A Wind of Opportunities

The winds today approached gale forces as we were running errands. Chelsea had to constantly pull her hair out of her face while Noah was snuggled comfortably in his car seat riding in the cart. It seems as if spring is in the air and slowly making its way to New Jersey. Although we had a couple of inches of snow this past week, it's a reminder to me that winter is here to least for a little while (our winters here are longer.) My emotions of gloomy weather can hover over me and seriously get me into a depressed mode. Luckily, I have two small children at home that are reminders to me that shopping needs to get done and their mouths need to be fed.
 I'm also extremely grateful to have two self sufficient daughters that keep their room tidy, and help me with the laundry and dishes. That truly makes me happy. I also have a strong faith in my Savior and know that if I put him first when I start my day, he will help me through these rough spots.

What also helps me through these rough spots on gloomy days is being there for my friends.  This past week I had opportunities to fellowship and be there for two dear friends.  I love to help anyone that is in need of advice or just being there to listen to them in times of stress. It makes me feel good about myself to know that I am doing something meaningful in sharing my love...and it strengthens my spirit. My dear friend Tiffany is moving to Florida tomorrow and we've had some wonderful visits this past week.  I also visited with another friend who recently began coming back to church. She even came to our book club this past week. They may not realize this, but their examples of determination and striving hard to be like our Savior, really made me focus more on enduring to the end.
Enduring to the end. That can be a tough one, but I know that if we hold on to that iron rod... we will be blessed...even on the gloomiest of days.


Noah is growing up too fast before my eyes.
He's also very quick.
Quick enough to get halfway through the stairs because I forgot to put the gate up:
He's a quick climber. He even tries to climb up the gate.
 I don't think they make gates long enough for my kitchen opening, and one day I found him on the kitchen table dancing!! It scared me to death! He must have quickly climbed onto the chair and onto the table!! Luckily I had my camera nearby and snapped a quick photo of him. (none of my girls ever did this!)
He's quick to crawl into small spaces and thinks it's funny:
He quickly pulls out all of his toys from the toy bin and is easily entertained:
At the end of the day...he quickly falls asleep.
 and so do I.

Fatigue is the best pillow.~Benjamin Franklin

All We Need is BYU, Brown, and Harvard

Good mail has been filling up our mailbox lately with various letters from different colleges addressed to Sierra. Sierra is in the middle of her sophomore year and has been getting them for the past two weeks. It's been interesting to read about all the different colleges. Some of them are in the tri-state area. I don't remember ever getting any letters from any colleges while I was in high school. Then again...I didn't maintain over a 4.0 GPA. It's thrilling for us to see that the admissions teams from all kinds of different universities are impressed with her achievements and academic credentials. Sierra looks forward to coming home from school to check the mailbox.

She just informed us today that she is considering about doubling up next year and skipping lunch to take two AP classes: environmental science and English.  Apparently her counselor advised her to talk with us about this. Jon and I will support her in any decision she makes. We trust her to be organized and to handle any challenge she comes across with these classes or in any situation.  I'm sure that whatever she chooses will be the right choice. She's such a bright kid and we are so pleased with all her accomplishments. She may have her plate full, but it'll all be for a good reason.

 Ivy league schools are very selective (not to mention expensive) and she has her heart set on Harvard. She is so ambitious and wants to get into a really good college. She's also considering in applying at Julliard music school. She has such a talent with piano and writing composition. That is another small school who is very selective with their candidates. Of course she'll apply for many scholarships and pray that one will be granted to her. This is a very important step in any teenagers life and only hope for the best.

Some parents may think tenth grade is too early to start thinking of what college to attend. We don't. We think it's wise to plan your future now. I wish I had a better counselor in high school who encouraged me more. I'm just glad that I decided to attend college on my own motive two years after high school. I am also glad that Sierra has a good counselor in high school who cares about her education.

We are very grateful to be living in a part of the country where there are so many outstanding colleges. Wherever she gets accepted and wherever she chooses to attend,  I'm sure it'll be meant to be.

