Friday, September 19, 2014

Facing Trials With Gratitude & Learning From Them.

I
Life takes us on many unexpected turns and it's up to me to either accept the turn and let it take it's course, or do something about it and change it. I choose the latter. Ever since we moved to Jersey we've had many a hardships but by the grace of God, our faith in Him, and believeing in His love & never leaving our side has helped us to accept every hard turn, have allowed it to let it run its course without any embitterment, and in the end learned from the challenges, and to never ever forget.

Ever. 

Why shouldn't we ever forget about the struggles we've faced or our shortcomings? Because you never know when you're going to be faced with them again.

And we have had to face them over, and over, and over again.

And I'm sure there are going to be more. Which is fine with me because after so many lessons learned I'm ready. One thing I've learned from all the struggles we've had since the beginning of our marriage is the fact that I never forget them. Reflecting back on past struggles, and how we handled them can better teach us how to handle them today. It's crucial to never forget the trial, to remember about what the trial taught us, and to remember all that happened in between that trial. What we did to overcome it, how we handled it, and what we learned from the trials. And in a good way to try to remember all that was good throughout that trial, as well as expressing gratitude throughout that trial. Key word being trial. Just wanted to clarify! 

When our car broke down two years ago that was the very first time in about 17 years of marriage where we actually focused on what was going on throughout the trial. The way we handled things, and how we found solutions in getting to the places we needed to go without transportation was sometimes frustrating, but in between we found the joy & appreciation knowing that this too shall pass, and explored our little borough via foot and discovered things we've never seen before

We used to focus on the beginning and end of past trials, and was never happy in between. Never really strived to find a solution. We'd sulk, and eventually found a resolve, but man did it take a toll on us. We 'd always complain, and say things like "Why us" , and "I can't wait till this is over." We were always stressing, and fighting. Never did any of us any good really, and all it'll do is put stress on the kids if you constantly stress and complain in front of them. Take them out of the equation, but also let them know what' s going on. I recall there was never enough prayer, or even support, and without those things forget it...life will be even harder. We have learned that focusing in the middle of all that is happening throughout the trial will teach us something. I personally often try to find ways to laugh through it all because let's face it...what else can we do. Crying, being bitter, whining, and complaining "woe is me, no one cares" constantly and avoiding the world will not make the situation any better. I have found that it'll only make the trial worse, and focusing on the negativity of it all will not make it go away any faster. 

This is what we are teaching our children. We constantly teach them to think, and pray in the midst of any trial they may be experiencing. To have focus on the purpose of living and to put all their effort into Heavenly Father's hands with gratitude. 

Having our oldest daughter living 1700 miles away from us hasn't been easy for me because while she was here I was always there to help guide her and lift her up in person. We'd go on walks, thrift shopping, and have lunch every chance we get. Even though she is living with my in laws doesn't mean that her life will be perfect. If anything she is learning and growing from all her experiences she has had there with school, and relationships. My mother in law is not her mother, but her grandmother, and guardian and even though they're under the same roof doesn't mean that everything will be built to perfection, and that is exactly why i constantly text, write, and will call her from time to time. It's so important to stay on top of our children no matter how old they get. We think our kids our strong, but in today's society with the adversary hanging around the most valiant individuals will try so hard to bring them down to an all time low. I know this from experience because not only have I experienced it as a single adult, but married with children as well. 

I'm extremely grateful for the gospel in my life because I know that without that my life would have fallen apart a long time ago. My marriage would have fallen apart years ago. It's so easy nowadays to just give up on life, and God. We tend to give up on our children as well, and I see a lot of that. No matter how exhausted I may get when it comes to life as a mother I will always find a way through it all. 

Prayer, service, attending the temple, and laughing are three of the things that keep my spirits high.

Prayer because I know that Heavenly Father is listening, and telling me not to cry, and that this too shall pass. 

Serving because when I think of others it totally makes me forget about my own problems, and the love for it just keeps growing. It never gets old. 

Laughing because it is the best medicine. Especially when our car broke down while road tripping (and there have been so many of them!) Smiling with tears because our nine year old gave you all the money from her wallet after hearing when Jon lost his job . 

