Getting Ready to Wish America Happy Birthday!

I’m working on a manuscript for A Holiday Handbook 2 and found this transcript from The Kim Power Stilson show 2 years ago celebrating “Pilgrims, Pioneers and Patriots: The Builders of our Nation” on 25 June 2014. I am also back to work on family history and thought this might be interesting for my family to read.

Here is a little piece of Americana for your summer reading enjoyment.

A partial transcript from the 
Kim Power Stilson Show 
on BYU Sirius XM Radio 143

Kim, Thank you for inviting me here today to have a little chat about the “Builders of our Nation” – Our heroes the Pilgrims, Patriots and Pioneers.
We’re getting ready to celebrate the 4th of July next week and Pioneer Day on July 24th. I thought it might be nice to share stories about these epic people who changed the world.  We usually think about Pilgrims in the fall, but their contributions and part of the story of the rise of America might be considered around the birthday of our great country.

The dictionary defines a Pilgrim as “ one who journeys in foreign lands :  wayfarer
 one who travels to a shrine or holy place as a devotee
capitalized :  one of the English colonists settling at Plymouth in 1620

When we talk about America, we might consider that some of the first “Pilgrims” were the English settlers in Virginia. Jamestown was established in Virginia and was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. William Kelso says Jamestown “is where the British Empire began,…Established by the Virginia Company of London as “James Fort” on May 4, 1607.  This was an exciting time in world history. The Virginia Colony was named for Queen Elizabeth, the daughter of Henry VIII, who was called the “Virgin Queen” because she never married. At this time in England, there was a lot of religious conflict. You might remember that Elizabeth belonged to the Anglican Church that her father started, and had her cousin Mary Queen of Scots executed after a failed coup involving Spain and the Catholic Church. In 1603 as she lay dying, Elizabeth named James, the son of Mary and King of Scotland as her heir. So James came to England to inherit the throne and Elizabeth’s favorite entertainers, one of which you may have heard of: William Shakespeare who began writing for his new patron works like King Lear and Macbeth which included a reference to King James’s ancestor, Fleance the son of Banquo for you Macbeth fans. In addition to enjoying the literary works of Shakespeare, King James had another project going on, he was continuing the  commission Elizabeth had started on  an English translation of the Bible, which we know of as the King James Bible. 
Back in America, several attempts to establish colonies had failed, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Another Colony upriver, the Berkley Colony was growing and was actually the site of the first Thanksgiving in 1619, the year before the Pilgrims arrived. But Jamestown served as the capital of the colony for 83 years, from 1616 until 1699.
The settlement was located within the country of the Powhatan Confederacy. The natives initially welcomed and provided crucial provisions and support for the colonists, who were not very agriculturally savvy. Unfortunately their relations went bad and wars between the settlers and native Americans began .and this unfortunate situation will come into play again during the Revolutionary War. The mortality rate at Jamestown was very high due to disease and starvation, with over 80% of the colonists perishing in 1609-1610 in what became known as the “Starving Time“. About half of the Pilgrims died that first winter at Plymouth.
In 1608, the Virginia Company brought Polish and German colonists to help improve the settlement, as well as the first women. In 1619, the first documented Africans were brought to Jamestown. The following year, the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts.
Shakespeare retired in 1611 and died in 1616.James Fort in Virginia became James towne in 1619. In 1699, the capital was relocated from Jamestown to what is today Williamsburg, after which Jamestown ceased to exist as a settlement, and today is an archaeological site.
KIM, Have you ever visited Colonial Williamsburg? American history buffs really need to go see the finesse and culture exhibited by the early colonists. So you have the British colonies established. Let’s jump ahead to 1750 to tell the story of one American Patriot. When we visited on St.Patrick’s Day, I told the story of one Irish-American family and their experience during the Revolutionary War.
Elizabeth Duncan was born in beautiful Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1750 to Scottish parents who had emigrated from Ireland. When she was six years old her father died and her help was needed to keep the family alive. She grew up a hard worker and when she was 25, she fell in love and married Samuel Porter who had recently come from Ireland to America with his five or six brothers. Samuel had joined the Virginia Militia where he was assigned to protect settlers from Indian attacks. They moved to the Kentucky region which was then part of Virginia to build a homestead with several friends and relatives.
While there, the entire community was captured by Indians and it is thought British soldiers because they were not scalped. All of their livestock was taken and they were marched as prisoners of war to Detroit. Elizabeth was expecting their third child at the time. During the 600+ mile march, Samuel was forced to carry their little daughter Margaret and Elizabeth tried to keep their toddler son form making noise “lest their captors dash out his brains in front of his mother.” Although she was permitted to ride much of the way, she often spent hours with her feet in water. They endured abuse by their captors and nearly starved to death.
When they arrived at the prison camp, they were placed in stockades and pens like animals. Samuel was sentenced to be executed.
Elizabeth was assigned to cook for the British officers, which turned out to be a blessing. She was able to collected scraps of bread and meat and hide them in the “dishwater” tub which she placed near the building where Samuel was imprisoned so he could reach through the boards and get the food, probably saving his life.
Elizabeth and others were then taken over 700 miles from Detroit to Quebec, Canada where they remained prisoners of the British and Shawnee Indians. During the winter of 1780, which has been called a “little Ice Age” because it was so cold that the New York harbor froze and people could walk from Manhattan to Staten Island, Elizabeth and her children were north of New York approximately parallel to Vermont. It was there that her third baby was born.
Can you imagine living in those conditions? In all of the world’s history, the concept of freedom has been enjoyed by a relative few. The fight for a democratic government was so dear to the hearts of the people and so hard won, we don’t even know most of the sacrifices that were made by early Americans.
When the war ended, Elizabeth carried her youngest child and took the two others back to Virginia, about 1200 miles. If you can imagine a young mother, probably in rags with no money and three small children trying to get home, you wonder how they survived. You can see why it is imperative that we help the poor and struggling, as I’m sure people did for Elizabeth. Her home and all of her possessions were taken and she didn’t know if Samuel was still alive.
For a moment, fortune favored Samuel. The British commanding officer had taken a liking to Samuel and had stayed his execution. When the war ended he was free to return to Virginia to try to find out what had become of his family. But his luck didn’t last long. Because an American officer didn’t like him, Samuel was tried for treason by the Americans. Poor guy, he couldn’t win either way. He was acquitted and finally reunited with his Elizabeth and their three children. They started to rebuild their lives, a home and went on to have three or four more children.
While Samuel and his then four sons were building a house, they were once again attacked by Indians, but a band of wild dogs appeared and drove the attackers away. Another time Margaret and her sister Tabitha were going after water when they passed a group of braves hiding near a stream. For some reason, they left the girls alone. Samuel died and Elizabeth joined her sons in Jackson County Missouri where she died and was buried in 1845.
One of the interesting things about this story is that in Elizabeth’s day, she saw the rise of America and the signing of the Constitution of the United States. Joseph Smith was born on a farm in Vermont, the Church of Jesus Christ and priesthood power were restored to the earth and Joseph died, all within one lifespan. Elizabeth’s participation in the Revolutionary War, her sacrifice and courage have been honoredby the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution.  