*Do you have a teenager in the process of choosing a college?
*How full has your mailbox been?

a haircut & homemade ponytail holders

When my mother- in-law came over last summer for a visit, she taught the girls how to make flowers out of ribbon and glue them onto ponytail holders and headbands. The girls all had fun with this project. They had all gone to Wal-mart to buy felt, ribbon, brads, ponytail holders, and a lighter. A lighter? I had asked them why we needed a lighter.  Well, in order to keep the ribbon from fraying, you need to burn the edges. They layered different kinds of ribbons on top of each other and added brads of different styles to add an effect. This was such a fun project. My mother-in-law is so talented with crafts and I am always grateful to her for passing on her ideas to us
Chelsea's hair grows really fast and was in need of a haircut. If you didn't notice, she is the only one out of my girls who has super straight hair. It's so much more easy to manage than Sierra and Lexie, who have naturally curly hair (like me). She also had a busy week with school, church, and even lost another tooth.

Chelsea gave an excellent talk in Primary at church. She gave a talk on how the scriptures teach us of our Heavenly Father's plan. She prepared the talk at the last minute. Her sister Lexie found this yellow slip of paper in her scripture bag on Sunday morning when Chelsea was cleaning it out. Luckily we all had an extra half hour to spare before we had to leave for church (it takes us 15 minutes to get there). All went well and Lexie helped her prepare her talk within ten minutes. She presented it well and did a great job in bearing her own little testimony in the end.
Chelsea & Lexie also participated in the Jump Rope for heart at their school this past week and enjoyed doing something for a great cause. It was Chelsea's first time in this event.
We ended the Sabbath with having the church missionaries over for dinner at our house. We hadn't had them over for quite some time. It felt so nice to have them over and to get to know them better. It's amazing how much you miss their presence after a long abeyance. They bring such a strong spirit into the home. I am grateful for the message they left us and for their diligence in how they serve our Heavenly Father; to sacrifice 18-24 months of their life to share the gospel. It was a nice ending to a wonderful busy week... in serving & being spiritually fed by our missionaries.

The Story behind Noah's Dreamland

Ring around the Rosies
For the past couple of weeks I have been getting e-mails from various friends telling me that I have some competition and that some other lady is doing the same thing with my idea of Noah's Dreamland.

 Not so. I feel the need to set the record straight.

 I'm creative... but not that creative to come up with the setting of Noah's Dreamland.

One day I came across a blog called Mila's Daydreams. Adele Enerson is in advertising and lives in Finland. Apparently her photos became an overnight sensation and she became popular all over the web. I thought they were the most adorable photos I have ever seen. I was looking at some of the pictures Adele had been doing with her daughter and I was inspired to do the same thing with Noah. Of course, her pictures are ingenious, gorgeous, and much more clever than mine!

Noah is my first son and I wanted to do something fun with him. I figured since there is a cute baby girl being dressed up in an imaginative setting while sleeping...why not a baby boy. I sent Adele an e-mail asking her permission if it would be alright to mock her idea and do the same thing with my son. To my surprise, she responded right away and gave me her blessing. She said that Noah is me and my husbands work of art and that we could do the same thing. She was so agreeable and she also asked me if I had any other publishing in mind. She also mentioned to me about her Fan Art Facebook page and told me that I could put Noah's photos on it. Apparently, there are other families doing the same thing with their kid.

Till this day, I still haven't put any pictures up of Noah. The day I was going to upload a few I read on her blog that someone had used one of her pictures of Mila on a banner without her permission! Unfortunately, there are dishonest people out there who use photos without asking the owner. She is no longer posting photos of Mila, but she is coming out with a book in January of 2012. I am so excited and look forward to being one of the first owners of her book.

I'm very thankful to have come across the blog Mila's Daydreams and to have had the opportunity to have fun with my son. Noah may look back at these photos and be embarrassed, but at least he'll have a memory of him that he can share with his future posterity.
'I hope they call me on a mission'

It Was a Bright, Bright, Sun Shiny Day

Today was the days for capris, flip flops, and a stroll through the neighborhood,
and a day to enjoy seeing your little one for the first time run outside; because he never really experienced it due to being cooped up at home during the winter months.

Noah's a fast little runner and had so much fun. He even fell a few times.
He didn't even mind kissing the dirt...
 and neither did I.


Mr. Highland 2011

A couple of weeks ago Sierra was asked by Eddie Olmo II to escort him in the Mr. Highland 2011 competition. Last night was the night and I have to say...I was quite impressed with the turnout. All the 'calendar men' have been preparing for this night for about two weeks. It was an evening of laughter, roaring, and lots of oohs and ahs from the girls in the audience.
Mr. January
The first act was the boys introduction to the song, "It's Raining Men".

