Monday, November 24, 2014

An Enjoyable Fall Walk.

A couple of weeks ago after Jon came home from home teaching we all decided to go for a walk after church. I feel as if Sunday walks are a must in order for my kids to survive from boredom. I mean there's only so much you can do on a Sunday without getting bored. We try really hard to keep it "spiritual" (no technology, t.v.) but sometimes it's impossible when you have little kids, and playing games like Trouble, Boggle, and Book of Mormon memory games can only span a toddlers mind for so long. Luckily our neighborhood is quiet and that we have awesome neighbors who didn't mind our children messing around in their leaf piles (we did kick the leaves back against the curb afterwards.) My nose was on smell alert for any kind of dog feces before they jumped in, and luckily there wasn't any in this particular pile. 
The fall foliage was (still is) in full swing, and the kids totally took advantage of running through the leaves, and  after piling up some had a contest on who can throw the leaves up in the air the highest. I took a lot of pictures for my mama who loves pictures more than words, and so here you go mom. Note the look on Noah's face...he's ready for another leaf war with his sister. Too bad Lexie wasn't around...she was taking her must needed Sunday nap!
Fall is waning quickly, and although the leaves are still colorful, they are currently wet (it rained this morning), and are in the process of preparing for winter. I think at times leaves are like people. Just as they change in color...we change in the way we dress because it's cold, and sometimes the change of season can affect one's life start anew, and one's attitude to change (I know it does for me every time!) And just as the leaves change in color for fall to prepare for winter, we stock up on food, and water to prepare for any major winter storm we might have (and I heard we're going to have a harsh one! Yikes!!!) So far we have survived Hurricane Sandy, and any other winter storms we have had in the past six years of living here, and hope to always be prepared for any major storm. 

We sure are so going to miss this beautiful fall foliage when they turn into dull brown crunchy leaves, and then eventually freeze in the winter. We do look forward to the change though (it's inevitable, especially when you leave in an area with the change of seasons!), and we are ready! We are also excited to prepare for Thanksgiving, and to spend it with dear friends. It's going to be a busy week, and I hope that as we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday that we will always remember to be thankful in all things (even when we complain!) 
Happy Monday, and have a wonderful week of giving! 


Friday, November 21, 2014

"Mommy, It's Not That Cold."

"Mommy, it's not that cold, can we go to the park today?" were the words I kept hearing from Noah all morning long the other day. I had a few things to take care of in the house, (laundry, sending out Thanksgiving cards, you know...mom stuff), and I didn't really want to go outside to take him. But as soon as I saw the sun shining through the window gave me hope that it would warm up later in the early afternoon, and eventually...I gave in. 


But it was still cold.

There are days especially now that the temps are in the 30's where all you want to do is stay indoors, cuddle with your kid watching Disney movies, and drink hot chocolate. Fortunately I have a five year old who loves the park, and will brave the cold no matter how low the temperatures get. I'm glad he's motivated like that otherwise this Texas gal would probably be a hermit throughout the east coast winters. Still...there's something about the cold weather that makes it so invigorating, and alive! I think it also helps owning and wearing the proper attire when venturing outdoors in frigid temps. Wearing a warm down coat, hat, scarf, mittens, with long johns underneath clothes does wonders and will always help being in 30 degree weather tolerable, and fun without any whining from the kids...or me! 

I always make sure Noah wears leggings underneath his jeans, and double socks. And even though the coat he's wearing this year makes him look like a mini Michelin man it keeps him warm, and comfortable. Since Chelsea had a half day of school due to parent teacher conferences she joined in, and having her tag along always makes it more fun for her brother. 
Arriving to the park and literally having it to ourselves is sometimes nice especially in the summertime where there are no kids shoving, hogging up the swings, or climbing up slides, (had to teach Noah not to do that real quick!) There was absolutely no one in sight. Made me wonder if I'm some crazy mom for taking her kids outdoors in such cold weather. 

The trick is to just keep moving and playing with your kids, and even if you don't feel you have the energy...force yourself! I personally can only sit for so long on the bench before turning into a popsicle, and having the sun shining down my face made it a tad bit warmer. I ran, skipped to my lou, and even though I was a bit too tall, I slid down the slide with Noah. It was too much fun and I literally felt alive. 

