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! Again...it'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! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Tj's EP Release Party With 'Never Loved'.

So after we ventured out to the Franklin Institute the other day with the kiddos Jon and I committed to attending Tj Young's EP release party that same day, but in the evening. We managed to make it to the second show, and I am so glad that we did!

For five years I have seen this boy act, sing, dance, and tonight after a year of hard work teaching himself how to play the piano and guitar, and in working hard on his music he released his first EP. Words cannot express how extremely proud I am of this young man, and all the hard work, and effort he has put in making his dream come true. I have witnessed his efforts, and determination via Facebook of all that has taken for him to get to this point from auditioning in front of the judges at American Idol to working hard here at home with connections that have helped him reach his potential in pursuing a musical career.  His voice resembles that of Michael Buble which is a man after his own heart, and his voice...oh, his voice is pretty dreamy. I love the way he holds himself in front of an audience and being a witness to that was relaxing, and having the hubs sitting right next to me made our date night on a school night even better. Watching Tj sing up on that stage releasing his EP gave us hope that our daughter Sierra will pursue her dream in music as well. He has been a dear friend to her throughout high school, and it's no secret that I have been a big fan of his since his junior year in high school especially since he's been so kind to my Sierra since the day we moved to Jersey six years ago. Even though our paths don't cross as much as we'd like we consider him a good friend, and watching him progress via social networking feels like he's part of our family here in Jersey.

His performance on this night was captivating, and the fact that the house was small made it more intimate. There was cheering, and clapping, a little bit of dancing, and raising of the hands waving back and forth in the air to the rythym of the song had me feeling as if I was at a concert. It was so cool, and look forward to many more performances like this.

His official video Never Loved is absolutely beautiful. [It's also being played on the sidebar of this blog] It brought tears to my eyes when I first heard and saw it. I've learned that songs which bring emotion are the best, and this one is sweet. I love the way he brings feeling into the words as he's singing. [spoiler alert: the ending of the vid is a sad one!]
                       
 And here he is singing the last song of the evening after his second performance. One of my faves... 
This will definitely be a night to remember, and because I'm putting it on my personal blog tells you that he's one of a kind, and worth listening to. The stars are certainly aligning for Tj, and watching his show that evening proves all too well that he is well on his way to a great musical career. His songs are available on iTunes here, and if you look and 'like' his Facebook page here you can pretty much see what he's all about. 

Hope you have a wonderful weekend and that his voice puts a smile on your face! 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

All About The Brain at The Franklin Institute.


Yesterday we took our yearly school trip to the Franklin Institute. This is by far my favorite part of the school year simply because we get to educate our minds as a family, and have fun while walking the streets of Philly. After we arrived we checked ourselves in with our group, and had three hours to spare. The very first thing we wanted to see was the temple, and to see the progress they have made especially on the exterior, and it is looking absolutely beautiful!    
^^^ Philly temple...looking good! ^^^
^^^ Checking out the traffic from above. ^^^
Science and technology have been the two loves in our homes for quite some time now, and I'm not saying that because of social networking, or because of the ability we have to play games on an iPad, iPhones, iMac, or what have you,  but what we can benefit, and truly learn what the "human eye" can see, and how our brain really works when it comes to everything we take in is amazing. 

As usual these two ran straight to the 'giant heart' to trace the path of blood as they walk through. They have an amazing time in this section of the institute, and it is exciting to see them have an interest in how the body, and heart are connected. Seeing the look of excitement on their faces as they go around exploring all about the human heart brings a smile to my face because these kids are always filled with curiosity when it comes to anything that looks complicated. 
As many times as we come here there is always a new exhibit to see, and learn from, and new shows in the Planetarium. Since there are no cameras allowed inside the planetarium I wasn't able to take any photos, and didn't have the desire to because the show was too awesome to put my head down. The show we saw was called "To Space and Back", and this show tells an incredible story of human ingenuity, and engineering. It was amazing to see how the technology that transports us through space is paving the way of the devices and apps we use everyday. It was absolutely amazing! Kind of makes me wonder what technology is going to bring us in the next five years! 

They also have an exhibit called the "The Brain", and it tells you all about how our brain works. There was even a 'fake brain' where you put your finger through to touch, and feel. It wasn't gross, and it felt like Styrofoam to me. 
^^^ This display was pretty cool for the kids. They climbed a two-story tall network of firing neurons." ^^^

The look of fascination on their faces as they learn more about science and technology, and the brain, and human body makes me happy to see that they never get bored when we come here. It brings me so much hope knowing that they could all become a future scientist, engineer, and/or doctor. 

So far I know that Lexie is very interested in the medical field and has been since she was 11. Who knows...but on this night she was fascinated by everything that this institute has to offer, and every time we come here her passion for learning about science expands. We could have spent another hour (or more) in here. 
Grateful to Benjamin Franklin for the spirit he brings for anyone who enters this building in giving them the desire, and passion to learn more about science, and technology. I couldn't stress enough how educational it is for every parent and child to come here.

**You can read more posts on our trips to the institute here, and another post of the Philly temple here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Around Here Lately.

