GiveThanks Day #7: I Am Thankful for My Savior Jesus Christ and His Miracles

The past week of Thanksgiving Day buzz and after-days relaxation slightly distracted me from my series of #GiveThanks posts. So I’m getting back to it, so I can finish the prophet President Russell M. Nelson’s invitation. Today is my #GiveThanks post #7. I am formally giving thanks to God for His Only Begotten Son, my Savior Jesus Christ. I am always thankful for Him, of course. Today I am giving thanks for Him for the crowning touch of my seven days of #GiveThanks. I am just so grateful for Jesus Christ, especially as we enter the Christmas season. Without Him, I would not have anything else to give thanks for on Thanksgiving, or any other day.

We used this turkey recipe I’ve blogged about over here. Another year of having a delicious turkey that is not dry. Thanks to Heather Woods for the recipe!

We had a lovely time on Thanksgiving Day. Blessedly, my mother-in-law got to come. It was so nice for her to get out after recovering from you-know-what. She had been isolated for months before she got it, during her time with it, and afterwards, since she is a widow living in a retirement center. She got to have two Thanksgiving dinners, one at her daughter’s on Tuesday night and then one here on the Day. My husband was in a particular jocular mood. He cracked a lot of jokes during dinner and after. She can’t remember the last time she laughed so hard.

Just like last year, I assigned people to make something. My husband made the gravy. I did the turkey. 16 year old son and 11 year old son did the potatoes, Pioneer Woman style with lots of fat. The 14 year old daughter did the cranberry sauce, also using the Pioneer Woman’s recipe. I’m not a fan of sweet potatoes turned into candy with marshmallows and sugar, so I simply steamed some after cutting them up. After dinner and cleaning up, some of my kiddos and I connected with some relatives on my side over Zoom. We chatted for a while. This was the first time that my parents ate Thanksgiving Dinner alone, in their 50+ years of marriage, because of the pandemic. Every year until now they have had either relatives and/or kids with them.

I definitely wanted to connect with them so they wouldn’t feel so alone. After we chatted, one of the cousins in Maine and some of us living here played Code Names online. That was fun. Then those of us here in person played the Game of Things. That was a lot of fun too. I highly recommend this game. It’s perfect for when you don’t want to think too hard, but you want to connect and get to know each other better, without being too silly. I love this game!

Anyway, it’s so Providential that in the past few weeks using the Book of Mormon Study Guide of Come, Follow Me, that we’ve been reading about the Jaredites being led across the “great deep,” the ocean. Whenever I read that, I think of the Thanksgiving Day Pilgrims. They too crossed an ocean, to come to their promised land. They were not seafaring people normally so that ocean must have been mighty mysterious and treacherous. Why were they so willing to cross it? Because of their faith in Jesus Christ, and their desire to practice that faith in their own way.

I am so thankful for my Savior Jesus Christ. I never really understood the need for him until I was an adult.

Becoming a wife and mother has brought me face to face with all my failures and imperfections. I’m so grateful for second, third, fourth, and many more chances. That only comes because Jesus Christ paid the price for those chances. It is His enabling grace that gives me strength to keep going with a full brightness of hope.

I love that last month of November, I got to talk and hear a lot about faith in Jesus Christ. We talked about faith both in our homeschool group, in all the children’s classes, ages 4 all the way up to age 17. We also talked a lot about faith at home with our Come, Follow Me Study of the Book of Mormon. In our homeschool group we kicked off the month of November in our moms’ class by sharing stories of faith. One mom told this incredible story that makes me feel the Holy Spirit everytime I think about it.

She said that awhile ago, her family had their car stolen right from their driveway. How horrible! I can’t even imagination how devastating that would feel. Her husband had left the key in its ignition and ran inside to do one last thing before he drove off. In that brief time, a thief came and stole it. Instead of panicking about their stolen car, and how they would pay to replace it, they exercised faith in Jesus Christ. First off, they didn’t talk negatively about the thief. They prayed to God and asked God to bless the thief. They decided he must have been feeling desperate if he chose to steal a car from someone’s driveway. He needed help. Then they decided to pray and ask for help in finding the car. After they prayed, they decided to start driving in their other car to go look for it. The mom said she felt the Holy Spirit guiding her to turn at a certain intersection and then go to Walmart. So they did. They entered the parking lot. Her husband decided to click on the remaining remote key fob to see if they could hear a beep. They kept driving around and beeping and guess what? They found the car! So they called the police and waited. The police came and apprehended the crook as he came to get in the car. He was only inside Walmart for 15 minutes. Isn’t that amazing? God directed them to the exact spot where their stolen car was, out of all the places it could have been on this planet, within the 15 minute window that was needed to find the crook. This story gives me chills every time I think about. They prayed in the name of Jesus Christ, our advocate, and got an answer through the Holy Spirit, the partner of Jesus which He gave to us when He left the earth, so we could have His comfort and guidance. That Spirit guided them to get their stolen car back. It was a miracle! Yes, Jesus is a god of miracles! If Jesus can speak to my friend through the Holy Spirit on where to go to find her stolen car, He can help me with any of my problems and any of yours too!

