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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

Today I began to fulfill one of my dreams, the Raising Amazing Children Friendship Library Project. This project involves sharing books we have loved found inspiring that we want to share with others.

I feel so happy! I feel the same kind of satisfaction I feel when I plant bulbs in the fall and know that some beautiful flowers will bloom in the spring.

I shared 3 books today: a children’s book (Over and Over), a young adult book (Just Mercy), and a mother’s book (The Birth Partner).

Just Mercy

Just Mercy is a powerful book that my family and I listened to as we drove to and from California on fall break. My friend Heidi had recommended it, and I told Sarah about it, who got it on Audible. She told Rebecca about it, who purchased the book and began reading it. They both then told me about it, so I started listening to it on Audible. Then I shared it with the family.

This is not a pleasant story that Mr. Stevenson has to tell, but it is a story that needs to be told and heard. Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer and founded of the Equal Justice Initiative and an advocate for people who have been unjustly incarcerated or sentenced and put on death row. I was astonished to hear some of his stories. They are heartbreaking! It is like learning about slavery for the first time. We could hardly believe that the stories he was recounting were happening in our lifetime.

Our family listened to the unabridged version of Just Mercy, but I decided to share the young adult version because in this version, the difficult stories are described in not such a graphic way as the original story yet still convey what happened.

An historically important book

In my mind, this is a very important book. We need to know the injustices that are happening in our country. I just voted this week, and I will say that I was much more interested in reading about the judges’ evaluations before I voted for them. I want to know what is happening in my city, in my state, in our country to provide justice and mercy as our forefathers intended. We need to ensure that those accused of crimes are presumed innocent and must be proven guilty before they are sentenced for a crime!

We also need to be aware of what is going on in our prison system. And I better understand now why the Savior said to visit those who are in prison. I would like to do that in a few more years when my children are grown and I am more at liberty to become involved in service and causes that I care about.

After listening to this book, I have noticed SO many more scriptural references in my Book of Mormon reading to equality and justice and taking care of the poor and needy–more than I ever have in the numerous times that I’ve read the Book of Mormon through. i know more than ever that the Lord wants us to learn to not judge, to be more compassionate, to help liberate the captive and to bless the lives of those in need.

I was able to attend, with four of our children, Mr. Stevenson’s forum lecture at BYU right after we finished listening to his book. I highly recommend watching it if and when it becomes available or reading the review.

If you receive this book from a friend as part of the RACFLP, we’d love to hear what you think! Please comment below. If you’d like, please tell us in which state or country you live. If the comment form below doesn’t work, you are welcome to email me: liz (at) raisingamazingchildren.com. Thank you!


Once upon a time I gave birth to Sarah. I had wanted a natural childbirth, but only attended one Lamaze class with Lane. We were young, busy college students and didn’t go back.

One class wasn’t enough preparation to deliver naturally. My water broke, and Sarah was posterior, causing discomfort with the back labor during contractions. After some time, I asked the nurse if I could have something to help with the pain that wasn’t an epidural. She said I could try “Nubain,” a narcotic that caused me to be so sleepy that I could hardly stay awake. I hated it.

Feeling drugged

I was able to deliver Sarah after nearly 8 hours of active labor (including more than 2 hours of pushing). I decided that the way I felt during this birth experience due to the medication was not one I wanted to repeat. I set out to learn more.

I went to the library and checked out whatever I could find on childbirth. I learned about something called a “doula,” or childbirth coach. Then I learned that Lane’s cousin, who was studying to become a midwife, was a doula. We contacted her, and she generously offered to be our doula for free!

Finding a doula

My second childbirth experience was so much more empowering! I had read quite a bit and was more mentally prepared. When Nathan came 9 days late, and my water broke again, I was ready to have Marianne guide me through the experience. She did a phenomenal job helping me with guided visualization and other techniques, and Baby Nate was born about 4 hours later. I left the hospital just 12 hours later, feeling so much better and so much happier!

