Friday, December 19, 2014

Ho Ho Ho!! It's The Hubs Birthday!

One thing Jon could never get out of during the holidays was playing Santa at his old, old job. He started working for Rent-A-Center  soon after Sierra was born, and lasted there for ten years! The first year he began his boss asked him to play Santa and ever since he's always asked, and of course Jon would oblige. I blame it on his height, and jolly personality. Of course they had to add a pillow underneath to make him more real, and rounder. I remember taking Sierra every single year to go see "Santa" at his work, and she was one smart cookie. She knew that underneath that red suit and fake beard was her father. Once she turned three she knew it! There was no longer fooling her. Every child knows who their dad is, and I don't think it helped her believe in Santa too heavily after that. Luckily when we transferred to Texas there was more than one tall guy working in the new store, and his new boss asked someone else to play Santa. That was somewhat a relief and a nice break for Jon. It was then when Sierra realized that Santa was real because her dad was no longer hiding underneath the beard, and that it was someone else. 

Looking at this oldie of a photo brings back the fondest of memories, and there are times when I miss those days. Life was so much simpler back then. The girls were little, innocent, stress and drama free. I always looked forward to Jon playing Santa at his job. It always brought out the calmness in me, the kid in him, and giggles of happiness in the girls. His Ho, Ho, ho's were on cue and the sporadic lines that incurred at the store were unreal. Not as long as what you see in a mall setting, but seeing how sweet he was with the kids was a reminder as to why I married him. He was perfect for it, and underneath that red outfit was a holly jolly person. Not only was he good at his old job...he was also the perfect Santa. 

Although there is no more role playing Santa at his workplace he'll always remember his Santa days with Rent-A-Center. He'll always remember it because the last weekend before Christmas is also his birthday.

Today he turns 44 & he still has that jolly personality. Always in good spirits, and has a good attitude with getting up there in age. He is a hard worker, kind, compassionate, talkative, great with kids, patient, and  thoughtful. All these attributes are similar to Santa Clause which makes sense in why they always picked him to play good ol' St. Nick. 

Happy birthday Jon!! May you never forget your days as Santa and to always relive the moments of feeling like a little kid again! 

And a happy weekend to all!! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Day We Picked & Decorated Lolly.

I can't believe that a year ago around this time we went out to go tree picking, and it seems as if it was yesterday. And is it only nine days until Christmas?? What the heck! I'm in denial with the fact that this month is going by way tooooooo fast for me! We went out to pick our tree a couple of weeks ago right before the rain came down & we were picky in picking. This is the second real tree we've had in our 20 years of marriage, and so far we've picked some that have a girly look to them so this year we decided to name "her" Lolly. 
As usual I snap pics of the family in random mode without them knowing & caught these two in a laughable conversation. I have no idea what these two were in cahoots or lauging about, but I assume it was the trees I was scoping out. 

Here is Noah pouting because he didn't  get his way. I think he had an eye on a different tree, but because we told him it would be too tall for our ceiling, and said no he began to pout.
Mandatory pics of the kids are a must & just as Jon got Noah to smile we all looked down! Then he managed to capture one with all of us smiling! 
Once we got her home we let Lolly sit outside with a tarp covering her so she wouldn't get soaked from the rain. As soon as she dried up we put her inside on Sunday right after church. We were a little slow in covering her up with decorations, and the fact that we had to wait until the branches unfolded took longer for us to decorate her & string those lights on. In all honesty I was in no rush & after she unfolded we strung her up with white lights & that's all she had on for a couple of days. 

It was so nice not having to rush about with decorating Lolly, and the day Jon & I went to the city for our anniversary the kids dolled her up. Lexie being the nice big sister that she is captured a few shots from her iPhone of them decorating her. 
She said they all had fun decorating her, and taking picures! 
I love this time of year & am so sad that it's flying by, but am making the best of each day until the new year begins. 

And having Sierra home for awhile will complete it!! 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Our 20th.

There's nothing like venturing to New York City during the holidays. Everything looks so festive, and "Christmasy" and everywhere you walk is lit up with lights...especially on fifth avenue! There's so much to do, and see and if we lived here we'd be doing something different every day of the week. Date night would certainly be interesting, and affordable  too because there are so many things that we could do without spending too much money. 

