to Game Stop and found that they would trade in games and the DS systems, but it wasn't quite enough. So, he decided to sell his DSI on Amazon. Five hours later, he was $65 richer. And with the DS and games trade-in credit, he was now able to buy the 3DS! I have to admit that I was impressed with his business acumen.

The only glitch in the system is that he priced his DS so well that he "sold" it two more times before we were able to take it down--so I had to cancel two orders and disappoint two customers. Here's one for the books, Jake: your first sale ever, ready to ship at the post office! I wonder what he'll grow up to be . . .

Disneyland--and a really exceptional man

Sarah, Adam, Noah, and Emma have been visiting us in Southern California this week. We have had so much fun! On Wednesday, we went to Disneyland. It was fun and HOT, as you can see--Lizzy and Jenny are practically melting outside!

While we were waiting in line at the Dumbo ride, I met the most amazing man. We struck up a conversation, and I found out that his wife died and left him with five children. Then he remarried and raised three step-children. Then he became a foster father, and now he was adopting one of his foster children. The little boy's mother was 12 years old when she gave birth to him and now has three other children. The little boy's great-grandmother is only 37 years old! I was so amazed that this man had such compassion and love for children, and it was yet another reminder that there are SO many good people in this world!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Maili McBride--cutest girl ever and author with a MILLION reads!

My super cute neighbor and friend, Maili, just reached a MILLION reads of her Young Adult novel, Wait! He's Real? on Wattpad. She's only 18 years old!! Wow! What would it be like to have your book read a MILLION times??? I'm so excited for her!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Birthdays :(

This month is birthday month for my family. Grandpa and Anneli's b-days are on August 20. Dad's is on August 28. Michelle's is on August 30. Steve's is on Sept. 6. And Sarah's is on Sept. 20. I'm missing ALL of them!

I love living in California, but I always feel sad during this time of the year. Yesterday I talked to Sar, and they were getting ready for Michelle's pizza party. Today, I talked to Shell, and she was talking about her b-day. Yesterday, I talked to Dad about his big 60. A few minutes ago, I looked at Mom's blog and saw all of the pics of Dad. And I'm going to miss Steve and Sar on their b-days, too.

As an adult, I am starting to understand what it must have been like for Dad to have missed our birthdays growing up. Of course, WE were sad when he couldn't be there--but now I understand how hard it must have been for him.

Okay, that was depressing. Maybe it's my pregnancy hormones.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ju-Ju-Be Photo Shoot

My good friend Rachelle and her husband started a fabulous line of bags called Ju-Ju-Be. They've been in Nordstrom for years, but they really rose to baby bag fame when Britney Spears was spotted with one a few years ago.

Rachelle asked my friend Mandy, me, and the little girls to do a photo shoot for the Fall line. (She already used Maia in a previous photo shoot). Of course, I was stoked! Jenny, Lizzy, and Hailey look like they had fun, too! I was nervous to do the shoot with Mandy, because Mandy has a model's body. Luckily for me, they were mostly there to shoot bags! Ha!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hope After Divorce

We recently published a book called Hope After Divorce. It is a collection of essays written by Christian women who have found hope through the Atonement of Christ. We published it because the other authors and I wished we had something like this when we were going through our divorces.

We never thought this would make money, but we wanted to do it because we thought it was an important book to write. A few days ago, I received the most wonderful email: "I read your book, Hope after Divorce. It is great. I cried and saw myself in so many of the stories. The one that hit home the most was Fairy Tales. I would advise anyone to read this book, for it is so inspiring. My book looks like one of my old school books with all the highlighting throughout it. Ha! But true! Thank you and all involved. I will be going back to it many times."

I am so grateful to this woman, because this comment alone made all of the work on the book worth it. I'm so happy that though these authors have all had such difficult experiences (one woman's husband left her to die in the middle of a 4-mile lake!), they have given so much of themselves and are now benefiting the lives of others.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Little Mermaid at the Tuacahn!

