Happy Halloween From the Future Class of 2023!

This photo was taken yesterday during the Halloween parade at Chelsea's school. There were so many kids, and when you have too many over-enthusiastic, excited, dressed up, hyped up kids on a sugar high that can equal major chaos! Luckily these kids were on their best behavior, and they all managed to sit cheerfully for a picture. 

This was Chelsea's last Halloween elementary school parade. I will miss seeing her in them having fun with it, but luckily we have Noah in school now who has five more years of parades to go!! It's bittersweet seeing my fifth grader growing up, and acting so maturely. She's becoming more and more independent these days especially when it comes to brushing her long hair. She doesn't even ask me to do that anymore (unless she has tangles). And even though she doesn't ask me to, I'll still make her lunches from time to time just so I can sneak in a lunch note filled with love and encouragement! .

Awww...the feelings of independency. I sure remember those days, and in many ways she is just like me. I guess that's what happens when you are the baby girl of the family. She's slowly trying to catch up with her sisters in maturity while being a silly ten year old kid. 

I love her, and I'm proud of how well she behaves in class. All her past elementary teachers have told me what a great student she was, and how helpful she was with the other kids. Her current teacher says the same and praises her, and man does it feel good to hear that from her teacher! It gives me a sense of peace knowing that my kid is doing her part in being a considerate human being, and is in a safe place for seven hours each day. No matter the petty drama she sees among other kids which she will tell me about she manages to either be a defender against the bullying, or simply let it go, and move on. 

Grateful for her string willed, spunky spirit because nowadays we all need kids like that! Especially in our future! 

Happy Halloween from the future class of 2023! Hope it's a spooky one filled with more treats that tricks! 

Smiling Snow White.

I can't believe Halloween is in two days, and while I look back at more photos of my kids particularly these ones of Sierra my heart longs to turn back time. These were taken back when we lived in San Antonio. She was such a disney freak, and into princesses then that all she wanted to do was dress like one for Halloween. When she saw Snow White for the first time she truly wanted to be her. All those years as a little girl she always wanted to dress up as a princess. I was lucky enough to have found her the perfect costume, and having my mom close by was a blessing. She had fun going trick or treating with us that year. I especially enjoyed having my mom with us because I myself hardly went trick or treating with her when i was little, my older brother would always escort us so having my mom with us that year was extra special! It was really nice having her with us in our last year of living in San Antonio, and to take advantage of the time spent with us before moving to Utah.

I was about six months pregnant with Lexie when this photo was taken. Knowing that this was Sierra's last Halloween as an only child was bittersweet. I have to admit that for the past 15 years it's been a blast trick or treating with more kids, but having Sierra all to myself for the first five years of her life was literally a treat. She only shared her candy with us, and there were no siblings to bicker with. Even though I worked during those first five years of her life, I still managed to spend quality time with her. To help her with her homework, and to go on little adventures as a family of three was something I always made time for. I'm grateful for the times we spent together before her sister was born, and in helping me prepare to be an even better mother the second time around. 
Once Lexie was born she was a natural at sisterhood. She's an amazing sister, and still is. She is a wonderful person to talk to, and I swear that smile she wears never grows weary. It's real, and she still expresses it to everyone she meets. She's always been a bubbly little girl, and no matter how her life has been up to this point she's always managed to have that smile on her face. She's a light in my eyes, and soothes me on a bad day with her voice every time I talk to her. Even though she's 2000 miles away talking to her on the phone always brightens my days, and I can tell that she's smiling with her eyes...even more so when we FaceTime. I'm so lucky to have her in my life, and that she still calls me for any issue even at 20 years old! 

So grateful for this memory, and for her choice in wanting to be princesses for Halloween throughout her toddler years. She exempified that very well then, and still does today. 

Because no matter what...everyone is a princess!  

Happy Thursday, and keep smiling! 

**(Photos are oldies from 1999)

Noah-isms // Fall Edition.

