Happy New Year from the Seaside!

We spent the last day of the year roaming the beaches by Magnolia, WA. This particular beach had a historic lighthouse that was quite beautiful.

 We ate a lunch and played by the beach, while we waited for others to hike up. (We drove :)

 In the grass :)

Throwing sticks...

 Hands in pockets (it was cold!)...

 ....at sunset. Holding hands.

Definitely, not a bad way to end a very blessed year.

A Story

So the other night we all went tubing. At a place that looked like a super-enlarged verson of the ride, "The Slides" at the county fair.

Fun was had by all.

Some may have thought it was bliss.

I mean who doesn't like sliding around in a big, inflated, rubber tube?

And for some pulled around the rest of the time.

A definite thumbs-up good time.

Holy Smokes!

I'm not sure if you noticed, or not, but a whole month has passed by and Christmas is in like two days! Eeek! It's tricky being a parent during Christmas. I'm still struggling to find how to make it magical for the kiddos while teaching them the true meaning, and I can't help getting a smidge overwhelmed and stressed out by this task. And before I know it, I turn around, Christmas is here once more! It's funny how it does that.  Here are a few things we've been up to:

 -Our ward Christmas party, bunco party, and sadly, a good-bye party for some good friends of ours. (They're dropping like flies, I tell ya!)

-Got everyone their flu shot

-Had a Facetime date with Nana & Pompa to open presents from them.

-Visited 'ol NYC for Phil's work party, which included a Santa visit and a stop at Rockafeller Center to see the tree.

-Took a SEVEN hour flight from NJ to Seattle (who woulda thought it was that long) for some Christmas and family fun. We're (perhaps foolishly) doing presents here. I had mostly everything shipped here in advance. I'll let you know how it goes....{nervous laugh}

- Finally, we had a beautiful, delightful little girl turn two years-old right before our very eyes. Oh we love our Penelope.

  Oh. nooow I can see why this month went by so fast.

Happy Thanksgiving

As this Thanksgiving comes to a close I can't sit here without expressing my gratitude for these little turkeys:

Oh, and this handsome guy:
They make my world make sense and they bring me immeasurable amounts of joy.

Today was officially our first Thanksgiving with just "us". I even made a mini-fied turkey dinner (it was great for some much needed practice) and after we ate, we went to the matinee, Happy Feet 2 (a beloved little tradish from my childhood) and finished the day off with a bang by eating pie with friends at our Stake President's home. It turned out to be a very nice holiday indeed.

I hope all of you had an Happy Thanksgiving as well! Tomorrow the Christmas comes out. Hurray!

Twenty D's!

It's only been within the last year that I've taken an interest in TLC's 19 & Counting about the Duggar family. It was actually during our summer in Manhattan when at church in Sunday school, our teacher brought them up as an example to illustrate a point in her lesson (I'm a little fuzzy on the point, huh). Anyhow, the two examples I remember she brought up in her lesson were:
  •  During one episode their family was participating in some sort of water recreation and for their swimwear they all wear board shorts to the knee and the rashguard shirts. 
  • When they're together out and about, if one of the boys (maybe girls too, I dunno) notice something inappropriate, they have a code word that they say. When they hear this code word all of the boys know to put their head down and make an effort to avoid looking at whatever it was.
Sometimes I feel that we as Latter-day Saints we are the only ones out there who have such standards, in this case with modesty, chastity and pornography. So you can see I was rather impressed with this family who not only takes our same Christian values seriously, but takes them to an even higher standard. I find it both impressive and refreshing. 
Unfortunately, we went back to no-cable land and I haven't thought too much about them since. But then I saw this little headline come across my people feed on my google homepage (did I just say that?): "Duggars are Pregnant with 20th Baby". How can anyone read that and not let out a gasp or two? TWENTY KIDS!?! They must be crazy. So probably along with the majority of America, I was drawn back to their website. After reading about their story and watching a few clips, I must admit the jury is still out on Jim Bob and I think they should make a special episode for Michelle to get a new hair do (pretty sure she won't though because I'm guessing that's how Jim Bob likes it). However, at the same time, I can't help but like them. And here is the real kicker: their kids ALL OF THEM seem to be good, happy and well-behaved. I find the whole thing fascinating.
So as you can imagine, they're taking a lot of criticism. However, those who do support the Duggars make a strong point. They do way better at parenting twenty children then most people do with two. The Today Show brought on a couple of experts this morning to address why the backlash? And one of the reasons, which surprised me, was jealously or perhaps disbelief that how can these parents do so well with 20 (well, 19) children, when most of us, LDS or not, are trying to keep our heads above water with 2-5? Especially with our belief in the importance of families and having children. 

