So long November...

"How beautifully leaves grow old.
 How full of light and color are their last days."
~ John Burroughs
This November was unusual in the weather. We have had temperatures in the high 60's, and sometimes it felt like Spring. They say there will come a day when we won't even know what season it is unless you look at the trees. I believe it. I don't want to think about 'the last days', but it's inevitable. I can't think, but to wonder how the weather will be next year. I have really enjoyed this beautiful autumn weather, and now all good things must come to an end. December will be here tomorrow, and the temperatures are now in the 40's. I actually do look forward to a cold, wintry, snowy December. As long as it doesn't keep me off the roads I'm pretty content with the winters here on the east.

The month of November gave me the chance to have my mother here for at least two weeks. I am grateful for the time she was able to spend with us, and although she left before Thanksgiving it was sure nice to have taken advantage of the time spent with her to know more about what she is feeling, and for her to see how my family lives.  I pray that she is safe, and trying to figure out her life in Texas. I hope that someday she will accept change, and have the desire to live closer to her posterity. Who knows...only time will tell. I am extremely grateful for the gospel in terms on how it has kept me strong in times of stress, and adversity. I strive to live the gospel each day the best I can, and hope that it is pleasing to the Lord. I pray it's always my best.

I will always remember this time of the year.

I will always remember November.

All you need is love

Add capti"A child fills  a special place in your heart...a place you never knew was empty."
You'd think that with 70 degree weather in November doesn't make one depressed, but in my case I have been feeling the blues lately. Partially because I have been worrying about my mother. Wondering where she is, and if she's completely content with her surroundings back in Texas. Truth is she has been trying to find a place to stay until there are vacancies in her old apartment complex. She has basically been homeless for the past few days. I finally heard from her yesterday and it looks like things are looking up. It's hard to know whether or not your loved ones are truly 'okay'. I know that I always need my friends in times like these, and it's sad when you are feeling down for the first time in a long time, and all the friends that you have in your local area seem 'too busy' to come for a visit. Don't get me wrong, I have made wonderful friends here for the past three and a half years, but sometimes they have their own worries and I tend to serve them instead of venting my own problems to them. I'm grateful for a wonderful home teacher who faithfully comes once a month to check up on us to share a wonderful spiritual message, and a wonderful family (mine) who is constantly on the look out for me, but most of all I am happy to hear that my mom is alive.

With that being written, it makes me extremely grateful for family!

My youngest daughter sensed that I was worrying about her abuela, and that I was in much need of a pick me up. I was talking with my Aunt Toni who lives in Louisiana that day, and she was telling me the nicest things about my mom. This woman LOVES my mom and will do anything for her!! She even offered my mother to stay with her, but my mom is too stubborn. I told her I wish she could have stayed with us in New Jersey, but she just missed a lot of things about Texas. My mom is one of the most stubborn people you'll ever know. She's old school, doesn't do well with change, and is easily overwhelmed when something to good to be true is happening to her. Like I said, she's stubborn, but very nice. Maybe someday she'll accept change.

I know that for some people the holidays can bring on a damper. Instead of celebrating Christmas, they are finding ways on how to start the new year...with contentment, or sadness. We do have a choice, and I choose contentment. I refuse to allow any emotional stress to ruin the holidays. This should be a happy time of the year, and we need to be strong not only for ourselves, but for our family and friends. I learned a long time ago to not let anything bring me down. We all have a different history of how our lives were when we were growing up, and how we choose to live it today. I made the choice to change many things when I got married, and had children. I'm still constantly working on being the best example I can be to my family, friends, and neighbors. My attitude and actions are a work in progress, and also a never-ending one.

I'm grateful for change.

I didn't grow up with a lot of affection, and neither did my mother. It makes me happy to know that I have proof that I have changed that in my family. Proof from my little girl writing the words I LOVE YOU MOMMY with a heart standing in for the word LOVE. Proof that I am raising my children with love and affection. I needed some love on that beautiful November sunny day, and it was received. Sometimes I feel like I don't deserve it, but then I think of my childhood, and all the things I endured that makes me a survivor today. Looking at Chelsea's face when she was telling me to go outside and read what she wrote on the sidewalk, and then reading what she wrote made me feel that I do deserve it. Most of all I give thanks to my Heavenly Father who brought my children into my life, and put His trust in me to feel that I deserve them.
This truly made my day! Moments like this can happen at any given time in your life when that person up above knows when you need it the most! 

