Friday, November 29, 2013

seeing thanksgiving in a whole different light.

"Thanksgiving is an annual reminder that all human beings walk the same road, and that they need to rely on each other and God. It is a reminder that the nation's heritage draws its strength from gratitude and humility, not selfishness or greed."

There is so much meaning to the word "Thanksgiving." The one thing that pops into my mind as I utter the words "Happy Thanksgiving" to family & friends is to hope that we are happy, thankful, and mindful to others. 

Family is the most important thing that I value, and I am so grateful that we were all gathered together again this year to enjoy the bounties that have been given to us. I thought that Sierra was going to attend college out west last year so we took advantage and went to the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade in NYC. Little did I know she was going to attend a university in Philly, but instead of going to the parade again this year we decided to forego it, and spend Thanksgiving in the comforts of our own home. I wanted to reflect on all the happy moments past and present of all the Thanksgivings we've had. 

And I've had so many. 

Having Sierra close to us her first semester has been a blessing, and I am grateful that she is here to spend the holidays with us....for it might be her last Thanksgiving in Jersey. We know how much she loves pa's cooking, and we're so lucky to have a man who loves the kitchen (because I don't.) He cooked his heart out for all of us, and even made us some homemade butter horn rolls! They were delish! I am reminded of past thanksgiving's spent at my in-laws house while we lived in Utah. My mother-in-laws cooking is one of the things I miss the most, and I'm so glad that she gave us a copy of all her recipes so that Jon can make them for us. It's bittersweet sometimes, you know..being away from family, but we know we are where we want to be. 
^^ Noah keeping papa company while rolling the dough ^^

While I was surfing Facebook yesterday I stumbled upon this article in Deseret News titled "Thanksgiving Proclamation by George Washington", and this one paragraph reminded me of what Thanksgiving is really all about. 

"Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the Beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
"Prayer at Valley Forge"-picture via google

Reading this proclamation made me realize the importance of "Thanksgiving." Even though George Washington didn't believe in God, he was a "spiritual" man who believed in his calling. He was committed, and probably prayed for hours while hunkered down at Valley Forge. He believed in a supreme being, and knew that there was something out there much bigger than him. He was a man of humility, graciousness, love, and strength. He was a great leader who saw the ability for freedom in our country, and served the best to his ability. An example in which we ought to be all the days of our lives. 

I am so grateful for this article & it will be one to share with the family every year. It has given me a whole different perspective on how to view Thanksgiving, and how to view our nation in a whole different light in hopes that someday we will have a leader who leads this nation just as President George Washington did. 

I sincerely hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving, and that y'all got to spend it with loved ones...reflecting on all that is important.  

Now...time to start our Christmas, and put up the tree! Have a fabulous day! 

**You can read the whole article here.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

a quote that makes my life all better.

President Marion G. Romney said, "I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will growThe spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake of peace, joy, and happiness." (Ensign, May 1980, p. 67).

This is one my favorite quotes that always caught my attention every time someone would give a talk or a lesson at church. It didn't resonate with me at the time because I was 20, and didn't have a family of my own nor was I raised in the church, but I loved it! As I was slowly progressing, learning, and gaining more knowledge from reading the Book of Mormon there was something between the lines in that book that was preparing me for the words in that simple quote. Little did I know that I was going to get married (like two years after joining the church) & have a family of my own shortly thereafter. 

See...I wanted to serve a full-time mission, but because my head got mixed up with boys (the good kind) my heart started to change, and I knew that I wanted a husband (a good one.) I just didn't know which one was going to be the right one. I dated pure mormons. That's it. Mormon boys were it for me. I didn't want to involve myself with anyone outside my new faith. I got lucky and married my best friend whom I knew for three years. Time flew and we had Sierra right away...and I mean right away. We were a little nervous at first not knowing what to expect, but because we had the knowledge that I learned of the purpose of what it means to have a family, and with Jon's experience in serving a mission in bringing others to Christ, to see the love & family in an eternal perspective gave us the confidence we needed to raise a family. It didn't matter that we were young (23 is young for me) with a child, unfinished education with hardly any money. We had each other, our faith, our baby daughter, and we knew that somehow God will provide.  

And He did. 

It didn't matter that we struggled for half our young life, and guess what? We still have our struggles! Whether it's financially, emotionally, or spiritually everyone has them. But you know what else? We don't allow that to destroy our spirituality, or confidence in knowing that this church is true. That Heavenly Father is always there to hear our cries, and prayers. That He will find a way to help us, our children and if sometimes those prayers come unanswered...it's okay! That's how we learn, and grow. 

Knowing that some things weren't meant to be. 

