Two Other Great Books for Moms to Read for the New Year


After I blogged over here, I realized I’m loving two other books for the New Year. They are more for the nurturing part of each of us. I read or listen to snippets of these two books every day or every few days. I was going to add them to that list, and change it to “7 Things to Watch or Read” but decided these two books deserve a blog post of their own.

So the one above, by Emily Freeman, is based on a perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All the stories come from Jesus visiting different homes in the New Testament. I just love Emily’s YouTube channel about the scriptures to go with Come, Follow Me, so I knew I would love this book. (I’m also looking forward to reading her latest one here.)

Paperback The Christ-Centered Home : Inviting Jesus In Book
I believe this book is an earlier version of the one above, with different cover, and slightly different title. If I’m wrong, someone please correct me. 🙂

Basically, in this book, she takes 12 stories of Jesus visiting homes, draws out a theme/principle from that story, then puts that story with a celebration to have in your home. For the celebration, she suggests a recipe for yummy food to draw your family to the table, with discussion questions based on the principle. Then you conclude the discussion with a family goal. You can get some free printables relating to this book here.

The Life-Giving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming  -     By: Sally Clarkson, Sarah Clarkson

I’m listening to this one as an audiobook through my public library’s Libby app. Sally and her co-writer, daughter Sarah, just have such a comforting way with words. She talks about rituals, books, movies, and other things to enjoy with your family, to make even blah January warm and inviting. It’s just so wonderful to think about creating magic and wonder every month of the year, not just for December! You can view her lists of recipes, books, and movies here. Look on the left for her phrases of “to view,” “to listen,” “to watch,” and “family time.” Like Emily, she has related books. You can see those here.

We are blessed with so many amazing resources to be inspiring moms!

The video below has excerpts, especially about the month of January.

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New Resource for the Come, Follow Me Doctrine and Covenants 2021 Study

I’ve been waiting for these podcasts/videos! I so enjoyed Rod Meldrum’s material last year about the Book of Mormon to go with the Come, Follow Me 2020 study. Now he has a new series to help us learn about the Doctrine and Covenants and the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for Come, Follow Me 2021. Here are the links…I have some catching up to do!

Come Follow Me Episodes 1-4

Episode 01: Come Follow Me 2021-December 28–January 3

Doctrine and Covenants 1, “Hearken, O Ye People”

Episode 02: Come Follow Me 2021 – January 4–10 Joseph Smith—History 1:1–26

“I Saw a Pillar of Light”

Episode 03: Come Follow Me 2021- January 11–17

Doctrine and Covenants 2; Joseph Smith—History 1:27–65

“The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn to Their Fathers”

Episode 04: Come Follow Me 2021 January 18-24; Doctrine and Covenants 3-5

“My Work Shall Go Forth,” video here.

I am devoting my Sundays and Mondays to listening/watching this channel plus my sources over here.

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Tips from Bestelling Writer Brandon Sanderson

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A bunch of my children, maybe all of them, love to read Brandon Sanderson. He’s written several bestselling fantasy books. Did you know he teaches creative writing at BYU? I watched the first lecture and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was fun to hear him say that he went out to dinner with Brandon Mull and Shannon Hale. His wife didn’t like it though, as they “talked shop” and she felt ignored. Oh to be a fly on the wall at such a gathering!

May we all be inspired by Brandon and bring out our inner writer with the sharing of his genius.

I’m also inspired by his testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, as taught by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Last Sunday, he did a presentation with the folks at The Road to Hope and Peace, on Facebook. Find it here. (If that link doesn’t work, go to Facebook, do a search for “The Road to Hope and Peace.” It will say “religious organization.” Then do a search on that group’s page for the video entitled, “Why I Believe With Brandon Sanderson.”)

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Gluten-free Spaghetti Casserole

This is my version of the Zaghetti recipe, p. 156 of the new Trim Healthy Future cookbook by Rashida Simpson. I am loving this book! It has so many fun recipes, like gummy worms, fish sticks, and sweet potato fries, all THM-ified.

On to the recipe…if you don’t want to bake it, then just serve the meat and sauce (thinned with water to desired consistency) over the zucchini noodles without baking like regular spaghetti.