Framed Mary Engelbreit print. 

A classic Independence Day picnic!

Healthy snacks for your summer road trip and staycations

When you are ready to hit the road, take along healthier snacks and diversions for more summer fun! This is an article I wrote for FamilyShare:

  • Come away, come away, come away with me!
    As summer breezes begin to blow, the temptation to embark on an adventure becomes almost irresistible (do you remember the Wind in the Willows?) Here is a menu to fuel the energy of your wanderlust and set you on a course for a wunderbar journey. (Approved by my Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetic Educator husband.)
    Healthy and happy foods make for good traveling companions. If you eat mostly healthy food, you’ll feel better and will probably consume fewer calories than if you eat a lot of junk food. The cold things need to be in a cooler with ice and the rest can be packed in a cute container with compartments or in a basket that’s easy to get to. A friend always puts her veggies in mason jars with ice water. Don’t forget paper towels, wet wipes or wet washcloths in bags and a trash bag.
    Tip: My sister-in-law makes her husband stop once a day for a sit-down meal on long road trips. I like to pack a portable propane grill or chef’s single burner, a pot, spoon, disposable paper plates and bowls. You can heat up soup, and add a packaged salad or cook a simple meal, even oatmeal or eggs for breakfast.
    When you are trying to make good time on the road, here are some of our favorite snacks to pack for the journey.
  • Drinks

    A cooler filled with ice and drinks will be your best friend on the road. Consider forgoing the usual sodas (sticky) and try some of these suggestions:
    Water and fruit-infused water in bottles (strawberry, orange, lemon, cucumber, etc.)
    Sometimes you need caffeinated soda for drowsiness. It can also be diluted half and half with water so it’s not so sweet, or try the diet variety.
    Fruit juices and nectars
    V8 and vegetable juices
    (Vernor’s) ginger ale for motion sickness
    Bring straws.
  • Snacks