Hearing this, I couldn’t help but taking a good hard look at my own life as a mother. 
I don’t think it’s so much me comparing myself to Michelle Duggar (way too many jokes to insert here that I couldn’t pick just one), but I do think there is somethings to be learned here. I mean, I’m sitting here as Ryder watches Little Einsteins (still in my pajamas) wondering how I’m going to finish the items on my to-do list and entertain my kiddos for the rest of the afternoon/evening, and when that blessed bedtime hour rolls around, I’ll breath a sigh of relief and feel completely entitled for some much needed me time, usually spent on the couch looking at some sort of screen. Bottom line: Michelle, you make me look like a pansy. 
Dang you Duggars! (I just really wanted to say that).
I think the biggest thing I take from the Duggars is their perspective on the family. I guess I feel their actions are far more reflective of their beliefs than mine are. Which makes me sad. And makes me understand why people are eager to put them down. (Ya know, so we can feel better about ourselves).
Don’t worry, I’m not about to go tell Phil I think we should have 20 kids and home school all of them, BUT I do think I have room to improve. Especially, with how sometimes my actions (run along and play or watch TV) and attitudes (is it bedtime yet?) don't reflect what I truly believe about motherhood and families (there is nothing in this world more important). 
I don’t mean to sound hard on myself, but I think it’s one of those times I can probably work on being better. So that’s what I’ll try to do. 
The responsibility mothers have today has never required more vigilance. More than at any time in the history of the world, we need mothers who know. Children are being born into a world where they “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). 1 However, mothers need not fear. When mothers know who they are and who God is and have made covenants with Him, they will have great power and influence for good on their children. 
--Julie Beck, General Relief Society President


Dear Family & Friends,

I don't want to alarm or shock anyone, but I think I just might send out Christmas cards this year.

However, my address book is a sad story and needs some serious updating. If you would like to receive a Christmas card from yours truly (because I'd love for you to have one), please send me your address through a Facebook message or just email me at jasmine{dot}shorten{at}gmail{dot}com. Thanks!

Yay for Christmas cheer!


I don't know if you noticed, but we had the luxury of having not one, but two special visits in October. Here you saw when my parents came to see us and then just last week we had Phil's parents and his little sister, Jaimie, in town. We couldn't have had a more funner October if we tried.

Although I don't think I would've forgotten, this past month did remind me how grateful Phil and I are for our families. We are both so blessed to have have loving, wonderful parents, which also equals loving, wonderful and doting grandparents for our children.
Not to mention the amazing aunts, uncles and cousins we are so blessed to have as well. One of the biggest blessings this life has to offer, I believe. So today I'd like to highlight how grateful I am for family.


In the spirit of kicking off the month of November and everything Thanksgiving,  I thought I'd try to post a few things this month that I am grateful for.

Right now, I have to say it people...it's POWER! Not the sort of dictator-ish power in which I just made that sound, but the power that supplies me the juice to provide you these words right now. The power that lights up my darkest of hallways. The power that allows me to nuke my children's quesadillas. That sort of power.

I can't help but look around and not only feel so grateful that we were one of the few not to lose it, but to also remember what it was like to lose power (and even just for 18 hours) during the hurricane a few weeks ago.

And gee, while I'm add it, let's throw in a good word for water too. In fact, water, is harder to live without than power. (I hear it's kinda necessary for survival or something).

I am so very, very grateful for these modern conveniences that provide me a life of comfort, ease and the ability to check my Facebook page.

Happy turkey month everyone!

Halloween 2011

Let it be remembered that on October 31, 2011, Halloween was cancelled.  (Gasp/shutter/quite wimper) Thanks to what they're calling yet another natural "disaster" over in in the tri-state area the majority of citizens are without power. The ridiculously early snow storm that apparently rained down flakes of iron caused multiple branches to break off the surrounding trees simiply resulting in a mess of power lines.

Thankfully, we're one of the few (three houses in our ward) that I know of that still have power. Which has been extra nice because we have Phil's parents and sister in town and 55 degree weather and cold showers doesn't really spell hospitality.

But how does Halloween get cancelled? Your town cancels any sort Halloween fesitivites until this coming Saturday and tells you there's no trick or treating until then either. On the plus side, Phil got to stay home from work today because the train lines weren't running. So we did pizza and painted pumpkins...and I think we're gonna call it good.