Memories of the times my mama took us to Dick Kleberg Park in Texas came flooding back almost immediately as we were sliding down the slide multiple times, and I never grew weary. One thing for sure...memories of sliding down this Lion slide will forever be etched in my heart! 
The cold can make one deliriously crazy and on this day I probably was a crazy mama for taking the kids out in such colds temps, but at the end of the day we were all smiles.
And who doesn't want to take that home for the rest of the day!

Happy Friday, and stay warm folks! 


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Never Too Late In The Day To Attend The Temple.

A grainy selfie, but I couldn't let this week go by without documenting our trip to the D.C. temple over the weekend. 

It's moments like this that I treasure the most especially when it comes to attending the temple with my family. It was a beautiful day with perfect fall temperatures in the 50's, but as soon as darkness fell the temperatures dropped as low as 30 degrees. There were two things that could have prevented us by not going on this day. Driving a van with a non-working heater, and Jon getting off work late. Because of the holidays approaching work is beginning to slowly pick up, and he has been called to deliver. He's been driving for a few hours on Saturdays lately, and because I knew that by the time he got off work we wouldn't be arriving in D.C. till about 5pm. But we didn't think about the time at all. All we were thinking about was enjoying the day in not rushing, or stressing, and just enjoying the drive, and talking about how great it is to be able to have a temple no matter the distance...and that we would get there when we get there. I think the fact of crossing bridges, and going through a tunnel makes the drive more exciting for the kids...especially Noah. We always strive to be in a good mood without anxiety, and prepared to be filled with a good attitude when we enter inside the temple.

It's really easy to forget the teachings that we are taught in the temple, and the words that go with the ordinances we are accomplishing if we don't attend frequently. So by going as often as we can is crucial, and helps us to remember the blessings that are said. After joining the LDS church there was but only one temple in Texas (Dallas), and when I moved to Utah I was surrounded by at least 12 of them! Now there are 15 temples all over the salt lake valley now, and four in Texas. Since moving to the east we've been away (in distance) from temples for eight years, and attending the temple when we can no matter how late the day gets is so meaningful. Especially now that my kids are getting older, and with that can come major trials (teenagers, drama, puppy love, boys, etc.), and that's when I know how important it is to go. It's something that has stuck with me since I got endowed & sealed to my family 11 years ago, and having caught the vision of the importance of the temple instantaneously has helped me truly gain a firm testimony, and an understanding in the covenants we make. The blessings that come from going to the temple at times are overwhelming, and my heart is full. 

Time at the temple flies by so quickly, and with a sense of appreciation and fulfillment we exited the temple in hopes that we will always remember the blessings said to us in the temple and to leave a better person than when we entered in. 

Perfect timing fell upon us as we saw our kids walking towards the temple as we left the building. Every time we come they hang out at the visitors center while we are inside the temple and since they were about to close they wanted to walk around the temple before we left to take in the beauty of it. I captured a few photos of my cute girls (Noah was too cold to get out of his stroller). Not the best quality in pictures being that it was dark and you can only do so much editing photos with an iPhone! 
^^^ Love the mustard colored mums! ^^^

We all had such a great day and in all honesty we didn't want to leave the temple, let alone the temple grounds! I see pure merriment in the kids faces when we arrive and even as we leave. We wish we lived right across the street from a temple so that we can go every morning before the day starts! I miss those days living in Utah when going twice a week was a piece of cake! Just a quick ten minute drive, and boom you've arrived! It'll sure be nice once the Philly temple is built so that we can go on a weekly basis instead of every two to three months! 

Temples sure are a blessing in our lives and the peace that comes from going is something that I can't receive anywhere else!! And no matter where we live, or how far the distance...it's never too late in the day to attend the temple! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

To Give.

I remember when I was about six or seven my mother would sell my clothes so that we could make ends meet. Sometimes I wondered why she would want to get rid of my clothes when at the time I felt I had very little to wear. There were times when she'd constantly ask me "does this still fit you?" "do you think you'll still wear this?" "are you sure you like this still?" Answers to those questions were no, no, and not really, but when I realized why she was getting rid of some of my clothes, and selling them to our little old neighbor of ours who had numerous grandkids I could see why...and I didn't hesitate to negotiate, or rebut with my mother with questions such as "but it still fits"  or "why are you getting rid of my clothes?" and proceeded to let her do her thing.

