Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Joy of Having Children

I have two beautiful daughters and one handsome young baby boy. They are between the ages of 5 and 3 months. They have changed the lives of my wife and mine in many ways. They have made us better people and helped us to put the important things first in life. I wanted to share five important things that my children have taught me in the short five years that they have been in our lives.

1. Unconditional Love. You haven’t experienced true love until you hold a fresh from heaven baby boy or girl in your arms for the very first time. You watch this newborn child grow and grow over the years into their own little person. They will drive you crazy and make mistakes, but your love will never change; it is unconditional. My own daughters make my heart melt when they say they love me or give me a hug. Each night I sit my baby boy on our bed and look at him and he smiles back and makes little noises and I know that he loves me as much as I love him.

2. Pay more attention to the simple things. Something my daughters have taught me is to take more time to notice the simple or seemingly small things in life. They love to smell the roses in our front yard. Quite often I rarely spend much time looking at them, let alone smelling them. My girls love to watch the birds eat on the bird feeders, play outside in the grass, and just lay on a blanket on the grass, while looking up into the blue sky. They have taught me that some of the best times in life are the more simple things.

3. It is the quantity of time, not just quality. Too often we hear that it doesn’t matter the quantity of time, it is the quality of time spent. I have to say that my kids have taught me that it is both. I have spent many hours with my girls playing games, going for walks, playing outside, playing at the playground, and I can say that the time I have spent is quality because it is quantity. They have taught me that it doesn’t always matter what we are doing, it is just nice that Mom and Dad could do it with them.

4. The joy of being gone and coming back. The most exciting time of my day is driving home and anticipating my girls’ faces sticking in the front window waiting for me to drive in the garage. As soon as I walk through the door my 2 girls come running excited to give me a hug. When we return to heaven I know the long awaited reunion will have the same joyful excitement.

5. The importance of hugs, kisses, and your attention. My little girls like to give me hugs and kisses. They have helped me to understand the need to be loved and shown affection on a daily or even hourly basis. They also love to show me things and have me watch them do things like riding their bikes, coloring pictures, and doing various activities.


Children bring that certain magic to our lives. They are the lifeblood of our souls. Learn from them, love them, and help them to know their importance in this world to you and others.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Cougars Late Season Meltdown and the Packers Miss the Playoffs

The BYU Cougars finished the 2008 football season with a disappointing Las Vegas Bowl loss to the Arizona Wildcats by a score of 31-21. Arizona’s QB, Willie Tuitama, threw for 325 yards and 2 TD’s, adding a run for another touchdown, to key the Wildcats’ victory over the Cougars. Max Hall threw for 328 yards and a TD, and also ran for a TD, but also threw a costly interception. The BYU offense was not able to keep up with the WildCats. The Cougars running game got going as well with 116 yards total.

This loss and the disappointing loss to the Runnin’ Utes of Utah capped off a 10-3 season that began with high expectations, but finished with 2 difficult losses against very good teams. The Cougars only losses this year were against TCU (who won the Poinsettia Bowl against undefeated Boise State) and against Utah (who are set to play Alabama in the Sugar Bowl). BYU has both Max Hall and Austin Collie returning which should help their offense pickup where they left off this year. The defense has been the biggest problem for the Cougars and will hopefully improve this offseason and be stronger and more experienced to help the Cougars overcome some of the inconsistencies in that area this year.

BYU is a joy to watch with their high flying offense and strong passing game. They will be back in 2009 with a great team that will again have high expectations. Hopefully they can break into the BCS this time and face off in the national championship game.
Go Cougars!


The Green Bay Packers have just finished a disappointing season as well. They were able to win their final game against the Detroit Lions 31-21, but lost the last 7 of 8 before the season finale. They missed the playoffs this year after making it to the NFC Championship game in last year’s playoffs.

Green Bay, like the Cougars, featured a high-powered offense but lacked the defense to stop the opposing teams. There were some injuries that weakened the defense, but they should have been able to compensate for those losses. They were unable to and finished the season a measly 6-10.

The Packers will be returning all of their players next year and with a high number 9 draft pick along with a few key free agent signings, could very well be a team to watch next year. They should be able to make the playoffs in the 2009-2010 season. I will continue to watch and cheer for the Packers regardless of their season record.

Go Pack Go!


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Friday, December 26, 2008

Games for Kids and Adults

Winter time is a perfect time to play games. It is too snowy and cold outside so the best thing to do is pop up some hot, buttery, microwave popcorn, and pull out some card games and board games. There are many games that your children can play that will keep them busy for hours on those frosty afternoons in January and February when the excitement of the holidays has past. There also many ideas for games for the parents and older children that can be played while the younger ones are playing their games or have gone to bed.

Here are a few ideas for children’s games that can be enjoyed any time of year, but are especially fun when it’s winter time and you are stuck inside the house with a big bowl of popcorn and a steaming, cup of hot cocoa by your side.

1. Chutes and Ladders/Candyland: These are a couple of classic games that are easy to play for younger children and are fun because of the little people used. In CandyLand the cards have candy on them. These games are some of my own kids’ favorites.

2. Memory games: These games are fun because the kids love to match the cards and see the different picture on each card. This game is available in all kinds including My Little Pony, Dora, and other themes.

3. Coloring and Activity Books: Kids love to color and show their parents how good they can stay in the lines and enjoy the praise that parents give them. They also enjoy the dot-to-dot and other activities that come in many of the coloring books that are sold nowadays.

Take time as parents in playing these games with your children to teach them how to play. At times you can let them play by themselves and their siblings, but all children like to play with their Mom and Dad every now and again. Play with them on any day, but it is a lot of fun to set a special night aside for the whole family to play games together.

It is fun to play with your kids, but parents and your older children need time to play games that are a little more challenging. Here are a few ideas of games that can be played with as little as 2 people.

1. Racko or Phase 10: These are a couple of my favorite games. These card games require little set up and can be played with 2 or up to 6 people. My wife and I have enjoyed many games of Racko over the years (I think I am the all-time leader).

2. Monopoly or Risk: These board games are a couple more of my favorites. I have spent many hours over the years (especially in my teen years) playing Risk.
Monopoly is a lot of fun, too. It is amazing how competitive we get even as adults when it comes to games.

3. Any new game: My wife’s brother is a game expert. He loves to play games and has a lot of games that I have never heard of. Take the time to learn some new games and find which ones you really enjoy. A couple of games that my brother-in-law introduced to me were Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Cataan. I have played the game Ticket to Ride many times now and it is one of my favorite board games.

Playing games together is a great way to spend time with your children, your spouse, your siblings, your friends, and your whole family. It’s important to spend quality time interacting with one another and enjoying something together as a family. Have a great winter and pull out those games to have lots of fun (at least until Spring).


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Monday, December 22, 2008

College Bowl Games and NFL Playoffs (these are a few of my favorite things)

With the holidays here and soon to be gone, the fun things to look forward to and enjoy are far and few between. I love the holidays because of the time away from work, being with my family, getting and giving gifts, eating good food, and many other things. Once this time is over, there is a let down or what others refer to as post-holiday blues. I have the perfect cure for those suffering from such a problem----football.

January is the best month out of the year for football. First it begins with college bowl games. The bowl games are no longer just a New Year’s Day activity; they span over the course of a few weeks with the best games coming during the week after New Year’s Day. You have the BCS bowl games which pairs the top 10 teams in the nation against each other. This year on New Year’s Day the Orange Bowl features Virginia Tech and Cincinnati and also the Rose Bowl features Penn State and USC. On Jan 2nd is the Sugar Bowl which has Utah against Alabama (go Crimson Tide). On Jan 5th is the Fiesta Bowl which will be Ohio St. against Texas. On Jan 8th is the college championship game featuring No 1 Oklahoma vs. No 2 Florida.

The bowl games have always been exciting for me to watch. I remember growing up and watching the BYU teams always playing in the holiday bowl each year and now in the Las Vegas Bowl. I have also watched many of the BCS games and found them to be very entertaining and fun to watch although I am more of an NFL fan.

