Friday, November 30, 2007

Washington DC Temple Lighting Ceremony

I had the amazing opportunity to sing and play the flute in the lighting ceremony for the Washington DC temple lights this year. The Mormon Choir of Washington (of which I am a member) was asked to sing at this special even on Wednesday and Thursday (Nov. 28 & 29). They didn't tell us who the guests would be, although we did find out that it was by invitation only.

We rehearsed there on Tuesday night and then arrived on Wednesday night ready to sing. I also accompany the choir occasionally on the flute and in this concert I was not only playing the flute, but the piccolo also. They told us while we were warming up that we would be performing for President Boyd K. Packer, Elder Dallin H. Oaks (both one of the 12 apostles of the church) and Elder J.W. Marriott Jr. (area authority) and also the guest of honor would be the Ambassador of Indonesia.

President Boyd. K. Packer
Elder Dallin H. Oaks
It was an amazingly spiritual night. I was so humbled to be able to share my talent for apostles of the Lord. I was seated directly behind Elder Oaks and was singing in his ear (he was about 6 inches away). I prayed that my voice was OK and that I wouldn't make any mistakes so he wouldn't wonder who that soprano was behind him! President Packer made some remarks that touched my soul in particular. He said that many people don't know the meaning of the word Father. When we are young, we think we know or that we will find out when we are parents, but that isn't so. When we do have a child, we begin to understand a bit more about what it means to be a father but it isn't until we hold a precious child in our arms and Heavenly Father whispers to us that we cannot keep this child that we truly understand what it is like and what it means to be a father. Our Heavenly Father loves us so much and wants us to be happy and to return to live with Him but many times we stray and don't do those things and He feels pain at the thought of losing us, and He has lost many of His children. This made me think of my role as a mother and the deep love I feel for Jasmine. I would be utterly heartbroken if I were to lose her. It only gives me a glimpse of how our Heavenly Father feels about the love He has for us. Well, the music went well, and the other remarks were great too, and I left with a light feeling that I was in the right place that night. They were there on Thursday night as well, and the remarks were nice, but different. I knew that I had heard what I was meant to hear the previous night. I played well and I hoped that my music touched the audience.
Marcia and I got pictures by a few of the Christmas trees that they had decorated in the Visitor's Center in our choir dresses! What a priviledge it is for us to sing in this choir!

Monday, November 26, 2007

North Carolina - OBX Second Half

On Friday, we woke up and got into gear to head back down to North Carolina to join our friends again for the remainder of the weekend. We looked at the circulars and decided there was nothing worth getting up at the crack of dawn to get at the stores. We decided that we would stop along the way at a Target, a Walmart and a Radio Shack and if they had the few things we wanted, we would get them and if not, no big deal.
We got to the Target we wanted to stop at after noon and we were amazed that they had everything we were looking for still in stock at the amazing sale prices. We also had the best of luck at Walmart and at the Radio Shack (can't tell you what we bought, some of the gifts might be for you!).

We arrived back in the OBX shortly after lunch during a hot trivial pursuit game which we jumped in and joined. Alas, we were not victorious this time. Lorne and I played some pool (I am horrible at that game) and soon, dinner was served (yummy thanksgiving leftovers). After dinner, we took Jasmine to one of my favorite spots for shopping in the outer banks called The Christmas Mouse. We went last year and got some ornaments and this year we did the same. We also bought a cool plate and mug to leave cookies and milk for Santa.
Saturday we had another fun time. We got up and after breakfast, took Jasmine to the YMCA to go swimming. The house we rented came with a membership and so we tried to take advantage. Jasmine had a great time in the water and kept telling us how she was a mermaid. After swimming, we met the crew at the Bodie Island Lighthouse and took some pictures. It was nice but a bit windy. This was the only lighthouse we got to this time around, but there is always next year!
The afternoon was spent relaxing and Lorne went to play racquetball with Jeff. I hear it was a good match. Before dinner, we headed down the street to see some flying kites that were decorated with lights. We saw them very briefly as they began taking them down as we approached. After dinner, we packed up as we were leaving the next day and then watched a movie.
Sunday, we finished packing and went to church. It was nice to visit another ward. Afterwards, it was time to head home. We all said our goodbyes. I was carrying Jasmine and we were skipping happily towards the car across the parking lot when I lost my footing and fell - HARD. Jasmine landed on her back and luckily was not hurt. I was another story. I skinned both of my palms, both of my knees, and my inner right elbow. I haven't fallen like that since I was a kid. Everyone was great, they all came over to help out and Lorne bandaged me up. I was very grateful for everyone, even though I felt absolutely foolish for falling down. That's what I call ending your trip with a bang!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My 100th Post - Say a Little Prayer for you

