Countdown to Christmas: Give the Gift of Memorized Poetry

I stumbled across a new LaDawn Jacob video last week! I’m so excited! I devoured it three times already! Now to digest it and actually apply all she teaches. Watch above and be inspired! You can learn more about LaDawn and why I think she is so cool here. Lest you get discouraged, realize she freely admits in the video above that after she got married and had kids, she discovered she wasn’t such a nice person. She got angry, yelled, and swore! So this is hope for all of us, lol! She persisted, however, in doing things that matter with her children like helping them memorize poetry and scriptures.

This Christmas, consider giving a gift of memorized poetry to the people that are hard to buy for, like grandparents, aunts, and uncles. How cool to present a piece of memorized poetry by tiny children like LaDawn’s grandchildren did for her on Mothers’ Day in the video above! You will find the a link to LaDawn’s collections of scriptures and poetry at the same page as the link above, here once again.

I have to say, the little grandson with the eager loud voice makes me think of my own enthusiastic son who is now 19. At age 3 he was the cutest little thing, unabashedly taking center stage and mic with his memorized poems of Sandra Boynton at homeschool productions. He’s not here for Christmas this year because he’s on an LDS mission, so this memory brings tears to my eyes.

I attended a meeting with LaDawn as a speaker for homeschool moms when he was a baby. She influenced my relationship with him and all my children greatly. So thank you LaDawn, your legacy lives on, not just in your posterity, but with mothers for whom you have been a light, leading us to Christ.

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Countdown to Christmas, Gift Idea #1: the Thing Explainer

My technophile firstborn gave this book to his younger siblings for Christmas two years ago. It’s a totally fun book that explains how over 100 things work in simple, nontech language, using the most common 1000 words. The kids didn’t really dive into it right away, so for awhile I would a read a page a day to my youngest, who wasn’t into reading on his own. I learned not to read the whole page, but just enough until I could see he was bored and had had enough. There’s a lot of text on each page, more than enough for a child to be interested in. This is the kind of book that will grow with a child for sure. He or she may not read it all at once, but by the time he/she is an adult hopefully he/she will have read it all and be super smart about techy-stuff. Not only will your kids know how things work, but they will be able to teach others how they work in simple terms. I’ve noticed some of the kids have picked it up on their own lately. It’s only $15.69 through Amazon Prime! It would make a great gift for anybody who likes to learn how things work, especially teens, dads or grandpas. Or just buy it for you and make an excuse that it is for homeschooling! It’s got over 800 reviews on amazon with an average of 4 stars!

Here’s what amazon says about it:

In Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words, things are explained in the style of Up Goer Five, using only drawings and a vocabulary of the 1,000 (or “ten hundred”) most common words. Explore computer buildings (datacenters), the flat rocks we live on (tectonic plates), the things you use to steer a plane (airliner cockpit controls), and the little bags of water you’re made of (cells).

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Countdown to Christmas Story #1: Waiting for Jesus


Here’s a story that introduces a super meaningful tradition that you can implement right away, as long as you already have a Nativity Set. We have a few. The nice porcelain one pictured above was a Christmas gift from my awesome sister-in-law Eve. When my children were super little or not even born, I bought a simple wooden one. That way I didn’t have to worry about anything breaking while they played with it. Then last year at our ward Christmas party each family got a sheet of cute magnetized laminated Nativity figures to cut out. So we’ve got that on the fridge. Then we have a felt set that doubles as an Advent calendar that I have on the front door. As we count down the days to Christmas, Mary and Joseph  move towards the stable. Then on Christmas Day we assemble the whole crew in the stable.

I’m hoping everyday to post a Christmas story that is linked to from my new ebook called the Celestial Guide to Family Devotionals, which will come out soon. Yesterday, I read this story called “Waiting for Jesus” to my kiddos for our devotional and we loved it. The basic idea is that you leave Baby Jesus out of your nativity set until Christmas Day. Then every time you see the empty spot you are reminded that we are waiting for Jesus to come again, just like people of long ago waited for Jesus to be born. What are we doing to show every day that we believe in the prophecies of Jesus, both for His First and Second Comings? Are we being kinder and more loving?

The story, “Waiting for Jesus,” comes from the December 2013 Friend. Here’s the first part:

Katie rummaged through the storage box, carefully looking through the crumpled packing paper. She still couldn’t find what she was looking for.

She put everything back in the box and went to find Mom.

Katie had looked behind the piano, under the couch, even in Thomas’s crib. It was lost. She had to tell Mom.

“Mommy, the baby Jesus is lost!”

Read the rest of the story here. Then go tuck away your Baby Jesus so you can put it in the Nativity Set on Christmas Day. Just remember where you put it! Maybe take a picture with your phone so you don’t forget!

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Countdown to Christmas! Recipe for Roast Turkey that Makes it Moist!

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The Christmas countdown is on! I had a great week after Thanksgiving, last week! I have to say, happiness is being able to go to the temple the day after Black Friday, on a date with my husband, coming home, and seeing all the Thanksgiving decorations gone, with all the Christmas stuff up. That included the tree, fully decked out! Having kids at home who are old enough to help, not break anything, and are motivated to get through Saturday chores with the reward of being able to decorate for Christmas is wonderful! It’s like having little elves! I remember the old days when I did it all myself! Hang in there, young mamas, look forward to the day when the kids do it all! I love this stage!

Our Thanksgiving turkey was so yummy! This was my second year of doing it all by myself and having Thanksgiving with just my husband and most of my kids. I missed out on being with my parents, my firstborn,  some of my sibs, nieces, and nephews, at my parents’ new cabin in the mountains, but this turkey almost made up for it! I hope you plan on making it for Christmas. I used Tom Woods’ wife’s recipe. I didn’t have oranges though, I used lemons, and it still turned out great. I also used butter instead of oil because oil is not supposed to heated at high temperatures, according to cookbook author Rebecca Wood.

