Thursday, December 31, 2015

And So Goes 2015.

Since I didn't want to take a random photo of a few happy strangers that I met at the store I decided to make a collage of my family, and to show that no matter how harsh this world can be, and how tough things can get for us there is always room for happiness, hugs, and joyful moments to cherish for a lifetime. 

On the day before Christmas eve I was buying some last minute items for Christmas dinner at Walmart (don't judge.) I went early in the morning which was nice because there were no lines. Thing is I had exactly 20 items, and the only lines that were available were those registers. I decided to get in line when all of a sudden stood  three people behind me carrying only one item. I let them go ahead of me. You should have seen the look on their faces. Their faces were so shocking, and in that moment I felt both happy and sad. Happy because even though they looked shocked, they seemed to be uplifted, and sad because it makes me wonder how often have they had a kind gesture given to them. 

When the other line next to me opened up I saw a little old man probably around 70 years old standing in line waiting as more people rushed in front of him. The last person I allowed go ahead of me was being rung up so I mumbled under my breath, "what the heck." I offered if he would like to go in my line since he only had a couple of items. He said no thank you, and luckily the lady in front of him only had a few times. It was then when I overheard him telling the cashier how kind I was to offer him to go in front as well as the people I let go ahead of me. They both mentioned how no one rarely does that anymore, and the cashier in particular who works there emphasized how they need more kind customers like that woman (me.) It made me feel good inside knowing that they acknowledged my kindness, and even though one of the customers I allowed to go ahead of me didn't say thank you (i still think he was in major shock that I let him in before me) it didn't bother me in the least. I'm sure eventually someday he'll remember what this kind lady (me) did for him at one point, and hopefully he'll somehow pay it forward. 

I'm sure there are plenty of good folk out there doing random acts of kindness, and if you are one of them please don't stop. I can't even begin to describe the feeling I get when I do something nice for someone, and when they see that the looks on their faces are priceless. Shocking and priceless, and I know that it is uplifting to them. It was such a joy to have seen the smiles on those three strangers regardless of their overwhelming reaction. 

My hope for the new year is for the world to be more kinder and gentler. It's up to us to make that change, and to strive to do better. It is my hope that as a family we can do all things that keep us in good spirits, and always putting the Lord first. To always have that unique light shining upon us so that others can stop, and ask, "what is it that makes you so different", or "why is it that even in the hardest of times you always look at your life in a positive manner." Those are the things I want people to ask so I can let them know that because of the faith I have in God is how I get through his thing called life. 


I love my family, and in between the smiles you see in all the photos I post there is also heartache, and pain. Don't be fooled because we are in no way a perfect family We are striving for it, but because of God I know that we as a family can get through anything in this crazy, but beautiful world. 

May y'all reflect on the goodness that the Lord has blessed you with this past year, and strive to be a more kind and gentler people, and that 2016 will be a solid year for you! 

Thank you for visiting this small patch of my life in this vast internet world where I love to write, and wishing y'all a happy New Year! 

XXXOOO

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Reflecting On The Night Before Christmas.

When I saw this painting on Beth's Instagram last week I just knew I had to get it. She only had 10 left, and I was the third person to claim one. I love her work of art, and having a picture of Mary with the Babe in our home truly reflects the whole reason for the season. 