I did happen to be watching the best bowl game of all time 2 years ago when Boise State played against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. This was one of the most exciting, fun to watch games, I have ever seen in any sport. Oklahoma was the big powerhouse team going against the smaller Boise State squad. Boise State started out playing fast in the first quarter and then Oklahoma caught up. Then in the second half the scoring started heating up really fast with both teams scoring at will. Boise State scored with 7 seconds left in the game tying it up to send it into overtime at 35-35. I was glued to the TV hoping that Boise State would pull off the upset. Oklahoma scored a touchdown with a 25 yard run to start the overtime period. Boise State scored on their overtime drive and opted for a 2 point conversion rather than the kick for 1. They faked the pass and the QB handed to his running back, on one of the best fakes I have ever seen, and the running back run in untouched for the 2-point conversion to win the game. It was one of the riskiest calls I have ever seen. The game is listed as my all-time favorite. Make sure you watch this year’s games so you don’t miss another one like this.

In addition to the college bowl games, the NFL Playoffs are upon us. If you want to see exciting, tough-nosed football, try watching some of the NFL playoffs in January. A lot of the games are played outside in very cold weather. Last year the Packers played the Giants in Green Bay and the wind chill was 25 below 0. The fans always show up and are as excited as ever. The hits are hard and the players are psyched up. This is the time of year where the game is a must-win to move on. This year’s playoffs start on Saturday Jan 3rd and will finish up with the Super Bowl on February 1st. The Packers blew it this year with a bad second half of the season which has left them out of the playoffs. Next year, they should fare much better after recovering from some injuries and adding a few more good defensive players to their team.

So turn on your big screen TV, pour up a cup of steaming hot cocoa, and watch some football this January. It’s the best show in town.


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Friday, December 19, 2008

Part 2 of the New Year’s Goal-Setting for a Better You

3. Keep yourself motivated to reach your goals.
One of the biggest keys to reaching your goals, is keeping yourself motivated enough to continue working toward your goal. Lack of motivation prevents many us from reaching those things that we really desire in life. We need to think of rewards to give ourselves for meeting different sub-goals as I referred to in key number 2. If we are trying to lose 20 lbs, then a good motivator would be to reward yourself with a new CD or a spa visit once you have lost 5 or 10 lbs. Continue to give yourself rewards along the way for meeting your sub-goals. This will give you the motivation to continue along the path to fulfilling your goals and make yourself a better person.

4. Being accountable to another person on your progress on set times.
In addition to finding ways to stay motivated, being accountable to someone else for what you have done is another way to meet your goals. When you need to report to someone else regarding your progress toward your goals it helps give that extra motivation and shows that person that you are really trying to meet your goals. Report or show your progress to another person on a regular basis. Review with this person your goals and sub-goals and let them know that you will be checking in with them to report your successes and possible difficult times. You can be accountable to this person and they could also offer verbal and emotional motivation. This person could be a spouse, friend, parent, etc…

5. Review your goal setting success stories to give you confidence to achieve more goals.
At the beginning of each year is also the end of the previous year. This can not only be a time to set goals for the coming year, but also to review the goals that you had during the previous year. Don’t focus on the goals where you may have fell short, but focus more on the successes you had during that year and think of the goals that you did accomplish. See the changes that came about in your life because you have met your goals. The goals you accomplish don’t only change your life in regards to the goal you set but also show the strength and perseverance you have in character to accomplish your goals. This review will give you the motivation and strength needed to carry you through another year of goal setting. Another great motivator, in addition to those listed above is past successes.


Jan 1st, 2009 is almost here. Start thinking of goals for the coming year that will help you be a better person. Write down your goals and put them in places where you can see them daily. Break this goal you have written down into “bite size chunks” or sub-goals. Keep yourself motivated to reach your goals through rewards and be accountable to someone else. At the end of this year review the goals where you were successful and plan your goals for 2009. As you do these things, you will become a better person and will become a successful goal setter that will lead to a better “you”.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

New Years’ Goal-Setting for a Better You Part One

New Year’s Eve is a wonderful time to review your past year’s successes and areas that need improved and also to look forward to a New Year to make improvements in your life as a father, mother, parent, brother, sister, co-worker, teacher, and countless other areas in our lives. Too many of us make our goals at the first of the year and then stop trying in a matter of weeks or even days. I have thought of a process that will help you to lose that weight, be a better parent, stop smoking, and achieve the countless other goals that are often set every year and perhaps not achieved. You can learn how to set goals and achieve them to be a better “you”.

The 5 keys to goal setting are
1. Writing them down and placing them in strategic places where you can see them.
2. Break the goal into “bite size” chunks that can be more easily accomplished so you can create and reach these sub-goals.
3. Keep yourself motivated to reach your goals.
4. Being accountable to another person on your progress at set intervals of time.
5. Review your goal setting success stories to give you confidence to achieve more goals.

1. Write down your goals and place in strategic places. The first step in setting goals is to decide what you want to do and then write it down. Most of us making goals decide what we want, but fail to write it down. This is an important step because it gives you something on paper to refer to over and over again throughout the year or goal timeline. Write your goal down on multiple pieces of paper and place them in strategic places, such as your kitchen if you are trying to lose weight; on your TV if you are trying cut down on TV watching; in your day planner; on your wall at work; even in your wallet or your purse. The point is to keep your goal on the forefront of your mind so you can be thinking of it always. The goal will become a part of you and will be your main focus as you go through each day.

2. Break the Goal into Bite Size Chunks.I am sure we have all heard the saying “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” When we set goals it is as though we are planning on eating an elephant for dinner. The goal can be extremely large and very complicated. We need to break our elephant or goal into bite size chunks so we can see progress not get overwhelmed by the size of the goal that lie before us.
I refer to these bite size chunks as sub-goals. These are smaller size goals that will help us achieve our main goal. If the goal is to lose weight we need to set up sub-goals such as different weights to achieve on the way to the main weight loss goal; you could set up goals for eating better at night and have goals for one week at a time. There are other numerous sub-goals that could be created. Be creative and find ideas that will help you keep motivated during the journey of meeting your goal. In the journey is the real learning and growing that takes place.


Check in next time to read keys 3, 4, and 5 of my goal setting process on your way to becoming a better you.


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Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's Winter, What Do We Do Now?

The holidays are winding down and the days are getting shorter and colder. In many areas, there is most likely a thick layer of snow frozen to the ground by now. The kids will be home for a couple of weeks for Christmas and New Year’s and will need something to do. I have 6 activities for your children (and parents) to chase away those post holiday blues.

1. Go sledding. Find a good hill that has been packed down by other sledders and take your children there to go sledding using tubes, tobbagons, and sleds. Your kids will have a good time and it is also a great time for parents to spend uninterrupted quality time with their children. Make sure to get bundled up real good and make hot cocoa at home when you get done.

2. Go to the Movies. The winter time is the best time to go to the movies. When it is snowing and cold outside there is no better place to be than the movie theatre. Take your kids to a Disney movie and order hot popcorn and candy and enjoy the show.

3. Make homemade cookies or brownies and take to neighbors. Your kids will love making chocolate chip cookie dough and then smelling the aroma as they cook in the oven. You can have them eat some cookies and milk and then take some of your warm treats to your neighbors.

4. Play board games with your kids. Kids like to play games and love to play with their siblings and also their parents. Set up Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders and play a few games with them. If you have older children try other games like Yahtzee, UNO, Phase 10, or Racko. This is a real fun activity even if you don’t have kids. Take some time to play different games and you will have a lot of fun. Be sure to pop some hot, buttery popcorn to enjoy while you play.

5. Put together a puzzle. Puzzles can be fun for both kids and adults. For children try smaller puzzles in the 20 piece range. You can get on the floor and help them and teach them how to put them together. For adults, try 500 or 1000 piece puzzles and spend a little time each night working on it. I have done this with my wife several times and we have always had a lot of fun working on it and talking with each other.

6. Shovel your neighbor’s driveway or sidewalk. There is nothing that makes a person feel better than when they are doing service for someone else. Take the time to clear your neighbor’s drive and have your children help by spreading ice melt or using a smaller shovel to push the snow.

Winter time may be cold, snowy, and hard to be outside for very long, but there is plenty you can do inside and with your families. Make this winter time fun by choosing any of the activities above and spending quality time with your family. The fun that you have will warm your hearts all winter long.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Fun Activities for Christmas

Christmas time is the most exciting time of the year for most children and also many adults. We decorate our houses, have parties, and think of Santa Claus delivering gifts to our homes. I have found that there are many things we can do in the month of December to make the month even more fun and special for our families and especially our young children.

Here are 5 activities that will make your Christmas and Holiday a special time and will make memories for you and your children.

