Looking back at the simplest things

Simple summer pleasures are the best when it comes to your children. 
I hope they will always remember them and cherish them.
Chelsea catching a firefly-Early summer, 2010

It's hard to believe that today is the last day of August. I am getting a little bit emotional because this means that school resumes in less than a week! Although I love having my kids spend time with me at home...I am also ready for them to go back to school. As I reflect back on the things we did this summer, there is one small thing that we didn't do too much of...catching fireflies.

The first time we experienced catching fireflies was last summer. While my two oldest daughters were at the church attending their Young Women and Faith in God activities, Chelsea had the pleasure of running around chasing fireflies. Ever since then, I always looked forward to the end of the school year, because it's not too hot, and the weather is perfect for the fireflies to come out at dusk. It is one of our favorite things to do, and it's right on the top of our list with making smores.

It also made me feel like a little kid again.

 Once we saw them lighting up in our backyard the girls attempted to catch them, but the mosquitoes this year have been vicious, and the girls were not in the mood to run around to catch them. The fireflies seemed to be out in full swing one evening while we were once again waiting for our girls to finish up with their church activities. It was so cute watching Noah for the first time trying to figure out what a firefly was. Once he saw them light up, he began running around with Chelsea trying to catch them. They were having too much fun. We should have ventured out to the church more often at dusk this summer...we probably would have been more protected from the mosquitoes, hence catching more fireflies!

We always manage to do fun things with our kids throughout the summer. I love it when we do the simplest things such as catching fireflies and making smores in our little backyard. I am grateful that our kids don't expect the 'big vacations'. It's quite the opposite in our home when it comes to the word "spoiled'. It's definitely not our kids that are's me. I'm the one that always needs an escape from Jersey! Although we love to travel and drive to New York City just to have dinner...we try to live a simple life, and make our kids happy. Even though we missed out on catching a lot of fireflies this summer...I do look forward to September.

There's always next Summer.

*What simple things did you and your families do this summer?

A Pre-Hurricane Play Date

Chelsea had been going through withdrawal all summer long from playing with her little friend Ally. We finally made a play date before Irene hit, and they had a blast. 

These two have known each other for two years now, and although they go to different elementary schools, they always manage to keep in touch (with the help of their moms of course!)
They spent three hours playing dress up and even put on a show singing "Born this Way" by Kidz Bop (not Lady Gaga.) Chelsea was the lead singer and Ally and her little sister were her backup singers. They are pretty terrific dancers and we really enjoyed their little performance.
 Although they've only seen each other twice this year...they act as if they'd seen each other all year long. Now that's true friendship at a very young age.

The Day After Irene

One thing about the aftermath of a hurricane is how quiet it is once it's over. It's kind of like being outside when it snows, and there is hardly anybody out on the roads and all you hear is stillness. That's how it felt like when we woke up early to go for a walk the day after Irene hit. We felt as if we were the only ones venturing out.

I have to admit that even though I was raised in South Texas (a.k.a. hurricane territory), I was a little nervous about a hurricane heading our way towards the Jersey shore. I began preparing on Thursday. In case of a power outage I didn't buy a lot of frozen foods. I managed to buy the necessities and called friends and family to let them know what we were doing to prepare. I was exhausted by the end of the day on Friday! I really didn't want to stress over Irene. To tell you the truth...I was anxious for her to hurry up, come our way and just quickly pass us by.

The girls seemed to be more intrigued than worried over the hurricane coming. They had never been through one and were curious as to what was to be expected. My husband reassured me that everything would be fine and that the Lord will take care of us. Jon's words were true and we had no damage. We had a little bit of flooding in the basement, but that's to be expected. Luckily we thought in advance and grabbed the important things from the basement, and took them upstairs. 

Church was cancelled on Sunday, but we still kept the Lord in mind. The kids and I decided to go out for a walk in the woods and enjoy the nice, cool air. We were talking about gratitude and how happy we were to still have plumbing! The girls also said that it's a good thing that playing the piano and violin does not require electricity. So true!
There was no major damage in our area. Mostly just power outages. We all enjoyed the outdoors and observing at what mother nature can do. Some of the lakes were like raging waters. It was actually pretty cool to see.

