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Librairies of Hope

I received a comment on my blog today referring me to this website, Libraries of Hope. I can hardly contain my happiness at this online resource! It is utterly incredible! You could do a whole homeschool based upon this website (not solely, but as a tremendous, foundational resource), or if you don’t homeschool, simply have wonderful books for your family to read. You could use her website to help you grow your own wonderful home library. I am SO excited to dive in to read some books! What an incredible labor of love Marlene Peterson has created for the rest of us to enjoy! I feel like she has, in one way, accomplished what I would have love to have done (but now don’t have to!). Thank you, thank you, Marlene.

Even, tragically, at this moment when Notre Dame cathedral burns, I am grateful to Marlene for preserving some wonderful history–some voices of inspiring authors and our world history and heritage that might otherwise be silenced and forgotten.


This wonderful saying, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think,” is attributed to A.A. Milne. But as far as I can tell, I can’t find actually from A.A. Milne. Does anyone have the source for this quote to show where he–if he did–said this?


Courage to Be You

I haven’t ever met Gail Miller, but after listening to her read her book (on the Bookshelf app), I feel like I got to have a wonderful, long visit with a very kind and wise woman.

Gail Miller is an unpretentious, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth kind of woman who raised 5 children and supported her entrepreneur husband in developing a multi-billion dollar business and many philanthropic efforts. They collaborated to such a degree during their lives that after he passed, she assumed his role as CEO and has carried on the legacy they built together.

(I have more to write but will have to return later! If you have any comments on this book, please share them below. Thanks!)


The Boys in the Boat

When was the last time you cheered while listening to a book?

Today I did while listening to The Boys in the Boat: The True Story of an American Team’s Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics (by Daniel James Brown; adapted for young readers by Gregory Mone). The best of biographies don’t get much better than this!

Brown tells the story not only of the 9 members of the 1936 USA Olympic Rowing Team but also the painful-to-triumphant personal journey of Joe Rantz. If you find yourself facing challenges and need an inspiring story to help motivate you (besides the scriptures, of course!), I recommend this story without reservation!

Here is a part that I want to remember that has so much relevance to family life. One of the coaches, George Pocock, approaches Joe at a definitive point of his rowing career. (SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read if you are planning to read or listen to the book!) He says that he has been observing him and noticed that Joe “was a fine oarsman. He’d noted a few technical faults, but that wasn’t what he wanted to talk about. He said that there were times when Joe seemed to think he was the only one in the boat. He rowed as if it was up to him to row the boat across the finish line all by himself. When a man rowed like that, Pocock said, he was bound to attack the water rather than to work with it. Worse, he would not be able to let his crew help him now.

“The Englishman suggested that Joe think of a well-rowed race as a symphony; and himself as just one player in the orchestra. If one fellow in the orchestra was playing out of tune, or playing at a different tempo, the whole piece would naturally be ruined. That’s the way it was with rowing. What mattered more than how hard a man rowed was how well everything he did in the boat harmonized with what the other fellows were doing. And a man couldn’t harmonize with his crewmates unless he opened his heart to them. He had to care about everyone on his crew. He had to bive himself up to the rowing, but he had to do even more. He had to give himself up to his crewmates too. ‘If you don’t like some fellow in the boat, Joe, you have to learn to like him,’ Pocock said. ‘It has to matter to you whether he wins the race, not just whether you do.’

“Pocock paused and looked up. ‘Joe, when you really start trusting those other boys,’ Pocock said, you will feel a power at work within you that is far beyond anything you’ve ever imagined. Sometimes, you will feel as if you have rowed right off the planet and are rowing among the stars.’

I would recommend this book to illustrate the power of hard work, unity, team work, goal setting, perseverence, grit, poverty, unkindness, loyalty, forgiveness, patience, believing in yourself and others, human potential, overcoming obstacles, the Olympic dream, frugality, the Word of Wisdom, determination, hope, and love. And Matthew 22:39.

(Note: I diverted from my media-break-to-do-family-history because my blog is a place where I keep quotes that I refer back to, kind of like my memory! I needed to write this down for future reference before I forgot!)

I would recommend this book for anyone who is old enough to read it. There is some sad material but has been adapted for young readers. I have not read the original book written for adults, so I cannot make a recommendation for readership accordingly.

This book is part of the Raising Amazing Children Friendship Library Project (RACFLP). Please comment below to share your favorite part or quote from the book.