Mormon 9:11 of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ says that Jesus Christ is a God of miracles.

“But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.”

Amen! I am so thankful that the god I worship, Jesus Christ, is a God of miracles. To add to those stories from my homeschool group shared by my mom friends, I loved reviewing the stories of faith from the Pilgrims. the Pilgrims experienced a few miracles as they voyaged. Number one was that when they had trouble with a broken main beam, they happened to have the right piece of equipment to fix it, a jackscrew. Another miracle was when John Howland fell overboard. He was able to get back in the ship.

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This is how God rescued him, in the words of Governor William Bradford, an eyewitness:

“And one of them John Howland came above and, with a roll of the ship, he
was thrown into the sea; but it pleased God that he caught hold of a rope that was trailing in the water and held on though he was several fathoms under water till he was hauled up by the same rope to the brim of the water, and then with a boat-hook and other means got him into the ship again and his life was saved; and though he was something ill with it, yet he lived many years after, and became a profitable member both in church and commonwealth.”

As President M. Russell Ballard says in the video here, the above event was a miracle. It was God’s hand who somehow placed that rope in the water so John Howland could reach it and be pulled out of the dangerous ocean. God provided for this so that John could survive and live to be an ancestor in the New World of Joseph Smith, the prophet of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 John Howland
The gravestone of John Howland. Photo credit: findagrave.com.

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President Ballard goes on to say in that video, “About four years after they arrived in the New World, John married fellow Mayflower passenger Elizabeth Tilley, a brave and committed daughter of God. They eventually had 10 children and nearly 90 grandchildren. But that is not where the story ends. Today, an estimated 2 million Americans trace their roots to John and Elizabeth. Their descendants include three U.S. presidents—Franklin D. Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush; American poets Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; and two influential 19th-century American religious leaders—the prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum Smith. Think about it for a moment—the existence of these political leaders, poets, and prophets hinged on this one young man finding and grabbing a rope in the ocean and holding on tight to be saved. It was a miracle!”

The Pilgrim Hypothesis
This book talks about the many miracles of the Pilgrims.

Yes it was! I’m also a descendant of John Howland so I too am grateful he was preserved. I’m not a fan of FDR nor the Bushes but I’m grateful for this insight and President Ballard’s injunction to look for the Lord’s hand in each of our own lives from that talk. I am thankful for the miracles in my own life that Jesus has perfectly orchestrated. Here are some of them:

He gave me the tender mercy of being able to birth my last three babies each on a Sunday. I really wanted that to happen, for various reasons, and it did, three times in a row, after asking for it. You can’t tell me that that was random.

The Total Money Makeover

He sent angels to protect my two children, when they were both teens, to be safe and uninjured when my daughter accidentally collided with a public transportation bus while driving. This was a blessing in disguise as it allowed our car to be totaled, and we got a lot of insurance money for that totaled car. So blessedly, this money was enough to pay off the debt we owed on it, with money left over to buy a used car for cash. The previous spring I had listened to Dave Ramsey’s audiobook, The Total Money Makeover. In that book, Dave rants on about why having a car payment is so stupid. I started yearning for a way to get out of our car payment on our minivan. It felt overwhelmingly impossible as we had great money trouble at the time. There was no way to find extra income in the budget to pay off the debt. Little did I know that He would provide a way six months later. Ever since then we haven’t had a car payment. It’s been so wonderful!

He and Heavenly Father knew that I desired a beautiful portrait of Him to hang on my wall in my living room. They gifted it to me in the form of a friend. I couldn’t afford it. Jesus inspired a friend, through the Holy Spirit, to give me the very portrait off her wall to me. It was a Greg Olsen print of the Savior. It now hangs in my home, a loving reminder of the Savior’s omniscience and power to inspire and my friend’s loving willingness to respond to the Spirit. See the photo at the top of this post. It’s so beautiful!