Raising my kids with a firm foundation of The Lord is a huge blessing. Huge! Sometimes i still can't believe that I am into God. I mean really into Him. No, I'm not one that dances and jumps around convulsing on the floor, and we don't clap our hands while singing in church. We worship reverently in a calm manner resting our feet & sitting down quietly (it's impossible for me with a four year old) listening to various talks every Sunday. I am just really passionate about what I've learned, still learning, and knowing more about the gospel. 21 years of membership in the church isn't enough time for me to be a scriptural scholar nor will I ever be, and maybe serving a mission may have made me one, but seriously...does memorizing the scriptures really get us into heaven? I don't think so. It's how we use that memorization, and knowledge in sharing it. So I wasn't too upset that I didn't have an opportunity to serve a mission because I know that once all our children are grown that we will serve one as a senior couple. Plus...I enjoy being challenged with the scriptures, and who knows...maybe I'll know more in my 60's as opposed to my 40's! 

I'm so grateful for the 21 years I've had to learn from the gospel, and various members in the church all over the world. Everything that our leaders say are true, and the things they advise us on how to treat life, God, & mankind makes me want to be a better person. 

Sierra has been a great example to me when it comes to learning, growing, and thinking of others. Last Sunday she surprised me with a sticky note in my scriptures. I'm still new at being a Sunday school teacher for gospel doctrine, and even though I seem confident I still get the jitters. Her note wishing me luck in class boosted up my spirituality in knowing that I will have a good class, and I think i did. Her loving spirit, and kind words are proof enough that i have done something right in raising her. 
As a family we strive to live the commandments, and let me tell you in this day and age it is hard! Especially when you are running around in four different directions with a kid in college, middle school, elementary school, and keeping up with a very active fun four year old at home with no grandparents, aunts, or uncles nearby...it can be tough. We manage our time to fit in all the things that will keep our family together knitted with love, and strength. 
I never want to stop learning from this great book. No matter how many times I've read it, or studied it the meaning is never the same, and i never get bored! It truly does mold a family in a way that is different (at least it does for me), and no matter what trials we encounter I know that with fervent prayer, true faith, and time...it will all pass us by. 

I'm so grateful for the Book of Mormon, and for that quote by Marion G. Romney which is a reminder to me to never give up on doing the things that will strengthen our children. But most of all I am grateful for my membership in this church that is keeping me on my toes no matter how many times I have fallen down.

And it has been...for 21 years now.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sweet Green & the Philadelphia Temple.


Yesterday I woke up anxiously wanting to do something spontaneous. The weather has been super cold lately, and you know me...I can't stay indoors for too long. Well I could, but today something was nudging us to go out. With Jon driving for UPS he tends to get tired easily delivering 140 packages a day, and it's only going to accumulate after Thanksgiving. There are days when Jon will go to bed at midnight, and wake up at 6am. Not good! Poor Jon went back to sleep after walking Cheslea to her bus stop, and like a good wife I let him catch some zzzz's before I woke him up again! I feel bad sometimes having to wake him up, but I don't want him to sleep all morning long on his day off. It's not like he works graveyard he just likes going to bed late!! I quietly shook him, and said, "Babe...wake up. How about if we go to Philly and see where it guides us?" I know...pretty spontaneous huh? 

He obliged, and we all got dressed, and headed out to Philly. 

On my way over there I was thinking about Sierra. Wondering if she's eating, and getting enough sleep. I heard a voice whispering in my ear to text her asking her what she was doing. I know her schedule, but forget sometimes. It was 11:30 when we were crossing the Walt Whitman Bridge, and she texted me back right away. She was in the Mangia building (where she eats for free because she's a student), standing in line waiting to get something to eat...all by herself. The friends that she's made this semester are all graduate students and/or have jobs, and her roommate has a different major which requires different class times. She has another girlfriend who lives in her building, but she is too a dancer and has different class times as well. So...as you can see Sierra is pretty much on her own these days for the remaining last two weeks of the semester.

It's getting closer to the holidays, and I am so thankful that she will be home for Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We don't have to spend money on flying her out for the holiday...for now! I am also grateful for that still small voice that whispers to me "sweet every things" that are meant for me to act upon on. 