4 small zucchinis, spiralized with a spiralizer, or cut very thinly into matchsticks

1 c ground beef

8 oz. mushrooms

2 c grated cheese

1 T garlic powder

1 T Italian seasoning

1/2 t mineral salt

1/2 t ground black pepper

Two 12-oz. cans tomato paste

Grease a 9×13 baking dish. Chop mushrooms into bite-size pieces. Cook with ground beef until browned. While that mixture is cooking, spiralize or cut the zucchini and put in mixing bowl. Rinse mushroom/beef mixture in colander to wash off the fat unless you are using grass-finished beef. That gets rid of the toxins that accumulate in the fat. Put mixture in mixing bowl of zucchini. Add tomato paste and seasonings to mixing bowl. Thoroughly mix all together. Put in baking dish. Top with your favorite cheese. Bake at 425 degrees, 35-40 minutes until cheese is golden brown. Enjoy on a bed of greens and serve with butter and bread to people who don’t have weight issues. If you have weight issues then enjoy without the bread and butter.

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January 2021 Classics: Out of the Best Books


My mom told me about the above book, as she’s reading it too. Someone gave it to her as a Christmas gift. I am loving it! It’s a great story about family life, aboard a boat, for a year. I often bemoan the fact that there aren’t too many stories out there about real family life. This is one! It also shows real marriage in action. I love it. I love that these people decided to pursue their dream. And they homeschool! I read a chapter or two every night before I sleep.


I love Emily Belle Freeman’s Don’t Miss This stuff. So I decided to check out this book by her, above. I love the idea of having a special celebratory snack+ discussion every month with the family gathered around. Each of these celebrations is based on a story in the scriptures about Jesus being in a home. What a wonderful idea.

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I stumbled across this one at my public library. Each chapter has a story and a lesson. It’s preachy, but so far the preach-iness is soft.

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My friend Katie told me about this one above. It’s waiting for me to pick up at the public library.


This one is leftover from my Christmas fiction book binge. It’s a sequel. It doesn’t quite jive with its prequel. Was the editor asleep? Enjoyable, nonetheless. I read a little every night, along with Seven at Sea.


I’m reading aloud the abridged version of P&P to my two youngest kiddos. I think they secretly like it but won’t admit it. Then we have the Christmas Jars Reunion, below. We’re almost done! It’s fun! A great sequel to Christmas Jars.


Then for my gospel reading, I’m reading my perennial favorite, The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, just five minutes a day, plus the Doctrine and Covenants and Come, Follow Me for the Doctrine and Covenants. Just a little every day. I love these books!


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Then I’m listening to some books on Audible. I’ve listed those over here, at the very bottom of the post. I listen to those on Saturdays.

What are you reading? I’d love to “hear” in the comments below.

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Pray for the Leaders of the USA Please

I’m so sad about last week’s event at the U.S. Capitol Building. I went there two springs ago with our homeschool group, as part of a week-long American Heritage trip. Twenty-four of us got to tour the Capitol. We even got to go inside the gallery for the House of Representatives. Little did I know that this building would be the site of protest and violence after the next presidential election. This is the first time the transfer of power from president to president has not been peaceful.

What can we do?

President Ballard encouraged us to pray for the leaders of the USA, over a year ago, when he toured New England. I admit, I haven’t been doing that diligently. It’s time to repent.

Here’s an excerpt from his talk:

“Our nation was founded on prayer, it was preserved by prayer, and we need prayer again. I plead with you this evening to pray for this country, for our leaders, for our people and for the families that live in this great nation founded by God. Remember, this country was established and preserved by our founding fathers and mothers who repeatedly acknowledged the hand of God through prayer.”

You can read the full transcript of the talk here.

So I’m going to pray every day for the USA’s leaders. My friend Katie sent out an email invitation today, asking everyone to pray every day at 12 noon Central Time. Here’s what she said:

“I feel the most responsible thing we can do to help our Country at this time is to join together at the same time in prayer to create a ‘Power of 8 Circle.’

The Power of Eight
I hadn’t heard of this book until Katie’s email. Now I’m super intrigued! If any of you have read it, please tell me about it in the comments below.

“If you would like to combine your voice with hundreds of thousands, I invite you to set your alarms for 12:00 noon daily thru January 20th, and include these words to give power to our combined prayer (as the research has shown in this above book):  

“~For our President, for Protection over him.  