I love you more Chelsea!!!

Rockin' around the CHRISTmas tree

Black Friday...not interested. My priorities have changed, and I am not at all interested in being surrounded by a bunch of crazy shoppers!! I do my CHRISTmas shopping (or making) early in the year so I can avoid all that chaos. Instead...we decided to put the tree up. 

We've never had a real tree put up in this house, and I was having second thoughts into buying a real tree. I think we will wait until we move out of this house before buying a real tree, because our living room isn't big enough. So we decided to put up our pencil tree, and the girls had too much fun decorating it. 

After the tree was all decorated, the girls were in a party mood. Sierra got on the piano and started playing CHRISTmas music on the piano. I LOVE that I have such talented girls that play the piano. While Sierra is playing her heart out on the piano, Lexie and Noah had the time of their life by dancing to the music. 
And so did Chelsea...
My crazy kiddos! They truly look forward to this time of the year where their main focus is being joyful, and happy. Playing CHRISTmas songs of the Savior really puts you in the mood for the season, and helps us focus on what CHRISTmas is really all about.  

**To watch a beautiful CHRISTmas message... please click HERE.

 P.S. Grab some tissues. Trust're going to need them. 

Dinner with a gratitude journal

I know my decorating wasn't very festive this year, but I didn't have any company over this year for Thanksgiving so I made it simple for our sweet family of six. Each year we miss our extended families out west and in South Texas...especially this time of the year. I am extremely grateful that I have enough children to cause enough goofiness, and entertainment to last the whole day through. 
 This year the girls did all the cooking (well, most of it.)  My better half cooked the turkey and made homemade rolls. I pretty much relaxed (well... not really, because I was too busy entertaining Noah and Chelsea.) I guess in some sense that's relaxing...NOT!!! It was so nice for Sierra and Lexie to have helped. Chelsea helped by setting the table. We ended up eating dinner at about 2 pm. I can't eat any later than that! I pretty much starve myself the day before so I can devour enough food on turkey day! Everything was delicious and after a much needed nap (about 30 minutes) we went for a drive, and then had some yummy pumpkin pie.

Noah's favorite dish...yam yummies. He loves them with marshmallows all over them. 
 At the end of the day, each member of my family wrote in my gratitude journal specifically written only on Thanksgiving day. I started this tradition in 2002. I honestly can't remember where the inspiration came from. I have been a journal writer since I joined the church in 1992, and decided to start a separate journal the year the Olympics came to Utah. 
I love the quote on the cover of my journal...
"As much as I complain...I am well aware...of how much I have to be grateful for."

 Isn't that what we mostly write in our daily journals. We tend to vent, and complain about the daily stresses of life. In my gratitude's all about gracious and kindness. No complaining written here!

Everyone who has ever been to our house for Thanksgiving over the years has written in it. We have had a lot of missionaries, friends, and family record the things they are thankful for in this journal. So if you are ever invited over to our home for Thanksgiving ready to gather your thoughts and think of what you are grateful for as you record them in my journal. 
It's always nice to look back at the amazing friends we made, and to read all the things they wrote. 

My family too!
I am thankful for the gospel, for healthy children, great neighbors, my family, friends, and for the small and simple things that have blessed our lives this past year. ~Rose
I am thankful for my family, the missionaries, the gospel, and the atonement. ~Sierra 
 I am thankful for the scriptures, freedom, shelter, animals, family, and food. ~Alexandra
 I am thankful for the scriptures, the knowledge of the gospel, the Savior, the atonement, my family, friends, and the ability I have to support my family. ~Jon
 I am thankful for a house, food, books, school, my family, churches, temples, and Jesus. ~Chelsea
Next year Noah will be old enough to write clear, and not scribble!

I hope that each and every one of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that you always cherish this thankful holiday.

Now to focus on the Christmas season!

I love, love this time of the year! 

A Thanksgiving prayer

"To express gratitude is gracious & honorable. To enact your attitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude in our hearts is to touch Heaven."
~President Thomas S. Monson
 It is amazing what mother nature does to the colors of the leaves on trees when she brings quite a bit of moisture. We had rain these past two days, and now the glorious sunlight is shining bright outside on this beautiful Thanksgiving day. 

I took these before and after pictures of one of my favorite trees in our area. It's amazing to see how it was once just plain green, and how you can slowly see the little red leaves poking out and trying to find its way on how to form on the tree. 
This is my thankful tree.