I didn't want to be selfish, and go into the city without attempting to see Sierra. I honestly did think I'd see her being that she might be busy, but she wasn't. She was standing in line alone waiting to eat. We arrived within 10 minutes of the text, and she looked thrilled! Makes me feel good knowing that she appreciates seeing our face! Most kids want to move as far away as possible from their folks these days. She had hot chocolate warming up her hands devoid of having no gloves. She needs to invest in those, or better yet we'll buy her some! 
We decided to eat at sweetgreen. This place is pretty awesome. It is super healthy, and everything is organic. Jon wasn't too crazy about the cucumber lemonade though, and truthfully...neither was I. His words were..."cucumbers, and limes just don't mix!" I laughed so hard. The lemonade tasted pretty good, and all the salads we ordered were delicious!!
 ^^ we ordered the "November", Juacamole greens, and Sierra made up her own of this & that. ^^
^^ Noah's favorite was the bread, and the lemonade ^^
Since Sierra didn't have class until 3:00 we decided to drive by the grounds of where the Philadelphia temple is being built. We hadn't been by since we saw this big hole in the ground, and guess what? We saw some progress in the making!
We had such a wonderful afternoon with Sierra, and I'm so grateful we rescued her from the bitter cold to eat inside a warm place, and venture out to witness the hard work these men are doing. Handling construction, hammering, climbing scaffolds, plastering, and building in the cold, windy weather is no easy feat, and I am so grateful to these men who are using their hands throughout the cold weather to build this House of The Lord.

Looking forward to 2016 for its completion. 
Fingers crossed! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

the conclusion about pornography at 700.

When I became a part of the social network (FB, IG, twitter) I had no clue what I was getting into. None. I am so old school & part of a stubborn generation where I personally didn't care about putting anything about my personal life online. 

After moving from North Carolina in 2008 I had numerous friends encouraging me to get a Facebook. I preferred the old school tradition...you know the snail mail phone calling (no technology) I liked it simple & easy. Nonetheless I finally gave into the peer pressure & went to town opening a twitter & Facebook account from my iPhone (didn't own a computer yet.) Pinterest & IG came shortly after purchasing our new computer. 

Then...

I joined the blogging community. Again having no idea what I was thinking or getting into I created an account, thought of our title that best suited our family & began to write. 

Blogging sounded like a lot fun & since I love to write & scrapbook I figured this would be an easier version to document my life so that others can receive that instant gratification with a click of a button. 

Little did I know I was going to get down to the nitty gritty & over share my life. Really...it wasn't planned. All I wanted to do was scrapbook & write about my family adventures online to make it easier on myself & for my children to remember their adventures. As I look back at my old posts I'm amazed at how far I've gotten in being honest & true about my life! 

And I'm glad that I am. 

Sooner or later my kids are going to know everything about me (and their dad) & so far my two oldest daughters know everything about my life thus far...not by reading it online, but by personally sitting down with them from time to time having one on one talks and discussions with them about why this happened, and how I did this when I was a youth. I know now that it's super important to be open, and honest with your kids about the "grown up" things so that way they will have an understanding of what not to do, or how to handle it if ever they find themselves in the same situation. 

Some parents may disagree, and keep their kids sheltered from "the world" or anything that they did in their past, and I'm telling you that in my opinion that is a mistake. My mother didn't share anything to me about anything until I was married, and had my firstborn. Unfortunately my grandmother didn't teach her about "boys" or "womanhood", and I honestly believe that everything my mom endured in her younger years was a result of what happened to me. I had no one around to help me through anything growing up, and because I was this shy kid I didn't have the heart to say anything to any grown up about what was going on behind the doors in my home. 

I learned what "not to do" from my mother, broke that chain of silence of sheltering my kids, and have been open with my firstborn since she was about 10 years old. I never trusted men, and so I told her at a very young age what happened to me, and to please tell me if she finds herself in a situation to let me and her dad know...and that we won't be mad. Most of all...we will BELIEVE her. So...talk to your kids about the happenings in the world, and why things happen. In other words...be a teacher to your children. 

And I am doing the same with my other kids. 

I look forward to teaching my son about porn and how addicting and wrong it is. Nowadays it seems like they are getting a hold of it at a very young age. Hopefully by then cable companies will require internet providers to pay for porn instead of it being easily accessed for free. 

This past Wednesday I posted a very sensitive & personal post that caught so many viewers attention. Now...I normally don't get excited about looking at the stats as to how many views I get on a post, but this one has got to be the most popular post that has ever been read & commented on. 

And I was extremely overwhelmed. 

I give thanks to everyone who commented and/or liked my post Pornography at 700. I've been blogging for almost three years now & had that post on a draft for almost two. I've always wanted to share my story only because the issue of pornography has become so prevalent & a damaging epidemic. 

They say all wounds heal with time & I testify that it's true. It may take years for someone to heal, and some may never get over it. Everyone is different, and the timing for one to heal about any "hard" burden varies, but I know that it can happen. I had my heart in finding an ailment since I was 16, and sought for every possible light out there. I know that there was something out there waiting for me behind all the darkness that was drowning my inner being, but luckily I found that perfect light at the age of 20. 

