a grateful heart.

On the ferry to see Lady Liberty
I couldn't stay away from my little blog, and today I want to share with you my feelings of a grateful heart. Grateful that my dear friend whom I hadn't seen in 22 years is here visiting us. Grateful that our friendship is just as strong as it was 30 years ago. Grateful for the gospel in my life that has shaped my life in ways in which I never thought it would. Grateful to live so close to historical landmarks, history, and without sounding worldly...New York City. If I could see Lady Liberty every other day I would. Riding the ferry is so serene, and it brings a sense of calmness in every breath that I take.  Just by sitting, pondering, and imagining everything that the immigrant people went through who arrived here makes me even more grateful to be with my family, and it makes me love them even more! 

This past week has gone by way too quick, and my dear friend will be leaving sometime this weekend. We are headed into the city of lights again, and we are going to make her final days of her trip here memorable. 

Enjoy your weekend! 

Start spreading the news...

photo source: google

Since one of my dear friends is visiting me all the way from Texas I've decided to take a short hiatus on blogging. I promise I will write about our adventures, and hope that we can accomplish most of the things I wrote on the bucket list that I made. We are going to venture out to New York City, and everyone is excited...especially Rosalie! She said that as long as she sees the 9/11 memorial, and the Statue of Liberty that she will die a happy girl.

And since it's her birthday month...

I think we can accomplish those things today!

So until next time...have a great week!

a date with my sassy girl

On this hot day I managed to find some much needed alone time with our youngest daughter. She is the one that longs for attention. Although she is confident, and strong willed she yearns for that "one and one time with mom." I do believe I have taught her well, and many times I've have had to nip things to the bud. Her primary teacher at church tells me she's the only who practically listens, and raises her hand in class. All of her public school teachers up until the first grade have told me that she is the cheerleader of the class, a good listener, and everyone just loves being around her.
So why is it that she is a sassy, sometimes bossy, and so strong willed at home? I think it's because she is in the comforts of her own home, and because she knows that she can let it all out here where "she thinks" she won't get in trouble. Uhh, wrong! When I look at her in disdain she knows that the reprimanding is about to come. Overall she is a great kid, and does keep me more on my toes than any of our other kids...including Noah.  Her unique, and spunky personality makes her a special individual, and I love her for it!
Loves her tankini from Lands End.
Love those water sponges!
So on this day we had a lot of fun. It didn't matter if I was too big for the pool, and throwing our water sponges back and forth was our favorite part. Spending time with her and splashing about for three hours put a huge smile on her face. I can tell that it made a huge difference in her young life, and this is proof that if you have more than one child whether male or female...they all need a one on one time with mom or dad.  Knowing that I put those three hours aside just for her, and I to have fun in the sun was worth it!

stop it.

Our lesson in Relief Society yesterday was taught by a wonderful sister. We all got into a discussion in hopes that we would heed the words of this talk addressed by President Deiter F. Uchtdorf.

In this talk President Uchtdorf spoke so lovingly on how we should be kindhearted to those around us, and how hard it can be to do that even though we have the word of God. He explained how we should exhibit more kindness, love, and when any kind of relationship is filled with contention that we should strive to live a Christlike life, and to try to fix it. Throughout the lesson we as sisters commented, and expressed our thoughts and experiences on how we have found ways to help ourselves in how to deal with conflict in terms of judging, being judged, and contention.

Although I watched President Uchtdorf present his talk worldwide via satellite this past April during general reminded me again of how I should react to others, and to remain tenderhearted. I feel as if I have mastered the forgiveness part. Mastered it because I have been tested by the Lord many, many times in my life, but really feel that I passed the test because of how I have handled a few confrontations of my own this past year. We need to constantly pray for a change of attitude, and rely on the gospel if some of us have a problem with forgiving others. I know I have prayed my heart out in that area, hence helping me to deal with any contentious situation.

It's disheartening when one holds you in contempt making you feel so bad that you bite your tounge, and take in all those hurtful words because you don't want to prolong the contention. Bottom line is that both parties need to look at the big picture, and realize that we all have battles, and to remember the words "STOP IT."

We don't know how the other feels or what they are going through at that point in their life. None of us will ever master perfection on trying to live a righteous life. The whole point of the lesson yesterday was to forgive others, have mercy on those who may not reciprocate it, and to be earnest.

