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It’s a sign!

With so many reasons to celebrate each month, disposable decorations aren’t something I want to spend money on year after year. So over the years, we have made reusable signs that we just pull out of the drawer season after season.

One year I made a list of all the sayings we might want signs for. Then I went to a scrapbooking store and bought cute cardstock.

I cut out letters with their die cuts and brought them home to laminate. I then can mix and match my alphabet letters to make signs for any occasion.

Our New Year’s, Valentine’s,and Happy Birthday signs are specific to that celebration, though, while the other signs are disassembled and put back into a Ziploc of A-Z letters.

One time my dear friend Helena brought me this cute sign without letters that you can hang up anytime for any reason. I love it!!

One year we had a Livingston family reunion and helped our extended family make birthday banners for their families, too! That was fun.

And I have to give my sister, Bex, credit for all of this really. Years ago she was the one who made our first sign for someone’s birthday when Lane and I were on a trip and she was babysitting our family. We still use that wonderful birthday sign!


At the start of each month, I love to set out a few of our favorite books for that month. Because Nate and Hunter’s birthdays are this month, I set out the jean belly machine. I bought this machine for their wedding open house, because their colors included navy blue, and Nate loves Jelly Bellies.

Jillee Bean and the One Good Thing, by JIll Nystul and Samantha Hollister, tells about a young girl who is discouraged when she compares herself to a friend and feels she falls short. Her dad invites her to focus on doing one good thing at a time. He promises her one jelly bean for every good thing she does. She decides to fill up a jar with jelly beans. What do you think she does when she gets to the top of the jar? You’ll have to read and find out!

The illustrations in this fictitious tale are bright and cheery, the story rhyming and cute, and the moral encouraging: don’t compare yourself with others, but rather focus on serving others one moment at a time. Great lesson!

“I Feel I’ve Done Some Good Today”

On January 2, 2018, a great man died: our Prophet, Thomas Spencer Monson. His life was FULL to overflowing with good deeds! In fact, his funeral was today. It was beautiful. His life reminded me of my scripture study this morning.

I was reading in the Book of Mormon. I read Moroni 7:13:

But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

Then I read 1 Nephi 6, one of my favorite chapters, and I pondered verse 4:

For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuademen to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved.

These two scriptures made me think of this line from “The Living Christ” about the Savior: “he went about doing good (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it.”

I considered how that’s really all I hope to do and to teach my children to do, and that this is a great measure of success: if we can simply “do good” like the Savior did, every day, all the days of our lives!

Sister Ann M. Dibb speaking at her father’s funeral. Click on image to watch the funeral.

That is exactly what President Monson did, long before he was called to serve the Lord in an official capacity. I loved how his daughter Ann Dibb said, in her funeral talk, “Although he was a prophet, my father knew he was not perfect, and with all his heart, he humbly relied on and tried to be like our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” In speaking of a photo of himself that he saw, ” ‘I know that guy. He tried his best.’…He loved the Lord, and he loved people…In The Two Gentleman of Verona, William Shakespeare wisely wrote, ‘They do not love who do not show their love.’ My father understood this well and showed his love for others by following the Savior’s example….’He went about doing good, for God was with him.’ My father spent his entire life serving others.” She shared about how “she was privieged” to go with her father on visits to elderly, sick, and others. I love how she remembered what he smilingly said to her once after they visited someone, “Ann, I feel we’ve done some good today!”

What an excellent example of nurturing love and service in a child!

He loved to serve. Ann finished, “We do not have to be the president of the church to notice another’s need and paint a bright spot on our souls….Our simple acts of service can be also be answers to prayers, and we can carry on this legacy by serving others.”

One Little Match

Another book I have on disply this month, in honor of President Monson, I also have set out the book, One Little Match by Thomas S. Monson (illustrated by Dan Burr).

I love that such a great man whose life is filled with years of Christlike acts would publish a story about a childhood mistake. This book recounts how he and his friend started a fire that could have destroyed his and his neighbors’ homes simply by striking one little match. Talk about humility!

I love this story for many reasons, but I especially love it because President Monson, as his daughter mentioned in her eulogy, believed in each of our ability to change and improve and overcome mistakes. We are not our mistakes! Children do and will make mistakes. Our mistakes can become stepping stones to becoming more Christlike. Just think of President Monson! This is a lesson that I have learned as a mother. We must forgive and help our children to forgive themselves and to help them see their limitless potential. We ALL can learn so much from their mistakes!