He inspired, through the Holy Spirit, that same friend to have a yard “giveaway” instead of a yard sale. Insightfully and so generously, she invited a handful of friends to come to her giveaway an hour earlier so that her friends could have our pick of what household items she was giving away, before the general public showed up. I was able to get many items that our family was in need of, when we didn’t have money to spare. Things like blankets, towels, and dishes to replace what had worn out after many years of marriage with lots of kiddos. Amazingly, He knew that something that wasn’t a necessity of mine was broken and it would delight me to get a new one to replace it. A year or so before this incident, one of my children had broken my cake decorator set, a wedding gift, by attempting to put peanut butter in it! Ugh! God knew I would like a new one. I love to use it to decorate my pies. I hadn’t told anyone about this, but God knew. I was able to get a like new one to replace it, this Pampered Chef one pictured below, because my friend gave it to me at her yard giveaway. This was no coincidence.

Easy Accent Decorator
Photo Credit: Pampered Chef

He inspired, again through the Holy Spirit, a man who shared office space with my husband, to say something to my husband. That something was the same thing that I had been saying to my husband for over a year. I needed a second witness and this man provided it. That something was a suggestion for my husband to apply out of state for a job, specifically in AZ, during our money troubles. My husband needed to hear it from someone else. You probably have experienced this too. I too have been in the same boat. My husband will tell me a truth, but I have to hear it from someone else to take it seriously. Anyway, that second witness of looking for a job in AZ prompted our move to AZ five years ago. In fact, I am publishing this post the day after the date, December 2, which marks our five year anniversary of moving to AZ. We have since moved back to Utah. Each move deserves its own separate blog post of inspired events orchestrated by Jesus. Those are for another day! Suffice it to say He was behind both moves.

He spoke through the Holy Spirit to my then 16 year old son to ask his siblings, if everyone had their seat belts on. I was the driver of the car with my four youngest as passengers. It was around 9 PM on a drive to Utah, as we wended our way through Las Vegas. That question saved my other son’s life. He did not have his belt on at the moment but then put it on because of his brother’s prompting. Five minutes later I collided head on with another car, going at least 45 mph. I am certain if my then 13 year old had not had his seat belt on, he would have gone sailing through the windshield and been seriously injured or killed. I am so grateful for this prompting of the Spirit. God still has work for this son to do.

He has inspired people through the Holy Spirit to offer to help us move a few times. In particular I had three friends who spent hours helping me dejunk, pack, and clean during the last move. I thank God for such amazing generous friends. When we moved to AZ we had amazing family and friends who helped us move as well.

He has been my refuge and my comfort during my troubled times. I have prayed in His name to my Heavenly Father and felt tremendous peace. Especially during this past year with the pandemic and my husband’s job loss a year ago, on Thanksgiving Eve.

He spoke to me through the Holy Spirit to guide us where to live when we moved when my husband got a new job in Utah. That guidance ultimately landed me in a place where I could meet The Candy Bomber, which is a dream come true.

He surprised me with blessings of two unspoken desires. I had not told these desires to anyone, not even my husband. Years ago, actually decades, LOL, when I was in college, I thought it would be wonderful to live in a certain neighborhood. Now, 30 years later, I am blessed to live in that very neighborhood. Another unspoken desire I had developed over the past 15 years was to have a light, bright, white kitchen. I have always lived in kitchens with dark cupboards. This last move, I was delighted to finally be blessed with a light kitchen with only white cupboards, countertops, and floor. I can only chalk this up to the miraculous intervention of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

As Moroni says in Ether 12:38, copied below, I advise you to seek this Jesus. He is a God of miracles. Praise His name! Let Him show up in your life. Pray to the Father in His name, asking Him to be your advocate for your specific desires.

“I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen.”

May you be surprised and delighted by the miracles of Jesus in your own life!

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Last-Minute Thanksgiving Resources

Here’s a last-minute round-up of Thanksgiving resources.

The perfect recipe for a perfect turkey, from Heather Woods.

Gluten-free recipes of holiday faves are here, courtesy of Mommypotamus blogger Heather Dessinger. She’s got stuffing without bread (amazing!), pumpkin pie, and more! They all look delicious.

A super easy way to have grain-free pumpkin pie is to just go crustless. I use the Healthy Home Economist’s pumpkin pie recipe here and just put the filling in a well-buttered pie dish. I decorate generously with whipped cream and don’t miss the crust!

Beautiful printable gratitude declarations and Thanksgiving dinner conversation starter place cards are here, from my friend Katie Hansen of houseofthebook.org and gatheringplaceforfamilies.org.