January 2019: Some thoughts

January is a month of fresh starts. The past two weeks, however, have felt like a month already. We got the house cleaned up from Christmas except for the piles upon piles of stuff in the office and piles that keep resurfacing in the mudroom. I really don’t like that. I like to get things clean and have them stay that way for at least a short period of time!

I’ve learned that I’m really good at making piles. This year, I want to learn how to live and accomplish without making piles. I think the key to it is to not gather stuff in the first place, to let get of stuff quickly, and to clean up as you go. In our home, I haven’t been able to get in there to clean up these residual piles because of the family schedule, seasonal flu, and all the other plans life throws at us (“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”).

Too many goals, like desk piles

Sometimes life feels like my office: too many goals just piled up on top of me. This year, I’m going to do something about that. I’m picking 5 goals, one for each finger of one hand: 1. I want to grow closer to my Savior; 2. I want to grow physically (in health and ability); 3. I want grow kinder. That includes being kind to my family (present and past–through family history work) and friends; 4. I want to continue to simplify my life/my home more, so they are quicker to clean up and so I can learn not to complicate life; 5: I want to be more private about it. So I’m going to limit my social media and focus more on nightly journaling and family history. Maybe in a year from now, I’ll check in and let you know how it’s going and what I’ve learned.

Blog: 12 books, tidied sidebar, and rest put aside

I AM going to finish up one of my goals from 2018–the 12 books for teens in 2018. I would like to keep posting about books that I would recommend for teens, but I’m not going to put a number on it this year. I just want to finish what I start reading this year. I started lots of books last year, got interrupted, and didn’t finish. So maybe this year I’ll be happy to just read Saints and a couple of other books if I can just finish them! (I did get to read The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley this week when I’ve had the flu. Loved it.)

I updated my sidebar today, but I won’t be updating it each month this year. I want to focus on other things. I’m not going to work on some of the pursuits mentioned on my sidebar, such as making any more audio recordings in French of Le Livre de Mormon because I have other things I’m focusing on, and that’s what feels peaceful to me. I might post periodically about books, music, movies, or other things that I recommend, because that is something I really love to share, and this is a good format to do it in.

A more private year

Hope your year goes well! I will say that last year I definitely felt peace in Christ lots of times, which was my goal. I’m so grateful. Our family theme for this year is “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” I’m very excited about coming to know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ better this year through study, application/service, prayer, and missionary, temple, and family history work. I may not post very much about it. I’m kind of excited to have a more private year!

All the best to you in 2019!


The most wonderful time of year

It’s that wonderful time of year when gift-giving for me can start feeling a little out of control, even if I’ve planned ahead. 

To help ease that feeling of not knowing what I have accumulated, I print out my Christmas Gift Inventory page for each person. 

Some things are still simpler and faster for me on paper than on my phone or on a gift app.

We give each person in our family a stocking of 10 small items, 3 gifts (representing the Three King’s gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh), and a gift from “Santa.”

Once I get those things written down, I feel much more at ease! I know where I am in my gift plan, and what I have left to obtain. 

If you like this inventory, you can click here to go to the printable PDF.

To view more Christmas organizational ideas, go here.


Job chart revisions, again and forever

This fall we all downloaded a great app for doing jobs. “How’d that work for you?” “I didn’t.”

(BTW, I just noticed the total numbers are wrong at the bottom of the chart after I revised it. LOL. Guess I will fix those!)

It really is a great app, but it wasn’t working for us. Not with our personalities, perhaps. We needed something simpler. There is something about having a visibly posted chart that we see frequently that just seems to work better for us. Maybe it’s being able to see the whole expectation and accountability at a glance? I don’t know for sure. I just know that we’re back to time cards posted on the fridge. (Someday I’d love to create, or see created, a web-interfaced job chart that you could have on a digital device posted in the kitchen that would be simliar to this job chart–so you could post it, see it, report by tapping on it, and the data could be assimilated into user-friendly reports, useful to parents and children alike.)

Digital stockpiling mess

One thing that was annoying about the app was that when you didn’t do a job, you had to do something about each little job that wasn’t completed. Those stock piled and became an annoyance. It added to the work of tracking work.

Normal cycles

Our family goes through cycles of normal daily living: some days you do really well getting your jobs done, other days not as well. It can depend upon schedule changes such as vacation or team events or homework overload or “what have you.” It’s just life! Life changes! So when all the jobs not done piled up, no one wanted to deal with the digital upkeep of moving jobs to the next day, etc. With so many little jobs per day per child, it just added up and became a pain to deal with.