When I was pregnant with Julia, I hired a doula who helped me through all but one of the rest of my pregnancies and childbirths. (She was out of town for Anna’s birth, but had a wonderful back-up doula that we loved as well.) I also attended natural childbirth classes. Over time, I was able to have 5 natural childbirths. The other two births (my fourth and sixth births) were an emergency C-section and another back labor, that I decided I did NOT want to do without some relief. I had epidurals for both.

Training to become a doula

When I was pregnant with Rebecca, I decided to train to become a doula. That was also a wonderful experience. During that training, I discovered this book, The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin, which I have lent to multiple expectant mothers over the years. It is a wonderful resource to help a woman learn what she can to do have a better birth experience, including how, with the help of another person (husband, doula, friend, etc.) alleviate some of the pain of childbirth and deal with the stress involved in this beautiful yet intense experience.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I am not against epidurals! I just believe that if you don’t need medication, why take the risk and spend hundreds of dollars for something you don’t need?

Learn more; become empowered

Knowledge really is power. I encourage all new (or not new) expectant mothers to learn more about pregnancy and childbirth and actively plan how they can have a positive birth experience. I believe that sharing this book as part of our Friendship Library Project can help more mothers do just that.

If you receive this book from a friend as part of the RACFLP, we’d love to hear what you think! Please comment below. If you’d like, please tell us in which state or country you live. If the comment form below doesn’t work, you are welcome to email me: liz (at) raisingamazingchildren.com. Thank you!


Over and Over by Charlotte Zolotow

When Lane was a child, his mother read this book to him. I think when we got married and had Sarah, Lane’s mother gave us a copy. It has been read and enjoyed so much that it was falling apart. I was delighted to find a library bound edition to replace it in our home library and got one to share as our flagship book in the Raising Amazing Children Friendship Library Project!

“Once there was a little girl who didn’t understand about time. She was so little that she didn’t know about Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. She certainly didn’t know about January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December. She was so little she didn’t even know summer, winter, autumn, spring.

“What she did know about was all mixed together. She remembered a crocus once, but she didn’t know when. She remembered a snowman and a pumpkin, and a Christmas tree, and a birthday cake, a Thanksgiving dinner and valentines. But they were all mixed up in her mind.”

Told in the simple but beautiful way that Charlotte Zolotow has of telling a child a story, the little girl travels through the celebration of each season and holiday with her family.

We loved reading this story as parents and children because it helped us all remember the sweet feelings that celebrating together brings, and let us look forward to the next celebration that would come.

Note: When the little girl is at the beach, she only has a swim bottom on, as is common in some countries. She is bent over, so that only her back shows. But I wanted to point this out in case it would be a concern to you as a parent to read it. I don’t recall any child saying anything, but if s/he did, I probably would have said, “In some countries, little girls only wear swim bottoms. But in our family, we wear whole piece swimsuits.”

If you receive this book from a friend as part of the RACFLP, we’d love to hear what you think! Please comment below. If you’d like, please tell us in which state or country you live. If the comment form doesn’t work, you are welcome to email me: liz (at) raisingamazingchildren.com. Thank you!


Do you have to smile when you feel sad?

I substitite taught in a first grade classroom this week. One child asked me why I was smiling. I responded to her question with “Because I’m happy!” She asked me if we have to smile when we are sad, and I told her no.

I love working with children. I love their honesty, I love their energy, I love their happy spirits. But sometimes children aren’t happy, and they don’t know how to deal with their emotions.

Comforting a sad child

I love being able to comfort a child, to help them calm down, to let them know that sometimes we feel sad, and that is OK. I can redirect their attention to feeling sad to something else, and sometimes that simple redirection changes everything for them, and suddenly they forget they were sad and are happy again! (That photo of Rebecca and Julia on ponies at Thanksgiving Point: I don’t remember why Rebecca was so sad, but that little photo kind of breaks my heart!)

I don’t think that as adults we are always all that different from children. I think that distraction is a great blessing, and redirecting our thoughts when we are sad can go a long way to helping us feel happy again.