1. Make a gingerbread house. This is a simple activity that can take place on a weekend or on a Family Home Evening night. It is as simple as making a gingerbread recipe, making frosting, putting the house together, and decorating it with candy. My wife has gingerbread molds that make the shape of the house so it is easier to put together. You can also just make graham cracker houses, which are even easier than gingerbread. Just make sure that you use a recipe for Royal Icing because that dries quickly like glue, so the house stays together. My wife and I have made gingerbread houses for our little girls the past couple of years and they get really excited to put candy on and create their own little candied house.

2. See Christmas lights. This is another easy activity that only takes up a few hours of one evening. Find a place nearby that has lights (Temple Square, Thanksgiving Point, etc…) and drive to it and either walk around and look at the lights or drive around to see the lights while in the car. My wife and I drive to a light display in Spanish Fork every year and the kids have a lot of fun and remember the lights and decorations from going the year before. You can also just drive around your own neighborhood or nearby city and see many lights in people’s yards that decorate. You will be amazed at some of the displays people come up with.

3. Go sledding. Once it has snowed, take your kids to a nearby hill or open lot and go sledding. My wife and I bought some plastic sleds a couple of years ago and go down every year on a small hill on an empty lot nearby. This is a lot of fun (for both the kids and parents) and children love to play and especially like spending extra time with their moms and dads.

4. Sing Christmas Carols in your neighborhood or at rest homes. Caroling used to be really popular but hasn’t been as much in the last few decades. Go caroling as a family to your neighbors and drop off a treat or get together with extended family or your church young men/young women groups and sing carols at a rest home or for others in your local town or neighborhoods. This is a lot of fun and it is interesting to watch people’s reactions when you sing them a few songs. This really gets you and those you sing to in the Christmas spirit.

5. Attend a local concert or play. Christmas is a time when many Christmas concerts are held and many plays are put on. It is a great time to attend the many group’s and vocalist’s performances that are put on. A few that we have attended in the past are Voice Male, Michael McLean’s Forgotten Carols, and the Rocky Mountain Christmas. You can usually look up concerts or plays on your computer or find them in the local newspaper.

There is never a shortage of activities and fun things to do around Christmas time. The only shortage we have is on the years we will have time to spend with our young children. Time always goes by too fast. Get out and do some new and fun things this year and make some memories that will last a lifetime.


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Friday, December 5, 2008

Celebration of our Savior’s Birth

The month of December and the Christmas holiday is a wonderful time to get together as family and friends to have parties. These parties range from family parties, church parties, neighborhood parties, company parties, and my mom’s favorite; grandkid parties. This is a great time of year to see each other and to exchange gifts and to re-kindle relationships. This is also a time to be certain that our parties are focused on the real celebration; the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

My Mom and Dad host 3 different parties in the month of December. You may want to include some of these party ideas into your own families.

Party for the grandkids.
My Mom and Dad love to have the kids over to exchange gifts, make cookies, and give the children time to play with their cousins. I know my mom and dad love this party because nothing can duplicate the unbridled excitement of a child during the Christmas time of year. My children look forward to this party every year.

Party for the adults in the extended family.
This party is a time for the adults to get together and have more uninterrupted time to visit and to discuss the joys and hardships of the Christmas time of year. We also do a few Christmas gift exchanging games and have a chance to laugh and have fun together.
This is one of the most fun parties of the Christmas season for me.

Party for my parent’s immediate family (children and grandchildren).
This is another party to get together and have fun as a family. My Dad reads the story of the Birth of Jesus from the Old Testament while the grandchildren dress up and put on a nativity play. We then sing Christmas songs and open a few presents. This party really puts us in the mood for Christmas and really invites the Spirit into our lives. It is the most spiritual party.

At all 3 parties we are giving to one another, showing love for each other, and strengthening our relationships. Our Savior taught us the gift of giving through example when he gave His very own life for us. He taught us the gift of loving through the many miracles and blessings that He bestowed upon us and also from the willingness He showed to take our sins upon Him through the Atonement. He taught us how to strengthen relationships by teaching us how to pray and how to communicate with our Father.

Christmas is more than just giving. It is a time to love, be with family, have fun, and take some time to strengthen our relationships not only with our family, but also with our Savior Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven. This year and every year, be sure to take time and teach your children that Christmas is a celebration of our Savior’s Birth.

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Green Bay Loses Another Close Game and Fantasy Football 2008 Playoffs start

Now that the Cougars season has ended my focus has shifted to the Green Bay Packers. Although BYU still has one game left with a possible bowl game invite. BYU will need to play an awesome game to prove that their season wasn’t a fluke. Max Hall will no doubt be prepared to avenge the embarrassing loss at the University of Utah. Whoever BYU plays against I think they will win by a large margin with Max Hall and Austin Collie hooking up multiple times in the game. Make sure to stay in touch when they announce the bowl games next week to see where BYU plays and who they will play against.

The Packers hosted the Carolina Panthers this past week and didn’t do very well losing 35-31. The Packers offense played a great game with their QB Aaron Rodgers getting close to 300 yards passing and 3 touchdowns. The receiving combo of Greg Jennings and Donald Driver each had nice games with a TD each and 174 yards combined. The offense seems to be playing at a high level each week but the defense continues to allow big games by the opposing teams each week.

Right now the Packers are 2 games behind the Minnesota Vikings and 1 behind the Chicago Bears in a very tight division. The Packers still have an outside chance in making the playoffs this year if they win the rest of their games (which is doable) and also if the Viking and Bears each lose a couple. The Packers will host the Houston Texans this Sunday (Dec 7th) and are in a must win game. I think the Packers will be able to win this game and put some of their recent troubles behind them. I think the score will be Green Bay 31 Houston 17.

I am in a fantasy football league for the 8th straight year and am having a good year with some ups and downs. For those who don’t know what fantasy football is-refer back to my blog on September 5th titled “Fantasy Football Fanatics”. My season started out well- I won my first 4 games to take the lead in my league. I then went on to lose or tie the next 5 games before winning my last 4 games giving me a regular fantasy football record of 8-4-1(tie). Now we are on to the playoffs in the regular NFL season’s weeks 14, 15, and 16. I think my team will do well. Some of my players have come on strong as of late (McNabb, Westbrook, Welker) and I have picked up some great free agents. I feel like my chances are good for taking the title for the third time since I have been playing fantasy football.

The fantasy games are exciting and fun and every year brings something new. If you haven’t tried any fantasy games yet, try fantasy basketball, baseball, or even hockey. My personal favorite is fantasy football. I recommend trying this first as this is the most popular by far and is the shortest to play (based on only a 16-game season).

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Making Family a Tradition

As the father of three beautiful children I have tried to make Christmas extra special by doing those extra little things that will help create memories throughout their lifetimes. Christmas is a magical time for young children and it is up to us fathers to make sure and do those things that we can to make it a memorable time. Our wives and mothers have a knack for making everything special throughout the year and have many opportunities to serve our children. Christmas is one time that fathers can take a larger role in doing something special and fun for their children.

My love for Christmas started for me as a young boy. My father loved Christmas. It was his favorite time of year and he made it very special for me and my four other siblings. The very minute that Thanksgiving ended my dad was pulling out what felt like hundreds of Christmas boxes full of decorations, lights, and many other Christmas items. While pulling out all of these wonderful decorations my dad would dust off his old Bing Crosby “White Christmas” record and put it on our ancient record player. I can still hear the record player churning out those Christmas songs in my mind and picture myself plugging in and testing the endless strands of Christmas lights. I start to feel nostalgic every year on the day after Thanksgiving.

My dad would string up lights on the house, have us kids help set up the nativity sets, put decorations on the mantle, hang up our stockings, and spend the whole night on the day after Thanksgiving making the house a Christmas wonderland. He would even boil cloves and apples to give the house a wonderful Christmas scent. It was a special day every year and as a little boy I would anticipate this day as much as Christmas Day itself.

In the week following the decoration of the house, we would make our way to the Christmas tree lot in town to find a Christmas tree. This wasn’t a lot where you just picked out a tree that was already cut down. This was a large field full of trees that were still in the ground. We were so excited to pick the perfect tree and thrilled with the opportunity to actually cut it down and tie it to the top of our car. We often flocked the tree making it appear as if snow were covering the tree. We then would take it in the house and start the tree decorating process. My mom would make fresh baked cookies or hot cinnamon rolls while we helped our dad string the lights on the tree, hang the little icicle strands, tinsel, and hundreds of other ornaments. My dad would make this night special, too, by playing more of his records, and later on reading us Christmas books.