“~For blessing, discernment and wisdom, that God will have mercy on us.

~For we the people of this land to Return back to Him. (Psalms 119: “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I have kept thy word.”  “It is good for me that I have been afflicted that I might learn thy statutes.” ) “

Katie goes on to say:

“Watch more on this invitation from Curtis Bowers:”

No matter your opinion of Trump, he deserves protection from harm as all human beings do, as children of God. He also deserves full freedom of speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment. If private companies censor him, they have that right, true. Private companies are not the government. They shouldn’t complain if private companies censor people they like, or refuse service.

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My New Podcast/Audiobooks Scholar Schedule

(Note: I wrote most of this on a Monday but I’m publishing on a Tuesday.)

Whew! I’m so happy that on a Monday afternoon, I can come home and not feel like a human popsicle. All of last fall, every Monday, we met outside for four hours for our homeschool group, because of COVID restricting the use of the building the group had been using for years. Fortunately, after fasting and prayer as a group, we have found a new indoor space (warm!) so I’m rejoicing! I don’t have to take a hot bath to thaw out when I come home.

I have learned a great secret for not having my old post-Christmas letdown. That happened frequently when I was a young mom. The secret is to have a list of all the fun stuff I’m going to do and learn after my Mrs. Claus/hostess/holiday- activity-planner- and-coordinator-of-chores-for- a-huge-household stint is over on Jan. 2. Christmas is a TON of work for moms. I’m grateful I can experience it, as it’s a ton of fun, aaand… I’m grateful it’s over. 🙂

We played Tsuro: the Game of the Path last week for a family game night. It’s a great game to learn strategy and spatial awareness.

I love January for the fresh start of what to learn, what to do, and what to play (more board games/gameschooling, hehe). I still hang on to reading a few Christmas books, but as far as listening goes, I’m ready to stop listening to Christmas stories. So no more Christmas story podcasts or Christmas Audible stories, until December 2021. I love listening to a wide array of podcasts and books, but I’ve felt so scattered and imbalanced with what I listen to. So here’s my plan:

I’m taking a cue from the Food Nanny, who has a theme for each day of the week when she plans her menu. (Go here for more on that.) This is the themed daily plan for what I’m going to listen to, AFTER I’ve listened to my daily General Conference talk and read/listened the Book of Mormon for at least 5 minutes. I usually listen to General Conference in the early AM while prepping my husband’s food that he packs for the day when he leaves for work. I do the other listening while doing kitchen work, grooming, driving, computer work, and getting ready to exercise and putting away my exercise stuff.

Sundays and Mondays, My Especially Christ-centered Days or Come, Follow Me Days:

Don’t Miss This weekly podcast/video for Come, Follow Me with David and Emily, above.

Book of Mormon Central’s Come Follow Me weekly video with Taylor and Tyler, above.

Doctrine and Covenants Central YouTube Channel for Come, Follow Me with Lynne and friends. Lynne is my husband’s cousin, and just as warm and friendly as she is in the video below.

Here is a sample of the handout that goes with her videos.

On Sunday midday as I fix Sunday dinner with my children I love to listen to teen-friendly Hank Smith and John Bytheway with their Follow Him videos to go with Come, Follow Me.

Tuesday and Wednesday: Holistic Health, Homemaking, Marriage and Homeschooling Days

The Wise Traditions podcast (also in YouTube form like some of the Come, Follow Me resources above)

Joette Calabrese Podcast: Moms With Moxie. Joette is a master of homeopathy. I love that she teaches Practical Homeopathy, which is easier to understand and practice over Classical Homeopathy. I’ve benefited hugely from what I’ve learned from Joette. This one doesn’t come out every week. But…I just realized I haven’t exhausted her archives. So I can listen to those while I wait for new ones to come out. Plus…I can watch/listen to her next resource during the wait…see below the next video.

Joette Calabrese Facebook Live Videos. Whereas the podcasts usually feature a guest mom (or sometimes a teen or dad) being interviewed, Joette’s Facebook Live videos feature only her. She is gradually going through her Materia Medica, with these Monday Facebook Live Videos. Every Monday at 6 PM MT. I just bought a pretty, new notebook that I’m dedicating solely to taking notes from Joette. I’m also going to take her Gateway to Homeopathy Course in February. I’m sooo excited. So I will be watching/studying that material on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as well.