Hard days for adults

Some days are just hard days, though, and I struggle at times to pull out of the feelings of sadness that seem to accompany a hormonal change or illness or cold, wintry weather. On Sunday a friend asked me if I ever am not smiling. I am, really, the kind of a person who loves to smile. (You can see from that baby photo that it’s who I am!) But yes, there are many days when I feel like crying all day long. It is hard to smile on those days. I wish it weren’t that way, but it just is!

Recently my mother asked me to help her teach a Relief Society lesson in her ward on depression and anxiety. I shared with the women in her class some of the things I have learned from dealing with depression over the years. Depression for me has been something that I have learned to cope with: it isn’t a constant companion, but seems to resurface, like an old cough, from time to time.

Learning to swim: swim tools

I shared with the women how I’ve been learning to lap swim, and that I have different tools that help me develop different abilities as I swim: a pull buoy, a kickboard, hand paddles, and swim fins.

The pull buoy goes between my legs and helps my body to float while I pull through the water with my arms. The purpose, as I understand it, is to help strengthen my arms.

The kickboard, in contrast, helps me focus on my kick, and strengthens my legs when I use it.

The paddles “increase efficiency, create a more consistent feel for the water, help build better swim mechanics, and improve overall strength and technique” (ACTIVE.com).

I love using swim fins (flippers) because as a beginner swimmer, they give me more power and help me keep swimming when I am tired! They propel me forward more quickly, and they help me learn better body position as I swim (learn more here).

13+ tools to deal with feelings of depression

Swim tools are like a few of the practices that I’ve learned that help me avoid or cope with feelings of depression or anxiety. These help me “keep my head above water” both on happy and sad days.

  1. Prayer
  2. Studying the Book of Mormon
  3. Vigorous exercise
  4. Going to bed early and getting up early
  5. Eating whole foods and avoiding sugar (especially at night)
  6. Drinking plenty of water
  7. Talking with a loved one who listens well when I am worried or depressed
  8. Practicing gratitude
  9. Getting sunshine
  10. Working hard and then taking time to do fun things, too
  11. Serving or showing love to someone else
  12. Going to the temple
  13. Reading my patriarchal blessing
  14. Looking back at photos of our family over the years and remembering blessings
  15. Asking for and receiving priesthood blessings
  16. Getting OUT: going on a date with Lane, visiting with a friend, or even just going shopping!

Medication is not something I use currently, but I don’t have anything against it. I am just grateful to be able to manage my emotional and mental health with those tools. If I couldn’t pull out of depression using these skills, I would go to a doctor to get additional medical help.

Those tools are simple, practical, everyday healthy living skills, but they are what help me the most. When I pour out my heart in prayer, for example, I see that God answers my prayers–typically in that same day, in some small or big way. Answers usually come when I exercise my faith and take a step forward toward doing something good to show love for another person or to accomplish something productive. The scriptures help me gain insights or just give me strength to keep moving forward. Exercise is my biggest help. Lately, if I miss exercising for 3 days, it’s like practically a guarantee that I will begin to struggle. Being too sedentary also really creates a challenge, as does dwelling on my concerns too long.


One tool I haven’t learned well yet is mediation/deep breathing. I have a goal to learn to meditate and am hoping it will help me get back to sleep on those nights that I wake and struggle to fall back asleep quickly.


All these tools are gifts, and I am grateful to know about them so that I can feel like smiling as much as possible. These skills help me turn a frown to a smile, and a sad heart to a happy one. I hope that they will help me turn a weakness into a strength. I don’t have to smile all the time, but I sure feel grateful when I feel like smiling instead of feeling like crying!

(To see other posts I’ve written about dealing with negative emotions, go here.)


Everyday strong, together

I liked this video and these thoughts that I received from one of our schools today, from United Way of Utah County, that if we can meet the needs of our children, they will thrive. Needs include not only physical, but emotional needs as well.