Jeff, Jake, Maia, Lizzy, Jenny, Hailey, and I have been staying in St. George for a couple of days. This is our first family trip--ever!--that we have taken by ourselves. We have taken lots of trips together, but we have always gone to see extended family or friends.

Tonight, we went to see The Little Mermaid at the Tuacahn amphitheater. It was a slam dunk! I liked the extra songs and changes in the play. But watch out for a little bit too much girl power at the end. In the play, Ariel kills Ursula with the trident, and King Triton says that Eric doesn't need his permission to marry his daughter. She can decide that for herself. Although I certainly appreciate feminism, whatever happened to good old-fashioned manly heroism? It tainted the play for me. But the kids didn't notice :)--they loved it!

New Video for a New Book!

We are releasing a book called Waffle Street on September 1. Here's the promotional video. What do you think? Would you read it? "Jimmy Jam" is the author of the book, and this is his story.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Tooth Is Out!

He did it!

Jake is pulling out his tooth as we speak!

Jake is trying to pull out his tooth as we speak! Is it going to come out tonight? Grandpa Osmond lent him his pliers . . .

Baby number 6 on the way!

Jeff and I are so excited--baby number 6 is on the way! Jake wants a brother, and Maia, Lizzy, and Jenny want a sister. Jeff and I are just excited!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A New Spy Movie!

My friend, Autumn, has a few famous cousins. One of them, Robyn Lively, is in a new movie on ABC next Saturday night! Check out the trailer--it looks fun!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

David and Goliath, Frodo and Gandalf, Hailey and Finn

Hailey and her cousin Finn are just a few months apart (10 months), and they look like they're going to be great friends! Hailey's got some growing to do, however, if she wants to take him on as a sparring partner!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Maia's Ju-Ju-be Photo Shoot

Maia had a great time doing a photo shoot for Ju-Ju-Be with her good friends Julia, Kylie, and Mikelle. I think her favorite part was swimming afterwards!

Lizzy and Jenny sing "Down Down Baby"

This is one of our favorite songs to sing together. I don't know why.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hailey's Nap

Hailey just learned how to reach for items and hold them! Much to Lizzy and Jenny's delight, Hailey was able to play My Little Ponies with them. It was some game--it tired her out so much, Hailey fell asleep sitting up with her head propped against the pony's legs.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Golf and Tennis for Jake and Maia

Jake and Maia have been learning to swing clubs and racquets this week at a golf and tennis camp. Jake is going with his cousin, Jason, and Maia is going with her friend, Kylie.

On the first day of camp, Maia and Kylie both happened to show up in the very same shirt! They swear it was a coincidence . . .

Shopping with the little girls

Lizzy, Jenny, Hailey, and I were in Nordstrom a couple of weeks ago. I was browsing by the shoes and turned around to see Jenny trying on a really expensive pair. Then Lizzy got in on the game. They marched around in their shoes but took the time to pose for me. Thanks, girls!

What happens when you potty train Jenny . . .

Time to buy some more toilet paper :).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lizzy in the Hannah Anderson Catalog

Lizzy's stint in the entertainment field was extremely brief (remember how she decided not to go into the Cheerios audition after I drove her up there for 2 1/2 hours?). But, she got a catalog spread out of it! She's the cutie pie in the pigtails and blue shirt.
Now Lizzy can always look back on her modeling days!

Friday, July 8, 2011

I need some advice . . .

A couple of months ago, you were kind enough to send me questions for a communication advice column. I have spent the past little while designing the website and answering the questions. I'm on one site but am getting ready to submit a proposal to the Orange County Register. I was wondering if you might be willing to give me some feedback?

If you're willing, go to and click on the tab "conundrums." That's where the communication advice column comes up.

Thank you in advance for anyone who would be willing--I would really appreciate it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jenny's dance

Jenny was born to be a dancer. It is not uncommon for me to hear "Look, Mom!" at a store, park, sporting event, or neighbor's house and see Jenny in some unique pose.