My dad instilled in me a love for the holiday time of year. He taught me that it was a time for the kids. I am sure he saved extra money all year to be able to make this time special for us and do things to enjoy the whole month of December, not just Christmas Day.

It’s not the presents and the gifts that I remember the most, it’s that day after Thanksgiving spent with my dad hanging lights outside; it’s that night helping my dad decorate the tree; it’s that night he read us kids ‘Twas the Night before Christmas; it’s that afternoon picking out a tree and helping my dad cut it down; it’s the wonderful smell of the house and the sound of old Christmas records; it’s the happy feeling inside I had knowing that my dad loved me enough to do the extra little things to make Christmas a special time to remember.

When your children want to go for a drive to see Christmas lights this year, take them. When your children want to go cut down a real tree this year, take them. When your children want you to read them Christmas books at night, read to them. When your kids want to make a snowman, help them. You will never regret doing too much for them or spending too much time with them.

Make this year’s Christmas special. A father can offer a lot to his children and Christmas is a great time to start making memories that will last forever.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

The Cougars Get Ran over by the Runnin’ Utes and the Packers at the Saints

BYU traveled to Salt Lake City this weekend to take on the University of Utah. The stands were flooded with red shirts and thousands of crazy fans cheering on the Utes. The Cougars had their fans spread out with Cougar blue shirts on hoping that BYU could take one in Rice Eccles Stadium. BYU would have no luck this year as they went on to lose by a lopsided score of 48-24 to the fired up Utes.

The first half of the game was very close with the score a manageable 27-17 lead for Utah going into the half. The Cougars running game looked great with over 200 yards rushing on the night and 3 touchdowns. Their passing game was just the opposite with Max Hall giving up 5 costly interceptions and 1 fumble for a total of 6 turnovers for the Cougars. He was held out of the end zone and barely had over 200 yards passing. It turned out to be the worst game of his career at BYU. He was not able to get the rhythm going in the passing game. The Runnin’ Utes shut down the vaunted BYU passing game and forced them to resort to the running game which BYU ran with great success. The only problem being as the Cougars got behind by too many points they had to keep resorting back to the passing game where there was no success at all. The game turned out to be a rout in the second half with Utah getting most of their interceptions in this part of the game and turning on their own passing game with Brian Johnson throwing for over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns.

It was an ugly game for BYU and was disappointing considering the great season that they had this year. They will now most likely receive a bowl game invite and somehow get over this loss so that they can play in December and win one last game this year. Max Hall has one more year left in his college career and with a lot of key players returning can be a top QB again the college ranks. He should learn a lot from this experience and will hopefully come out even better next year because of it. The BYU-Utah annual rivalry is in Provo next year and all I can say is look out Utah Utes, because next time the only running you will be doing, is in the other direction.


The Packers will go into New Orleans tonight to play the Saints in a Monday Night Football showdown. This game features 2 of the best offenses in the game and will surely be a joy to watch. I expect the packers to come out on top due to their superior defensive backfield and their emerging running game. The Saints are missing many of their start players on defense and will be suspect against the Packers deadly passing game.

I am predicting that the Packers will come out and score quickly and take this game by a score of 38-28. The Saints will hang close but in the end the Packers will be victorious and the only ones singing the blues will be the fans in New Orleans.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

How to Make the Perfect Turkey

Thanksgiving is a day to watch football, get together as family, eat great food, and most important of all—eat turkey. It is vital that the turkey is cooked to perfection as this is usually the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal in most homes. I have cooked turkeys for a long time now and have discovered a recipe and method that has drawn many great reviews from family, friends, and others who have partaken of my roasted turkey.

• It is very important to thaw out your turkey in plenty of time before the big Thanksgiving Day. It is best to thaw out the turkey in the fridge or in a bath tub full of cold water. Make sure and change the water every few hours when using the bath method. If the turkey is not thawed sufficiently then it will make for uneven cooking making the outside over-cooked and the insides under-cooked.
• Once you have thawed the turkey out and have removed the insides, rinse it off and pat with paper towels.
• When the turkey is dried off, rub the whole body with real butter with your hands. Use a generous amount and make sure it is completely coated on the skin. Once the bird is covered in butter, you are ready to add the seasonings.
• Use Grill Mates dry rub for the seasonings on the turkey. You can find this in the spice aisle of most grocery stores. There are different flavors of seasonings (my favorite is Montreal steak). Choose whatever flavor you would like and rub it onto the skin and into the butter. Make sure and use generous amounts to cover the turkey completely and rub into the skin as much as possible.
• Once the turkey is covered in butter and seasonings, put into an oven bag which helps to keep the moisture and heat in the turkey and cooks it faster and better. The directions will be in the oven bag box.
• Put the turkey in the oven and cook for the amount of time listed on the oven bag instructions. Make sure and put several small holes on the top side of the turkey bag for some of the air to release from the bag.
• Once the turkey has finished cooking, let is sit for about 15 or 20 minutes to let the meat set up and the juices to settle into the meat. This also makes it easier to slice.
• To carve the turkey, it is important to use an electric knife. The electric knife makes for a better cut and is much quicker than with a regular knife. Start with removing the drum sticks and remove extra meat on the sides to make it easy to cut the breast on each side of the turkey.
• Cut the breast slices in large uniform slices with some of the seasoned skin on the edge of each slice if possible.
• Finish carving the turkey and place it on a large platter in a uniform pattern.
• The final touch is to sprinkle some of the grill mates seasoning on all of the slices (not too much, but enough to give it a little more flavor).

Hope you enjoy this recipe. This turkey should draw some great compliments.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving and remember to take some time to think of all the things that you are thankful for- including a great roasted turkey.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

The Cougars Continue to Win and the Packers Send the Bears into Hibernation

BYU continues their winning ways with a 38-24 over the Air Force Falcons. The Cougars continued to use their air arsenal duo of Max Hall and Austin Collie to put up a lot of points against the Falcons. Hall finished the game with over 350 passing yards and 2 touchdowns, while Collie continues to impress with 7 catches for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns. Week in and week out these 2 are virtually unstoppable. The BYU running game got into the act as well with a total of 143 yards total rushing with Harvey Unga leading the way with 88 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The Cougars defense only had 1 sack and 1 interception but was able to clamp down on the Falcons enough to hold them off from mounting a come back at the end of the game. BYU’s defense continues to do just enough each week to win the high scoring shootouts. Next week’s matchup against the University of Utah will present the toughest test this season for BYU.

In what will be one of the best matchups of the year in college football, BYU will travel to Salt Lake City to take on the Runnin’ Utes of Utah on Saturday Nov 22nd. The Utes are currently ranked in 8th place while BYU continues to hold on to their 16th place in the weekly AP poll. Utah continues to impress with their undefeated season and big wins while BYU has only lost one game to a great TCU squad and has really impressed with their high scoring passing game. Utah has the better defense and BYU has the better offense. This game comes down to the comparison of the BYU defense and the Utah offense. I believe this game will be high scoring and very close. I think the Cougars will come out running to try and open up the passing game for Hall and Collie. I expect these 2 players to have a great game and will score just enough points to win one of the greatest rivalries in all of college football.
I think the Cougars will win this one by a score of 38-34. The Utes try to move down the field in the final minutes but fall short of mounting a comeback. BYU knocks them out of the BCS rankings and relishes in this big win.

The Packers hosted the Bears in what turned out to be one of the biggest blow outs in a while in this huge rivalry. The Packers won this by a score of 37-3. Chicago had previously won the Packers 3 times on the “Frozen Tundra” (Lambeau Field) in Green Bay. This time the Packers would be ready and prepared to put a stop to the Bears winning streak. The Packers would push the Bear’s defense around to gain 200 yards on the ground being led by Ryan Grant who had 145 of those yards and 1 touchdown. Aaron Rodgers had a great game of his own with 227 yards and 2 personal touchdowns. The Packers kicker, Mason Crosby, had a good game with 3 field goals to redeem himself from last week’s potential game winner miss. The Packers defense held the Bears to only 3 points and 240 total yards.

