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FF: The Giver (movie)


Sarah and one of my children’s teachers recommended this movie to me, so for a date night recently, I asked Lane if he wanted to go see it. (I don’t often ask to go to a movie in the theaters, so I think he was a little surprised.) He asked me if I had seen the trailer. I hadn’t, so I got online and watched.

Ugh. After watching the trailer, I wasn’t super excited to go.

But I kept thinking about those recommendations, and I went with my gut feel.

We loved it. (Phew!)

There are so many timely messages from this movie. One: Do we consider how important agency is in our everyday lives and in the way our communities and country are run? What are we doing to protect free exercise of moral agency, life and liberty?

Two: How important is history? How are we doing at passing on the lessons learned from the past?

This week I re-read The Giver, and I really enjoyed it. The movie is surprisingly close to the book. I recommend the book for teen readers and older. There are a few places with topics that are good points for discussion with parents, and I’m looking forward to having that discussion with my children who read the book at our family book club soon! I also wouldn’t recommend the movie for anyone younger than teens. 

Watching and re-reading The Giver reminded me that there is so MUCH I take for granted every day! Color, for example! Can you imagine not being able to have color in our lives?

I appreciate Lois Lowry and Jeff Bridges getting this book into film. Definitely worth seeing, in my opinion.

Happy Watching (and Reading),

Liz :)

P.S. Here’s a quote from the book that I wanted to remember: “[Jonas] lay on the bed, aching. ‘Why do you and I have to hold these memories?’

” ‘It gives us wisdom,’ The Giver replied.” (p.111)

“Jonas did not want to go back. He didn’t want the memories, didn’t want the honor, didn’t want the wisdom, didn’t want the pain. He wanted his childhood again, his scraped knees and ball games. He sat in his dwelling alone, watching through the window, seeing children at play, citizens bicycling home from uneventful days at work, ordinary lives free of anguish because he had been selected, as others before him had, to bear their burden.

“But the choice was not his. He returned each day to the Annex room.

“The Giver was gentle with him for many days following the terrible shared memory of war.

” ‘There are so many good memories,’ The Giver reminded Jonas. And it was true. By now Jonas had experienced countless bits of happiness, things he had never known before.

“He had seen a birthday party, with one child singled out and celebrated on his day, so that now he understood the joy of being an individual, special and unique and proud.

” He had visited museums and seen paintings filled with all the colors he could now recognize and name.

“In one ecstatic memory he had ridden a gleaming brown horse across a field…

“He had walked through woods, and sat at night beside a campfire. Although he had through the memories learned about the pain of loss and loneliness, now he gained, too, an understanding of solitude and its joy.” (pp.121-122)

” ‘But he lied to me!’ Jonas wept….’What about you? Do you lie to me, too?’ Jonas almost spat the question at The Giver.

” ‘I am empowered to lie. But I have never lied to you.’ ” (p.153)



Psst! You never know


RWM: Love, Ruby Lavender

Ruby Lavender

“Good garden of peas!”

I love reading aloud in my children’s classes whenever I can! It has been a joy to do ever since I started back when Sarah was in Kindergarten? First grade? I can’t even remember. Now I’m simply savoring every chance to go as my youngest is growing up through the elementary grades.

This week I went to read from Love, Ruby Lavender, the darling story of a young girl who lost her grandfather, adores her grandmother, and despises another young girl whose father died in the same accident as her grandfather. This charming, often funny, tale describes how enemies can become friends and includes how multi-generational relationships can strengthen individuals and families. (Children need a grandma who loves them!)

I love the letters between Ruby and her grandmother, Miss Eula.

I love Ruby’s spunky personality, her temper (!),  and her funny expressions, including “Good garden of peas!”

You will love the opportunity to discuss with your readers how death of a loved one can affect children (and adults), how our behavior affects each other, and how families can be there for each other.

And I bet you’ll love seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter of children as you read.

Happy Reading,

Liz :)

P.S. My friend texted me to ask for read-aloud recommendations for a first grade class. I’m working on that and will post it asap!