After gathering and washing the clothes she'd carefully put them in a bag so that I could deliver it. Before stepping foot onto the old lady's porch I took a quick peek inside the bag, and saw the set prices written with ink on maskin tape...25 cents, 35 cents, 50 cents, 75 cents for a sweater, $1.00 for a really nice dress, and $1.50 for a pair of shoes. I'm thinking...this lady is getting a good deal! 

One thing I did appreciate that my mama did was pass on down my sisters clothing to me. Granted some of them didn't fit because I was a bit chunky, and my sister has always been slim, but it made me feel good knowing that my sisters clothes would be handed on down to me before she gave or sold them. I believe that my mother was doing a good deed with this woman at selling my clothes at cheap prices because for the most part, even though I had very little clothing growing up, the clothes my mother found for us were reasonable, and in return...with the money she'd receive would buy us new shoes, and we'd have a warm meal to eat.

Now that I have my own children, and seeing that they are growing like weeds I have officially decided to get rid of some of their clothes. I honestly don't think I'm having anymore children because if I did I would save more than what I am now! I have saved a few of their things, but for the most part I'm getting rid of some. The fact that I have passed down clothing after clothing after clothing to three girls has gotten to the point of being unable to pass them down to Noah because he's a boy! Overall, Lexie was overjoyed when Sierra's clothes started to fit, and Chelsea was excited every time Lexie's & Sierra's hand me downs would fit. Luckily Sierra and Lexie took great care of their clothes throughout the years that Chelsea was still able to wear them. And the cycle will continue I'm sure until they are all in their 20's! 

Now...someone else can take over the pure pleasure in wearing some of their clothes. So over the weekend I did just that! I looked through Noah & Chelsea's clothes gathered them and had them try some of their clothes one more time. I knew this was going to be a bittersweet moment because they are both (physically) growing way too quickly!  

With Noah being the only boy he has become quite a clothes horse. Okay...that's my fault because when you have just one boy you want to give him the world! He's growing up way too fast, and the clothes that he has been able to wear for the past 2-3 years no longer fit him. For some reason turning five stretched out his arms, legs, torso, and even his foot. As much as I would love to hoard all of his clothes I feel that someone else can use them. Bittersweet I'm telling you.

I have kept a few pieces of the girls clothes so that they can pass them on down to their future posterity, you know, things such as their first pair of shoes, first coat, socks, blessing dress, hair accessories, baby bracelets, and blankets. I do have a few things of Noah's that I'm saving as well. Still...it's time to make someone else's day, and besides...it makes me feel good to give, and that is the best kind of therapy. 

I don't know the whole story as to how my mom and this sweet old lady got into a discussion of giving/selling clothes, but if I'm not mistaken...I'm sure my mother was willing to "give" them to her, but she offered to compensate her for them. Nonetheless it was all done in good deed, and witnessing my mom joyously selling these clothes to her at really affordable prices made her feel good. Her prices were reasonable, and at the end of the day we always had food on the table. 

I'm never one to "charge" anyone for anything. Donating, serving, and giving even when I feel I don't have too much to give are two of my favorite things to do in this life, and being that it is the season of giving makes it even more meaningful. 

"Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more." 
~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Spiritual Traditions.

^^^ Daddy & the girls, Orlando, FL Temple-circa 2007 ^^^ 

I failed to mention that a couple of weeks ago Jon gave the most amazing talk at our church in regards to family, and his talks are always meaningful, and good, but this one wowed me to the core of my heart! It was amazing and by far one of the most spiritual and uplifting talks ever! The words were the ones I needed to hear, and I know for a fact that he wrote that for himself as well. Without sharing his whole entire talk on this post I'll just share some of the most important parts of his talk that are really important to me. In his talk he mentioned how we as a family have grown in testimony when it comes to family time, and finding spiritual traditions in building a strong family unit.

One being temple trips. 