The Wise Traditions 2019 Conference videos that I bought access to over a year ago. the video above features Thomas Cowan, MD, at another conference. He was one of the speakers at the WT 2019 Conference.

The Trim Healthy Mama podcast, affectionately called “The Poddy,” by the authors of the Trim Healthy Mama books, sisters Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett. After listening to this podcast since its inception a few years ago, I am a teensy bit tired of some of the material, especially now that I figured out my own way to do the THM diet. I don’t agree with everything they say, like their promotion of coffee, but I love, though, their hacks for in and out of the kitchen. I also love the super food spotlights, the affirmations of God and big, positive, thinking, the Biblical references, and the marriage and large family culture that Serene, Pearl, and co-host Danny Valdez talk about. I always come away uplifted, and usually with a practical tip for cooking/baking/eating.

The From Our Home to Yours/Above Rubies podcast. The host of this podcast, Nancy Campbell, is the mother of the two sisters who do the Trim Healthy mama podcast. She’s the grandma in the video above. I just love her old-fashioned wife and mother, Biblical perspective on family life.

Read Aloud Revival Podcast. This one is released every two weeks so I can’t listen every week. I save this one for late night when I’m super tired but still have a few chores to do and need a light topic and a gentle voice. It’s a great boost for my read aloud (which is most of my homeschooling) efforts.

WifeSavers podcast. This one’s not released weekly either so I can’t count on hearing a fresh new one every week.

The Wellness Mama podcast. I’m woefully behind on these episodes. That’s OK. I’m almost always interested in the topics, but they take a backseat to the other stuff above. Ooh, I just noticed the one above about keto! I’m totally listening to that one tomorrow!

This podcast is also in YouTube form.

Thursday: My Classic Literature, Leadership, and Philosophy Days

The Mission Driven Mom Podcast by my friend Audrey Rindslisbacher. My friend Becky Rogers was recently featured. Go Becky!

Subscribe to Podcast - The Mission Driven Mom

Hillsdale College Online Classes. They are free! Right now I’m doing the Children’s Literature class and the Jane Austen class.

Jordan Peterson podcast

Fridays: Current News, Constitution, and Political Science Day.

Tom Woods Show podcast

The Ron Paul Liberty Report podcast

Wallbuilders Podcast

The Way the World Works podcast with Connor Boyack

Saturdays: Audible Books and other Audiobooks

Here are the audiobooks I’m currently into..

Atomic Habits  By  cover art

Real Love in Marriage  By  cover art

The Lifegiving Table  By  cover art

Breaking Bread with the Dead  By  cover art

I’d love to hear what you are listening to! What podcasts, YouTube channels, and audiobooks do you recommend?

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5 Things to Watch or Read for the New Year and New Motivation

Every New Year, I like to watch stuff to increase my vision and my children’s vision for what’s possible. Here’s what I recommend:

I heard about Mully, the movie, from my friend/cousin KeeNan. (We were friends for years and then I discovered we are third cousins.) It is the most amazing true story of Charles Mulli. I was blown away. This man has literally lived a rags-to-riches story in Africa. He was abandoned by his parents and uncle at age 6 so he had to beg for food. Incredibly, he grew up to become a millionaire, providing well for his wife and nine children. God, however, had even bigger and better plans for him. I won’t give it away, you’ll have to watch it. Amazon Prime video has it, and your public library probably has the DVD, as mine does. After watching this, I know I have no excuse for not achieving my dreams. If you watch only one movie/documentary this year, watch this one!

This video here, is about the importance of vision boards. Tim Thomas, from BYU-Idaho, gives the presentation. I’ve watched it for three years straight now and still absolutely love it. The stories he tells of vision boards and why it’s so important to make outrageous goals are just amazing.

Then this video below of a speech by Elder Randall K. Ridd is phenomenal. I love that he uses the phrase, “real intent,” and illustrates what the real intent is with the story of two different employees buying oranges for a boss. It’s so enlightening!

What about some books to inspire?

There’s the book about Mully. It’s on my “to-read” list.


For now, I am reading these two below.