I look at the changes of leaves on this tree as our ability to change also. Little by little, we find things we know we need to improve on in our lives, and even though they'll never be perfected like these perfectly colored leaves...we can certainly continue to try. To reflect on those things that we seem to take for granted, and to always remember to be thankful. Not just on days like today, but everyday. Like this tree...we can change for the better. Not just every season, but to strive to make it a permanent change. To live a life of gratitude no matter what.

The colors on this tree are absolutely beautiful! We also have the chance to be beautiful also, and to have others see the inner & outer beauty in ourselves, as well as our true colors. May we all recognize the smallest blessings that come to us, and that we have faith to know of the things that are good for us. May we always, always be thankful, and know that it's never too late for change. Whether it's for yourself, for your family, or for the Lord. May we always be surrounded by those who love us, and in return love them back...unconditionally. May we always be an example to our children on how a life of gratitude should be lived. This is my prayer. Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving. 

A nice surprise

Oh... doesn't this pie look so good!! I wish I would have taken a picture of the full pie before my kids, and hubby devoured half of it, but it was too late! I also wish that I could take the credit in baking it, but a dear sister in our church baked it on our cooking club night.

 Every other month in our our church we rotate our months by having a cooking club, and a book club. This month was 'to cook', and the sisters learned how to bake an apple pie from scratch! Yes...dough and all! I really need to master my skills in making a home made apple pie from scratch for my loved ones. 

Since cooking club fell on the same evening as my daughter's induction to the NHS I wasn't able to attend. To my surprise the sisters dropped off a yummy homemade apple pie! I was so grateful, and very impressed with the results! It tasted so good! I also realized that I shouldn't eat too much. I really don't want to indulge too much in baked treats and pies...especially over the holidays! One can't help it though, and then we end up paying for it by working it off with a gym membership. Not me. I'm actually one who doesn't have a sweet tooth, but on occasions like this, and with a home made apple pie like this... I think it's okay to indulge a little!

**Here is the recipe for the apple pie!

Grand's Apple pie 
11/4 c. sugar
3 T. flour
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg

Combine all ingredients and set aside.

8-9 apples (shredded-granny smith or braeburn apples are great, but you can use what you like.)
Orange rind-1/2 to 1 tsp. (this is also optional)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbs. pineapple juice ( it can be pineapple tidbits or canned pineapple juice) 

Combine and set those aside. 

1/2 cube butter

Layer sugar mixture, then dime size butter pieces, and then apple mixture. Repeat till all ingredients are gone. This particular recipe is about 3 layers and end up with sugar mixture and butter pieces. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 min. then 350 degrees for 40 minutes. 

Between you and me...the crust was my favorite!!
I am so thankful to the lovely sister who made this for me, and for others. It made my Thanksgiving week, and it was delicious! 

The Prince of messes

Having seen my mother interacting and playing with her only grandson brought me great joy while she was here. It warmed my heart, and I often wondered if she wished she did that more with me and my sister while we were toddlers. I don't remember stuff I did as a two year old, but my mom did mention that I was nothing like Noah. She calls him 'The Prince' because she saw how much his sisters, his dad, and I spoil him. He definitely is one spoiled little boy. I try not to let him get away with anything, but sometimes I can't help it. He's so cute, and when he does something naughty I can't help but to sometimes laugh. I hold it in because I don't want him to think it's too funny to the point where he'll think it's okay to do it over and over again!
My mother on the other hand didn't mind his small messes. Especially the ones he was making at the table. Still... I don't think a Prince would make a mess like this. We had stopped at Mcdonald's and I had a quarter pounder without cheese. I also took out the onions and left the box on the table. What I should have done is thrown it away in the trash as soon as I was done with it. Of course when you are distracted by doing something other than being fully attentive to your kid he's going to find an advantage and make messes like this..... 
Of course we laughed about it, and luckily my emotions as a mother have softened up a lot since Lexie was born, and I didn't give it another thought but to look at Noah and just say, "Nice mess son." I know for a fact my mother would have done differently back in the day, and I'm grateful for realizing that making messes is no big deal. It's part of a child learning and growing up. Learning what is right and wrong. Sometimes you'll be tested to see what your reaction will be. In my case it was a calm one. Noah sure does know how to make a mess. Good ones too!
He'll probably be my only prince to make good messes...and that's okay.