Attending the temple is just about the highest of the highs for me. I leave that building feeling I can conquer anything. I have found the peace so deep within my soul that no matter what awaits for me when I step outside that beautiful building no drama, no trial, heartache, loss of a job, or family member can take that away. I have to be strong in this life. I want to be strong in this life. I need to be strong in this life. For myself, for God, and for my family. 

All those things is what helps me guide my way through. I want that for my children, and no matter how far family may live away from me especially my daughter I want her to know that having faith in all those things can make any bumpy road a smoother surface to navigate through. 

Knowing that we survived from all the trials we've had before will help us get through the ones that are about to come, and may be currently going through. And putting all the faith that we can muster into said trials will make us stronger individuals, and our soul worth living. 

***I love this talk by President Deiter F. Uchtdorf. He has such a humble heart, and always assures me that there is always light in the midst of any tribulation.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On The Cusp of a New Season.

The days are getting shorter, and the weather is getting cooler. Not that I mind, but sometimes I would like for the days to last just a bit longer. I'm slowly putting away our summer clothes, and saltwater sandals, and it actually feels pretty good to be doing so. September is a big deal for me not because it's my birthday month, but because the cusp of autumn becomes more official. Next to summer, fall is definitely my  favorite & this season prepares me for back to school nights, Halloween, & Noah's birthday. Those are the things I tend to concentrate on throughout my birthday month. Turning 43 in a week seems surreal because I feel as if I have a young heart. Hitting 40 didn't freak me out like I thought it would. It was just another day for me, and hopefully I'll have the same mentality when I turn 50, and so on! I'm focusing on the now in enjoying life. The years & days seem to get shorter & in a sense I think I am too! Spending my days with Noah is all I want to do right now. I don't yearn for a job or a career at this time. My time during the day is with him & today we both had a lunch date with papa at the pop shop. Because he's still on a "probation period" with UPS he's only been working a few days a week, and has two more days till it's over (yes!) Since we didn't have a date night last week we decided to have lunch at one of my favorite places. I'm grateful for those free meal coupons I get via email for my birthday. 
We didn't mind that we had Noah because he is the life to every party...literally! Everything was delicious as usual. I had a yummy tuna melt topped with swiss cheese & Jon had a sandwich with shrimp in it (I forgot the name), and Noah, well...he mostly drank all my root beer (he had cereal for lunch earlier!)  
Pop Shop's signature is are the "paper hats" and we all decorated them. Noah kind of added a little bit of his art on mine! He is the funniest boy & sometimes I have to calm him down. He's not used to drinking soda & when he does boy is he like the energizer bunny. He'll just keep going, and going until that sugar wears him down. We had the sickest shake known to man & if you've never had one you've got to try it. They have a variety of flavors & because it's my birthday month I got the chocolate Oreo! It was mouthwatering & between me & Jon that thing was devoured in seconds. 
We then went for a drive to check out if the rain brought forth any colors to some of the leaves. I love, love going on drives whether it's out in the boonies or further north which in this case we only drove within our neighborhood. We did see tiny hints of yellow, and red on a few trees, but nothing really bright! We get the changing of the leaves here pretty late in Jersey so hopefully when we venture our further north in the future we'll see some color. Right now what we saw is what we got which were brown, light golden discolored leaves. We didn't mind & Noah was still a happy camper especially when I told him when the leaves fall to the ground we'll have ourselves a leaf war. I think  after his last birthday he's fully aware that he's a fall baby like his mama & when he sees me happy he's happy too. 

Jon snapped a few shots of us brown leaves and all! 
One thing for sure we are super excited for autumn to officially arrive so that we can have apple cinnamon, and pumpkin scented candles, sweater weather, wearing scarves, go apple and pumpkin picking, and have a hay ride -drinking hot cocoa kind of days! 

Happy Wednesday! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Things Noah Said During the First Week of School...


The first week of school went really well for the girls. They all love their classes, and so far their teachers are pretty neat. Lexie can find her way around the high school (it helps having had her sister attend there for four years), she absolutely LOVES tennis, playing in the pep band, and had their first football game of the season. She looks forward to more tennis matches, and football games and then auditioning for the fall play. Add in waking up at 5am for early morning seminary for the rest of the school year! Busy girl, but she loves it all! 