Back in 2005 way before Noah was born, and before moving across the country we did this huge temple trip where we saw four temples in four days...in three different states out west, and attended all the temples in Utah a few months later. All the temples in Utah except Vernal & Monticello. That was the most amazing, and funnest time in my life spent with my family. Ever since I got a craving and taste of the temple back when we were sealed in 2003, and having seen all the blessings that result from going I always yearn for more, and never want to stop going. To this day we have continued the tradition of attending the temple no matter what. Whether it's for a purpose, doing work for our ancestors, or just going without any major issue, knowing that our minds are geared towards the temple on a road trip gets the kids more excited. We never need an excuse to go. We just go. Back in Utah it was so easy to just wake up, and drive anywhere from an hour to ten minutes to any temple in the salt lake valley so going twice a week was easy for us. Now that we are two hours away it's kind of impossible to go every week. We try to attend once a month, or every two months, but sometimes that's impossible. It's crazy how the months just fly by, and when we're at the tail end of the month we're like, "we didn't make it to the temple this month (frown)." I know God knows our circumstances in knowing that we can't just drop everything and go. He knows our heart, and desires, and I'm grateful to know of the testimony I have for the temples so that I can pass that on to my kids in hopes that they will always have the desire to attend the temple. Even when they get older, and make dumb mistakes (and they will) I want them to know that it's never too late to fix yourself to keep your goal in knowing that they are WORTHY enough to enter in the temple. 

I'm so grateful that my husband gave this talk because I feel that every single person sitting in the congregation needed to hear that and I hope that they were inspired. Family is the most important thing on this earth, and oh how true that is! I feel it every day as I wake up, and see my daughters off to school. I see it when Noah comes into my room and jumps on my bed with an immediate kiss, and uttering the words "I love you mommy", and having a daughter living 2100 miles away with all the things she is enduring makes me feel it even more. 

The temple is crucial in my life, and out of all the things I have learned in the this church that I belong to, attending the temple is my number one! 

Building and keeping 'spiritual traditions' can really strengthen a family in helping them build their testimony to have so much love for their families, strengthen their personal testimony, be able to endure any trial they may be in, and have an even deeper love for the temple. I'm happy to hear that all my girls have a goal to marry in the temple so far, and my hope is that someone chaste, and worthy will take them inside because they deserve someone who sees them as something of divine worth...because they are. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

It's a Beautiful Season Of Gratitude.

Having a house that is 1500 sq feet has its pros and cons. Cons because it can get a little too crowded where everyone can hear everything, and see what everyone is doing, hence sometimes getting on each others nerves, and pros because it can be the most coziest and intimate setting to a family. I personally choose the latter, and for the past six and a half years of living in this "cape cod" style house of ours we have made it a heaven on earth, and a place where our  kids can home to feel safe, comfortable, and loved. 

This time of year brings a lot of cozy moments into our home. Cozy because fall is officially in full swing. This is a period where the girls begin to play Christmas music on the piano, and sing like crazy people. This is a  time where I don't mind all of us sitting down on the couch watching a hallmark movie, or reading a book while the kids are entertaining themselves doing crafts, coloring, or  playing "restaurant" where Noah's the waiter, and Chelsea's the cook, and if Lexie's home, well...she pretends to eat the fake food! Right now with school still in session Noah and I have all the time in the world to do things together during the day, and as much as I would like to sit down to catch up on my reading, and my journal writing, I make the choice to pull myself in the direction of a beating heart. Not mine, but my children, and my focus is all on them. I have long since realized that time quickly flies when your raising teenagers, and now even toddlers. Especially when I see my 19 year old daughter making decisions on her own, and praying that they will be wise ones. Yep...the days just keep passing by way too quick for me these days especially for this little munchkin who just turned five, and you know what that means. 
Once they turn five, time seems to fly by even quicker and the next thing you know they're in kindergarten! Therefore spending time with him during the day is my priority, and sometimes my selfishness tends to creep out even more these days. I don't allow him too much "alone time" entertaining himself because this is the time where time with our little ones should be cherished. There are days when I look at him and thank my lucky stars because for the past five years he hasn't broken a bone in his body, gotten too many boo boos, or overall cause me any major stress & I'm extremely thankful for those blessings. I think having three sisters has helped him not get hurt too bad because they spoil him & treat him like a little prince. They aren't rough with him except maybe for Chelsea who can provoke, poke, and egg him at times, but luckily there have never been no trips to the e.r., or major punishments for serious drama. I thank the girls for loving him and expressing kindness to him more than any kind of resentment. He's as sweet as they come packaged with hugs, kisses, and a lot of  "I love you's, I'm sorry's mixed in with "don't spank my butt." 
At times I'll reflect back on the time spent raising the girls (including Sierra who is not pictured in the photo above) at this age, and never want to see them as the "lost years." I chose to be a stay at home mom for the simple reason of "time", and I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity that I have had for the past 14 years to be a "stay at home mom" with my kids.  I love them all, and this time of year gives me many opportunities to express my gratitude towards them. Thanking the Lord for sending them down to me one by one to nurture, guide, protect, and love them. Even when they're 20, 30, even 40 years old I want them to know that I'll be there for them to give advice, and continue to love them. This time of year is very sentimental to me, but also a very happy time. It reminds me to be kind, and give thanks in all that I do, and for all that I have. This is such a beautiful season of "life" not only because of how nature shows herself off with beautiful colored leaves, and cooler temperatures, but because it is a time for family get togethers, and expressing gratitude in all things! And I always want my kids to know that no matter how old they are that they will always have a "heavenly" home to come home to...no matter what! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

This Little Dude is Five!!!