So this lesson really influenced my life once again to not judge those whom I feel are not reacting, serving, or behaving in ways the Lord would want us to, or let's be honest...the way I would want them too. I'm not perfect, but the Lord knows who I am, the things that I do, and when its done with goodness, and a Christlike love.

After all... we are all unique in this world with different mindsets, and different spiritual levels, and that's what makes us special individuals.

His talk influenced my life in ways on how to deal with different attitudes from all walks of life. Living in different states throughout my life has taught me how to handle different personalities, and cultures. It has influenced my life in ways that helps us to teach our own children how to avoid contention, be virtuous, and to judge righteously...not to be unethical, sinful, and hurtful. We are all Heavenly Fathers children, and I know that He would want us to treat each other as equals with genuine love.

I want to be better in seeing everyone in God's eyes no matter their flaws, and imperfections. I'm sure others may look at me that way, and that's fine. That's how it should be. For everyone in this world should work as a whole... for someday we are all going to stand before the Savior, and explain to Him our behavior that was portrayed in this mortal life.

So every time I open up my scriptures, write in my journal, or look at my cork board in the kitchen, I will look at these words that an apostle of the Lord said two months ago, and know that I can try my very best to live by these two simple words: 

Stop it. 

Holding grudges
judging others
wanting to cause harm
withholding forgiveness
ignoring others
withholding mercy
throwing stones

 Stop it!
~President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I like to take pictures.

For the past two weeks I have been preparing for the arrival of one of my dear friend's from high school. She is someone that I have know since elementary school. Someone whom I've never had one altercation with throughout our 12 years of public school. Someone whom I haven't seen in a very long time, and I am so excited that she contacted me to let me know that she wants to visit me, and do something fun for her 40th birthday. She is someone who is brave enough to travel from Texas to New Jersey, and I am ecstatic!
She is in route as I'm typing this, and so I'm trying to tidy up our humble home even more. I also made a short bucket list of the places I want to take her to in New York & Philly. Since she'll only be here for a few days we are going to try to accomplish everything on the list. Even though I told her to take it easy once she arrives due to the long drive, she wants to pack in a lot, and I'm all for it!

Wherever we go, whatever we do all I know is that I'm going to take lots of pictures to remember my friend, and our visit. Whether we are in the comforts of my home laughing, eating, interacting with the kids, driving from place to place...there are going to be lots of pictures.

I also attended the temple again yesterday, and it was a blessing.

A blessing because I helped a friend do some of her family names, and it was nice to be able to do that for her.

A blessing because I was able to write down the names of those who are afflicted, sick, or having trials.

A blessing because I was able to feel the spirit of the Lord, and take in the guidance of the holy spirit.

A blessing because I was able to say prayers for my friends and family.

A blessing because I was able to say a special prayer for my girlfriend who is driving 28 hours to come see me.

I am grateful for the continued faith that I have to share with others, and for the loving friends that I haven't seen in years.  

Daughter of a King

Chelsea is feeling confident today because she completed her first summer bingo!
She read faster than lightening so that she can earn a coupon. The coupon I gave her was the one that read "one new book". It's a good thing I went to the LDS bookstore while in D.C. a couple of weeks ago to purchase this book. She's already read it, and really enjoys it because there is a character in the book named like her sister Alexandra. Reading this book also reminded her that she truly is a daughter of a king. 
I love books like this. I call them uplifting & hopeful books. It's a story about love, and unconditional acceptance. We are all princes and princesses who belong to a wonderful King which is Heavenly Father. I totally recommend this book for everyone. Whether you're eight or eighty! It's a must have, and I love the ending! 
"Every girl and boy in this world is a daughter or son of our Heavenly Father-no matter who they are, what they look like, or where they are from."

Blogging for a purpose with passion

My daughter and I had a very interesting talk this morning. We began talking about the blogging world, and what a wonderful thing it is when done for the right reasons.

By no means am I an expert in blogging, but for the past year and a half of being exposed to the internet I've noticed how easily we can get sucked in with the things of the world. I honestly don't have a lot of blogs I follow otherwise I would put them on my sidebar, but the ones that I do follow have really helped me on being creative, and true to myself.