Thank-you card printables are here, courtesy of blogger Jennifer Flanders. They are beautiful, Victorian style.

Thanksgiving-themed games are here. For ready-made Thanksgiving Scattergories, go here, again courtesy of Jennifer Flanders. Her ultimate Thanksgiving printable bundle is here. I highly recommend you sign up for Heather, Katie, and Jennifer’s mailing lists on their web sites.

I also suggest listening to the prophet President Nelson’s video below with his invitation to give thanks, then complete the #GiveThanks challenge.

Did you know this year marks the 400th year anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing at Plymouth? Here is a great website about the Pilgrims’ Quadricentennial. It has free documents to download to read aloud with your family, full of primary sources, and videos to watch. It’s so important we teach our children the sacredness of the Mayflower Compact and the Pilgrims’ search for liberty.

I also recommend listening to William Bradford’s own words, his “History of Plimoth Plantation.”

It’s totally OK to keep reading about Thanksgiving and Pilgrims after the Feast Day. I have a bunch of Thanksgiving and Christmas picture books that I’ll be reading throughout November, December, and even into January and February. Here is my Thanksgiving list and here is my Christmas list.

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Lastly, to help preserve liberty today, I highly recommend getting Connor Boyack’s Black Friday deal, to teach yourself and your family about how to apply the principle of liberty in real life. Go here to learn more. Full disclosure: that is an affiliate link so I do get a commission if buy the deal.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Black Friday Sale on Educational Resources for Liberty-based Families…All the Tuttle Twins Books Plus New Related Books!

If you want resources to get educated on principles of liberty, for yourself and your family, this is the deal for you. Please read this message below from Connor Boyack, the creator of the above resources, including the Tuttle Twins books.

This massive deal has been in the works for quite a while.

Those three new guidebooks? We’ve been working on them for two years.

They’re perfect for teens (and young adults) and are packed full of helpful information about:

  • Stories of inspiring entrepreneurs and how they overcame challenges
  • Tales of courageous heroes and how their lives can be an example for us
  • Logical fallacies and how to spot bad arguments that prevent us from learning truth

We also have brand new parent guides that provide helpful information about each of our children’s books, so the adults can learn even more and better help their children learn as well. These are going to be an amazing resource to help you.

And speaking of helping you…

We’ve also got a brand new 115-page e-book where we have rebuttals to 40 of the top economic and political myths… 

Tons of great learning opportunities here.

But that’s not it — the Black Friday deal also has ALL of our children’s books, the activity workbooks, and the audiobooks as well. 

It’s a ton of content for a screaming deal. But the deadline approaches. It’s midnight MST on Black Friday Nov. 27.

Grab this deal for a crazy low price before it goes away, by clicking here.

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A Classic Thanksgiving Movie: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving

I’ve been meaning to watch this movie for years and finally got around to it this week. You can see it in Amazon prime video or probably find it at your local public library like I did.

I’ve been meaning to watch this movie for years and finally got around to it this week. You can rent it online or probably find it at your local public library.

It’s a great “family togetherness” movie. After all, it’s from the Hallmark Channel. Being extremely loosely based on the short story of the same name by Louisa May Alcott, it takes place in the 1800s. I love to read that short story every year to my kiddos in the form of the picture book as shown below. The only thing in common, however, between the movie and the short story is the title and the name of some of the characters. In the short story, which the picture book below contains, the children of a family unite to put on a grand Thanksgiving dinner while the parents are called away. The whole story takes place in a day.

Hardcover An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Book

In the movie, a widowed woman finds herself estranged from her mother. Forces bring the two together, early in the movie, after they’ve been apart for years. The rest of the movie takes place over weeks. It’s all about how mother and daughter navigate their strained relationship after even more emotional battles and then illness, in order to have a happy Thanksgiving dinner together. I give it five out of five stars. It’s sweet and charming, perfect for family viewing.

Here are some discussion questions:

When is it OK for a grandchild to go behind a parent’s back and ask a grandparent for help?

Is it OK for a grandparent to give gifts to grandchildren without consulting the parents?

Is it possible to give too many gifts to family members?

How does one heal from broken family relationships?

What does one do when family secrets are spilled out?

What principles does this movie show?

Do you see any of these principles in your life?

“Life purposes are greater than our imagination.” — one of the great quotes from the movie.

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#GiveThanks Day #6: I’m Thankful for My Marriage

You may wonder why I’m putting a picture of summer flowers here instead of something fallish or related to Thanksgiving. These flowers are from our yard in Arizona. They would come back in late summer, at the time of our wedding anniversary in August, if we took care of them by watering. The picture is a reminder to me of the importance of nurturing marriage in good times and bad.