Fourth graders have it pretty easy so far, and Chelsea loves her teacher. I never worry about Chelsea's behavior in class, it's the other kids I worry about that make things hard on the teacher that don't pay attention, and bug Chelsea. Hopefully this year will go smooth, but it's usually inevitable and luckily Chelsea has the tolerance, and a mouth to let the teacher know when a child is misbehaving, and bothering her. Overall...I'm sure they are all going to have a great year. 

Now I get to have my one on one full attention with Noah. He's my first priority, and even though I give him some time on his own to entertain himself I still watch his every move including the things he says. And boy has he uttered some pretty funny things lately. Come hang out with my kid, and you'll "hear" what I'm talking about. 

Just listen to (read) these sayings....

"Where's my back to school sign mommy. I want to hold it. It's so pretty!" 

Chelsea: "Mom my fleece jacket from last year fits better & I can wear now." Noah: "Mom, Chelsea's coats from last year fit now...can I wear mine too."

Chelsea: "I'm so happy because Ms. Kelley gave me a blue folder...my favorite color!" Noah: "Mom, since Chelsea's teacher gave her a blue folder can i have one in red? Okay mom? Red. I want red mom."


Me: "Noah, what kind of cereal would you like? Scooters, or Life? Noah: "Um...I want your cereal  mommy." (I eat frosted flakes.)

"Daddy, my spit has boogers in it!"

"Mommy I want shark and whale Lego's." 

Me: "Noah, do you want to stay here with Lexie or come with us to the store?" Noah: "I want to play on the computer." Me: "This is not multiple choice." 

"Mommy,  are you my mommy?" 
Me: "Yes Noah...I'm mommy. Are you my  Noah?" Noah: "Mommy I'm a boy!" Me: "Yes, I know your a boy, and your Noah too." Noah: "I'm a boy named Noah. And daddy's a man named daddy & your a girl named mommy!" 

Noah: "Where are my sisters? Is Sierra coming home? I want her." Me: "They're all at school Noah, and Sierra is in Utah." Noah: "I want to go to school too, I want to go to Utah, and wear my Darth Vader backpack. I want my sisters mommy." Me: "Next year Noah, next year you can go to school, and they will all be home soon okay?" 
Noah: "Oooooohhhhhhkaaaaaaaay." 

And This is why I absolutely love staying home with Noah & tending to his every need 24/7! I love giving my full attention to this boy & no matter how many gray hairs I get because of the off the wall answers I get they are all worth it! I. Am. Never. Bored!

My ears have been so attuned lately with the things he's been saying & I have managed to retain his words, and quickly jot them down every time he says something worth remembering. He's growing up way too fast, and want to notate every word that he utters. I didn't really record any of the things the girls said while they were toddlers  except write about the silly things they did. I'm sure the girls had 'cute sayings' but  for some reason this boy is different & the things he's said so far are pretty sweet, and funny. 

So I'm paying extra attention to his words & have started saving his voice mails too. They're so sweet & most of them occur when we're out running errands. He'll call asking me to not forget the milk or Hawaiian rolls. Sometimes I have my phone on vibrate which causes them to leave me a voice mail.  Luckily there hasn't been any major emergencies when they've called me, but those Hawaiian rolls for Noah are a pretty big emergency for him. 

After listening to a podcast on NPR on how a mother recorded her children on an answering machine when they were little got me doing the same thing. I began saving all of our kids voice mails. Too bad I started late with Sierra.  It'll be interesting to hear her voice at 24 & compare it to a message she left when she was 17. Same with Lexie and Chelsea. They are both still young, and developing and look forward to the day when they are all in their 20's so that they can hear how their voice sounded when they were little. 

These times are so important for our children, and mine are so precious to me. I value my time with them, and even though I'll give them breathing room, and "space" for my teenager...I will never take them for granted. 

Happy Monday everyone! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

So That My Children Will Always Remember...

13 years have passed since the twin towers were hit, and there is not one day where I don't think of those who lost their lives on that day. Living less than two hours away from NYC away gives me many an opportunity to venture out to the city I love. Whether we're on foot, or driving past where the twin towers once stood which is now the Freedom tower, helps me to always remember and to never forget. The fact that I was out west 2000 miles away nestled in the comforts of Jon's grandpas house in Washington state when the attacks occurred was surreal. I couldn't believe it because just the year before it happened we had visited New York City for the first time.