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RTW: Enter to learn, go forth to serve


This week I picked Sarah up from BYU campus, and we both noticed and commented on the beauty of the flowers in the median strip/island at one of the campus stoplights. (Seriously! Gorgeous flowers in a median strip!) We talked about what a beautiful campus it is,  how there is such a special spirit about the campus, and how blessed I was and she is to be a student there.

My thoughts this morning remind me of BYU’s motto: “Enter to learn, go forth to serve.”

I hope that’s what our children feel about our home!

After watching “Living Proof” last night and reading my scriptures this morning, I’m considering how education both at home and at the university, coupled with a willingness to work hard and serve unselfishly, can make us valuable instruments for good in the world.

My reading in the Book of Mormon and the sweet children’s voices I hear this morning reminded me of a quote that was on the wall of my mission home. I searched for the mission home phone number online and came across a blog in which a recent mission president and his wife post about what they are doing now, post-mission. A year ago, the husband is a professor at a university in Michigan, teaching 16-year olds in Sunday School, and serving on the university board of another university. He was going to speak in Oxford and invited any missionaries living in the UK to join them for dinner when they were there. The wife is “a committed grandmother, spending time with our grandchildren born this year. She is on a church missionary mental health group and working to help missionaries manage stress, both in the field and when they return. She will have an Ensign article in July 2014 about parenting young adults.” She also speaks in “Time Out for Women” gatherings around the country and published a book, Habits of Happiness.” 

Talk about going about doing good!

Lest we get discouraged if our lists don’t look like this mission president and his wife, I think we only need to turn to the scriptures. I was reading in 1 Nephi 11 in which Nephi saw Mary, the mother of the Savior of the world. She didn’t travel to distant lands or go on speaking tours or publish books (not to our knowledge, at least). She nurtured the Savior. Think of what she accomplished in her life by doing that. Talk about impact. It’s not about numbers. It’s about doing what we are sent to do. Doing our part, fulfilling our mission, the best we can.

So when I think of what we can accomplish for good in our lives, I see that the more we learn how to rely on God, follow Him, learn all we can, and hone our skills, He will use us to spread light and good cheer to many in our circles. It begins with ourselves, then our spouse, then our children, and then our communities. We can be instruments for good, to lift, strengthen, teach, and comfort many within the span of our lives!

That is such a happy thought!

My goal (along with my husband) is to first be that kind of a person: who is constantly learning, constantly work for good, trying to make a difference for others. Hopefully I can be an example that way to my children. And then I want to teach and nurture those habits and skills that will allow my children to do the same. I really do awe at the millions of different ways people contribute in this world, so I know it won’t matter what talents my children have. We just get to help them discover them and develop them the best we can, and inspire them to “take it from there” when they leave home. I simply want to help light and fan the fire in their hearts that will give them the desire to work hard on behalf of others.

Then they will be happy.

(Are you thinking The Giving Tree right now, too?) :)

Happy Learning, Working, Teaching, and Serving,

Liz :)



FF: Living Proof

Living Proof


Lane and I watched “Living Proof” last night, a biographical movie “based on the true life story of Dr. Dennis Slamon and the book HER-2: The Making of Herceptin, a Revolutionary Treatment for Breast Cancer by Robert Bazell” (Wikipedia).

With the exception of some unfortunate language, immodest costuming, and an unnecessary bedroom scene, we really liked the movie. (I wish there were a Kids-in-Mind review for this movie. But there’s not. So here’s the “what we wish weren’t there” scoop. Language: primarily people using the Lord’s name in vain and some callous/coarse joking; costuming: shirts that were too low, etc.; immorality: depictions of an inappropriate relationship.)

Dr. Slamon is a doctor driven to help save lives of women with breast cancer and the development of a successful drug treatment. His wife is totally committed to supporting him in his mission and maintains the nurturance of their children and maintenance of home life, allowing him to give himself to the work. Their friend, Lily, uses her talents and connections to raise money to support the research. And the women suffering from cancer and their families courageously participate in the drug studies to allow the drug to be proven effective and safe for breast cancer patients.