It was a year ago at this time, the day before Thanksgiving, that my husband came home and announced that he had lost his job. Yeah, his old boss does not get any points for being diplomatic enough to at least wait until after a major holiday known for family togetherness to dump bad news on us.

I have always been thankful for my husband and marriage, but this day I am especially thankful. A year later after DH losing his job, our marriage has improved because of that very trial. So I’m grateful for the trial of job loss as well. It wasn’t easy to go through 8 months of unemployment and underemployment, but it was for the best. He didn’t like his old boss. It’s so nice now that he doesn’t ever have to deal with him again! Who would have thought a year ago when DH lost the job, that a year later we would be back in Utah, with a better job that pays a lot more, with a boss he likes? Who would have thought that we would be back living within a 30 minute drive of so many old friends, especially homeschooling friends, two adult sons, and extended family? It’s all because we worked as a team to figure out where God wanted us to go next and what God wanted us to do. I’m so grateful for my husband for being patient, prayerful, and determined to keep looking and applying for jobs. I’m also so grateful that we followed the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps while living in AZ for five years. Because we followed the steps, we were prepared when the job loss hit. We were out of debt and we had a three months’ supply of money saved up to deal with our normal monthly expenses. So thank you Dave as well!

I have benefited from wisdom people have shared with me over the years about building marriage. Most of it has come through books, and from God, through the Holy Spirit. I highly recommend these tips from my wise girlfriend Joyce, her 7 Keys to Marital Bliss. Thank you Joyce for sharing these!

You may wonder why I posted summer flowers at the top instead of something fallish or related to Thanksgiving. The picture at the top is from our yard in Arizona. Those flowers would come back in late summer, at the time of our wedding anniversary in August, if we took care of them by watering. The picture is a reminder to me of the importance of nurturing marriage in good times and bad.

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#GiveThanks Day #5: I am Grateful for Christmas Picture Books!

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After blogging yesterday about Thanksgiving picture books, along with my other favorites, I decided to do a separate post today about Christmas picture books. They really do deserve a separate post. Christmas picture books abound, which I thank God for. Reading aloud a meaningful Christmas picture book is so fun! After listening to Christmas music and reading the Christmas story in Luke 2, reading Christmas picture books have got to be the third best way to bring in the Christmas spirit. It’s just so much easier than decorating and it doesn’t involve any calories. This is part of my series to share what I’m grateful for to follow President Russell M. Nelson’s invitation.

Imagine my delight when I discovered some “new-to-me” Christmas picture books yesterday when I visited my public library. See the one above and the rest below.

Cover image for Jingle bells : how the holiday classic came to be

Cover image for A Christmas like Helen's

Cover image for One splendid tree

Cover image for We believe in Christmas

Don’t these look luscious? I haven’t read any of them yet so I can’t vouch for them, but they look promising. Here’s my list of tried-and-true favorites, with no Polar Express in the bunch.

Here’s one not on that list, that my husband’s family has enjoyed since he was little, in the 1960s. It’s the book below. Just this past month, he had to hunt high and low to find an original copy. It was so fun to see him show it to me last night after it came in the mail. He bought it from an etsy shop. He pored over the illustrations and smiled, saying, “Richard Scarry really knocked it out of the park when he did this book.” His family has a tradition of reading aloud the poem from this book called Grandfather Monkey.

Hardcover Richard Scarry's the Animals' Merry Christmas Book

In the poem, Mr. Grandfather Monkey dreams of getting yellow gloves for Christmas. So DH’s mom always has a pair of yellow gloves on her Christmas tree, ready for the holiday ritual of the family Christmas party reading of the poem. Years ago, my DH’s brother bought a copy of an updated version that looks like the one below, including sparkly glitter on the cover, but sadly, it doesn’t have the Grandfather Monkey poem. A few years ago, he gifted a copy of the updated edition to each of his 8 siblings for Christmas. Many of the poems and stories contained are the same, but we have missed having a copy of the poem in each of our homes. My mother-in-law has been the only one with the poem. Each of the siblings can say it by heart. It’s definitely delightful! Someone else blogged about it over here. So that is a second witness of its charm.

Hardcover The Animals' Merry Christmas Book

It looks like amazon and Target each have a version for sale. I’m not sure if they are true “original editions.” I highly recommend you get the original so you can have the Grandfather Monkey poem. An added bonus is that the original book has a full 3-D pop-out Santa Claus in a chimney in the very front of the book!