(Frankly, I'm a little disappointed this whole thing has been delayed. I was quite looking forward to moving on to Thanksgiving and Christmas. So even thought we might go trick or treating Friday (they did get in our ward Halloween party and trunk or treat a couple weeks ago), the Thanksgiving decor and Christmas music come out tomorrow and nobody is stopping me!)

He Delivered

My wonderful dad sent me the photos of their visit last week so now I can document our fun.  Aside from the general hanging out, catching up, showing them around town, we took one day to visit Liberty and Ellis Islands. And because seeing the city from a distance just really didn't do it for them, we took another day to go into the city. Although I think we cummulitavely walked a marathon, we were able to cover Times Square, 34th St (Empire State Building and shopping) and made our way south to the financial district to check out where Phil works and to visit the 9/11 memorial.

 Penny and Mom waiting to board the ferry! It was very rainy when we got there and later lightened up a bit. My mom had purchased a poncho at that little stand behind her. Sadly, her wearing it was something I never got to see.

 Penny and I waving 'hi!' to daddy!

 Ryder ridin' the ferry with Nana.

 We made it! To Ellis Island Immigration Island --not Migration...like you might thing from the photo. That's a whole other island entirely.  (we had to hurry, it was a hot spot for photo taking).

I can't help but looking at us all together in this photo and thinking how happy were the number or our ancestors who came through this same point. I LOVE THE U.S.A.!

 Ryder and I finding out way to the potty while inside the museum. This building was very beautiful. I would love to go back someday minus kids so I can take some more time reading and looking at everything. It totally put my mom and I in the mood to brush up on some good historical fictions  from this era. Know any good ones?

 Move over Lady Liberty! There some other LAY-DEES comin to the island today!

 I'm quite convinced my mom totally showed me up with her poses... I am not surprised.

 My handsome Daddio

 Times Square! Someone's excited!

 A little lunch here. Very fun. Nice people and very cool things to see. 

 Awwwhhh....love them

Still in Times Square...and still excited! 
Can you see the city just doesn't have the same effect on Phil anymore. The magic has just worn off for him ;)

 The magic and excitement may have worn off a smidge for all of us at this point after we discoverd we had to walk FORevA to get to the entrance of the memorial.

 We think it was worth it though.

In front of the memorial. Grateful we got to visit almost exactly 10 years later.

The Freedom Tower.

We still had a long way to walk back to catch the PATH to get home. The shortest route there was through a couple of buildings (thankfully). The final stretch was probably an uncovered 30 yards. Of course, there just happened to be a monsoon-like downpour when we poked out for the final haul. I have never been in a rain storm like that. And that's saying something here. Every man for himself! I was pushing Ryder. Phil had Penny (he bolted). My parents....all I can say is that once I was in the station I turned around and through my smeared make-up and sprinkled glasses I saw in the distance a blurry view of my mom bent over wiping her make-up off on my dad's shirt tails. This along with the hysteria only a downpour can cause made my mom and I laugh all the way from NYC to Hoboken. ~Sigh~ Still laughing about it now. 

So fun, that week was. So fun. 

Mom and Dad, I'm already planning our adventures for next time!

I Love (Leaf) Fall

Do you ever ground yourself? You say something like, I can't do anything I actually really want to do until all of the stuff I need to do is done. Well, today I was SO grounded and I'm pretty sure if I was a teenager and paid the same mind to my mom as I'm doing to myself right now, I'd be in double-dutch.

But it's the holidays! So who cares! And so I shall spend my potentially productive moments making a "I 'heart/leaf' fall" sign until my hearts content and no one can stop me!* If you feel like you need a zest of fall spirit to your office or home bullitin board, download here.

I may not be getting much done around the house, but we did find time yesterday to halloween-ify our house a bit more with some owls. I'm pretty sure these are as simple as owls get. Penelope even enjoyed making her own until her stinker streak sat in and she emptied the container of crayons on the floor right before choosing to stay out of dodge for awhile.

Ryder was clever enough to make his owl a neck tie.  In the back there was Penny trying to figure out whether or not she should put herself into time out after the crayon incident.

Instead she just kept poking this face around the corner.

And here is Ryder's owl with it's awesom neck-tie. Can you guess which one is mine (think looney).

* This one I actually got the idea on wonderful Pinterest. I purposely didn't go back looking for it because I didn't want it to be the exact same. I was going for simplistic and modern, which is fitting for my skill level. It was also my first time working with the gradient tool, which was very fun.