Ever since we moved to New Jersey our love for New York has increased. There's so much to see & do here compared to where we live. I just love the energy and adrenaline that this city gives. We fell in love with this city 15 years ago when we visited here for the first time. I was told that you'll either love it, or hate it, and we absolutely loved it! It is totally like the movies where you see cabs driving like bats out of hell, and all the sounds, sirens, and noise that this city gives makes you feel energized! 

Just the other night our neighbors car alarm was going off, and stayed on for like 10 minutes. It didn't even dawn on me until Chelsea blurted out how loud their car alarm was. I told her if we were living in New York that we would be hearing more than one car alarm go off, plus sirens, people talking, dogs barking, and possibly some laughter as people meander though the neighborhoods. She nodded her head and said, "your right, mom there would be more noise over there than here so I shouldn't complain." 

We love the city so much and try to make a few trips here throughout the year especially during the holidays, and since our wedding anniversary falls smack in the middle of December we have managed to come out here to celebrate, and this year we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in the city. 
I felt a little guilty leaving two kids at home who are getting over a cold, but Lexie insisted that we go, and have fun. She's such a good sport, and so we left early in the morning so that we could catch an early session of the temple . I just love attending the temple, and whenever we do sealings reminds me of our own! It was a beautiful time, and then we had the rest of the day enjoying ourselves in full merriment! 

We happened to come on the weekend of Santa Con. For those of you who are wondering what Santa Con is, it's when a bunch of adults dress up as Santa, and they galavant all around the city. It can get a little crazy, and super crowded on that weekend, but it's so fun seeing all the different styled Santa's. It also happened to be their 20th anniversary of celebrating Santa Con as well. 
After enjoying walking on fifth avenue taking in all the sights & lights (it never gets old) we were starving so we happened to end up (we are so spontaneous) dining at a place called David Burke inside Bloomingdales. Oh my gosh their food was fabulous!!! I've never had talapia grilled fish tacos with pineapple salsa before, and I was in heaven! I originally ordered the juicy "burker" with fries (and boy was it juicy), but I couldn't help but to take a bite out of Jon's talapia fish taco! We ended up sharing each others food. Now that's true love! Ha ha! 
The hours go by so quick when you're in the city because when you're walking everywhere, and not really paying attention to time it flies. The fact that it gets dark like at 4:30pm makes it impossible to take good photos so I didn't bother. Besides...I wanted to pay attention to the hubs and our surroundings while walking around this magical city. 

Here's to 20 years of marital bliss, along with a few downers in between that have made us strong, unconditional love and friendship with a man who is honorable, watches over me, protects me & our children, loves everything about me who has made my life come true! 
And here's to looking forward to another 20 years with each other. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Story On How We Met & Returning With Honor.

While investigating the church at the tender age of 20, and reason I say tender is because I was still a bit naive as to what was to come next after my conversion. Was I going to further my education? Get married? Because as a latter-day saint woman we are encouraged to marry while we're still young, and to multiply and replenish the earth (in other words...pop out as many kids as we can!) In all honesty I didn't really pay any attention to the whole multiplying & replenish the earth thing, and I'm so glad I wasn't a teenage bride. All I wanted was to find my purpose in this life, heal from my demons, have a stronger love for The Lord in the right church, go to college, get out of the small town I grew up in, and eventually meet Mr. Right.

Well...all of the above happened except not in that order. I did end up finding what my purpose was in this life in a church that I know is true, and based on the Savior, and even though I didn't graduate from college, I did put in a couple of years in, moved away from my small town in Texas, and eventually found the right guy! 

Thing was is that I had to experience a lot, and date a whole lot in order to find the right guy. 

And I mean a lot! No seriously...a heck of a lot!

Without giving too much detail I'm only going to write what's appropriate, and probably the nitty gritty in a later post (or in a book when I'm like 70 when everyone is senile, and losing their sight). 

I was investigating the church at the time, and since sisters missionaries taught me what the gospel was all about I had no idea that there were also male missionaries in the church who served. In all honesty my focus was on God, the gospel, and becoming a better person. I had no interest in the male missionaries...not really anyway. I had to contain myself in the very beginning when I met the missionaries. There were moments when I had to contain my composure, especially when it came to how pushy one particular sister missionary was, and how I felt a little uncomfortable around the male missionaries. That's when I realized I needed to give these missionaries the benefit of the doubt, and trust in the Lord to find my way through this unfamiliar church with girls and boys my age sharing the gospel. 

