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Family Council goal sign

There is a solution to everything under the sun.

We have found that one of the best ways to find solutions for family problems is to discuss them in a family council and then set a goal to accomplish the solution we have chosen.

And I have also learned from experience that when I am working to solve a problem, the stress of that problem is diminished considerably. Working towards solving problems helps prevent feelings that can lead to depression!

I made a new sign for our white board today to help us focus on our one goal each week from family council. (I cut the paper in half, so the sign is only about 5.25″ x 8.5″, and I laminated it so that we can reuse it every week. We will write our goal on the green box.) You can click on the image to download a printable PDF, or click here.


Fitness inspiration

Today I read a blogpost about a woman who finished her first Ironman Half Triathlon. So impressive! I would love to be able to do that, but that goal seems incredibly far away right now. I love the goal, challenge, and fun of a race, but I have only beening running twice since my half marathon last April (2017) because of injuring my back during that race. Since then, I have gardened, danced (a little), walked and done a little biking. With all the family events we have had going since that race, it has really been a change of (excercising) pace. It’s been good, and there is a time and a season for everything. But I really miss running!

So when I read this story today, I decided to make space in my blog for some fitness inspiration stories that I can refer back to, or to list posts about challenges and victories in my personal training, so that I can keep being inspired to move forward!

I felt SO blessed last week when I found out about an adult ballet class happening that I could attend. I am trying to strengthen my back and cross-train so that when my back is healed, I can go back to running, and hopefully, train for a triathlon again (with one of my children or Lane, if possible!).

How Charlotte Finished Her First Half Ironman Triathlon I loved Charlotte Kooima’s determination to get back to running after an 8 year absence and some obstacles when she first started hitting the pavement again. She said, “’Thankfully, I am very stubborn and my goal was to return stronger than before’…. She even remembers telling the surgeon, ‘I don’t care what you have to do — get that foot back to the point of running!’” She faced the fear of having to swim in a wetsuit and overcoming obstacles in her actual race. Way to go, Charlotte! You are inspiring to me!


General conference breakfast

Pannukakku, the Finnish version of a German pancake or Dutch baby. Delicious and just right for a general conference breakfast. Thanks to Lane, we enjoyed this today along with sausages and fruit.

This looks fancy but is very easy to make. And it looks so magical! When you have a young child (or anyone who has never made one before), it’s fun to look through the oven glass during the last 5 minutes or so to see the sides of the pancake rise.

One of the challenges of a happy general conference weekend is keeping food very simple. Orange rolls, for example, are not quick to make. They ARE a delicious tradition but take planning and time. So this year, when we had Anna’s birthday right before conference, we didn’t get orange rolls made in advance. So I went out and bought some from Kneaders on Saturday morning–a much more expensive and less tasty option, but made all the hard-core tradition keepers in our family happy. 😍



General conference questions

Today is general conference! Hooray! I’ve got some questions I’m pondering for which I’m going to listen for answers.

  1. Which of David Burns’ cognitive distortions are true?
  2. What more can I learn about the Word of Wisdom and how we can apply it to improve our family’s nutritional habits and help Rebecca heal?
  3. How can I overcome procrastination and be more productive, even when faced with the challenge of imsomnia/fatigue or other health challenges?

I’ve been thinking about my depression coping tools since making my list this week. When I was in the temple last night waiting in the baptistry, I had a chance to read the New Era Look Out for UFO’s and saw an excellent article called “” or “unrecognized fiendish onslaughts” (i.e. super common temptations). These 13 behaviors can trip us up when we give way to them: unbelief, a bad attitude, valuing outward success or glamor more than goodness, always blaming others and never taking responsiblity, placing yourself above others, putting yourself down, being “clever” (a.k.a. lying), insulting others with flourish), being lazy, placing great value on being busy, making yourself look better than you really are, quarreling with siblings, and skipping prayer.