So i have all these games, and scrapbooks upstairs in the attic near the kids bedroom and as Noah was taking a game out of the closet he noticed the scrapbooks. He knows that I work on them from time to time and asked if he could see his. For the first time since he was a toddler he looked through the scrapbook with curiosity and interest, and after glancing through pages of sheet protectors filled with cards, and photos he had a lot of questions about them. He pulled out some of the cards & asked, "Who gave these to me mom, and what are they?" I said, "they're cards that were given to you from friends & family when you were born." " I like them mom, I really like the people who thought of me when I was born." -Noah

As we were driving around leaf peeping, "look mommy, the leaves are falling off the trees, and it looks like they're dancing." 

Every year we have 'spirt week' at the kids schools, and on the day it was pajama day Noah said, "It's not pajama day, it's a school day." He ended up wanting to wear regular clothes.

When I was editing some photos of Lexie and I, Chelsea said that I looked like Sierra in one of those pictures. When I asked Noah if he thought I looked like her in the photo he said, "yes mom, you both have circles in your hair."

So we've been having an Indian summer lately, but when the sun goes down the air gets cooler. I don't care to turn on the air condition so I rolled the windows down. Noah's seat is right behind the drivers side, and so when I rolled my window down he said, "I'm freezing up mom roll your window up." It was like 60 degrees. 

Jon had the day off on Noah's picture day, and since Noah looked so handsome I wanted to snap a quick photo of him, and Jon before we walked to the bus stop. After I took the photo Noah said, "it's okay mom. You can stay home. Daddy's got this." Guess what? I ended up letting Jon and Noah have some bonding time for those 10 minutes of walking, and waiting at the bus stop. 

When it's Noah's turn and one of us tries to help him with saying a prayer, "I can do it by myself!"

While going for a drive to go leaf peeping Noah nonchalantly says, "If only the leaves were blue."

While watching a bit of television a preview of the Supergirl series came on, and Noah said, "I don't like that show, I like the man one." 

There's a lot more where that came from, but like I wrote in my last Noah-isms post...I don't want to rack my brain trying to remember every single phrase that he utters. I take in the moments of our conversations, and focus on him. I love laughing with him. He truly is the sweetest, and funniest little boy I've ever met...
and I'm so glad to know him! 

Happy Wednesday! 

Inside the Corn Maze.

Whoever thought of making a corn maze out of a cornfield is not only brilliant, but a lucrative idea! Think about it! Some farmers don't make too much money having a farm and when they make a corn maze KaChing!! How many people do you think go to a corn maze in a day to have a bit of fun on our dime! A lot I'm sure!! The day we went there were about ten families trying to beat each other with the best time. Going to the corn maze is an absolute favorite of ours. It's gets everyone in a competitive mood, and we have fun with it! We started this tradition back when we first moved to North Carolina when the girls were little, and I remember how much in awe they were when they were first introduced to a corn maze. 

When we moved to Jersey we probably missed out on going for two years due to being extremely pregnant one year with Noah, and the second year Noah being a week old. He was born in the beginning of November which meant that I couldn't do anything outdoorsy with him. Now that they are all older we will definitely be going every year. The corn maze at Howell farm is probably the best this side of Jersey. I have come to love this tradition because I like seeing my family in action, and seeing the kids enjoying themselves makes me feel good because I didn't do things like this when I was a kid. 

When I saw the kids getting into it last year I knew that we had to go again this year. Watching my kids having fun, being competitive with other people was a hoot, and I had fun watching them. They truly get into it! It's so fun finding clues, and working their brain all in the name of fun. Jon gets into it more than I do, because naturally I'm the photographer, and trying to catch up with them was a challenge...especially when I'm taking pictures. Believe me you can't take too many pictures when you're in a corn maze because not only are you wasting time, but allowing yourself to not get into the fun can be a bummer, and then you regret not being a part of it! Nonetheless, I still had fun, and did my best in capturing a few photos. 