This was a win that the Packers really needed after losing the last 2 very close games. The Pack now heads to New Orleans to take on the Saints in a Monday night game. This will be a great game that should be high scoring that will feature a lot of great plays and players. The offenses on these teams are about equal but the Packers defense is much better than the Saints which would mean that the Packers should be able to win this game. I am predicting the Packers to win this one by a score of 38-28.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Thanksgiving Activities

Thanksgiving is a great holiday to get together with family and enjoy a wonderful meal together and then spend an afternoon doing fun activities which help to strengthen relationships with some of those relatives that you may not see as often throughout the year. Here are 5 different ideas of fun activities and things that you can do after you are done eating that final piece of pumpkin pie.

1. Watch the Cowboys football game. Other than turkey, the thing most associated with Thanksgiving is football. The Dallas Cowboys play in the annual afternoon football game that starts after most people’s Thanksgiving meals are finishing up. There isn’t anything more bonding for men than to watch a good football game together. This also helps to get the men out of the way of the women so they can accomplish the projects they enjoy working on.

2. Cards, Scrapbooking, and Crafts. Women love to get together and create things and visit while they are working. I have seen this many times over the years since I have been married to my wife. Her family makes cards and crafts once the Thanksgiving feast has been finished. They clear the tables and sit out their card making equipment, pictures for scrapbooking, and other various crafts.
This also helps the men to get the women out of the way so they can watch their football game without interruption.

3. Board Games and other Games. The kids need something to do after Thanksgiving so that the men and women can do their thing. In my family we set out a whole bunch of board games and play with the kids and let them play by themselves. We also let them play dress up and other little games. The kids love seeing their cousins and playing together all afternoon long.

4. Shooting Guns. My wife’s family is not the sports fanatics that mine is, so the men shoot their shotguns at clay pigeons and target shoot following the big dinner. They enjoy being outside and watching each other miss (I mean hit) the target and clay pigeons.

5. Watch a Movie. One of my favorite things to do on Thanksgiving night is to put in a good movie, start a warm fire, pour up a cup of steaming hot cocoa, curl up on the couch, and put in a good movie to enjoy after the kids have gone to sleep.

While doing these activities we should remember how lucky we are to have a wonderful family to be together with, how lucky we are to have the freedoms we do, and also all of the blessings that we receive each and every day of our lives.

Make your Thanksgiving a fun one with the activities listed above and make sure that
you don’t eat too much food, because your New Year’s resolutions are coming up.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

BYU gets Back on Track and the Packers Lose another Nail-Biter

The Cougars hosted the Aztecs of San Diego State this past Saturday. The players surely wanted to show the fans that they were ready to play this week and wouldn’t settle for another close finish. They finished off the Aztecs by a score of 41-12 making it a third consecutive unbeaten season at home. Max Hall was back at it throwing for 317 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions. Austin Collie was yet again his favorite target catching 9 balls for 127 yards and 2 touchdowns. I doubt there is a better QB-WR combination in the league than Hall and Collie. They have been phenomenal this season.

BYU showed San Diego State no mercy by going up 20-0 at the end of the first half. At the end of the third quarter BYU was up 27-6 and then put up 14 more in the final quarter to end at 41-12. The Cougars running game looked impressive gaining over a hundred yards led by Harvey Unga with 37 yards. The Cougar defense also looked impressive with a first half shutout and holding the Aztecs to only 12 points for the entire game.

This was a game that BYU sorely needed to gain their confidence back. It was a great way to finish the last home game for the season. Three straight years without losing at home is very impressive and probably has not been accomplished by many other programs in college football. BYU has 2 more games left this season with next week at Air Force and then the big finale with the University of Utah, which looks to be one of the biggest and best games in years for this great rivalry. First, I need to pick the game against the Falcons of Air Force. This is a classic trap game for BYU after a big win at home and huge game coming up after this one against the Utes. Games like this are hard for teams because they look ahead to the big game and they might be coming down after the emotional win at home. I think Coach Mendenhall will keep his players focused and they will come out victorious against Air Force by a score of 31-20.


Green Bay fell short by a field goal for the second straight week. Last week they lost to Tennessee in overtime by a Tennessee field goal and this week was a similar fate but the Packers were the ones trying for the field goal and missing at the end of regulation losing to the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 28-27. The Packers offense struggled in this game and couldn’t get much going through the air or on the ground. Aaron Rodgers gave up 2 safeties in the opening half based largely on the Vikings ferocious defense led by Jared Allen. At the end of the first half Green Bay was trailing 14-10 in what was a classic defensive battle in the first. Green Bay had 2 interceptions in the first half and Minnesota had 2 safeties and a couple of sacks.


In the second half of the game Green Bay got 2 quick touchdowns- one on an interception return by safety Nick Collins and the other on a punt return by Will Blackmon. The Packers would take the lead by a score of 24-21 with only 1 quarter left.
Green Bay would score a field goal to go up 27-21 with only a few minutes left in the game. The Vikings marched down the field and scored on an Adrian Peterson 29 yard touchdown scamper to put the Vikings back up 28-27. Green Bay then got the ball with 2 minutes to go and moved it all the way to the Minnesota 35 yard line with seconds remaining on the clock. The packers kicker, Mason Crosby, lined up for the winning field goal and kicked the ball toward the goal post having it fade wide right by a few inches and missing the go ahead score for the Packers. This was an emotional loss for the Packers, but they must prepare for next week’s game against their other division rival, the Chicago Bears. If the packers can pull off the win against the Bears and the Vikings lose (playing in Tampa Bay) it will be a 3-way tie for 1st place in the NFC North division. I expect the Pack to come out and beat the Bears handily on the frosty field of Lambeau. The score will be Green Bay 27 Chicago 21.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Thanksgiving Memories


















Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays that is very relaxing and enjoyable. The basic premise of the holiday is to eat a lot of food, watch football, and celebrate together as a family the many blessings that we have and receive daily. We are truly a blessed people to have the many blessings and luxuries of life that we enjoy on a daily basis.

As a child I have many fond memories of Thanksgiving. I remember preparing the night before the big day by setting up the tables and chairs and helping my mom get the house ready for the large group of extended family that would be coming the next day. When Thanksgiving morning arrived my brother and I would put on our clothes and coats and play the annual game of Thanksgiving football. We played the game one-on-one and would hold our little game in rain, sleet, or snow. I remember many years when the snow would be coming down heavily but we would still be out there running around tackling each other. We would then come in and have a cup of hot cocoa and get warmed up and start helping our Mom finish up the final preparations for the big dinner.

About this time, the relatives started to arrive. My uncles, aunts, and cousins would come over for the big feast. It was fun to visit and play together while waiting to start the meal. We would often watch football while waiting. I remember watching many games with my uncles and cousins on Thanksgiving afternoons. The nearby coal stove would warm the room while we watched and the aroma of the food being cooked in the kitchen filled the entire house. We would snack on appetizers of chips and dips and veggie trays.

My Mom made the best Thanksgiving dinners. If the smell of her homemade rolls didn’t delight you, the taste of the crisp buttery outside and soft inside would win you over quickly. Her golden basted turkey always smelled incredible and the slices were moist and would melt in your mouth. She always made the best mashed potatoes and gravy. She used potatoes right from our garden and made the gravy from the turkey drippings. To this day when I smell hot butter rolls or a large turkey cooking in the oven I often think of the Thanksgiving days growing up as a young boy.

After enjoying this incredible meal every year, we would then retire back to the TV room to watch more football. The Dallas Cowboys would play their yearly game and it always seem to be an exciting game full of long passes, hard hits, and close finishes. After the game the desserts would start making the rounds. My Mom made pies, cakes, cookies, ice cream, and every other dessert you can imagine. As a child I thought this holiday rivaled Christmas. What can be better than lots of food, football, and family?

Now I have my own family, and we trade off every year going to my wife’s family for Thanksgiving one year and my parents the next. I still enjoy the hot rolls, the moist turkey, and watching football. I still enjoy the family and visiting together. I no longer play my brother in the annual football game, but the memories will always be there and I will play it out in my mind every year Thanksgiving comes around.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

The Cougars Win a Shootout at CSU and the Packers Lose a Tight One to Tennessee

BYU squared off against Colorado State this week and pulled off the big win in a classic shootout. When the dust settled in Fort Collins the final score was BYU 45 CSU 42. BYU had to make a late game comeback to win this game, but was victorious nonetheless. BYU’s QB Max Hall had 389 passing yards, 5 touchdown passes, and 1 interception putting him at 29 touchdown throws for the year. He was able to find his favorite target, again, Austin Collie, who had 9 catches for 156 yards and 3 touchdown catches. This week, the tight end, Dennis Pita, also got in on the action with 12 catches for 175 yards and 2 touchdown catches of his own, for what was probably the best game of his career. BYU’s offense was again hitting on all cylinders with the high flying act of Hall, Collie, Pita, and also Harvey Unga. The Cougars featured running back ran for 133 yards and 1 touchdown. The defense didn’t fare so well.