In reading over these, I remembered David Burns’ cognitive distortions, and how I have wanted to determine what their scriptural roots are. Since I am going to be listening to 8 more hours of truth this weekend, I have the chance to listen for those nuggets that are along these lines.

I have found it so helpful to learn to “watch my thoughts” and determine which ones follow truth and which do not. It is a skill I’m still learning, but it’s one that helps me learn to keep my throughts healthy, productive, and postive.

What are your questions for general conference this weekend?

Don’t know what general conference is? Go here or here to learn more and to watch or listen!


Family Power Preschool©

“What’s the most important thing children have? It’s their brains. But we are not caring for children’s brains the way we care for their bodies – especially in early childhood, when the science shows that children’s brains and children’s futures are rapidly being shaped. We need to do more to give parents and caregivers of young children the support they need during this most critical period of brain development.” –UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

I read this quote today and thought how interesting it is that the focus of this 21 September 2017 press release from UNICEF was that nations need more policies to support children being taught by their parents.

I  believe that when children are lovingly educated by their parents, they learn by example how to teach their children. They don’t need to rely on governments to be able to teach their children. They find a way.

Public and online resources are more available than ever to help parents with their responsibility, so that more and more parents can help their children learn at home, when they are young. And if you give children books as gifts when they are growing up, they will have a sufficient library to read to their own children when they marry and begin their family.

Family Power Preschool

When Sarah and Nathan were preschool age, neither of them wanted to go to preschool. I kept trying to enroll them, and they refused to go.

Now, that’s normal behavior for preschool-age children. But when I tried multiple times to leave them only to have them be so unhappy, I decided it really wasn’t worth the fight.

I decided to do home preschool instead.

In some ways, this was easier and more fun for me. With 3 children under the age of 4, the baby was inevitably napping when it was time for me to leave to pick them up. And every mother knows that it’s very nice not to have to wake a sleeping baby!

I also got to draw on my creative, preschool-teaching years. (That’s how I earned my way to Europe as a child, by teaching summer preschools in my home.)

Simple, fun, inexpensive

Doing home preschool can be simple, fun, and less expensive than paying to send your child somewhere. On the other hand, it can be the opposite of those at times if you let it. Some days are complicated, exhausting, and more costly if you don’t keep things in hand. But life is like that. And the memories we have of being together and learning together are a sweet reward for the effort we put into our family time!

And every effort I ever put into educating our children has paid off.

When I dropped Sarah off at her second med school interview this past weekend, for example. She didn’t cry. She baulked a little at me asking to take a photo of her. Talk about a contrast from the first 4 years of her education when every departure was a drama scene! Who would have guessed?

Here are some of the things we did in our Family Power Preschool©:

  1. This was the age of scrapbooking! I found a cute binder and made it the record of some of our activities.
  2. I was (as usual) ambitious in the beginning in being quite structured, just like a typical preschool. You can see from the photos that I made up a poem that initially we recited we sang a song and said a prayer. I also made up and taught them a few rules (Can you tell I was a school teacher?).
  3. But as time went on, we became less planned and more spontaneous. We didn’t always follow a format, except for beginning with prayer. We went on lots of field trips: the library (weekly), the zoo, a farm, the pumpkin patch, a homeless shelter, relatives’ homes, a candy factory, etc.
  4. Kindermusik® was the music portion of preschool, and gratefully, I was able to take all the children and while one or two were in class, I went to the library with the other. And usually we all went to the library after. We had the most wonderful teacher, a mother of 12 herself! I felt nurtured by her love when I went. That’s where I learned to give myself a pat on the back (literally and figuratively). Marion Wright will always be a shining star in my book!
  5. We baked, cooked, painted letters with chocolate pudding on the shiny side of freezer paper, colored, painted, played with clay, did seasonal art projects, wrote letters to and colored pictures for grandparents, and of course, we READ.
  6. We read and we read and we read. I think it was then that I decided we would always begin with the Scripture Stories books (which are free online now) first. That is where each of our children learned to read.
  7. I helped the children set goals. Haha I’m afraid I am an infamous goal-setting mother. If any of our children don’t know how to set goals, it was because they didn’t want to learn it–not because they didn’t have a hundred opportunities!
  8. We danced to music. We went on walks. We gardened. We built snowmen. We went to the park. I wish we had done more outside activities, but sometimes everything just took so long, and I was very focused on academic learning. I wish I had figured out a way to make skiing possible, or that we had gone to the park to sled more. I was not so good at getting everyone out in the cold. We were sick a lot! So we did many indoor activities. Maybe we would have been healthier if we had been outdoors more?
  9. We played. Children need to play! They played with each other–that is the gift of siblings.
  10. We had fun!

