Trip to Utah Oct. 2019

So it’s past midnight and I’m driving home (that is, riding in a car while someone else is driving, I promise I’m being safe!) from Utah after being there for not even all of two days. A sweet time was had by all. My band of travelers includes my 15-year-old, a friend, her sixteen year-old-daughter, and another 15-year-old.

I packed a lot into this whirlwind trip: helping at the youth event I brought the youth for, visiting with my out-of-nest adult sons. visiting with my parents and mother in law, and going to the temple with one of my sons.

I got a serendipitous discovery from an odd situation. Serendipity also emerged in the form of a visit with my brother and his wife, who live in Virginia, as well as some dear homeschool friends. It was a homecoming of sorts.

Here are some images from the trip. God is so good to help create this trip for us! My heart is full! My son said he had the time of his life. I’m so glad I sacrificed to make the trek. It was a mini Hero’s Journey, complete with tests, traps, and trials.

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Life is an Epic Hero Journey

This was one of my favorite talks from the last General Conference. Elder Uchtdorf describes the Hero Journey on the Covenant Path, using The Hobbit as an example. So cool!

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Out of the Best Books: Classics We Enjoyed for August-September 2019

One of the reasons I love homeschooling so much is that it gives us an excuse to read so many classics. Here are the ones for August and September. As much as I loathe starting school in August, it does feel great to look back and say, hey, look at all these cool books we’ve read so far!

The two older children at home read Little Men for their Georgics scholar class. I read this book a while ago, actually, I don’t remember if I ever finished it, but I don’t remember what the “georgics” aspect of it is. Maybe the fact that Jo and her husband are entrepreneurs in owning a boarding school?



Strawberry Girl is truly one of the best books ever! You can read my review here. My two practice scholars read it for their Georgics Scholar Project.



Because we liked Strawberry Girl so much I found a set of books by the same author on scribd. You can access them by going to the bottom of my Strawberry Girl post and clicking the scribd link.



The books above and below were for the Pyramid Scholar Project. 






These three books, the one above and two below, were for my ten-year-old’s Mastering Knighthood class. I’m getting him to the point where he reads the monthly books on his own without me reading aloud every single word. Although I do plan on keeping the reading aloud tradition going more than I did for the out of nest kids. I read aloud parts of Wheel on the School in the car on the way home from northern AZ to the whole family. It made that long trip a lot more bearable.









For when we drive to our homeschool group every Thursday, 90 minutes each way. We listen to the charming Audible version with Rachel McAdams. Don’t tell, but I’ve even caught the 15 year old boy smiling while listening.



This is for Georgics too, because the 15 year old boy needs more to read. He’s reading ahead and then we play it on during dishes clean up when I need a break from reading aloud. I’m so excited to see that it’s the first in a trilogy. I didn’t know that until just recently! I remember one of my grade school teachers reading it aloud to us. Despite the implausibility of the plot, I like it.


We listen to Saints on the way home from seminary every weekday. I finished it earlier this year after starting it last fall. Usually, we get at least one chapter in, sometimes two. I’ve decided I’m going to listen to it, or one of the subsequent volumes, every fall and then discuss with it my adult children and close friends on All Saints Day every year.


After hearing my friends Olivia and Gayle rave about this one, we are listening to it on every weekday on the drive to football practice in the afternoon.


We are on the home stretch for the one above. I’ve been reading it aloud since last spring, after finishing the World War I volume. It was for my two practice scholar’s Hero Project class. Can I get an amen and hallelujah that we are almost done? I am grateful that the author took the time to write these books, as this perspective is never found in a textbook.

Classic Stories from the Lives of Our Prophets by [Leon R. Hartshorn]

I read a story of one of the prophets every weekday to the kids from this book.


Linus The Little Yellow Pencil


I just love Linus and Spoon! You can read my reviews here and here.



