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In our elementary school, the second graders always do a Halloween-themed program. I don’t know that this is because Halloween is such a wonderful holiday to celebrate, but perhaps October was the month allotted to that grade, and so this is what they chose to do.

Big Pumpkin

And because of that, each of our children, learned the audio recording of a book called Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman. I thought it was pretty hilarious the other night to hear every child from Sarah (20) to Anna (9) quoting the lines along with the video we found on YouTube. Some memories really stick around!

Now, remember: I am a self-proclaimed Halloween grinch. It isn’t my favorite holiday! Still, there are elements of the holiday that I like (these books), and so I will read these books during that week before Halloween (or during a children’s Halloween party to which I am asked to contribute an activity). And you will see these titles on our fireplace mantle during October:

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. We dream of having a broom like this.


The Spider and the Fly based on the poem by Mary Howitt, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi. SUCH a fabulous moralistic classic! Perfect illustrations!

Spider and Fly

My Monster Mama Loves Me So by Laura Leuck. You will love this book so. Mark Beuhner’s illustrations keep children looking to see what they spy.

My Monster Mama

Frankenstein: A Monstrous Parody by Rick Walton and Nathan Hale. If you love the Madeline series (by Ludwig Bemelmans), you will crack up reading this version. A great way to teach children what “parody” means!


Happy Halloween (Reading),

Liz :)




SOS: A “no duh” thing


(This photo really is not related to this post. I just saw it again today and love it so well! I had to share it! It reminds me of a golden moment enjoying an ice cream cone at the Thanksgiving Point ice cream shop years ago!)

I love learning from my children.

A few years ago, we started rotating who leads our morning family scripture study. Last week, we were reading about prayer in Alma 34, and the child who was leading said, “Prayer is a ‘no duh’ thing.” She explained that it’s just one of those things that you should always do, because it makes so much sense, and because Heavenly Father answers prayers. She talked about how she prays before quizzes and tests at school, and how she needs to remember more often to pray before eating lunch. I really appreciated her sincerity and conviction. She knows prayers are answered! That phrase has definitely stayed with me this whole week.

This morning, she led our study again. This time, we were in Alma 37, reading about how small and simple things lead to great things. She shared how her math teacher always tells their class to simplify an equation. She quoted the teacher as saying, “When it doubt, write it out.” Explaining this, she said that when you have an equation, and you write it down in its simplified parts, then it is so much easier to see what you are dealing with, and you can figure it out! What a sage application of this critical principle! I know what she said is true: sometimes simply writing a problem out on paper for me (in my journal) can help me figure out what I am dealing with. (I’m talking life, not just math!)

I love her insights.

I love each of their insights! I’m grateful for the inspiration that came that one morning after sincere prayer to know how to improve our scripture study. That thought to give each child a chance to lead the discussion (instead of parents dominating the discussion every day) has been a wonderful answer leading to feeling the Spirit so much more often in our study time.

Another child came to me this morning to report that she had lost a library book, and so she prayed to find it. And then she found the book. She added that then she said a “thankful prayer.”

My children teach me to remember to give thanks!

I cannot express how grateful I am for my parents teaching me to pray. I have loved being able to pass on that gift by teaching my children to solve problems (and equations) in life through sincere prayer and applying true principles that we learn in the scriptures.

Happy Learning from Your Children,

Liz :)


FF: Fall Break

Fall leaves (from fall walk)At the end of last week (beginning Thursday), we had fall break. It was a gorgeous weekend with plenty of sunshine and fall colors to brighten our staycation.

We had a great time–

  • baking (chicken pot pie! cherry cardamom bread! brown bag apple pie!) using our new oven
  • making orange spice doughnuts
  • going out to eat for our October family book club and watching “Meet the Mormons” in the theatre afterward (How many movies have you seen with your family that you all hug each other afterward?! Yep, it was a feel-good show.)
  • going for a fall hike, including rolling down the green hill and gathering leaves to identify using Fall Walk
  • making leaf rubbings with the leaves we had gathered
  • playing tag in IKEA*
  • visiting our first home, to see how the trees and grown and to take a picture of the handprints we made in the driveway cement (I wish we had had time to stop and visit with neighbors!)
  • visiting the library where a quilt hangs with Sarah, Nate and Grandma’s faces smile
  • having a birthday party for Peter
  • figuring out what we are going to do about the mole or gopher holes in our lawn that have recently appeared
  • reading on the couch (ahhhhhh, my favorite)
  • having some family and friends over for dinner
  • playing with friends who also stayed home during the break
  • watching a movie
  • touring the BYU food preparation facility (incredible)
  • listening to Elder Livingston’s voice recording! WOO HOO!

