Friday, October 31, 2014

Boo-Yah...It's Halloween!

I can't believe Halloween is here! We've had a heck of a month filled with fun traditions, and look forward to the kids trick or treating tonight! I also have to say that this season of all that is pumpkin has been the best one yet! The kids are excited to dress up in their costume for tricks and to get some treats....even my 14 year old! I will post more about our Halloween evening next week, but for now what you see is what you get...three Jack-O'-Lanterns made by three great kids! One of them with the help from papa! 

Happy Halloween!! 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Carving Of The Pumpkins.

As each new week begins one of the things that I look forward to is our family home evening. The older the kids gets, and the older I get I feel that it is even more crucial to keep up family home evening. Granted Jon and I didn't have our own family home evenings as a couple when we were newlyweds, nor for the first five years of our marriage! It wasn't until I got sealed in the temple with Jon and our girls is when we seriously committed to have FHE every week no matter what. No matter how older the girls got, and no matter how big our family gets we will have always continued to have FHE. There have been days in the past when we'd have it on Sunday rather than monday only because Jon worked Monday nights, but least we still prepared for it! 

This past week has been so crazy! Heck the whole month of October has been crazy. Crazy in a sense of juggling life as a mother, wife, friend, neighbor, daughter, daughter-in-law, and sister in the church can make someone nuts!! Nonetheless amidst all the many hats I wear I've managed to contain my composure in not worrying about the little things, and to strive to have faith in not worrying too much about the big things!! Luckily we have three kids still left at home who reassure me that life is good, that each day is new, and that every Monday brings a new week to do better regardless of any circumstance. It's the week of Halloween for crying out loud, and shouldn't we be having fun instead of sweating the small stuff, in trying to forget the bad stuff for just that one day, and have fun!  

Well...this week we did just that! 

We picked pumpkins this past weekend, and for our FHE this past Monday we finally carved them!! Finally! Better late in October than never right? The last time we carved pumpkins was like three years ago!! We did paint pumpkins last year, but it had been a while since we carved any, and so I'm glad we got to do that this year! 

You'd think the girls would be the ones to not want to get their hands dirty, but instead it was this little guy. Such a goof. I hope that as he gets older he'll want to get his hands dirty! Papa helped him...for now! 
This was also Noah's first time carving a pumpkin, and all he did was carve. Carve, carve, carve. He carved, and drew the face of how he wanted his pumpkin to look like with the help of papa.

As usual Chelsea went to town with her little 'kin gutting and scraping him to the core!
We also made popcorn balls for our trunk or treat we had our church this past week. Another tradition that we have kept up for the past eight years! Noah and Chelsea made them this year, and they had too much fun! 
^^^ Don't worry trunk or treaters...their hands are clean! ^^^ 
This year for the first time instead of throwing away the pumpkin seeds we decided to roast them. We baked them and seasoned them with chili, garlic powder, cumin, seasoning salt, sugar and cinnamon! It was delish! 

Reason why you don't see Lexie in any of these pictures is because she was doing homework. I know...this was our time spent as a family, but at least she helped dad as to what she wanted carved on her pumpkin that best described her. Even though this was our FHE for the week it was more of a "fun night" than an actual "spiritual" night. Our lesson was on building traditions, and continuing to keep them in hopes on passing them on down to our posterity. 

The end result of the carving of the pumpkins...
Ta-da! Can you tell whose is whose? The one with the music notes & tennis ball is Lexie's, and the smallest one is Noah's. And the one with the very sharp Chelsea! I think they all did a good job with carving their pumpkins! 

***It's the day before Halloween...have you carved your pumpkins yet?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lee Turkey Farm Pumpkin Patch.

On the last weekend of October we finally made it to the pumpkin patch. For a minute there I thought we weren't going to be able to not go due to conflicting schedules. Since Lexie missed out on going apple picking this year I wanted to find a day where Lexie could come without missing any of her after school activities. Well...the only day we could all go was on Saturday, and so we made it. If you don't know us by now we are a very spontaneous people, and I am beginning to believe that spontaneous people go to spontaneous places they've never been to spontaneously. We love exploring different parts in New Jersey, and so we found this turkey farm which was very unique. 

This farm has the cleanest apple orchard. We have already decided to go apple picking here next year. I love how the trees are all lined up, kept up, and well maintained. They had everything growing on the patch from pumpkins on a vine, to cabbage, tomatoes, and even broccoli! You can literally smell the broccoli as you're walking down the patch. Truly amazing! Makes me want to seriously plant my own! 

Anyway here are a few pictures from our adventure on Saturday. There is no hayride out to the patch on this farm which was different for me, and I actually like their style of supplying wagons, and trekking out to the patch. It's not a far walk at all, and we all had fun taking turns pushing it. 