I love President Monson. I know he was a prophet of God. His words and example have changed my life over the years. I am grateful for his and his family’s sacrifices that allowed him to serve me and the millions of others around the world who benefitted from his love and dedicated service. I will miss his humor and his smile, his optimism and his storytelling. I look forward to meeting him and his life in the next life and thanking them in person for all they have done.



Not to spoil everything, but the last line of A Swiftly Tilting Planet (that I  finished this week) says, “In this fateful hour, it was herself she placed between us and the powers of darkness” (Madeleine L’Engle).

I think that in this particular “hour” in the history of the world, our older children have more choices available to them for leisure time use than any previous era. And there is so much competing for that time!

Much of that time is spent digitally. Each l of our children still at home–12, 14, 16, and 18 years old–have digital devices available at their fingertips, supposedly when all their other jobs are done. (Some of the children have restrictions on their devices, while others don’t.) This places a big burden of resonsibility for wise time and resource use on their shoulders!  We have tried to teach them to self-monitor their mental intake and to listen to the Holy Ghost to guide those choices.

Cracking open a book

But just like us adults, they don’t always know what they are getting into once they crack open or download a book. Doesn’t it help to have recommendations from people we trust? And while a teen may not always want MOM to recommend a good book, they sometimes will (I think I have a semidecent track record with my children…right guys? Becca? Liza? Pete? Anna? Anyone?)

I try to find and read books that I could recommend to my own children, in a search for the very best to feed their minds and souls. By doing this, we as mothers have the opportunity to “place [ourselves] between [our children] and the powers of darkness.”  This doesn’t mean that the books we recommend are perfect, but that we believe there is so much good in them that they uplift the heart, inspire the mind, and leave no damage behind.

2018’s reading challenge

I’m ready for a new challenge to add to my reading for 2018: Find and read 12 great books to recommend to 12-18 year olds.

I’ll start that list off right now, having finished two books this week (and just started a third yesterday. It’s been a good book week!). I won’t include a summary of the book. If you want to know more about a book, click on the link.

  1. A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet series includes A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters–which I am beginning to listen to this month, now that I’ve finished the third book, and An Acceptable Time.) I really loved A Wrinkle in Time! L’Engle reminds me of C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald and J.R.R. Tolkien. Her writings are not simply a story, but a story woven into a bigger picture story, which symbolic underpinnings. 
  2. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. I really loved this story about a 12 year old girl trying to find her place in the world after major loss. Reminded me of Patricia Reilly Giff and Kate DiCamillo in terms of beautifully compassionate stories. I wouldn’t hand this book to a child younger than 12, personally.

Melting like a snowflake

I recently purchased this quote for our kitchen wall, because I liked it so well. I was doubly delighted to discover (from the receipt while working on my finances just now) that the quote is from Sir Francis Bacon. (I was also shocked to see how much one company is selling this print for compared to what I paid for it! Phew! So glad I got it on sale for a fraction of the price online!)

There is more to this quote, apparently: “Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand–and melting like a snowflake….”

Well, he is partially correct. We are living in sort of the middle of eternity! We lived in heaven before birth (our premortal existence) and are living on earth right now, and then we have the rest of eternity to follow this life.  Alma 34 sheds some light on this:

31 Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.

32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darknesswherein there can be no labor performed.

34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.

35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.

But Sir Francis has exactly the sentiment I wanted to remember of carpe deum and not procrastinating until tomorrow which ought to be done NOW! And to savor this moment! Because those around us who we should love and appreciate today might now be here tomorrow, and there is so much to be grateful for right now, right here, today.

And since January is my month of snowflakes, I just thought it was exactly the right thing to put on my wall. ❄️


Time for pad thai

Pad thai is such a nice, bright one-dish hot meal for a cold winter night! It isn’t hard to make, but it does take time to complete all the steps. But don’t be disuaded from trying to make it, because it is such a nice departure from regular fare (at least at our house!). (The photo above is in process–not the finished product. Not sure what happened to the photo I snapped when it was done, lol!)

Lime slices

And please be sure to have lime slices (they aren’t listed on the recipe) to squeeze on top when you serve it. The lime juice gives it the flavor contrast it really needs to finish it off.

Here’s the recipe! Bon courage!



January is lemon drop jar month 🍋

Sarah and I went to the bridal shower of a wonderful young woman that we love tonight. The bride-to-be’s mother had requested lemon drop cookies, and so Sarah went on the hunt for lemon drops and made the cookies for them. (I am so grateful for her help while she’s still home on break!!)