We were inspired by the messages in this movie: Hard work, commitment, and sacrifice fuel worthy causes. Stay-at-home mothers who support their husbands in their work are as much a part of the success of their husband’s work as the husband is. Cancer patients endure great challenges. Families of those patients have a painful journey as well. Individuals who are inspired to do good can make a wonderful difference in our world. Education is so valuable. All the players in a mission are important, from the leader (Dr. Slamon) to their family (his wife and children), to their associates (the board members of the pharmaceutical company, other doctors, his research assistant, his friends, the cancer patients and families, the nurses and doctors associated with the study, the hospital and lab janitorial staff–SO many people) all work together as a body to make something good happen.

This movie reminded us of two other inspiring medical-development movies we have seen: “Gifted Hands (about Dr. Ben Carson) and “Something the Lord Made” (about Dr. Vivien Thomas and Dr. Alfred Blalock).

I would NOT recommend “Living Proof” or “Something the Lord Made” for children. The former contains subject matter that is more mature, and the latter is filled with language that was particularly offensive, if I remember correctly. (If I had a version of “Something” that was edited for language, I would watch it again to see if I could share it with my children. It is an incredible story.)

I wish film editors were more mindful of families when sharing amazing based-on-true-events stories!!!

I am awed by how the Lord nurtures inventions by those individuals who care about others and want to help humanity.

Happy Watching,

Liz :)

P.S. Watching the movie “Something the Lord Made” led me to reading about another doctor, Dr. Helen Taussig. She was the founder of pediatric cardiology and a colleague of Dr. Thomas and Blalock. Her work, along with her colleagues, has helped save untold number of lives of “blue babies,” children born with a heart abnormality called TOF (Tetralogoy of Fallot). Her story is wonderful, too!!

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3T: Essential oils

wintergreen oil

I don’t advertise on my blog. But I do share some products that are helpful to our family.

I like essential oils. I use them periodically. I don’t sell them; nor do I want to. I believe there is some value to them.

But they can be very expensive.

And I have no way to verify if one brand is better than another, or purer, or anything! To my untrained eye and nose, they look and smell the same.

There is one way I do choose between brands of oils, and that is by price. Butterfly Express (click on the image) carries many of the same oils that doTerra does, but at a lower price. I love using doTerra oils but don’t have the budget for it!

And a foot soaking in Epsom salts with a drop of wintergreen and lavender in hot water…well, that is some good relaxing.

Happy Oiling,

Liz :)

(Seriously. Oiling? Oh well.)


RWM: Choosing Motherhood

Choosing MotherhoodAlready! Another book to add to my stack for this year. I’m going to have to put a cap on this stack pretty soon so I can read  some of these great, serendipitous titles that call out to me!

I was just reading 1 Nephi 3:7, how God doesn’t give us any commandments that he doesn’t first prepare a way for us to be able to keep.

I LOVE how God models how to be a parent. This simple truth that Nephi spoke is a pattern for nurturing in so many ways! First, we wouldn’t want to undertake something that is impossible for one of our children to do, at least with help. But there are many things we can choose with our children to do if we are willing to work to help them.

Free-Range Kids

Last night, at a parenting book club of which I’m a part, we discussed Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children without Going Nuts with Worry by Lenore Skenazy. In this book Skenazy addresses what is called “helicopter parenting”–a negative connotation for parents that “hover” over their children, not allowing them any room to do for themselves or make mistakes. I would say that Heavenly Father is an amazing combination of a parent who knows far more than any earthly parent ever will about his children and is far more involved than we could ever be: He knows our thoughts, our feelings, our physiological state, our past, our present, our future, our talents, our potential, or weaknesses–everything! And he can be with us at any moment if we are not purposefully going against His will. He even gives us the very  breath we are using at this very moment!

Talk about life support!

But on the other hand, He teaches us good from evil and gives us agency (choice) and the tools to make wise choices. He gives us a TON of latitude with this agency. We see evidence of agency every day, on the news, in our conversations, in our social media, as we share the good and ill we observe happening by people’s constant choices.


