Saturday, October 8, 2011

Delve Right In

I have been on a Scripture Marking Spree!

I found some amazing scripture marking ideas from The Red Headed Hostess. AMAZING! And I love personalizing my scriptures. They are full of personal notes and comments about things in my personal life. I hardly ever let anyone use my scriptures, because they have so many personal insights in them.

When I first got my Quad (a set of Scriptures with all 4 Books of Scripture in one book: The Bible, The Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price) I decided that I would mark every reference from every hymn in the Hymnal in my scriptures. It was very enlightening to see how these scriptures could cross-reference with hymns. Hymns are a wonderful way to accompany your scripture study.

So now I found these "Page Titles" to add to the Book of Mormon. Basically, every page has a title that you write in to your scriptures. This way, you always know what's happening on a particular page and it can help you find scriptures quickly and read in context if you are just randomly selecting a page to read. I thought it was a great idea. I have been staying up late every night this week working on this project.

My workspace

It has really strengthened my testimony of the Power of the Book of Mormon. It's truths are so apparent, even if you are just summarizing events (or pages, in this case). You can feel the Spirit as you read, and write these notes. It has been particularly uplifting to go through the whole story of the Book of Mormon all at once. I was able to make connections and insights that weren't so obvious to me before.

I encourage you to make your scriptures your own, and make notes in the margins that will help you remember the inspirations you receive as you read. This way we will truly "liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning." 1 Nephi 19:23

*Drop me a line if you'd like me to send you a free, non-committal copy of the Book of Mormon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Reading Every day

When I was expecting our first child, I was going through all of the "New Mommy" stages, where you begin to evaluate every single aspect of your life to make sure that you will be the best mother possible. I looked at the ordinary: child safety, proper bedding and vehicle restraints, etc. Then I began looking into the more personal and spiritual. How will I teach this child everything he needs to know so he can live a happy and good life?! So, I evaluated the basics.

We were good people, from good families that went to church and lived good lives. We magnified our church assignments and always tried to take the high road. But we weren't perfect. There were things that needed improving and one of those things was reading the scriptures every day. This needed to change.

So the hubs and I started reading at least one chapter of the Book of Mormon every day. We would read, and discuss what we learned. Every night I would have something new to ponder about and every night I felt strengthened by the Spirit that comes into your life when you read the scriptures. The Book of Mormon teaches you how to be a better parent. All throughout the book you read about how someone is teaching their child how to be better; how to follow the Savior; how to be closer to God. The Book of Mormon teaches what Christ taught here on earth. It expands on what we learn from His teachings in the Bible.

Reading this book intensely changed our lives. We were happier, we were more sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we were closer to one another and we felt it's power. We went through the book almost twice before our little one arrived. We felt so strengthened, and I'm so grateful we began this endeavor to read every day.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

This is me.

I have not been very open to my specific beliefs on my blog before, for fear of ridicule or judgement. But this is who I am. My religion is not just my church, it's not just something I believe or follow; but rather it is who I am. Everything in my life is based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I don't intend to make this a religious blog, or anything like that; but I do feel that I need to devote some time to sharing what I believe. This month I am participating in a month long forum about the Book of Mormon. This book is another testament of Jesus Christ. It backs up the Bible and teaches about Christ coming to the Americas. I will be posting about this book all month long. I've given it a lot of thought, and I know I need to do this. If you don't care to know about what I think on this subject, then you don't have to read.

If you'd like to know about what other people think of this sacred book, then you can visit my friend Jocelyn's blog where she is spear-heading this forum. If you would like a copy of this book, let me know and I will mail you one, no charge, no obligation. I just ask that you read it. The Book of Mormon contains beautiful truths and teachings of Christ, and I don't know where my life would be without it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Blessings never cease

Our baby had to be put to sleep on Saturday. It was gut wrenching. It was one of the most difficult moments of my life, if not the most. Smoochie was a few days short of being 15 years old. I got her from my parents the day I got back from my first Youth Conference. I was a freshman in High School. She brought much joy into my life, and into the lives of those around me. I remember the first time I was away from her. I had just moved to Indiana, and I would be away from her for about 5 months, until Ben and I would get married. I cried most nights because I missed her so much. I was so happy when we brought her back to Indiana with us after our honeymoon.

She helped me get through a lot of hard times in my life. She was there, comforting me, when I had such a hard time getting pregnant. She wanted to play when I was sad and she loved to cuddle in bed with Ben. She loved to play catch! Her favorite treats were fruit; she loved mango, and bananas and she would beg to no end for some apple. She would also bark and bark and bark at you if you were having popcorn. She loved popcorn! Her loss for me has been pretty close to unbearable. I have cried to the point where my head is pounding and my eyes are swollen. This is a pain and emptiness I would not wish on my worst enemy.