Focusing on Christ not just at Christmas time, but all year round is as crucial as reflecting on the gifts we're going to get. I personally didn't grow up with huge Christmases, and as my kids get older our Christmases become more simple. I am extremely grateful that I have made our Christmases to be more focused on the Savior's birth than all the worldly things our kids may get. I for one don't buy my kids too many gifts. As much as I would love got give my kids everything that their little heart desires, I tend to focus on others more than my own family. I have taught my kids that it is better to give than to receive. They don't mind that, and when I'm in the middle of fixing treats, and wrapping small gifts for friends, and extended family they see the joy on my face, and when it's time to personally deliver and/or mail them they always want to drop them off themselves! 
On the night before Christmas we have a few traditions that we do. We have all the kids open one gift, and it's usually the one from their grandparents. Ornaments, and books have become a tradition, and that's what the kids usually receive. I personally think it's a simple and meaningful gift. Something that they can pass on down to their kids, and of course books never get old...especially if you have kids that like to read. I love those gifts and am grateful to those who think of them. 
^^^ Besides reading I believe in Santa Claus to the kids, we also read the Christmas story in Luke. Noah is always excited to play a wise man, and isn't he the cutest. ^^^
Because of all the baking we did on Jon's birthday we ended up buying cookies that evening for Santa. Noah had so much fun putting them on a plate, and because of all the Santa advertisements we see of him holding a coke Noah thought it would be cool if we gave him that to drink instead of milk. Chelsea insisted we leave him a cup of milk just in case. A friend of mine on Facebook commented on the photo and asked if Santa was lactose intolerant. Ha Ha! I laughed so hard, and you know what...he could be! We never know, hence the coke advertisements!

Our kids have never had a bedtime schedule, and because of that has made Noah and Chelsea a little harder to get them to bed on time. They all went to bed close to 10pm, and I made darn sure that they were knocked out before I began to wrap last minute gifts, and fill up their stockings! Jon is always a huge help in this department, and now that Lexie is old enough to help out has fun helping me with picking gifts, and wrapping them. Jon then grabbed the few gifts that we had in the basement and put them under the tree. It is so fun doing this, and I swear I never want to stop this tradition of giving no matter how old our kids get! 
When the kids came home from church on Sunday they brought home this ornament with that read SAVIOR. Their primary president made one for all the primary kids. Really thankful to them in doing that. Chelsea immediately put it on their little tree. It's so sweet, and those six letters really stand out, and shows the whole purpose to this beautiful season of light. I am so thankful for the Savior's sacrifice, and his atonement. I know that because of Him there's is hope in all things, and that we can live with Him again. To know that He died for me helps me to want to become a better disciple of Christ, and sharing His gospel brings me happiness. I know that because of Him we can live with our families for all eternity. He truly is the perfect gift of this season, and I pray that we will strive to put Him first in all that we do. I want this happiness, and joy for everyone, and every year is a new year to start anew. To learn more you can log onto mormon.org. 

Here's hoping you're having a fabulous last week of 2015. 


Monday, December 28, 2015

Our Christmas Morning & A Few Beach Photos.

This Christmas sure snuck up on us in quite a hurry, and just like that...it's gone. So bittersweet, and even though we didn't wake up to a winter wonderland on Christmas morning we were able to take in the beauty of mother nature with her rain, and all. I personally didn't mind this weather in the least. We had a brutal winter last year, and so having a break from it this early was okay by me, but I know that the snow is coming, and that it will be here soon! 

Luckily we've lived in weather like this, and have had Christmases in the past with no snow. Having lived in Texas, and North Carolina and having no snow in the winter time really made me appreciate the time i lived in Utah. I always missed the snow when living in those states, but after having a harsh winter 10 months ago having no snow this soon has been fine by me. The kids were longing for it though, but are pretty much over it, and are waiting for spring. Ha! Little do they know that the snow may be on it's way!
Watching these kids opening up their gifts on Christmas morning was bittersweet. They sure are growing up way too fast. To see their faces filled with humility, and appreciation, always thanking us for the gifts they were given, and mumbling under their breath, "thank you Santa" every time Noah and Chelsea opened a gift 'from him' and exclaiming "oh my favorite" warms my heart, and put a smile on my face. So fun to see their reactions on their face, especially Chelsea's. She's going to be 11 next month, and still believes in the magic of Santa. She makes our Christmases interesting, and it's super bittersweet watching my baby girl growing up while still being a little kid.
Gifts were simple, and easy this year. Receiving gifts from loved ones is always unnecessary, but when we receive them boy are they such a treat! If only they can see their reaction when they open them. There's no denying that it is fun exchanging gifts with friends, and relatives, and for that I am truly grateful!

After opening gifts, and with all the stores being closed on Christmas Friday we had lunch at McDonalds's (don't judge), and decided on a whim to go to the beach, and oh what a beautiful sight it was! 