What I love about being a mother who is armed with the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, is that we can try to be like God: we teach our children, and then we give them assignments, and then we assist them in those assignments the best we can. “Best” to me means that we allow them to do as much as they should do in order to effectively learn the skill, as difficult as that might be for the child. I love the definition of “spoiling a child” that I heard from my friend Carol J.: You only spoil a child when you do for them what they can do for themselves.

When I think of all the really, really challenging young mother days I had slogging through sleep-deprivation and common illness and patience-stretching toddler behaviors and faith about being financially solvent someday, I think that God did not swoop down and remove those challenges from me. He let me struggle. Often. But He was always there if I wanted to talk. He was always there with opportunities for me to learn to look beyond myself and discover happiness in golden moments and choice relationships. He blessed me with people who loved me and encouraged me. He provided food, clothing, shelter, love, fun, learning, adventure and laughter. He made it possible for me to go from one day to the next.

As an adult, I recognize that I’m a partner with God who has all this agency and gets to learn as I try to support my children. It is SUCH a great opportunity! Just this morning I was leading a little beginner orchestra, and the children had learned the 4 measures I assigned the week before. We played, on our first “official” day, the first 4 measures all together! And it sounded GOOD! I’m serious! It tasted so sweet! And it was so fun to share that taste with the children! When we get to invite children to work, to try, to figure something out, and then we support them in the ways that they can’t do (like getting them to school with an instrument, providing chairs and stands and sheet music and a smiling face to practice with them), then they can achieve what they otherwise couldn’t. And we get to be a part of it. We get to learn to be like God.

SO awesome!

So much for my break. I better get back to that.

(Ha! I really do need to learn more discipline.)

Happy Choosing Motherhood and Tasting the Joys of Nurturing Others,

Liz :)



We interrupt this broadcast…

This has been a long transition time. Sending everyone going back to school, figuring out all the new schedules, carpools, changes in my volunteering capacities–and what feels like a hundred other organizational capacities–has really sent my mind on a whirl. I need to carve out a little more time and not be at my computer so much. So I’m going to put my blogging on the back burner for a week or two, with the exception of Elder Livingston’s mission updates.

Not blogging is kind of hard to do, since I’d almost rather blog than do a multitude of other things, but it has been helpful in the past and will be helpful until I can get a sense of rhythm and balance again.

I’ll be back soon!

Happy Break,

Liz :)


MF: Celebrations in the mission field

Nate's new companion 9-8-14Looks like somebody got a new companion! Who had a birthday! Elder Livingston enjoys birthdays, and having fun, so I’m wondering if the frosting beard on his new companion happened with his help?

Well, he’s not much of an emailer these days, to put it conservatively. But he is writing letters, and here is a part of his most recent one, which arrived a few days after my birthday. I was really touched that he planned several weeks in advance to mail me a letter and included a mini Peruvian knitted hat (i.e. key ring sized). It is darling! In his letter to me, he recalled the time when I tried to reproduce a chocolate cake he had eaten at Sundance Ski Resort once that was his favorite. I googled “Sundance chocolate cake” and found this recipe that was gluten-free and the frosting was made with avocados. I was skeptical, but the blogger said she had made it for a wedding and people were coming back for seconds. So I decided to give it a try. I probably spent as much on special, gluten-free ingredients as I would have if I had simply ordered the cake from Sundance. But NO. I wanted to MAKE IT for him. Oh my!

Let’s just say that it did not turn out like the Sundance cake. It wasn’t really bad, it just wasn’t quite what we all had hoped. So we had a really  good laugh. And for his birthday before he left for his mission, I ordered a chocolate cake from Sundance. When my daughter went to pick it up, they gave her the incorrect cake. So when she got home, I called the bakery and asked about it. They immediately delivered a replacement cake! They were over-the-top nice. I was very impressed (and grateful, because that was an expensive cake!).