The year 2012 brought many changes into my life especially in the way that I think and perceive things, and blogging has brought on a whole different meaning. Blogging has been a wonderful outlet for me as well as having a focus. Like other things in our life that have a purpose, I want my blog to have meaning and direction. Although its flattering and wonderful to read comments such as, "Oh, I wish my family was like yours", or "Your such a great mom". I want y'all to know that as a mother I work really hard in striving to live the real life of a middle class Jersey housewife with patience, love, and kindness. I appreciate those who do follow my blog leaving amazing comments, but for the most part we are like everyone else in the world with many flaws and imperfections who are striving to live our lives as if each day is our last with christianity.

We do our best to enrich the lives of our children by teaching them the true principles of Christ. We teach them by example, and sometimes when my example exhibits a strict behavior it can be good. For the most part our kids are pretty obedient, and have learned from the little mistakes they have done. Being strict does have its pros when it comes to our kids!

My daughter who started her blog last fall doesn't blog on a regular basis. When she does its on her own time, and I have not hounded her as to why she hasn't blogged lately. She's hardly on Facebook so why should I force her to blog. It's great that some of us blog to make money, but that's not what its all about. Whether its a hobby, or a job-writing is the best thing out there. All articles and posts are different and it will benefit the reader in a different way. I am grateful for the courage I have to put myself out there in the world to share my beliefs, and write about how challenging life can be when faced with adversity.

I also love writing about the little things that our children do that put a smile on my face, (and yours.) I like to share with the world my example of how we live as a family by showing our true colors. I don't ever want to be someone that wishes to live someone else's life, or embellish any post into having everyone think we live the perfect life. My mind is too busy with four children to be worrying over that. I am inspired by other people's blogs that show creativity, have meaning and a purpose.

I'm grateful for the conversation my eldest daughter and I had about blogging, and just life in general. I have advised my daughter to always be real on her blog, and to post on her own leisure. It's so true how some of us may feel the need to post every day. I'll still be blogging, but probably not on a daily basis. It'll really depend on the event, and if something were to transpire at that moment I will definitely write about it. Oh wait...that's what journals are for too! I know I blog a lot, but there is going to come a point in my life where I will focus on other aspects & will not post as much. Who better half says otherwise!

Worrying about my online presence is not as important as with who I'm surrounded with day after day. I know that if I was a professional writer and had my own column it would be different. I honestly would rather handwrite in my journal, and in my kids small journals as well as scrapbooking. I have been behind on my scrapbooking and really miss it. Since I've blogged about all the kids accomplishments & outings I don't think I'll scrapbook every photo since I'll be converting my blog into a book.

School is out, summer is here,  and am enjoying life with our kids. I will continue to keep my blog as updated as possible sharing with you the things that we go through as a family, and I hope that y'all will continue to find joy in my stories.

Please don't forget me or this little blog.


Love thy neighbor.

How blessed we are to have such wonderful neighbors who have the nicest kids. Living here for four years has been a blessing. A blessing because anytime you need a cup of sugar, milk, a ride, my wonderful neighbors are there to help. 

And when summer comes...
their pool is open!
 The lovely Kayla always invites us, and we really needed this. Temperatures were scorching hot yesterday!
 I, of course am taking pictures proving how much fun all the kids are having. I was able to put my suit on and join in on the fun, but obviously took pictures instead. 
 We need to either have Chelsea take swimming lessons, or have her sisters teach her. I personally am not a good swimmer therefore I wouldn't be a good teacher. She can doggy paddle, but still wears a life vest! She doesn't mind it. 
 When we came over last year for a father's day bbq, Noah was not ready to jump into their pool. This is Noah's first time inside their pool, and was timid at first, but then began splashing his sisters, and having a blast!
I am so grateful for the love that I have for my neighbor. Not just the one that lives next door, but my whole block! It's so important to get along with them, and to introduce yourselves first when you move into a new area so that they can know about who you are.  I believe I am an expert now with all the moving I've done. You just never know when you'll need them, or when they'll need you.

 In our case when summer is here they think of us, and in weather like this makes us extremely grateful. 

We sure love our neighbors, and it's not because of their pool! 

summer solstice.