This is my 100th post - so I am going to make it a special one. It's about my sweet Jasmine girl. We have been praying with her since she was born. We always have a family prayer at night before she goes to bed and we pray together at meals. In the past couple of months she has expressed a desire to pray herself. So many times, we will help her do the prayers. That is, we say them and she repeats them. We love it, it makes it very special that she wants to join in.
On Thanksgiving night, as we were driving home, Lorne and I were having a chat when all of a sudden I hear this little soft voice coming from the back. Jasmine was praying. She said, "Dear Heavenly Father, we thank thee for the day and we thank thee for abuela Susan and Grandpa and Titi and Tio Robert and Tia Susana and Abuela Meme and Mommy and Daddy and for turkey and for all our blessings, In the name of Jesus Christ Amen". We were stunned and touched. She had wanted to pray, and she remembered everyone in the family that was there and she loved in her prayer. She then said another sweet prayer much like the first. Lorne and I looked at each other and smiled. I got a little tear in my eye.
Well, she hasn't looked back, she wants to say prayers all the time now and she will include things in the room in her prayers like her blankets and stuffed toys. We still help her from time to time but it was so sweet that her first prayer by herself was to thank Heavenly Father on the day of the year that everyone pauses specifically to be grateful!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was great this year. It was chock full of activity. The day began with Lorne playing a little football at the annual turkey bowl that his Elder's Quorum has every year. As Lorne is the Elder's Quorum president, it was his responsibility to organize the event. It was held at the Grist Mill park which is practically across the street from us. Jasmine and I walked over and watched the game. Jasmine really got into the excitement of things and when daddy took a break to come say hi to us on the sidelines, Jasmine decided she wanted to get in on the fun and went out on the field to play. She played for about 10 minutes before she got accidentally tackled (run over) and then she decided the game wasn't for her and joined me again on the sidelines.
We also watched a bit of the Macy's Day parade, which isn't as good as it used to be when I was a kid. I wanted Jasmine to watch it and get into it - I remember when I was young, my dad would wake us up on Thanksgiving morning with very loud John Phillip Sousa marches playing on the stereo (so loud it shook the house) and he would march into all of our rooms, holding the fireplace poker like he was the drum major of the band. We used to act like we hated it (I think we did a little!) but now it is a fun memory to recall. After he woke us up he would announce the parade and we would sit in our PJ's and watch it. I don't think Jasmine was impressed this year because as we watched she would periodically turn to me and say, Mommy, can we watch Playhouse Disney - I want to watch Tigger & Pooh". Oh well, there is always next year.
I baked a cake to take to Thanksgiving dinner and while it cooled, Kelleen and the girls asked us to come to the park to play, so we did. It was nice to walk back to the park and watch the girls have a good time together. It was such a nice day that there were other kids out and about too and I think it made us hungry for turkey dinner.
We all got together at Tio Robert and Tia Susana's house. Everyone was there, minus some loved ones (Rory, Ryan & Family and Robbie & Family were very missed). We socialized and had some appetizers (Abuela Meme's pizza Kiena was a favorite) to warm up our stomachs. The decor was lovely, there was a large table set up and everyone had a place card at their seat.
The food was fabulous! Tio Robert went gourmet this year and really made some delicious food. Among my favorites were the creamed corn, the stuffing, and Abuela Meme's sweet potatoes (covered in marshmallows). The only thing I missed a little was the mashed potatoes, as we had roasted fingerling potatoes this year (which were superb). It was nice that alongside the turkey we had lamb as well. After stuffing ourselves, we settled in for some more socializing and I had a lot of fun laughing with my uncle in the kitchen and watching Jasmine run around with Lily, the dog. Everyone was in such a great mood and it was nice to spend the holiday with family. I don't know what I would do without them. They make my life more full and I know that Jasmine feels like she is part of a strong family. That is so important to me.Dessert was great too. Along with the apple and pumpkin pies we had a pumpkin cake with an apricot filling, pastelitos and pasta frola.I want you all to know that my heart is full of gratitude for each of you. My husband is the greatest blessing that I have been given and I would not want to imagine life without him. He is always a support to me and a confidant. He understands me and puts up with my shortcomings and my gratitude for all he does for us is always present in my heart. I have been blessed with the most amazing little daughter. She makes my life better, she is my joy. Caring for her is an awesome responsibility and I am grateful that Heavenly Father has given her to me. The love that I feel for my extended family (those near and far) cannot be expressed with mere words. They are my lifeblood and the place where I feel accepted and nurtured. And my friends, you are all like family to me and I want you to know that your friendship has blessed my life and made it rich with peace and love. It is so wonderful to know that I can count on you and have fun with you and make memories with you. Please know that I am eternally grateful for having met each and every one of you. My life has been blessed by you.As you can see, I live a very blessed life, surrounded by people I love and care about. None of this would be if I did not express my undying gratitude for a Father in Heaven who loves me and knows me. All I am and all I will become is because He blesses me with my talents and abilities. I am grateful for Jesus Christ, our Savior and for his sacrifice for us, that through Him, we may live with our Father in Heaven again. He gave all so that we might live.

