Saturday, July 22, 2017

Six Fun Activities to Celebrate Pioneer Day

Not living in Utah makes celebrating Pioneer Day a lot more difficult. No parades really to attend (unless the ward opts to do one). No decorations about town. No fireworks shows. About the only thing that happens is mention of it at church. :-(

So what's a mom to do to celebrate Pioneer Day under these circumstances? Well, here are six easy activities to try:

1. Cook Dinner Over a Fire
This does not have to be super difficult--no Dutch ovens required! You have permission to go the hot-dog-on-a-stick route if you want. Or you could take it up a notch to Hobo dinners (tinfoil dinners). Here is a link to 21 tinfoil recipes you could try. To make it extra pioneer-like, have your children gather sticks and pine cones to use to help with the fire.

If you are brave, you might try to make some of these more authentic pioneer recipes. The buttermilk donuts sound yummy!

2. Play a pioneer game
Pulling sticks is probably the most famous Mormon pioneer game and can easily be played with a broom handle. Sit face to face and foot to foot with your opponent. One person's hands are on the outside of the other's. Both players pull as hard as they can. The stronger player will remain seated, while the weaker (losing) player gets pulled upward.

Additionally, this article in the 1989 July Friend Magazine describes some fun games pioneers played. One easy game (NO equipment required!) is Shadow Tag. It is played like regular tag, except instead of touching the other person to tag, the It Person only has to step on the shadow of one of the other players.

3. Go for a Hike
Crossing the plains was a lot like hiking. Add some cowboy hats, bandanas, or boots and it becomes even a little more authentic. While hiking, sing some songs about pioneers, or talk about how hard it would have been to be outdoors all day and to not have enough water or supplies. Of course, if you live anywhere near a pioneer trail, be sure to use it!

4. Read About Pioneer Ancestors
There is something about hearing true stories of real pioneers that helps to bring the whole purpose of Pioneer Day into perspective. The sacrifice and endurance the pioneers experienced can help us to have a higher level of appreciation. If you are not sure if any of your ancestors were pioneers, log onto this website on and it can help you search. In lieu of that, there are plenty of pioneer stories in the Church magazines and other books (I Walked to Zion is a favorite of mine).

5. Learn About Farm Animals
Pioneers relied heavily on animals to live and thrive. Oxen and horses helped to pull wagons across the plains, but other animals were essential to living on the frontier and to farm. If you live near a petting zoo, have a neighbor with farm animals, or can attend a local rodeo, take time to learn and appreciate this aspect of pioneer life.

Alternatively, you might choose to learn about animals pioneers would have seen while crossing the plains (i.e., bison, rattlesnakes, bear, prairie dogs, etc.).

6. Make a Pioneer Day Craft
This website has some darling craft ideas for Pioneer Day. There are ideas for a wide variety of age ranges and skill levels to consider. I think I will let my daughters each choose one to do this upcoming week!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Three of My Favorite Pioneer Stories

Next week is Pioneer Day! I love hearing pioneer stories and sharing them with my family. This year Pioneer Day is on Monday, so that's the perfect time to get together and share the experiences of these amazing Saints. Here are three of my favorite:

1. From my husband's line: One day while crossing the plains Hans Olsen Magleby noticed a large leather valise half buried in the dust along the trail. He picked it up and laid it in his handcart. After he had made camp that night, Hans opened the bag and found it was full of gold! Hans gave the bag to the head of the handcart company, Captain Rowley, and said nothing about it. A group of men from the gold fields of California came into camp a few days later. They told how they had lost a bag and wondered if anyone had seen it. Hans immediately spoke up and said he had found it. Captain Rowley gave the bag to the men. Because Hans had been honest, the men gave him $5 and a bag of salt. The gold miners said that the valise contained about $8000 in gold. But for Hans, being honest was more important than money. (Adapted from The Life History of Hans Olsen Magleby [1958], 13)

2. From my own ancestral line:Alice Cherrington’s father was very sick with mountain fever, which added to the hardships of crossing the plains. When they reached Green River (Wyoming), there being so many of the family sick, Captain Smith decided to leave the family behind to give them a chance to heal. The station master had a good sized room which he let the family have to stay in while there.There were acres and acres of wild native currents grew there. Alice’s father gathered them, her mother stewed them, and the family ate so many of them the mountain fever was cured.