There was no big party, no major guests, or balloons. No party favors, no special entertainment, numerous gifts, or even a cake with icing. What there was on this special day was a family. A family whose only son and baby brother turned the big five. It was an intimate, low key fun-filled day filled with small surprises, and as always...filled with laughter and good 'ol fashioned family fun. 

*****
Since Noah's birthday fell on a Sunday we decided to take a sporadic trip to New York City on Saturday in hopes to see autumn in full swing at Central Park like we did last year, but unfortunately due to my husband getting out of work late ended up driving in the city around 5pm! The fact that darkness falls so early doesn't help and we didn't get the chance to do our traditional celebration, or capture any photos of Central Park. We did however manage to enjoy the beauty of driving around the city, and enjoyed a nice dinner filled with different Italian dishes. This was our first time eating at Patsy's Pizzaria and the wait was about a half hour. As soon as we sat down there were rolls at our table, and Noah immediately began scarfing it down. He ended up eating at least six of these suckers. Just look at him...I'm trying to give him kisses, and all he is thinking about is scarfing down that roll! 
^^^ Chicken Picatta with capers, and lemon sauce! ^^^
^^^ Fettuccine Alfredo! ^^^

After dinner we ended up walking around the city for a while grabbed some cookies at Levain Bakery, and headed home. Some of y'all may be wondering why we'd drive in the city just for a few hours, and then go home. Reason is that there are so many unique restaurants of different cultures to choose from that Jersey or Philly just don't have. Plus it was Noah's birthday, and this little guy loves the city....and we don't mind the drive! 

Being that it was Sunday sure made his birthday special. We went to church, and the primary kids sang the birthday song to him, and he even got a package of Swedish fish from the Bishop. Those are his favorite! He received gifts and cards throughout the week, but especially enjoyed the gifts he received from his oldest sister (which is the hat and sweater he's wearing in the first photo.) Presents sent from family, and friends is always such a treat, and we are extremely thankful. As far as "the cake" goes, well there wasn't one. There was however, a huge Hawaiian Loaf of bread! For the past two years this little guy has fallen in love with carbs. King's Hawaiian rolls to be exact. It's funny how he loves M&M's & ice cream, but does not like icing on any cake. If there's any icing he'll just take it off, and eat the bread! I was relieved of the outcome and grateful that is heart didn't require us to sweat in the kitchen begging us to bake! His "cake" was easy to bake, simple to buy, and we didn't mind not having any cake. 
^^^ Make a Wish! ^^^
Noah's birthday this year was indeed simple, but special. Special just like him...And even though he's rambunctious at times his soft side is contagious, and extends outside his heart. He's kind, helpful, lovable, and extremely polite. My heart melts every time he says I love you, thank you, please, but most of all when he says his prayers. I appreciate him so much because of how unique his personality is. He didn't have any complaints about why he didn't get this or that, and even though he said he wanted a transformer named Optimus Prime at the last minute, we told him to make sure to put that on Santa's list. Then again he's five, and most five year olds still don't quite get the concept of what a birthday really is and how it should be planned. I'm not sure how he'll look at birthdays as he gets older, (i.e. if he's going to want big birthday parties with friends, and real cake), but I know this...if we keep it intimate and free of "I want, I want, I want", he'll be one of the most grateful little boys known to man. He'll learn to know that birthdays are very special, and that we don't have to go out of our way to make that extra effort in wearing ourselves down to the point where we don't have any energy at the end of the day to enjoy our time with the "birthday kid." What he will know is that living another year of life is the greatest gift of all.
 ^^^Happy Birthday Noah! You are our everything, and we sure do love ya! ^^^

**I  would also like to thank all of our veterans who have served, and sacrificed their time for our country. We pray for y'all everyday!