Jasmine & Titi (Natalia) play pool after dinner

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

North Carolina - OBX First Half

Jasmine and I headed down to the Outer Banks in North Carolina on Monday (11/19). We had a great drive together and stopped for lunch an hour outside of our destination at a cute Diner called Cosmos Diner. The food was exactly what you would expect at a diner - mostly bland but passable. Better than a fast food burger. Jasmine insisted on eating spaghetti and I obliged but I should have known better...I guess I am still a mom in training. I tried so hard to make sure she didn't get it all over herself but we still ended up with red sauce on her pants, sleeves and hair!
We picked up the key and headed to the house. It was nice to arrive there and be the only ones there. I took Jasmine upstairs and turned on the TV and gave her some toys so that she would be distracted while I unloaded the car.

Our lovely rented house in the OBX

After getting settled in, Jasmine and I went to the grocery store and stocked up supplies for the week. She loved being in the store and she even picked out her own dinner (beef quesadillas). We went home, warmed up dinner, played with blocks and relaxed. I put Jasmine to bed and then thought, "Wow - I have time to do something I want to do - and I am not at home so I don't have to clean or make cakes or any other number of things - where do I start?" I decided to watch TV - though I was tempted to read a book (as I have a stack of books waiting to be read). It was nice to watch some mindless TV and around midnight, I turned in and thus ended the first day.

Jasmine and Mommy eating dinner on the first night!

Lorne arrived around 10 AM on Tuesday - which was so nice because he got to spend the day with us before our friends arrived. We went out to lunch together and took a drive around to scope out our surroundings. We found the Bodie Island Lighthouse but I said we needed to come back as I had forgotten the camera.
After lunch we relaxed at the house, Jasmine took a nap and Lorne worked and I started reading a book. It was great. We went out to dinner at The Flying Fish Cafe. The food was pricey and tasty but I think it was a bit overpriced. They did make the best fried shrimp I ever had (actually, that is what Jasmine had for dinner but Lorne and I nicked a few of her shrimp to taste while she wasn't looking).