Still the family had few provisions--a small portion of flour and a ham bone. The station master was very good to the Cherringtons. One day he was going to a place called Wood River. Alice’s father had a watch he brought from England, which he asked the station master to take and trade or sell for provisions. The station master took the watch and brought the provisions her father sent for, but also the watch back. Within a few months the Cherringtons were able to continue their journey, making it safely to Salt Lake. (Adapted from Our Darton Ancestors).

3.  And this last one because I love the miracle that happens here: Ann Jewell Rowley and her family were converts of Church from England. A widow left with seven children, Sister Rowley decided to head to Zion. One of the more challenging parts of their journey was finding enough food to feed all of them. Sometimes Ann would see her children pull rawhide strips off the wagon to chew on because they were so hungry. Worried about their lack of supplies, she went to the Lord in prayer, seeking His guidance. Soon she remembered saving two, small, hard sea biscuits from their passage over the Atlantic. Sister Rowley wrote in her journal: “Surely, that was not enough to feed 8 people, but 5 loaves and 2 fishes were not enough to feed 5000 people either, but through a miracle, Jesus had done it. So, with God’s help, nothing is impossible.  I found the biscuits and put them in a Dutch oven and covered them with water and asked for God's blessing. Then I put the lid on the pan and set it on the coals. When I took off the lid a little later, I found the pan filled with food. I kneeled with my family and thanked God for his goodness. That night my family had sufficient.” (Adapted from Furnace of Affliction)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Monday, July 10, 2017

Book Review: When We Don't See Eye to Eye

I picked this book up off of the clearance table at Seagull Book a six weeks ago, interested to see what it had to say about conflict. The topic fits right in with what I teach in my communication classes, and I was eager to read a more detailed LDS perspective on the subject. Plus, I have not felt the textbooks I teach from offer students enough tools to use in this area.

When We Don't See Eye to Eye turned out to be enlightening and helpful.

Pulsipher's writing style is easy to follow and engaging considering the nonfiction topic. He has several good personal stories he tells, as well as a great one I had never heard about from one of the apostles. I never found myself bored while reading--but I did need to take time to really digest. In fact, there are some parts of this book I want to re-read to make sure I've really grasped the concepts.

I particularly liked Pulsipher's cyclical model for conflict and his relation of it to gospel principles. Basically, he says there are three ways to respond to conflict: the first way is to give in (telestial response), the second is to try and strike back (terrestrial), and the third is to assertively, lovingly point out the problem (celestial). Pulsipher cites several stories from the New Testament showing Christ's utilization of assertive love, and provides great insight I was unaware of previously.

If you are a communication nerd like me, I highly recommend this book. There is a lot to learn. I would love to find a way to teach some of these concepts to my teens... maybe I will have to come up with a FHE lesson I can post here in the future.

Book Blurb:
"We may find ourselves at the center of the turbulence or watching from the sidelines. But regardless of the consistency, intensity, or proximity of anger and aggression in our lives, most of us share a common handicap—our greatest resource, the weapon of love, remains either sheathed or only timidly employed . . . Conflict and contention are among the more undesirable—and unavoidable—characteristics of human nature. While it is within our power to control our own actions and attitudes, how can we encourage those around us to break the cycle of anger and negativity? Learn to limit others’ negative power by wielding a weapon stronger than hate or greed or fear or malice—the weapon of love. Author J. David Pulsipher encourages readers to take a Christ-centered approach to negativity with a comprehensive look at how conflict arises, how human nature distorts conflict, and how to use love as a force against anger."

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Favorite Authors: Emilie Loring

As a junior high student I read everything I got my hands on, especially historical romance books. After working my way through the recommendations of my English teacher, I asked the school librarian for ideas. I'll never forget him leading me to a shelf of books by author Emilie Loring, each of the hardback spines showing the wear of numerous readers. And after I read my first chosen Loring book (With this Ring--I read the whole book that day after school) I was so excited to return and get a new one the next day.

If you're not familiar with Emilie Loring's books, here is a good description: "Loring's books are highly formulaic and focus on the 'wholesome love' and independent spirit of women who still value homemaking and motherhood. There are no sexual situations in her novels, and most are tinged with action-adventure plots that stimulate the main characters' emotions and provide drama. . . Beyond romance, her books also explore a selection of topics including, but not limited to marriage, love, American patriotism, freedom, and optimism" (source: Wikipedia). Most of her books take place in the 1930s and 1940s, many during WWII.