    A cramped car is the last place you want to jam a bunch of sugar-filled children. Give the traditional candy and chocolate bars a break on this trip and pack some of these items instead.
    Mixed nuts
    String cheese
    Whole grain crackers
    Trail Mix: I don’t like raisins and sticky foods in the car, but we do have a great dry trail mix made with mixed nuts, M&Ms, whole grain cereal and candy corn.
    Confession: I like adding oat and marshmallow cereal (Lucky Charms), but you could make it healthier with whole grain oat or wheat cereal. Pack it in bags or keep it in a large container and scoop out small paper cupfuls to pass around:
    2 C plain M & Ms (about a pound)
    5 C mixed nuts or peanuts
    1 1/2 C candy corn
    4 C cereal
    Fresh fruits: grapes, apples, bananas and cut up melon for older and neater eaters
    Fresh veggies: carrots, jicama, cucumber, grape tomatoes, celery, broccoli, peppers
    Sandwiches, wraps and pinwheels (tortilla rolls with cream cheese, meat, tomato slices and lettuce)
    Whole grain bagels and cream cheese
    When you know the trip will be long, don’t waste time stopping numerous times for food. Instead, why not consider packing a loaf of whole wheat bread and jars of peanut butter, honey or jelly (and a spreader). It’s a money-saver as well as a time saver on the road. You may also offer your hungry passengers these items:
    Yogurt in tubes
    Bar cookies are usually thicker and more stable than round ones
    Homemade granola bars
    More travel tips:
    Pack a Frisbee or football for quick and stretching workouts at rest stops. Be sure to find a safe place to play.
    Bring something soft and fuzzy like a stuffed toy or blankie for young travelers. Stroking something soft helps relieve stress. (The cat probably would rather be left at home.)
    Pack some sunscreen in the car for stops and sightseeing.
    Paint the back of a wooden tray with chalkboard paint and pack some chalk and a rag. If you don’t want crayons and markers in the car, the kids can still draw and play games and the tray can be used for snacks and a play surface.
    Busy books, paper dolls, toy cars and dinosaurs and simple travel games can be wonderful. You can get ideas and free templates on social media sites.
    Incentives: have a container of money in the car labeled with a list of forbidden actions like name-calling, whining, hitting, etc. If the kids get out of line, take out some of the money. Give them what is left for souvenirs and special treats.
    Buy a donut-shaped travel pillow for each passenger. They are heavenly for a quick snooze without waking up with a stiff neck.
    Check out a few well-written audio books from the library. You may tire of the constant interaction, conversation and “togetherness.” Put on a good story and relax; better yet, find a series. Listening makes the time pass faster, too. To keep the happiness meter up, we love good comedies by Dave Barry and Bill Cosby. Do your older children have books they need to read for school? You can knock out a reading assignment and have an interesting discussion to boot.
    You don’t have to leave your happy, healthy lifestyle on the side of the road. With a little preparation ahead of time, your family trip can be just as pleasant along the way as the anticipated destination.
  • Beef jerky

Old-fashioned Ideas for Summer Fun

Here are ideas for summer play from an article I wrote for FamilyShare:

Old-fashioned ideas for summer fun

Summer is a great time to enjoy creative play with your children and grandchildren. Here’s a big jar full of creative activities to help you enjoy your busy and happy little ones this summer.

  • Summer days are like a canvas; ready for painting in any imaginative way. Freed from the restraints of school performance and other scheduled obligations, children are ready to let their imaginations run wild. In the days gone by, parents encouraged their kids to play outside, usually without a lot of supervision or expensive props. Enjoy some of the best of the past by turning the little ones loose to explore and create their own interesting adventures and worlds. The lawn may take a hit, but remember, you are raising children, not grass. Provide lots of drinking water and a few healthy snacks and watch the exquisite workings of the imagination unfold!
  • Here are a few ideas for enjoyable old-fashioned summer play

    Fill a large jar with slips of paper with ideas for activities and games. After chores are finished or if boredom begins to rear its ugly head, let the children select a slip of paper to jumpstart imaginative play. For ideas to fill your activity jar, you can download a list here.
  • No purchase necessary

    Provide simple items and encourage the children to participate in imaginative play. A few things to have on hand might include: large cardboard boxes, building toys such as interlocking blocks and Tinkertoys, old dress-up clothes, a few pots and pans, play money, dolls and assorted things (clean out a junk drawer).
  • Kids love a hideaway

