Project Complete: Create a printed memory book for our first ten years of marriage

This month I am happy to cross off another project from my big list: Create a printed family photo book for our first ten years of marriage.

I have been debating for years how to best organize our family memories. I have photo albums from the first two years of our marriage, and a photo album/scrapbook for our wedding. I have family emails that serve as our written journal (which haven’t been printed since 2005, but they are saved on the computer–that’s a project for another day). I also update our family blog regularly with photos of family events and activities. My children love to get on the computer and look back through family photos and videos, but I wanted to have a book that they could hold in their hands to look at.

Last summer I was inspired by a book that my sister-in-law Eliza had created. She used an online publishing company (like Shutterfly or My Publisher) to create a hardbound printed book of their family photos for the first ten years of their marriage. It looked great, and I realized that format was just what I was looking for.

So in January I started going back through our photos and organizing them into a photobook. My plan was to complete the book before Baby#4 arrived in April, but a large belly and swollen feet eventually made it too difficult to sit and work at my computer, so the project got put on hold. With the motivation of a coupon for half off photo books at Shutterfly, I finally finished the book in July!

My book covers the first ten years our marriage. Since I already have a wedding scrapbook and photo albums from the first years of our marriage, I didn’t bother to overlap. Our engagement photo on the front cover, my favorite wedding photo for the inside title page, and a two-page spread covering 2002-2004.

After that each year got a two-page spread. That forced me to limit myself and just pick the very best photos and memories of the year. The years that we travelled to Utah and Disneyworld for family vacations got an extra two-page spread.

At the end of the book, each child got one page to show their growth over the years.

I am really happy with how the book turned out, and we have all enjoyed looking at it. There were lots of choices for page layouts, so each page is varied and interesting. This book will be a family treasure for us, and I have a few years before I need to make the next one!

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Making the Sabbath a Delight: Links and Resources

If you have been paying attention to, then you have probably noticed a renewed emphasis on the Sabbath day. It began with Elder Nelson’s talk in the April 2015 General Conference, and there have been a number of articles shared since then. I am preparing a lesson for my Relief Society on the topic, and here are some of the resources I have gathered so far.

Elder Russell M. Nelson, “The Sabbath is a Delight”. April 2015 General Conference. (and my FHE Lesson based on his talk).

Elder L. Tom Perry, “The Sabbath and the Sacrament”. April 2011 General Conference.

“Church Leaders Call for Better Observance of Sabbath Day”. Mormon Newsroom.

Neill F. Marriott, “Are You Ready for What the Sabbath offers?” Church News.

E. Jeffrey Hill, “5 Ways to Celebrate the Sabbath as a Family”. Church News.

Prophetic Teachings: Sabbath Day: includes links to words of Brigham Young, John Taylor, Joseph F. Smith, and Spencer W. Kimball

Sabbath Day Observance: for LDS youth

The Sabbath Day: a song printed in the November 2004 Friend magazine.

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More Pioneer Day Activities and Links

I found a few more resources to help our family celebrate Pioneer Day that I wanted to make note of.

Edible Pioneer Wagons: We made these for an afternoon snack on July 24th. Our version involved granola bars, life savers, frosting, jumbo marshmallows, twizzlers, animal crackers, and any other candy nabbed from our candy stash to use as decorations. It was a fun activity/snack, and I was happy to get rid of candy that has been sitting in the pantry for more than a few months.

Map of the Pioneer Trek: I showed my children this map of the pioneer trek to give them an idea of the travel involved.

Pioneer Clipart: This site has great pioneer images that can be used to design and color a pioneer scene. This will make a great Sunday morning activity for my children.

I Am a Pioneer: great video clip from Family Search.