This first one is by a couple, Erik and Emily Orton, who are parents of five children. They describe the process of taking what seemed like an impossible dream, that of living on a sailboat for an extended vacation with five children, to amazing fruition. I read it at night, while snuggled in bed. It’s a great bedtime story just for me! Actually, my hubby is reading it too, but at different times. It’s fun to share with him what we are thinking and learning as we read.

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I’m listening to this one after hearing so much about it, like on the Trim Healthy Mama podcast.

I love that the author talks about the difference between goals and systems. Very fascinating! It reminds me of the idea of lead and lag that I heard from my friend Kelsey in my Family Foundations class last year in our homeschool group.

Here are a few great quotes from the book:

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”

“Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.”
― James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

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Christmas 2020 Memories and Blessings

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Before my memories of Christmas 2020 drift away, I’m capturing them here. What a wonderful time! In years past, we’ve had a few awkward, cringe-worthy moments on Christmas Day where a family member’s feelings got hurt because another family member said something that was uncalled for. I prayed this year that that wouldn’t happen. Hallelujah! We had no such moments this year! Whew!

I started reading aloud this book to the younger kiddos, a sequel to Christmas Jars, which I read aloud to them last year. We’re still reading it in January. Which I’m totally OK with. We read the first book in January last year. I’m excited to find out if my predicted ending comes true in the sequel.

One of my college-attending sons brought home a keyboard that supposedly was being given away at his aunt’s home. When we moved from AZ, we gave our piano away to save packing space. So I have been piano-less. I was rejoicing that we would have a piano substitute that I could play for Christmas songs that we always sing on Christmas Eve as we act out the Nativity story in Luke 2. Then said-son found out that the keyboard was his cousin’s and it wasn’t supposed to be given away. Oops. So it has to go back.

As is their custom, my kiddos played Settlers of Catan at some point during the Christmas break. It’s not my favorite game so I was happy they didn’t invite me to play, LOL.

The younger kiddos and I watched this new movie, The Santa Box, which was filmed in Utah. It’s a little cheesy but meaningful. It’s all about charity and forgiveness and the spirit of Christ. I want to give out Santa boxes, now, in addition to Christmas Jars! Yes, I’m dreaming big!
The Santa Box Poster

I decided to go out on Dec. 24 and shop for more stocking stuffer treats. Ugh! I hate buying stuff on Christmas Eve. I vow next year to have everything bought by Dec. 18, including all the stocking goodies, and even have these goodies portioned out in ziploc bags before Dec. 23. Actually I’m toying with the idea of having each kid stuff one of their sibling’s stocking, anonymously as Santa. Both these ideas will allow me to go to bed before 3 AM on Christmas Day, as is happened this year. I didn’t budget my time this year well, again. Double ugh. One of the results of me not budgeting time/planning well is that one of my planned gifts for my traditional three gifts for my adult children was out of stock. I’m definitely not perfect in the gift-giving and the pacing of Christmas prep. So I’m just now getting those ones out, after Christmas, since they are back in stock.

I read the Mistletoe trilogy by Richard Paul Evans this Christmas using my membership. They are good but predictable. I enjoyed them because reading them helped me relax at night and fall asleep.

I did make a smart decision though in realizing I wouldn’t be home until after 5:30 PM on Christmas Eve. So I asked my two youngest children to make lasagna. They’ve made it before so I had full confidence they could do it, even though they are 11 and 14. When I found out that my other college-attending son wouldn’t be home until after 9 PM on Christmas Eve, I switched out the menus. Usually we have our Bethlehem Supper on Christmas Eve. Then on Christmas Day for dinner, I ditch the traditional food of turkey potatoes, and gravy. Instead, I serve a non-purist frozen lasagna, baked of course, but bought at Walmart or Costco. I started doing this when we moved to AZ and had to be on our own for Christmas. (Translation: I had to learn how to roast turkey on my own and host my own Christmas dinner in lieu of going to my parents’ home and relying on them to be the founders of the feast. I decided I wanted to relax on Christmas Day too like everyone else and have my biggest kitchen job be to pop things into the oven.) One of my boys is being gluten-free right now, so I realized I would have to make a low-carb, gluten free lasagna this year. Which was good for me too so I wouldn’t eat so many carbs over the holiday, 🙂 , to maintain my weight loss.