Jenny can even find a way to dance to music that is, um, maybe not as melodic as we'd hope. Here she is dancing to Jake's 5th grade band concert.

The Mud Run

On Saturday, my friends Autumn, Cara, Lou Ann, and Shelley ran the Camp Pendleton mud run with me. We swam in the lake. We ran (well, walked) up "slippery hill." We jumped over walls. And we army crawled through mud to the finish line. It was pretty nasty, but it was Oh so fun!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Jake's 5th Grade Band Concert

Jacob's band concert was tonight. It was possibly the best concert I've ever seen. My eleven-year-old boy was sitting up straight, concentrating so hard, keeping time with his body, and bouncing to the rhythm of the music. It was a fantastic night!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hailey Is 3 Months Old!

We call her "perma-shock." What a cutie!

Praying the Pledge of Allegiance

A couple of nights ago, we asked Jenny to say her prayer. She folder her arms, closed her eyes, and said, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, for liberty and justice for all."

We were stunned. We had absolutely no idea that Jenny knew any of the Pledge of Allegiance, much less the whole thing! So, we asked Lizzy if she knew it, too. What do you know, she also knew the whole thing!

Their preschool teachers are doing a great job :).

Here is the video of Lizzy and Jenny saying the Pledge of Allegiance. So cute!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jeff and me on a romantic vacation . . . with Hailey

Jeff and I took a fun weekend vacation to Pismo Beach! I had never been to Central California before, and Jeff loves the scenery there. So we took Hailey and went golfing!

Hailey loved being outdoors.

I got some snazzy new golf shoes. But I forgot how to golf!

Jeff and I saw TONS of dolphins.

And we were so excited to see our beautiful family when we got home!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

With Donny, Marie, and Baby Hailey

My niece, Amy, stopped in at Walmart signing to say hello wit... on Twitpic

I had a great time introducing Aunt Marie and Uncle Donny to baby Hailey! It was great to see them for a few minutes and chat about life and everyone's families.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Things I've forgotten!

Jeff and I went to Pismo Beach this weekend for Jeff's birthday. We had such a great time! On the way there, we started talking about the funny things that our little girls used to do.

Lizzy, for example, was an exceptionally curious child. If Jeff or I said something she didn't understand, she would say in her little chipmunk voice, "What you say?" She had the same inflection as Gary Coleman on "Different Strokes." "What you talkin' about, Willis?" and "What you say?" have now been incorporated as part of our everyday vocabulary.

Jenny's prayers could use some work. But it's not because she hasn't been practicing. She started saying them when she was just one year old, and they went something like this: "a;lskrjweipacvoiajawer. Amen!" Her mumblings with folded arms combined with an exuberant "Amen!" were a delightful spectacle we will miss.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Noah loves his baby sister!

My sister Sarah just had a beautiful little girl, Emma, this week. Her three-year-old, Noah, was not excited about having to share his mom with the baby. At first, he refused to believe that Sarah was pregnant.

"Mommy's going to have a baby," Sarah would say.

"No you're not," Noah would retort.

But when the baby was born, Noah decided to check her out. Two days later, he excused his dad, Adam, from the room, for some alone time with the baby. Adam put Emma in Noah's lap and left the room, staying behind the door to see what was going on.

"Once upon a time, there were three little pigs," Noah proceeded carefully. Emma liked the story, so he kept going. And when his audience became a little fussy, Noah consoled,

"What's the matter, Emma? Are you scared of the Big Bad Wolf?"

Sounds like Noah and Emma will be great little friends!

Too Late, Mommy!

Yesterday, Jenny and Lizzy were sitting at the breakfast table, eating their cereal. I was in the rocking chair, feeding Hailey.

