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3T: Christmas on the road


Have you ever tried to take a family somewhere else for Christmas? It really can be a great way to go! (No pun intended.)


Here are a few tips for traveling over the holidays:

  1. Teach your children to pack. One Christmas we gave each child their own large duffle bag in their own color. I also made a packing tag with packing instructions on it._MGL8047
  2. Be sure YOU follow the packing tag list for yourself (while packing for all of the younger children or supervising older children helping the younger ones).  One year I had double-checked everyone except for myself. Guess who forgot to pack underwear?
  3. Do something to make suitcases easily recognizable, so none get left behind. If each child knows to look for their own bag, that helps. For us, this was having brightly colored suitcases. (When the children were younger, we had little rolling suitcases that those who could walk could pull. At least, that was the theory.)
  4. Be sure they leave room in their suitcases for packing home a few gifts (if you are doing gifts on your trip).
  5. Bring your fabric gift bags. This is a great way to still have wrapping without having to carry a bunch of paper, tape, and bows. Once we had the chance to go on a cruise with our extended family that finished on Christmas morning. (These can be FABULOUSLY money-saving compared to traveling other times of the year or staying somewhere on shore.) We didn’t bring all of our presents, but we DID bring our Christmas PJs in gift bags, so that we could keep our Christmas Eve tradition of getting new PJs to sleep in.IMG_7789
  6. Consider doing service gifts (siblings to each other, ahead of time) so there is less to pack. Then they can share about their service on Christmas morning.
  7. Make the vacation the family gift! (That’s what some of our friends did every year. Instead of giving gifts, they gave the family a special memory by going somewhere together.)
  8. Still do a few traditions on your trip. It’s that much more fun to frost sugar cookies with cousins or grandparents that don’t live close by (and your husband gets to do them with you!).



Hope these ideas help you if you’re planning to travel for Christmas!

Happy Preparing,

Liz :)



Mmmm: Peanut butter pie


We had quite a pie-making party here on Saturday night! We made an apple pie (no brown bag this time), a pecan pie, and a peanut butter pie.

The peanut butter pie’s name is a bit of a misnomer: it’s really a banana cream pie with peanut butter inside. And it’s delicious. And fast!

Fall is DEFINITELY pie season.

Happy Baking,

Liz :)_MGL1746

P.S. My only job in this pie-making process was doing dishes, which I happily did in exchange for a sample slice of each pie….


SOS: God gives the increase


There are some things over which we have control and some over which we do not.

Yesterday, Pete was getting dressed for church when I saw how his pants fit. “Whoa!” I thought and told him there was NO way he was going to wear those pants to church because they were so small on him that they might not stay up without the sides splitting. Then we were hard-pressed to find a pair that still fit him amongst his other options.

Seeing this pair of pants this morning reminded me that children’s physical growth isn’t something over which we have total control. We know that how* we nurture our children can assist or stunt their growth, but other issues, such as our children’s genes or any disease, illness, or accident that may arise–things that are mostly out of our control–also can play a very significant part.

This reminded me of my own life. Being a parent often reminds me about being a child of my Heavenly Father. These too-small pants did. There are parts of my life that I have control over and am responsible for, such as how I spend my time, energy, and other resources, and the attitude with which I pursue them. I can do a lot to grow in my life, and then other times, I have to wait upon the Lord. I found this interesting quote while searching for something else this morning:

“What we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity. “For I [said the Lord] will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts” (D&C 137:9; see also Jer. 17:10). Alma said, “I know that [God] granteth unto men according to their desire, … I know that he allotteth unto men … according to their wills” (Alma 29:4). To reach this equitable end, God’s canopy of mercy is stretched out, including “all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of [the gospel], who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom;

“For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts” (D&C 137:8–9).

God thus takes into merciful account not only our desires and our performance, but also the degrees of difficulty which our varied circumstances impose upon us. No wonder we will not complain at the final judgment, especially since even the telestial kingdom’s glory “surpasses all understanding” (D&C 76:89). God delights in blessing us, especially when we realize “joy in that which [we] have desired” (D&C 7:8)….

It is up to us. God will facilitate, but He will not force.” (“According to the desire of [our] hearts,” October 1996 general conference).