So the kiddos made the Lazy Lasagna from the second Trim Healthy Mama book, which uses spinach instead of lasagna noodles. They made it perfectly! I was so pleased with them! My copycat recipe is here.

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Here’s what the tree looked like when the kiddos walked in on Christmas morning. It’s not a huge tree and decorated eclectically with mostly homemade ornaments. So nothing fancy or color-coordinated, but it works. We always have a star on top of it, until Christmas Eve. On that night, at the end of our acting out the Nativity, we switch out the star for our Angel Moroni tree-topper. It’s a way of pointing to the after story story of Jesus, which involved the restoration of His gospel with his angel helper Moroni appearing to Joseph Smith.

One of my boys gave me the Pioneer Woman honey pot with a cute note relating it to Winnie-the-Pooh, hearkening back to his childhood days of hearing the Pooh stories. Here I am, above, carefully opening it, not wanting to break it. I wish I had smiled for the camera but I was so focused on checking it out without breaking it. It’s the most elegant honeypot I’ve ever owned! See the photo below to see how pretty it is. I loooove it!

Here’s one of the goodies I bought on Christmas Eve, for my own stocking, in keeping with my low-carb diet. I’ve heard a lot about Lily’s stevia-sweetened chocolate. It’s definitely yummy but expensive too so I haven’t ever bought it before. Next year, I am going to for sure have my husband stuff my stocking and I’m going to stuff my husband’s. After 29 years I’m tired of not being surprised at all. :-). I heard about this idea from my friend Mindy and thought, “Why haven’t I thought of that sooner?”

We had my mother-in-law over for Christmas Day. She’s a widow living alone. No one should be alone for Christmas Day. She already had COVID in October so there were no worries about her getting out and about.

Christmas Day we had our Bethlehem Supper by candlelight. Fish, flatbread, hummus, bitter herbs, olives, dates, and cheese. Those are all foods Jesus perhaps ate in the Holy Land. Well, maybe not the hummus. We also always have rice, even though that’s not Middle Eastern food. We eat it because years ago our next-door neighbor was from Ghana. He had a mother from Syria, which is close to Israel. She taught him how to make this rice dish. He invited us over often for dinner and always fixed his specialty, a “secret” rice dish, with cinnamon, chicken broth, and pasta. So to add more bulk to the meal we fix it, even though it’s not authentic. :-). Topping the pita bread with hummus, then fish and rice is super delicious. I abstained from the bread and rice to keep low carb.

We also did our individually-picked activities. Everyone picked out something he or she wanted to do and wrapped an object representing that activity, as explained here. Except my firstborn and and my husband, who I surmise don’t care about what we do as long as we are together.

We played football (not with Grandma or my 60-something husband, haha, they were both too old and tired to play so took naps). Our new to us home has a huge front yard with not much snow so that was easy. Then it was Reverse Charades, then Studio C, and the Muppets’ Christmas Carol. That took care of activities for four people.

My son who picked Studio C added the stipulating gift that it was “Studio C Mom Edition” where I got to pick all the sketches that we watched. My mother-in-law had never seen the Muppets’ Christmas Carol before so I was delighted to show it to her. She loved it, sighing especially at the end and putting her head on someone’s shoulder next to her. That was so sweet.

The next day was more fun and games! We played Mysterium and then Monty Python Fluxx, one of the games that appeared in a stocking.

I’ve been wanting to play Mysterium for months. My son who lives out of state brought it and I’m so glad he did. It’s a combination of Dixit and Clue. It’s a cooperative game and we all lost. At least we lost together.

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I discovered Fluxx years ago and gave it to my oldest son for Christmas years ago, after seeing it in a Chinaberry book catalog. It’s a LOT of fun. We’ve acquired a few different versions over the years. This year, one of the sons got Monty Python Fluxx in his stocking. This version didn’t disappoint. The goals were funny. I love how this game can have so many twists and turns.

Then it was The Mind card game. That one’s great too. My younger daughter got it in her stocking last year. It involves reading body language to communicate and mind-reading. It’s also a cooperative game.

My baby, age 11, had originally picked watching Robin Hood for his activity but then decided he would rather play Secret Hitler. I’m learning to like it more, every year. I was Hitler in the game the first time and fooled all the liberals, everyone but one son, causing me to laugh uproariously.