Lizzy, ever the helpful child, yelled, "Mommy! Jenny is sticking her hands in her cereal!" (For some reason, Jenny loves putting her hands in her food. Anything liquid, actually. Loves the texture? I don't know.)

"Jenny, Don't put your hands in your cereal," I half-heartedly echoed Lizzy.

Jenny turned around, flashed me her prettiest smile, and said, "Too Late, Mommy!"

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Help! I need questions for an advice column!

I just found out that I am going to be writing a family communication advice column on! I'm very grateful for the opportunity.

But now the real work begins. I was wondering, could anyone that reads this blog send me a question or two that they have about family communication? I need to generate some articles for a weekly column.

If so, you could respond to this post or email it to me at A sample question and answer can be found at You can also find it on my personal website,

Thank you so much in advance to anyone who is willing to send in a question!

The very brief entertainment career

My children enjoyed a very brief entertainment career. They were in and out faster than a lobster in hot water.

Jeff and I were introduced to the idea when a scout approached us at the mall and said, "Your daughters are beautiful. Have you considered getting them into modeling and acting?" After the second time in two weeks, we decided to explore the opportunity.

We took our children to acting lessons. We got them an agent. And we started going to auditions. While Jake and Maia had talent (several agents wanted to book them) they were completely uninterested in going to auditions. So, I focused on Lizzy. Lizzy got her first (and last) job as a model in the Hannah Anderson fall catalog.

Next, I took Hailey to a call back (the producers had seen her picture and liked her). But when I walked into the room, I was the only Caucasian person there and found out that they were actually looking for a black baby. They had thought from Hailey's picture that she was African American!

I was somewhat annoyed that the four-hour drive was totally wasted but decided to go up again for an audition for a Cheerios commercial. Lizzy, I thought, would be a good candidate. After all, she had enjoyed the Hannah Anderson photo shoot.

We walked into the waiting room, and Lizzy was excited. We practiced her lines, which she executed flawlessly. But when we walked into the audition room, Lizzy panicked. "This isn't the right room!" she said nervously. She hid behind my legs and refused to come out. The interviewer excused us, and we decided to try one more time. But she was stubborn--and by this time, she was having none of it. She put on her famous pout and stood like a marble statue while I tried everything I could think of to get her to perform. Threats ("I'll make you take a nap when we get home"), bribes ("I'll buy you a toy"), excitement ("Isn't this so fun!"), and even guilt ("Mommy drove all the way up here and will be so sad if you don't do this") were useless. In the end, I hung my head, defeated. And we drove home.

On the way home, I called the agent. "I'm sorry, we won't be able to do this, anymore," was my lame explanation. But as I finished the drive home, I started to feel a weight lift off my chest.

I had given the kids the opportunity to be part of the entertainment field, and they weren't interested. Done. I had found out that the kids weren't meant to be in the field. Done. And life had just become a lot simpler. Done.

Without Lizzy's stubbornness, I would still be trekking up to Los Angeles every week for another boring audition. I guess there are some benefits to her stubborn streak--given to her by both her mom and dad!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"I Changed My Mind"

Jenny and Lizzy are taking swimming lessons at the public pool on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Lizzy is potty trained, but Jenny is not.

Before I put Jenny in the pool (with plastic pants and a swim diaper), I told her, "Jenny, don't go to the bathroom in the pool."

"Okay, Mommy," was the response.

The swimming lesson went, well, swimmingly. And when it was over, I attempted to have a bonding moment with my two-year-old. I scooped up Jenny into my arms and said, "Jenny, great job! I'm so proud of you!"

All of a sudden, I felt a warm gush running down the entire length of my body. Jeff, who was watching the scene, commented: "I think she peed on you."

"Did you pee on me, Jenny?" I asked.

She innocently replied, "No." But then she thought about it for a second, smiled mischievously, and said, "I changed my mind."

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Communication Column?

This week, I found out that I have a potential opportunity to be the family communication columnist for a cool website (I'll let you know what it is if it works out!). I just submitted this sample column to be considered. What do you think? Likes? Dislikes?

