April reading

Not as much reading this month as I would’ve liked but we read a BUNCH of books in school, so if I counted all of those it would’ve been 7 books this month. It’s amazing how much our brains can hold at once and keep track of!

Can’t wait for May reviews cause I’m reading some amazing books so far! Happy Mother’s Day weekend!

xo,
Jenny

Come Follow Me – May

This month starts off the same as usual but the last week of the month you will notice we change it quite a bit. We begin our summer schedule that week and as much as I should maybe try to do CFM still everyday I also really don’t feel bad that we don’t. 🙂

As always the weekly items we use are our Old Testament, the Come Follow Me (CFM) manual, and our journals. Although I have the manual pictures above we don’t use it often, we use the Gospel Library app because it’s so much easier to access the links to scripture, videos and more. Not pictured is the Don’t Miss It Word of the Week posters that we use. We introduce the word every Monday and review every Sunday as well as discuss throughout the week when we notice something that helps us better understand why that word must have been chosen.

We also frequently use The Beginner’s Bible. We occasionally use Walking with the Women of the Old Testament in our CFM lessons but more times than not we use that book for additional reading on Sundays outside of CFM. The Color Your Way Through the Old Testament is a book our youngest uses to keep herself busy while we do the lessons (sometimes our youngest 2) but we never have it incorporated into the lessons.

First week of May: WEEK 19

A pretty straight forward week with minimum amount of prep work needed.

2nd week of May: WEEK 20

We do use some of the “extra materials” this week with The Beginner’s Bible and Walking with the Women of the Old Testament both being used for lessons. There also is the potential of some prep work needing to be put into the FHE lesson depending on what you choose to use.

HERE is the link for the video mentioned for Thursday’s lesson.

3rd week of May: WEEK 21

FHE will take a little prep with cutting out some hearts for the lesson but that is it. I labeled mine already for the sake of showing an example but I personally will not label the others and let the kids do them as they choose. Sunday may take a little prep work, or at least thinking/planning in advance, depending on what nice thing you want to do for your family. Day to day CFM lessons take no prep work.

4th week of May: WEEK 22

There is another “Thoughts to Keep in Mind…” at the beginning of this weeks CFM section that you may want to read through and highlight parts you want to share with your family throughout the week. Other than that, I’m going to say no prep work for this week unless you want to put together a way for your family to memorize a scripture in advance. I plan on the kids coming up with their own way of memorizing and doing the work themselves but it’s up to you. We do use The Beginner’s Bible throughout the week again but it is not mandatory. It is a great option if you have little kids though or even just short time frames to do these lessons in; they really do a great job getting to the moral of the story and keeping it short and sweet.

5th week of May: WEEK 23

This is the beginning of our summer schedule so we’ll only be doing CFM every other day and even then I keep them extra short…lots of reading from The Beginner’s Bible I want to make sure we don’t just give up on CFM for 2 months but I also want to be realistic with what we can get done with our summer schedule. No prep work needed this week.

May you enjoy your CFM experience with your family and remember they are getting SOMETHING out of it, even if it doesn’t always feel like it in the moment! Hang in there and don’t give up, it’s more important now than ever to make sure we’re giving our kids all the tools possible to stay strong in their faith. You’ve got this, parents!

xo,
Jenny

Dallas Texas

We didn’t spend much time in Dallas but during the little amount of time we had there I knew I wanted to check out the Dallas Arboretum and I’m glad we did because it did not disappoint! There really isn’t even much to say other than it is gorgeous and you could spend hours in there taking your time. We went a bit faster than we would’ve liked but we were NOT prepared for the weather and were freezing. 2 things to keep in mind while you scroll through the pics: 1. I am not a photographer so imagine everything being prettier because these pictures don’t do it justice and 2. you have to remember we went in MARCH. I can only imagine how much better this place would be in the spring, summer and fall. Just coming out of the winter, there was definitely a fair share of bare trees and it was STILL gorgeous.

waterfall into a koi pond and this super cool cave you could walk through. it was magical
my favorite statue in the whole botanical garden
the kids’ favorite statue 🙂
kids had fun exploring in this magnolia tree after this pic, it’s like a whole new world under there

The bare trees and stormy sky just added a moodiness to the place that I found beautiful in and of itself.