Chelsea always has to pick a flag before we begin so she can let everybody know where everyone is at just in case one of us gets lost. 
I swear I think I lost about five pounds walking the maze, and I was walking pretty fast. Noah was keeping up with me, but when you're five all you want to do is run around, and play. 
Even though he did not know what was quite going on he knew that we were running around trying to find the mailboxes with the clues that would lead us to the victory bridge. 
 ^^^ Lexie is soooo competitive. I swear when it comes to a sport, or any type of challenge she gets all into it! ^^^
^^^ Noah absolutely had fun running the maze, following his sisters and taking score for us. ^^^
And a few random photos I took while we were inside the maze... 
And a few more when we finally completed the maze, including this cutie...

^^^ When we walked out we saw this board that had the history of all the other themes with the answers on them! ^^^
Can you believe we finished the maze in 38 minutes! That's good timing. There were other families who did it in 45 minutes to a little over an hour! I think we did pretty good! 
I'm so glad that we have continued this tradition. It truly has become a favorite on our fall bucket list, and seeing the smiles on our kids faces as we exit puts an even bigger one on mine! It's exciting, and fun, and a wonderful time to bond as a family! 

Happy Monday! 

Making Date Nights a Priority...Again!

You think that as our kids get older date nights would become more frequent, but to be honest  we don't and at times it hasn't been that easy. We have been extremely fortunate to always have one of our daughters watch their younger sibs, but ever since Sierra left for college, and ever since school began for Lexie, causing her to become the most busiest teen ever, date nights have not been too common around here  Having our girls five years apart has been a huge blessing because we always have a babysitter, but sometimes it doesn't happen as much as we'd like. And when Jon comes home around 6:30 from work all the kids want to do is hover all over him, and tell him all about their day...and so do I.

Thing is I'm too selfless, and once again I haven't put my foot down enough to let Jon know that we seriously need a time out. Regardless of what our kids ages are we should always have a date night, and unfortunately we've resorted back to our old ways of not having as many as we'd like. Just because we have two kids who are self sufficient to take care of a five year old doesn't mean that we're always going to have a date night. And just because our kids are teens, and tweens doesn't mean it gets any easier. Things just get more busy, and we tend to spend more time with our kids.

For example there were tennis matches almost every single Friday, and of course I'd like Lexie to have her own time in going our with her girlfriends skating, and when there is a youth activity in our church she definitely wants to attend to those as well. There's also been times where we've sacrificed our own date night so she can babysit other peoples kids so that she can make a little extra money on the side. We don't mind, and it's good for Lexie to experience taking care of others peoples children. 

 Time with our kids is fleeting so I want to take advantage of my time with them, but when a brother from our church advised us to go on more date nights, and explained to us why they're so important we knew that we had to make time for ourselves. So why haven't we listened to that counsel as much? It's so easy to forget, and because our kids grow older, and our lives get busy it's really easy to say, "we'll go out next weekend." 

So the other night Jon and I made a condition on how, and what we can do on a date night even if it only lasts a couple of hours! We've decided that our date nights don't have to be extravagant, and even when Jon's off on a weekday we can have a mini day date for those three hours that Noah is at school. We don't have to spend any money when we go out. We don't always have to have a fancy dinner, at some fancy restaurant. We don't always have to go to the city to see a Broadway show, concert or even a movie. 

What we can do is just leave the house for a few hours and walk the streets of the small boroughs that we have around our neck of the woods. We can always drive into the city, pack a picnic basket and have lunch at one of the parks. If we want to splurge just a bit we can take the train into the city, and walk around Rittenhouse and do a bit of window shopping, and have some shake shack.  

There are so many things to do in our neck of the woods, and even going for a drive further north to go leaf peeping, and see the beauty of fall is good enough for me. 

With our anniversary and Jon's birthday coming up we are definitely going to find something fun to do that won't break our bank account, but then again it's nice to splurge just a bit on those special occasions. But on our normal day, or date nights going for a walk down the bike trail taking in the smell of fall in the crisp air cuddling with my best friend is satisfying enough for me! 

Now, it's friday night so go out with your better half, and have some fun! 
Me, we'll be trick or treating with this little guy, and his sisters at the high school! 

So our date night will have to wait until tomorrow. :-)

Happy Weekend! 