Just take a look...
Temps were not that cold, but when the raindrops began to fall temps got cooler, and that's when I was like...hurry, let's get our feet in the water! You can see a 10 second snippet from my snapchat of my kids having fun on my instagram here.

Chelsea is such an adventurer, and when I told her I wanted to do that, and walk on the sand she did the same thing too. Call her a follower, but she loves the feeling of sand between her toes.

We walked around the boardwalk, and along the beach for an hour or so, (or at least until we felt raindrops falling on our head.) I snapchatted the heck out of this day, and had such an amazing time. Last time we went to the beach was over Labor Day weekend so we were pretty excited to see the ocean again! 


We totally make all of our Christmases memorable, and as always missed our sweet Sierra. It would have been  more special had she been here with us on Christmas day, but at least she was able to visit us earlier this month, and we hope to see her sometime in the new year. Also...that FaceTime is a miracle! 

Hope y'all had a wonderful Christmas, and that you ring in the new year wishing many great things! 

Happy Monday! 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Noah-isms.


// I can't believe we are already at the end of December! Didn't Noah just turn six last month?? My has time flown! Anyway I've been neglecting to share a few of what Noah has been saying as of late, of course I remember the funny sayings, but then all of a sudden for the past couple of weeks he has been saying some of the funniest things! //

The day after Noah's birthday he asked, "Mommy, am i still six?"

When Jon came home from work Noah ran up to him, and asked, "daddy, am i still six?"

We caught the end of this movie the other night and as we sat down to watch the last ten minutes of it there was a part where both the father and son were crying. As the tears were flowing down their face mixed with sweat because they were running for their life in a very humid country Noah said, "they're melting." I had to explain afterwards that they were actually tears, and because they were sweating it looked like they were melting. 

Every time I buy Noah gummy bears he always tells me to sit still, close my mouth, and say, "I am a gummy bear." I try to say it like a ventroloquist but to no avail. I move my mouth, and Noah then says, "gummy bears have their mouths closed, and are like statues. They don't talk...you eat them." 

While eating at a restaurant Noah needed to go to the bathroom. Lexie ended up taking him, and when she came back she said that Noah gave too much information while going potty.  Apparently he said, "man, that was a big one!" 

Every time Noah sees a picture with snow in it he says, "christmas."

On our way to church last Sunday we noticed some friends who were right behind us. I mentioned to the kids that it was the Jensens, and Noah says, "why are they following us? Is it because I'm cute?" I know...funny kid. 

I think Noah is growing tired from asking me to make cereal for him, and of course I don't. I told him I didn't mind, and that's what I'm supposed to do since he's still little. I then had a bittersweet moment because he's growing up way too quick. I could't help but to blurt out Please don't grow anymore Noah, please! Stay little! His response, "I have to grow mom. I have to grow taller so I can reach the cereal." 

Because I don't want to have to turn on our heat with the 60 degree weather we've been having it has been more colder inside our house than it is outside, and when I told Noah how colder it is inside our house than it is outside he said, "I know. It's because there's holes in this house! 

One morning Noah woke up freezing, and scared. He came into our room and I asked him why he was scared. He said its because there's no parents sleeping in his room.

// Love this kid of ours! With the years flying by so quickly watching Noah growing up has been bittersweet to the core, and although there are times where I do mind his independency I'm beginning to appreciate it. I can't help it. He's my only boy, and possibly my last child so I'm trying to hang on to those sweet, tender six year old mama moments as long as I can! 

Happy Wednesday! 









Monday, December 21, 2015

Celebrating 45 With Cupcakes, & The LDS Missionaries.

One thing that brings relief not only to myself, but to my family especially in this day and age, in the midst of all the somewhat hustle, and bustle I feel that I've been doing is having the sister missionaries over from our church to come into our home. They bring such a unique light, and truly have the gift of making one feel comfortable, and real all at the same time while eating good food, and having a few laughs. No matter their personalities, or how different one sister may be from the next I always manage to love them all, and make them feel at home. They are, after all away from their families for 18 months, and knowing that my daughter will soon be sitting in the homes of families makes me want to treat all my sister missionaries better!