Enter Elder Jorgensen...

I recall Elder Jorgensen always being shy around me, almost careful to the point where if he said something it would hurt my feelings. Well...that did come later. He was new in the mission field, and I don't think he had a clue as to how to approach me in getting to know me as a person. I don't think it helped having the sister missionaries tell him that I was a tough cookie, and that this one has issues, and needs major help in converting. Who knows what they told him, and at that point I really didn't care because my focus was on finding my way to God. 

There was one evening where all the single adults including all the missionaries went to the bowling alley with us for our weekly family home evening. I was still investigating the church, and continued to attend these gatherings so that I can get to know more about the church, and also get better acquainted with other people my age. Well, there was an incident where I was taking score, and doing a perfectly good job at it when all of a sudden Elder Jorgensen leaned over as if to observe me, and said, "you need to add these two numbers together." I allowed it to hurt my feelings, and it really annoyed me! Here I am trying to have a good time, and relearn taking score when it came to bowling because the last time I had bowled was back in high school! All I remember is that he was in my way, in my business, and I didn't like it. I have to say that throughout the time I was getting familiar with this church that my mood was always ornery. I know that Satan used that as a tool to try me, and test my actions so that I can stay miserable, and not lean towards the light of God. That whole night was no fun for me, and I know that I made the choice for it to be. I know that had I knocked that chip off my shoulder sooner that nothing would have bothered me, and that I probably would have enjoyed myself bowling with a bunch of missionaries. It was all me, and after I came home that night I felt bad at how I mistreated the Lord's missionaries. 
^^^ My Baptism Day, circa May 1992-Left to right: Frank (investigator), Elder Ralphs (elder who baptized me), Sister Lee, Ahmad (investigator), Muah, Sister Lloyd, Sharon & son Chris, Elders Wright, Jorgensen, and Brantley^^^

Time went on, months passed, and I continued to attend church, and work out my demons. After six months of prayer, and attending church I ended up getting baptized, and chose all the speakers for my baptism. I had grown close in sister/brotherhood to the elder who baptized me because it seemed as if we had a lot in common, and since Elder Jorgensen was still in the house I decided to have him give a talk on the Holy Ghost. It was a beautiful baptism with a spirit so strong. I was overwhelmed at how many attended my baptism. Our small chapel was practically filled, and I was ecstatic afterwards! I saw myself slowly changing, and saw the male missionaries in a different light. They didn't get on my nerves anymore, and I looked at them as my brothers. 

Especially Elder Jorgensen. 

We had a very special friendship throughout his mission. One that was innocent, respectful, and happy. I loved how he treated and fellowshipped others, and how he bore testimony. He was genuine though and through, and could tell he was on board for the right reasons. The reason I know this is because I was in the same area as him for at least 10 months, and his behavior, and the example he set as a missionary was that of love, kindness, fearlessness, and honor. Every time I'd run into him at Stake Conference I would observe his actions, and saw how he always had a smile on his face. Shaking hands with practically every member and their families. I saw how fun he was with little kids, and with the elderly. He truly was a unique missionary that impressed me when it came to the way his example was in serving like The Lord.

When it was time for Elder Jorgensen to go home I heard a knock on my door, and it was him (along with two other missionaries) telling me that he had served his time, and that he was returning home back to Utah. I wasn't sad, or anything. I was actually happy for him mostly because he looked happy! He was always so jovial on his mission, and that is saying something. He never caused harm to anyone, or broke any of the mission rules. He returned hone with honor, and I was so happy for him. 

I never thought in a million years that I would end up becoming best friends with him throughout his mission, let alone end up eternally with the guy.  I am so grateful that the Lord put him on my path as an elder in the church, and friend for those two years while he was a missionary, and as a dear friend for an entire year before we got married. I am grateful that the Lord blessed me with a boy that served Him honorably for 24 months without any issues. I know that I could have chosen someone who didn't serve honorably, and that's a whole different story which I may write at a waaaaaay later date, but by the grace of God it was a lesson to be learned, and an experience that taught me a lot, and I count my blessings for listening to the spirit, and following my heart. 

Because I ended up with the best, and didn't settle for less! 

**The photo is an oldie back when we lived in San Antonio from 2003.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Christmas Carol.