Now, on to what I’ve been reading just for me, not for the kids:

The one above and below are for the Sword LEMI Scholar Project class about the War for Southern Independence. I made a quiz game for the above book to play in our class. It was so much fun! The book gets rather glorifying of war in the end chapters. I didn’t like that.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s depiction of the Quaker mother Rachel Halliday makes me want to be a mom all over again.



Multipliers was for the parents of our homeschool group to discuss in September. I never finished it, but have good intentions to. It’s on as well in audio.  Gift from the Sea is just as relevant as ever, even though it was written over 50 years ago. That one was for the homeschool moms’ retreat I attended in September. I listened to it on The narrator is Claudette Colbert. Wasn’t she a Hollywood actress in days gone by? Her voice soothes me to sleep, I can’t listen to it when driving long distances.

Gift from the Sea: 50th Anniversary Edition

And because I love to dive deep, the one below is for me to further my knowledge of the War for Southern Independence.




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Tree of Life Picture Book of the Week: Apples to Oregon


Are you ready to read the “greatest adventure in the history of fruit”? Then dig in to this book. I love it because it shows a man pursuing a quest. It’s based on the true story of Henderson Luelling, who left Iowa in 1847 to settle in Oregon. He took 600 trees with him, one wife, and 8 children so he could have fruit orchards in his new paradise. He was fruitful in the ways of children and plants, as his ninth child was born after they moved to Oregon. His brainchild, the Luelling-Meek Nursery got its start in Oregon as well. His first box of apples grown in Oregon sold for $75.  Stories like these show the amazing pioneer heritage of our nation as people weren’t afraid to head to the unknown, facing risks, in order to build a dream. I’m reading this aloud to my two children doing the Georgics Scholar Project this year to encourage them in their dream-building. I hope you enjoy this picture book as much as I do!

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October 2019 General Conference Packet


I watched this week’s “Don’t’ Miss This” episode with Sister Emily and Brother Dave, below, and heard them mention this General Conference packet. You can get it for free here. If you don’t know what General Conference is, it is a semi-annual gathering for all the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It involves hearing revelation from our prophet and counsel from other leaders. It’s been going on ever since the church was founded. Gathering is an important principle of the Church of Jesus Christ. It’s cool that one of the scriptures I read in my Bible study for this week’s Come, Follow Me reading includes the principle of gathering.

Ephesians 1:10 says:

That in the adispensation of the fulness of times he might bgather together in one call things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him…

So General Conference is a foreshadowing of this even greater gathering in Christ, during the Millennium.

It’s so amazing that all over the world, we can gather together through technology and hear the same things. Over 18 years ago, when I was pregnant with child #4, my husband and I were traveling over Conference weekend for his business. We paid a lot of money to get Internet access at the hotel to watch Conference. What a blessing that Internet access is much cheaper these days, wherever you go, and that we can easily watch General Conference using it.



Conference time is a wonderful time to hear new stories from the prophet, apostles, and other leaders. During this time, I’ve used my share of coloring sheets and packets over the years to keep the kids quiet. I love that this packet above is for the whole family, not just for the little children to color. My kids have never really taken to coloring. The boys usually just want to wrestle during reading aloud or Conference when I’ve attempted to get them to color. My hope springs eternal though, and I will be printing this out and presenting this packet to each family member to help them stay focused. I also love that the packet has recipes (albeit not very real foodsy- I will be adapting) and a Family Home Evening lesson.

At the beginning of the video, Emily and Dave share some of their General Conference traditions, like special books to write in and pajamas. I’m sooo not there yet. I have been striving for years now to have some General Conference traditions for our family.  Here are some of the ideas I’ve gathered so far. It’s been hit and miss, but I am not giving up. I love the idea of making it as much fun as Christmas with special decorations, food, and gifts. So far I’ve got the special food, still working on the decorations and gifts.  New pajamas and books seem light years away, but the vision is lovely. Every six months, Conference seems to sneak up on me and I find myself lacking time to prepare all these wonderful things.