Noah has been sick this past week, and aside from all the running around I've been doing with thinking of others during the holiday season I have realized that I need to make time for myself. I'm grateful that I acknlowedged the hustling and bustling a couple of years ago, and somewhat learned to balance all that I need to do when it comes to the holidays. The thing is that I'm never prepared to have a sick kid because we never know how bad the flu will hit our home come winter time. Luckily Noah's fever goes down, and I'm praying that he doesn't have pneumonia because with this crazy weather that we've been having you never know! He feels better after taking medicine, but if his fever persists, and cough gets worse off to the doctors we go. Sierra developed pneumonia in her freshman year of high school, and missed 10 days of school! That was not fun, and I pray that no one else in our family gets that again!
Having the missionaries coming over is such a spiritual treat to my family, and I see how much my kids love, and appreciate them. Since Noah missed church yesterday they totally brightened up his day, and were the remedy to making him feel better that evening. Even though it was Jon's birthday weekend he ended up being the one to stay home with Noah from church. Lexie had a solo for the Christmas program, and I didn't want to miss it so it was just us girls at church. It was a beautiful service, and I really appreciated all the lessons that were taught during class, and the fact that it was all focused on the Savior makes me extremely grateful that I belong to such a wonderful church where I am taught about Christ's life, and all the goodness that He brings in hopes that I can be an example of His light to others.  

I'm so thankful for all the missionaries who are serving around the world, and especially the ones who are in our area. It's so important to include them in our lives. They give so much of their time, and efforts in bringing new members into our congregation. Their energy is contagious, and being that I'm a convert to the church understand what kind of people they may be teaching, because at one point in my life I was an investigator myself learning, and figuring out if this was the right church to join, and if this is what I really believe in, and you know what...it was, it is, and I do! My passion in welcoming those who are new to the church is solid, and pray that no matter how tough life gets they will never give up on the Lord, or coming to church to be strengthened, but most of all to learn more about Him. 

The missionaries are such a joy, and after the week I've had with everything that I do that deals with the world, motherhood, and overall life, knowing that I am able to refresh myself on Sunday, and take in the lessons of Christ, and to sing beautiful songs of praise makes every chaotic week I've had worth it! And having the sisters over on the weekend of Jon's birthday made it even better, and that was the icing on the cupcake.

So thankful for the missionaries, and all the good that they bring. If you have any interest as to who they are, and how you can learn more about the plan of salvation please don't hesitate to reach out to them. You can log on to lds.org to learn more too!

Have a wonderful Christmas week! 


Friday, December 18, 2015

While Sierra Was Here...



I've been meaning to blog about Sierra's visit from a couple of weeks ago, but time caught up with me and in between attending concerts, a trip to the temple, some thrift shopping, visiting teaching, wrapping small gifts as well as delivering them, and overall life I never got around to it. Looking at some of my photos on my phone of Sierra reminded me that I wanted to write about her short visit even if it was just for four days. In those four days we managed to do quite a bit, and had so much fun. I swear we were like zombies! I am so glad she surprised us, and that she was able to take some time off from work. She figured since she's not in school, and still waiting for her mission call that she might as well take advantage, and visit a bit early. 

Chelsea and Noah were super excited when they saw her. They totally thought she was coming the week of Christmas! Lexie overheard us talking the night before her arrival so that was spoiled (she's got superman hearing), and she was expecting her the following morning when she came home from seminary. Still...it was a great surprise for us all, and the energy that once filled this house came back ten fold. Good thing because these kids have been missing their older sister for over a year! 