Pioneer Ancestors: Family Search has made it possible to view your pioneer ancestors in an easy to read list. You can see which company they traveled in, view your relationship to that person, and in some cases read stories of the journey. The list is by no means all-inclusive, but it is still interesting. I found the diary of Lorenzo Dow Young (my 4th read grandfather, younger brother to the prophet Brigham Young), and thought the following was especially interesting:

Friday morning found a broken exeltree in one of the wagons put in another and started at ten oclock[.] drove 4 milds along the river and found no feed[.] th plains are lined with bufalow[.] I hav no dout but I hav seen to day at one sight more than 2 two thousand at one glance of the eye[.] Porter Rockwell with 2 others went back and found Br Bs glass[.] we camped about 4 o clock in a beautful place found some grass for our teams[.] the bufalow are so tame that we are troubled to keep them a way from ourr catle[.] we had to stop our teams once to let them pas[.] Hariet [Harriet Young] has not injoyed the day[.] she has bin verry sick with the teeth ache[.] I laid hans on her when we stoped and she got beter and the Brotherin all seem in good sperits[.] it has bin a day long to be remembered on the acount of the romantick seens [scenes] that has transpired[.] a syoung Buflow caf came in to cam[p] which seemed determined to stay with us[.]

[July 24] this day we arrived in the valley of the great Salt Lake[.] my feelings were such as I cannot describe[.] every thing looked gloomy and I felt heart sick.

Further Reading

President Thomas S. Monson, “The World Needs Pioneers Today.” July 2013 Ensign.

President Gordon B. Hinckley, “True to the Faith”. April 1997 General Conference.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Following the Pioneers”. October 1997 General Conference.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Faith of our Fathers”. April 1996 General Conference.

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Traditions and plans for Pioneer Day

This coming week is July 24th, otherwise known as Pioneer Day. I grew up in a small town in southern Alberta, an area which was settled by Mormon pioneers. Growing up we would usually have some type of ward activity (often a potluck dinner and games at a park) to celebrate the occasion. My husband and I both have a lot of pioneer ancestors and it is important to us that we pass on that heritage to our children. So we traditionally do a few things each July to mark the occasion.

We always enjoy watching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Pioneer Day Concert. The 2015 concert was called Music for a Summer Evening and featured special guest Laura Osnes. We watched the recorded concert on YouTube this past Sunday morning before church.

At least one Family Home Evening lesson in July has a pioneer theme. In 2010 we did Pioneers, Seagulls and Crickets, and Faith and in 2011 it was Faith of the Pioneers. We usually have homemade ice-cream for our treat.

For dinner on the 24th we serve Fried Bread. I know it isn’t an authentic pioneer meal, but that is our tradition! We like ours with powdered sugar or honey butter on top.

The church has produced a few Mormon Messages that are great to share at this time of year, and we also like watching Legacy.  This year we plan to watch 17 Miracles (directed by T.C. Christensen) as a Friday Family Movie Night on Pioneer Day.

Video Links

  • Faith of Our Fathers: President Uchtdorf discusses the phrase “Faith of Their Fathers” and talks about pioneers of the Church. (1:41)
  • Reviewing the Lessons of the Past: Are you preparing for your future? Journey with us as Elder Perry teaches us how to prepare.
  • Pioneers: Dallin H. Oaks, Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, pays tribute to modern-day pioneers who faithfully follow Jesus Christ. (2:27)

How do you celebrate Pioneer Day?

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Author Favorite: David Ezra Stein

Interrupting-Chicken-Book-CoverOne of our new favorite picture book author/illustrator is David Ezra Stein. The first book of his that we read was Interrupting Chicken, which was a 2011 Caldecott Honor Book. We loved it so much it has been added to our permanent family library.
Pouch_bookWe later read Pouch and Leaves, and found them to be equally charming.leaves

Ol’ Mama Squirrel is great fun.9780399256721_large_Ol_Mama_Squirrel

This week we read Dinosaur Kisses, and now dinosaur kisses have been added to our bedtime routine (goodnight kiss, butterfly kiss, dinosaur kiss).dinosaurkissescover

David Ezra Stein is definitely an author we will keep our eye on, and we look forward to reading more of his books!

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Follow the Living Prophet (Teachings of President Benson)

“Learn to keep your eye on the prophet. He is the Lord’s mouthpiece and the only man who can speak for the Lord today. Let his inspired counsel take precedence. Let his inspired words be a basis for evaluating the counsel of all lesser authorities. Then live close to the Spirit so you may know the truth of all things.”

The most important prophet, so far as we are concerned, is the one who is living in our day and age. This is the prophet who has today’s instructions from God to us. God’s revelation to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the ark. Every generation has need of the ancient scripture, plus the current scripture from the living prophet. Therefore, the most crucial reading and pondering that you should do is of the latest inspired words from the Lord’s mouthpiece. That is why it is essential that you have access to and carefully read his words. …”

“As members of the Church we have some close quarters to pass through if we are going to get home safely. We will be given a chance to choose between conflicting counsel given by some. That’s why we must learn—and the sooner we learn, the better—to keep our eye on the Prophet, the President of the Church”

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson. Chapter 11.