The Cougars defense allowed the Rams of CSU to score 42 points while allowing their QB, Billy Farris, to throw for 251 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Rams seemed to score with ease against the Cougars defense, which a few weeks ago, was holding good teams scoreless. BYU needs to get their defense going so that when a tough defense comes to play, such as the Utah Runnin’ Utes, they won’t have to rely on their offense so much to win these shootouts. Next week the Cougars will face San Diego St in the Lavell Edwards stadium. After posting back to back close games, I would expect them to shut down the Aztecs and hold them to a minimum amount of points. I predict the score will be BYU 38 SDSU 10.

The Packers lost 19-16 in a nail biting overtime game at Tennessee. The Titans were undefeated and ranked first in the NFL going into this game, but the Packers were getting players back healthy, riding a 2-game win streak, and coming off a bye. All of these factors were still not enough to overcome the defensive and running strength of the Titans. The Packers were able to throw the ball effectively with Aaron Rodgers posting 314 yards passing and 1 touchdown throw to Donald Driver, but had a hard time getting the ball into the end zone. The Packers settled for 3 field goals by Mason Crosby, who has proved to be a very reliable and effective kicker for Green Bay. The Packers had the ball with about 4 minutes to go and had a chance to go down the field and score, but ran out of steam and had to punt to the Titans with 2 minutes left in the game. Tennessee led by Kerry Collins as QB, drove down the field riding the hot feet of Chris Johnson, to put themselves in position for a last second game winning Rob Bironas field goal. He kicked the 47 yard field goal and it hit the right upright of the goal post and bounced off as time expired. The game then went into overtime.

The Titans won the coin toss and elected to receive as the Overtime session began. They then began to drive down the field just as they had at the end of regulation to put themselves in position for yet another field goal to win the game. Rob Bironas didn’t miss this time, hitting a 41 yard field goal to finish the game and keep Tennessee undefeated on the season. The Titans are now 8-0 and the packers fall to 4-4. It was a tough game and the packers played hard but in the end they came up short. Green Bay travels to Minnesota next week to take on the Vikings, their biggest division rival in what should be another close game. I am picking the Packers to win this one by a score of 27-24 on a last second Mason Crosby field goal.
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Friday, October 31, 2008

World Series- Tampa Bay vs. Philadelphia

World Series- Tampa Bay vs Philadelphia

For the past week I have been watching “America’s Favorite Sport” each night- The World Series. This year the teams that are playing for the MLB Title are the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies. I am not a big fan of baseball, but I do take the time to watch the World Series each year to see the best teams in baseball face off against one another. This year has been fun to watch. The Phillies are currently leading the Series 3-1 with the rest of the 5th game being played Oct 29th. The 5th game was originally played on Monday Oct 27th, but was unable to finish due to a rain delay and then the decision was made to finish the game 2 days later (which is the day I am writing this article).

The first 3 games of the World Series were close and exciting with the Phillies taking the 1st game 3-2, Tampa taking the 2nd game 4-2, and Phillies taking the 3rd game 5-4. Each game could have gone either way making it very exciting to watch. The 4th game was different with the Phillies hitting HR after HR and beating the Rays by a score of 10-2. Philadelphia was then primed and ready to play Game 5 and try to end the series when the rain started to come down. They played the first 5 innings and the Phillies were leading 2-1 when the Rays hit a ball to left center field driving home a player to tie the game at 2-2. The top of the 6th ended shortly after and that is when the game was called and decided to move it to another night to finish.

Now the teams will take the field in the first postponed game in World Series history to play the last 3 ½ innings. I think that the excitement will be a little more tempered for the Philadelphia fans and team and the Rays will come out and win this game by a score of 4-3 to send the Series back to Florida for games 6 and 7. It should be an exciting final few games of the World Series. I am cheering for the Tampa Bay Rays as they are the underdog and have also never won a World Series.

I will spend the next few nights watching the rest of game 5, and if needed games 6 and 7. The games have been exciting and for a guy that doesn’t watch baseball all year, it has been a nice change of pace from basketball and football. As for the phrase “America’s Favorite Sport” being used for baseball so much, I would have to say that this no longer applies, because football has become the sport of choice for most fans. I will always be a football first fan, with basketball being second, and baseball coming in at third.

***Update***
The Phillies won Game 5 to win the World Series 4 games to 1 over the Tampa Bay Rays. After the rain delay, the final 3 ½ innings were finally played at Philadelphia. The Phillies pulled out the victory by a score of 4-3 winning the MLB title for the first time since 1980.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

The Cougars Run the Rebels Out of Town

BYU squared off against the UNLV Running Rebels last Saturday and when the dust had settled the Cougars won 42-35. Max Hall led the Cougars potent aerial attack with 4 touchdown passes and 245 passing yards with 0 interceptions. Austin Collie was, again, his favorite target with 7 receptions totaling 113 yards. BYU and UNLV exchanged touchdowns throughout the entire game with the game tied at 21 going into the half. At the end of the 3rd quarter the game was again tied at 28. The final quarter is where things got very exciting.
The Cougars marched down the field twice in the first 8 minutes of the 4th quarter hitting a Mitch Payne field goal on each drive making the score 34-28. UNLV countered back with a long drive of their own resulting in a 15 yard touchdown pass putting the Rebels up 35-34 with 6 minutes to go in the game. BYU then made a long, time consuming drive that used up 5 minutes and went 70 yards with Max Hall connecting on a 6 yard TD pass to Dennis Pitta. The Cougars were now up 40-35. BYU went for the 2-point conversion so they could try and gain a 1 touchdown lead and succeeded with a pass from Hall to Harvey Unga. The Cougars then proceeded to hold off the Rebels in tying the game by sacking their QB in the closing seconds and then intercepting the last second “Hail Mary” pass in the endzone.
BYU really needed this win to not only keep their confidence high, but also to show the country and the pollsters that they still belong in their current top 20 ranking. BYU faces off against Colorado State this week in Fort Collins. Colorado State should give BYU a tough game, but the Cougars should be able to gain another win with Max Hall and Austin Collie hooking up for more long passes and multiple touchdowns. The score will be BYU 45-Colorado State 17.

The Green Bay Packers have a bye this week. The Packers are flying high after a big win against the Indianapolis Colts last week. They are full of confidence and should have most, if not their full team, completely healthy for this Sunday’s game against one of the leagues best teams, the Tennessee Titans. This will be a great statement game for the Packers. They can show the league that they are one of the best teams with a win against the mighty Titans. I am predicting that the Packers really push the “Big Boys” with a pounding running game and an efficient passing game. The Packers win the Titans 27-17.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Halloween Night Safety Tips and Last-Minute Costume Ideas


Halloween night is just a few days away and in order to make it a fun night it is important for you and your children to follow some basic safety precautions.

Here are some tips to follow when you go out on the evening of October 31st:

Make sure and only trick or treat at homes of people that you know.
Try going to neighbors, friends, people in your ward, relatives, and your parent’s place of employment. You could even go to stores and business that are reputable. A lot of them give away treats to children on Halloween night.

Carry a flashlight and/or wear something on your clothes that makes you visible to cars when walking outside. It is important to be careful when walking from house-to-house at night because there a lot of cars around on Halloween night in the neighborhoods. Have at least one person carry a flashlight in your group and wear something that glows in the dark on the outside of your costume so that cars can see you better.

If you are an adult who is driving kids around, be sure to watch for kids on the road and obey all traffic laws. If you are driving, make sure and go slower when traveling through neighborhoods where there are a lot of kids walking around. Don’t assume that kids see you and always let the kids cross the street, even if you feel like you should be able to go first. Pedestrians always have the right of way. Be sure to look when backing out of driveways as kids may be walking behind your car.

Check your children’s candy for signs of tampering. I am sure all of us have heard the horror stories of candy that has poison in it or has been tampered with. Make sure and throw out any candy that looks suspicious or appears to have been un-wrapped and wrapped again. There is no such thing as being too cautious when it comes to your children’s safety.