    Help the children create one by setting up a tent or tying up a few ropes and blankets. This becomes a fort, store, castle, fashion show, stage or spy base. They are only limited by their imaginations. My sister, brother and I used to love playing together and with the other children in the neighborhood. We were secret agents, shopkeepers, fashion models, teachers and nurses, mermaids and stars. We created treasure hunts, obstacle courses, private clubs, zoos, safaris and worlds of wonder — even an imaginary candy land (before Willy Wonka).
  • Here are some simple ideas for themed play

  • Superspy

    Create surveillance and communication equipment from assorted stuff: old lipstick tubes, interlocking blocks and other junk. This might be challenging for kids used to having cell phones, but put away the real electronics and see what their brilliant little minds can come up with. From their super secret spy base, they may just save the world!
  • Box it up

    A whole world of transportation can be created from cardboard boxes. From trains and planes to cars, boats and rockets, your adventurers can zoom around the world and beyond. Other uses: forts, shops, castles and home sweet home.
  • Little Squirts

    Acquire an arsenal of hydrotactical assault weapons (get some water guns.) This is a tip from a recent high school graduate. Refill buckets are essential, but keep babies and toddlers away.
  • Wildflower Tea Party

    Invite the girls for a charming social. The hostess can make and hand out invitations, set the table (which could be a box), gather flowers for a centerpiece, pour juice and pass cookies and sweets.
  • Treasure Hunt

    Turn the older creative ones loose to create a treasure hunt for the little ones. Find landmarks, hide clues and try to get to the prize before the pirates do.
  • Dress up

    Gather a few interesting pieces of clothing and create a Bible story, fashion show or play. Our favorites were Peter Pan, we were either flying or playing mermaids in our wading pool, rock star and runway. On Sundays the Old Testament provides lots of great epic tales to recreate.
    Free playtime is a great incentive and reward for finishing chores. Children love creating all kinds of fun using invention and wit and developing social and imaginative skills. Save money and enjoy a little old-fashioned fun this summer with your children, you will be glad you did.

Homegrown Summer Fun

As you and your littles hit the beach, hit the road or enjoy a staycation, here a few favorite blast-from-the-past summer blogs to jumpstart your creativity – happy summer everyone!

I love the ocean. I believe that the beach is one of the places Mother Nature is at her finest.
I spent my growing up years at, near or in the ocean and would like to share a few tips
to help make your beach days even more pleasant. For all you lucky ones who will spend your day frolicking in the surf, enjoy!
Taking children to swim at the beach? Get a tide chart and check for low tide, the waves are smaller and usually more gentle. You can go to this website, select your beach and get a schedule for the days you’ll be at the ocean.

Flotation devices make the day more fun; Boogey boards and inner tubes take you over the top!
Look for a beach with lifeguards, they are trained to spot unsafe water conditions such as rip tides and sharks. They keep an eye on everything happening on their beach, are trained in first aid and are worth their weight in gold.

Watch for warning flags near the water; some warn of unsafe conditions, others delineate surf and swim areas. Obey warning signs, these people know what they are talking about.

Say a little prayer for me; don’t forget a little prayer of thanks and help for a safe and fun day.

Near the water, the tiny v-shaped marks in the sand mean sand crabs. If you dig a hole and let the waves swirl in, sometimes you can see sand crabs swimming around. Pick one up, they tickle!

Buckets, shovels, sieves and molds make building a blast!

One word: SUNSCREEN.

Bring bags for shell collecting. The earlier in the morning you go, the better the selection. You probably don’t want to take home crabs and seaweed, they don’t live very long and get stinky. Some places, such as tide pools, have restrictions on taking things from nature. Just watch for signs and follow the rules. If you can’t find shells you like, there are often gift stores nearby that sell them as well as post cards to help you remember your summer fun.

Jellyfish – leave them alone. Most are not lethal, but if you do get stung, white vinegar applied to the site for 15 – 30 minutes quickly will neutralize the toxins and ease the pain. Remove tentacles and stingers, you can use a credit card to scrape them off. If the victim experiences difficulty breathing get medical help immediately.

A final word of advice, don’t shave before going in salt water – ouch!

Have a wonderful day the beach – God’s playground for children.

photo courtesy of

(This entry is from the archives/May 2012) 

You LOVE your children and want to have fun and make good memories. But – those summer days can be a bit long. Here are a few ideas for activities for a happy summer. Print, cut up into slips, pick out the ones that work for your family and store in a cute container. When they finish their chores and are looking for things to do, here you go. Happy Summer!

I’m packing a picnic basket with more ideas for homemade summer fun, watch for them here at!