Here are a few photos from our time spent with our sweet sierra. 
Because Sierra wasn't in our Christmas photo last year (and a big shout out to those who pointed it out and made me feel guilty) I definitely wasn't going to let her get away without us taking some sort of family photo. I decided to call our dear friend Ashley at the last minute (because we do things like that), and asked if she wanted to come with us to new york. She said yes, and we had her take a few photos of us. She has a knack for taking pretty good pictures and did such a good job taking our photos. Here are a few outtakes, and we all had so much fun goofing around in the midst of it all. 
  ^^^ Before we went into the city we needed some much needed energy so we had some Panda express for lunch. I didn't even know they have them in Jersey. Where have I been? ^^^
 ^^^ We walked all around Manhattan, and down fifth avenue, and looked at all the window displays at Bergdorf's. 
^^^ These two were my favorite! ^^^
^^^ Rockefeller Center at Christmas time is a beautiful sight, and we wandered around capturing the beauty of this city. ^^^
^^^ Santa at the Plaza, and check out this big wreath! Christmas in the city sure is magical! ^^^
^^^ and in between time spent with us, Sierra made time for one of her dearest friends. Sure do love these girls! ^^^
^^^ Even though these two are 10 years apart they are so similar in personality! Bubbly and all! It's as if Sierra never left!
 ^^^ Goofy pics with baby brother. ^^^
^^^ And a few photos with her "twin" wearing their best friends beanies. Crazy girls! ^^^
So grateful we had four crazy days with our girl, and look forward to her coming back for a longer visit once she gets her mission call. 

Until then enjoy your time with family, especially when one lives far away. Take advantage of their time no matter how exhausted you become, because before you know it our kiddos will be on their own for good!

Have a wonderful weekend guys! 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

2015 Holiday Concert.

I'm extremely grateful that all my kids are musical, and that they involve themselves in extra curricular activities that they love. 

Last night we attended Lexie's holiday concert, and I was impressed on how well the concert choir, and band sang and played. I love this time of year when concerts come into play, and regardless of the "60 degree without any snowy kind of weather" we've been having we still managed to get into the holiday spirit and rejoice! I love hearing her sing with the choir, and believe me even though she is standing with 11 other people in Vocal Resolution, and about 70 other kids in the choir she stands out, and I can hear her amazing voice. 
This was her first year being the accompanist for one of the songs. She played Jay Althouse's "Slow Dancing in the Snow" and she played it perfectly. In a way she reminded me of Sierra, but one thing i love about Lexie is that she is her own person, and in no way is she trying to be like her sister. Sure Sierra left somewhat of a legacy when it came to playing the piano at Highland, but in no way is she trying to "follow in her sisters footsteps." Even though she loves playing the piano it is not her forte. She is the violinist in the family, and in all honesty prefers that over piano. It's a shame that there is no orchestra in her high school, but she is grateful that she has the opportunity to play the violin in the band as well as play the piano. 

Here's the video of her playing, and you can hear a snippet of the choir singing Hallelujah here. 

Jon, and I had a pretty amazing evening. Just as we spent our anniversary eating here four years ago, we didn't mind spending our anniversary at Lexie's winter concert. It was free, and fun, and we would do it again in a heartbeat!

Anything for our kiddos right? 

For more videos of my three daughters playing, and singing, you can view them all on my youtube channel, 

Happy Wednesday all! 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Here's to 21 Years.


We fight, we make up, we yell, we cry, we laugh, we frown, we smile, and sometimes we agree to disagree.

Why? 

Because no marriage is perfect.  

I write, I walk, I clean, I read, drink Dr. Pepper, and watch reruns of Downton Abbey, & Felicity. 

Why? 

Because that's what keeps me sane! 

You cook, you work, you teach, you serve, you read the hobbit 50 million times. 

Why? 

Because that brings you peace.

We care, we hope, we pray, we dance, we sing, we communicate, but most of all...we love.

Why?

Because that's what has kept our marriage strong for 21 years. 

Happy Anniversary my love.

Here's looking forward to another 21 years of all of the above! 

Monday, December 14, 2015

It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year!