Dear Amy,

Lately, my son has been having a problem with bullying at school. A group of children have targeted him at recess and have been calling him names like “tiny” and “shrimp,” which makes him feel really bad. Is there anything I can tell my son to help him feel better or change the situation? --Perplexed

Dear Perplexed,

If your child is the victim of severe bullying, then you may need to intervene on his behalf. But if he can shift his perspective enough to handle the situation on his own, he will gain confidence and self-esteem that he is capable of successfully handling difficult life experience. An abundance of research continues to show that people who view life from positive perspectives are happier, more successful, and live longer.

Here are a few things to try:

1. Consider the Source. Sometimes, bullies target weaker children because they feel powerless in other aspects of their lives. Maybe there is contention at home. Maybe they have overbearing or controlling parents. Maybe they are not receiving the attention they need at home. Or maybe they have Asperger syndrome or ADHD and simply can’t control themselves. Reminding your son that the problem lies with the bully, not with him, can help to give him perspective.

2. Remind Your Son that He Is Special. Bullies target specific children for a specific reason. Sometimes it’s because the bully feels threatened in some way. Is your son more intelligent, a better artist, more popular, or better looking? Your son is being victimized for a reason, and it is quite likely that he is special in some way that threatens the bully.

By telling your son that he is being bullied because he is special and the bully is jealous, you can help your child shift his perspective from viewing himself as a powerless victim to being a special, important person—a place of power.

3. Cultivate sympathy, not Fear. Telling your child that the bully is jealous will have another important effect on your son’s perspective and the way he handles the situation. Bullies rely on fear of their victims to feel powerful. So framing the bully as a jealous, insecure child will help your child feel sympathy rather than fear for the bully. The emotion of pity comes from a place of power and security. It also fosters the desire to resolve conflict and will help your child treat this problem as a non-issue.

My son, Jacob, was the victim of some mild bullying last year. A boy (whom we will call Jonas) started targeting Jacob and took every opportunity to criticize him at school. Jake came home discouraged one day, saying that Jonas was calling him names and being generally difficult. Our conversation went something like this:

“So, Jake, do you have any idea why Jonas is being mean to you?”

“No. [Silence while he was thinking.] Well, he used to be best friends with Cole, and now I’m best friends with him.”

“So, do you think he is a little bit jealous of you?”

“Jealous?” [Clearly, this had never occurred to him before.]

“Yes, it would be hard to compete with someone as cool as you.”

“But we can all be friends.”

“Maybe he feels like you don’t like him. Is there anything you can do to help fix that? Maybe invite him over or try to play with him at school?”

“Yes, I could invite him to play with us.”

Then Jake hopped out of the car and went to school. About a month later, Jake was listing his best friends. Guess who was on his “A” list? Jonas. Now, I realize that every situation is different, and Jonas could easily have been one of those people who simply didn’t like my son. But by framing Jonas as an insecure child, Jacob felt powerful enough to reach out and form a new friendship.

Good luck, Perplexed! Your son is lucky to have a mother who cares so deeply. I’m rooting for you.

Dr. Amy Osmond Cook received her Ph.D. in communication at the University of Utah. She teaches communication and negotiation classes at Arizona State University.

As the mother of five children, Amy frequently has the chance to practice her negotiation skills and is convinced that children are the toughest negotiators in the world. She is the author or editor of numerous books; and her latest, Negotiate That! Negotiating with your Children without Losing Your Mind, will be published in Spring 2012.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Belle and Ariel

Yesterday, I took Lizzy, Jenny, and Hailey to the mall to play. Lizzy and Jenny were delighted to be part of the "Imagination Parade." Can you tell who is Belle and who is Ariel?