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A Thanksgiving Day Family Reunion! Thanksgiving Story #8 “A Catalog of Events”


Happy Thanksgiving everybody! We had a great Thanksgiving Eve bonfire last night, pictured above! I love having a teen son who can build huge fires! I also love having bonfires. So far we’ve done it on Christmas Eve, All Hallow’s Eve, and Thanksgiving Eve! Also when my brother-in-law visited. I love having a fire pit! The picture below shows our mountain view from the fire pit. You can barely see a speck of the moon at the top of the picture below.


So by moonlight and firelight, we ate pie with maple syrup sweetened whip cream. Yum, yum, yum! I cheated on the prep work and bought some pies (you know, the 80/20 rule, where you eat whole food 80% of the time. Sometimes I think, if the kids don’t care and it doesn’t affect their behavior, I will buy the less-than-pure food for them, to save time, true confessions!) I made apple crisp for me. It’s so much easier to make than pie! I couldn’t find my trusty recipe from Diane Hopkins over at so I winged it and it turned out great! Recipe coming soon!

I let the kids do mock sword-fighting (with padded swords) outside by firelight while I gave them a Thanksgiving gift of doing the dishes. Usually they do them. To make the chores fun for me I listened to the lastest Trim Healthy Mama podcast about how to get through the holidays without getting derailed on your diet plans. It was good! I like all the tactics they gave. Then we watched The Mouse on the Mayflower and Monumental. It’s so wonderful to be reminded of how persistent the Pilgrims were, as told in Monumental. So many forces conspired against them. In the documentary, Kirk interviewed an expert on Pilgrim history who described all their setbacks. Here they are:

  • The head of their government in England, King James, was a tyrant who wanted people to only follow his religion, the Church of England. They had to meet in secret to have church meetings
  • They could have have been arrested for reading the Bible in their own language, English.
  • So they go to Holland, for religious freedom. During the first attempt, the captain of the ship betrayed them into the hands of the government, so they had to spend time in jail
  • On the next attempt, however, only the husbands/fathers could go.
  • Then they were caught in a storm while on the boat that lasted two weeks.  The storm abated which allowed the men to finally get to Holland
  • It took a whole year before the wives and children could join them. Then the Pilgrims built a printing press to print pamphlets to teach others about the Bible and Christ. Then authorities from King James came and destroyed the printing press.
  • When the Pilgrims came back to England and then decided to go the New World, their first ship sprang a leak. So they had to come back and get a different ship.

Whew, all that before they even got to Plymouth! That was just the beginning of all their hardships. It is truly amazing that they had the tenacity to press forward. I’m so grateful they did. I am grateful for their example of self-government according to what they felt was best in worshiping God. Perhaps God gave them all those challenges before they got to the New World to prepare them for even more challenges. I don’t think any of those challenges were just coincidences. I look back on my life and see the hand of God in my trials. They weren’t simply coincidences.

Here’s a story that involves so-called coincidences that I know will warm your hearts this Thanksgiving Day. It involves some mixed-up mail, a common surname, long-lost twins, and reunited cousins and siblings. It all happened around November, culminating in a joyous family reunion on Thanksgiving Day! All from a catalog sent to the “wrong” address! God definitely works through mysterious ways, even with catalogs and the postal system! The story is called “A Catalog of Events”, by Janet Kruckenberg. It appeared in the June 1994 Ensign. I have reprinted it below the picture.


(reprinted from the June 1994 Ensign):

When I answered the phone, a man’s voice on the other end of the line asked my name and told me his, saying that a mail order catalog with my name on it had arrived in his mail. He asked if I had ordered the catalog or if I wanted it. I told him I didn’t and that I had no idea why my name was on it. We would have hung up then if the caller hadn’t said something else.


There’s so much more to the story! Please see the rest of the article here.

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Thanksgiving Shows to Watch This Week!

Here are some great Thanksgiving shows to watch this week besides the parade and football. The first is Monumental by Kirk Cameron. You might be able to see all of it on YouTube if you poke around for the parts or you can use Amazon Prime. I didn’t know such a monument to the Pilgrims existed until I watched this!

An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving is loosely based on Louisa May Alcott’s short story. Watch the trailer above. You can rent the full version on YouTube. Read the short story in picture book form to know what the original is like. It’s not nearly as dramatic with an estranged daughter. Your public library probably has a copy and it’s OK to read it after Thanksgiving is over!

Image result for old fashioned thanksgiving picture book

Then we have The Thanksgiving Promise below, a made for TV show from when I was young.

BYUTV has come out with a new Thanksgiving special that will premiere tomorrow on Thanksgiving Day. Here are the details. It will broadcast at 6 PM MT.  Sounds like it’s also for Christmas too.

Of course there’s the classic Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving, over here. Make it a tradition if you haven’t already!

And last but not least The Mouse on the Mayflower, above, a blast from my past. I love the old somewhat cheesy holiday cartoons for kids.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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The Best Turkey Ever from Tom Woods’ Wife Heather

In case you don’t have a way planned for how to do your turkey tomorrow, listen to the above video. It’s an interview from the famous Tom Woods with his wife, Heather. I used it last year and the turkey turned out moist and wonderful! Here’s the printed recipe over here.  You will  never have to endure a dry turkey again! Throw away all your turkey basters! Actually you can use them for removing cream off the top of raw milk. That’s what I do with mine.

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