About ten years ago I stumbled across an Emilie Loring book for sale at a garage sale. After re-reading it and re-discovering my enjoyment of Loring's works, I started collecting her books. Mostly I bought them on E-bay three at a time. I think now I own all but three or four. And I still re-read them on occasion. One of my favorites is The Trail of Conflict, which is actually available for Kindle for FREE on Amazon here.

As I have been collecting Loring books I have learned a little about this favorite author. She didn't start writing until she was in her 50s. During the height of her career she was selling more books than Agatha Christie and her publisher (Little, Brown Company) was running full page ads for her new releases in the New York Times. She died in her 90s, after publishing about 20 books. Her sons found parts of numerous manuscripts among her things after her death and worked with a ghostwriter to finish these additional novels.

If you are interested in reading an historical romance, try an Emilie Loring book. Or, if you are interested in learning more about this favorite author, check out Patti Bender's website and blog The Emilie Loring Collection.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth of July

It's hard to be in high heat on a traditionally outdoors holiday. Still, we are able to have fun together as a family. Here's what we are doing today:

Hanging out our flag.
(Love this 2008 pic of my Kitty!)

Swimming at the pool.
Smoking ribs.
Making a flag cake with Sweetie Peach.

Lighting a few fireworks with neighbors.

Have a wonderful Fourth of July!!


Thursday, June 29, 2017

5 Tips for Developing a Synergized Family

I wrote this article for Deseret News back in 2011. I thought I'd re-post it here as a backup. Enjoy!

In 2008 the New York Giants were not supposed to win the Super Bowl. The undefeated New England Patriots were considered the favorite team. But after the dust settled, the Giants were the first wild card team to take home the trophy. What happened to tip the scales in their favor? Some analysts feel the Giants were able to synergize their determination and talents to beat the odds.

In today’s society, families appear to face odds similar to the New York Giants. Drugs, pornography, and numerous other hurdles make raising children particularly difficult. How can parents lead their family to the same kind of success? Here are five practical ideas to help parents overcome the odds and develop a synergized family.

1. Increase Family Interaction: Communication is essential for family success because it enables family members to share thoughts and opinions, make decisions, solve problems, and develop interpersonal relationships. And the best way to heighten communication is to increase family interaction. Cutting back on individual activities in favor of family time, eating meals together as a family, having a family night, and scheduling regular family vacations are some of the best ways to increase interaction.

2. Establish a Common Goal: Unity in any group is usually based on the desire for a shared purpose. Whether it is called a goal, objective, purpose, or vision, parents can increase family synergy and unity by frequently discussing what it is they want their family to achieve in life. Making a family goal board, for example, is one way the Neujhar family has worked to instill greater unity and purpose.  (Find instructions for making your own family goal board here – link to

3. Recognize Interdependence: Family members are affected and influenced by the actions of each other. A successful, cohesive family teaches every member to be responsible for doing his or her part. And that failure for doing one’s part can adversely impact the rest of the family.

One of the best ways to help family members to recognize interdependence is to teach cooperation and teamwork by playing together. Jeff Spiers, father of four from Englewood, Colorado, expresses it this way: “My boys learn it on their baseball teams. When a throw is bad from short to first, the first baseman offers encouragement. In this way, the boys help coach each other and learn their reliance on each other.”

4. Work Together: Physical and mental efforts required to work together to accomplish something can be one of the more rewarding ways to synergize a family. As a child growing up I remember many family work projects that brought our family closer together. One of my favorites was an annual service project setting up luminarias on our street on Christmas Eve. The sense of accomplishment we felt as a family when all the candles were lit was incredibly rewarding.

5. Demonstrate Love and Compassion: Unity and synergy in the family rely heavily on individual members feeling as though they are understood and loved despite their personal flaws. Use kind words, caring tones, and a gentle touch. Look for opportunities to praise one another, even when behavior is not exemplary. And, if children are whiny and complaining, take time to actively listen to them and restate back their reasons for feeling frustrated. Acting with love, patience, and compassion toward each other builds the long-lasting positive atmosphere required for successful family life.