It was the year 2000. 

Two out of my four children were already born when 9/11 happened. Sierra was five, and Lexie was only seven months old. Granted Lexie doesn't remember anything because she was a baby when we first explored new york, but Sierra does remember getting lost inside the Empire State Building with Dad. This is when I thank my lucky stars for owning a camera, and scrapbooking pictures. Standing inside the twin towers, and doing some window shopping inside the mall is something we will never forget the first time we ventured into the city.

Now my nine year old is learning about 9/11 at school, and slowly but surely I'm showing Noah footage of the first tower that got hit by a plane in New York and how I'm explaining to him that bad people were flying the plane  and crashed into it. He's still little, and doesn't quite comprehend as to why it was hit except that he thinks its a movie. When he saw the first plane crash he said,"the plane hit the building mom!" And soon he will be reading it in history books.  

All morning long I couldn't help but to tune into NPR news to hear somber stories from the ones who lost a loved one on that day. I was listening to it as I drove my husband to work, and I continued to listen to it when I arrived home. It was so interesting to hear the survivors perspective of that day, and to hear so many heartwarming stories being said from survivors of those that lost their lives. They were talking about how much that person meant to them, and there was a moment when two spouses were on the air recalling of that day, and how they both spoke with their loved one on the day knowing that they were not going to survive being stuck on the 105th floor with fumes surrounding the office. It was heartbreaking to hear, and that's when the tears began to stream down my face. Knowing that it was the last time they would hear their voice.

I can't even imagine the horror everyone faced on that day getting phone calls from a loved one to standing outside in the midst of it all literally watching the towers crumble to the ground. To see body after body plunging to their deaths, and from what I read...some of them were holding hands as they jumped. 

Reading the depictions behind these photos proves all too well that on that day strangers became friends, and that the city of New York united as one. 

I have been living in Jersey now a little over six years, and had I been living here the day it happened I know that a part of me would have wanted to drive into the city to see if there was anything I can do along with a side of "freaking out!" Now that I live closer I never want take that city for granted. My family and I love venturing out to the city to take in everything that is magical about it. We love sightseeing, and having seen the Freedom Tower built so high is a thought I cannot even take in. Everytime I drive into the city I keep expecting to see the twin towers from the George Washington bridge. It's something that I've treasured ever since we toured them 14 years ago. I'm not even from here, and didn't have a loved one die on that dreadful day, but my heart is big enough to hold a lot of love for the people of the fallen . 

I heard that at least 15 million people have seen the freedom tower so far in the past four months, and that is amazing! We haven't taken the complete tour, but when we went by it a few weeks ago I didn't feel like taking selfies, or even pictures of the 9/11 Memorial. There's always a good number of people hanging around the grounds of the memorial, and for some reason I just wanted to take in the moment of actually standing on the ground where loved ones fell to their death, and say a prayer for them inside my head. 

After I heard a few stories from survivors, and family members of the fallen I decided to turn off the news, and focus on my son. After hearing the last memories they had of their loved one made me want to look back at the lives of my children, and how quickly they grow up. I was watching this video of Noah when he was a baby, and my  firstborn Sierra growing up through the years. And then I had those disturbing images tucked in my mind of the people falling to their death, and remembering the phone calls everyone was making on United flight 93 before the plane crashed. Knowing that they were all going to die as they each called their loved ones. 

I also learned on this day how quickly someones life can be taken. 

It blows me away to see how people reacted on this horrific day, and how strong the people of New York became as well as the entire nation. I think this is why we always 'remember' by having news coverage every year, and keeping in touch with the ones whose lives were spared. Keeping in contact with those who are strong enough to relive those images, and talk about that fateful day. I love the fact that we post "never forget" because it is too easy to go back to the daily mundane, and eating our lunch as if nothing happened. 
When I finally got myself off of the computer, I went to my son and hugged him so tight. I asked him what he wanted to do today, and of course he wanted to go to the park, and ride his scooter. I obliged. Raindrops began descending pretty quick, and then we made it back to the house, and went back out again after they dispersed. We decided to drive to a nearby lake so that he could feed the ducks, and enjoy the scenery. That didn't last very long because Noah decided to grab a few rocks and throw them into the water. Then it hit me. He's only little once, and since there is no one around I'm going to let him be a boy, and have him skip some rocks into the lake. I was smiling, and just let him be a kid. 
He did have fun feeding the ducks though!
I'm enjoying this time with him and I don't want to take anything, or anyone for granted. I want to treat each day as if it's going to go on and on. I want to cherish my everlasting moments with this little guy. 