One of the hardest decisions a child will have to make in their young life will be what costume to wear for Halloween. This is always a big deal for kids. They start thinking about these things when October 1st comes around. They have 30 days to decide what they want to be for Halloween. Some kids know right away and others will wait until the last minute to make a decision.
There are times when we as parents need to step in and make these difficult decisions for them. Due to the past month’s economic struggles, it is important to think of costumes that won’t cost much money if any money at all.
Here are 5 low budget costume ideas that most kids will enjoy and will be easy on your wallet:
1. Nerdy kid. When I was 15, the movie “Revenge of the Nerds” came out. This was a show about a group of nerdy kids who went to college and ended up becoming very popular at the college they attended. That year, me and my friends wore our Dad’s shirts from the 70’s, put on funny looking glasses, and bell-bottom pants. You could dress your kids up in some of your old funny-looking clothes, although the clothes I wore as a kid to be nerds are now in style again.
2. Newspaper Boy/Girl. Give your child a stack of newspapers and have him carry them around and act like a newspaper delivery boy/girl. Don’t tell your child that they really are a newspaper delivery person, just show them what a cool costume idea it is to have a big pile of newspapers and actually give them to the people who give you treats.
3. Football fan. Dress your child up in your favorite team’s clothes/hat and have them go as a football fan. I am a big Packers fan and I would have my child wear one of my shirts, my hat, and paint their face in the Packers colors of green and gold.
4. Borrow a Halloween costume. My mom has a closet full of costumes she has made for the grandkids and they’ve all been worn several times by different grandkids. Ask around, most people have a dress up or costume bin you could probably borrow from.
5. Politician. Have your child put on a dress or a suit and tie and be a politician. You can explain that politicians go door-to-door asking for free hand outs just like Halloween. Make sure you have your child promise the neighbors lots of things in return, like they won’t play their radio too loud anymore, won’t break your window with the baseball anymore, won’t bother you anymore, etc….you know, promise things like a politician does.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween and hope that the Newspaper boy shows up at your door rather than the Politician.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

The Cougars Falter at TCU and the Packers Break the Colts



The Cougars were bound to have a let down game and it came this past week at the hands of the TCU Horned Frogs. Let me first say that the mascot, Horned Frogs, is one of the strangest mascots in all of college. You would think a Cougar could beat a Frog, but not this year.
TCU topped the mighty Cougars 32-7 in a rout. From the first snap to the end, the Cougars didn’t have a chance. BYU was down 23-0 at halftime and had no success against the Frog’s smothering defense. TCU had 7 sacks and 2 interceptions against Max Hall, who until this game has had a phenomenal year.
This game has hurt the Cougars chances at a BCS game, possibly beyond repair, but it should ignite a fire in them to finish out the season with this being the lone loss. The Cougars might have become too complacent or over confident due to their great success during the past 5 games. The Horned Frogs gave them a wake up call with a game that put the Cougars back in their place. The Cougars need to go into the next game and future games with a fire in their belly wanting to avenge this 1 loss that has most likely knocked them out of BCS contention. The Cougars still have the Utah Runnin’ Utes on their schedule, which should be the game of the year for the Mountain West Conference, but for this coming week they will play UNLV in Lavell Edwards Stadium. I expect a very fired up Cougars squad to come out and show the country that they are still one of the best teams in the country. BYU 42-UNLV 7

The Packers fared better than the Cougars this week. The Indianapolis Colts came into town and found out that the Packers and the fans in the NFL’s greatest stadium- Lambeau Field- were ready to rock their world.
Green Bay put on an awesome show of defensive force with 2 interceptions returned for touchdowns. They also held the Colts to only 7 points in the first 3 quarters of the game. Green Bay’s QB Aaron Rodgers played another mistake free game driving the Packers down the field time and time again for scores. Ryan Grant, the Packers RB, got going in this game and really tore up the field with his hard nosed and grinding style of play. The Packers won this game by a score of 34-14. They were firing on all cylinders and are in great shape heading into their bye week.
They have a record of 4-3 and are atop the standing in their division. After their bye, the Packers will be playing at Tennessee, who is currently undefeated and the best team in the league. It is shaping up to be one of the best games of the year. If you haven’t joined PackerNation yet, hop on board for the ride.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Tips for a Happy Halloween



Halloween is right around the corner this year. Most of us think of Halloween as a one night holiday that comes and goes quickly. I am actually not a big fan of the trick or treating on Halloween night, but I do enjoy all the many other fun things you can do leading up to the big night.

When I was younger, Halloween in my family was never really that popular. We carved pumpkins and went out trick or treating, but other than that we didn’t decorate much and didn’t do any other activities. As I have started my own family, and found that my wife grew up in a family that loves Halloween, I have found that there is a lot that you can do in the days leading up to Halloween. I have a list of 6 fun activities that you
may not have thought of, that you could do this year during the pretty autumn days leading up to the 31st.

1. Find a local farmer that is doing a hay ride to go into a pumpkin patch to pick out pumpkins. Over the past 3 years we have gone to the Red Barn in Santaquin, Utah to go on their annual pumpkin patch hay ride to pick out our pumpkins. The kids love the ride and are amazed at all the pumpkins in their large patch. It is a fun family night idea and after the ride you can buy a treat to enjoy. Watch for similar ideas in the area where you live.

2. Decorate your whole house in Halloween decorations with your kids. As I mentioned earlier I grew up in a house that didn’t decorate much for Halloween. My wife has now converted me to Halloween decorating because she brought to our marriage a bunch of different decorations that have been a lot of fun to take out every year and have the kids put around the house. This year we put spider webs all over the outside of our house. We also have an 8 foot Halloween Mickey Mouse in our front yard. The kids love all of it.

3. Go to a Halloween party. Every year there are certain places that have Halloween parties. Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah has all different kinds of fun activities for kids, parents, and even a Halloween dance for teenagers. Another good place for a fun Halloween party is at Young Living Farms in Mona, Utah. This year they are having their “Fall Festival” on October 25th from 4-8pm

4. Buy some Halloween books and read one every night during October. Kids love to be read to, and probably haven’t read many Halloween books. This will really get them excited for Halloween and will also provide good quality time for parents to be with their children every night.

5. Don’t just carve pumpkins, paint faces and even buy plastic eyes, noses, and parts for younger children to put on. Carving pumpkins with your family is fun, but when you have younger kids, it can be difficult for them to be involved very much. This year I saw a little package of plastic eyes, noses, ears, and mouths that could be put on pumpkins to make faces. Our kids have really enjoyed making different faces this year on the pumpkins we got at the pumpkin patch on our hay ride.

6. Make home-made treats to give kids that are trick or treating. When I was younger and went trick or treating it was an annual tradition to go to my older neighbors, who would always give us a rice puff ball. We would then go to another neighbor who gave us decorated Halloween cookies. The times like this are long gone, but we could try doing this one year and see how the kids react to a fresh homemade Halloween treat rather than the average piece of store bought candy. My wife and I tried making Halloween cookies a few years back and had wonderful compliments and enjoyed sharing our cooking with the parents as well as the kids.

Whatever you decide to do for Halloween, make sure that you remember that you are making memories for your kids. Remember you are making fun and enjoyable memories for your kids to think of during the rest of their lives. The things you do for and with them today will be with them forever.

Happy Halloween!

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Monday, October 13, 2008

The Cougars Light Up the Lobos

The Cougars do it again. After winning a tough game (in the final 3 quarters) against the Utah State Aggies, BYU comes back to beat the New Mexico Lobos in what was a tough defensive battle. Max Hall had his 3 touchdowns (which has now become the weekly norm for him) and a total of 265 yards passing. The Cougar running game got into the mix as well with 117 total yards rushing led by Harvey Unga with 95 yards. The Cougars displayed a balanced attack with a strong running game and an always potent passing game led by Hall at QB and his favorite target- Austin Collie. BYU also showed that their defense can rise to the occasion as well in the games that become a defensive battle. The defense held the Lobos offense to 155 yards passing and 130 yards rushing (which was good considering the Lobos have a powerful running team). They also had 3 sacks and 1 interception. The Lobos were able to only manage 7 points against the stingy defense of BYU.

In the past 4 games (including a game against Pac-10 UCLA) the Cougars have held opponents to 17 points while their high flying offense has put 158 points on the board. That is what I call total domination on both sides of the ball. I think it would be difficult to find a team that has scored more points and held the opposition to such low point totals for any 4-game stretch this year. With the offense and defense firing on all cylinders, the sky is the limit for the Cougars. They are ranked 8th place in the National Polls and if they can pull off another win against TCU, they should move up even further. The game against TCU will be at TCU and will be a great test for BYU to see how they fare against another tough Mountain West football team who is currently ranked 24th in the National Coaches Poll. My prediction is that BYU will pull out a close game with a strong running game and average passing game. TCU puts up a tough fight but the Cougars win this one 24-21.