At midnight, our friends arrived. I was watching a movie (I opted to wait up for them, Lorne was too tired and went to bed earlier). It was nice to see our dear friends The Childs and also The Shupes and The Kolowichs (whom we were using this trip to get better acquainted with). They settled in quickly, and when my movie was over (I watched Volver if you are interested), I went to bed and called it quits on day 2 of OBX relaxation.On Wednesday we had fun hanging with our friends. We played pool in the basement, we took 2 trips to the beach (which incidentally was a block away), Lorne played tennis with the guys and I read more of my book. It was also our day to cook lunch for everyone (we had a baked potato bar with ALL the fixings). After dinner, we packed up the car with a few essentials and drove back up north to Virginia so that we could rest at home before spending Thanksgiving with the family.

The whole group on the beach!

The first trip we took to the beach, we went alone as a family. We tried to keep Jasmine dry but an unexpectedly large wave came and knocked her into the water (don't worry, it was as the wave was washing ashore) but she got her pants all wet and some of her shirt. When we went back (this was all before lunch) we changed her clothes. Well, after lunch we went back (as a whole group this time) to the beach and wouldn't you know it, she found a way to get soaked again. Jasmine went through 3 pairs of pants that day but she had a blast! Adam and Jeff went a little nuts at the beach. The weather was 70 degrees and they decided to do a little swimming! We caught it in photos - we couldn't believe that they wanted to get into that freezing water!

Jasmine was so excited that Ryan Child came to play with her. It was all she could talk about and she had a lot of fun bossing him around (and he chased after her when she wasn't chasing him). They played on the beach together and with blocks together. Jasmine and Ryan were the cutest parts of the vacation!

Jasmine and Ryan on the beach!

Daddy helped Jasmine build this sand fort.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Getting Ready to Vacate!

So, vacations are supposed to be stress free right? That may be but for me getting ready to go on vacation is about the most stressful thing for me! Last year, we rented a house in North Carolina with some friends on Thanksgiving week and had a blast! We were invited to go again this year and we accepted! We love the beach at this time of year. It is peaceful and the little cold nip in the air mixed with the salty breeze is comforting.
Well, in order to get going, I had a lot I had to do. Lorne was travelling so I was to do the initial drive down by myself (I should note that we have driven back up to Alexandria for Thanksgiving and that was also the plan this year - driving back down after the festivities). We had some orders come in and so we worked all weekend to get ready and have the orders finished so that Marcia could deliver them on Monday.
One wrench thrown into the plan was a Mormon Choir of Washington DC concert we had Sunday night. I had planned on trying to leave Sunday night but it didn't happen. Since we worked so hard and had Dad & Casey's birthday parties as well as this concert, I decided not to leave until Monday morning.
Senator Orrin Hatch spoke at this fireside that we sang at and he spoke for a VERY long time. I got very sleepy sitting in my seat and knew that with all that I had left to do, travelling Sunday night wasn't going to happen. As I sat there I reflected on the fact that I had not packed yet and that we still had final touches on a few orders left to do. Indeed I was up until 4:30 AM that night getting it all done - I definitely needed a break!
Here are the cakes we did over the weekend (we also did 3 dozen cookies & 5 dozen cupcakes):

Monday, November 19, 2007

Jasmine's Thanksgiving Party

Jasmine's preschool class had another party! They celebrated Thanksgiving and had fun making Indian feather headbands. Jasmine wore some Thanksgiving appropriate clothes and had a blast. I volunteered to bring the cookies again like I did for the Halloween party. They were a BIG hit! Jasmine was beaming after school telling me all about it. It is amazing to me how communicative she is!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Celebrating Grandpa & Tia Casey's Birthdays

My Dad and Ryan's wife Casey happen to have the same birthday. This year, my mom decided to have us over for the birthday celebration and she cooked up a storm. I was so impressed. She made a full Mexican feast which was perfect. We had tortilla soup, tacos, refried beans (she didn't even take them out of a can!), and Mexican rice. Of course, for dessert, we had CAKE!! Yours truly supplied the good, making an individual cake for each of them. Everyone had a great time and it was nice to also see sweet baby Roman! I swear that kid is growing like a weed - he is always bigger when I see him! Birthdays are always fun, but it is so nice to be there with the family you love to make their day special!