While Hailey didn't get to participate in the parade, she seemed to be having fun. This is the best picture we've been able to take so far!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Maia's Family Night

Maia is my Family Night guru. We try to have family nights on Monday night, which includes some type of spiritual thought or lesson. Lately, Jeff and I have turned that duty over to Maia for three reasons: (1) She likes to do it;(2) she lets the little girls help her plan; and (3) she does a good job! But even Maia grows weary of planning lessons.

Last Monday, Maia planned a family night on "developing your talents." She started in telling the parable of the talents. Then she said, "We all have talents. One talent is doing your homework. Like about Mars." Then, without any further transition, she started to read her homework--the entire page!

Here's what we learned from Maia (word for word).

Facts About Mars
By Maia Bingham

1. Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System.
2. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars.
3. It is often described as the "Red Planet .
4. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere.
5. The rotational period and seasonal cycles of Mars are likewise similar to those of Earth.
6. The tilt that produces the seasons.
7. The first flyby of Mars occurred in 1965.
8. A lander directly sampled water ice on July 31, 2008.
9. Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are small and irregularly shaped.
10.Mars can easily be seen from Earth with the naked eye.

Who knew you could learn so much from your children on Family Night?

You Felt My Feelings!

Today, Jenny DIDN'T want me to chase her around the playground. Usually, she begs and pleads all day long to "Get ME! Get ME!" I will then halfheartedly chase her around the house while balancing the baby in one arm and the phone in the other.

But today, Jenny was otherwise occupied and apparently only likes to play the "Get ME" game when it's her idea. When I tried to initiate it, she screamed in annoyance, folded her arms, and said, "You Felt my Feelings!"

"I hurt your feelings?" I replied.

"Yes. You Felt My Feelings."

Jake's AWESOME day!

This week has been a big week for everyone!

Jake had THE BEST day on Thursday! First, he came home with a stellar report card. Then his guitar teacher wanted to spend extra time with him because he's doing really well. Then his swim coach promoted him to the higher swim team--all in one day! It's days like this that keep both him and the taxi driver (that's me) going!

You can tell Jake is getting older because his sense of humor is changing. Lately, he's been into doing "Chuck Norris" jokes. Here's one:

"Not only does Chuck Norris know the last digit of pi, he has also counted to infinity . . . twice."

I'll try to upload a video of him telling Chuck Norris jokes tomorrow. But tonight I am beat! Got to go to bed!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Are we having ANOTHER baby?

Hailey is a wonderful addition to our family! Having a newborn makes everyone a little sweeter, a little more sentimental, and a little more concerned about what really matters.

When we came home, my sweet little Maia kept asking to feed and hold Hailey--as long as she didn't cry.

When we came home, Jake wanted to hold his baby sister, too. But he is a little bit nervous holding someone that small.

When we came home, Jenny said, "I don't like her." Then she said, "I don't like her belly button." Now she loves her. Luckily, the adjustment period didn't take too long!

But it was Lizzy's reaction to my coming home that I will always remember. When we came home, Lizzy took one look at my still-bloated belly and said, "Mom, are we having ANOTHER baby?"

Friday, March 4, 2011

Hailey, 3 Days Old

Hailey has already brought so much joy into our lives! And she keeps on getting cuter! My only complaint is that her schedule is backwards--she sleeps during the day and wakes up at night. But I really shouldn't complain: she eats, sleeps, and goes to the bathroom well! Can't ask for more than that :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Here's Hailey!

We are so excited to have our little Hailey join our family! Here are her stats:

Name: Hailey Anne Cook (named after Jeff's sister, Melissa Anne)
Birthday: Feb. 28, 2011
Time: 5:09 p.m.
Weight: 7 lb. 1 oz.
Length: 19 inches

Jake and Maia are doting older siblings. Lizzy can't stop stroking her head. Jenny's still making up her mind, but we think they're going to be best friends :). Her dad LOVES to hold her, and so do I!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pokemon Mania!

