Helping hands continue at the Jersey shore.

Looking at the statistics on the NJ Mormon helping hands FB page it looks like volunteers have provided at least 196,882 hours of service, and the numbers are going to continue to least until the end of the year.

Last Sunday we had at least 50 members from our church drive up to North Jersey to help the people in Tuckerton. There was so much debris to clean up. Temperatures were cold, but from what my husband told me everyone was hardworking, and effortless.
My eldest daughter Alexandra & Sister Nichols working hard.  
There were four different houses in the area, and here is my better half holding a section of the floor so that they could cut it in half to clear it away.  
This is one of the houses before they tore it down.
Here it is after they tore it down with the roof on the ground finishing up so that they can clear it away.

In this photo shows the backside of where my better half was cutting down the floor. This was such a mess, and a lot of work to be done in clearing it out.
The finishing touches of clearing it out...
WOW! It's amazing what so many helping hands can do in a matter of hours! They totally cleaned it up!

So many youth came from other wards in the stake, and they all got their hands working. I think the smile on their faces proved that waking up at 6am is all for a good serve.
Most of the youth have come more than once to help, and I know that it was humbling for them to see what happens after a hurricane. It is always wonderful to see so many youth volunteer...including our girls!
Having seen these pictures that my better half took, and me not being there brought tears to my eyes. Not because I wasn't there to help, but because of the memories that I have when I endured Hurricane Allen

These images are so similar to the devastation that the Padre Island in Texas endured back in 1980. Although I was 10 years old when it happened I will always remember the aftermath, and how that taught me to be grateful for life. 

Grateful because we were without power for more than a week, and having our neighbors helping each other out by clearing off trees from our porch, and helping us out with meals is something that will always be etched in my mind as a young girl. 

Being a member of the church today in which so many hands have helped our fellow man makes me extremely grateful, and lucky to be a part of the Lord's work. 

It is a wonderful country we live in when that unity ties us as one. 
a ragged flag that still waves-picture via Sister Nichols
We are Jersey strong, and God bless the hands that help America!

to reflect with tears, hugs, praise & love.

"Our children our only ever lent to us. 
We never know just how long we will be able to keep them for. 
So kiss them, cuddle them, praise them, and hold them tightly. 
But most of all...tell them you LOVE them everyday."

I stumbled upon this quote, and I realized that since school started things have been...well...a little bit hectic. Not with the younger three, but with Sierra. Since the school year began she has been filling out common app after common app online, writing essays for scholarships, and sometimes I feel as if I have to remind her to make sure they are submitted by the due date. Although she seems to be on top of it...I want to make sure she stays there.

See...this is my first experience sending off a kid to college, and because I never experienced any of this with my mom it's all new for me. I'm sure sending our second child off will be easier, and our third will be a breeze, and our fourth (I don't even want to think about that because Noah is only three!) Bottom line is I won't be as stressed or nagging as much.

After sitting alone on the couch in the wee hours of the night I began to cry. I realized that I have been too hard on Sierra. Here is this sweet, beautiful young daughter of mine who makes an effort to come into our bedroom every single morning to pray with us. She brings home amazing grades, and is so talented. I realized that as a mother I've been hard on her on petty things...especially when it comes to applying for colleges.

I took a few steps back, read a couple of my entries on my blog, and in my handwritten journal, and this one made me want to be that non-nagging, non rushed mother again. I know that times are changing, but that doesn't mean I have to change with the time.

I don't want to criticize...I want to praise.
I don't want to yell...I want to talk.
I don't want to stress...I want to relax.
I don't want to rush...I want to take my time.

I want our children to know that I LOVE them, and that sometimes acting like a crazy woman is only because I want them to have the best. I want them to do better than me...especially when it comes to their education.

Still...I know that constant nagging, and snapping at our children is no answer to get them to do the things they need to do. Especially with the younger ones. Oh don't want to do that.

I just want what's best for our children. I want to make sure Sierra has all her i's dotted, and t's crossed as she is preparing for college. I didn't have the GPA that she has while I was in high school, or the opportunities like she does, and I think that is one of the main reasons why I'm filled with encouragement (and nagging) when it comes to her academics. She has so much potential, and I know that she can get into a great college! I don't know how she does it with everything she is involved in at school, attending early morning seminary, and making sacrifices so that she can attend most of her young women activities at church. I'm not sure if I'd want to be in her shoes at 17.

