The Mercado Family



Tuesday, November 21, 2017

When Your Birthday's on Thanksgiving

When your birthday's on Thanksgiving and you don't like to eat real food,
it surely could make for one unhappy dude.
So we planned a party to make it fun,
 the theme was a camping one. 
Too bad for us it rained that whole entire day,
but we made do inside, and that's where we had to play.
My assistants, Victoria and Karissa, made it worth our while. 
They carried the party on and they did it with style!
Air hockey, balloon toss, car race and scavenger hunt,
the snacks and cupcake decorating were very popular with this bunch!
Don't forget the tent made out of a sheet
and of course the indoor pinata was everyone's favorite treat!
It was tons of fun and now it's done.
Now we can have Thanksgiving, the same as any other one.

Air hockey tournament

Setting up car races

Scavenger hunt led by Victoria

Singing Happy Birthday

The cupcakes were supposed to have a fishing rod (pretzel) and a fish (gold fish), but we decided to serve them plain and put the snacks out with them. I showed the kids the rod and fish and they went to town decorating their cupcakes with pretzels and gold fish!



Our homemade tent in the basement.

Pinata

Jason got a good workout !
 
Present opening!


Playing our final game. Victoria got Erik a pig that passes gas in the middle of the song it sings (it's hilarious!) You pass the pig around and if your holding it when it passes gas, you're out. It was the funniest ever! The boys loved it!

Part of our goodie bag gifts. The note says "Thanks for making my party s'more fun!" It included the makings for s'mores. It was in a bag with a flashlight, a snake toy, and the candy from the pinata. This cutie in the picture is Victor. His brother is Dallin, Austin's best friend. Austin was at Dallin's party the same time as Erik's party, which was why he wasn't pictured.

Making up a slide on the stairs.

Worn out!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Reasons to Dress Up

We had a few reasons to dress up for some special occasions over the past few days.

On Friday, the youth in our area got to go to a special fireside. President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, came to Lansing with his wife. Lansing is a little over an hour away, but they broad casted the fireside to all the stake buildings in Michigan. We were encouraged to go to our stake building, as opposed to traveling to Lansing. The parents were invited to attend with the youth. (Jason and I got to meet President Nelson years ago when President Utchdorf was a member of the Seventy, just before he became a member of the quorum of the 12. We were leaving LAX and going back to Provo and we got shake their hands. We have felt a special connection with them since.) I was thinking that watching President Nelson on screen would not feel much different than when we normally see him during General Conference, but it wasn't! He and his wife (who I loved hearing from) were totally connected to us Michiganders and relating to us specifically. They were much more personable than when they have a broader audience. I'm glad Victoria got to see them speak and feel the spirit there.

Sunday was our Primary Program. Victoria was the lonesome Mercado in the congregation since Jason teaches the 10/11 year old boys and I'm in the primary presidency. Erik sat on the stand the entire time with his class and sang all the songs very proudly. That was a step up from last year when he sat with Jason on the stand and didn't sing much. Maybe next year he will get up to the microphone. Austin included a scripture in his script about receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. He spoke about when he was baptized. Karissa decided to write almost a full page and gave a very good talk about keeping the commandments of honoring our parents, loving others, and serving God.
Victoria had to be goofy since she wan't in the program...

The 3 Primary Mercado kids.

 Last night was Karissa's Steeler Banquet. Everyone dressed up in their best, especially the football players and cheerleaders. We were catered a nice dinner and then witnessed all the awards handed out to each team member. Luckily it was shorter than last year. Those kids work hard throughout the season, so it's good for them to have this special night.


The foyer of the hall for the banquet- fancy!


Waiting to receive their trophies.














Karissa and Olivia



Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Beautiful Moments

There are just some moments in life that make you really happy or really proud to be a mom. I want to highlight some of those recent moments from the past month.

Erik finally consented to join the soccer team our family has been involved in, and he enjoyed it! 

Victoria joined cross country and finished the season strong!(She came in 5th of the females from her school at the final meet.)

Karissa got to compete in cheer for the first time!
Austin bought a special pumpkin decorating kit and shared it with all his siblings!

Erik loves school!


Erik made a special connection with his primary teacher (and my good friend) Shannon Dunnigan. She just moved to SLC for a new job. (The girl on the right is a girl from his class.)

Victoria surprised Karissa with a book she bought from her book fair that she knew Karissa would love. 

Austin is very proud to be a cub scout and wears all his belt loops he has earned with pride!


Victoria had a fan club at Red Bell when the kids came with me to work on Election Day.

Karissa had a fan club as well.

While Karissa went to do pottery with a friend, my others wanted to invite some friends on a hike in the woods.