I LOVE fall break! I could use a break to enjoy my family every 6 weeks. (Wishful thinking…)

Happy Enjoying Fall,

Liz :)

P.S. More pics:



*Tag in IKEA ground rules: You have to stay within the designated hiding area. You can’t disturb customers (we don’t want to get kicked out!). No hiding in closets (or other precarious places that could tip over, etc.)












MF: New companion! Dog washes!



I was delighted to get these photos today from Elder Livingston. He is such a goof and jokester! He and his companion were washing a dog for someone. Missionaries get all kinds of interesting service opportunities! (And hilarious how he still loves that shirt he got from Savers.)

He has been so grateful for each of his companions, including his new one pictured in the first photo (on the right). They Peruvian elder in the middle is just about to leave for his mission. They are so excited for him. I loved reading that he gave him one of his white shirts. I remember when I packed his shirts into his suitcase, the day before he left, that I hoped perhaps one of them would go to a companion or other person who might need one. He made my day.

Here are some photos from the last month that he took on his Preparation Day trip to a local museum in his last area. Alligators and mummies: leave it to Elder Livingston to enjoy them thoroughly!



He is always happiest doing service.


And he told me that this was his “food storage” (and he told me to post it on Instagram with the hashtag #FollowtheProphet) that he keeps from care packages he has received. Just today, though, he said he has now eaten it all up. It was his not-so-subtle-plea for another care package.


His companion has a voice recorder, and so today in his email, we got the best gift ever:  a voice recording! It was wonderful to hear his voice!

He sounds very happy. That made me smile and feel relieved. (Why do mothers worry so much?!) He mentioned an investigator who is preparing for baptism and said he will tell us more next week. We can’t wait to get more information from him with this added tool! HAPPY DAY!

I’m so grateful for email and voice recorders!

Happy Getting Voice Recordings and Emails from Missionary Children,

Liz :)




Mmmm: Back to baking

Brown bag apple pieAfter having a dead oven for over a month, our new oven arrived!

new oven

We were so excited that we couldn’t wait for Lane to come home. Peter unhooked the power cord from the old stove while I cleaned up the very dirty floor where the range had been.

Peter  helping

connecting to the new oven Peter

When we called Lane to ask how to get the cord connected to the new oven (we were running into a snag), he advised us to WAIT PLEASE, because if we attached it incorrectly, we might blow out the new electrical system completely, which none of us wanted to see happen. (We had waited long enough to be patient for a few more hours!)

Lane got home from traveling late that night and stayed up to connect it and move it into place so we could use it the next morning.

It was like Christmas morning, coming into the kitchen to see a working oven in place of the broken one!

pot pie

That night, we had homemade pot pie for dinner.

Last night, we had brown bag apple pie, thanks to one of my daughters who made it for us.



You prepare the pie, stick it in a brown grocery bag, staple it shut, and bake it for 1 hour 45 minutes.

Then you wait with great anticipation after having smelled that lovely pie baking for that long!

Oh, apple pie in fall! An oven to bake it in! Sweet blessings!

Happy Enjoying Fall and Your Oven,

Liz :)





LOL: Great lemon taste

great lemon taste

Cod liver oil has a great lemon taste? As my children would say, “Yeah, NO.”

Today I pulled out the cod liver oil to have a teaspoon for myself. Anna looked up worried and asked, even more anxiously, “I haven’t been bad! Why are you getting that out?” I laughed and told her I was taking it. Not as punishment. As a supplement. She gave a sigh of relief. Julia enjoyed the moment thoroughly.

We have used cod liver oil on occasion to motivate some of our younger children, who were going through some stages of yelling and throwing tantrums, that if they chose not to control their voices, then they would have about a 1/4 teaspoon of cod liver oil. There were few  tastes they hated like cod liver oil with its “great lemon taste.” The threat of this consequence worked marginally, but you can tell by that response that they have a definite aversion to the taste.

Me, too.

Rebecca just said, “It is DISGUSTING.”

But I guess that’s what happens when you’re an adult: you might take a supplement that tastes disgusting when you think it might do you a little good.

We’ll see!

Happy Pinching Your Nose While Swallowing,

Liz :)


Jamie planted a seed

Fall is such a wonderful season, not only for the velvet-rich colors that robe the trees and bushes, but also for the bountiful harvest that began in summer and stretches on into October. From sunflowers to pumpkins, there is so much wonder to invite a child to discover!


Pumpkin, Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington has always been a read-aloud favorite, particularly for the watercolor pencil illustrations that show so well how a pumpkin grows. I love books that help “city children” see the process that everyone knew only a few generations ago. Many children simply do not see anything grow except for grass, flowers, and trees! So we must have beautifully illustrated books (or equivalents online) for children to view at a bare minimum.


The Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall. What I love about this story is the historical review of what families had to do in order to live back not too many generations ago: plant what you eat, wear, and feed your livestock. And then you build, preserve, raise, weave, sew, carve. And then you can share or sell your surplus. I also think it is critical for children to have a sense of the foundation that those forerunners built for us that led to the convenience and ease of our modern lives. I also love the illustration style that seems so appropriate to the time-period of the story.


Spuds by Karen Hesse helps children to appreciate that not everyone had (or has) a harvest to enjoy. This fictional story tells how some poor children whose single, hardworking mother couldn’t provide enough food for them, went to steal what they thought was potatoes. The potatoes don’t end up being exactly what they thought. The story gives us both a taste for honesty and gratitude. Sweet illustrations.

And if last month you didn’t get to read How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro or How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World  by Marjorie Priceman, see if you can squeeze those in.

Enough stories for today!

Happy Planting a Love of Reading,

Liz :)



First: I’m changing my suggestions from a “first-grade” read-aloud suggestion list to a “primary grades” list, because you can adapt books your read to the age- and ability level of a class or particular student simply by the way you read the book and the supplemental questions and information you provide. You adapt.

Second: My suggestions for October will be in 3 parts: fall, harvest, and Halloween. Too many titles for simply one post!

Today I got to read to a third-grade class and took the following books:

Look What I Did with a Leaf

Look What I Did with a Leaf! by Morteza E. Sohi. Fabulous book for combining nature, seasons, and art! I always tell my students to have “artistic eyes.”

Audubon Guide Trees

The National Audubon Society Field Guide to Trees. I bought a number of these years ago when Costco offered them for far less than their bookstore price. They are designed to be hand-held size for packing along on a hike or nature walk. You can identify trees, insects, butterflies, weather, etc., using the great photos and detailed information therein. (Now you can also go online to audubonguides.com and create a free user to access all the same info online or in an app. SO COOL.)

Why do leaves change color?

I read Why Do Leaves Change Color? by Betsy Maestro (mentioned on last month’s list). I am always fascinated in remembering that green is not necessarily a leaf’s TRUE color: it is simply chlorophyll masking the yellow or orange pigment that naturally exists in the leaf. And to learn about sugar stored in the leaves turning to the other colors is magical. I love fall!


I recently found a new, beautifully illustrated book, Fall Walk by Virginia Brimhall Snow. All of the pages’ illustrations are in brown outline, except for the leaf that is being highlighted, which is in rich color and detail! Perfect for identifying leaves after a fall walk hand-in-hand with a child!

Of course, there are other wonderful fall books to share. And there’s a whole branch of books about naturalists and other connections we could make (as in Leonardo daVinci) that are superb ways to introduce the beauty and patterns in nature. But that’s enough for part 1 today.

However, I have to throw in a song for good measure. (No pun intended.)

Janet Lanier has a great website for harpists: lovely original sheet music and videos. This is one I have shown in my kindergarten music teaching:

Harp is the perfect instrument to paint a musical picture of leaves falling, don’t you agree?

Happy Reading! (And Listening!)

Liz :)


3T: Go with greasy hair

Seriously: I am not taking a photo of my greasy hair for this.

But this is one of the ways I have discovered lets me get to the temple.

Going to the temple is challenging for me, because I need to get there and get back in a certain amount of time and get other things done before children are home from school: groceries, errands, laundry, meal prep–you know the routine.

So one way I have decided to make sure that nothing stops me from going is simply getting up, getting dressed to go, and pulling my hair back into a pony. Even if it’s greasy. (Which it usually is, since I have thin, fine hair that does not look very good on the second day. Ever.)

That may not sound like a big deal to anyone, but I realized that if I just let go of a little bit of my vanity (wanting to shower and do my hair before going), that I could save that much time and be at the temple that much faster. Sometimes I can get my exercise and shower in after the temple, just depending on what’s on the program for that day.

I feel grateful that figuring out babysitting isn’t a need right now, allowing me greater flexibility. Stages of life!

Happy Figuring Out What Works for You to Get to the Temple,

Liz :)



SOS: Productivity recommendation


Going to the temple on a regular basis helps me get more done during my week than I can do on a week when I don’t go.

How do I know? I am kind of an analytic person. I love to analyze and record. Sometimes when I have a day in which things just really flow well, and I am able to serve AND get things done that are on my “weekly list,” I write down everything I was able to do that day. (It helps me count my blessings and recognize the hand of the Lord in my day.) I have been so amazed at how blessed I have been the weeks that I go to the temple! Every day I am able to get done things not only for others, but also have been able to do things that I have been wanting to get done.

Very cool. Very personally satisfying.

I love the temple!

Happy Increasing Your Productivity by Attending the Temple,

Liz :)

P.S. Isn’t that a cool photo of the Lima Peru temple?