Friday, March 16, 2018

What I've been Reading Lately: March 2018

I look forward to sharing the books I've read every month. Reading is one of my very favorite things to do.  It's a way for me to both relax and connect with the world around me. I'm always looking for book recommendations! Please share what you've been reading lately in the comments.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I hesitate to call books "important" because that seems like too much pressure. But 'The Hate U Give' feels important to me. I picked it up in an effort to understand what our little Elijah may face someday, as he grows from a darling little black boy into a black man. 
This book covers racism, classism, poverty, and the conflict we're facing over and over again in this country between law enforcement and the people they've promised to protect. I couldn't put it down. I finished the book still wishing I had the answers we need. I don't have any answers. But I do know we need less judgment, and more understanding; less hatred and more concern for every life, on both sides of this issue.

It's a YA book, so there's typical teenager angst/drama mixed in, too. 

(Big, big warning: the language in this book is strong. Lots and lots of swearing. I am often able to glance past that when I read, but if language really bothers you, you should probably steer clear.)

My Antonia by Willa Cather

This was perhaps my favorite read of the month.  It felt like Little House on the Prairie, but for grown-ups.  I loved the tone, loved the characters, and loved how little Antonia's life played out over the years.  A great story, well told.

Redwall by Brian Jacque

The big kids and I have been slowly working our way through this read aloud.  We started it in the fall and set it aside for some Christmas books and read a couple other things before we got back to it. It's a grand adventure story, a battle between good and evil and has sweet, lovable characters. That hits just about every requirement for our family.  We loved it!

Joan of Arc: Warrior Saint by Jay Williams

We've been learning about Joan of Arc in our homeschool and I wanted to dive a little more deeply into her story myself.  This book was a quick read, a great overview. I didn't feel too slogged down by details. I read it in a day.  If you're interested, this is a great documentary we watched about her.

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

Brene Brown has my heart.  Her books are so eye-opening, so down-to-earth and full of applicable examples. I love being able to see how to apply her principles directly into my life and relationships. Braving the Wilderness was powerful.  One particular quote that I loved has been bumping around in my brain since I read it, "People are hard to hate close up.  Move in."  Such truth!  I wish everyone in the world right now could read and really understand that.  Move in.

The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas

I listened to the audiobook and I'd highly recommend reading it that way. This book is about Jesus Christ's life, death and resurrection.  It is written from the perspective of the Roman centurion who crucified Him. Through the book we meet many of the key players from Christ's life: His disciples, those who witnessed His miracles and those who received His miracles.  I really enjoyed this book.  It gave me so much to think about and really brought the stories to life for me.  One complaint I've heard is that the stories are repeated multiple times from different characters.  I can see that now, looking back, but it didn't bother me while I was reading it.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

I'm finding myself more and more drawn to books about people of color, trying to gain an understanding for the trials my Elijah will face someday.  Trevor Noah's story is incredible and he tells it in a funny, engaging, somewhat irreverent voice.  Loved this book.  (Warning: Language)


Mary Poppins

This is one of the very few instances where the movie is better than the book.  Like, MUCH better. The book is just weird.  We've read it before, but re-read it for our family book club this month.  My 9 year old son loved it and begged for more.  Looking forward to showing him the movie! It's been a long time since we've watched it as a family.

Head to Modern Mrs. Darcy for more Quick Lit Reviews.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Jonah and the Whale Paper Play Set (free Printable!)

A couple of weeks ago I overheard a conversation between my 4 year old son, Elijah, and a Primary teacher at church. She asked him what his favorite color was, “Red.” he replied decisively.  
She asked what he wanted to be when he grew up and he immediately responded, “A King and a Dad.”
She then asked what his favorite scripture story was and he looked up at her blankly and said nothing.  I would like to say this hesitation was because he had so many favorite stories that it was difficult for him to narrow down his favorites to just one choice.