Reviewing progress

When we complete these job charts, I just stick them in a folder. The idea is to review them with the parent after a period of time, to see what progress is being made and to praise that progress. We might also discuss any patterns of incompletion to see how we can help or if there needs to be a change or a consequence or whatever. Lane and I typically just address this generally in family council. Maybe we need an incentive to help everyone refocus and try again. We could do better at reviewing on an individual basis (those personal priesthood interviews we’re supposed to have….)


And hooray for vacation: it’s so nice to have a break from the routine of daily jobs! We LOVE vacation! It is healthy and happy and so important.

Working at it (pun intended)

Just a side note: The reason I keep posting about this topic is to show that things change over time. Families and children and parents and schedules all change, and so adaptations need to be made. We all need change to progress! I want people to see that we are just a normal family, and that it requires review and adaptation and recommitment to the routine to help children learn to work and to build family unity. It isn’t something that just happens because you’re a “good family.” Just like everything else to being a happy family, you have to WORK at it. Over and over again.


The Little Red Car (NOT free)

My sister-in-law called me today asking for some book recommendations for a toddler for Christmas. I told her I wish I could find a copy of The Little Red Car by K.K. Ross, which was Sarah’s favorite when she was tiny. It was so loved that it eventually fell apart, and I think I threw it away.

We both “hopped” online and looked to see if we could find it. Oh, yes, it’s there, but it’s no longer $2.95.

It’s $1,024.99! 


I texted that info to Sarah and guess what I learned: She doesn’t remember the story! Which is an interesting piece of information. I bet if I had the text and started reading it to her in the same way (with all the sound effects that I once made for this story) if it would come right back to her mind…?

Maybe someday if I find it at a D.I. or Goodwill and snatch it up, I can test my theory! 😉

(To see a list of board book titles that we love, go here.)




BOOK (free)

If you sign up for free on familius.com–a publishing company whose mission is to help families be happy–you get a free children’s e-book, Book. Now I don’t prefer e-books to tangible books that you can smell and hold in your hands and hear the sound of turning pages, but Book is a delightful reminder of the wonderful gift that paper books are: you don’t have to charge them, they can’t get viruses, and they can magically transport us again and again to “a place that only you can imagine.”

I love that thought: no one’s imagination of what a story looks like in their heads is quite the same as any one else’s!

Familius prints some really wonderful books. I recommend taking a look! (Plus, you get a free e-book each month!)

(Note: I don’t advertise on my blog. Anything I recommend is simply because I think it will help strengthen women, children, or families.)

To learn other ways to get free books, go here. (Or visit your local library!)


Last Friday, Anna wanted homemade rootbeer, Peter wanted homemade doughnuts, and I wanted sloppy joes without ketchup in them.

We made all three, and Anna ended up going to a play and not getting to be home for the rootbeer. Peter headed out to a friends’ home, but came back with friends to eat the doughnuts. Eliza, Lane and I enjoyed all three!

I made the sloppy joes with maybe 2 pounds ground beef, 1 small can of tomato paste, maybe 2 -2 1/2 cups of garden tomatoes that had been roasted in the oven in garlic olive oil and salt and frozen, some Worchestershire sauce (3 tablespoons?), and salt and pepper to taste. Oh! And we added a little lactose-free milk at the end to cut the acidity. (It’s a little trick Liza learned from my dad…or the Italian cookbook he gave her…or both.)

(To roast the tomatoes, Eliza rinsed and peeled some of them, cut them in half, put on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper or aluminum foil, drizzled them garlic olive oil and sprinkled salt over the top. She baked them at 350 ℉ for about an hour, then put them in jumbo cupcake pan cups which had Ziploc bags in them, then froze them in early-usable portions. I used two of those cups.)

I really liked the rich, savory tomato flavor. My friend said they were the best sloppy joes she’d ever had. We ate them on slider buns. Kind of a fun Friday night change of pace!

For the homemade rootbeer, I think we added 3 tablespoons of rootbeer flavoring and less than a cup of sugar to 1 gallon of water. We stirred those up so the sugar could dissolve and then added about 2 pounds of dry ice. (See video on Instagram).

The doughnut recipe came from Taste of Home, and they are about the yummiest homemade doughnut I’ve ever eaten in. my. life.

And just for fun, here’s a little Shakespeare for you (courtesy poetryfoundation.org):

Song of the Witches: “Double, double toil and trouble”

(from Macbeth)
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.
Macbeth: IV.i 10-19; 35-38