Friday, July 29, 2011

Love is spoken here


I grew up with only one sibling...a sister. There were times when we weren't very close and times when we would hug each other so tight that I couldn't breath. Those tight hugging moments occurred when we'd witness our parents fighting and then when my sister moved out of the house to be married at the age of 19. When we were little, there were times when we'd fight, and I mean literally fight... like alley cats. We'd pull each others hair, kick and bite one another. It was awful. Not your normal sibling rivalry. What made it worse was when our mother would intervene, and start wailing on us because of our fighting. That was scary. We tried so hard after that to not fight as much. Now my sister and I are the best of friends! I know that we learned this behavior from observing our parents by physically hurting one another. I vowed that when I got married and had children, that I would not allow them to hit each other. I also told myself that I would never marry anyone that would physically abuse me or hurt me in any way.

So far, both wishes have come true. 

I watch my girls now and I am happy to say that they treat one another with kindness and love. I love it. I love that they don't gibe, hit, or yell, or curse at each other. Sure they have their normal sibling spats...who doesn't? They all enjoy spending quality time with each other. Of course there are days when they each need time for themselves. But for the most part, they love each other's company.

I have learned to develop patience throughout the years and to not take my stress out on them or get after them for petty things. There are times when I have done that and will still do that, but I stop to think. I think of a blissful moment instead of reacting and wailing on them. I have a future Priesthood holder in the house who needs all of us (writer included) to set a good example for him. My oldest has a huge role in bringing solace into the home. With her music and the way she plays the piano soothes my mind, heart, and soul.  She and Lexie are a big help with calming the small storms in the house (a.k.a. Chelsea and Noah.) Lately, Noah's been randomly slapping Chelsea for no reason. She is my youngest daughter and the sassiest (she still doesn't deserve it.) Sometimes I wonder if he's paying her back for the times that she would treat him like a rag doll when he was a little baby. He's growing, getting taller, and is extremely strong-willed. I don't want Noah or any of the kids to think that hitting is okay. I'm sure it's a phase and hope that as I teach him to not hit anymore... he will stop.

Peace fills my heart when there is peace in our home. The month of July is almost over which means school starts in at least five weeks, and Summer comes to a halt. I want to enjoy the next five weeks in this house without berating any of my children (which is impossible.) But when I have to, all I have to do is give them 'the look' as my husband calls it, and they all know mother means business.

It's been a pretty good month and hope that I will always have blissful moments when all of my kids faces look like this...

LOVE IS SPOKEN HERE...ALWAYS.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Youth Conference in Palmyra, NY

"I had actually seen the light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I seen a vision, yet it was true...I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it."
~Joseph Smith
Last week over 150 youth including youth leaders from the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints spent Youth Conference in Palmyra New York. We all went the week before as a family to see the Hill Cumorah Pageant, and other sites. So this was a special treat for Sierra going once again, but with the youth.

Although it was unbearably hot since the entire eastern seaboard experienced a heat wave of up to 116+ degrees...the youth still managed to enjoy themselves and take in everything spiritual.
Sierra came home to tell me all that they did and the spiritual experiences that they all encountered which included...

*Performing baptisms for the dead at the temple (which I heard they ended up doing work for over   
  1000 people!
*Bearing their testimonies inside the chapel.
*Walking the Sacred Grove...TWICE.
*Visiting the Smith Family farm.
*Walking up to the top of the Hill Cumorah.


They also had a dance on the last night of their trip. I think the dance took their minds off being so terribly hot since there was no air conditioning in the dorms they were sleeping in. 

As Sierra was telling me all about the three days spent in Palmyra she really enjoyed all that she did...company included. She loves her friends in the church very much, and will do anything for them. The joy that the spirit brings when all the youth from our church attend any activities church related draws them closer to Christ, and I know that it wants to make all of them a better person, and loving friend to all.

After all...that's why we have these youth activities, so they can all draw closer to our Savior
Jesus Christ.