For those 18 hours without power we didn't miss the internet (I obviously didn't blog), or the television. Of course we had our cell phones and I only posted once on Facebook to let everyone know we were alive and well. Instead of complaining of being without-we were giving thanks to what we had. We truly are thankful that we were together as a family, and to just be alive!
We thank everyone for your worldwide prayers that were said for us here on the east coast. I told most of  my friends and neighbors that it could have been a lot worse...a lot worse. Believe me, I would know!

A Modest Fashion Show

"Modest is Hottest, Ladies. "I find the whole concept of being 'sexy' embarrassing and confusing. If I do an interview with photographers, people desperately want to change me-dye my hair blonder, pluck my eyebrows, give me a fringe. Then there's the choice of clothes. I know everyone wants a picture of me in a mini-skirt. But that's not me. I feel uncomfortable. I'd never go out in a mini-skirt. It's nothing to do with protecting the Hermione image. I wouldn't do that. Personally, I don't actually think it's even that sexy. What's sexy about saying, "I'm here with my boobs out and a short skirt, have a look at everything I've got?" My idea of sexy is that less is more. The less you reveal the more people can wonder."
~Emma Watson

This past week Sierra put together a fashion show for the Young Women at our church. She did it as a project for her Personal progress, and I think it turned out great.

 Most of the young women participated and I can see that they all had fun with it. I was the MC and I enjoyed hosting for my daughter. I guess all those years of attending fashion shows in which my girls were in really helped me as to how to describe their clothing with pizzazz!

Here are some of the highlights of that evening...


 SPORTSWEAR...Go Phillies!

and last but not least...a MODEST MOM and the 
Young Women President sporting casual wear...
I am really grateful that Sierra chose this as her project.
Like Emma Watson...she exemplifies modesty in its truest form.
There is no need to bare your midriff, or wear what 'the world' expects you to wear.
 Dress modestly, and you will be more respected in this life. 

A little wet mess

After I cleaned the bathroom sink my lovely son decided to turn on the hot water and throw in a roll of toilet paper. I couldn't help but to laugh. Now I only have three rolls left. Not good. I need to head out to the store now, and buy more toilet paper. I'm sure it's going to be a madhouse. I was told to fill up my tub and sinks with water in case the hurricane hits us. Smart idea.

He is such a little stinker. He likes playing with the plunger too. Luckily we hardly use it!
(Notice he's wearing that t-shirt again. It's the spirit of Joey Ramone causing him to be mischievous again.) 
I still hope Irene doesn't make it to our area.'s better to be safe than sorry. 
Let's just hope we don't have to drink water out of the tub. 

Hoping to be prepared

Are you ready for Hurricane Irene?

You betcha.

I've got my bananas, triscuits, and my string cheese. I've got my corn dogs, three gallons of whole milk, and endless boxes of crackers. (Let's hope our power doesn't go out. I'd hate to drink spoiled milk again and spend another long night with my daddy.)

My sisters have their charged up iPhone's, chocolate candy, and gallons of Alex's Lemonade. Since my mom grew up in hurricane alley...she has extra batteries for her camera, flashlights, some chewing gum, diet coke, and at least 20,000 books to read!

My daddy...well, he says he doesn't really need anything (except mints.) 

Although we are 45 minutes away from the beach...we hope it doesn't hit our area. Daddy didn't go out to buy any plywood to board up our windows. (He's too busy pulling a lot of overtime at work.) Anyway, he doesn't think we'll severely get hit by Irene (neither does my mom), so he didn't spend any money on that. So far all we are getting is rain...which we don't mind.

I still hope it doesn't hit Atlantic City too hard...or any other place.

God bless you all who are on the path of Hurricane Katrina...I mean Irene!

Caught in the middle of an earthquake

"There is a lot that happens around the world we can't control. We cannot stop earthquakes, we cannot prevent droughts, and we cannot prevent all conflict, but when we know where the hungry, the homeless, and the sick exist, that we can help."
~Jan Schakowsky
Yesterday our family as well as everyone else living on the eastern seaboard experienced an earthquake for the very first time in over 100 years... and it was very unsettling. I've only experienced hurricanes in my lifetime and having the ground shake underneath you is something I didn't take lightly. Now I know what the people in California go through with having quakes and aftershocks.  Luckily I had one of my dear friends visiting me when it occurred.