Anyway, here are few more of my favorites from my original list, but you really must go check it out over here to get the full list.

Not really a picture book, as it’s a compilation of Christmas stories from the Little House books. It does have the lovely illustrations from the original books, just not on every page like true picture books.

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My All Time Favorite Picture Books and #GiveThanks Day#4: I Am Thankful for Picture Books and the Public Library!

Paperback It's Thanksgiving! Book

Today, as I continue President Russell M. Nelson’s challenge to give thanks, I am thankful for picture books, and the public library. I wouldn’t be able to access all these picture books without it. I am actually thankful every day for this combo, and just writing out the thanks today.

Picture books have been a companion for me practically my whole life. at least as long as I can remember. The one below is a particular one I remember my mom reading to me when I was five or six.

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Picture books are such a surefire way to make me smile. They make my heart skip some beats as I contemplate the delight I will either get from reading a new one, or reliving the joy of an old one.

I read the Jack Prelutsky one at the top of this post to help ease into the day this morning. It was perfect to clear out the groggy cobwebs of the brain. My little guy snuggled on the living room couch while I read it to help us wake up and get ready to tackle the jobs of the day.

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I’ll start with sharing with some of my favorite Thanksgiving picture books, in celebration of this wonderful week and month. I do love sharing my and my daughter’s birthday month with the amazing holiday of Thanksgiving :-), even though the month of November outside of Thanksgiving and birthdays can be dreary.

Then I’ll share my some of my all-time favorites for year-round.

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Now, some of my favorites for year-round. I particularly love picture book bios, like the one below. You can find more of my picture book bio recommendations over here.

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I’m sure I’ll think of more after I leave this post. So check back often, as I will be updating this list. I can’t get enough of them! Happy picture book reading everyone!

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#Givethanks Day #3: I Am Grateful to God for His Creations

I give thanks today for nature, the creations of my Creator, Jesus Christ.

“And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.”

“For if there be ano Christ there be no God; and if there be no God we are not, for there could have been no bcreation. But there is a God, and che is Christ, and he cometh in the fulness of his own time.” 2 Nephi 11:7

If I ever feel lost, I know that I get help from prayer. I also know that time spent serving others or time alone, basking in nature, reminds me that there is a God, there is a Savior, Jesus Christ, and that He loves me.

We did get snow in Arizona!

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#GiveThanks Day #2: I’m Grateful for My Family

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Today as I follow the prophet President Nelson’s invitation to #givethanks, I am grateful for my family. I’ll mention my daughter first, since it’s her birthday today. I’m so grateful for her. She’s 25 and I’m 50! This is the only year when she will be half my age.

She was my first natural childbirth, and my first daughter, after her older brother. I’m so grateful for all the light, life, and love she has brought into my life. I have learned a lot from her unselfishness, her organization, her focus, and her willingness to serve others. I’m so grateful to Heavenly Father for blessing me with this daughter, 25 years ago!

She graduated from college, got married, and has a baby of her own, with another boy on the way. Yay! We FaceTimed this morning to sing happy birthday to her and talk. It’s so fun to hear her little guy talking and recognizing me, I think, :-). She lives far away so we don’t see them in person often. We did get to enjoy them for Christmas last year. So wonderful! She and her amazing husband just bought their first home and are settling in before the new baby comes.

Playing football on Christmas Day in Arizona

I took a Bradley childbirth prep class when I was pregnant with her. Then I started going to La Leche League meetings, and that introduced me to a whole new world, of ideas and friends, who I still keep in touch with today. Some of them came with me on my recent birthday retreat. I view her birth as a watershed time in my life.

I’m also so grateful for all of my other children, my son-in-law and grandson. All of my sacrifices to nurture my family have been so worth it. They bring so much joy to my life. I thank God so much for my family!

I can’t forget my family of origin. I have four siblings and two dear parents. I’m so grateful to God for these wonderful people. On top of that, each of my siblings married someone wonderful and gave me great nieces and nephews. So I thank God for my extended family as well. Oh, and also my husband’s family and their spouses. And my ancestors. It just never ends. That’s a very good thing, and it’s because of God that it’s that way. 🙂 As my dear son-in-law says, “God wants us to collect families.”

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#Givethanks Day #1: I’m Grateful for My Delights of Autumn in Utah 2020

Before vivid autumn 2020 in Utah slips away into faded drab end-of-November, I just have to share my delights of the time. This is my first fall here in five years so I am reveling in the season after moving back from southeast AZ. This morning, I watched President Nelson’s invitation and message to give thanks every day for the next seven days on social media. So here’s my Day #1 of #givethanks.