At least this time, we are singing about Conference. Every day this week for our homeschool devotional, the younger children and I are singing this song to get ready. It’s by Brad Wilcox and Steven Kapp Perry. Hey, you can even have special music for Conference, just like Christmas!

Here’s one of my favorite General Conference talks of all time by Elder Marcos Aidukaitis. It’s just delightful to hear stories like his during Conference time. What stories will we be basking in this weekend?



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Date Night Movie Review: Little Notes to Heaven


Having fortuitously stumbled upon it, my husband and I watched this sweet movie a few weeks ago for date night.  It’s free, it’s clean, it’s romantic, it’s God-promoting, and it’s original. Sounds great right? But the bad news: the end is sad.

Warning: don’t watch it unless you are ready to cry at the end. I was totally bummed that it had a sorrowful ending. I saw it ending a completely different way. In a way, though, it was positive. If you are wanting a bouncy, happy love story, this is not the one for you. Go find a Hallmark Channel movie. If you want a Christian romance that affirms your faith in God, stay with this. I give it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars, just because the acting is a little stilted and the cinematography isn’t the best. Sometimes it is a bit jerky and unpolished, but since it’s a low-budget indie movie made by twentysomethings, that’s understandable.

If you don’t want to commit to watch it just yet, watch the teaser trailer below.


Then here’s  a short video of the making of the movie.



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Tree of Life Chapter Book of the Week: Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski

I read this book two years ago this fall and fell in love with it. Now, just recently, two of my children read it for their LEMI Georgics Scholar Project Class, for our homeschool group. It is an amazing book! Here’s why:

  • the young female protagonist, Birdie Boyer, has tons of pluck and grit
  • it shows this young girl standing up to bullies
  • the troublesome neighbors show kids how uncool it is to be a squatter or someone with rage issues
  • the reader gets a slice of life of early white settlers of the Florida lake country
  • it is wonderful to see farm life, to see how people worked hard to make their farm prosper
  • it is encouraging to see how farmers deal with drought, heat, and cold spells
  • we see the Christian way the characters treated the mean neighbors I mentioned above who don’t honor property rights
  • the illustrations are charming
  • the conversion of the father of the mean family to Christianity was heartwarming (but perhaps a bit implausible as it happened so fast, but hey, it happened to Saul…)

So go get it, it’s just delightful! My homeschool mama friend listened to it with her kids on Audible as they drove to and from our homeschool group. She said her kids all loved it. My young teens liked it too, even my hard-to-please warrior boy. He normally wouldn’t pick up a pastel book with a girl and strawberries on the cover, but he read it for his homeschool class and enjoyed it.

Have you read Strawberry Girl already and want more of that type of book? You are in luck! The author, Lois Lenski, wrote over a dozen books of that type featuring characters from different regions of the US who lived on farms or ranches, dealing with the natural elements of the area. She actually visited the regions and talked to the local people to get a handle on the language, stories, and culture. I am currently reading aloud one of them,  Texas Tomboy, to my children. My goal is to read aloud the whole series to my young scholars to accompany their Georgics studies.

If you sign up here for a free trial of, the reading app, you can get access to all these lovely books as ebooks. They compose the two collections called American Journeys: Lois Lenski’s Novels of Childhood, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

Vol. 1 involves these titles:

 Indian Captive, Judy’s Journey, Flood Friday, Texas Tomboy, Boom Town BoyCoal Camp Girl, and Mama Hattie’s Girl.

Then Vol. 2 has these ones:

Strawberry Girl, Prairie School, Bayou Suzette, Blue Ridge Billy, Corn-Farm Boy, San Francisco Boy, and To Be a Logger.

These ebooks are in Kindle format on amazon for over $25. Get them as part of your free trial on!


American Journeys Volume One: Lois Lenski's Novels of Childhood


American Journeys Volume Two: Lois Lenski’s Novels of Childhood

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