Summer is officially here and we are excited. Although I feel as if summer started a week before school ended it's nice to know that it is here to stay (at least for two more months!) Yesterday temperatures went up to 95 degrees, and it was a perfect day for the pool. Today it should be about 97, and guess how hot it'll be tomorrow? In the three digits-100 degrees! I do believe that with these scorching hot temperatures this small pool is going to see the light of day everyday.

Chelsea and Noah love the pool, and had fun splashing each other by throwing these sponges that we made.
We have also enjoyed going on strolls as of late. Noah LOVES the outdoors, and if his stroller is in sight he will grab it, and in his sweet small voice tell me to "take him for a walk".
I believe we created a monster when we found a recipe on pinterest for homemade chalk paint. Lexie has been outside testing different colors. I think she is going to be my little scientist. While she's too young to have her own account on pinterest or a Facebook (nor does she care to have a Facebook anytime soon) I decided to create a board for her titled "Lexie's Loves", and while I'm pinning she'll hover and sometimes pin certain things she likes. She has found quite a few science projects she'd like to experiment with.
All the girls have summer reading to do. Chelsea and Lexie have it for fun, and Sierra has it for homework! If you ever decide to live on the east coast be prepared for your high schooler to have summer homework. Sierra is reading the Kite Runner, and she told me the other day how graphic, and sad the book is. I mentioned to her that there is no need in watching the movie because the book tells the whole story. 
 Lexie is reading the The Forgotten Locket. This is the last book in the Hourglass trilogy, and she is excited to finish it. She can read these books over and over again. 

I am going to try to attempt to read this book, and it's pretty long. I just hope that we can make it to the beach soon so that I can relax and get some reading done.

 Chelsea has been really, really, good in reading a different book every single day! If she keeps this up she can get her golden ticket, and I'd have to start another bingo all over again! 
I never thought that I would ever mind these hot summer days. What makes it fun are our kids! They love summer, and seem to tolerate the heat pretty well. Luckily I grew up in Texas where it's hot and humid so that I can withstand these hot temperatures in Jersey!

lots of love, notes, & candy on father's day.

Chelsea's lovely artwork in the background.
This past Father's day was filled with more love than I've ever felt before. Maybe it's because my better half is still healing from his fractured elbow while continuing to work endless hours just so that I can continue to stay home, and raise our children. Or the fact that being without a car for the past three and a half months has really humbled us, and is teaching us more patience that you'll ever know!

Although I wrote a a short story about my father the other day (and not a very uplifting one I might add) I thought that today I would write something a little bit more convivial about my better half.

Like I said, my better half is a hard worker, and no matter how rough, gruff, and tough things get in the way of life such as being without a car with four kids, and having a fractured elbow, we tough it out with the help of leaving the solutions up to the Lord. My better half on the other hand is the one that has a solid outlook on life, and believes that we'll be okay. He tells me I'm the tough one...truth is I feel as if he is the tough one because for the past 18 years he has been supporting us, and we always seem to be taken care of.

The love that is expressed in our home is overwhelming. As a family we work at it every single day. I need to have that focus of thinking, living, and breathing with a positive attitude. I encourage my children to do the same without any equivocation.

And they do.

Their willingness to do so well each day is so pleasing unto us, and it rubs off on us as parents. Knowing that this year I didn't feel the need to bear my better half with extravagant gifts just to let him know how much we love him, and that is a great feeling!
Since we couldn't galavant all over town to shop for him Lexie made some homemade chalk paint, and wrote a note for him on our doorway entrance. I also printed these Father's day questionnaires for the girls to fill out, and all the kids at church made a "Happy Father's Day" handout with cute sayings with candy attached. I thought that was so thoughtful, and it was perfect.

The end result was joyful, and my better half was pleased. Like the old adage, "It's the thought that counts" is so true, it's infinitely more meaningful, and for some of us we are gratified with what we receive.
"This was a perfect Father's day."~Dad 

I like to teach the world to sing...