We used these preschool scrapbook pages to learn letters, numbers and colors.

Calendars gave us things to look forward to!

We often drove from our home in Riverton to Orem or Provo, so I made a made for them to learn where things were.

I also drew the exit signs on the back as a way for them to learn to visually mark the voyage. 

We went to the zoo and listed all the animals we found on our alphabet page.This March calendar was interestingly enough one of my most memorable activities! We glued on a little yarn “lion’s tail” for each windy day and a puffy cotton ball “lambswool” for each mild-weathered day to see if the month matched the saying. (“March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.”) Not true in 1999!

Ironically, when Anna was preschool age, she didn’t want to go to preschool, even though Julia (when old enough), Rebecca, Eliza, and Peter all had gone to preschools away from home. (I was eager for a little break by then!) Anna had looked at the Family Power Preschool binder so much that she wanted her own turn. So one year, we did home preschool just for her. I copied the top of the other binder and stuck it in the front of her own binder. By then, online resources were freely available, so I didn’t need to create my own worksheets. I just printed them off!


We’ve Got a Friend in Him

Saw this today.

Love it.

So grateful our daughters have a friend in their dad!

So grateful we have a friend in our Heavenly Father!

Saturday Julia went to the temple to receive her endowment before she goes on her mission. Julia and I had both caught a bad cold a day or two before, and we were supposed to be at the temple at 6:30 am. I had a difficult night, so it was hard to wake up. I hadn’t felt well the day before and hadn’t gotten her new temple dress hemmed. I hurried and grabbed the names I had prepared to take with me, and then the Ziploc bag that they were in slipped between the car seat and middle console, and I didn’t realize I didn’t have them until it was too late to run back out to the parking lot to get them. We ate our slices of bread on the fly as we hurried off to the temple in the dark morning.

I felt tired, sick, and unprepared when we got there. I wasn’t unprepared in the important ways–Julia and I were both there, worthy, ready spiritually. But I was just not as well prepared as I wanted to be, with every i dotted and t crossed, so to speak, in the other, temporal details that I had tried to have ready. I had worked and prepared, but somethings just fell through.

But it didn’t matter.

We rented a dress for Julia, and I didn’t have to have the cards I had prepared. As the temple matron reminded us when we met with her later that morning, Heavenly Father always has a back-up plan to help us. We felt Heavenly Father’s calming Spirit the whole time. His love. His comfort. His reassurance of eternal things that matter and temporal things that don’t. Words can’t describe the peace and happiness and being filled spiritually that I felt.

It is like Sister Neill A. Marriott said later that night at the general women’s meeting that we watched all together (as mothers and daughters),

Some things matter; some things don’t.

A few things last, but most things won’t.5

The most wonderful part of that morning was that along with Lane being there, my mom, Sarah, Nate and Hunter were there. Once a long time ago at my sister-in-law’s temple wedding, all of Lane’s siblings and their spouses and his parents were all there, together in a circle. I felt so much longing for that same sweet experience to happen for my own family. And now it is beginning! It is such a tendermercy. My mind went back to my mission, when I went to the temple for the first time the day before I entered the MTC. I felt so overwhelmed with what lay ahead. I couldn’t have ever imagined my life now! But there I was, in the temple, with my husband, my mother, and four of our children (which includes our newest daughter-in-law!). It is the best gift my Heavenly Father could even have given me, including each of those family members, who have prepared themselves and made covenants with Heavenly Father so they could be there.