As you can see in the above photo all the boys have raincoats on. A couple of minutes into the song, they all proceeded to take off their raincoats. The attire underneath...a muscle shirt and swim shorts. Their dancing skills were...let's just say...inciting.
Each of the candidates had to perform a talent.  Eddie's talent was singing. They both sang this song by Bruno Mars. They sang like naturals and were very comfortable in doing so. I thought they made an "amazing" duo.
I had to put these two other candidates in this blog: 

T.J. dressed like Taylor Swift lip singing  the song, "Love Story". He was hilarious and sang the words verbatim. It was great!

Brandon sang Seal's "Kissed by a Rose" and threw roses out into the audience. His performance was stage material. He was escorted by the lovely Ms. Sarah Poole. Here he is approaching her with a 'pick up line:
"It's taken me a lot of small steps to get here...will you take one giant leap with me?"

Unfortunately, Eddie didn't get the crown. I think they were all winners. All the performances were outstanding. I'm so glad Sierra participated in this event and that she accepted the invite from Eddie.

No, it wasn't  a date... it was all in good fun.
But still...don't they look "amazing" together?

Visiting Teaching & Chicken Corn Chowder

I had my visiting teachers over from my church earlier this morning and we had a nice visit. They also delivered these yummy post Valentine shaped heart cookies. We had a really nice visit. We talked about the importance of Relief Society and how we each have an important role to fulfill in building the Lord's kingdom. I always learn something new from each message that is delivered to me personally every month. The more I hear messages about how crucial the Relief Society is in our lives, the more my testimony grows. I love every sister that I meet and try to include them in all things. I also never wait for someone to invite me or include me in activities. Instead, I'll either invite myself and/or offer to have an activity held in my home. Whether it's book club, a baby shower or some one's birthday. I will always ask whomever is 'in charge' that it can be done at my house. The answer is up to them. I'll never give up...never.  

Sister Julie B. Beck taught, "We have a vital role to play in helping build the kingdom of God and preparing for the Lord's coming. In fact, the Lord cannot accomplish His work without the help of His daughters. Because of that, the Lord expects us to increase our offering. He expects us to fulfill the purpose of Relief Society as never before."

When Chelsea comes home from school, she is always famished. I normally make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for was different. I went to Costco the other day and bought this...
Chelsea has had a bit of the sniffles lately and I decided to heat some up for her. It was quick and easy. At first Chelsea was hesitant to try it. I told her it tasted like creamed corn but with chicken meat added to it. She decided to give it a taste test, and ended up eating the whole bowl...along with an Angus burger I made for myself that she finished.

And she thought it was delish!

*Have you ever had the chicken corn chowder from Costco?
*Is it still cold enough where you live to have warm chowder?

My Five Lovely Valentines

Today, we recognize the heart to be the very center or our life and strength. And so we still, on that very same day, February 14, show the love in our hearts for one another through the exchange of cards and gifts:
 May we always remain warm-hearted:
  embracing, kind and gentle;

 May we always remain big-hearted, caring, compassionate and generous.
And may you and your loved ones have a Happy Valentines Day!

On Fellowshipping

I remember reading the phrase, "One of humankind's most redeeming characteristics is the capacity for compassion." It was written in our church news magazine.  I love this phrase because it truly awakens my mind and soul. It tells me that I am capable of passing on that love and comfort to everyone I meet. I'm originally from South Texas, therefore I was taught to have that southern hospitality.

For those of you who have known me for the past ten years, I am outgoing, loving, kind, thoughtful, fun, and full of life. I will tell you that it's genuine. I have to work at it though, and I strive hard to live like that each day.

When I first joined the LDS church 18 years ago, I was excited, yet scared at the same time. I was entering unfamiliar territory and meeting new friends. One thing I have learned about the church I attend is the importance of fellow shipping. Making friends with everyone. Not the ones with whom you have in common with (although that is a plus), not the ones who are the same age as you and your kids (another plus), not the ones who dress nice like you, not the ones who are the same nationality as you, not the ones who are in the same school, neighborhood, etc. like you...EVERYONE.

I have never been the one to ever be part of a specific group. Whether in my neighborhood, or when I used to work and go to school. I have been to numerous churches before I joined this one and unfortunately no matter what church we attend, on the east or west coast, we are going to see those kinds of results. I attend church every Sunday with my family. I try to shake hands, smile, hug, say hello to as many members as I can before service begins. I try to acknowledge those who are visiting our church, those who are not active, and those who are in different auxiliaries. Whenever we have church functions, I do the same thing. I feel like I am always the first one to say hi and show kindness...yet I never grow weary in doing so.

