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Wasatch County homemaker is crowned Mrs. Utah America

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A new queen has been crowned Mrs. Utah America - Teresa Lynne Wootton.

Raised in Midway, Wootton graduated from Brigham Young University and taught elementary school for five years. She currently resides in Charleston, Wasatch County, with her husband, Jeff, a drywall contractor and volunteer fireman, and four children, ages 4 to 8.Wootton didn't consider participating in the Mrs. Utah pageant until her friends began urging her to do so. When the deadline for entering the contest came, she still hadn't made a decision. She felt that "Mrs. Utah" was so far from where she was - doing housework and picking up after the kids. But her husband encouraged her to go for it.

When asked if she did anything in particular to prepare for the competition, Wootton laughed and said they swam a lot for Family Home Evening. "And any time the kids wanted to go Rollerblading, I was right there with them."

Apparently the skating and swimming paid off, because Wootton won the swimsuit portion of the contest, as well. Her biggest challenge proved to be finding an evening gown that she felt comfortable wearing.

"I felt a little like Cinderella," Wootton reflects. "Normally, I'm cooking, cleaning and running kids. That's me. I enjoy it. I haven't been so dressed up in years!"

Just as midnight came for Cinderella, Wootton was brought back to reality just minutes after being crowned. While photographers were trying to get pictures of both her and her family, Parker, one of her twin 6-year-old boys, just had to show her the rock he had in his pocket.

And 4-year-old Caprice needed to go to the bathroom.

Wootton had two goals right from the beginning of the pageant: to make sure her husband and children didn't feel neglected, and to use the opportunity to speak out on the importance of motherhood and the family.

"Teresa will be a good representative for Utah because she has always had very strong ideas about family," said her mother, Elva Baum. "Nothing would be more right than for her to talk about the importance of family life."

Wootton's duties as Mrs. Utah will include speaking engagements and appearances at charitable events and parades, as well as competing for Mrs. America in Las Vegas during August. This will be the 23rd year of the Mrs. America Pageant, which will be nationally televised on Sept. 26.

On the Wootton's living room mantle sits a sparkling crown and a beautiful bouquet of flowers - evidence of her new title. But more prized than these is the homemade card from the kids that says, "Congratulations, Mom, for trying hard and being the best mom yet!"

That, after all, is what Mrs. Utah 1998 is all about.