Smoochie was very sick, with an infection in her uterus, a severe heart murmur and some trouble with breathing. She had a very long, and good life. I am blessed to have had her in my life, to have shared her with my husband Ben, and to have her be such a big part in the lives of my children. I love her forever, and forever she will be my Baby Bear.

As I searched the scriptures for comfort the night she passed on, I came across some verses in D&C section 77. It talked about the eternal felicity of animals after they've gone. I was so humbled at the fact that Heavenly Father helped me find specific comfort. In a world where there are bigger problems and more awful trials, He cared enough to lead me to read something that was specific to my pain. He knows and loves me; He listens to and answers my prayers. I will see my Smoochie Bear again. And I will continue to rejoice at the love and the blessings that are poured into my life by a Father whose love and care for me is Everlasting, despite the pain or trial I may experience. We are never alone.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


We went to the zoo this weekend. We LOVE our zoo! It's one of the best we've been to. We are enjoying our yearly membership. So this weekend we decided on a whim to go to the zoo for a couple of hours. It was crazy hot, but we had a great time. The boys each got a fun little monkey at the end of the trip. They both love monkeys!

This is one of my most favorite things about Florida. The beautiful Palm trees ! Every time I look at them it feels so surreal that we're here.
Ben was hurrying to the car-it was so hot and we were ready to cool down!
The zoo also has botanical gardens inside. The greenery in this zoo is just amazing! They have so many trees and flowers, and lots of pretty things to smell and look at! So I took pictures of some pretty flowers to use as desktops.
They were gorgeous to look at and smelled good too!
This was one of my favorite pictures of the trip.
Here is the dock at one end of the zoo.
And the view off to one side of the dock.
Here the boys are listening to some live music. It was Earth Day at the zoo, so they had live music and some booths around the zoo from different organizations promoting "Green" living and things of the sort.
They're so cool. :-P
We got to pet goats,
and even brush their fur. The boys REALLY enjoyed this!
Because of the Earth Day celebrations, they also had this fun inflatable slide. This thing was huge! Ben had fun, but he said it was scary.
Ezra loved it. He tumbled at the very end of his sliding down and planted himself face first at the bottom.
Ben, the Daddy, went on it with the boys and he loved it, too. I had a turn myself, with Ezra (Ben didn't want to go on it again) and I squealed on the way down! That slide was way tall and waaay steep! But it was a blast!
There was a booth with Magnolia Tree Saplings. The boys got to plant one each and take it home.
They had a good time doing this. Ben did a great job putting dirt in his pot, but Ezra seemed to think it was yucky. They get into the dirt when you don't want them to, but when you want them to, they don't want to. Boys! Gotta love'em!

This is the best picture we got of the carousel ride. Ezra is looking away and I'm trying to peer over the moving alligator Benny was on. That carousel was PACKED!
Isn't this flower beautiful? It looks much bigger than it really was.
And this picture looks 10 times better than I thought it would.
Flamingos! They were fun to watch.
We had a great time at the zoo. They boys quickly asked when we were coming back. We'll be back very soon.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

High Adventure

The 4th year High Adventure for my Stake was this past weekend. You know I took my camera! But if you know me well, you know I forgot to use it.
It's quite frustrating, really. I want to take pictures, but I'd rather be hands free and enjoy myself. I need to do better about it. I'm working on it!
So this weekend I relied on my dear friend Kacey, who went on the camping trip, too. I told her she'd have to send me her pictures since I had a picture FAIL!

Here is a group picture, with our fun Fabulous Flying Monkey t-shirts. I'm so excited for the actual week of camp! Can't wait!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Whistle While You Work...

Time has flown and our little guys are big enough to help around the house. House work never ends and if Mommy can get help, she's gonna take it! The boys love being helpers and are really good about cleaning up. That convinced me that it was time for them to have a chore chart. We planned this about a month or two in advance. I searched for the materials I wanted and worked on a Family Home Evening lesson that would tie everything in, a chore chart, responsibilities, working, and an allowance with money jars.

Here is Ezra posing with his new money jars. Boy, was he excited to get to drop coins in his jars! We decided that we would start them off with a couple of dollar bills. We showed Ezra some dollar bills and asked him what they was. We expected him to say "money" but instead he very quickly and clearly said "Cash!" We thought it was so funny! Who knows where he got that from!
Here is Ben with his money jars. He was so excited to get to separate the money and distribute it. He put a lot of his money into his Mission fund, because he can't wait to be 19 and go on a mission. He said he wants to go to Mexico on his mission.
I explained that the boys would have daily responsibilities that they needed to get gone. Once they did those, any other jobs they did would make them eligible to receive payment in form of money. I used clip-art to show what the jobs are, since they can't read yet. I also used some already made chore charts I got from Target dollar section to place the clip-art on. we put them on on a wall in our dining room, where they will see it multiple times a day, and be reminded that they too have to help.