This past weekend Chelsea had her piano recital with about 29 other kids! I was amazed at the talent from all the children in different age groups. Chelsea has been waiting for this day for the past month, and on this night she did a fantastic job! This is her first time being in a recital with more that 10 kids! She was able to choose a second song, and she chose a song that reminded me of my childhood. A 70's vintage Coca Cola commercial called "I like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony". Oh how I especially loved seeing that commercial when I was a little girl...especially around Christmas time, and she played it so well. There might have been one or two slight mistakes, but for playing in front of 70 people I think she played pretty darn good!

Although she is seven years old, she is probably the most ambitious little girl I have ever known, and very strong willed. So far I am glad that she wants to play on her own motive just like her two older sisters. This is her second recital, and has been playing for two years. She has improved on her technique, and absolutely loves playing. All the kids did wonderful, and Mrs. Heidi put on a great show and reception afterwards.

Our dear friend Marianne is like a surrogate "young" nana to Chelsea. It's so nice to have someone whom I feel so close to that literally feels like immediate family. It makes me miss both my mother, and mother-in-law. I am extremely grateful that she is in Chelsea's life, and that we all went to together.
Mrs. Heidi & Chelsea
Having Ms. Heidi as her teacher has been a blessing. I am glad that she has had so much patience with us for the past four months. We look forward to continuing with her in the fall. 
We are so pleased with Chelsea's performance, and look forward to many more recitals. I posted her recital on Facebook so if you're my friend you can view it on my wall! 

mexican food & my father.

It never fails that every time we enter inside a mexican restaurant I become fixated on the memories of my father, and conversations about him come up.  Although I didn't know him very well what I do remember are not good things. For the most part he never harmed my sister or I, and in some way I sensed that he did care. Memories of my father are nebulous but there is one memory that has stuck with me in which he came meandering to our house in the middle of the night. I must have been about six or seven.

Those midnight visits occurred one too many times, and I knew that he would be gone in the morning. As much as my mom wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt year after year in seeing that he would change...he never did. I know this because he did it again once more when I was about 15. He came back in he middle of the night, slept over, and left...again.

That was the last time I ever saw him.

Memories of my father have since been ameliorated and the only time I'm reminded of him is when mexican food is involved. Unfortunately I mostly remember the horrible fights that he and my mother had. The fact that most fights occurred while my mom was cooking dinner, the memory of seeing pinto beans flying around the kitchen is something a six year old doesn't want to remember.  Luckily my brave sister was always there to rescue me. She'd wrap her arms tightly around mine to protect me from the tumultous noise that we were hearing. She always took me behind a curtain to hide until we no longer heard metal clashing, scuffle sounds, or yelling voices.

We waited until we heard my fathers footsteps fading away as he slammed the screen door. Slammed the screen door so hard that it literally shook both my sister and I. The sound of our mother sighing, and lamenting while she was on her knees cleaning up the mess that had just occurred in the kitchen made me feel so sorry for her. We slowly tip toed into the kitchen to see if she was okay, and while she tried to look "brave" the look on her face was that of relief. Relieved that she yet survived another round of domestic abuse.

My mind in regards to my father for the past 35 years has been brave. Brave enough to continue to accept the fact that I may never see him again. Brave enough to discuss him with my mother whom I shall say is really the strong one. I really don't have a desire to find him, but I often wonder about him. Wondering if he's still alive somewhere and thinking of me, or my sister. I have tried, and feel as if I have succeeded in remembering some of the happy moments of my biological father.

Truth is I don't have very many.

That's okay because I have succeeded in ways that have fulfilled my life until now.

Succeeded because I have a wonderful loving husband who does no harm to me or my children.

Succeeded because I made the choice long ago that I would never commit to someone who would hurt me.

The remembrance of my father's actions has also allowed me to forgive.

Forgive because it's the right thing to do.

I have been guided by the Divine in which led me to a wonderful soul. A wonderful soul whose light shines. A soul so kind, compassionate, thoughtful, spiritual, and patient.

So patient that while we eat mexican food, and the subject of my father comes up he will listen. Listens because he is grateful for being raised by two wonderful parents. Listens because he will never know how it feels to be raised without a father. Listens because he is in awe in the way I have handled my childhood growing up without my biological father. Listens because he wants to be able to help me in ways to unmask the trauma that I suffered.

And for the past 18 years...he's helped.

That wonderful soul is my husband.