Last night was a different story. It was the complete opposite, and let me tell you it made my weekend!!!

I was at a church fundraiser last night and as usual I walk in and take a look around to see who is there. I glance over to a sister that I visit teach and who is fairly new to our church. I sat with her and her family and made conversation with her. All evening I found myself getting up and walking around and saying hello to as many members as I can. Dinner was being served so I proceeded to go back to my seat. Then, all of a sudden, I felt warmth on my shoulder. It was the warm hand of a sister who said hello and asked how I was doing. It almost brought tears to my eyes. 95% of the time I'm always the one to acknowledge everyone. This is the 5% where I actually didn't do the "fellow shipping".

This morning after service, another sister came over to my pew, gave me a great big hug and told me how much she adores my family. She was talking about my son and how she was admiring his actions from the back row. She was sincere and complimenting and it truly made my entire day.

We should never let an opportunity pass us by in saying hello to someone. We should never say to ourselves, "Oh, I'll wait till later to say hi".  I say, "do it now". You may never have that second chance, and you may never know how you'll make that person feel. Now that I've been on the other side of the fence, I now know how others feel when I lay my hand on some one's shoulder to say hello and the warmth that comes from it,

...and it felt GREAT!


"It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are"~Roy Disney
Each day we wake up making choices. We choose to eat breakfast, we choose to get on our knees and give thanks to our Heavenly Father for waking up to live another day, we choose to be happy or sad. Life is full of choices... and sometimes we have regrets on some of those choices we have made. I know I have.

My daughter has early morning seminary. My husband teaches it. Sierra has had a long week of homework & drama rehearsal, which resulted in staying up late for the past three nights. She's only missed seminary if she is sick, but she did not attend this morning because she was drained of strength and energy. Although she was up at 4:30 this morning, she was tired; red eyed tired! Her dad let her know he was on his way and he wasn't going to force her to go. It's a good thing I'm not the seminary teacher, because I might have forced her to go. I was also tired from staying up late blogging and comforting Noah, who has his last two sets of molars coming in...but I'm up early every morning getting everyone ready for the day. I know that's part of the mom role, and at times it's exhausting, but I'm still up.

I prefer the word choice over force.

I was looking back at the first entry I wrote in my journal. I titled that entry "Choice". It's something I'd like to share with you. It's a pretty long entry and I hope you'll read it in its entirety.

January 1, 2011

A new decade, a new year, and hopefully a new me! We may all think that we are at a point in our lives where we are "okay" or "comfortable" with who we are, how we treat others, and how we treat ourselves.
There are so many things I'd like to change about myself.  Such as how I look at things on a daily basis, how I am as a mother and wife. There are questions I ask myself constantly such as, "Am I being a good example in everything I portray in front of my children? Am I truly listening to them when one of them asks me a question or when they discuss the matters of their day? Or maybe a  question uttered from your five year old that may not matter to you to respond and answer... but it matters to them. Am I treating the next person in line at the store, on the road, at church...with kindness? Am I smiling enough? (I know a smile can brighten someone's day.)
Recently I have been short tempered (no it's not hormonal, menopause or PMS) and I don't want to use the excuse of having four children, a husband who works a lot, and living in New Jersey which can really cause someone's life to be hectic! I have realized more lately and throughout this past year, that I can make differences in people's lives and how I can look at things in a happier perspective. 

Isn't that what life is all about?

Each year comes and goes, and with each new year, we have a chance to renew ourselves; to be a more positive person. I believe we can change. We have lessons in life we have learned from. We have heartaches, trials, and many ups and downs, but we can all look at this in a positive manner. 
I believe that God gives us that chance at hope; hope to renew ourselves. It can be done. We all have a choice. I hope that the choices I make are those that are correct, and that will not only help me gain strength throughout my life...but by making the right choices, I can strengthen others. 

I am so grateful for journal writing, and that I decided to flip back to the very beginning. It was a reminder to me that everyone has a choice. My daughter chose to not attend seminary this morning. She is such a great kid, and at times I can be a little hard on her, but she does make excellent choices in life.

 I also learned that it's okay to be tired.