I'm grateful for seeing that quote on Facebook, and although I think that I'm being a good mom, I know I can do better. Especially when I see the look on the kids faces when I am being super stern with them adding a mix of criticism... is not good. It makes me feel like a horrible mother, and even though I apologize...I don't ever want to do that again!

Sure there is plenty of praise, & "I love you's" going on in this house, but you know what...I don't want to say it in such a rush as they are walking out the door. I want to say it with meaning, and embrace them like never before.

Before we know it our kids will be going out into the world, and on their own. They will no longer be under our care 24/7, and so it is up to us right now at this moment to teach, protect, and love them. We don't know what lies for them in the future, but for now I want those hugs to be ever so tight, and those three words to mean so much more than just that...words.

I love you Sierra, Lexie, Chelsea, & Noah.

I really do!


Arise, Shine & Sparkle

One of the greatest things about being in the church is the fact that every Young Women auxiliary throughout the world has the same program year after year. Each year the church leaders come up with a different theme, and the meaning behind it is spiritually uplifting.

Last week Sierra hosted the Young Women in Excellence event, and since she's heading off to college next fall she wanted to be a part in hosting it.  She, and her counselor buddies all helped by pitching in their thoughts, and ideas. We especially need to thank this wonderful blog we found on pinterest that inspired the girls so much that they mocked some ideas, and tweaked it a bit.

The theme this year is Arise and Shine Forth, and being that the trend this year seems to be glitter, and sparkles Sierra wanted to add some sparkle to the scene, and I think everything turned out really nice.
The next generation of young women. Our fun loving beehives! 

She will definitely miss being part of the young women as she will enter into the Relief Society next fall! She'll still be able to attend one more year of EFY, youth conference, and girls camp. I am happy to see that Lexie is continuing to enjoy being part of the young women, and I know that her light will shine just as her sisters does.
As our daughters get older I see them being more responsible, spiritual, and most of all loving. I know it's because of the choices they make, and being involved in the young women program at our church makes all the difference!

the yellow shirts with helping hands.

The very first time members of our church went to help out after the hurricane hit was down in Atlantic City, and I'm sure it was an eye opener for everyone. I was especially glad that one of my daughters Lexie had the opportunity to help serve on that day. Although New York got hit the worst there is still so much work to be done here in our neck of the woods.

As we drove around Atlantic City last week I noticed a few people still putting rotted stuff out on the curb. I was tempted to offer my help, but was a bit under the weather.

I asked my husband if I should at least let them know that we are part of an organization called Mormon Helping Hands, and if they needed any help to please call us. The thing is that we have been going to different parts in South Jersey, and are not sure what area we will be called to next. So I didn't attempt to tell them.

Wherever it may be we are needed everywhere! I honestly don't think cleaning up all the debris left in the home, and knocking down old drywall will get taken care by the end of the year. There is so much to do, and I wish I could even go further north in New York to help families up there. Luckily there are so many church members up there who are giving countless hours of their time. LDS Missionaries are even going every single day to help them out! Amazing!

My family is taking advantage of going, and I'm so grateful to know that they are willing to help. It's kind of hard having two younger children to be able to go. My husband, and two older daughters plan on going again this Sunday.

Get this...they are going to have sacrament meeting at 6:30 a.m., and then head to their destination of where they are supposed to be. I really wish I could go, but I don't think it's a good idea having two younger children going that early in the morning, and was just informed they're not allowed. If it was in the afternoon it probably be no problem...I could have them passing out bottled water to the adults! Besides, there is a sister who I pick up to attend church every Sunday.

However, we will attend church services at normal hours which is 9-Noon, and continue to pray for the families in need as well as the hands that are helping them.

I can't stress enough how thankful I am to be a member of this church, and to feel of God's love throughout this time of need!

If I can't be there wearing the yellow shirt to help at least I can do my part in praying for them in hopes that life will get back to normal for them soon. I am thankful to know that some of my family members are extending a hand of service and love.

Once again...I have a lot to be grateful for...A lot.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2012

This Thanksgiving holiday there was no cooking for us to do, no dirty dishes to wash, & no cleaning up after anyone after dinner. It was just another adventurous day for the Jorgensen clan!