I am so grateful for Heavenly Father, that He is my Friend, that He has a back-up plan for all of my mess-ups, and that I have a Friend in His Son, Jesus Christ as well, who makes it possible for us to look forward to being an eternal family forever and ever and ever.



Chile sauce

Chile sauce is a family recipe: Lane grew up eating his mother’s recipe, who learned it from her mother. I didn’t grow up eating it, but my mom tasted it on a roast at our house and remembered that her mother made it when she was growing up! So it’s a family recipe of sorts on both sides of our family!

This is not a quick recipe, but it makes the whole house smell wonderful: savory and tangy and just like fall!

And then when you cook a roast for Sunday dinner, there is nothing like spooning some bright homemade chile sauce on that slice of roast to make it taste just right….


Welcome Fall, Aunt Becca style 🎃

I mentioned that I got the idea for “welcome dinners” from my sister, Becca. I asked her if she would share some photos from her Welcome Fall dinners past. (Her welcome Fall dinners center around Halloween, because they do Halloween in a pièce de résistance kind of way, and love to usher in the whole season with this special dinner.) If you feel impressed by what you see, join the club. Each of my sisters is talented in their own ways. This sister is talented chef, she is also a gifted photographer, creative genius, and fun mother extraordinaire–having worked really hard to develop her gifts. You can see why I would be inspired!

Are you drooling yet?

Fresh homemade pasta?

I would love a seat at that table!

Preparing special occasions for our families reminds them how fun life can be and how special they are to us. When we work to create special occasions, we feel happy inside that we have shown our love to our family. It is SO worth the work to create fun memories!

Hats off to my sister and her wonderfully fun family who are so dear to us! Many thanks for sharing, Bex!💛



Anna and I love to snuggle next to each other on the big chair in my room and read at night, whenever we get an early enough start. (That can be quite an accomplishment, starting early enough!)

With Peter homeschool for 2 periods this year (and studying US History), I got my hands on a few copies of books from a series called “Picture Biographies.” I REALLY like these books, because they give a good overview of a person’s life. Anyone, young or old, can get a person’s life in a nutshell.

Obviously the text is written for a younger audience than Anna and I are. But it’s a great jumping-off place for learning more about that person’s life. For example, Anna noticed that the book only had one page and very little information about his wife and children. So we went online immediately and found out more about Deborah Read and their three children.

Turns out that Deborah Read and Benjamin Franklin’s marriage and life was quite complicated, and that she raised an illegitimate child of Franklin’s. All of this was a great conversation that we got to have together as we read and discussed what we read.

That’s the kind of learning I love to do!

Check out the series at your library!

To see more book recommendations, click here.


Welcome Fall dinner

We love to have “welcome dinners” in our home. The idea originated with my sister, Becca, who always has a “Welcome Fall” dinner each year.  I decided to do “Welcome ______” (insert name of month or season) dinners whenever I wanted because it was just such a fun way to begin a new time of year!

This last Sunday, Anna and Eliza decided they were going to prepare a “Welcome Fall” dinner and went all out. First Anna created the little menus that she printed out and put under the napkin on each place setting, which she beautifully set on the table.

Anna made it especially fun by being the waitress, taking orders from each person. (“Church juice” is this powdered fruit drink that we have in our food storage from the cannery. We used to drink it on Sundays as a way to rotate it. It’s kind of like Tang. Not stellar, but something different from water if you are looking for a change of flavor in an emergency! 😁)

Eliza made some wonderful cider pork in our pumpkin pot. The entree, along with the red potatoes, garden tomato and zucchini tian, and fresh fruit salad (made with watermelon, canteloupe, Asian pear, peach, and apple slices) were all scrumptious.

Not to mention warm pumpkin pie!

It was definitely a success, made all the more special by having my mom there with us (and by the fact that almost all I did to help was sit down, eat, and do some dishes afterwards).