It's unfortunate that such a disaster had to occur in order for America to unite and become as one. I pray that we will not go through this again, but we never know. And that's why we need to prepare just in case. Prepare to love,  and in having compassion so that we will know how to handle such a catastrophic event. 

My love for New York City and Washington D.C. have grown ever since moving to Jersey. My kids love it, and as many times as we've gone there it never gets old. In spite of all that has happened since 9/11 our thoughts when we drive past the Freedom Tower, and walking the streets of New york seeing smiles on occasion, and a "what a cute little boy" compliment said by a stranger as we roam Central Park gives me hope that this city will always remember, and never lose focus on the reasons why we do so...and that it'll last a lifetime. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Memories Of My Mother.

"Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are THE MOST important work."
~ C.S. Lewis 
Noah is nearing the age of five, and I have to say that this has been one of my favorite stages of his life. He is speaking in clearer sentences, but still says the funniest and darnedest things! I often wonder how I was as a toddler and if my kids inherited any of my attributes, and sure enough when I ask my mom if I ever acted in such a manner like any of my kids her answer is usually 'yes.' Memories of my childhood come in spurts because in all honesty I've repressed a lot. Slowly, but surely so many of the good ones have come back, and boy they are worth remembering. They are literally tucked in my brain, and whenever I see a photo of myself when I was four or five I will vaguely remember something behind the depiction of that photo. 

And some of those memories have been absolutely lovely. 

Some of my fondest memories come from the first nine years of my life. I felt safe in my home, and so loved by my mom when it was just the three of us (her, me, and my sister.) Even though my mom was super strict her affection was limitless, and those were the happiest times of my life. Sometimes I wonder if God gave me those memories to hold onto to so that I could cope with the negative that had occurred throughout the time I was between the ages of 10-15. I honestly remember the first nine years of my life being filled with nothing but pure merriment. 

I remember my mom rocking me back and forth singing a lullaby, "oh night, night my little baby" in spanish. I had to have been at least four, almost five. Really strange that I remember that! Other fond memories include her cutting my afro curly hair in the backyard of our little small house on Richard St., except the one time she accidentally cut a chunk off of skin with the scissors. I wasn't too fond of that! I remember how joyful she was every time she planted something in the garden. She was big on growing chili peppers. The ones that are  red, and tiny, and super duper hot!!! She was deft in that department and just loved planting flowers. Our yard always looked flawless, and grandpa mowing the lawn every two weeks brought it to perfection. She loved digging her hands in the dirt so much that even when those huge red ants would come scrawling up her hands from the ground she would go back out the next day with pink welts on her hand just to dig, and plant all over again. She'd forget about the pain. Stubborn woman. That's what I call someone with a true green thumb. 

I will always think of my mothers positive attitude in ways that she handled me as a child, and how hard she loved in doing her very best in giving me a great life. I don't always want to write about the the negative things that happened once my stepfather came into the picture, and how he "ruined our happiness" on this blog, but want to accentuate the beautiful side of 'life with mother as a child' with positivity. Her watch care in tending to me and my sister when we'd beg her to go in the yard and play in the little blue pool was solid. I'd always see her head peeking out throughout the tiny kitchen window making sure we weren't pulling any shenanigans. I remember running back and forth from the front of the house to the alley like a crazy child especially when a northern flew in (Texas is notorious for those), and how she'd yell at me in spanish not to run. I never listened. She would be taking the clothes off the clothesline while I was taking advantage and running around outside. Watching her wash clothes on the washboard was very intriguing to me, and helping her hang clothes on the clothesline was always fun. I was always playing with the clothespins. I sure miss those days, and still have a goal to put a clothes line in my backyard. 

I remember my mom always taking me to Bealls to go shopping, and then eating at Whataburger, or Big Cheese Pizza in Calallen. My mom always had the tendency to drive out of her comfort zone. She didn't mind driving an hour to Corpus Christi, or Calallen to take us shopping. That was the best bonding time we ever had as sisters with our mother. 