And I am so grateful.  

Sure there are times when I'll get a flashback of my molestation, but I don't allow it to linger. I am able to talk about it and let me tell you...there are so many souls out  there who knew the pain I went through. It feels good to know that I can be open & honest about my past, and to give them words of wisdom. I'm no therapist, but can be a friend. Just because I talk about it doesn't mean I'm still living in it. 

I just want to thank you again & again to who ever reads this blog. It feels good to know that it is not being taken for granted. 

I hope that regardless of what I post whether it's a cheesy picture of my kids with a post that doesn't seem blog worthy, or a serious personal one like pornography that you'll continue to stay with me. 

My posts all mean something to me & it's all being written for my posterity in hopes that they will read this after I'm gone.

It's also being written for you...yes you. 

So thank you to those 500 plus viewers that read Pornography at 700. It looks like more readers are still viewing it. I only hope that what I write will inspire you & never upset you. I also write in hopes that one can overcome and heal from any hard trauma they've endured because IT IS possible! I learn a lot from what I write as well as what YOU have to say. 

So don't be shy, keep reading, & comment from time to time. 

Thanks you & keep visiting!!

XO

Friday, November 22, 2013

There is always something to be thankful for.

And today, on the 22 day of November I am thankful for...
  • my family, and extended family all over the world...I love them so much
  • my only sister, who through thick and thin has been there for me...no matter what.  
  • friends near and far whom I've kept in touch with throughout the years.
  • technology, without it I would have never reconnected with friends from years ago.
  • my husband, who works so hard to provide for us.
  • a warm bed to sleep on inside a nice heated home. 
  • good books because there's so much knowledge in them if we understand the story.
  • music, without it my soul wouldn't be the same. Plus...it helps me when I write.
  • a house full of happy kids.
  • my children, they are all the glue that hold me together...especially Noah.
  • life, for it is the air I breathe and wake up to everyday.
  • sunshine on a chilled November afternoon.
  • nature, and all of God's beautiful creations that remind us that He is always watching over us.
  • this little blog that i have to inform others of my life both past & present in hopes that they continue to stay and visit longer. And possibly be inspired.
  • endurance, without that I don't think I would have survived my childhood.
  • trials, without them I wouldn't learn, and grow spiritually from them.
  • prayer...without it I don't think my relationship with Heavenly Father would have developed.
  • our church magazines with stories that inspire me, and help me to never give up on life.
  • my conversion in to the LDS church & for change because all things are possible.
  • faith, without that there is no way I can have hope or trust that good things will happen.
  • support, without that I honestly don't think that we'd have friends to offer it.
  • the gospel, because without it I honestly would feel "lost", a recluse, a totally different person. A person who would have continued to live a life that was not good. And I am grateful. 
Boy am I forever grateful! 

**What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pornography at 700.

^^ the little house i grew up in Texas, circa- 1997 ^^

A year after my conversion to the LDS church I left Texas in December of 1993 to start my life anew in a different state. I vowed to never look back at the life I lived, and endured in Texas. I never thought I would ever look back and step foot on the lawn of the house I once called home. But I did. I needed to. I had to. For myself. To know that the molestation I endured there for five years was real. That the darkness I had been sheltering inside my mind was real. That none of it was a dream. To know that I wasn't insane. For peace. For closure.

And the year before my stepfather passed away...I did. 

I had forgiven him at that time. I was older and wiser. I had a family, and I knew that with the condition he was in there was no way he could hurt me. 

Anymore.

And all was well. 

Still...I wondered what on earth could have caused him to do such a thing. Maybe it happened to him. I'll never know, but I know this. The poison that was the culprit of this abuse was the fact that there were pornographic magazines in my home. For years I thought it was a dream. I wanted it to be. But it was reality. A reality that so many of us face today. A reality that can cause serious negative consequences to both male and female. A reality that is damaging to mankind. A reality that will hurt a marriage, and break up a family. A reality that is the literal poison of todays society.

That reality is... 

PORNOGRAPHY

As a 10 year old child you have no clue as to why a magazine would have a half naked girl on the cover. Even as a 14 year old...I didn't get it. Well at 42...I know now. It is poison. For years these pornographic magazines laid comfortably on the shelf above my head every time i went in to use the bathroom...where it was visible to everyone. 

Pornography was the damage to my household, my self image, and my well being. It destroyed my relationship with my mom which drove me away from her. It made me promiscuous as a teen, naive with boys, caused me to shoplift, drink, and lie. And at one point...I even attempted to take my own life. I count my blessings for my mother to have come home at the right time to rush me into the ER to get stitches on my wrist. It was painful. I cried. Even though I had friends there was no one I could tell, or wanted to know. It was then that I knew that if I continued to live this way in this small town with no one to bear my soul to...who knows what could have happened to me, or where I'd end up. I needed help & those were the ways I was crying out for it.