I was happy to have extra lemon drops, since Sarah bought two bags, as January is when I love to read The Lemon Drop Jar and put out some lemon drops in our own little lemon drop jar. If you haven’t read this book, stop by or hunt down a copy from your library and savor the story of a sweet relationship between a great aunt and her grand niece. (Help yourself to a lemon drop while you’re at it!)

I also shared one of my favorite Christmas stories at the shower called “Let Nothing You Dismay” by Ruth Harnden. It was printed years ago in a book that I have been unable to find in print any longer, but I did find a link to a PDF of the original printing in Collier’s Weekly on December 23, 1950. It’s a wonderful story of a Swedish grandmother who shares two special gifts for Christmas: one with her granddaughter, and one with an old friend. I hope you enjoy it! (Both the story and the cookie recipe!)



I need to remember not to commit to anything I possibly can avoid the first 3 weeks of January!  Because of our family birthday season and successive holidays, January is a time when I want and need to catch up on household and family business. I just need larger chunks of time to mentally and emotionally get off the rollercoaster!


Last January, This January

LAST JANUARY I created my “January” page, and this is what I wrote:

I was reflecting last night (January 31, 2017) on some of the blessings of January:

  • We are inside much more, and the things that pull us outside to work are covered in a blanket of snow–particularly this year! (Utah had a record snowfall in 2017: over 16 feet!)
  • Being inside gave me more time to reflect on the routines and habits we have and the goals we are setting to make changes. Change comes slowly, and direction is more important than speed. I love being able to plan for fun and improvement. I get to think about all these great things in January.
  • We start the New Year off with a party! And quiet reflection the next morning. I love both.
  • We try to finish up any thank you notes that we didn’t get written from Christmas gifts–both to each other and to extended family or friends. I don’t always get very note written. Still working on that! ☺️
  • We went to see a hockey game for Peter’s Christmas book date in Salt Lake as well as our our son’s hockey games. Hockey is a very fun sport to watch: fast paced, a little crazy at times. I could hardly believe the NHL players broke their sticks during the game! Do you know how expensive those can be?!?
  • We had fun watching some movies, baking some delicious cakes, and having people over for dinner and game night. I pulled out my colorful bowls to brighten up the interior when the exterior was so white!
  • We skied together as a whole family! That began during Christmas vacation and co
    ntinued. It is our first year of being able to do so, and we just love it.
  • We started learning a tiny bit of French and Finnish as part of our scripture study.
  • We read some of the children’s books we loved and attended book club. It is great to gather with others on a cold evening to talk about something uplifting.
  • We spent some sick days inside. That gave us a chance to be together and to slow down.
  • We had opportunities to serve: shoveling snow, repairing rain gutters and helping with flooding basements. We fed and cared for some sick loved ones.
  • I started up my daytime mother’s group again. It was wonderful to share thoughts and experiences so we can learn from and strenghten each other. We felt the Spirit. It was a feast.
  • We got back to exercising. Wooeee! Can that be hard or what?
  • We finished up the month by celebrating Nate’s birthday. He is officially an adult. 👏🏻

That sounds great. But each year is different. THIS JANUARY, things ARE going to be different.

I spent January 1 completley differently than any year in the past.

We had a really wonderful dinner with the sister missionaries on Sunday night (Dec.31), had a family council, and got to bed around 10:30 pm. Not too bad.

I had a very interrupted sleep–probably due to lack of exercise, eating chocolate every day, not drinking enough water, getting to bed so late every night, not sleeping well every night–in other words, being SO off of my routine–NOT to mention (but I will) taking medication for a couple of infections and waking 4 or 5 times to go to the bathroom. Oh! And I was dying to check on my email from Julia, whose emails, because of the time difference, arrived in the middle of the night. So the first or second time I woke up, I checked my phone for her emails.

I felt so tired and grumpy when I got up for the day–especially because I was really excited to set some goals but feeling so tired and rotten physically. I was GOING to open up my Book of Mormon to start studying–you know, start the day off right, but I went to my phone to send Julia’s emails to our family and friends, since Lane was heading to work. He exercised and left. I ended up staying in my PJs and cleaning out my email for 9 hours straight.

Eliza took pity on me and made me some lunch (I worked through breakfast). I had had enough email mishaps (missed messages) because of not keeping up with my email and having an overload of advertising emails, that I was utterly determined to clean out the more than 10,000 messages that had accumulated.