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Traditions for a Fourth of July

In our family, the Fourth of July means hamburgers and fireworks. Sometimes we celebrate with friends, last year we were blessed to be in Utah and celebrate with extended family, and sometimes it is just us. No matter where we are, the dinner menu usually involves the following:

  • hamburgers/hot dogs
  • potato salad
  • watermelon
  • Red, White, and Blue Cake: angel food cake with whipped cream and strawberries and blueberries on top

This year my husband surprised us with bottles of IBC Root Beer, which added a tasty treat.

Since our children are still young, we haven’t yet felt the desire to brave the crowds and stay out late for the community sponsored fireworks displays. So my husband is happy to oblige us by setting off our own fireworks show in the street in front of our home. The kids love the pop-its and sparklers, and then we settle in for our personal pyrotechnic display.IMG_1506

This year our ward hosted a pancake breakfast, complete with face painting, a children’s bike parade and stick pulling. There was a flag raising ceremony and Pledge of Allegiance to start things off, which put us all in a patriotic mood. It was a great way to start the day by socializing with our ward friends. Hopefully that event will be a tradition that continues!

In the days leading up to the holiday we also read some patriotic books.

We are thankful for this country that we live in and the freedoms that are ours.

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Messages from President Monson

My 5-year old son taught our FHE lesson last week. He wanted to “put the prophets in order”, which means that we lay out our pictures of the First Presidency and  Twelve Apostles and say the names and put them in their correct order of seniority. (This has been a regular activity at our house, and a good way to learn their names and faces). Then he chose a Mormon Message video from President Monson for us to watch.

One of my goals for the summer is to seize opportunities for sharing gospel messages with my children daily. I have realized that I have a bit of a captive audience during breakfast time, so I often use that time to review scripture verses. This week we watched some of the online videos of messages from President Monson, and reviewed some of his recent conference addresses.

What Matters Most

Dare to Stand Alone

Have I Done any Good in the World Today? along with this music video of the song by Alex Boye and Carmen Rasmusen

Help Someone Today

Sunday morning we watched the video clips about the life of President Monson, available through the Gospel Library app on the iPad. President Monson is truly a remarkable example of a man who follows in the footsteps of the Savior and listens to and obeys the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Favorite Recent Quotes

October 2008: “What is most important almost always involves the people around us.”

April 2015: “The blessings of the temple are priceless.”

October 2014: Ponder the path of thy feet. “Walking where Jesus walked is less important than walking as He walked.”

April 2014: “Love is the very essence of the gospel, and Jesus Christ is our Exemplar.” “Love should be the very heart of family life.”


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Reading the Caldecott books

When the Ant Bug was younger, I set a goal to read all of the Caldecott Medal winning books. We read a few each month and we finished the list in February of 2010. You can see my list of favorites here. Now it is five years later, and this summer we are reading the recent winners and reviewing our favorites.

fc257b9993a6718aa358ac9be02156002015: The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat (Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.)

Locomotive_Floca2014: Locomotive by Brian Floca (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing)

Klassen_This_Is_Not_My_Hat_cover2013: This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press)

Chris_Raschka_-_A_Ball_for_Daisy.jpeg2012: A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka (Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.)

A_Sick_Day_for_Amos_McGee2011: A Sick Day for Amos McGee, illustrated by Erin E. Stead, written by Philip C. Stead (Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)

The_Lion_and_the_Mouse_front2010: The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney (Little, Brown and Company)

All of the winners were enjoyable, with great illustrations, of course. We have read and enjoyed A Sick Day for Amos McGee a few times in the past, and I think The Adventures of Beekle will make it on our re-read favorites list.

What is your favorite Caldecott Medal winning book?

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Flooding the Earth and Our Lives with the Book of Mormon (Teachings of President Benson)

“It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called “the words of life” (D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance.

Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise, he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life. There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold on the iron rod, and one who [is] not.”

“I have a vision of flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon”.

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson. Chapter 10.

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