**all photos taken by Sierra's friends...not me.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Remembering the Pioneers


Between 1856 and 1860 ten handcart companies made the trek west, and eight companies made the journey without incident. On October 19th 1956, the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies were caught in a blizzard. More than 210 individuals would die before being rescued.

Sierra experienced Pioneer Trek for the first time back in North Carolina in 2008. It was the best life changing experience she has ever had in her life. She was 14 years old and I will always remember the day she returned home humbled and grateful that she endured the experience without any problems.

I remember all the preparation it took for her to be ready for this fun yet trying adventure. We both would go on walks, go to the gym and walk on the treadmill for about 20 minutes at least three times a week. As a family, we would read our scriptures daily, pray, fast, and after three months of serious preparation...she was ready to go on the trek. Although her experience was nothing compared to what our ancestors went through, she did mention to me how heavy it was pulling a handcart with her 'trek sisters' in 95+ degree weather.
Mormon Handcart- picture via google

One of her greatest memories was having a loving ma and pa and being in a family of ten. She is the oldest in our family of six so having two older brothers in her trek family made it all the more fun. She was grateful to have experienced having older siblings in her family.

One of her not so great memories, (although very appreciative) was eating cracked wheat or cream of wheat for breakfast. They were limited on resources for dinner so they had rice and some meat. There were no snacks during the trek. They made their trek experience as real as possible. Sierra enjoyed all the games they played while they stopped to rest. They played stick pull, had flour sack races, and made loops out of rope to play bean toss. It was interesting to hear about how they came up with ideas to entertain themselves throughout the trek.

I wanted to write about her trek experience in memory of what our ancestors went through. Sometimes we forget our heritage and as a member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I believe it's imperative in our lives to remember what they went through in detail, and to think of all the trials they went through in order for us to be here today. What makes me more appreciative is the fact that my husband's ancestors were part of the Willie and Martin handcart companies, and that makes our testimonies even stronger. I saw the growth in Sierra as she returned home to us with open arms giving us tight hugs, and was in tears because of what she learned about the pioneers during the trek.

I still see that growth in her today.

I am grateful that Sierra had this opportunity to experience Pioneer Trek before the move to New Jersey. Unfortunately, our stake here in New Jersey hasn't had the privilege in experiencing trek...yet. I hope that someday the youth in our stake will have that opportunity.

 I know it would be a life changing experience for all of them.

"Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No! Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company."
~Francis Webster


*Have you experienced pioneer trek?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Temple Anniversary

I am satisfied that every man or woman who goes to the temple in a spirit of sincerity and faith leaves the house of the Lord a better man or woman. There is need for constant improvement in all of our lives. There is need occasionally to leave the noise and the tumult of the world and step within the walls of a sacred house of God, there to feel His spirit in an environment of holiness and peace. 
~President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008)

Salt Lake Temple~ July 22, 2003
Today marks our eighth anniversary of being sealed in the temple as a family for all time and eternity. Every time I look at this photo it seems as if we were sealed yesterday. I look at both of my daughters in this photo and I can see the joy in their faces.

Sierra was eight and Lexie was three.
OUR FAMILY IS FOREVER
Time flies when you're having fun. Although we had a civil marriage 17 years ago, being sealed in the temple required a lot of faith and commitment. I had a lot of issues I had to work through before entering, but by the grace of God and huge support from my ward in San Antonio, I was able to enter into the House of the Lord. It took me eleven years to get there, but it was worth the wait, and all the effort I put in on my behalf in order to accomplish that eternal goal was life changing. 

 I cry every time I look at this photo. My husband who was born and raised in the LDS church waited 11 years for me to get my act together so that we could be sealed to each other and to our children forever, and we did it! Look at his face...he looks like a little boy in a candy store!
 I took out my endowments in the Jordan River temple the day before my sealing in the Salt Lake Temple. Stacie and Susanna were the two sister missionaries that taught me the gospel discussions back in 1992, and I asked both of them to be my escorts.
19 years have passed and we still keep in touch!
 The Parrs, The Peterson's, Grandma Patsy, Aunt Jackie, Stacie, Susanna, and mom and dad (Jon's folks) were all present to join in on our special day.
It brings me great comfort, and joy to know that I am now an eternal family with everyone in this picture. Blood or not we are all family. I'm so grateful for the temple and to know that I am sealed to them forever. I know that if I continue to live the covenants I made inside the temple that we can all return back to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to live with them forever.