“Dear Family,

…I was sick two days ago (August 11). But I still went out and worked hard. We went on some visits with the Bishop, and he bought us Powerade. I got orange. Took a sip, and it took me back to drinking orange Gatorade as a kid when I sick. Felt immediately better. Haha.”

“Dear Momma,

“This week, an Elder went to Lima, so Elder S. and I have been with Elder I. [from Southern CA]. He completed one year on the mission. A member made him a pie…, so we went and ate it. We sang “Happy Birthday” and said TL’s. It just reminded me of how when we had a birthday, you tried so hard to make it special for us. And even if you accidentally made a vegan cake, it was made with love. And Momma, I felt it. It didn’t matter what cake or non-lactose frosting we had. I wouldn’t trade those for anything, because you made them for me….

…Today is the anniversary of Huanuco, a super big fiesta day here. But I’m thinking about my mom, who made Olympics-themed birthday parties for me. I’m thinking of you decorating for the 4th of July, or calling back Sundance to bring a real chocolate cake, or packing my suitcase for me. Mom, thanks for always thinking about me and trying to help me be the best I could be, and have fun….You taught me to eat healthy….You like eating lunch with me, and I liked it too (even if I had to load your groceries, but that wasn’t hard.) I’m thinking for you bringing me homework, or letting me use the car to go skiing…Thanks for driving me to rugby practice, even though it was 30 minutes away. Thank you Mom.”

Even though he isn’t writing lots about the work still, his sense of humor remains intact, which I LOVE hearing in his letters–or even on the return address of his envelopes, like this one, which read, “Elder Pack Mule.”


Personal Progress

This question has been on my mind for decades.

I recently started back to meeting with one child at a time to review their goals. I want to help my children learn how to set long-term goals that they can break down into smaller goals: monthly, weekly goals, so that they can consider how they proactively can, with God’s help, move themselves forward in life towards accomplishing their hopes and dreams.


I am not very good at this, and it still seems too complicated at times. But I persist.

We sit down together (mother and child), have a prayer, and then talk about what their goals are, referring to their goal-setting booklets (Faith in God, Scouts, Personal Progress, and soon to be Duty to God again, when Peter turns 12). We might review their patriarchal blessing or notes from their back-to-school blessing. During our meeting, I take notes on my laptop and then afterwards print the notes, so they can take their goals and hang them on their magnetic board or put them in their “white binder” (those white binders that come in packs at Costco :) ) or put them whatever they want. The children older than 12 write down their goals for that week on the back of the coming week’s time card. We have a closing prayer and commit to meeting again in about a month.

I’m also encouraging them to read over the weekly goals each morning and pray for help to accomplish them.

Faith in God booklets

The reason it seems complicated is that I’m not sure about the balance of it all: how much can they retain in their minds? How much can I? At this point in my life, I have so many goals and purposes in my brain for my life and for each member in my family’s life, that I wonder how I can ever accomplish any of them! But I see that by setting goals, we do actually accomplish some, and that they propel us forward, making more progress (I believe) in the long run because of having set goals.

In all of the goal-setting, though, I don’t want to lose sight of what matters most: love. Do you they feel my love?

I asked one child at the start of a goal meeting, why we were meeting together. The answer was to set goals. I said yes, but I explained that the foundation of what I was trying to do was love. I love each of my children, and I want them to learn how to be successful. I want them to know how to solve problems, how to accomplish their dreams, how to get better and better. I want to help them. So I expressed my love.

My goal is to meet with at least one child each Sunday.

I hope I can be consistent. There are many times that I stop and start, because life happens, including on Sundays: illness, holidays, company, other “interruptions” to our best laid plans. And we aren’t always consistent in meeting together. But I think that overall we have a culture of goal-setting and reviewing that we are trying to establish, and so I hope that we can keep meeting together and discussing ways to help each other.

I’m looking forward to learning more about how to do this better. Perhaps I’ll have something better to share in a year from now, when I’ve gotten more experience.

Happy Learning from and Goal-Setting with Those You Nurture,

Liz :)


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