expanding our homestead

It’s been two weeks since we picked up our chickens and we are super excited about it! As if we don’t have enough on our plates with gardens, homeschool, extracurricular activities, home renovations and callings in our church we figured why not add one more thing. 🙂

It didn’t take a long to understand why people talk about “chicken math”. These little cuties are so fun and entertaining not to mention how stinking cute they are!

They do really smell though, that part is less fun. It will all pay off though! Everyone in the family got to name one so here was our final choices:

Taylor lost interest in them pretty quickly but the dogs are still super curious. With that being said, they have never done anything alarming; they just look into their cage and hold perfectly still. When we have them on our lap or holding them down for the dogs to see they come lay right next to us and smell without getting too close. Don’t get me wrong, they are not ready to be trusted with them but it’s a better start than I thought it would be

I don’t have any updated photos yet but they have gotten SO big already in TWO weeks! It’s crazy! They don’t snuggle in our hands as much as they use to but we enjoyed it while it lasted:

Roxie is still the most friendly and most of them still tolerate being held and if you put them down by you they’ll come climb on you. I am really excited to start getting them out of their cage more and give them a safe place in the backyard for a little bit each day. Heaven knows they’re not going to get too cold in our weather. 😉

I’ll have to post pics of their new home as soon as we have it finished, and updated pics of how big they are getting. We know we still have a lot to learn as we go on this journey but we’re so excited for this new adventure. As we continue to expand our little homestead with chickens and gardens and become more self sufficient we are filled with gratitude for the freedoms we have to live our life this way. We sure are blessed!

Come Follow Me lessons – September

As always the items for the week that are needed are: CFM manual (or Gospel Library app), Old Testament and journals (highly recommended). The Beginner’s Bible is also highly recommended but by no means mandatory to do these lessons. We also have the Don’t Miss It: Old Testament Posters which we introduce each Monday and then review on Sundays which the word often coming up in our discussions throughout the week but this also is not a mandatory item to have.

I always recommend that you read through each lesson at the beginning of each week to see about any preparation that is needed for that week. There rarely is much to do but occasionally there is a little work to be done. This month I start assigning some of the older kids certain assignments such as reading through a talk prior to that day’s lesson and ask them to be prepared to share a summary of the talk and their thoughts on it with us. So keep an eye out for those opportunities if you so choose.

Week 37

HERE is the talk mentioned in Wednesday’s lesson.

Week 38

Week 39

Week 40

HERE is the video, My Kingdom is Not of This World mentioned as a part of the FHE lesson for this week. I plan on telling this kids on Monday of this week that later this week we’ll be sharing our favorite song about Christ if they would like to take some time this week to listen to some songs of Christ and be ready to share.

Hope everyone has a great week full of laughter, accomplishments, learning and some PEACE 🙂


July books

I know this is way late but I read so many great books in July that I had to still document it somewhere.

Just As Long As We’re Together by Judy Blume was a “meh” for me. Probably 3 stars. It wasn’t bad at all but there was nothing great about it either. I wanted to try one of her books because I had heard good things for teenagers but I’m not dying to read another book or recommend this one even to my girls. I’m all about books that are entertaining AND add some great value/education/lessons and this book was pure fluff in my opinion.

The Sister Preachers was interesting, I definitely enjoyed it, but as with most Deseret Bookshelf books, I wouldn’t give it more than a 4 star. I highly recommend reading the book if you’re going to, I found the audio bothering me enough that maybe that’s part of why I didn’t LOVE the book? I don’t know exactly what it was for me. I felt pretty similar to Hannah. I did enjoy it and found it very interesting but sometimes hearing some of the characters sound like girls from this day and age through me for a loop at times. Strong 4 stars though because I did love the educational factor.

1776 is such a fascinating book. You have to love history to probably get super into it, it is not a story just straight facts but it was fun to listen to again. Recommend the audio for sure!

Now for the rest of the books: I LOVED THEM. The War I Finally Won, All the Lonely People, The Sun Does Shine, The Things We Cannot Say, Star Girl, America’s First Daughter and Rent Collector are all fantastic books that I highly recommend. We listened to Rent Collector – student edition as a family and we all loved it. FANTASTIC lessons and the kids would ask for us to turn it back on as soon as we got in the car…that’s always a good sign! All of these books were a perfect balance of educational, entertaining and inspiring. Highly recommend all of them!

Come Follow Me – July

As always the items needed are the Come Follow Me – Old Testament manual and your scriptures; journals are used frequently in our house as well but not mandatory.

The Beginner’s Bible is another highly recommended tool which helps us get a great summary quickly for kids with short attention spans.

Week 28 – July 4-10

Week 29 – July 11-17

This is the video I refer to for FHE this week.

Week 30 – July 18-24

Here are the two videos I refer to on Wednesday of this week: God’s Story: Nehemiah and Nehemiah Rebuilds Jerusalem’s Wall

During FHE for this week I do have for us to read through My First Book of Temples that I got from Desert Book way back in the day but any additional reading or looking at pictures would work great or skip altogether.

Week 31 – July 25-31

Here is the video we’ll watch for FHE: For Such a Time as This


CFM – June

Lessons are every other day during the summer in our household.

As always the only mandatory items are the Old Testament and the CFM manual whether that be a hard copy or on the Gospel Library app (recommended method), however, journals are highly recommended.

Although not mandatory The Beginner’s Bible is also highly recommended as we use it frequently and have found it to be an amazing resource to get to the point quickly and clearly. Fantastic for families with littles as well as families short on time.

Although we do not have Walking with Women of the Old Testament on the plans for any week this month, I do plan on reading through Ruth, Naomi, and Hannah with the kids throughout the month. Often time we spend some time on Sundays diving deeper into their stories/history.

Week 24

Week 25

Week 26

Week 27

One more month of summer schedule after this and then we’re back to full schedule starting August. Enjoy your summer!


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!


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!


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! 🙂


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!