Even though I'm nostalgic for the warmth of summer I always love the transition into autumn, and so far this favorite season of mine is turning out beautiful with colorful leaves, and everything pumpkin. My October days have been filled with fun in spite of the pain I feel from a particular part of my body.  

So last week has been a bit trying for me because of the fact of breaking crushing my tailbone. Yes...last week as I sat down in front of my computer to write our five year old goodwill find folding chair was literally on its last leg, and broke! I landed hard on the hardwood floor, and severely damaged my tailbone! Like I said...it's crushed, not broken.  Luckily Noah was there to humor me with his 'Noahisms', and help me up. Even though I was in pain all week, I still managed to accomplish a few engagements. Daily walks in our neighborhood with Noah, piano lessons,  a birthday celebration, and having a date night with the hubs was important to me during that week and even though I managed to do a lot I think I over did it. You know...it's kind of like after having a baby, you immediately come home forget about your well being, and think of everyone else except you and then your condition worsens! Bad, bad idea, and you'd think that after bearing four children, including two that involved c-sections I would have learned to take care of my 43 year old body! 

Not!! 

Anyway...I didn't care, and you know what, I'm actually feeling a bit better. My tailbone seems to be healing, but I still feel that bruise. Somehow i find ways to heal myself by keeping busy with things that help me rest. I'll call, write, and text friends, and look back at all the good I do on a day to day basis because with the gorgeous weather we've been having...who wants to stay indoors, and sulk. Okay...maybe except this past Friday because it rained all day, but even after the rain that didn't stop me from venturing outdoors. Still...rain is good because after it pours, going outside to see the vibrant fall foliage, and the rain drops that were left behind on the leaves, and trees were absolutely beautiful.  
Introducing Noah to the Rubik's cube, driving around with one butt cheek resting on the seat running errands wasn't a comfortable setting sitting, but having Noah falling asleep as soon as I was done with my errands indicated that it was time for me to go home, and rest that tailbone!
It just shows that no pain, no trial, or challenge will stop me from the things that are meaningful to me, and to enjoy the simplicities of life in making my own sunshine doing the things I love.

That is...except for missing church this past Sunday. 

The fact that i tested myself sitting for an hour and a half at the theater to see the maze runner (again) with the hubs was proof enough that I did overdo it, and that I wouldn't be able to endure three hours of church unless I laid down on my side on a pew during the entire hour of sacrament. 

No worries though...I'm pretty tough, and I'll be there next Sunday! 

Regardless! 

Just don't stare at my behind! 

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Celebration for Nate.

Sometimes I wonder how life would be had I not met Maggie 22 years ago, and you know something...I don't want to know. She has always been there for me as a friend, and is a sister to me in many ways. If it wasn't for her knowledge in knowing the areas of good schools in Jersey before my family and I moved up her six years ago who knows what township or county we we would have ended up in. All I know is that no matter how what we have been through as friends, and as individuals she is a friend of mine for life. Which brings me to the point of this young man...her son. 
This past weekend we held a small belated birthday celebration in my home to celebrate his 16th birthday. The last birthday we celebrated with him was two years ago! How can that be!! I see his mom quite frequently, but not Nate, and that's all kinds of wrong! We love this young man as if he was my son, and he is definitely like family. I have to say that this young man has learned a lot in his young life living in Jersey. The way he presents himself and holds his own shows me that he will always be a Texan at heart. He has come a long way in his endeavors, and has grown up. He is smart, funny, and an amazing basketball player on the court! It was so nice catching up with him, and to hear his goals for the future. His goals...oh man, oh man was I impressed with his goals! I'll just say he has a goal after graduation, and after talking to him, and hearing him speak shows me he has a lot of potential. He has ambition and the ability to succeed to do great things in this life, and you know something...he already is! He is fearless, and is a lot like his mama in many ways. A go-getter, courageous, outgoing, knowledgeable, and determined to accomplish goals without allowing anyone telling him otherwise. Oh wait...he reminds me of me too! haha! 

And tonight it was all about him. 
One thing about his mama is that she is a dang good baker! She made Nate his favorite...homemade chocolate cake, and brought it over to our house!! Now I'm not a big fan of chocolate on chocolate, but this was exquisite! It was moist, and delicious, and tasted sooooooooo good! 
^^^ Kind of took Nate a few seconds to blow out his 16 candles, but alas he blew them all. ^^^
I love that our kids care about Nate, and in some ways is like a big brother to them. I love that he was so kind as to ask how Sierra was doing. He looked up to her in many ways when she was here. I miss all the times these kids used to play games during past Thanksgivings, and Christmases, and hope to have that tradition build up again. 
I am so grateful to know Maggie, and for her to have created a life...the life of this young man who on this evening  we got to know even better at an age where he knows what he wants for his future in this world. You gotta just get to know him, and  I mean reeeeeeaaaaaaalllllyyyyyyy know him. He's a good kid who is learning, and growing in knowing how to live a true, and happy life. 

Happy 16th birthday Nate! We love ya!