So I've been feeling a little "daughter sick" lately, and as I was looking through my iPhoto I stumbled upon these photos. I realized that they never made it into the blog. These were all taken back in 2010 when Noah was almost one. I wish these moments could last forever. Not because I feel as if I didn't spend enough time when he was a baby, or Sierra when she was in high school, but because I didn't have enough memories of my own with my family when I was younger.

Halloweens were not very common when I was a youth, and I honestly don't recall too many trick or treats in my house, but I do remember dressing up as a gypsy for two years in a row! I do remember going trick or treating with my siblings a couple of times and how much fun I had. I remember staying up until about 11pm or so, and now we have a curfew. My how times have changed. 

I love these photos of my firstborn, and my baby boy. I remember the days when these two were always having a good time together. Then again, all of his sisters would take turns holding him, and just loved spoiling him. I think I have enough pictures on this blog of  mine that shows all the love being exchanged between four great kids.

As you can see Noah dressed up as a skeleton. I think this costume fit him perfectly because he was so skinny! Ha! ha! He still is. 
These are bittersweet moments that I will treasure for a lifetime, and I hope that when Sierra looks back at these photos that she too will remember how sweet, and easy it was when her brother was a baby, and that when she comes home to visit before she leaves for her mission that she will take all of her new memories that she makes with him with her.

More Than A Tennis Post.

There's something about tennis that catches your eye, and movement between two, or four people (since she plays doubles) that gets you intrigued by who is going to miss the last shot, hit the net, or have an out ball. It's nerve-wracking especially when that person that's playing is your kid. Yesterday was Lexie's last tennis match of the season, and it was a totally bittersweet moment. She, and her amazing tennis partner won their last match, and I'm definitely going to miss seeing them play. 

Even though I'm going to miss her tennis matches, I'm sort of relieved that it's over. Sort of, a minsiscule way. The fact that her life has been piled with endless hours of honors homework, and waking up for early morning seminary every day made me feel sorry for her, but she loves it! She loves the sport, and as much as she dislikes waking up at 5am every morning to attend early morning seminary, also known as bible study, she knows it's good for her. She knows that without it her days would end up chaotic. She knows that she wouldn't be able to tolerate the immaturity that kids bring to school, the strength she needed to practice, the stresses of life, and finding balance among the life of an honors student.  

When I was talking to my mother the other day about how the kids are doing in school, and when she asked what time they went to bed I told her that they didn't have a bedtime schedule. When she specifically asked what time Lexie went to bed I told her it varies. On the days she has tennis matches, and homework it could be ten, 11, or even midnight! When she emphasized how she really needs at least eight hours of sleep because of her schedule I said to her that we both would love her to have extra sleep, but somehow she manages to get it together during school with very little sleep. 

When she questioned why Lexie was the only one who got up so early I explained to her all about seminary. and that's when the topic of seminary came up. Like most people who have no clue what seminary is, my mother didn't know exactly what it was. I thought it came up in a conversation a while back when Sierra attended, but I don't think I ever explained to her what it was in its entirety. She thought it was odd having it early in the morning not to mention at 5:30am, but one thing I can testify to having bible study so early in the morning is the fact that it strengthens my child to endure her days with goodness especially in today's society. And that's exactly what I told my mother. 

My mom's reaction over the phone was, "what?? well, you chose that religion." I said, "yes i did, and know it's true. I love how well it has blessed me, and my family for the past 23 years." I mentioned to her how there's a reason why seminary can be a blessing to all those who attend. Even though some who attended it in the past may not have benefited from it, but if you look at it from my perspective those who choose to pay attention, and attend for the right reasons will benefit them in its fullest regard. They will be able to handle any trial, and hard task that they will be confronted with throughout their high school, and years to come. I then ended the conversation with my mom by saying, "you see how well the kids are doing, and how Sierra managed all her hardships, and now she's going on a mission." 

My mother respects my beliefs, and luckily for me she knows when to stop because we both do not like confrontation. We both know that contention comes from the devil, and that there's no need to bash anything about any religion. 