It was so terrific to have Christmas on Friday, giving my husband a three day weekend off of work. On Sunday, we went to church all together. I think our family of 8 (my married daughter was missing, more on that in a bit) took up half the congregation. Most of the congregants stayed home to sleep off the post-Christmas hangover and watch the live stream on YouTube. My husband was picked to speak at Church that day so we will attended in person to hear him. Its funny, he and I spoke last year in AZ at church the Sunday after Christmas.

After church, it was time for It’s a Wonderful Life. We’ve been watching this every year since the oldest was born. I was OK with skipping this year but it was one of the family member’s chosen activities. I saw on Facebook that one of my Veggie Gal friends saw it for the first time this year. How someone can grow up on the Wasatch Front with its mainstream pop culture and not see this movie until she’s 50 is a mystery to me.

Then it was my turn to do my activity. We watched Christmas Jars. I was so excited for my three single sons to watch this movie. I encouraged them to start their own jars, since they are all living out of the nest. They replied that they never use cash. So we talked about how to do the idea without using a jar of coins/cash.

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I discovered this delightful picture book this year. It’s by Susan Gong, wife of Elder Gerrit Gong, one of the Twelve Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. I highly recommend it.

I made the Sparkling Cran Ginger that appears in the new Trim Healthy Mama cookbook, created by Serene Allison’s and Pearl Barrett’s niece, Rashida. It’s called Trim Healthy Future. I bought the book for Christmas back in early November on pre-order to get the discounted price plus the pre-order goodies. (Do any of you other moms out there buy your own Christmas presents? It’s just easier sometimes.) Review of the book is coming soon!

For this drink recipe, I put in too much ginger. Next time I will cut way back. In quadrupling the recipe I think I made a mistake in the amount of ginger, as it was a bit overpowering. Instead of being a hot wassail with cinnamon, anise, and cloves like in the recipe here, it is a cold drink. You basically cook the cranberries until they pop in water with the ginger, then cool, then add the low-carb sweetener and sparkling water and serve cold. It was good despite the too much ginger.

Sunday night the kids broke out my world puzzle. I bought it years ago. We lost some pieces. Then I found a newer edition while thrifting for 99 cents. I like to put it together on General Conference weekends, like we did here. Fortunately, the thrift store version has no pieces missing. Two of the diehards stayed up past midnight to put both together.

Tuesday morning I woke up to the picture below, texted to me from my son-in-law. My daughter had her baby! She lives out of state with her husband. We weren’t expecting the baby until at least Jan. 4. She used Hypnobabies and had a fast, natural birth. I wish I could have been there! She woke up at 2 AM and then had the the baby at 5 AM. So a fast labor. I sure wish I could be there to cuddle the little guy and babysit while she sleeps!

Then Tuesday afternoon I drove to my parents’ home to take them their presents since we hadn’t had a big get-together on Christmas Day. They seemed very pleased with their gifts: an electric teakettle (because I so love mine), hot cocoa mixes, herbal teas, dried fruit, plus the book below. So they can sip warm beverages and feel cozy and have a devotional together. This book, along with the journals, were like the Cabbage Patch dolls of Christmas 1983. Or was it 1984? Anyway, I couldn’t find this book online or at local bookstores. But the angels were watching out for me and led me to find it at a local grocery store. Score!

Don't Miss This in the Doctrine and Covenants

Wednesday, I had a party with my Veggie Gals friends. It was a brief interruption from all the family time. One of them was in town for the holidays after moving to California. I had seven of them over for a potluck lunch. Oh how I love the conversation. I can’t drink it in fast enough. It’s so wonderful to have a group of like-minded friends where you can go deep, especially during this bizarre time.

For Thursday, New Year’s Eve, we did our “new” tradition. My daughter, the one who just had a baby, suggested it last year when she “holidayed” with us. After dinner, we played games, with each person bringing one to the table, which we played for 30 minutes. One of us picked Clue, above. I won in less than 30 minutes! It was Plum, wrench, study. I have a secret way of winning, without cheating, that allows me to win almost every single time. 🙂

I picked the above game up at a thrift store for only $2. Totally worth it. It’s like brand new. So it was my pick for New Year’s Eve. The game involves lots of eye signaling and everyone can play at once. Great game, especially for a crowd. Up to 8 can play.