My heart sank as I realized he didn’t know how to answer because I hadn’t made teaching him the beautiful stories of the scriptures a priority.  In our homeschool, the Big Kids (ages 13 and 9) and I read scriptures every day and discuss them.  We read scriptures together as family in the evening, we have family home evening lessons about stories from the scriptures. But I have been aiming these reading times and lessons more at our older kids and not at The Littles (ages 4 and 18 months).

I left church that day with a renewed conviction to teach Elijah the miraculous, uplifting stories from the scriptures on a level that he can understand and internalize. He’s a very active boy, so I knew hands-on activities would be best for him.  

That’s where today’s free printable comes in.  I’ve created a paper play set for the story of Jonah and the Whale.  (The perfect scripture story to interest a four year old boy!)

Printed puppets (Download below)
A brad for the whale’s jaw
Popsicle sticks, if desired
Velcro or pieces of flannel, if desired

Cut out the figures.
Laminate, if desired.
Attach the brad so the whale’s mouth opens and closes.
You could attach the popsicle sticks as a handle onto the puppets, but we like them better without.
You could also use velcro or a piece of flannel glued to the back of the puppets to use them on a flannel board, if desired.

Tell the story of Jonah and the Whale (found in Jonah 1-3) either as a Family Home Evening lesson, or part of your family scripture study. Help your child act out the story using the figures from the download. You could even let them play with it on their own or in Sacrament meeting. I hope your kiddos enjoy playing with this set as much as Elijah has!  


I’m excited to make a new paper play set from the Old Testament for you each month for the next little while!  Any requests?

This post first appeared as a guest post on Little LDS Ideas.
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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

LDS Conference Journal for Busy Moms

 LDS General Conference is something that many, many people look forward to every six months. It's definitely a highlight of the year for me.  It's an opportunity to immerse ourselves in a weekend full of uplifting and inspirational messages, the traditions we've established in our families, and revelation from our Heavenly Father.  

I struggle to listen attentively without taking notes, and one of my favorite things is to draw beautiful, colorful sketchnotes like those above (I often share them with you, too!) but in this season of my life, taking detailed notes while I sit quietly and listen to every single word of Conference is just not realistic.  I'm a busy Mom of four.  My two big kids can generally sit quietly the whole time, but not the Littles (as we call them).

I'm often answering random questions from the four year old, or helping the 18 month old to find that thing that she dropped under the couch, or handing out snacks, refilling drinks, keeping people from jumping off of high furniture.  Mamas, you know how it goes.

Even while things are nuts, I am still blessed to have certain lines from the conference talks stand out to me.  Or I receive whispered insights about a problem I've been praying over, or a new idea to bless my family, amidst the chaos.  If I don't take a moment to write them down, these meaningful words and inspiration meant just for me will be lost.  

I created this journal printable to help all of us hold on to the insights we receive in the middle of filling sippy cups and snuggling little ones.

It's designed to be simple, easy to use and uplifting, and to help you get the most out of LDS General Conference.  Use it to jot down your impressions and the beautiful quotes you hear, and retain more of the insights you receive during General Conference.

Includes the following labels: 
Words meant just for Me
Favorite Quotes
Inspiration because I am a Mother
Inspiration because I am a Wife
Inspiration for my Calling
Inspiration because I am a ________ (with a spot for you to fill in the blank)
Goals Sheet: now that you've received inspiration, how do you plan to implement it in your daily life?

How to Use:

Download and Print

Cut out each label (using the very light cut lines around each square)

Glue into your scripture journal or other notebook.

While you're listening to Conference in a few weeks, leave this journal in an easily accessible place (right between the snacks and the coloring books :) ).  When a line from a talk, a scripture reference or direct revelation strikes your heart, write it down on the appropriate page.

Go back in a quiet moment and study in-depth the revelation you received and ponder how to implement it in your life.


I know how hard it can be as a busy mom to feel like you're getting the most out of Conference weekend.  I hope this journal helps you! Tag me on Instagram so I can see how you put it into use.

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