The kids had so much fun picking. I swear the older Noah and Chelsea get the pickier they get in which pumpkin they want to choose. It only took them an hour but it was worth it, and so fun watching their every move...literally.
 ^^^ Don't you just love the chocolate milk stain on his Hello t-shirt?! ^^^
^^^ Taking a break from trying to find the perfect pumpkin! ^^^
At first Noah thought that this was a watermelon! Since watermelon is his favorite he actually wanted to take this one home too, but alas they all found their perfect pumpkins! 
^^^ Silly pumpkin heads! ^^^
And so I end this post with more pictures than words such as this one because sometimes looking at a picture can be worth more than a thousand words. Love this boy, and the fact that we all ventured out once again as a family keeps me going. I really love this whole 'spontaneous trip planning family outings' we have. They keep us young at heart, and full of energy. 

The only thing missing is having our other daughter here to spend harvest time with us this fall. I'll always reflect back on the last time she went pumpkin picking with us, and helped Noah pick a pumpkin. That reflection of my life with her will always be priceless, and remain in my heart forever. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Handwritten Letter Can Mean So Much.

So my ever goofy mother tells me that I write too much. She tells me that she only loves seeing pictures of the family. I was like, rude!! But seriously, even though she may not read my entire post knowing that she is at least scrolling down through the pictures makes me happy. I think that if she had her own computer she would actually read all my posts in their entirety, but because she doesn't and doesn't get the chance to go over her friends house too spy on me online too often can be frustrating for her. She's so old school, and even if we bought her a computer I honestly don't think she'd use it too much. She has an old school flip phone, and hardly ever texts. Heck, she hardly calls, but will write. Isn't it ironic for someone who likes receiving, writing, and mailing handwritten letters doesn't read blog posts. She'll also read books, but has to be in the mood. Again...all my posts are on a computer, on not on a piece of paper so..... Luckily the kids and I send her good mail from time to time, and that she enjoys that very much. 

Which brings me to what this post is about.  


Okay mom if you're looking at this post I promise I'll limit the amount of words typed on this screen, and I'll try my best to blog like it's 2005 with pictures instead of words, but forgive me if this post ends up being picture less and a little too long for ya! 

Ever since I was a little girl I learned from my mother that it is kind and thoughtful to write to others, and send thank you cards every time someone sends us something. That was very rare back in the day, because we hardly ever got any gifts via snail mail from anyone. Now that I'm older with children I constantly have friends, and family write, and send packages from time to time. I have, and will always encourage them to never lose the art of handwriting, and to never forget to send someone a thank you card...even if it's local. Even though I've noticed my hands aching after a while of writing, I still manage to send a card every now and then to anyone who I feel may use a little "pick me up." Even a random letter just saying hello, or I'm thinking of you can mean so much to that individual. Texting, Facebook, twitter, instagram??? What? What's that??? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all thought that way from time to time?  Knowing that you took the time to sit down, put pen to paper to send a lovely thought to someone can go a long way. 

I know at times my daughter will tell me that when she calls her friends they either don't pick up the phone, or "freak out" when they answer. I honestly think that's the saddest thing because nowadays a phone conversation can mean so much. Knowing the person through a voice instead of silent texting is much better. Even though I consider myself "social savvy" I'm pretty old school when it comes to snail mail, and calling people. So often I will text or email, and ever since I got into the bad habit of emailing certain people I have caught myself emailing them in such a way where it can give a different meaning to the other person on the other end, therefore I will call instead. 

I know that it's never too late to teach our children even at the age of four to learn to write their own thank you cards, or a short note. If a toddler can draw stick figures, circles, a square, I'm pretty sure that they can write "i love you" "miss you" and their name. Start them out with small sentences, and I guarantee they'll get into the habit of writing as they get older. I also think that if you keep a handwritten journal that'll help them even more. The task is to keep it up, and may I add that it can be very therapeutic too!
I love mail! I love to write, and I have my mom to thank for that! She was (still can be) a good example of corresponding, and never want to waste that art. Even when I'm old, 80, and grey! 

And so with the holidays coming up instead of texting, emailing, or typing a message via social networking make an effort to send a card. I guarantee it'll make someone's day! 

"Email is a way to exchange information, but nothing beats sitting across from the friends you love, and have known for years sharing your lives and news. I feel recharged when there is that shorthand, the inside jokes that need no explaining, the revisiting of friendship lore, the sympaththetic ear of a friend who is also dealing with elderly parents or a child's undecided future plans. These friendships were never ones that were taken for granted, and still aren't." 

Rita Wilson couldn't have said it any better, but I will add in snail mail, and picking up the phone to reach out to those friends who are just too far away to sit with them and have a coke, and talk about our families. 