We did it.

We were brave enough to go see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade live, and in person! The weather was perfect, and all of our kids had a blast! We didn't mind the crowds, and we were lucky enough to have stood on a pretty good spot on 45th street. All of our kids were troopers including the little ones. Noah sat on dad's shoulders, and was in awe as he saw all of the balloons floating in the sky. Chelsea even made friends as there were many small children sitting up near the sidewalk.
Sierra, Lexie, and I stood along side millions of people as everyone was cheering on all the different bands that were playing. We snapped all kinds of photos, and I tried to get pictures of all the balloons & floats.

Here were some of my favorites...

Buzz lightyear!
Elf on the shelf! What a cutie! 
Here is the Pillsbury dough boy in black & white..just like how it was filmed in the 50's.
Po from Kung Fu Panda.

Chelsea's fave...Hello Kitty!
Ronald McDonald
One of Noah's favorites...a dragon
Smurf from my generation!
Charlie Brown and the football he never gets a chance to kick!
And last, but not least...Santa Claus!
There were numerous bands playing, and floats that were very well decorated.
Ninja turtles!
The Big Apple!
Although we saw many celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg dressed as a pirate, Jimmy Fallon doing his signature dance, Flo-rida, Karmin, Colbie Caillat, Cody Simpson, & Jennette Mccurdy, the only picture I got to take was that of Trace Adkins! 
Going to the parade is the perfect way to get us into the Christmas spirit, and the perfect way to start decking the halls in our home.
We are so grateful to have had this opportunity with our children, and I know that they will never forget it.

Whoever says the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade is a boring tradition, or too chaotic too attend...don't knock it until you are actually there in person to witness it!

It. Was. A. Blast!

And we would go again in a heartbeat...with four kids in tow!

feeling grateful.

I have a lot to be grateful for this year...A LOT!

I have great children who are kind, grateful, loving, and in good health.
I have a husband who loves me enough to put up with my imperfections.
I have a testimony of the Savior, and of the Book of Mormon that no one can ever take away but me.
I have children who have the ability to sing, and play piano & violin in which soothes my soul.
I have friends near and far who I love, and in return express theirs.
I have a home in which love is filled to capacity!
I have a home that treasures books, music, and I appreciate all the things that dwell inside.
I am thankful to have a a temple close enough to attend & feel the peaceful love of Heavenly Father.
I am thankful for the challenges we face that makes us stronger.
I am thankful for the life that I live & share online.
I am thankful for being spared from Hurricane Sandy, and to have the necessities of life.

I count my blessings each day for all the things we do as a family, and for ways in which we can help our fellow man in times of catastrophe, stress, and major trials. Each day is a blessing, and no matter how I start out the day...I wish it to be a happy one. 

I'm thankful for all that has happened throughout our life for the past 11 months of 2012. 

Extremely thankful.

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

because black friday is coming

me and Maggie in Salt Lake City, Utah- circa, 1994
There is always something that we can learn from someone. Something new, something different. Something that we would think we could never do, but did. There is not one person in this world who is the same...not one, and I love that. I love learning new things from different people, and being inspired by someone else's idea. I love different. I love getting out of my comfort zone. I love how those differences help us learn from one another, and on this specific day I learned something very special, and so unique from my friend Maggie in which I never thought I could do, and did.

I've known Maggie for half of my life. We are so different yet so much alike. We both converted to the same church back in 1992, and who would have known that we'd both be living in the same state...again. This time with families of our own! Well...I am extremely grateful that I moved up here because there are so many, many things that I have learned from her.

One being tripling my compassion for others no matter how harsh they can be, and to be even more fearless in saying something that can be life changing for someone. Especially when it comes to the retail, and fast food business.

And if you live on the east coast...toll booths.

As we were on our way to the temple a few weeks ago every toll we took Maggie would greet the the toll worker. Now...many of us don't do that here. Some of us have an EZ pass in which you just drive straight through the Ez pass lane, or you go through the cash lane, pay the toll worker, say thank you, and be on your way.

Well Maggie greeted every single toll worker going and coming home...every single one! If any of you are familiar with going through tolls on a daily basis some of these toll workers can be somewhat unpleasant.