Jake is a typical 11-year-old boy. He likes to swim, he plays the guitar, he looks adorable in his Boy Scout uniform that is three sizes too big, and he absolutely LOVES video games!

Today, I spent an hour and a half after school taking Jake and his friend to download the limited-edition Pokemon "Celebi" at our local GameStop. It was a long process, but it was worth it. Look how happy they are!

If only I could remember to savor the simple pleasures of life!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Shopping with Dad

Lizzy and Jenny have a few loves in life: Dora the Explorer, the mall (Lizzy's "favorite place in the whole world!"), staying up late, puzzles . . . child-sized shopping carts.

Every time we go to the store, they race to see whether there are any "shopper-in-training" carts available. I usually let them push the groceries around, although Jenny usually runs into the backs of my legs at least once during the adventure.

A few days ago, Jeff took the little girls shopping. As you can see, they were in heaven. Staying up late AND pushing a shopping cart around--what could be better!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Be careful where you stuff your face!

Yesterday, as I was wolfing down a Veggie Works burrito from Del Taco with one hand and driving with the other, I was reminded of a time when I was pregnant with Lizzy . . .

The event: Ethics class for my real estate license. The time: Mid-day, lunch. The sitch: I was super pregnant and super HUNGRY!

On my way home from the class in Lake Forest (about 40 minutes away from my home), I decided to grab a sandwich and eat it on the run. The sandwich was falling apart at the seams, so I decided to stuff it in my mouth as quickly as I could. I knew I was a sight but thought, "At least no one sees me."

Three days later at church, my friend Maryam called to me from across the foyer: "I saw you! I saw you! You were stuffing your face in the car in Lake Forest!" She then proceeded to imitate my sandwich-eating in front of at least ten other friends!

Apparently she was also driving in her car and spotted me on the road. I have to admit it was a pretty good impression!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cops and Robbers . . . and Marijuana

Sometimes adults need a break from life, a chance to revisit their adolescence, an opportunity to let loose and play. That's what my friends thought they were doing last night.

The game was "Cops and Robbers." Five couples divided into teams (boys against girls, of course) and tried to spot each other while they trekked back to base, hopefully without being seen. Each team had to stay together, and they were declared "out" when they were spotlighted with a flashlight from the other team.

My friend Tina was one of the cops at the time. Together with four other friends, they drove up and down streets in the neighborhood hoping to catch their husbands dressed in black before they reached home base (i.e., the park).

Shortly before they reached the park, they spotted five men dressed in black. Excited, they spotlighted them, yelling, "We caught you! We got you! Come back!" When the men kept running, they chased after them, perplexed that their husbands were cheating. They were supposed to stop when they got spotlighted.

Tina and her entourage didn't catch their husbands, so they went back to home base--the park. Their husbands were already there.

"Why didn't you stop when we caught you?" they asked.

"We were already here when we heard you yelling," they explained. "But we did see five teenagers dressed in black sprinting through the park scared out of their minds. Oh, and they smelled like they'd been rolling doobies."

What started as a simple game of cops and robbers ended up as an accidental drug bust by five middle-aged moms! Oh the irony!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Look-alikes, basketball games, and new website and book

Today was a great day! We spent the morning hanging out with our cousins, who are staying with us for a few days. Then we took Jake, Maia, and Lizzy to an audition, where they performed their monologues and commercials in front of an agent. The agent said Lizzy looked like Marie's daughter. Darn, I thought she looked like my daughter! :)

Here's a pic of me at age 2-ish and Lizzy at age 2-ish. There's a slight resemblance, although I agree that she looks more like Jeff!

After the auditions, we went to Maia's basketball game. They didn't win but gave it a valiant effort!

My company, Sourced Media Books, just finished updating the website. It's totally different with lots of new features. Check out

We have also just finished a new book called "Full Bloom: Cultivating Success." It's written by 27 highly accomplished women, ranging from doctors to business owners to stay-at-home moms, on what success means and how to achieve it. Preview it at