Pornography may be a normal, and fun "hobby" for some of us, and some may even say, "there's nothing wrong with it, it's harmless, and everybody looks at it." 

Well sorry, but I don't look at it. And never will. I'm a witness to how it affects a persons actions, & it is vicious.

The fact that it was in my home like it was no big deal was the biggest mistake my mom did as to allow my stepfather to have it linger in our home, let alone look at it. I know in the end we all suffered the consequences in some shape or form, and my stepfather suffered so much health wise until the day of his passing in 1998.

Forgiveness was rendered to my mother & our relationship was mended. 

I'm grateful for the things I learned throughout the years while healing from years of molestation. For the gospel that changed my life, and for the beginning of a new life that was saved, and changed for good.

That life was mine.

This experience has helped me teach my children that pornography is a problematic, poisonous, and addictive form of entertainment. It is not clean, or pure, and it can ruin you.

If you are someone who constantly looks at porn having unclean thoughts all the time then there is a problem. It is habit forming so please find a way to realize that these are serious issues & please get the help that you need. 

Every so often talks and lessons are given in our church from apostles, and the first presidency as well as members of our own congregation about the usage of pornographic material, and how damaging it can be. I'm glad that we have a church presidency who is fearless in discussing this worldwide issue, and to acknowledge that it is not good, and that it is a problem. It is easily accessed online & it is everywhere. 

I always wondered why I was so angry all the time even after joining the church. But knowing that I have a Father in Heaven helped me overcome all the bitterness, and anger that was harboring deep in my soul for so many years.  

The look on my face that you see in the picture above was a face of discontentment which harbored painful memories. 

The face I have now is that of forgiveness, love, strength, and courage. And I know that I have healed. No matter what other trials I may have, (and believe me I have them periodically) I know that with hope, and faith they too shall pass. Because they usually do. 

And I know that I will make it.
And I did. 

I have no regrets with everything that I've endured in my past. None. It has molded me into the person I am today. A person of imperfection, but ever loving. A mother who is overall a happy person with a wonderful husband, and pretty awesome kids. Sometimes I can't believe my life.

And I will forever be grateful to God for surviving it, and for the support I've gained from my family then, now and forever. 


"No matter how dark the moment love and hope are always possible."
~George Chakiris


**This talk on pornography given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland is one of the lessons I taught in Relief Society two years ago, and it is a good one!  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Snippets from the weekend & a little bit of now.

I hope everyone had a great weekend, and that this week is off to a thankful start. 

Nothing all that interesting happened on the home front just catching up on some scrapbooking (yes I still do that on occasion) & a lot of rest because I refuse to get sick. 

Jersey weather this weekend was too good to be true but man was it surreal. I mean 70 degree weather in November! In Jersey? No wonder I started feeling a little under the weather, because weather like this where it's cold for one week & warm for two days can really mess up your immune system & make one sick! (Y'all Texans know what I'm talking about) Well...whatever I had it passed & I'm feeling so much better. 

Nonetheless we've been enjoying what seems to be the end of autumn. And the end of a Stake Presidency in our church that we've had for five years while living in New Jersey. 

It has been so nice to have had such an awesome stake presidency, but eventually...all things must come to an end. Life goes on & change is always good. No matter how much some of us may not like "different" change is good. 

Soon we will have a new stake presidency, winter, & more memories to make. 

And...

Not only am I in a bit of denial that Noah is four, but autumn this year has been so different. 

In a really good way. 

It continues to last just a little bit longer. Long enough for us to have enjoyed bits of autumn in various states. 

The wind is blowing pretty fierce right now that my wind chimes are going berserk. Having just closed my windows because the chilled air is creeping in is a sign that colder temps will soon be permanent...and I don't mind. 

I'm actually looking forward to going sledding with the kids, build a snowman, ice skating, having snowball fights & randomly playing in the snow. It's sooooo fun to do that when they're little. Makes me happy that I have the desire to do the things that I've always wanted to do as a young girl with my kids. 

Waking up to a little bit of snow last week has me itching for winter. Seeing the excitement on Chelsea's face as she walked out the door that morning made me happy to know that she looks forward to it! Plus...she's a hat girl & loves to wear her beanies! I sure hope we get some snow this year. 

Winter in Jersey would just be weird without it! 
So, for those of you who love the snow...pray for it! Even if you don't...still pray! 

Have a wonderful week! 

Friday, November 15, 2013

learning to let go & govern themselves.