Okay...I think this post without any family pics has gotten ridiculous for my mom to read (if she's reading it) so I'm logging out! 

Happy Monday! 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Have Faith.

Jeffrey R. Holland said, "Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven who loves you more than you can comprehend  Never, ever doubt that, and never harden your heart" is a reminder to help guide us when we're confronted with any emotional trial whether big or small. Especially one that is so fragile, and unexpected in which we've never faced before. It can ease us through the grievances, and heartache it will bring. With that said quote we not let the adversary win, and harden our hearts, but to have faith that no matter what happens in the end it'll be God's will, and plan.

As parents you never know what you're going to expect when it comes to your child. We create them, and nurture them the best we can in raising them with true principles, but in the end they will find their own way. And as parents we want them to find the "correct" way, but that's not always going to be the case. Sometimes they're going to hit a  few bumps on the road, and find ways to heal from their mistakes. Some ways may be by default with negativity, and some ways may be followed by making good choices with positive actions.  There will be moments when all you want to do is coddle them to help them find their way back to goodness, but all you can do is allow them to find their own way in hopes that it is a positive one, pray your heart out, and have faith that everything will work out in the end. By reminding them constantly of who they are in this world, what their purpose is in this life, and what they were taught throughout their youth in the church as well as in the home where they once felt safe, but most of all letting them know that they are never alone. 

Raising children requires a lot of work from the moment they come out of our womb. And in between the laughter, and good times bringing a child in this world is hard from the beginning, in the middle, and also when the time comes for them to leave the nest. Some of us end up having high expectations because let's face it...we all want our children to do better with their life both spiritually and temporally. Unfortunately, we have the adversary who is roaming around with his claws wide open working overtime waiting to bring down every good soul out there who has so much to give in this life. Tricks them by making something that's bad, look really good. Tests them to the point where he will find ways to target them because of their valiance, worthiness, and make them feel the exact opposite...a failure, unworthy, useless, damaged, used up, and no good. I know this because I have been there, and I see it happening to the youth. The best part of being a parent in spite of all the hardships one faces while parenting, is the unconditional love we have for our children, and the love that comes from within. And in between the yelling, lecturing, and love. Love and compassion. Many of us may not have that, hence hardening our hearts to the point to oblivion where we are feeling like miserable souls ourselves. Sad, and crying like we've never before because we put our trust in God, and everything we believe in hopes that they'll never forget what morals, and values they were taught as children, goals they had set up in hopes that they will achieve them, as well as people we trusted to guard, and protect our children.  

One thing we can rely on, and hope to never forget is knowing that the love we have comes form the Divine to help ease our soul, and mind for any bad situation one may be in whether it's suffering from depression, drugs, alcohol, or breaking the law of chastity. Building, and having faith in knowing that can bring us more hope, less stress, and help our faith grow even stronger.  

**You can read the rest of Jeffery R. Holland's talk "Like a Broken Vessel" here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

FHE with Meet The Mormons.

Ever since we heard that the church was releasing yet another great "mormon" film I was praying and hoping that it would make it to theaters in our area. Well, low and behold it did, and luckily for Family Home Evening we were able to catch a viewing of Meet the Mormons. And for those of who are American Idol fans, and a fan of David Archuletta, he also released a song for the film called "Glorious" and it truly is a "glorious" song! 

Meet the Mormons is a feature-length documentary of six families from around the world telling their story of how they live their lives as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints so if you are interested in knowing our beliefs, and who we are I highly recommend watching it. 

All of these stories resonated with me in many ways, and each story told goes to show that the gospel of Jesus Christ is indeed a powerful tool that can help change our lives for the better. The fact that most of the members that told their stories are converts, and of ethnicity hit close to home, and I certainly wasn't expecting so much emotion! Every single conversion story was amazing and in no doubt the work of The Lord. 

The Bishop
The Coach
The Candy Bomber
The Fighter
The Humanitarian
The Missionary Mom

All of their stories were emotional, inspirational, and a motivator to me in what it means to endure to the end in striving to lead a life of Christ. "Service is the bottom line to happiness and fulfillment" wise words by Gail Halvorsen who is known as The Candy Bomber.  His story is the perfect example of leading a long life of service and what it means to endure to the end. The fact that he's 94 years old still parachuting candy along various places in Berlin is proof that he's genuine, and true in being a disciple of Christ. 