They suggest asking this one questions everyday:

What can I do to help my child feel safe, connected, and confident today?

Here is the Everyday Strong Resilience booklet that United Way produced that you can download with more information on how to nurture your children to help them feel safe, connected and confident. What a great resource!

And here are some of my thoughts on the topic:

I think that creating a home where the Holy Ghost can dwell helps answer those great questions. If the Holy Ghost is in our home, then there is peace. There is love. People feel loved, calm, safe–all things that help us feel safe, connected, and confident.

The Holy Ghost can be in our home when we are trying to live the gospel of Jesus Christ:

  • Praying together (as a family, parents and child, or siblings, husband and wife)
  • Singing together
  • Eating together
  • Working together
  • Playing together
  • Studying the scriptures together
  • Resolving problems together
  • Serving together
  • Learning together
  • Repenting together
  • Worshipping together
  • Exercising together

I notice that TOGETHER is the key word in all of those activities!

Last night was Family Night, and so we did a little service activity. I noticed that everyone was happier when we came home than when we left. It’s that simple! It didn’t take any preparation except a few texts. We gathered what we had, went and shared and visited, and came home.

I had many individually connecting times this past week that strengthened my relationships with my children and husband and helped us all feel safer, more connected and more confident: going to lunch with Peter; driving up to Salt Lake with Anna to visit Sarah and attend the temple together; swimming and running with Lane; talking together in the car after church with Eliza; going to a musical with Rebecca; going on a date with Lane; listening to and enjoying a song that Peter wrote that he shared with me after school; watching a musical with Peter, Eliza and Lane; crying over the phone to Lane as I encountered a challenge; making homemade rootbeer, sloppy joes, and doughnuts with Eliza; emailing back and forth with Julia from her mission; reading a paper of Nate’s for school; texting back and forth with Sarah about Bryan Stevenson’s book, Just Mercy; chatting with Rebecca on the phone about the future; praying over the phone as a family with Lane when he was out of town.

All of these daily occurrences bring us opportunities to connect, to help each other feel loved and safe. Of course we can do better, but I think the main idea is that when we watch out for each other and interact with love and respect, these kinds of daily occurrences help our children feel safe, connected, and confident. It doesn’t take any special training. We just have to keep trying to be like the Savior in the way we listen, are calm, positive, praising, wait patiently, help gently, assume the best, etc. It’s the Christlike attributes and actions that make all the difference in the world!


Our family finished memorizing “The Living Christ” document over fall break. Some of us are still getting the words in our heads, and so until December 25, we will be reviewing each paragraph–one paragraph per day–as well as reciting the entire document in 2 week cycles. Here’s the little plan I made to stick on the side of the fridge to help us remember which paragraph we’re reviewing that day. (We now do our morning scripture study during breakfast in the kitchen.)

It is interesting watching children learn the scriptures. Some want to memorize, others don’t really, and so depending on their desire, they try or don’t try to memorize it. That’s OK with me. I’m not trying to force them to do it. I believe that there will be days in the future when the Holy Ghost will bring words and phrases to their remembrance to strengthen them and give them the opportunity to follow the Savior’s example in a many different situation. And so it’s like feeding them good food: I know it will bless them, even if they aren’t super interested. It’s just like any aspect of scripture study: we do it together because we know it’s an inspired habit that will always bless our lives.

In googling the document this morning to make this little chart, I came across one family’s website, Discover the Scriptures, that has some fabulous resources for helping someone memorize this document! Wow! Here is the link to their hard, generous work: http://www.bookofmormondiscovery.com/livingchrist.html. (Or click on the image above of the study materials to go there.) The download they have created is FREE!

I know personally that working every day with my family (and earlier in the year, individually) to memorize this document has been so rewarding. I love reciting together this beautiful description of the life of our Savior, the only perfect person to ever live on earth. His life is eternally inspirational. He is the Only Source of truth, life, light, and love, and it is by Him that we can return to live with our Heavenly Parents after this life. I feel so grateful!