I know this is a bad quality picture from my daughter’s much older phone but I had to include it so you can see how beautiful the surrounding area is just outside of the gardens. That is White Rock Lake in the background there.

I would love to come back here in the fall sometime. SO much beauty!

After exploring the botanical garden for just under 2 hours we headed to dinner. As usual we wanted to stick to a place that is well known in that area but not something we would eat here in AZ and that’s how we discovered Street’s Fine Chicken.

We loved everything about this place. The atmosphere, the menu, the FOOD, the drinks…it all got high scores from us.

Everything about the green beans, biscuit and chicken fried steak seen on this plate were AMAZING. Kids got chicken sandwiches, roasted chicken on the bone, chicken strips and chicken salad sandwich and everyone loved what they ordered. Highly recommend this place!

Now after such an amazing afternoon in Dallas and some amazing southern food it was disappointing to end our time there with our car being broken into. Two thumbs way down. Next time we’ll be looking for a hotel with better parking lot security. With that being said, we’re not giving up on you, Texas. We’ll be back! 🙂

xo,
Jenny

Passing through Amarillo, TX

Don’t have much time as you drive through Amarillo? No fear, here are the top hot spots to see.

Cadillac Ranch is an absolute MUST if you are staying in Amarillo or even just driving through. There is a truck right there at the entrance where you can buy spray paint but if you don’t want to spend the moolah you can just go around the cars and pick up the spray bottles until you find one that still has some left. No matter what you decide your kids, and perhaps yourself, will be in heaven as you have free reign to display your art on these unique cars in the ground

You can read more about the history of Cadillac Ranch HERE if you are interested. Such a fun stop along Route 66

We personally found so many cans that still had enough for us to get some words, art or pictures out before they were empty. Everyone was very gracious about taking turns and helping each other find some.

There are no rules there either so you can climb in or on the cars to find the best place to leave your mark.

Once we were done there we headed to The Big Texan which is mentioned on just about every blog post or article you will ever read about Amarillo.

After being there we can see why. This place is SO fun. You feel like you are in an old western movie as you explore the grounds, it has a HUGE gift shop, so many picture perfect places and plenty to keep you entertained as you wait your turn.

With that being said, the wait was TWO HOURS when we got there. We had been in the car for 5 hours and there was no way I was going to convince the kids to wait another 2 hours to eat so we had fun looking around but unfortunately didn’t get to partake in the goodness that I hear The Big Texan dishes up. Either way, it was a fun stop that we’re glad we made. I really don’t blog to sell people on traveling so I don’t take amazing pictures of places but trust me, this place had such a fun vibe and is worth the stop. 🙂

Since dinner at The Big Texan didn’t work we decided to try to find another local joint which led us to Blue Sky and although I’m sure The Big Texan lives up to all of the hype we had read, Blue Sky did NOT disappoint. It was SO delicious AND we didn’t have to wait 2 hours so…win/win!

Their onion rings and chicken fried steak were my favorite but we ordered a bunch between all 6 of us and none of us were disappointed.

Overall, major win and we would definitely go again if we ever find ourselves back in Amarillo.

So there you have it. If you are just passing through and want a fun pit stop or two and a yummy place to eat you have our family’s recommendations! Safe travels!

xo,
Jenny

Albuquerque w/the kids

We just stopped in Albuquerque for a night on our southwest road trip but we found some real gems to see if you are ever there. We were quite surprised by the drive through New Mexico; I did not know it would look so much like the drive through the red canyons of Utah. There were some drab looking sections of drive but also so much beauty in the red rocks and canyons we drove through. After settling in our hotel room we headed out for dinner.

This fun wall of old signs is just outside Route 66 Diner, a must stop in Albuquerque. The food was delicious, the atmosphere was so fun and the service was fantastic.