I wonder if there’s significance in the prophet choosing to give his message on the 20th day of a month in 2020, at 11 AM, with an 11 minute message? Hmmm…

Number the Stars Musical. We attended this after one of my longtime friends, KeeNan, said that her daughters were in it, as part of their homeschool community. Oh how I have missed homeschoolers’ plays while in rural AZ, when they were only once a year in my group/commonwealth/”liber community.” Now that I’m back in Utah I am in the land of numerous homeschool groups and plays. I invited my mother-in-law, knowing how hungry she was for an outing after being cooped up in the lockdown at her retirement center. So we drove the 90 minutes to see it, north of where we lived and homeschooled our older children, for 11 years, in Layton UT. The drive was SOOOOO worth it. We were richly rewarded with such a beautiful evening of wonderful acting, dancing, and singing. Those youth just shone with the light of Christ. It was put on by this group here and I think the script was the same as the one in the video below. I remember well when the girl who played the star of the show was born, as I’m friends with her mom. We were part of a “Moms as Mentors” group that met weekly to discuss TJEd principles. We were pregnant at the same time and gave birth, each with a daughter, within a week of each other. It was fun to see this young woman, 14 years later, so beautiful and articulate and practically all grown up.

Walks in my neighborhood. Probably the biggest disadvantage of fall in AZ is that the beautiful autumn colors aren’t very vibrant and don’t last long. It’s hard to find the bright red. The reds, yellows and oranges don’t last long before they fall off. So I’ve enjoyed seeing all the trees turn and stay neon colors in my neighborhood when I go on walks.

THM skinny chocolate in Greek yogurt and pumpkin pie spice

I learned about this idea from my friend Tammi, who does the YouTube Channel, “Keto in the Chaos.”

Here’s her official recipe for Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt:

1 c 0% plain Greek yogurt (Celestia’s note: I use half full fat Greek yogurt, because it’s so much more deliciously creamy, and half 0%)

1oz pumpkin puree

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 squirt liquid stevia

Pumpkin pie spice to taste

Top with Sugar free whip cream

I eat two bowls of this a day (minus the whipped cream), I love it so much! But I also add chocolate. I do a tablespoon or two of pumpkin puree in my Greek yogurt, add 1 or 2 squares of my version of Trim Healthy Mama skinny chocolate, pumpkin pie spice and stevia (use your own sweetener of choice). Dig in! The photo above shows squares and no chocolate “dust,” the dregs of the jar where I store my chocolate, and the photo below shows another serving with the dust. So yummy!

BBC’s 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice, all 6 episodes, whew!

Over the years I thought I had seen this whole thing. Turns out, that was just my wishful, addled, and overactive imagination, LOL. I’ve read the book, listened to the book on audio, heard girlfriends, sister and sis-in-law talk about the BBC version, read about people’s raving reviews on blogs, as well as debates about which version is best (BBC vs. Keira Knightley version, which I have seen) and watched parts for date night. Combine that with all of my mommy brain loss and fog from old age, homeschooling seven children and moving occasionally. I got sooo confused and deluded.

I finally watched MOST of all the whole thing at my recent birthday retreat with some girlfriends. While nodding off during Episode 5, close to midnight Saturday, I had to say I would wait for the last episode after I got home. I’m watching it tomorrow! So delightful!

But why does Lizzy/Jennifer Ehle get to be the only Bennet sister who gets to wear lipstick? And why does the actress who plays Jane look so, stupefied, or dare I say, moon-faced sometimes? After watching it, I have to admit I want to get a bonnet, smile radiantly indulgent at everyone, put on a high-waisted dress and go visiting all day, playing whist while I flirt with wit. Minus all the heaving bosoms.

I’m finally starting to understand why best-selling author Shannon Hale has crushed on Colin Firth for years. Before watching, I didn’t think he was all that great-looking, but as the series progressed, his broodingness grew handsome on me. He kind of reminds me of Maurice Harker.

The Lost Family by Libby Copeland. I read this with my friend Michelle because she recently had her DNA tested, knowing that she was adopted at birth. In September, I saw a poster at my local library saying that the library was hosting a “meet the author” night over zoom to discuss the book and ask her questions. So Michelle and I attended the zoom night. It’s a great book, one that I indulged in late at night and in the morning, climbing back into bed after scripture reading, to snuggle under covers (my youngest is 11 so I can do that) when I just had to find out what would happen next. It did get a bit redundant with the author repeating the theme of “What information should we keep private?/Are these DNA testing companies selling too much of our data?” to the point of ad nauseum but overall it was a great page-turner. I did sometimes skip the technical, non-story parts to get back to the cliff-hanger story and the other stories within the story.