I am grateful for the experiences my kids have in their lives. We are very blessed!!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween

I'm kind of a Halloween Scrooge, I think. It's fun, but I think it's way over done. I was over it by last Thursday after having the party in my class at Red Bell and going to Haunted Hallways at Miller Elementary that evening. The teachers totally get into it and decorate their hallways according to their theme. 3rd grade was Minions, so Austin's teacher was dressed up like a minion and kindergarten was scarecrows and pumpkins. Erik's teacher was a scarecrow. The kids trick or treat throughout the whole school.  I thought that was sufficient fun and we all got candy and we could have ended it there and gone onto Thanksgiving. Needless to say, we still had more celebrating to do, plus the actual trick or treating itself. We carved and decorated pumpkins for a long time on Saturday (which was way fun) and got lots of pumpkin seeds to roast (yum!) and went to our ward party that evening. We always get lots of candy there. Monday evening Victoria went to her school Halloween party. Tuesday was the big day with class parties at a the elementary schools and a parade at Gallimore (Karissa's school). Miller doesn't do a parade anymore because of the Haunted Hallways.The elementary schools also have a half day. They purposely plan a staff meeting that day, knowing it's a useless day at school anyhow.
At the pumpkin patch.

Haunted Hallways

Carving pumpkins

Masterminds at work


Before the ward party with Bethany (Victoria is a "smartie" pants, Erik a ghost, Austim is Mario, Bethany a hippie, and Karissa an 80's zombie.)

I went as a Mongolian and Jason went as a Chilean.

Painted pumpkins

  Karissa went home on the bus with Olivia so she could trick or treat in her new neighborhood with her. She was gone the entire day! I picked her up when they were counting their candy. She got some good stuff, though!
Halloween spirit
Before school 
Karissa's cat pumpkin














The boys were at a friend's house for about an hour until I got off at Red Bell. They got to relax at home before going trick or treating. We ended up meeting Austin's friend Kaleb who lives down the street, and his brothers. Our usual trick or treat tradition of going with Bethany and Cathy from next door, might be coming to an end. Everyone is growing up. Victoria went with her friend Emma in her neighborhood and Bethany went with some other friends as well. (They are still good friends, btw, just trying to keep up in their social groups.) Cathy walked around with me for a little while, though. We needed to catch up! After we were done, the boys and I went to Cathy's church on the corner for some games and prizes (more candy). It was fun, but I don't like Halloween on a week night. We need to petition that it be changed to the last Friday or Saturday in October, seriously. 


Victoria and Emma



Luke jumped into Victoria's bag after she dumped her candy out.








































It was fun, and now it's over. Make room for turkey!


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Cheer Competition

Karissa got to compete this year for the Steelers cheer competition. I got to see the parent showcase the Wednesday before, but unfortunately, I was on my weekend getaway the day of the actual competition. I was really upset at first at the poor timing. I had planned my trip late, which meant we found out the date for competition even later. In the end, it was all for the best. Karissa got a ride with Olivia, since it was an all day thing for her, and Jason was able to take the boys to their last day of soccer and then meet up with the Steelers later in time to watch their performance.

 After watching the parent showcase, I decided it was better for me not to be there at the competition. Having been a flyer myself, I get really anxious for Karissa when she stunts, especially since this is her first year with "real" stunting. There's so much involved in a stunt and at least four people working together to make it happen. It doesn't matter how many times you "stick" it at practice, if you get a little nervous in the big moment, it could mean the entire stunt is messed up. Being the flyer, you do get more of the "glory" because it's your face everyone sees, but you also feel the worst when a stunt doesn't go up. That's not to say the flyer is the most important, because they're not. The bases and the spotters are even more important.

That said, she did fantastic at the parent showcase and the competition. She nailed all her stunts at the showcase, but didn't look as polished. At competition, she looked very polished (they all did!), but missed one stunt. Jason commented on how even though she missed one, it didn't even phase her. She just kept her great smile on and kept going. The team took 3rd place for round one. That was the cheer round. They took 4th for round two, the dance/stunt round, so they didn't medal for that one. I thought they looked great in both and am very proud of their efforts. Go Steelers!

(Here's the video from competition. In round 1, she's the shortie on the middle towards the right. In round 2, she starts on the X in the middle and is the flyer on the far left.)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Time Out For Women

This last weekend I met my college roommates in Atlanta for Time Out For Women. We've been talking about getting together for a long time now. When Sarah got married, 11 1/2 years ago, Cathy, Synthea, and I went, but it wasn't the same since Sarah was getting married. We didn't have that quality time together like we did at BYU. Plus, I had brought 1 1/2 year old Victoria, and Synthea brought her 6 month old.

 This was a very memorable weekend! The last time I even went anywhere without kids (besides a one-night stay with Jason at a hotel here and there to celebrate our anniversary), was when my friend from high school, Jessica, got married. I left my girls (2 and 4) and went for a quick weekend on some red-eye flights. This was a needed "time out" for me!

My roommates and I were pretty close as freshmen and then lived in the same apartment for two years after that. We prayed together, read scriptures together, cooked and ate together, and even celebrated holidays together a little early so we could have our own Christmas and Easter before being with our families. We were family! We had some super fun birthday celebrations together as well. After getting together this weekend, I could see that we all have very similar views on many things, like politics, religion, and finances, which are big areas to have four people agree on! We spent some great moments creating more memories and reminiscing about the old ones. Sarah, who's from the Atlanta area, picked us all up and booked a hotel near the convention center where TOFW was. She packed snacks and lunch items to make, as well as her very good scrap book from our time at BYU. We laughed very hard at times looking at some of those pictures!