At first I thought the employees in the building next door to me (which is the one in the photo above), were outside tilling or building something. As I looked out the window there were no cars. It was then when my girlfriend told me it was an earthquake. I wondered if it wasn't for her being there, I probably would have reacted a little less calm. She used to live in California so this was nothing new for her...surreal, but very familiar to her.  My girls ran out of their room to ask us what just happened. They had a feeling it was an earthquake. My son slept through the whole thing. He's obviously a heavy sleeper.

My first thought was to gather my children and call my husband who was at work. His work is a 20 minute bike ride or a 10 minute car drive. Luckily we were able to get through to him in a matter of minutes. After a while he began to crack up and we eventually lost the call. It was then when all the lines were busy due to everyone calling each other because of the quake. There were certain friends I wanted to call, but I couldn't get through to anyone. Texting and sending messages on facebook seemed like the only way to make contact.

I also didn't even think of gathering any of the material things in my home. I know I should have at least thought of getting all the important documents I have contained in an emergency folder, but even that didn't matter.

All I thought about was my family.

After this experience I sat down with my kids and explained to them how this could have been a lot worse such as the quakes in Japan & Haiti, and how we need to seriously prepare ourselves in case of a major catastrophe.

We did, and we are.

You never know when an unfamiliar event of mother nature is going to take its course. Nowadays it doesn't seem to matter where we live. Disaster can strike anywhere at anytime.

Although there was no physical damage in Virginia I pray for those who may have just been startled by it, and that this experience will strengthen them.

I also hope that in an event when something drastically occurs in our area that I can be one of the strong ones to get out there and help others. All I have to depend on living here on the east coast are my neighbors and the members of our church.

  I pray that we can all gather together without any hesitation and just help.

A broken dryer and a memory

My dryer just broke. It was a  Maytag, and it was given to us by my in-laws back in 2003. Before they handed it down to us it was almost ten years old...I think.  I don't have a clothesline in my back yard so I improvised. I had an extra shower rod which I mounted on the wall just until my husband puts up a clothes line out in the back. It works for now until we figure out whether our dryer is fixable or not. I actually don't mind hanging clothes out to dry. The weather has been beautiful thus far, and the smell of the natural air seeping through our clothes is a fresh one. I just hope our washer doesn't go out anytime soon.With four kids and a husband who sweats a lot due to riding his bike to and from work everyday (or at least until the weather gets cold) laundry is endless!!

Whatever the result will be I know it'll all work out! I am just grateful that I grew up hanging our clothes on a clothesline, and that I don't mind hanging our laundry out to dry. I'm not panicking. Maybe if it was the washer...I might panic just a little. If that happens I'll make sure to remind myself of the times my mother would wash our clothes on a washboard. I remember sitting next to her outside on hot days and always wanting to jump in the bin while she was washing. I remember how diligently she scrubbed those clothes on the washboard until they were squeaky clean. I remember all the strength she put in her arms and how she worked those muscles until there was no more washing to do. I remember having felt appreciative at that moment because every time my sister and I needed something to be washed...she'd get out the big round tin bin, washboard, soap, and start scrubbing. I did have some good memories when it was just me, my sister, and my mother. 

That was one of them.

Yeah..I don't think I'll panic now if our washer goes out.

*Did you have a parent who owned a washboard when y'all were little. Or am I just older than you!

**Just a quick update!! Our dryer is no longer broken! Something was wrong with the wiring in the house that caused the dryer to not work. It still works! Yay! 

I gotta wear shades

So far the sun is shining and although we LOVE the rain...we hope that'll it'll stop for just a day so we can venture out to the park. It's not fun sliding down a slide with puddles on it, or getting your feet all muddy. I know Noah will splash in mud puddles and make mud pies...if I let him!

You are a cool little dude that looks cool in shades. 
Looks like you're going to need them today!