Maggie would greet them by saying, "How are you today?" and actually start a conversation with them!  Some would pause, and give her a weird look, and say "I'm doing alright."I would think people just want them to get through the toll booth and leave! Some of these tolls range from four to six dollars, and I noticed that she would deliberately pull out large bills instead of the exact amount. That gave her the opportunity to have time to say her little quote in the end, "thanks for working hard for me!" while they are giving back her change. You can imagine the look on the toll workers face when she uttered those words. It put a HUGE smile on their face, and I know it made their day!

Well, I have now been doing that for a while now!

The first time was last month when we attended an open house with our oldest daughter at Fordham University. There were so many kids with their parents, and the ones that helped with the luncheon were current students. As I stood in line I had at least 10 people in front of me, and let me tell you...not one of them said "thank you." I felt bad for the kids who were working, and didn't let the rudeness of people get to me.

When it was my turn to get my plate I looked at the young boy serving me, and I said to him, "thank you, thank you so much for working hard for me today."

His countenance changed! My daughter who was right behind me told me that he said to her, "she sure made my day." Sierra was so happy that I made that kid happy. That's when I told her that it's so important to acknowledge those who take the time out of their day to serve us in the work place.

Then recently I went to a nearby McDonald's. I went through the drive thru and requested to have no salt on my fries, and the drive thru girl told me to park to the side, and wait. I waited for a few minutes, and from my rear view mirror I see the man bringing them out. I noticed he was a little older than me with his name tag that said "manager". He wasn't smiling. At all. I felt bad, and when I said to him "thanks for working hard for me" he chuckled so loud, and said "no have a good day honey."

It was genuine folks, and it felt great knowing that I made his day.

I remember how it used to be working retail, and in the food industry and I myself would be ornery sometimes. Knowing that I'm on the other side helping those who work feel appreciated puts a smile on my face.

With the holidays approaching, as well as "black Friday" there will be many of us who will get caught in the hustle and bustle. I encourage you to find it in your heart to utter those words, "Thanks for working hard for me" as they hand you the receipt. A simple "thank you" will suffice too!

I guarantee you not only will it make their day, but THEIR ENTIRE YEAR!

After all...they will be working until midnight for you.

Just ask my better half...he'll be one of those on the other side of the counter.

a random mommy moment, and a thank you


This was one of my favorite days of my life. I was feeling a little blue yesterday, and you and your sister made my day. This was one of those moments in which I was randomly sitting at the kitchen table, and then all of sudden you climbed onto the back of my chair, put your arms around me, and overdosed me with hugs and kisses. All the while I was dying inside, but loving every minute of it. That was the moment I realized how quickly you were growing up, the moment you recognized what compassion was, and how I knew you were happy that I am your mother. 
It's moments like this in which I shed tears because of the fact that you gave me unconditional love on this day, and you automatically knew what that meant. I loved every single thing about this day. You were hugging me so tight, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. This was a day in which I needed comfort, and prayed for it while you were taking your nap. My prayers were answered when Chelsea, and Lexie came home from school, and I was blessed with a triple dose of love on that day.
I want to thank you for the spirit that prompted you to give me those hugs and kisses on that day, and to you too Chelsea. Thank you Lexie for snapping these pictures. You all hold a special place in my heart, and I am grateful for the example you set in making your mom a better person on this day. Never forget this moment, and always remember how y'all transformed me on this day, and reminded me of that four letter word...LOVE.

You saved me, and uplifted me in ways you can never imagine!

Thank you loves!


never stop the hugging

We need 4 hugs a day for survival.
We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance.
We need 12 hugs a day for growth. 
~Virginia Satir

I don't know about you, but I love hugs. I love it when my better half gives them to me on a day I feel I don't need it. I love it when our son Noah runs up to me for no reason to give me a hug, and a peck on the cheek. Smooches are the best, but hugs...I need them everyday.

Although I grew up with a mom who struggled half her life with constant stress that resulted with yelling and hitting...she still gave us hugs. Not too many, but enough for it to let me enjoy giving them, and receiving them today.

The world today is in need of affection....we all are. I know our kids need it as much as I do. I am very well aware of what can happen when one is not raised with enough hugs, love or affection in the home. It can damage your self esteem, and cause issues in building up your confidence as well as building up this knot in your stomach causing nervousness because you want so badly to be hugged.