At Chick A Biddy for a Sounthern lunch.

Sarah and Cathy shared a room.

After Cahty and I got married, Synthea and Sarah shared a room for another year.

Synthea and I shared a room.

Some icing on the cake for the weekend that, I already knew would be great was, first of all, I had no idea how awesome TOFW is! I highly recommend it! Not only were there great speakers who uplifted and inspired me more than I thought possible, but there was fabulous music! I didn't pay much attention to the happenings at TOFW before I left. I knew it would be fun with my roommates and that was all I needed. A couple days before I left I decided to see what the program looked like. When I saw that David Archuleta was going to be there, I got even more excited! I don't think I ever voted for anyone on American Idol, but I believe I actually picked up the phone for him. He was so talented and had such a great spirit about him at such a young age. Then, he served a mission and I was just so impressed! I own one of his CDs and have some CDs with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir that include him singing with them as well. I wanted my kids to enjoy his music and learn about this talented musician who put his career on hold to serve the Lord. It has worked! My kids all say he's one of their top favorites. I didn't tell them he was going to be there, so when I returned to tell them he was and that I had gotten his autograph, they all screamed, even Austin! And yes, I was a little star struck myself while we were there. We sat in the fourth row to get better shots of him, though that was still hard because of the bright lights. Also, when I heard the first 200 people to buy his CD would get a ticket to get it signed, I quickly picked up a CD and the DVD about his mission. Since I bought two things, I got 2 tickets! Synthea and Sarah got to stand in line with us to the end, but Cathy got the other ticket, so Synthea snuck some shots of us as we got his autograph, since we weren't allowed to take any pictures with him.

The best on stage pic I got.

That's me getting his autograph  and acting very star struck!
I'm sure all these moms were amusing to him, the way we were bubbling about.

David sang beautifully and surprised us with some good insights and uplifting words and experiences. His speaking wasn't quite as polished as his singing, but really, when you sing like that, how can it be?!

More exciting people to meet included Michael McLean, a very talented composer, musician, and speaker. I grew up on his Mormon music and videos (Together Forever and Mr. Kruger's Christmas). You're Not Alone and The Forgotten Carols  are some of my absolute favorite uplifting songs! Since he's not a "rock star" as he called David Archuleta, we were able to just go line up to meet him. It was was a long line, but we still waited and got a picture with him. He made a joke about us posting it on FB as being his Mormon wives. He shared his amazing story about his 9 year struggle with his faith. Look it up and read it, it will strengthen your testimony!
Michael McLean 

 Mary Cook, Emily Watts, Lisa Valentine Clark and a local Atlanta sister shared wonderful messages about overcoming their unique challenges and how they strive to live better and "Arise", which was the theme for the whole event, in their eloquent and hilarious descriptions. I learned about Timothy Ballard, who was there, and is an extremely talented man who is currently rescuing children from trafficking. His story was heart wrenching, as was Alyssa Parker's, who had lost her daughter in the Sandy Hook shooting. Her daughter was an angel before she was even taken from her family! Alyssa's words were so uplifting and comforting. She's an inspiration to all!


Two more favorites of mine before the event were Brad Wilcox and Hilary Weeks. David was the musician on Friday night and Hilary on Saturday. I own some of her CDs as well and "knew" her from my high school days. She has had some #1 hits in the religious music genre and is so beautiful and talented. We got to meet her and take a picture with her also.


Hilary Weeks















Brad Wilcox is like my friend. I first saw him speak to my ward when I was about 14 at probably my first Youth Conference. He was so funny and entertaining then and still is! He is such a great speaker! He can have you laughing so hard one moment, and the next you can feel the Spirit so strongly that you're in tears. He is an educator and worked many years with the McKay school of education at BYU, so I saw him in many class settings and own a children's book written by him. Of course we had to shake his hand and I guess we didn't take a picture with him, looking back on it (boo). We told him we had all met up from different states to attend the TOFW event and he was so impressed that the next morning in his opening welcome remarks he announced how great it was that four college roommates met up from Georgia, Virginia, Michigan, and Virginia to be there. We felt like movie stars after that!

Last, but not least, as I walked in from the restroom during the first break on Saturday, I came in a different way and I heard someone call my name. I turned around and saw my mom's brother Craig and his wife Jill at the Southern Virginia University booth! I knew the booth was there, but didn't think they would be the ones manning it! It was such a sweet surprise! I had to keep walking over to chat with them every chance I got, after I realized they were there.

Craig and Jill!!

Final group pic











Under a magnolia tree


I can't get over what a great weekend I had. I'm still on a high from it! I guess I need to do that more often!

(Here's two short clips of David Archleta singing. My battery was running low :(