But then there are other parts of life over which I don’t have control, which are in God’s hands.

Learning to trust that God really does have me and my life in his hands and that everything is going to be OK in the short or long run, has been a growth process for me. Motherhood has really helped me gain more perspective on how, like a wise and loving parent, God really does have my best interests in mind, and I really can trust him.

Fear can be so crippling, but motherhood has helped me recognize that if I really want to become like God, He’s going to help me get there, step by step, day by day. I am coming to realize that faith in God, along with my best efforts to accomplish what I desire or to help a family member accomplish his or her goals, helps me overcome the fear and allows me to feel peace. I am learning that God will come through. He always has. He keeps coming through. Growth will happen. It will! I just have to keep trusting that growth and progression and happiness and that beautiful, bright sunshine in life will come. God is in charge of that part. It’s His end of the deal, and He always keeps his promises.

“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6; emphasis added).

Just like children grow up and out of their clothing, God will take care of me and my family as we trust and keep trying to do what He asks. I like knowing that. I think I’ll start singing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” (and go for a walk!).

Happy Having Faith, Singing and Handing Down Clothing,

Liz :)

*How does our nurturing affect our children’s growth? I’m not an expert, but this seems to me to be somewhat basic factors that affect a child’s growth:

  1. Good dental care. Cavities can affect a child’s weight. If we help our children establish good dental hygiene habits, it will impact their overall health. (If you have a toothache, it probably doesn’t feel very good to eat!)
  2. Good nutrition.  Children can’t grow without sufficient food or grow well or to their potential with food that is not sufficiently nutritious.
  3. Sufficient rest. “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” (Benjamin Franklin)
  4. Clean home environment and good hygiene habits, such as hand-washing, to avoid illness. Certainly preventable chronic illness can affect our growth.
  5. Sunshine and exercise! I need to stop typing and get some!
  6. Love.  I don’t know if love helps you be taller or not, but I do not that being raised in a loving, nurturing environments does affect our health. One  article claims it can affect the brain development of a child.

RTW: Standardized tests



Julia* went to take the ACT yesterday. She had prepared using an online prep website, gone over the what-to-bring-to-the-test page, skipped staying out with friends and gone to bed early, gotten up for breakfast, prayer, and scriptures with me and Lane, and headed out on time. We were proud of her for her careful preparation.

I seem to feel two things when sending off a child to take a standardized test:

1. I’ve spent my life preparing you for moments like this.

2. It’s only one kind of a test. Do your best, and then let it go.

In reflecting with Julia last night about the test, I expounded a little more that second thought. Tests are created to measure certain things, such as specific knowledge or skills. College entrance exams and other standardized tests do not in any way fully represent who we are, what our potential is, or what are gifts are. And to compare one person’s intelligence or potential intellectual ability against another simply by a test score is folly! You are a child of God, and you have immeasurable intellectual potential!

The best and most important standardized test that I know of is daily life. I hope my children have or will learn this from me: At the end of the day, who are you? Were you kind, honest, true, friendly, helpful, virtuous, clean, obedient, repentant? Did you make a the world a better place for someone else in some small way? Did you do the best you could in the circumstances you faced? Did you learn from your experiences and opportunities? Did you work hard? Are you a little tiny bit better today than you were yesterday?

I didn’t do as well on my ACT or SAT as I wanted to back in the day. Of course, I wanted to get a perfect score! Nope, I didn’t. Not even close! If I had, what would it say? That I had been very well prepared. That I had gained the knowledge and skills needed to perform well on that test. And I hadn’t. That’s ok. I had gained some great life experience and knowledge that helped me to that point. Building on that, I’ve continued to gain so much by way of knowledge and skills since then. Life goes on! College and life since college–particularly motherhood!!!–has given me an education that has been rich and intellectually, physically, emotionally and spiritually stimulating. I am learning in every way.

So hats off to all of our school-aged children who have to take standardized tests! It’s not much fun, it’s a rite of passage, and it’s not the end of the world. Way to go in taking the tests and going forward with life!

Happy Testing,

Liz :)

*The picture of Julia above is actually from a flight, but since I can’t run in and take a photo of my children taking a test, this one looked a little close, especially with Nate in the background looking like he might be taking a test…LOL.



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 :)

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