Behold your mother

I feel so blessed to have had my mother here even if it was just for a short while. While she isn't a member of the church, she respects my beliefs and we never got out of our routine as a family. We continued to have our family prayer, scripture study, and a couple of Family Home Evenings. I really thought she would participate in some of our activities, but she didn't. We tried to convince her to stay, but after figuring out her budget living in New Jersey, she felt that she wouldn't be able to make it on her own. She decided to move back to Texas where the cost of living is affordable, where there is summer all year round, and to be back in her comfort zone. Sometimes it's hard to accept change when you are set in your ways, and that is my mother. She is totally willing to do it on her own, and I know she can.

She saw the imperfectness in our family, and also saw the hard work, and effort we put to have love, and happiness in the home. That strength, and love comes from constantly reading this book, and also by living it! I think that overwhelmed her at times because her upbringing was completely different (so was mine.) I changed all of that when I became married, and vowed to continue to work on that happiness in my home no matter how challenging times get.

I am grateful for her in the way that she raised me. There is no perfect way in parenting your children. You have to let them make their choice, and just pray they're are the right ones. She knows of all the stress I caused her while growing up, and through all that grief I put her through she still loved me. There are reasons behind the choices I made as a young teen, but this week is a week of gratitude so I won't ruin it by writing a 'sob' story.
I am extremely grateful in the way she treated the kiddos. While my mom stayed in the room upstairs she had Chelsea have sleepovers for the four days she didn't have school. Chelsea was attached to her and would not leave her sight! After a while, my mom mentioned that she loves Chelsea spending time with her, but that she needs her space too. Especially while she is dressing! My mother was a good sport, and to be honest...I wish she treated me and my sister the way she treated her grand kids. sob story! I love my mother, and even though she was here for a short while, and left before Thanksgiving we love her unconditionally, and totally understand as to why she had to return so quickly.

I am grateful for the times she cooked for us, and spending time with the kiddos. She watched "Twilight" for the first time, and actually liked it. The girls have corrupted her, and she is now officially a Twilight fan! She also told the girls to pick their favorite 'New York' movie to watch, and they chose "Serendipity". Good choice.

They all had a nice time, and we look forward for her to visit us again. We will miss her, but know that things happen for a reason, and that it wasn't my time to take her in. She is 68, healthy and fit, and feels capable to be on her own. I commend her for that, and know that once she is totally incapable of taking care of herself...she knows that my door is always open for her.

WE LOVE YOU MOM...You are always going to be missed. The handwritten letters with the girls will continue!

Fearless fellowshipping

"In everyone's life at sometime, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."
~Albert Schweitzer

How many of us are guilty of entering a store, walking down the street, or going to a park, and having random people pass us by without even uttering a word as to saying 'hello' to them. I know I am. There are times when I will notice someone, and just look at them and say hello, and times when I am just too busy to notice. It amazes me at how scared or uncomfortable we really are at attempting to do something as simple as uttering one word. If it's so easy for us to do this with our neighbors, and friends of the same faith...why not a stranger?

Lately, I have been striking random conversation with various people in the places I've been going to. Whether it's at Chelsea's bus stop, the Goodwill store (I love thrift), or any public place. It comes pretty easy for me because I fellowship a lot in the church I attend. I love people. I love meeting new friends, and making nonmembers feel welcome. I love smiling at people, even if it's not reciprocal. I look at attending church and going out in public places as the same thing.

Being an example.

I know some us are afraid to confront someone and just say 'hello'. If you think about it it's not that hard. We tend to be in our own comfort zone, and just pass our fellow brothers and sisters down the hall without a smile, without a hello, and sometimes without even looking at them. We are all different, and I thank my Heavenly Father for how He has made me into being the 'fellowshipper' and becoming someones's 'sunshine friend'. It wasn't easy at first to just walk up to someone and say, "hi, I'm Rose." It's easier if you are outgoing. Believe me it took a lot of hello's, shaking of the hands, hugs, and welcomes for me to become the fearless outgoing Rose that I am today. The more you do it, and mean it...the easier it gets.

Our actions speak louder than words.

I realize that we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father here on this earth, and that it is up to us to open our mouth, and set an example whether we are at church or in a public place. I can't even begin to tell you how many friends I've made by constantly going to the same post office and store, going to the same cashier, and slowly developing a friendship with them that they end up being a friend of mine on Facebook! My daughters think that is so cool! It is a beautiful thing when you create a friendship based on the example you have set. Whether it was a smile, simple 'hello', or that cashier saying to you, "Your back, it's so nice to see you again" that started a know that you did something right that made their day because they accepted you as a friend right from the start.