This picture makes it seem empty but it was actually very busy although the wait wasn’t too long which was good because we were so hungry. They had a great variety of classics and New Mexico dishes and you have to get a milkshake! It was pricey but we did way over order…we waited too long to eat and our eyes were WAY bigger than our stomachs! If we ever end up back in that neck of the woods in NM we would probably eat there again but split more dishes.

kids showing off their pressed pennies in the lobby

If you want something educational to do with kids while in Albuquerque the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is a great choice. You will learn all about the history of the natives of New Mexico through art, videos, displays and hands on exhibits. I love that the museum starts off with this gorgeous art on the horse with a story that explains their belief that if one of them lives on, they all do. We all carry with us pieces of our ancestors that help to keep them alive.

The museum has several exhibits to walk through and my favorite part about each of them is that they are FULL of hands on interactions for the kids. They also have many videos throughout that allow the children to learn more about the dances, food, and environment of the natives. I didn’t take any pics of the displays but they were amazing as well. So much pottery, art, tools, kitchens, baskets and more. And SO many stories told and legends to be passed on….I could go on and on. If you can’t tell, we really enjoyed this place!

If you are there on the weekend you get to watch some natives talk about their history, their traditions and watch them perform some of their ceremonial dances. At the end they invited you to come in the circle and perform a dance with them that represents acceptance, peace and friendship. It truly is beautiful!

We probably could’ve spent an additional hour there taking our time with some of the exhibits we had rushed through to get to the performance. We also probably could’ve spent more time looking at the stands throughout the courtyard where locals sale their gorgeous art and jewelry. As tempting as that was, we had to get on the road to head to our next destination. We left feeling like we got our money’s worth and glad we had made the stop.

There are so many options of places to see in Albuquerque with, or without kids, but we’re happy with the couple stops we made. We’re glad we went and experienced something new, happy with what we saw and now we feel we can move on to seeing more of the US and if we end up back in that part of NM again one day we wouldn’t be mad, but we’re also not disappointed that we didn’t see more or dying to go back. It was a great place to stop on our way to somewhere else. 🙂

xo,
Jenny

Book Reviews – February & March

💫 = 1/2 star

February reads:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – LOVED this book recommended to me by my sister. Life takes unexpected turns but there is still so much beauty in it all if you can just look for it. Highly recommend!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Super fun book. The book is written from the perspective of a book that is traveling around the world as it is being passed on to different owners. I found it refreshing to read something so unique and really did have a hard time putting the book down as it was just such a cute, fun, light read that was able to keep my attention.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – You probably have to be in the right mood to give this book 4 stars; I could see why some might give it 3 1/2 due to being a pretty predictable book. With that being said, I personally was in the mood for a slightly cheesy romance that reminds you of a hallmark movie or the classic rom-com. It has a slightly unique twist of the classic “switch lives and see what it’s like living in someone else’s shoes” when it’s a granddaughter and grandmother switching lives. If you are in the mood for a lighthearted feel good book this might be the perfect palate cleanser for you!

March reads:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – I was pleasantly surprised by this book. When I read the summary for it I didn’t expect to love it so much but it was such a captivating book. Love the lessons learned, the humor, the triumph. Definitely would recommend!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 💫 – I loved this book so much! I read it really fast because I truly had a hard time putting down my phone for this one. It was the perfect blend of romance, inspiration, courage, heartbreak and suspense that kept you on your toes and pulling on your heartstrings through the whole thing.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – I can 100% see why this is a popular book club read. This book leaves you reevaluating how quick you may be to judging others while also motivating you to rise above any obstacle that may be put in your way. It was a humbling reminder of just how drastic the difference of where we start in our lives can be. I would love to discuss this book further with someone who has read it and get their insights on it, hence why I can understand it being such a popular book club read!

  ⭐️  ⭐️  ⭐️  ⭐️ 💫 – I loved this book so much! Although it is a historical fictional it is amazing to be reminded what some have had to endure in their lifetime! I loved reading more about the dust bowl phenomenon and the great depression; two topics I haven’t read much about before. I looked forward to getting to our hotel each night during our spring break so that I would be able to read and was genuinely sad when it came to an end as I had loved following this character and watching her grow and thrive under such dire situations. Truly an inspirational book for me!