I remember the first time I learned how to ride a bike. I was eleven. Even though I started riding a bike late in age we couldn't afford to each have a bike so my mom bought one for my sister when she was about 11, and eventually I learned to ride it...without any training wheels. It was in the beginning of summer, and the weather was perfect because it wasn't too hot. I actually learned to ride it at night. There was less traffic, and our streets were usually quiet in our neighborhood. Living across he street from a Pentecostal church will do that to a neighborhood. I learned to ride that thing instantaneously. It only took one practice, and I was riding it in circles like the wind shouting out to my mom, and sister "Look y'all I'm riding, I'm riding!" I was so thrilled. No training wheels for this gal...I may have learned late, but never had the experience of how it feels to learn how to ride a bike with two extra wheels. I honestly don't believe in those training wheels! So far all of my kids have learned to ride a bike without training wheels. That's because they learned to ride later in age, and I've taught them that way! Shortly after mother bought my sister a 10 speed bike and i ended up keeping hers. I was pleased as punch to have had my own bike even if it was a 'hand me down'. 

Those memories of my mother is what encourages me to continue to be a stay at home mom, and to make fun memories with all my kids.

Especially Noah. 

I honestly believe that he is my last child (tear.) As much as we wanted for him to have a baby brother or sister it simply hasn't happened in the past four years, and we're okay with that. I'm going to make this year (and every year) very memorable for him just as my mother made it memorable for me for while I was a young child.

I have so much to offer to each of my kids individually, and want them to remember that no matter if there are dirty dishes in the sink, toys scattered all around the living around, sketchbooks, pencils, and papers strewn all over Lexie's desk, computer time for me, that they override all of those messy & 'worldly' things, and that they come first! 

Because my children are the most important work.



Sunday, September 7, 2014

For The Love Of The Game.

Ever since Sierra began to play tennis back in her junior year my goal was to take her to see the U.S. Open and watch Roger Federer play...but to no avail! Time just flew right out of our hands at that time, and September came and flew by real quick throughout her senior year as well, and we just didn't make that a top priority. Now that Lexie has begun to play we talked about going, but with school starting right in the middle of it, and Jon starting his new job there's no way we could have fit that fun number in. That's what happens when spontaneous people such as myself think it's okay not to plan, and just go with the flow without saving any money for a specific outing. Well...since we missed the U.S. Open this year I guarantee we'll be going next year, and we are definitely going to plan, and save so that we can possibly go to more than one game! That''s how serious we've all become in playing tennis especially Lexie. Luckily for the Jorgensen family we all have a love for the game, and so we've had many practices with friends throughout the summer at the same time Lexie started practices for school. Chelsea has developed a love for it too, and so I have made it a goal to take Chelsea to the courts as much as I can now before it gets cold, & Noah twice a week to teach him how to play. I'm not a professional by any means but I can swing a racket (ever seen Two Weeks Notice?) Just kidding. I think Sandra Bullock played pretty well in this scene, but I do have potential, and "good serves" as Lexie says. So far she has done great in winning a doubles match as well as a singles match. If she keeps this up by the time she's a senior she'll be playing like a pro. 
Since Noah and I have 170 some odd days of school left to spend together at home alone we are going to include mini tennis matches in our schedule. I will teach him the best I can to play tennis, and I finally bought him a racket that fits him. Here he is in a couple of photos looking like a mini Andre Agassi. 
^^^ Just look at his face of concentration! ^^^ 

And a video too with his own personal cheering crowd.

His hits were solid and hit the net, not the rim of the racket. He missed a few balls, but what do you expect...he's four. I am so excited that he's eager to play this sport, and that he shows so much interest in it. 

So glad Chelsea & Noah are learning to play at an earlier age than their sisters did! I think my mothering is becoming more, and more encouraging, and much involved when it comes to sports as they get older! Yay me! 

***For other tennis posts including the one where we saw legends Agassi, Connors, Sampras, and Becker play in you can go here & here.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Back To School Post.