The nest morning, New Year’s Day, we continued the games since we hadn’t gone through everybody’s choices the night before. I had to deliberately make an appointment at 9 AM with my firstborn to play the above game. It’s Wingspan, and it’s all about birds. He had other stuff going on later, including a date, and rock-climbing. This was a present he requested and I happily obliged as it looked beautiful and fun when I saw it online. Bugsy, the 11 year old, played it with us.

It took us a while to get into the rhythm of how the game works. We, my firstborn and I, ended up playing it again that night with my husband. I finally felt the momentum of the player action choices. It’s a great game! A wonderful mix of learning bird facts and strategic game play.

This was my first experience with a dice tower, in Wingspan. It’s a birdfeeder made of sturdy cardboard. I love it!
On every turn you choose if you play a bird card, draw a bird card, gather food for your birds, or have your birds lay eggs.
See how beautiful the cards are? On every one, you learn a bird’s habitat, what it eats, the type of nest it lays (or not), its wingspan, and some unique fact about the bird.
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On New Year’s Eve, we also did Labyrinth (above), a great visual/spatial strategy game. Then Disney Apples to Apples. Fun, fun, fun!

Second son delighted us with reading from Winnie-the-Pooh. Disney’s Apples to Apples inspired this.

My Christmas was topped off by reading this article mentioned over here, about Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and also reading the two books below. I gave copies of the first book to all my siblings and parents and inlaws over 20 years years go but never read it myself. I’m rejoicing I finally read it.

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This one above is the backstory to The Christmas Box. It’s a long story as to why I never read these before. Maybe I’ll share sometime.

Oh, another thing that made my Christmas great was listening to this BYU speech again. It’s my favorite Christmas speech/talk ever.

I’m so loving that my firstborn decided to give us a flat screen TV for Christmas to replace our old chunky TV from 2005 or so. This new TV has a built in DVD player. Plus same son gave us a Fire TV stick. So I’m rejoicing. The old DVD player was always skipping DVD parts. Now I can do my Trim Healthy Mama Workins DVDs without skips. He also gifted me a fire pit. I’m so excited to have parties with this!

It really is a great to have adult children giving gifts to me. What I have put out is coming back to me!

So that’s another Christmas for the books! A sweet time with my sweet family! I feel relaxed, nourished, empowered and renewed by my gifts and the time spent with family and friends. All that makes me feel ready for a new year! I’m so grateful for this time. I’m dreaming big so that next year is even better with more giving to others outside of our family.

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2021 Come Follow Me: Insights into the Doctrine of Covenants, Week #1

I really love all three of these videos to supplement my study this past week of the Doctrine and Covenants. That’s the new topic of study for the 2021 Come, Follow Me Sunday School class of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the above video, Hank Smith, John Bytheway, and Anthony Sweat discuss Doctrine and Covenants 1. I love at the 52 minute mark, Dr. Sweat explains what it means in D&C 1:30 when it says that the Church is the only true and living church on the whole face of the earth, which the Lord is “well pleased with, speaking unto the church collectively, not individually–” Dr. Sweat explains that that doesn’t mean the leaders of the Church will never make mistakes. Dr. Sweat explains that “true” means “authorized.” Sometimes that means the leaders are authorized to make mistakes. That’s because the leaders go to Him and propose something, and He lets them do it, and it might be a mistake, so that the leader(s) learn. (Such was the case with Joseph Smith asking to let Martin Harris borrow the manuscript of 116 translated pages from the Book of Mormon.)

The video above is from my old standbys, David and Emily, from the Don’t Miss This Come Follow Me YouTube channel, discussing D&C 1. I love that they emphasize that this revelation is for all people. All people, whether they are members of the Church or not.

Finally, the above two videos are done by my husband’s cousin, Lynne Hilton Wilson. She gives a ton of backstory to the Doctrine and Covenants. Additionally, she answers some hard questions about Joseph Smith, including “Why did it take until 1831 for Joseph Smith to write down his story?” Fascinating! These videos are more for this coming week’s lesson, but are also a great foundation for the whole year’s study. I love her sweet, gentle, yet exciting nature, and all of her graphics and explanations. You can go to the website for her organization here, and get additional study helps for each week’s readings. Enjoy!

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