The hardest part of having children is not having them, or raising them, but letting them go off on their own. To learn, to discover, to experiment, and to govern themselves. Govern themselves. "We as parents have to teach our children to govern themselves" is a saying that I kept hearing when Sierra first started the young women program. In all honesty the first time I heard it, and I mean really heard it I felt a little uneducated as to what it really meant. And I wanted to learn.

See...I didn't understand any of it. None. Zilch. Nada. Govern themselves??? What do you mean? What is that? I wasn't a member of the church at birth, eight, twelve, 15, or 18. So...can you please explain it to me? And eventually they did. I learned and grew with the values and standards this wonderful church has taught our kids, and it has made me a better mother as to how I am raising these girls. 
One thing for sure is that I didn't nor will I ever understand the pressures that come with being raised in the church, or being the only Mormon in high school. Having us parents telling you, teaching you that drinking and smoking is bad. That you can't wear sleeveless clothing, two piece bathing suits, or short, short hootchie shorts that practically show paris, london, and france. That you shouldn't go shopping or go to the theatre on Sundays. That dating begins at the age of 16, and only go on double dates. No. I will never know the feeling of being a raised a mormon as a youth, but I do know the challenges that I had to overcome. The changes that I needed to do in order to become a much more happier person. I was 20 when I joined. Oh yeah...my rebellion, sexual promiscuity, & partying stage was all in my past. I didn't want any of that. Anymore. 

Swearing...we hear it all the time. In school, in books that are assigned to our children to read during high school, and unfortunately...on the home front. You heard it here first folks. Swearing...that is a weakness even for me. Shocked? Yes...I swear. I'm a mormon, and I tend to slip up every now and then. Remember I'm not perfect. No one is. But I recognize that slip up, try my very best to bite my tongue especially in front of the little ones. I've gotten a lot better at it, and it comes in full swing when I'm very stressed or that time of the month. I apologize, and I say to the girls, "it sounds ugly doesn't it?" Especially when that PG-13 movie that we were watching had the word F*!# in it. It sounds horrible. Funny...maybe, but it still has no meaning as to why they say it. Now I can see why we shouldn't watch R rated movies. As awesome and intense (Air Force One, the Terminator), historical (last of the Mohican's, Glory, and The Patriot with Mel Gibson), and dramatic as they may be (Argo, Blood Diamond) I shouldn't watch them. Oh...but I love The Last of the Mohican's!! Oh well...no one is perfect. Still...movies that have a lot, and I mean a lot of swearing in a sense that they should have just titled it F*!# has no interest for me. I hate it, it sounds awful, and I end up feeling terrible afterwards kicking myself why I didn't have the strength to turn it off. Well, now I just avoid watching them altogether. 

Sierra was fortunate to have made good friends, non mormon friends in high school who knew her standards and have respected her when it came to swearing. They'd cover her ears, or mouth the words behind her back. In all honesty...Sierra  has never said a swear word ever (at least not around me.) The first time I heard Sierra say "hell" was when we were discussing the changes in her curriculum, and unforeseeable future at UARTS. She didn't mean to say it, but she is just ready to have this semester over so she can transfer, and start new somewhere else. She said, "Mom, I just want to get the hell out of here." I was shocked, and said to her that even though its in the bible that we shouldn't say it too much! In my eyes it's okay to say it, but then again maybe I'm justifying that in a sense to say or write when appropriate.  I told her to just try not to say it too much, and she knew. She even felt weird afterwards saying it. Here I am a mother who slips a swear word every now and then telling her not to. Yes...I feel like a total hypocrite which makes me want to do better. So much better! It's so sad how circumstances can cause our minds, and hearts to be saddened, and we feel that swearing will make it all better. It doesn't. So...clean language is a value that is important to me, and seriously something that I have to work on.   

Early morning Seminary...don't even get me started on that. I have absolutely no idea how it feels to wake up at 4:30 every morning five days a week excluding holidays for four years to learn about all the important books that keep a person sane, fulfilled, happy, knowledgeable, and spiritual. I know that it helped Sierra endure her four years of high school, and helped her handle any trial, catty drama, and just "life". I know that Seminary is a great tool for the youth, and I am grateful that she got a taste of that. 

Girls camp for four years, EFY, youth activities, personal progress, and so many wonderful church youth programs that are out there to make a kid strong, but that's not always the case. Again...I didn't have any of this growing up, and when our kids go off to these exciting, and testimony building adventures it can help them spiritually, or not. Some go through the motions. Some forget. Some rebel. Some start talking back. Some end up not caring. Anymore. Some give up. I have seen it...not with my kids, but other peoples kids, and it's scary.