On the back of each jar I used stick on letters to write their name so that we never confused which one belongs to whom.
The different jars are labeled "Mission" so they can save up for their missions; "Tithing" so they can put away the 10% of what they earn to pay in tithing; and "Savings" where we encourage them to save their money, and/or save up for something they really want.
I keep them together in the little "box" that the jars originally came from. My goal is to cover it in paper or mod podge it or maybe even just paint it. But I haven't gotten there yet.
Here are the charts I made with so much love. I didn't have a laminator so I used clear packing tape to laminate each square of clip-art.

It was a great FHE night. So far they've done pretty well. I hope this will allow them to be more responsible than I was while I was growing up. They had a blast with talking about all the different jobs they now had and with counting their money.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

General Conference Weekend

This year's General Conference was fantastic! If you missed it, you can watch or listen here.
We set up a small folding table in the middle of the living room and prepared some fun snacks and lunch along with coloring and activity pages that were themed for Conference. The boys had a great time!

One of my favorite and uplifting talks of this years co
nference was Quentin L. Cook's. It was titled "LDS Women Are Incredible!" and one of the most amazing quotes (for me) was:

Our women are not incredible because they have managed to avoid the difficulties of life—quite the opposite. They are incredible because of the way they face the trials of life. Despite the challenges and tests life has to offer—from marriage or lack of marriage, children’s choices, poor health, lack of opportunities, and many other problems—they remain remarkably strong and immovable and true to the faith. Our sisters throughout the Church consistently “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.”
What a strengthening weekend it was! Here are
some pictures. Not many, I know, because we were too busy watching!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Orlando Temple

A few months ago we went to the Orlando Temple. We didnt go inside, but instead we hung out at the grounds and enjoyed soaking up the sun andtaking pictures. This was the first time the boys were at any temple, so it was neat to talk to them about it. Here are some pics.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Where are the Wintertime Blues?

Usually by this time in the year I'm just deeply yearning (imagine me stretching and reaching far out into the distance with a real look of yearning in my face-almost to the point of desperation) for the Spring to arrive, with its beautiful buds, warm bright sunshine and the sound of birds chirping the day away. I even wish for the Summer to hurry and skip over Spring. The Wintertime Blues are very well known to me. I try to pretend they haven't arrived, when in fact they've already moved in and unpacked the suitcases.
This year, however, is different. Very. I guess those Blues didn't get the address change and couldn't make it this year. Living in Florida has been phenomenal! I know its Winter; I get it. When we moved here people told us that we would love this season's Winter and that next year we would be more acclimated and freeze our little (or big) tushies off just like the rest of the Floridians.
Not so!
I am already freezing my little (big, really) tushie off! I'm a wimp, I guess. But this 50's weather is COLD! And then I laugh about it when I talk with family elsewhere in the country. They are in ranges of the teens to the 40s. Disclaimer: I'm not complaining!! I've got it good, and I know it!
So on a day where the temperature is 54degrees, I will wear my sweater, my scarf and my coat. And I feel kinda silly, because back in IN or NJ I would be celebrating that I only have to wear a jacket. But here, I can get away with it because lots of people do that. I like to be warm. I love to be warm.
The sky is still blue and the sun shines through, even if it is really cold out. Not so many gray, dark, cloudy, ugly days here. There aren't mountains of dirty snow that won't melt away, either. The trees aren't pretty (yet), but everything else makes up for it. I've been feeling pretty good! I'm still excited for the Spring, but I'm not desperately reaching for it.
Goodbye Wintertime Blues.
Hello Florida! I am falling for you, fast!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Papas Rellenas

Last week, on the first day of the new year, I decided I was going to make something really yummy and out of the ordinary for dinner. The problem was I had no idea what I was going to make. So as I stood in the kitchen thinking about things I enjoyed eating that I hadn't had in a long time I remembered the fabulous and delicious CubanInTheMidwest. Ivonne's blog is pretty much the epitome of the food I ate throughout my childhood. Growing up in urban NJ we had a true melting pot of Latinos from everywhere and I had a lot of the things she posts about. She is fantastic, with great recipes and pictures and directions for making delicious Cuban or Cuban-inspired food.
So I remembered that she made PapasRellenas or Meat Stuffed Potatoes. I already had garlic parmesan mashed potatoes made from scratch that had been leftover from dinner the other night. And I also had some picadillo (cooked ground beef) that would be enough for the potatoes.
I didn't follow her exact recipe since my "ingredients" were leftovers. And I used Panko bread crumbs, instead of regular. Here are a few pictures from my cooking.
Potato Ball already stuffed
Already breaded potato balls

In the frying pan!

These were soooo good! We scarfed them down before I realized I never took photos of the finished product. We made a yummy dipping sauce with ketchup and hot sauce (Cholula brand hot sauce is the best!) Please visit Ivonne'sRecipe to see how EASY this is and so worth the time! She says its quite messy, but my mess wasn't bad at all. Mmmm, so good!