I will never stop defending my beliefs as to why I chose a religion that makes perfect sense to me. The Lord has truly blessed my family in profound ways through the good, bad, and extremely ugly. We have all in one way or another have been tested, and tried with what we believe in, and when I see the way my girls are today, and how they hold themselves especially my oldest daughter, I count my blessings for having Heavenly Father looking out for us even in our darkest moments. 

For 23 years I have hung on to my faith based on Jesus Christ because I know it's true. I know that all the programs in our church really help our youth become strengthened, but when you have free agency it can be hard, and i guarantee kids will rebel, and go wild. It's in every religious denomination. Without that free agency they would never grow, or understand their purpose in this life. Everyone's view on religion is different, but to me it's very simple. I don't like conflict, or contention when it comes to talking about God. When one talks about the Lord contention should never be an issue, and fortunately for me and my family we have come to an understanding that even though we all have different beliefs, and views on religion that love and respect come first. 

This post was supposed to be all about how well Lexie played tennis this season, but somehow ended up into an explanation of why early morning seminary is important, and in expressing my beliefs of the church i attend as well as my testimony of the Savior with conviction. 
I am proud of Lexie, and impressed at how much she's improved on her game. She's super amazing when she plays. You can see a glimpse of her playing here. She, and her doubles partner had an amazing season. I don't know how she does it so far with making all A's, and waking up at 5am with little sleep for seminary, having practice, and tennis matches after school since school started. I totally attest that her strength, and perseverance comes from God. Blessings definitely do come to those who try their best to serve Him with the right intentions and on their own motive, and that's Lexie. Don't get me wrong she's already had her own trials, and she most definitely has her imperfect moments as a teenager, but I know that if she applies what we teach her in the home, as well as at church when it comes to the gospel, great blessings will come her way. 
Winning her last tennis match was a great end to the season! 

Picking the Perfect Pumpkin.

The month of October creeped in on us way to fast and with two Saturday's left in the month we realized that we hadn't gone pumpkin picking. This is a must on our fall bucket list so this past weekend we ventured out to one of our favorite pumpkin patches to pick a few pumpkins.  
Time flies when you're having fun especially when you have picky kids wanting to pick that perfect pumpkin. Noah has become selective in picking any kind of fruit especially pumpkins! My patience has gotten a lot better especially with these two because they always want to find a pumpkin that's flawless without any blemishes. Sometimes that's impossible because all pumpkins are going to come shaped like a strawberry with some discoloration, and dirt that can easily be washed off.  
^^^ you can't see it, but he has the "life is so hard" look on his face! ^^^ 
^^^ After roaming the patch for about half an hour the kids all finally picked one they approved of. ^^^
It is always a treat to go on these family outings together, and in between the indecisiveness and light bickering there's laughter, lots of giggling, and love.  I love spending time with my kids and seeing smiles on their faces that aren't forced!
I think the one that gets a kick out of these outings is Jon. He works half a day every Saturday, and I think that after driving a huge UPS truck for four hours all he wants to do is something relaxing. His idea of relaxing is the outdoors. He loves doing stuff with the kids, and it puts a huge smile on my face when he comes with us on our little adventures. He missed out on going apple picking with us this year, and so he was pretty excited when I told him we were going pumpkin picking. 
^^^ and check out that clear blue sky! ^^^

In all honesty I think Jon's favorite part of going with us to the patch is the wheelbarrels. He's like a little kid with it! The kids will sit in it, and as we walk towards the patch he'll start moving it up and down, and the kids love it! We also went on a hayride where the  driver/owner tells the history of the farm. We had a little bit of a history lesson about this farm, and it is amazing to know that it's been around since the 1800's!! 
I am so glad Lexie also made time to come with us. She had a homecoming dance to go to that evening, and homework to do, but made time to have fun with her sibs because that's what big sisters should do right? 
All went well with picking the perfect pumpkin, and all. I'm beginning to feel that October is indeed my favorite month. I love this time of year where spending time as a family increases even more. 
^^^ I sure do love this family of mine! ^^^ 

Hope y'all had a wonderful weekend, and that y'all enjoy the rest of October!