So after witnessing teenagers, returned missionaries, and young adults go through these stages of life of inactivity in Sierra's earlier years has helped me for that moment to have her learn to govern herself. Because I wanted her to learn on her own. To know what cause and effect mean. I have seen the despair a parent has when their child has gone wayward, and it's heartbreaking. I still see it.

And then...they turn 18, graduate, apply for college, and leave the house. Live in the dorms. In the city. Philadelphia. Yes, it can be scary. It can be dangerous. Certain people were concerned for her, and I understand why. Luckily...she has survived. She has learned. She has persevered every experience, every trauma she has witnessed (a suicide, gang violence, even putting herself in a situation which could have been worse) Those are her stories that hopefully someday will share with you. But for now...she strives to be the most bubbliest, happiest, carefree, always smiling, loving, funny kind of girl. 
She is my daughter. My firstborn, my solace, and sometimes...my close to perfect example. I love her, and like my mother has told me that she had to learn to let go of me, the last one to have departed the nest...I also have to learn to let her go. Luckily she isn't the last one left in my nest.

And I will. I have to. I have to learn to accept, and support the choices in her life as well as the rest of our children. Her wants. Her needs. This is her time to learn. To discover, and enjoy a different type of freedom. I pray that her thought process, and level of spirituality will not go askew. I pray that she will continue to live up to her standards, to never forget who she is, and to remember everything that has been taught in her life both temporally and spiritually, and that she will take it with her no matter where she goes in this life.

**This talk really helped me when I understood what it meant for our children to learn to govern themselves. It is awesome, and really helped. Really! 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

cheeburger cheeburger.

When we lived in North Carolina several years ago we took a trip to Virginia and discovered a place called Cheeburger Cheeburger, and loved it. It was different, and the atmosphere was so fifties. The girls favorites were receiving kids meals in the form of a fifties car. I loved everything about this place. It was so tasty that we would drive the extra long miles to eat there every once a while. We only lived in North Carolina for two years so driving to Cheeburger wasn't as frequent as I wanted it to be. You think you're going to live in a place for a long time, and don't take advantage of the good restaurants. Oh well. Then it was time to move to New Jersey, and didn't give Cheeburger another thought. Besides...when we discovered that there are diners in every town and realize that there's a five guys nearby you tend to forget all those other burger joints you left behind. 

As we were getting familiar with Jersey we had discovered more cool restaurants, and...... a Cheeburger! I was excited, and thrilled! Too bad we only ate there twice before it shut down. I was a little disappointed that the place closed down a year after moving here. I'm not sure how long it was in business before we moved in, but it was nice knowing that we had a familiar place to eat at other than your Wendy's, five guys, etc. The thing is you forget about the food places that close down, and then all of a sudden you discover an even more awesome tasty burger place, and then you know you scored (Shake Shack...I know that place won't ever close!)

When we visited Princeton for the first time I noticed that there was a Cheeburger in their town. Funny how I didn't really care for it anymore. I guess I gave up on the fact that this specific burger place is not going to last. Visits to Princeton became more frequent, and it was still in business. 

We recently went to Princeton the day before Noah's birthday, and what do you know. I was craving a Cheeburger. We decided to have a pre-celebration for Noah's birthday and so we stopped in for lunch, and it was delicious! 
^^ hot dog & fries inside a ford fairlane ^^
 ^^ laughing at something papa said ^^
^^ driving his car against the window ^^
^^ chelsea's chicken tenders inside a thunderbird ^^
 ^^ a pre-birthday sundae for noah ^^
^^ chelsea singing to the music while twirling around in her seat ^^

I have a feeling that this place will thrive here being that Princeton University is right across the street.

I absolutely love this quaint, & cozy town...even when it gets crowded! There are so many areas that are breathtaking, and places that you can drive to stop & get out to take in all of its beauty.
It definitely was a good day spent in Princeton with my sweet family.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

a dance in manhattan.

There are days when I look at my children, and ask myself where did the time go? Especially this girl because look at her! She is absolutely gorgeous & growing up way too quickly! There are times day after day when I have to just sit back and stare...knowing that at some point I have to let go of the reigns. Let her make her own decisions. Let her learn experiences on her own. Let her practice her free agency. But because I'm a mother...her mother I have to learn control in not treating her like a little kid anymore. 

My love for her runs so deep, and I mean the deepest you'll ever know. She is my firstborn, and the one who sets the example for her brother, and sisters, and every person out there who is her friend. She is the one that they are going to look up to, and ask certain questions when it comes to her beliefs, about how she deals with life, struggles, and for her sibs...mom nagging all the time. The one that they'll turn too when they need advice about a boy, girl, school, or an issue where they feel is too personal for a parent to understand.