December is indeed my favorite month, and although there's too much going on with our wedding anniversary, Jon's birthday, and Christmas being two weeks of each other we somehow still manage to squeeze in those small things that matter the most. This time of year certainly gets busy for many of us folk, but as the years go by, and the older I get, I've learned to manage my time wisely, and to not get mixed up in all the hustle that this season brings. Growing up I didn't have any major traditions so keeping traditions is important in my family. Ever since we moved to the east coast going to the big apple to see Santa, and seeing all the lights down 5th avenue is always a treat for our kids, but i think their favorite tradition is going to the D.C. temple to see the festival of lights.
The temple is such a beautiful place from the outside, and even more beautiful at Christmas time. Every year as my son gets older it's so interesting to see his reaction, and I love it when he asks questions about the temple. He definitely learns a lot at church when it comes to the savior, and every time we go to the temple he's beginning to know more and more that families are forever. Those are the words that he utters whenever he spies the temple from the freeway, "look! it's the temple! families are forever mom!" It's so cute, and my heart just goes pitter pat. The temple lights at the D.C. temple are so beautiful this time of year, and since I no longer live in Utah to see the lights at temple square going to the D.C. temple is a mega treat for us! 

Noah loves the baby Jesus, and when he saw the nativity scene he wanted to sit in front, and listen to the story of Jesus being told in the background. The perks of reading to your child is that they will sit still to listen, and both Noah and Chelsea enjoyed listening to the story being told. It truly brings in the spirit of Christmas. 
For the past two years we have always seen Jenny Oaks baker perform, but this year we were able to catch a performance by the Mormon Choir of Washington D.C., and to hear them sing Christmas songs brought such a peaceful spirit. It also made me miss my oldest daughter. She is an amazing artist with a beautiful voice, and I miss going to her concerts. Chelsea's eyes grew wide when she saw the young boy perform on the cello (that's still a goal for her to play), and everyone sung, and played their instruments so beautifully. 
Christmas is definitely my favorite time of the year, and it is always my hope that as each year goes by that I will become a better person than I was the year before. I know I can always do better, and give more time to the Savior by focusing on what's important. To me...Christmas is love, family, time, and service and although I feel as if I do enough, I know there is room to always do more. 

Happy Monday everyone! 

Only 11 more days until Christmas! 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Holy Tomato Pie.

When we first moved to our small borough in New Jersey I noticed a quaint little place called Holy tomato pie, (formerly known as Alfred's tomato pie), and wondered what kind of a restaurant it was. I was told that it was pretty good, but the thought of eating a pizza with just plain tomato sauce, in all honesty, kind of grossed me out, hence never going. Funny how we never eat at restaurants that are convenient to where we live. We tend to go out of our comfort zone for delicious food, but after living here for seven and a half years decided to give it a go, and I gotta tell ya...this pizza is so good! The caesar salad with pecans is my absolute favorite and the white pizza with the sauce was pretty good. The first time we ate here we ordered a pizza with just the tomato sauce, and was not a big fan, but when you add the pepperoni...it is delectably delicious! Since Jon is super busy driving holiday hours we try to have a late date night here once a week. So convenient, and since the weather has been super perfect lately with no snow, or it being too cold walking to the restaurant has been fun! 

Because this place is so cozy, and quaint with the friendliest staff, (and owner), and amazing food i only captured a few photos of the first few times we've come.
^^^ Noah's favorite, and mine...pepperoni! ^^^
^^^ the decor inside is very eclectic, and I love the heart design on the wall. They're painted tin cans, and those handkerchiefs are a perfect window display. ^^^
^^^ the white pizza is at the top of our list! ^^^ 
^^^ Holy tomato caesar salad with pecans...my new favorite!! ^^^
^^^ These Italian pepper shooters looked pretty funky too me, but after tasting one wanted more! Especially Jon! ^^^
^^^ The chocolate chip skillet cookie with vanilla ice cream is our favorite dessert! ^^^
^^^ You know it's good pizza when you're little one falls fast asleep. Then again it was close to 8:30 when we decided to grab a bite! ^^^ 

The kids absolutely love pizza, and this is one place where Noah actually approved and gave it a thumbs up. His absolute favorite is....pepperoni. We have now come to the conclusion that whenever we can't venture out to the city to have some good new york pizza the holy tomato pie will have to do.