A Thanksgiving Scripture Study Program

Today I came across Two Weeks of Thanksgiving Scripture Study at Chicken Scratch N Sniff. I browsed through a few of the reading outlines and I really like the content. Each day’s study session includes a song, scriptures or General Conference talks to read, a link to a short movie to watch, discussion questions, and children’s activity ideas. I think this program is just what I need right now to help inspire an attitude of gratitude in my life.Gratitude+is+the+noblest+of+virtues-+Love+this+quote!

I am planning to do the reading assignments personally on my own, and then share the highlights and video clips with my family in the evening. I am a few days behind, but should be able to catch up and finish the readings by the end of November.

The author has the whole program available for purchase here, or you can just go back each day to find the day’s assignment here (which is what I plan to do). Would you like to join me?

Today I read about The Ten Lepers, and then one of my favorite talks by President Monson, Finding Joy in the Journey. One of my favorite quotes that I have hanging in a prominent place in my home is “what is most important almost always involves the people around us”.  I also thought these words were profound: “If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues.”


Thanksgiving books to read in November

In November we like to read books about thankfulness and thanksgiving. Here is what is on our bookshelf this year:

The Thankful Book by Todd Parr

In November by Cynthia Rylant

The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Greene

It’s Thanksgiving by Jack Prelutsky

Thanksgiving at the Tappletons by Eileen Spinelli

‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey

10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston


October Traditions

October is a month that starts to get a little busy with activities. This month we had a birthday and a baptism in our family, which made it extra special. Some of the annual fall activities this month included:

General Conference Weekend

The Bat Fest

A visit to the Pumpkin Patch

Ward Fall Festival/Trunk or Treat

Pumpking carving

Boo at the Zoo

Trick or Treating in the neighborhood

This year I was asked to come up with a game to play at our Ward Fall Festival. We went for ghost bowling: gather 10 soda bottles (raid your neighbors recycling bins if necessary), spray paint them white, draw a ghost face with a sharpie, then set up and bowl with a basketball with with a pumpkin face added on for fun.

Each year on Halloween we enjoy a bit of a spooky menu: wrapped mummies (hot dogs wrapped in crescent roll strips and baked) and brains (jello formed in a brain mold). This year for the school class parties I sent these cute witch brooms (string cheese and pretzels). Unfortunately, the healthy snack couldn’t compete with all the cupcakes and cookies and treats that were offered, and most of the snack made its way back home.

And as usual, we read our favorite Halloween books to put us in the mood for spooky, pumpkin fun!

Books to Read in the Fall (mostly about leaves)

There are lots of nice things about the fall season, but the changing leaves are my favorite. Unfortunately, we don’t really see the leaves change color much in Florida (so instead I remember the year we lived in North Carolina and enjoyed the gorgeous colors of that beautiful fall). But even so, we can always read books about fall!

Leaves by David Ezra Stein: love this book by a favorite author

Fall Mixed Up by Bob Raczka

Leaves Fall Down by Lisa Bullard

Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber

The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger

Leaf Man by Lois Ehler

The Best Fall of All by Laura Godwin (Ready-to-Read): This isn’t necessarily a book we need to read every year, but as a beginner reader book this is a pick for my emerging five-year-old reader.

Do you have a favorite book to read in the fall?

Back to School: Traditions and Plans

The start of a new school year is an exciting time. This year I have a 5th grader, a 2nd grader, and a kindergartener (plus a sweet baby at home). We have already been reading Back to School books, but here are my plans to make the first day of school a special occasion.

Back to School Feast (Sunday Night Dinner)


  • Nice tablecloth and silver set
  • Centerpiece: Mason jars filled with new pencils and/or colorful magnetic letters
  • Chalkboard placemats (black paper as shown here)


Introduce ABCs and 123s for the school year

ABCs to remember each day

Always try your best and learn everyday.

Be kind and helpful.

Choose happiness.

After School 1-2-3 (inspired by this post)

1) Have a Snack

2) Complete your daily list and enjoy some free time

3) Share 3-4 things about your day at dinnertime: What did you learn today? What good did you do for someone today? What did you struggle with today? What was your favorite thing about today?

Father’s Blessings from Dad

Back to School Breakfast

Recording Memories

Books for Back to School

School starts for us in just over a week, so we are reading the following books to put us in the mood!

I Don’t Want to go to School by Stephanie Blake

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneburg

Mondays at Monster School by Ruth Louise Symes

Mr. President Goes to School by Rick Walton

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes by Eric Litwin

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School by Davide Cali

It’s hard to believe my little boy Zach is starting kindergarten! We are reading a few books that are especially focused on kindergarten, to help ease the transition.

Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? by Audrey Veronica

The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing

Kindergarten Diary by Antoinette Portis

Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! by Nancy Carlson

On the Way to Kindergarten by Virginia Kroll

Kindergarten Countdown by Anna Jane Hays

Kindergarten Rocks by Katie Davis

If you are looking for more book ideas, check out 31 Books to Read About School.

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.

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?

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.

Patriotic Books to Read in July

July is the perfect month to learn more about our country and instill a sense of patriotism in our family. Here are the patriotic books we are reading this month:

Guthrie-ThisLandThis Land is Your Land. Words and music by Woody Guthrie, paintings by Kathy Jakobsen.

51m0WtKcacL._SX368_BO1,204,203,200_America the Beautiful by Katherine Bates (author) and Wendell Minor (illustrator)

61x4LRgcM-L._SX371_BO1,204,203,200_How to Bake an American Pie by Karma Wilson

51kpz8VdldL._SX432_BO1,204,203,200_How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A. by Marjorie Priceman

619EWTAHMVL._SX407_BO1,204,203,200_We the Kids by David Catrow

61ptS0QqcBL._SY385_BO1,204,203,200_The Flag We Love by Pam Munoz Ryan

red white and boomRed, White, and Boom by Lee Wardlaw