Spontaneity on a Day Off

I always look forward to Jon's day off. He puts in about 45 hours a week, sometimes more. His days off vary on a weekly basis. Today was the day. We don't have a "routine" or a strict schedule we live by. We don't always plan, sometimes we just do.

There are always things to be accomplished at our house such as laundry, putting up that picture that has been leaning against the wall behind the crib for over a week now, returning texts a day late because my phone was on vibrate, looking in our pantry to see if we are lacking any major ingredients on what we are having for dinner tonight. Sure we did all those things... and I also:

 1. Addressed valentine's day cards.

 2. Mailed a sympathy card to a close friend whose aunt passed away yesterday.

 3. Went to Target and bought Chelsea a booster seat (she got too tall for her old one) & a popcorn combo.

 4. Bought Chelsea her own bed (she's been sharing a bed with her sister since we moved here two and a half years ago.)

 5. Bought new sheets for Chelsea's new bed.

 6. Went to a friend's house to give her youngest some slightly used clothing previously worn by Chelsea.

 7. Reimbursed a friend who just recently traveled to England where she bought me some lovely stuff from Cath Kidston.

 8. Helped Chelsea with her homework.

 9. Supervised Chelsea while practicing piano.

10. Fed Noah oatmeal for lunch (he can eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner!)

11. Took Sierra to her drama rehearsal.

12. Had a dear friend (whom I hadn't seen since Halloween) over for a surprise visit while Jon was playing with this.

13. Make a last minute trip to Marshall's to pick up another pillow for Chelsea before 9:30 p.m. (she likes sleeping with two pillows.)

Unfortunately... I didn't get back in time for me to personally say goodnight to my kids and have our family prayer (which is very rare.) So I peeked in, gave them all a kiss, and saw Noah cuddled in Lexie's bed (I heart his rosy cheeks!)

Sierra got a ride home from rehearsal and was exhausted. I noticed Sierra wearing her pink hoodie to bed (at least she had her pajama bottoms on and not her jeans.)

I saw sweet Chelsea on her new bed with her new sheets comfortably sleeping (does she really need a second pillow?)

As crazy as this day sounds, and although some things weren't planned...I enjoyed every minute of today.

One of my life's motto is: if you have a daily schedule and are organized,  you can add some spontaneity in your daily life, and serve others.

On Jon's days off, when things are rarely ever planned that's exactly what we try to do.

*Are you a planner, or spontaneous?
*What do y'all usually do on your day off?
*Have you addressed your Valentine's day cards?

Sibling Love

I consider myself lucky because Chelsea attends half day Kindergarten; therefore allowing me to get an early start on spending lots of one on one time with Noah before she comes home from school. I LOVE being a stay at home mom!

Chelsea is the first to one to come home and play with him. She is the "roughest" out of the bunch and I've had to tell her numerous times to be gentle with Noah. He's not a 23 inch doll! If you're not gentle with him, he'll definitely let you know....
He's not really hitting her really hard, just slapping her around a little bit. In his own way he lets her know to treat his little self with gentleness.
But they love each other!!

Alex is the mini mom.  She'll immediately go to him in the morning as soon as he wakes up to hold him. I have to remind her to do her homework & practice piano and violin before she plays with him once she comes home from school. She doesn't mind feeding him, changing his diaper, and dressing him for me. I have to remind her that I'm the mom, and although I appreciate all that she does for me for Noah, I have to do my job!
Sierra is a teenager. A different kind of teenager. She is really into family. That's the honest truth! Most teens these days are not. She is very loving with Noah but is also a busy body!!! She will come home to greet him with kisses and then will get straight to eating a snack, doing her homework, and practice her piano. She is in the middle of also doing the Spring drama production and that keeps her busy with school. She will take advantage of any spare time she has to share him with her sisters.
Most mothers put the responsibility of mothering on a young child and I am not that way! I also feel fortunate because all my kids are five years apart. I didn't plan it that way (that's another story I'll have to write about.) In a SMALL way (and I mean small way), that does make things a lot easier for me. There are days though where I'll be rushing from one place to another. Next year, I'll have three kids going to all different schools!! WISH ME LUCK!

I have numerous friends who have kids close in age and I commend them for keeping sane! I'm not sure how they manage, but I'm sure they do just as well as I do with four kids who have a five year age gap.

*Do you have children with big age gaps or close in age?
*How do you manage with either age?