Hopefully that'll be different because as a mother I want all my children to be able to talk to me about anything. They know that first and foremost I am their mother & want them to know that I will put my listening ears on and without yelling using my loud voice do my best in understanding anything they want to talk to me about.

Going to the city this past weekend for Noah's birthday gave an opportunity for Sierra to go to a young single adult dance that was being held in the cultural hall inside the Manhattan temple. She invited a few friends who aren't members of the church & even though they don't share our beliefs...they are good people. You can't imagine how happy I get when she surrounds herself with goodness, and people that make her happy. True friends that won't hurt her, or put her in a position that is dangerous, and out of control. New york city may be scary for some, but in my opinion safer than Philly, and the best, most fun, and safest city this side of the island. The fact that there is a temple in the heart of Manhattan does bring a spirit of its own. One that helps the city to be more safer than usual. There are times when my family and I have taken the subway in the middle of the night, and had no harm come to us. I believe if you know the area, and the do's and dont's of the city then you'll be ok.
My trust in leaving Sierra with these gentleman she's known for five years puts me at ease. I can tell they were excited to be in the city, and for Sierra to have introduced them to an atmosphere that may be too different to comprehend. An atmosphere that is all too familiar for Sierra, but unfamiliar to them. In the end I'm glad they had fun, and even though coming home at 2:20 in the morning was a bit worrisome...I knew she was in good hands. Still...I can't help but to have morbid thoughts, and that is something that I still have to work on regardless of who her friends are. It's unfortunate, but little by little I am getting there. As long as I feel a good vibe around these guys, and see a happy smile on her face when she comes home...I know they are good, and that's all that matters.  

Besides...I know where they live. (wink)

Monday, November 11, 2013

a celebration at central park.

Gratitude and tender mercies of the Lord are five words that go hand in hand especially being that this is the month we give thanks, and the fact that Noah is a November baby makes it even more special.

A very generous gift arrived in the mail days before his birthday and while we usually keep our kids birthday celebration at a minimum with simplicity we decided to splurge just a little with this kid.

Oh man, oh man I still can't believe Noah is FOUR already! It's surreal. The only thing that is different about this little boy is the fact that his vocabulary is clearer, but other than that he's so petite that he still wears size three in clothes, and hasn't lost his baby face. His birthday weekend consisted of going to New York because right now autumn in New York is slowly transitioning into winter, but none the less it is absolutely breathtaking.

Manhattan seems to be calling my name every so often and I get that itch to venture out into the city. Everything about the city is magical! The lights, the adrenaline, and the energy as we walk through the streets of New York. Having a temple in the city gives it a unique spirit of calmness that is filled with great energy...the good kind that whispers to you, "this city is safe". So much energy that you end up driving back to Jersey ready to share it with the world.

And that's what I'm about to do.

A little celebration for Noah took place in the heart of Central Park. Cupcakes from Magnolia bakery were devoured within seconds after singing Happy birthday to him. Lollipops were eaten until the kids tongues turned color. The temps began to drop but we didn't care because this is the one place where one can merit any uniqueness they can share. We walked around hearing and seeing all kinds of raw talent & entertainment. We saw a jazz band playing, a girl singing opera, and Noah's favorite...the bubble man. Horse drawn carriage rides dressed up the entire park, and it felt like winter already. While the kids were playing in the park the crisp chill in the air turned their cheeks red, and they didn't mind. We spent all of our afternoon here until darkness fell at 5pm.
^^ blue & red tongues...silly kids ^^
^^ horse drawn carriage with a bride in the background ^^
^^ the bubble man ^^
^^ autumn in central park ^^
^^ two peas in a pod & best friends ^^
^^ Noah devouring his cupcake ^^
^^ mandatory picture of cupcakes from magnolia bakery ^^
^^ Happy Fourth to my little man ^^

Even though most of the leaves have fallen to the ground I could still feel autumn lingering in the air hanging on for dear life. There is still some color left on the leaves, but seeing them faded in color laying on the ground is a sure sign that winter is near. 
Living close to the city (yes...89 miles is my definition of close) is amazing, and I love it here. This year is going to come to a close real quick, and then we are going to begin a whole new year. All our kids are healthy, and have all celebrated their birthdays. Soon Thanksgiving, a parade, December, Jon's birthday, our anniversary, Santa, & Christmas will all come, and go in a flash. With the way I've been spending my days lately with my family makes me happy. Makes me glad that I'm not taking anything for granted. And we shouldn't because all of this goes by way too quickly. Reflection, and resolutions will come, and kick us in the butt come January. And then it'll be 2014.

And now it's time for sleep. To wake up to the start of another week, and do this all over again.

Exhausting as life may be...I love my life. 


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