Making Music Part II

"Music must never offend the ear, but must please the listener, or, in other words, must never cease to be music."
One thing that is very consistent in our home is music. I hear it in the morning, I hear it in the afternoon, and I hear it in the evening. I even hear it in my sleep. I am not musically inclined by any means, but I LOVE to listen, and I mean really listen to the notes being played. The best part of listening to this music is that it is clean and uplifting. I am so pleased that I have brought something into my home that I was not raised with. Listening to my girls playing duets on the piano and violin brings a peaceful feeling into our home, and it feels as if the things of the world do not matter. Time stops and all I hear is the beating of that big box of wood, and the pounding of 88 black and white keys being played. It is a heaven on earth when I hear those sounds of music being played.
 Lexie's first violin teacher was a great violinist and played beautifully. She taught her for almost three years, but I felt that Lexie needed to be more challenged so I decided to find her another teacher. It was all in good timing because Sister Monson moved to Salt Lake City shortly after the transition, (I guess you can say it was a blessing in disguise.) We were lucky to have found another great violinist to teach Lexie over the summer. I'm sad to say that after teaching Lexie for three months, Sara will be leaving us. She will be going to NYU in a week, and is also training to play with the Philharmonic Orchestra. Sara has been an excellent teacher and has taught Lexie more during the summer than she has over the past three years. 
You can see the seriousness on their faces in these pictures. These two had such a great bond as teacher and student. Although they focused on improving Lexie's technique on holding the bow correctly, trilling, and teaching her to play challenging music...they also had fun at the same time. I find that it is important to build a great relationship with your teacher. They would bring laughter into the lesson as well as learning. I really enjoyed watching these two playing together. I hardly ever sat in on the lessons with her first teacher and I regret that. I wish I would have been more involved then, than I am now. I honestly believe that the parent should sit in on the lessons just in case there is something that you feel is not being taught correctly...especially if your daughter aspires to be a great violinist! I am so happy that I made the time to sit in on every lesson, pay attention, and take notes at the same time. You learn as you go from teacher to teacher. I should have read the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother long ago!
Although Lexie is done with violin lessons for the summer she consistently practices playing her violin, and will resume lessons with Sara's replacement after school starts.

We feel really blessed to have found another great teacher for Lexie. She brought a lot of joy and learning into Lexie's life. But life goes on, and I know Ms. Sara will do well in playing with the orchestra, and furthering her education at NYU! 

Good Luck Sara...we will miss you!

For the love of corn dogs

Last week consisted of endless laundry and mopping on the hardwood floor due to Noah's unfortunate introduction with vomit. It was a long night taking care of him. This happened off and on for three days, and after it was all out of his system...his appetite was lost. Not anymore! He's been eating a lot lately, and I believe he's also going through a growth spurt.

Noah loves corn dogs. I know it's not good to eat them all the time, but if it's from Nathan's Famous...
I'll let it slide-plus they are DELISH!

We all love corn dogs, but Noah eats them more than any of us. I know I should probably feed him more healthier foods, but he loves corn dogs for lunch and dinner! 
We are slowly trying to change his eating habits, and only have him eating a couple of corn dogs a week. He'll be two years old soon, and he needs to eat more nutritious foods for lunch. You always tend to spoil the ones you love...especially your youngest one~

I know I do.

August Rain

This is the plant in which the Primary passed out as a tiny seed back in late April. Lexie has taken really good care of it, and I can't believe how nice the daisies are blooming. She never needs to be reminded in being responsible for watering her own plants. For the past week she didn't have to worry about watering it because of the constant rainstorms we've been having. The rain has been doing it for her.

 As I wrote in one of my previous blog posts...I grew up in Hurricane alley in South Texas so I don't mind the rain. I don't mind driving in it, I don't mind the girls playing in it, and I don't mind not watering our grass, plants, or washing our car. We are totally saving on our water bill which is a plus!

Chelsea has a field day when it rains. She seems to be the only one at the moment who doesn't mind being drenched with rain and getting herself all soaked. The sun is out now, and it's time to take advantage of today before the rain starts up again. We are expecting more rainstorms this weekend as well into next week! 

It'll be interesting to see how long Lexie's plant survives. They've never thrived this long. It goes to show that her little green thumb is improving!

Scenes from YW Girls Camp

Camp Shankitunk, Upstate New York
Girls camp has come and gone for the year but there are many more to come. This was Sierra's first year as a YCL (youth camp leader), and SHE LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!

She really enjoyed making new friends from the stake. She is such a leader, and loves to fellowship all the young women who made it to camp this year. She never excludes anyone! 

Her newest loveliest friends...Ali
Goofing around the camp...

Funny Faces...

One of the results...
Strawberry chocolate covered NACHOS!
Sierra as MISS MEEK...
Setting up camp...

 Making a lean-to tent out of a tarp...
Immunity bracelets...
Three things Sierra will miss the most...
Her favorite level in which she developed bonds of friendship with new girls, testimony meeting,
and the beautiful view from the mountain hike...

Cats of my tribe
cabin nine looking fine
all the time
super fly

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