I love my better half with all of my heart, and on this Father's day I am extremely grateful to him for the love he has for me. He loves our children so much that he would sacrifice anything for them. He is the one I prayed for who would love, and accept me unconditionally.

So unconditionally that the love that he has for me reminds me of the love that Heavenly Father has for all of us.

I'll tell you something else-where ever my father is, he's missing out on the joy of being a grandpa to these four beautiful souls.
Who knows...maybe someday he might pop back into my life. Someday...someday. 

Lawnmower girl

All I have been hearing as of late are lawnmowers, tillers, and the sound of birds chirping which I prefer over all that mechanical noise. The weather has been warm and the time has come to plant, and keeping up with the yard. Getting our lawn to look takes a lot of work, and boy does it need it!! Our grass grows like  weeds, and I mean that literally!

Since my better half is still healing from a fractured elbow, and as a fathers day gift to him Lexie mowed the lawn. She actually mowed it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and has developed an itch for it. She loves mowing the lawn now, and actually enjoys it!

I never did this as a little girl, and neither did my mother. I remember my grandfather would always come over to our little house on Richard St. in Kingsville, and mow our lawn. The only thing my mother would do was pull weeds, plant flowerbeds, and keep up her little garden. I also remember the time she dug in the dirt, and red ants spread like wildfire leaving huge red bumps on her poor bare hands. That scared me! Nonetheless that didn't stop my mom from keeping up her cute garden. Now if only I could succeed like she did!

I am so glad that Lexie likes mowing the lawn. Of course she saw me pin this bike mower on pinterest, and she would like for us to invest in one!
She's got the stamina, and loves the workout it gives her. When she goes to high school she would love to row crew, and/or play tennis. Who knows...that's about three years from now! For now it'll be household chores, and mowing the lawn on foot!

A week in review.

 It is always seems that when it gets to the end of the school year life becomes somewhat unmanageable trying to juggle so many things all at once. It's not that easy when your only car is still out of commission and living life in New Jersey has proven to us that a vehicle is a necessity! Luckily for Chelsea she spent the day with her sweet friend riding an electric scooter, eating pizza, and just having fun while I was at the temple having spiritual fun. 
After all the chaos that I endured last week the spirit filled my heart, and my dear friend from church asked me if I was going to her sealing. She knew I didn't have a car and offered if I could drive for her. Being that I love to drive I obliged. I really didn't mind, and the two hour drive to D.C. to attend the temple is worth it and never a problem for me. I am so happy to have been a witness to their sealing, and to have heard the counsel from their sealer in the temple. I love the temple, and always feel joy, and uplifted when I leave. After the week I had I definitely needed that spiritual feed, and I took it all in!
My sweet boy who so far loves waking up on Sundays to attend church knows when it's time to go. He will run to his dresser drawer, and point out his clothes. I love these colors on him, and he is just a happy little boy. He said the prayer today in his nursery class, and every time he comes out wearing a sign that reads I gave the prayer in Nursery today it warms my heart.

 I can see that he is learning it at church as well as in our home. No matter if he's two or twenty, praying alone with my son before a meal is teaching him what he has to look forward to. Although he may be too young to understand what a prayer is or mumble the words that I tell him to repeat, the point is that he is learning, and when he attends his nursery class at church he will be reminded of the things he is taught at home, and will continue to grow in to loving the gospel, and Jesus on his own. 
My dear friend Eliza who was in our ward for a short time is moving back to upstate New York. She leaves later on this evening.

She brought her warmth, and shared it with us for almost two years. We are lucky that we don't mind driving long distance in the event that we attend the Hill Cumorah pageant next month in hopes that we will visit. I wish her the best, and pray that her life with her better half will be a fresh start, and filled with wonderful endeavors. I am lucky enough to live within walking distance of her son's gravesite so that we can tend after it. She will be missed, and thought of often.

Last but not least this boy is definitely going to keep all of us busy throughout this summer, and it has already begun. I love kicking it old school with the kids by going to the park, and having fun outdoors.
I know this picture is dark, and I didn't put the flash on because I wanted to capture the moment of truth when it comes to being outdoors. Here Noah is trying to catch fireflies. I love evenings like this when life without technology was so...simple. 

Reminds me of when I was little kid. 

Who needs television and games?

Have a wonderful's Friday!