The night before school was a little chaotic. We rushed out to buy last minute school supplies, and things kind of felt a little off, and I'm not used to off. I'm used to being organized, and buying things a month in advance. It was ten o'clock at night when we finally read scriptures as a family, and when prayer was over I looked over at my tired husbands face, and said, "Aren't we missing something?" He looked over at me and said, "It's your turn to say the prayer." I then said to him, "I know that hun, but there's something else that we do before school starts. Every year since Sierra started pre-k. Every. Single. Year. For . The. Past. Eighteen years. Hellerrrr...

Father's blessings for the kiddos!

Because it was after labor day weekend Jon ended up coming home around eight o'clock from work, and was super exhausted. I'm sure delivering at least 175 packages in 90 degree weather hopping in and out of a truck driving all over creation in Jersey can do that to you. Lucky for him he doesn't mind driving.  He felt so bad that he didn't think of it first, and the fact that I didn't pick a "back to school" quote last year, or even this year made me feel a little sad, and disappointed in myself!

There was a quote I read by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and after reading his talk about defending our beliefs I knew I had to use this quote not only for the school year, but for always. Again I got this idea from Stephanie Nielson, and she also happened to choose the same quote as her "theme" for her kids school year. She goes all out with a feast, and decorations. She's so creative where I only go as far as encouraging my kids with words to not forget the quote, and what it means (especially for our younger children) all year long. I'm not afraid to admit that I duplicated her quote this year, but the fact that I was so unprepared, and trying to find one at the last minute was exhausting, and because this is the time when our children need to seriously stand up for themselves and defend who they are reading these words will be a strength to them. 


"Be strong. 
Live the gospel faithfully 
even if others around you don't live it at all.
 Defend your beliefs with courtesy 
and with compassion, but defend them."


This quote will be hung on our wall as they walk out the door as a reminder for them to always defend their beliefs and be strong. So after showing them the quote on the poster Jon gave them a father's blessing, hugs and kisses were exchanged and off they went to be tucked into bed. 

*****

This is when I feel lucky to live in a coast where school starts a couple of days after labor day. Kind of gives me time to recuperate, and prepare for the school year which in all honesty I wasn't quite ready...until the morning school began! I have really grown to love summer regardless of those hot, and humid days. What would summer be without them? Then again...I am looking forward to fall, and even though I was a little "off" the night before school started I felt totally "on" the next morning. I got all pumped as the kids were getting ready for school. Chelsea laid out her clothes the night before, and was asking Noah (out of all people) to help her choose which outfit she should wear for Friday. 
I honestly can't believe Lexie is in high school. Didn't I just have this girl graduate last year?? I remember when we first moved to Jersey Lexie was in the third grade. Third! How did that happen?? She was so laid back that morning. I woke up in a panic at 6:15 in the morning shouting, "Lexie, are you awake?"  Jon told me that she was awake and in the bathroom. I should have known. One thing about her is that she doesn't have a hard time waking up on her own during the school year. She's so easy going, accepts what's ahead for her, and although she was excited for school admitted to me that she was a tad bit nervous. Then when she came home from school she was all smiles (just as she is in this picture) because she met some really cool kids in her class, and was sweaty-tired due to having tennis practice and pep band afterwards. 
One thing for sure is that I'm super excited to have Noah staying home with me for one more year. I now this year is going to fly by like a leer jet, and I promised him that we are going to do fun things together,  go to various parks, and play lots of tennis. He has grown to have a love for tennis, so when the girls leave we are going to have ourselves a couple of matches a week. I am excited to teach him new things, and even though I'm not a master at tennis, or artsy, and super crafty we are going to learn together, and explore. I pinned all these things on pinterest for us to do,  and so this year I have made it a goal to accomplish some of them. It'll be like having our own little private preschool in our home, and prepare him to become this super smart kid when he starts kindergarten next year. So happy that I'm not sending him off to "work" so soon. 

And he looks pretty content. 
As far as Sierra goes it did feel a bit weird not having her here with her sibs taking photos but we sure do miss her. She is working hard, and taking a break off of school this semester, and will return in the Spring.  We hope she'll finally make a trip out here in the fall, and/or Christmas break! 

More back to school posts can be found herehere, herehere, and here. I promise they're not boring to read! 


**And a special thanks to Lexie for her zentangle skills in making these signs for her sibs the night before school began! 

Happy weekend, and hope you're kids enjoyed their first day/week of school!