To listen to a beautiful & inspirational message, please...click here.

And an update: my story of our 10 year anniversary of being sealed in the temple was published in Deseret News. You can read that story here if you'd like! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

In the midst of a heat wave


If you really have to go out in this heat...then go. If you don't, stay indoors. It has been unbearably hot for the past two days and I've only gone out a couple of times. I had to drop off my eldest at the church for Youth Conference yesterday. It was 6:30 when we arrived at the church and I swear it felt like it was 100 degrees.

This weather reminds me of July and August weather in Nevada. I remember we visited my cousins one year in Las Vegas for the Fourth of July. Once we passed St. George I started feeling the desert heat. I felt like as if I was literally inhaling the sun! We usually would visit them every year on Memorial Day, but we had missed out that year, and decided to go in July. Never again did we go in the month of July! We did make the best of our trip that year.

 I feel like I live in desert heat right about now!

We've been living in New Jersey now for three years and this is the hottest it has ever been! It's pretty tolerable if you've lived in humidity before. Still...I'm not as young as I used to be and there are days when the heat just drains me. So with that being written, I explained to my three younger ones that we need to find things to do in the house to keep us occupied for the next couple of days. We love the beach but it's just too hot to take my 20 month old outdoors. I don't care if he he'll be wearing a hat and have tons of sunscreen on. I'll wait until the temperatures drop ten degrees and the heat index is at least 90 for us to go to the pool or beach.

Chelsea and Lexie are full of ideas and so far they are not bored!  Chelsea began to draw with chalk on our sidewalk and steps in front of our house, and after about ten minutes...she was ready to go inside.

 This is her work of art...
 

By the look on Lexie's face, I think she'd rather be inside reading than sliding on a piece of             plastic that is too small for her. Or maybe she's just HOT! 

She was sweating so much that her and her sister decided to pull out the slip and slide. I can't believe those things are still around. I can't believe I own one. I had one of these when I was a kid! It hardly ever gets used. Again, they were only outside for a little while and then they came inside to play school, piano, violin, draw, color, and Lexie is on her third round of reading the Harry Potter Series.

I just tended to Noah's needs. He's been a little cranky lately, and I think his molars are coming in. It could also be from sitting outside in the heat. You can see him just chilling on the chair in the background. I was getting hot myself and only had the energy to take a couple of pictures.

I'm glad I have kids that are able to find things to do on their own without having me to tell them what to do. It's nice to see them enjoy these super HOT summer days, and then to have them take a very late nap...on their own (maybe they'll sleep through the night!) There are no bedtime schedules in our house during the summer. Then again...we really don't have a set bedtime schedule during the school year either. Remember...I'm a spontaneous mom!
^^^ Here is Chelsea in her favorite cherry dress crashed out on my bed. What is it about my bed? All my kids love to sleep on it! ^^^

Noah is too cute. He will find any place in the house and just fall asleep. There was one time when I was writing cards or doing scrap booking on the kitchen table or something, and he just fell asleep underneath the table near my feet. 
^^^ Noah is too cute. He will find any place in the house and just fall asleep. There was one time when I was writing cards or doing scrap booking on the kitchen table or something, and he just fell asleep underneath the table near my feet. ^^^ 

The past two days have been nice being indoors, and having the kids doing different things on their own.

I'm obviously done blogging, and now I'm about to do more pinning on Pinterest. If you haven't started pinning yet, I'd recommend it. It's a whole lot of fun.

Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.
 ~Russel Baker


*What do your kids do during a heat wave? 
*Do you own a slip and slide...or am I the only one?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Siesta


I LOVE, LOVE my son. This is one of my favorite pictures of him this week. He's worn himself out after a hard day of playing outside in this hot and humid heat (before it began to rain!) I might have lost a pound or two myself!

Here he is on my unmade messy bed. There are somedays that he will stay asleep on my bed in the morning, and the bed isn't made until late afternoon!!

That's okay...they are only little once!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Palymra, Birthplace of the Restoration

This is the blogging finale of our Palmyra trip. There was just so much to do when we went.

 After all, we only come up here once a year (except for Sierra... she'll be up here again next week for youth conference.)

This is the Peter Whitmer house. I always feel a sense of peace when I enter in. This little house is where the LDS church was first organized. Can you believe there were only six members who attended church  in this home, and now there are over 14 million members!
 As I was walking up to the top of the Hill Cumorah, I was thinking back to when I first climbed it in 2009. I was seven months pregnant. I was amazed at my determination back then. This time around, it was a piece of cake, and it was good exercise too!


The view from the top of the Hill Cumorah. You can see the stage and the all the chairs that sit at least 9,000 people.
I love this scripture.

It really helped me when I was first investigating the church. I was challenged and read the entire Book of Mormon before committing to this wonderful church. I know that if I continue to do what is right, read my scriptures daily, and strive to do my very best in this world...the blessings will pour down from heaven upon me and my family.
And last but not least, our favorite place to go to escape the things of the world... the temple. As you walk into the temple and enter the foyer there is a view of the Sacred Grove. It really brings an even more peaceful feeling. 


So happy that we were able to enjoy this time as a family.
Until next year.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Hill Cumorah Pageant

The Hill Cumorah Pageant is an amazing theatrical production which describes the origins of The Book of Mormon, and our basic beliefs. Since we moved to the east coast we've made it a tradition to attend every summer. Here are a few photographs with depictions from each picture.

Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist in Nephi's dream.
Lehi's dream of the tree of life.
The prophet Abinadi brought before wicked King Noah.
Jesus appearing to the Nephites & Lamanites in America.
Jesus teaching the children.

 Every year Chelsea always looks forward in searching the prophets, and has to be photographed with them...
Here she is with Abinadi (and his wife.)
 Joseph Smith with nephite warriors.
Lehi and Nephi are her favorites!
It was interesting to have seen some of the same members play different characters. Last year this gentleman was Samuel and this year he played Moroni. It was funny how he was in character because last year when he played Samuel he was so sweet. This year his countenance seemed more strict. I didn't take it personally because I knew he was in character (Moroni was a warrior, hence being a strict prophet.) He was impressed that I recognized him from the year before.

                                    Moroni~2011                                               Samuel~ 2010

Because of different scenes and immediate acting, there are multiple characters of the same prophet in the pageant. Here is the second Moroni. 
LAMAN!

I had to have King Noah hold my Noah in this picture. My Noah seemed okay being held by him. 
This is a sweet family I met as we were entering in. Laurie and her children (her hubby was greeting others on the other side.) They are from the Tricities in Washington. It's interesting to meet all these members who participate in this pageant at their own cost! We hope to someday have that opportunity...if Jon can take off work for three weeks in a row!
I accidentally bumped into this sweet girl, and for some reason I felt prompted to stop and ask her what character she was playing. I was with Sierra and it was funny to look at the both of them. They kept looking at each other as if they knew one another. Sure enough they did. Sierra met Hannah at the Boston temple this past Spring break. They were both doing baptisms for the dead, and didn't have a chance to talk. Hannah was with her youth group from New Hampshire and Sierra was with her dad. They made sure that evening to exchange information so they can keep in touch. 

It sure is a small world.

 We count our blessings and give thanks each year that we made it to the pageant again. It never gets repetitious for us. Our kids really enjoy this tradition, and pray we will always be able to go. We can watch it over and over again. If you haven't had the opportunity and don't live on the east coast, start saving your pennies! This is a must see production...and it's FREE!

*Awesome pictures taken by my talented hubby!