I will say, that was not fun.

I decided that I cannot give out my email address and subscribe to lists! It becomes such a nightmare. I think Alma 37:6 applies here, too, because not only do small and simple GOOD things created wonderful great things, but small and simple BAD actions add up to really big messes, such as my email was the other day.

I have decided that this is my year to get to the bottom of some of the accumulated messes that I’ve been working on but not made enough desirable progress before.

After just paying two missed invoices this morning (because of missed emails from October and November!), I am determined to truly simply and keep up with my finances. I have developed some bad habits of not staying up with my bookkeeping! I neglect it, mainly it is because it feels so complicated and time-consuming, and when I start, I barely get into the pile before I have to leave to work on other more pressing mom jobs.

This year, though, I’m going to figure it out. I am tired of being so disorganized in this area of my life.

I also am determined to keep cleaning out my office and figure out a way to establish habits that don’t create piles to get to later. I want to deal with stuff NOW and get it done quickly. I want to know what I can let go of immediately: paperwork, etc.

I also want to finish up projects that I have started (Delicious Music, RAC Friendship Library Project, everyday fabric napkins). I’m going to pause my French Book of Mormon reading project. Maybe I will finish it someday, maybe I won’t. I just can’t do so many things at once.

I also want to get back to exercising more! I had such a wonderful time training for races with Sarah the past two years, but then I’ve had some back issues and the press of major family events and have gotten out of my rhythm. Sarah wants to do another triathlon: Olympic distance. I’m not sure I’m up for that right now. That is so much of a time commitment. I don’t think I’m ready to give up that much time yet. So I’ve committed to racing the sprint distance while she commits to the Olympic distance, and see how I’m doing come mid-May. If I’m up to increasing my training goals, I’ll revisit it then.

I’m at such a crossroads in my life. I am tired of resisting the same organizational problems (piles, piles, piles) and want to be able to conquer them and move on. I want to prepare for other kinds of learning and service in the future. I want my home life to be in a position where I can let some of my regular daily routines go and move forward–whether that is further education, work, community service, etc. This is going to be my clean-up year.

So I’m going to set only 4 goals this year:

  1. To increase my peace in Christ;
  2. To clean up my life by learning how to better manage my finances and email and by finishing up my current projects and not starting any new ones;
  3. To get back to a regular, vigorous exercise routine so I can do a triathlon with Sarah;
  4. To reach out to, strengthen and enjoy my family and extended family and friends, and young women (my current calling).

I hope that next year I will be able to report that I have accomplished these four things! I believe I can.


December 2017 Poetry Group

On the first of this month, I attended a small poetry group with some of my dear friends. I felt the Spirit so much as each person shared. Some of these poems found a place readily in my heart. It has taken me all month, but even on Christmas Eve I wanted to share some of them with you.

“Getting to the Front of the Stable” by Ann Weems (Kneeling in Bethlehem by Ann Weems. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1980, 50. Note: My blog format won’t seem to let me indent the way this poem was printed. Click on the link to see original formatting of this poem.)

Who put Joseph in the back of the stable?
Who dressed him in brown, put a staff in his hand,
and told him to stand in the back of the crèche,
background for the magnificent light of the Madonna?

God-chosen, this man Joseph was faithful
in spite of the gossip in Nazareth,
in spite of the danger from Herod.
This man, Joseph, listened to angels
And it was he who named the Child

Is this a man to be stuck for centuries
in the back of the stable?
Actually, Joseph probably stood in the doorway
guarding the mother and the child
or greeting shepherds and kings.
When he wasn’t in the doorway,
he was probably urging Mary to get some rest,
gently covering her with his cloak,
assuring her that he would watch the Child.
Actually, he probably picked the Child up in his arms
and walked him in the the night,
patting him lovingly
until he closed his eyes.

This Christmas, let us give thanks to God
for this man of incredible faith
into whose care God placed the Christ Child.
As a gesture of gratitude,
let’s put Joseph in the front of the stable
where he can guard and greet
and cast an occasional glance
at this Child
who brought us life.

Mary’s Song  by Luci Shaw (found on circleinstitute.org)

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest…
you who have had so far
to come.) Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigor hurled
a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.

His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world.
Charmed by dove’s voices, the whisper of straw,
he dreams,
hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed
who overflowed all skies,
all years.
Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught that I might be free,
blind in my womb to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth
for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.


The Sweetest Gift