I am from South Texas, and lived in North Carolina for a couple of years so naturally I'm filled with compassion, and I'm a hugger through and through. Since moving to New Jersey I found myself giving hugs to people to those who were not quite used to it. I even had someone flat out tell me in a strange, kind of tactful way to not hug them. I respected that, and sadly haven't attempted to hug them since.

Although I have learned to create a five foot wall, and to not force hugs on others I will not allow it to prevent me from hugging others. I don't ever want that feeling to go away, and I want our children to know how important giving, and accepting hugs is a necessity in life. We all need them, and I'm sure that those who feel they don't need hugs, or likes giving them that deep down they are probably longing for that, but don't know how to approach or deal with the affection.

I have been in need of a lot of hugs lately, and it makes me extremely grateful that I have taught our kids about compassion. I never have to ask them for a hug, and when I haven't seen a family member, or an old friend in a long while our hugs will last longer than 10 seconds. I can sense it in our girls when they are in need of affection, and sometimes I will hug them for no reason. I want them to know that I love them, and that we don't need reasons to exchange hugs.

Memories of my mother hugging me on a day that was not so stressful or tiring soothed me. It soothed me even more on the days when she would surprisingly give them to me first! My mom is a true hugger today, and my heart fills up with joy when I talk to her over the phone about how much I hug her grandchildren everyday, and how she'll say to me, "I'm so glad that you changed things."

Recognizing at a very young age how important hugs are makes me extremely grateful. Extremely grateful to know that I have eight young loving arms that give me hugs everyday, and two very large arms that knows when I need them.

Even in my most stubborn days I long for those hugs, and I do need them to survive. I hope to never lose sight of how important they are now, and in the future when I know that there will be more than 10 arms spreading the love in our family...including the hugs.

a thankful week with a video

Here are some of my favorite moments that happened this past week in which I'm extremely grateful for that happened throughout the week...

Family Home Evening...
I love it when it's Chelsea's turn to teach the family home evening lesson. She is becoming more bold, and outgoing when it comes to teaching. She really makes it interesting, and I just love her enthusiasm as she teaches us! Her lesson was on Kindness, and to do an act of kindness for a family member, friend, neighbor, or anyone!

I love sending them as well as receiving them, and I had a lot of catching up to do this week. Writing is always at the top of my "to do" list. That time has come for me to mail out our Thanksgiving cards, and before we know it it'll be time to mail out our yearly holiday cards, as well as care packages. 

Simple little things...
Such as press on nails. Can you guess who's nails these are? I'll give you a hint. She's our sassy girl. guessed right. They are Chelsea's. I personally would never buy these for her, but my dear friend got them for her, and Chelsea just couldn't wait to put them on. She loved them, and seeing the smile on her face after putting them on was priceless.

Here's Noah kicking it old school with a leap pad from 1999. He plays it almost every day. still works, and he loves it!

Technology (sometimes!)...
Here is Noah ditching the leap pad for today's technology...sneakingly playing games on one of dad's phones.

I love finding time to spend with the girls. I have three, and sometimes it's hard to have a one on one with just ONE! Chelsea wanted to help make a batch of popcorn balls. We originally only made a batch for our trick or treaters, and didn't think to save us any. We've been making these every year since we moved to the east, and all the kids at the trunk or treat just love them. It is a great recipe from my mother in law. You can have them sitting in a bowl a week after Halloween, and they never get hard! We will always keep this tradition in the family.

This past Wednesday Sierra, along with the NHS veteran class of 2013 had the privilege of introducing the new National Honor Society Inductees of 2014. She was inducted last year, and had a little bit of deja vu on this night. It was so nice to have seen these three girls hugging, and smiling, and expressing love towards one another. This is such a great accomplishment for all of them, and it truly is a huge step forward to their successes in the future!

This video brought tears of joy to my eyes. Tears of joy because of how compassionate all the members  of the LDS Church in New York have been in giving of their time, and efforts to help serve, and clean up all the debris from the storm. Truly the work of the Lord, and it's so beautiful that we can make a world a better place no matter how hard the trial.

And their trial was enormous.

God continue to bless the hands that help our fellow man.

After watching this video I can't complain. It's been a good week, and I have a lot to be grateful for.