On to the Packers. Green Bay finally awakens from their 3-game slumber to take down the Seahawks. The game against Seattle wasn’t the best game the Packers have played this year, but is one that they sorely needed to win. After losing 3 straight games, they knew going into Seattle that they had to take control and put this game away early. The Seahawks came into the game minus their top 2 receivers and their QB Matt Hasselbeck was out with an injured knee. With the injury situation, the Seahawks “were ripe for picking”.
The Packers came out a little flat and were tied at 10 with the Seahawks at halftime, but Coach McCarthy must have really lit a fire under the team during the half because the Pack came out and scored 17 points in the second half and showed off their passing duo of Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings. The Packers went on to win the game by a score of 27-17. The win was not much to be excited about, other than it gave the Packers a little extra lift as they play against the Indianapolis Colts next week in Green Bay. Any other year, I would think that the Colts would be victorious in this matchup but with the way the Colts have been playing this year, I have to give the edge to the Packers. With the Pack at home and the combination of a good defense and the hot arm of Aaron Rodgers, the Packers win this one in a shootout; 36-30.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Opening Morning on the Annual Deer Hunt


Opening day for the general rifle deer hunt is coming real soon to Utah. It opens on Saturday morning October 18th. This is a very exciting time for many Utah hunters. There are thousands of men, women, and children who go camping over this weekend and hunt for the many deer that are found throughout the Utah mountains.

I recall as a child and later as a young man, going on many deer hunts. It was a fun time to go out with the “guys” and camp together and hunt together. During my elementary school years the deer hunt was so popular that the schools would adjourn school at noon on the Friday before the opening day of the deer hunt. I remember being very excited in my classes thinking about how at noon my dad would take me and my brothers to the store to buy all the groceries and food needed for the weekend camping excursion. We would buy all the good stuff: bacon, sausage, eggs, pancake mix, licorice, nuts, candy, beef jerky, and other goodies to bring while we were hunting; and a lot of other food to enjoy over our campfire the night before the hunt.

After buying all the food and treats that we could fit into our car, we would then go home to finish packing the trailer and get everything prepared. I think this must have been my Dad’s favorite time because he was always pretty excited and happy during this time of year and especially when we were all ready to drive up into the mountains for the weekend. We would make the annual, customary stop at the gas station to fill up the tank and us kids would run into the station to get treats and drinks for the drive to our favorite deer hunting spot- Eureka.

After all the stops, we were finally on our way to the mountain area in Eureka that we went to every year that I can remember. We camped in the same spot and hunted in the same big hills. These things never changed growing up and to this day I still think of those times when we were riding to Eureka in my Dad’s old forest green International Scout pulling our old camper/trailer behind us. We would make our way to our camping spot and set up camp and make dinner, tell stories and laugh together and watch as the campfire burned out before climbing into our warm sleeping bags thinking of the morning that awaited us.

6am rolls around really fast when you have been up late on a campout and have been sleeping in a sleeping bag in a camper/trailer. I remember waking up and eating a quick breakfast before pulling on the orange vest and orange hat, then stuffing beef jerky, candy bars, drinks, and more food than you can imagine into my pants. We then drove off to our hunting spot in the darkness of early morning. We trudged up the mountainside trying to get to the top before the sun came up. It felt like the climb took forever as a young boy. We finally made it to the top and the hunt would begin.

In probably 15 deer hunts I remember going on, I think I saw about 5,000 doe and maybe 10 buck. Needless to say, I don’t remember seeing my Dad or brothers get many deer, but the preparation and camping memories will be with me forever. I am no longer a deer hunter, but I still see an occasional doe while in the mountains on campouts and they trigger great memories.
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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Climbing Out of the Dark Dungeon of Debt





In medieval times many castles were constructed. These castles were very large and seemed very spacious to the outside world. The kings and lords frequently built them to show their power and prestige. In the basements of these castles were dungeons that were basically prisons that held those who were captured as enemies of the king, or those within the castle who were thieves or who had disobeyed the laws of the king. These dungeons were dark and cold and those who were imprisoned would be there for their whole lifetime. Life was miserable for those who lived in the dungeon. It was a wretched place to be with the absence of light, shortage of food, being chained to the walls, etc… I am sure the thoughts of “how did I ever get myself in this place?” crossed many a mind back in these days.

In these modern times, we don’t have the large, spacious castles that they did in medieval times; we actually have even larger ones. Many people today have their own personal homes or castles, that they enjoy flaunting to the outside world, showing power, money, and prestige. The one fundamental difference is that the kings who owned castles in times of old, actually had the power, money, and prestige. In today’s world we want to appear as kings and want to live a life of luxury but in doing so we end up in the dungeon of our castle; chained to the wall with a life of misery—having no light or hope to escape. This dungeon I speak of is the dungeon of debt.

Debt is one of the most destructive powers in the financial world if used unwisely. It is said that the love of money is the root of all evil, but I would add that the love of things without the money to pay for them, is also the root of all evil. For this type of lifestyle brings upon us debt. According to freedictionary.com, the definition of debt is the following:
1. Something owed, such as money, goods, or services.
2. a. An obligation or liability to pay or render something to someone else.
b. The condition of owing:
3. An offense requiring forgiveness or reparation; a trespass

The most common form of debt is to lend money to someone else so they can have something that they would otherwise not be able to pay for. The most popular debts are houses, cars, businesses, and education. In recent times this list has expanded to include electronics, furniture, vacations, everyday living expenses, boats, 4-wheelers, etc… These types of debt along with large, spacious homes, fancy cars, and other unnecessary things are what have put us in the financial crisis that our country is in today. We are not only living in our own personal dungeons by taking on such enormous debt, but have also put our entire country in a dungeon because now the country has taken on more debt to try to keep the citizens from sinking into further despair.

I think most of us realize the pain and problems that come with incurring too much debt but we aren’t doing much to get out of the dungeons and the walls that we have chained ourselves to. Just like the thieves in times of old thought “how did I ever get myself in this place?” we too, must have these thoughts as we look at the mountains of bills and debts that lay before us. It is possible to climb out of your dungeon of debt and be able to live free again. I would like to give 4 financial steps to climb out of that dungeon and get back onto solid ground where you can enjoy the light and feel free again.
1. Get out of current debts where possible.
If you can sell your expensive car and get something cheaper, do it. If you can sell your house and get into something smaller and more affordable, do it. If you can sell your furniture or electronics that you are making payments on, do it.
List all of your debts or things you own which you could live without, and see what you can replace. Sell it and buy something less expensive and take the money to pay off all the debts you can.
This will bring you 1 step out of the dungeon, with only 3 left.

2. Pay off Debts as quickly as possible.
Once you have done all you can to remove as many debts as possible, make every effort to pay the remaining debts off, minus the mortgage payment, as fast as possible. This includes the school loan, car payment, credit cards, etc… Concentrate on the smallest loan first and once you pay that off, roll that payment into your next loan and pay it off in half the time.
You are now halfway up the stairway on the way to freedom.

3. Live within your means.
List your living expenses and the minimum debts possible (hopefully just the house) that you can live on. Make another list with all of the income that you and your family are bringing in. Compare the 2 lists and make sure that your expenses are not more than your income. It seems basic but many of us sitting in our dungeons don’t take the time to make a budget and find ourselves sinking further and further into despair. We need to give up only a little in order to gain a lot in the future.
Only one step left, and we have freed ourselves from the chains that have bound us down into the dark dungeons of debt.

Find ways to make additional income.
Part of getting out of debt is not only cutting back on what we spend, but also finding ways to make more money. There are thousands of different ways to make money with little time involved. For example, I write blogs for an internet company twice a week and make some additional money to keep us out of unnecessary debt. This will help us to not only get out of debt completely but also help us start saving for those rainy days in life that might otherwise thrust us back into the dungeon of debt.

Now you have climbed out of the dark dungeon of debt. Life is fun and exciting and is easier now that we don’t have the chains shackled upon our lives. We may not live in a castle but if we are locked in a dungeon, what good is the castle?

For more tips on how to escape debt and an accelerated plan, visit financial expert Dave Ramsey’s website