The Lost Family: How DNA Testing Is Upending Who We Are

Encyclopedia Brown. It’s become a nightly ritual to read this with my little guy, my youngest boy, every night. A chapter or two. The author wrote so many volumes that it will take us till he goes off to college to get through them all. It’s always fun when I can easily crack the case! And maddening when I feel dumb after not solving.

See the source image

I do chalk up most failed nights to the fact that we are reading at 10:23 PM sometimes and are sleepy. I’ve given up on having early bedtimes! I’ve never been good about it and with child #7, I’ve given up. It’s just hard these days when I have college-attending kids dropping in at any time, even after I go to bed. I hear footsteps as I’m lying in bed and get scared half out of my wits thinking it’s a robber until I realize it’s one of my sons, come to fetch laundry or grab food. Anyway, I feel delighted when I come across chapters I remember reading and solving as a girl and when I hear my visiting 19 and 22 year old sons say they remember some of the solutions. Admittedly, some of the cases’ solutions involve prior knowledge that the reader might not have, but usually all the clues are embedded in the story and require general knowledge.

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Picture book bios. We revisited the above book, which I found a few years ago, and then scouted it out this fall at my new library. I love that it’s a true story about two brothers! It also involves following your mission. Every week when I go to the best children’s library on earth, I head to the 921+ section to find picture book bios. Here’s my list here. They are my favorite type of picture books. (Wordless books are my least favorite. Ugh. ) I’m going to keep adding it to it as I find more.

A Simple Commonwealth School (a type of homeschool group)

It’s been so nice to be part of a commonwealth that is a bit more simple than all the other ones I’ve attended for 14 years in three different cities. In this one, it’s so simple: one class in the morning for everyone, according to their learning season, then lunch, and then the moms’ class after lunch while the kiddos play. Boom, we’re done! That’s our commonwealth day. Then I just get to drive 5 minutes back home. I’m crying tears of joy after driving 90 minutes one way to do a commonwealth, which we did the past three years.

See the source image

Berry picking. I’ve always wanted to pick berries ever since reading Blueberries for Sal with my olders when they were little. My sister in Maine has tons of pictures of picking strawberries there that always look so idyllic. My dream finally came true when my friend Becky told me about this berry patch in Mapleton UT.

So when I found out that the theme for the month of our commonwealth for September was “hard work” I thought, “Ooh, let’s take the boys berry picking to that place Becky told me about!” My girlfriend Katie and I mentor a boys’ “love of learning,” ages 9-11 class. Off we went. It was truly magical. So much so we went there for two weeks’ worth of classes. It was so worth it to talk to the farmer and take a tour of the homestead.

Meeting the Candy Bomber. God is indeed in the details of my life. Out of all the places I picked to live in Utah, God landed me in a place where I could end up meeting the Candy Bomber. I can only chalk that up to God’s omniscience and loving kindness.

Apple crisp. Apple crisp is just so much easier than apple pie and tastes pretty much the same. I had fun serving this to my BYU-attending son and some friends he brought over one wonderful September Sunday night after the Face to Face broadcast in September for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Sweaters. Yay! With cooler weather coming in September, here in Utah, I can wear sweaters sooner than in AZ! Like the adorable sweater below I found while thrifting.

Thrifting. I’ve blogged already about how much I love thrifting. Here on the Wasatch Front, I am in thrifting heaven! I can drive 20 minutes or less to at least 4 thrift stores, whereas before, in AZ, that drive only took me to one. So far this fall I’ve found the following: a marriage kit by the Gottmans, Can You Beat Ken? trivia board game, black winter boots to replace my old ones where the sole of the heel had fallen off, a pretty black skirt with a slightly flaired hemline to fit my new size after losing 40 lbs (this link here explains how I did it), soft gray ankle boots for only $4, brand new area rugs, worth $44 each with the department store tag still on, but on sale for $10, and like new black and white Vans for my little guy for only $4. Plus the cute outfit above. Sweet!

My birthday retreat in the mountains with friends. You can read about that here. So fun!

I agree with the prophet in his video message earlier in this post. “Counting blessings is far better than recounting our problems.” It’s so true! When you feel tempted to complain, say something positive, involving gratitude instead. You’ll see it attracts more positive things into your life. Thank you President Nelson for inspiring us!

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