I wish I could say I had a favorite story because they were all so inspiring, and moving! But the one that really hit home to me was the Missionary mom. Knowing that my mother raised my sister, and I on her own for the first nine years of my life had to have been hard especially without having any kind of firm foundation of God. I've also experienced friends having babies at a very young age, and I know it couldn't have been easy. The fact that I have a son, and knowing that he will be serving a mission in almost 13 years is something I cannot fathom, but definitely imagine. I look forward to that day, and know that underneath all those tears will be feelings of joy, and excitement knowing that he will be serving the Lord faithfully for two years. I have a long ways to go, but I am prepared, and this missionary mom in the film is an example of strength, and endurance in never giving up on her faith in God.

"There are people like me waiting for our lives to be changed." ~The Missionary Mom

I loved every single story, and the tears just kept flowing as each story was being told. You can probably tell by the photo that I had been crying! I knew that I was going to ball like a baby so no makeup was worn!'s truly an inspirational film in witnessing six families living their life as a mormon in places such as Atlanta, Annapolis, Costa Rica, Salt Lake City, Khatmandu, Nepal and Germany. It was another perfect moment to bond even closer with my family, and we certainly have been needing some uplifting these days. I recommend either seeing this movie in theaters before its too late, or if you're patient enough just wait for the video.

I'd watch it in theaters now if I were you, and make sure you bring some tissue, and your entire family! 

You'll leave feeling rejuvenated and wanting to do better in this world! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Howell Farm Corn Maze.

When we went to Howell farm during the summer, and found out that they have a corn maze during the month of October we knew we had to fit that in our schedule and come. The last time we went to a corn maze was six years ago in North Carolina. Why I never thought to go or even find one since moving to Jersey is beyond me, and a dumb choice at that because this was truly fun!! Memories of going to a corn maze in North carolina are sweet because the girls were little. The only thing I didn't agree with was the weather. I remember dressing up the girls in warm clothing fleece jackets, and cable knit sweaters in hopes that if they dress in winter wear the weather will turn cooler. Not! It was in the high 70's, and yet we managed to have fun, and endure the maze during an indian summer. This time the fall weather in Jersey has been perfect. Perfect to wear scarfs, and warm clothing where you're not sweating underneath all those layers. A perfect day to enter the corn maze

Before we drove out to the maze we decided to capture a few photos of how autumn at Howell farm is done... 
^^^ Holding his little pumpkin with an ear to ear smile. ^^^
^^^ Tried to get Noah to smile, but he kept laughing. I think this is the cutest picture of him yet! ^^^
^^^ And finally got one of him smiling, but without looking at the camera! ^^^

^^^ Howell farm has a courtyard complete with a pumpkin patch, hayrides, food, and this "haybale maze" that Noah couldn't get off of! ^^^
^^^ Best german potato salad ever! ^^^ 
^^^ Noah and his pumpkin filled stick with candy corn. As if he needs any sugar right now...especially before entering the maze. ^^^
It was so much fun watching these kids preparing for the maze. For a moment I felt as if I was on an episode of the Amazing Race, or in a scene from the movie Maze Runner without grievers chasing you, or the maze turning every five seconds! And so we were ready to begin this adventure of experiencing the longest running corn maze in Jersey! 
This maze was so unique compared to the one we went to in North Carolina. There was a time clock, and we were given a game board to put all the hidden clues on it. You can even pick a flag to carry around so your team can no where you are. Noah and Chelsea agreed on one, and Chelsea had a blast walking around with it. There was music playing all around the maze, and at one point saw Chelsea marching to the beat of the music. I had to remind her that we are on a time clock and that we need to work quickly to find these clues, and not goof around too much. 
 I did however manage to capture a few photos. 

One thing for sure is you do not want to mess with this girl when it comes to anything on a time clock. Lexie is competitive when it came to the maze. She certainly wasn't competitive back when she was eight living in North Carolina. Oh man this girl was on top of it, and found all of the hidden clues.  
Jon was a huge help as well when Noah wasn't sitting on his shoulders. When he wasn't on his shoulders I was  t he one holding the reigns making sure he wasn't getting lost or crossing through the cornfields. There's a ribbon there for a reason, and even though they had all these rules of not running, or cutting through the maze to get ahead (cheating) people weren't listening. We saw a few kids doing that, but kids will be kids right. We realized that it's more challenging, and fun when you're honest!

It took us an entire hour to finish the maze. Lexie mentioned that we could have finished it quicker if they're weren't too many people around, but that's what makes it fun! Amidst all those twists, and turns in the maze we made good timing and our victory was won! 
^^^ Beautiful sunset. ^^^
Howell farm has officially become one of my favorite hidden gems in Jersey. There's only one more weekend to explore the maze, and I highly recommend going! I guarantee you will have the time of your life! It was so much fun that we stayed here all day well into the evening. 
Sitting with my family in front of a fire was perfection. I only wish our Sierra was here to have experienced all the fun...that would have made my entire day complete! 

Until next year!