⭐️⭐️⭐️ 💫 – It was a cute book to listen to with my teenage daughter on our trip and I would recommend it to other teenagers maybe but there wasn’t anything amazing about the book, but not anything to complain about it either. It was cute. That’s about what I can say. Maybe it was partly because I was reading The Four Winds at the same time we were listening to this one, but it just lacked real substance for me in comparison with what I was reading at night.

There you have it! Determined to get April book reviews up at the beginning of May, wish me luck! 🙂

xo,
Jenny

Come Follow Me – April

Same as every other month, you really just need the Gospel Library app to do these lessons but if you have journals for your kids it is an added bonus. This allows them to write any promptings or thoughts they have while having these very short lessons or even drawing pictures or phrases that come to mind. Overall, it’s been a very positive experience for our family when we do it.

We also use The Beginner’s Bible a lot but it is not mandatory to do these lessons. I mention in the lesson which chapters are covered by the story we read so if you don’t have The Beginner’s Bible you can just ready those chapters in the Bible instead. The Beginner’s Bible is a great option for families with young children, children with very short attention spans or even for families with busy schedules that leave them short on time for CFM.

I should also mention that each Monday it talks about introducing the word of the week and then it’s mentioned again on Sunday when we review it. I’m referring to the Don’t Miss This Old Testament Poster Set we use. Again, something that we love and use because it was gifted to us but it’s not a MUST HAVE. It is not mentioned throughout the week but we do often as a family while discussing the lessons mention when we see now why that word was chosen for the week’s lessons. It’s nice but can easily be skipped.

Without further ado…the lessons for this month:

Week 15 (Apr 4 – Apr 10):

Week 16 (Apr 11 – Apr 17):

This is the week of Easter for CFM schedule so the FHE lesson has a little something special.

There is also a special video to watch on Easter found here or you can google the title I give on the lesson printout and it will take you right to it.

Week 17 (Apr 18 – Apr 24):

Sunday of this week has an option of taking some time to work on memorizing the 10 Commandments in this fun way.

Week 18 (Apr 25-May 1):

Hope you have a great month full of learning and growth!

xo,
Jenny

Paw Patrol Party!

Z turned 6 recently and she was excited to have a Paw Patrol party; as it turns out it is very easy and fun to throw a Paw Patrol themed party!

Lets start with decorations…my favorite! I got these super cute masks for T’s birthday earlier this year and then we used them at the party. The plan was to let the kids each take one home but I forgot to fill the older kids and and hubby in on that and they ended taking them back from the kids. oops! 🙂 We definitely have gotten amazing use out of them over the last 3 months and they are still used regularly. I love the paw print table cloth too, always a favorite of mine when we can stick with the theme without being overboard PAW PATROL everything, does that make sense?

Dollar Tree dog bowls were the perfect way to serve up all of the goodies. I made dog bone tags/labels and printed on them on this brown paper I had although any color would work great! I checked with the parents ahead of time to make sure there was no peanut allergies so that our “puppy chow” could be Muddy Buddies. However, if there is an allergy to account for, you could go with another Chex Mix combo instead. Download the free bone tag printable below.

Next up, cupcakes! I wanted to keep it simple this time so we stuck with the paw print theme using large and mini marshmallows. I usually always make homemade frosting on a from the box cake but this time I did box cake AND canned frosting and per the usual, the kids didn’t care 😁

Of course what is a party without games?! We started off the party outside waiting for everyone to arrive and practicing our aim just like Chase. We used this bow and arrow set and didn’t have to worry about injuries.

While we were outside playing mean Mayor Humdinger came and stole all of Z’s presents her friends had brought! We went and alerted the kids so they could come in and help us solve the problem. They found some kitten prints left leading outside. Once outside the prints stopped but lucky for us, Farmer Yumi was in the garden (played by Z’s big sister, C) and let us know she saw cats running into our garage. They ran into the garage to find some prints on our car and then leading back into the house….you can see where we went with this. Around they ran following the prints until it lead them to the closet under the stairs where Mayor Humdinger and his cats stashed them before escaping!