I am grateful for the talent that I have in being fearless and in letting my light shine. I know that it's impossible to say hello to every single person while your out shopping, especially during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. I encourage you to try to set your own busyness aside for the sake of the holidays in hopes that it'll turn into a 24/7, 365 day thing.  I know that it is possible to smile, and say hello to just one. I know it's impossible to shake hands with every single person in your congregation, but it is possible to smile, and shake hands with just one. I will continue to try to do my very best in fellowshipping others whether it's at church, or in a public setting, and helping others rekindle their spirit.

SMILE, you never know whose day you'll be uplifting, and what future friendships you'll be cultivating...especially during this holiday season.

An Honorable evening

Ms. Petite is the new principle of the school, and quoted this to all the inductees... 

"Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
 Watch your words, for they become actions.
 Watch your actions, for they become habits.
 Watch your habits, for they become character.
 Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny."

I am so glad she did. It will show these students that they have a chance to develop a beautiful character, and have a wonderful future.

This past Wednesday was the induction for all the juniors and seniors who are in the National Honor Society. Seeing all the students in her class walk up to light the candle of life was very moving and heartfelt. It truly is a commitment for them to hang on to their honors so they can look forward to a successful future. I look back at how far her path to success in school has come from uprooting her from Utah to North Carolina, and again to New Jersey where she began her eighth grade year . She made friends quickly, and was not afraid to put herself out there to let everyone know who she is. I know that her teachers admire her, and everyone that knows her loves her. She certainly has worked so hard to get to where she is at in her academics. 

We are so proud of Sierra!

She is the first generation family member (on my side of the family) to be in the National Honor Society. My better half and I didn't graduate with honors, and we are not ashamed of it (well, just a little bit.) I'm just grateful that we have changed things with our children in encouraging them to do their best, be active in their academics as well as their lives, and always, always communicate with them about their daily life. They say your children will become better than you, and I believe it. 

Since this was my first time ever attending an induction of the NHS these five different colored candles that you see in this picture each have a meaning.

The Gold candle signifies scholarship.
The Red candle stands for service.
The purple candle stands for leadership. 
The green candle signifies character.

Our daughter exhibits all of these qualities and I see it in her friends as well. 

BFF's Della and Britany
Mr. Siebert is the president of the NHS and Sierra's tennis coach. Thanks to him for nominating her and accepting her into the NHS as well as being a fabulous tennis coach!

Their former principle Mr. Palatucci gave a wonderful speech and told the students how the song "Row your boat" has a meaning. In his words he mentioned that each student is the captain of their boat and that they are in charge of working hard at keeping it up, and to focus on their dream. I can see what he meant. Singing that song does put you in a happy mood. He mentioned for each of them to be gentle and kind towards others, and not to take things too seriously. Life is but a dream, and that is what life is all about. 
 Future scholars.
After the ceremony all the juniors and seniors of the NHS all stood on the stage so the proud parents can take pictures. Afterwards, the seniors showed how proud of them they were by surprising them with this..............
 Silly string!!!
MORE Silly String!!!
 Sierra got attacked with it real good! 
 All the parents were laughing, and I felt like I was in high school again. Oh, wait a minute...I was in high school! It was hilarious! I was snapping pictures hoping I'd get hit with some, but I didn't!
Sierra was having the time of her life. Since she began high school, one thing I told her is to make your four years of high school precious ones. Make them precious by choosing friends that meet your standards, and to be precious to those who don't. Be precious with your time in high school, and don't feel rushed to graduate. Enjoy your high school years, because you will never get them back. 

I wish someone gave me that advice in high school, but I'm the one that made bad choices. Choices that caused me to not graduate with my class. I wish I would have applied myself more in my academics, and found happiness among good friends instead of making the same mistakes over and over again. Luckily I found them later in life by attending college, and finding a fabulous husband who helped me create wonderful children. I know I could have stood where my daughter stands today, but I am grateful that I've turned all that around by teaching my kids to be better. It is my turn to raise them the best way I know how, and to nurture and be there for them every step of the way. I know that Sierra will continue to choose the right path, and refrain from anything that can bring her down. 

The candle they all lit up tonight is their guide, it is up to them to let it glow with glorious light, and to have a beautiful life. 
Sierra with Libby