One of the greatest things about the holidays are the recitals, winter concerts, and theatrical productions that take place throughout the world. In this case...close to home. A Christmas Carol is truly one of my all time favorite "ghostly" tales, and it amazes me how Dickens tale of A Christmas Carol still captures my heart, and the imagination of my kids. I decided that Noah is old enough where I can read it to him, and even though he may not understand it fully he gets the idea that after all the three spirits appeared to him in various forms that they all had a message behind the visits to Scrooge, and that in the end the message it brings is that of love, and goodwill towards all men! 

I am grateful to have children who are fearless when it comes to acting in a high school or even an elementary production, and this past week weekend Lexie debuted in her first high school production of "A Christmas Carol." She has been active in plays since the first grade, and like her older sister is a natural when it comes to acting. She played two roles...Scrooge's sister, and his niece. It amazes me the talent each of these kids have, and everyone did such a great job. 

^^^ Derek played a young scrooge, and here's Lexie as Scrooge's niece/sister. ^^^
As for Chelsea and Noah seeing it in person...

In the beginning Noah was a bit skittish. I don't think he was too fond of the theater turning into darkness especially when he began to hear chains rattling, and to see the guy in person wearing them as he passed us down the aisle was even scarier for him. He jumped when he saw Marley's ghost. He kept whispering he wanted to go home, and continued to sit quietly, but fell sleep towards the end of the play. 

And Chelsea...she was intrigued by the dismal setting behind the play, and disliked how Scrooge treated others before the huge transition of Scrooge's good intentions. And was happy with his transformation...

"I will live in the past, present, and future!" The spirits of all three shall strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley! Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this! I say it on my knees, old Jacob, on my knees!" I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A Happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!

My favorite part of the play was when Scrooge woke up not realizing what day it was, and when he asked a little boy outside, and when the boy responded, "Why, it's Christmas day!" the look on Scrooge's face was priceless. I know this is all fiction, but it's so fun imagining it being true, and what a wonderful ending it was.

Especially when they all began to sing

We had a very good audience. 

The End. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In The Spirit of Giving.

There's something about serving one another, and doing for others that makes you forget about your own problems, worries, and most of all yourself. 

One of my favorite things to do around the holidays is crafts. Especially when you do it with a great group of sisters, and friends. One thing about the church I attend are the activities, and opportunities we have to invite others, and reach out in fellowship, and just be happy in having a grand time. I am so grateful for the sister missionaries we have in our church who are here for that purpose in visiting with those who are in need of a friend, and spiritual uplifting. I love that they are there not only here to share the gospel, but to serve as Christ's diciple in love and fellowship, and this is the time of year where we should all be extending a helping hand, and exhibiting that example even more. 

Yesterday I went to visit a sister whom I've known for a few years since moving to Jersey, but never really had the opportunity to fully reach out to her. I am so excited that I have finally stepped inside the home of this lovely young woman two times now, and to get to know her better as a friend. She is so personable, and invited the sister missionaries as well as a friend of hers (who isn't a member of the church) to hang out, and do a little service project that involved crafts. We all made jars of facial scrub, and cookie mix to give to someone who we feel can use some christmas cheer. 

We had so much fun on this day, and the best thing about being together is the unity we feel in sisterhood regardless of what religion we are. I just met some of these girls, and I feel as if I've known them forever! I love the feeling I get of being myself, sharing my thoughts, and conversion story to those whom I've met for the first time. If someone is going to ask me where I'm from, how I met my husband, and if I was raised a mormon I'm going to give them a tasteful, full, detailed story. Especially since I wasn't raised in the mormon church I will tell them my conversion story, and telling it always feels as if I was just baptized yesterday! 22 years a member doesn't seem too long, and I always feel like super woman after sharing my experiences and thoughts as to how I became a member of this church. 

Twas a good morning on this day, and look forward to more days like this.   

Monday, December 8, 2014

"Miles" The Elf Is Back.

Last Christmas when we started the tradition of elf on the shelf I honestly didn't know what I was getting myself into. I had no clue what I was going to do with this elf, and how I was going to find the energy to have our little guy maneuver around the house without any shenanigans. Pinterest was a blessing, and after sing some of the stunts that some of these elves pulled off were a bit too overwhelming for me. There is so much creativity involved in how one portrays their own elf and some of their actions are funny, dumb, a little appropriate, and way over kill for my taste. I tried to mimic some of their ideas, but decided to be creative on my own. I decided that our elf was going to be filled with simplicity, and it wasn't until I saw this photo on Instagram after the Connecticut school shooting that changed my whole perspective on how I viewed the elf. Although this little elf doesn't really creep my kids out too much, or has added any stress to our lives so far this year I realized that our elf can truly be a "fun, simple blessing", and a good "silent" friend in our lives. Even though I've pinned sooooo many ideas of what "Miles" can do I made the decision that I wasn't going to use this little guy as a behavior tool, and that he is going to be an easy going elf, and that I wasn't gonna go out of my way for him to have a good time, and cause havoc in our home. 