Following that adventure we played freeze dance using the Paw Patrol album found on Spotify and we played Bingo which I found HERE. I’m not posting pictures from all of our games for privacy reasons but they did take up majority of our time and the kids had a blast!

After we were done with games we ate “pupperoni pizza” bites and all the goodies and snacks that were out on display. I had some larger solid color plates they could put their food and snacks on and then these cute dessert plates for their treats.

We {almost} always end parties with a goodie bag and this party was no exception. I got fruit snacks and Paw Patrol party packs at Walmart (the party pack was a mini coloring/activity book that I figured would be great for parents to throw into their church activity bags 🤞🏼) we also made “pupcorn” by taking plain popcorn and pouring melted white chocolate over it, adding some fun balloon shaped sprinkles and mixing it all up. This was served during dinner too so they were all very excited to see that they got to take some home too! The “pupcorn” tags are part of the download found previously in this post.

All in all the party was a success! I’m loving these last few years of having these fun themed parties before I know they will inevitably come to an end. It’s always so magical to watch their faces light up as they see it all come together and watch them make such great memories with their friends as they enjoy the magical parts of being a KID!

Have fun!

xo,
Jenny

(all Amazon links are affiliate links. I only post items I have used personally and recommend based on how I enjoyed the product. Thank you for helping us out and I hope you enjoy the items as much as we did!)

Come Follow Me – March

The printouts for each week, your scriptures, the Come Follow Me manual (hard copy or from the Gospel Library app – the app makes videos quick and easy to find), and The Beginner’s Bible are the items needed for this week. The Beginner’s Bible is not mandatory but it is a huge help to keeps things quick and to the point whether because of younger kids in the house or busy schedules that don’t leave a lot of time. (I do get a small payment for purchases made through this blog. Thank you in advance for using this above link!) We also use the Don’t Miss This – Word of the Week. You see me reference “introduce the word of the week” on Mondays and “review word of the week” on Sunday…that is what I am referring to. You can find it here if you are interested in it. One last thing that is not mandatory but that we use is journals. The kids each have their own CFM journal and at times there are specific guidelines of what they should be writing but often times it is just a space for them to take random notes, pictures, quotes, and doodles of thoughts that come to mind during these short lessons.

First week of March: Week 10 of CFM

It’s been the craziest month, luckily I had these planned back in January but I just typed them up tonight to be ready to start CFM again tomorrow so, no pictures to post this month. Hopefully there aren’t too many typos, I did zero checking this time. Such is life.

Week 11 (2nd week of March):

Items needed for this week: 2 magnets and 1 paperclip (for FHE lesson). Links for videos not on the CFM manuals: The Refiner’s Fire and After the Storm.

Week 12 (3rd week of March):

No supplies needed or extra video clips this week. Journals will be used but again, not mandatory.

Week 13 (week 4 of March):

No additional supplies needed this week but I do refer to this post which may help you with names of Christ.

Week 14 (5th week of March):

Here is the link for my favorite video discussing the Passover that is watched on Wednesday. The video watched on Sunday can be found HERE

That’s it for the month! Hope it is a great month for you and your family!

xo,
Jenny

Conversation Starters – V-Day themed

I always love to have conversation starters at holidays, they always end in a combination of deeper conversation and laughter. Our day to day dinner routine is full of laughter and talking about our day but this takes the conversation to a level of getting to know each other better and being more understanding of one another, and what family couldn’t benefit from that more? So whether you want to use these as a way of connecting or just simply to keep the conversation flowing while having guest over, look no further!

Some questions are silly, some are deeper. There is a total of 12 questions and it took our family a few nights to get through them all because some lead to some pretty long conversations. With that being said, if you are using these for a one night thing you might want to have two jars, one with your first choice picks and one with the “backup” if the first round goes quicker than you thought 🙂

That’s a sample of them. There is a second page with more questions. The free download is below!

I had to throw in one last pic. I got so many good ones, it was hard to choose! Some of these had us rolling with laughter hearing the responses from some of the kids. Anyway…ENJOY!!!

xo,
Jenny