So ever since Miles stepped into our home on December 1st, he has been pretty laid back. On the first day Miles arrived, Noah & Chelsea woke up they immediately looked around the house to see where he was. Noah mostly laughs at the little guy, and doesn't say much. He'll look at him with a huge grin, and say "why is he just sitting like that?" I think Noah is still young to understand why we have this elf, or maybe he realizes that he's part of Christmas, and that he comes out only at Christmas along with the other decorations we have downstairs. He even asked me if I took him out of the basement this year which is weird because he is tucked away in a pretty good hiding place. He's a very smart little boy, and again it could just be that because he's dressed in red, an elf, that he exemplifies Christmas. Sounds good to me, but to be totally honest...Noah doesn't show too much interest in him.  I think that if our elf was somewhat of a transformer that Noah would totally be interested in him! ha ha! As a matter of fact he moved him the other day from sitting next to my favorite goblet glasses to lying down on them! When Chelsea asked why he moved him he said, "because he's tired of moving around all the time." I think he wanted to see if he was real, and if he could move. That was the first time our elf was touched! But you know what? I don't care. As long as Noah find's him amusing with no ill feelings towards him & that Chelsea doesn't mind if baby brother moves him around is no big deal to me!  

Chelsea will be entering the double digits soon and it amazes me how her mind is truly a child's one. She really believes in the magical part of Christmas when it comes to Santa & our elf, & it's sweet the way her imagination flows. Having a teacher last year who had an elf on the shelf in their classroom got her even more excited in really believing in all the joy and magic that elves bring. That was also the time when she discovered that all elves are different, and that the one in her classroom was kind of like ours. Well behaved, and having fun in the process. I personally wanted Miles in my home specifically for the holidays to ease our stress, and make us happy...not to discipline our kids, and wear us out. 

There will be no slashing furniture with a knife, or bathing in the bathroom sink with Barbie (Chelsea has never even played with barbies), no making huge messes in the kitchen spreading sugar or flour all over my kitchen counter. 

What there will be is simplicity, and calmness. 

So far we have found Miles sitting in a huge bowl of cocoa puffs, sitting quietly under their small Christmas tree, hugging our Jesus statue on the piano, making himself look pretty sitting inside our bowl of christmas potpourri (he'll definitely smell good throughout the month of December), and yesterday he got stuck inside a glass jar full of cupcake liners. He's been a fun elf & if he's trying to make these kiddies laugh it's working! 
Chelsea's expression in words when she saw him bathing in a huge bowl of cocoa puffs, "mom...Miles is bathing in cocoa puffs instead of marshmallows. Funny elf." My expression in words was, "He's wasting food, and that's unacceptable!" So we carefully grabbed the bowl, and slowly poured some of it into a bowl for breakfast for the kids, and luckily Miles was undisturbed this time. 

One thing I do have to add about him being a "different" elf are his eyes. It's all in the eyes right? How one comes off when they look at you. Chelsea did mention how funny he is that he's always looking sideways, and never forward. I personally believe it's all how we view our elf. I look at him as being fun, not creepy. Sweet, and not mischievous. Caring, and not rude. Sensitive, and not callous. His rosy cheeks indicate that he's happy all the time, his hair neatly tucked in inside his hat tells me that he's well groomed, and he's always looking sideways because he's too shy to look us straight in the eye with those big brown eyes of his. It's all at how we look at him, and so far he's a keeper. 

I'm not sure how much longer my kids will believe in him, but it has been a real joy without too much added stress  or creativity to have Miles in our home during Christmas, and as long and he is well-behaved, and contains himself in a proper manner he is welcome in our home every Christmas until the time comes for the kids to grow older, and possibly say goodbye.

And it will be up to them if they want to build this tradition  with their future posterity. 

Who knows, but for now I will continue to do it with grace and always instill my kids the real reason for this season.