Friday, September 23, 2016

Philadelphia Temple Youth Cultural Celebration.

I took this photo eight years ago when we first moved to Jersey, and toured the city of Philadelphia. I figured it was a perfect start to this post. 

Last weekend after months of rehearsing for the temple cultural temple celebration 1700 youth from the Philadelphia temple district got to shine in front of a huge audience on camera at the Liacouras center. 

This was something that Lexie had been looking forward to doing, and although I was getting a little weary of all the commuting with going to different areas (thanks to the Kellums for taking her a couple of times) in Pennsylvania to rehearse I too was looking forward to this momentous event. After only happens once in a lifetime. Especially when you live in our neck of the woods. 

The theme "We the People" was absolutely perfect and it totally set the stage in tieing the birth of our nation to our church's history, hence having religious freedom, thanks to William Penn. People talk of the founding fathers, and in my opinion William Penn can also be called one of the founding fathers. Because of his efforts, he was able tot give us the freedoms that we now have, and he laid a lot of the groundwork when it came to religious freedom. 

Candy McNaughton who directed the production did an amazing job in putting it all together. My daughter totally felt the spirit with her, and is so grateful that she never missed one rehearsal, and that she was a part of something special. 

The whole evening was indeed a celebration. It was so nice to see the kids enjoying themselves with music while dancing. I myself was dancing in my seat when all the kids came out with their painted mural representing which area they were from. They were all truly unique. When the mailman dance came into play I could see the grin on Lexie's face as she raised the flag to the beat. Total ear to ear smile! I could tell she was having the time of her life. 

When President Erying made an appearance he told the youth that this will be one of the most memorable moments of their life, and that as they grow older will be something to talk about for years to come, and tell their future posterity. The fact that it fell on Constitution Day made it extra meaningful. 

The whole celebration was amazing, and having the presence of Henry B. Erying, and D. Todd Christofferson was extra special. These are amazing leaders that the youth look up to. They were not just extras sitting in an auditorium, but extra special because of their role in dedicating the Philadelphia temple the next day. How blessed we are to have apostles lead, and guide us in today's world. 
picture via 
The closing number to the celebration gave me goosebumps, and watching the youth putting the bricks one by one on a replica of the temple got me all teary eyed. It reminded me of my life, and how far I have come to having my family for eternity. My life has always been a puzzle, and when all the pieces came together when I joined the LDS church so did my life. Being sealed to my love, and children will be a day that will always be etched in my mind, and heart forever. 

Having a temple in Philadelphia will definitely bless the city, and if we choose to do so, can, and will change the hearts of the people from the surrounding areas in our temple district. Including our children. It is up to us to be the example, and share that special message of "families are forever", and the whole purpose leading up to this entire celebration. 
The temple is an enormous blessing for us all, and because of the history of Philadelphia feel as if this temple is meant to be in the city of brotherly love. The city now feels "complete" now that a temple is built. What an extra blessing it'll be for our youth since they are the generation in which they will be doing most of the work in the temple, and press forward in sharing His gospel.

As we all should! 

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Early Morning Seminary.

When we first met the seminary teacher of our church, and asked how many students attended early morning seminary class my jaw literally dropped! I was amazed when she mentioned that there were 20 kids attending. With Lexie that made 21. Lexie seemed a bit excited, and a bit unsure on how to take this news. She was so used  to a small group of kids back in our old congregation which was usually anywhere between six to eight kids. And now, there are 21 kids! 

A week before seminary began we had a fireside for the parents, and children for those taking seminary this year. I was really impressed with how well this fireside was put together, and how caring the seminary teacher is, and if you don't mind I'm going to boast about her for just a bit. 
Sister Dearden is one of the most kindest sisters I've ever met, and is going on her eighth year of teaching seminary to the youth, and doesn't in the least look burned out! She was so insightful with her words, and the way she expressed the love for the gospel was so sincere. She converted to the church when she was 18, and has such a deep appreciation for teaching the gospel, and getting to know the kids. All of her children are grown, and out of the house which makes her an empty nestor, but having these kids every day in her home for 45 minutes brings a smile to her face. Knowing that these kids are learning about Christ's teachings truly brightens her life, and it shows every time I see her. The bishop even mentioned how she definitely is a morning person, and I could see that she is every time we come to church. She's always jovial! 

Well, a week of seminary has passed, and so far Lexie is loving it. One thing she loves about the whole seminary set up in Sister Dearden's home is that she has chairs as their desk. It's totally set up like a class at church. She loves that set up because it prevents her from falling asleep. Her teacher before had a long table which was so easy for the kids to put their head down, and conk out! Not this set up! If they do fall asleep they will literally fall out of their chair.  

The remarks our Bishop gave that evening were one of the most inspiring remarks I've ever heard in a long time that I really needed to hear. I think we all did. His remarks were inspiring, and were focused on having a love, and commitment to The Lord in learning all about His life. His compassion that was expressed when he mentioned finding ways to get all the kids to seminary was super impressive! I saw a light in him that shined so bright because of how passionate he is to get all the kids to seminary. He really wants all the youth to attend, and emphasized how important, and beneficial attending seminary can be in their lives. He mentioned that although there will be a lot of school work, and extracurricular activities that will exhaust them, attending seminary will be something to help them deal with all they have to face in a world that teaches us what's not good!

Spencer W. Kimball said, "Of all treasures of knowledge, the most vital is the knowledge of God, his existence, powers, love, and promises."

I wholeheartedly agree, and because of seminary I get the chance to ask Lexie all about her morning, and somewhat learn with her. This year they all learning the New Testament, and believe me I have a lot to learn when it comes to that book. Because of converting at the age of 20 I didn't take seminary as a youth, and so every time one of my children takes seminary gives me the opportunity to study with them. How wonderful it is to hear your child speak so fondly of the Lord, and his gospel. Sure there are times where Lexie would like to sleep in she is extremely grateful to have seminary in her life because it does strengthen her, and helps make her days at school more tolerable, and fun. 

She loves her teacher, she loves the class, and the gospel, and I have a feeling that seminary this year will be exciting for her!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Back to School Vibes.

"Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eye, and a smile on your face, but with great and strong purpose in your heart. Love life, and look for its opportunities."
~Gordon B. Hinckley
We did it, or actually they did it! 

We made it through the first week back to school with much success, and even though there were a few tears (mine) I'm so proud of these kids! I have to admit that I had mixed emotions with them starting new schools here. I obviously have a lot to work to do when it comes to moving and again the fact that I was in a place for eight years got me so spoiled in being established with the teachers, neighbors, and all the staff from the post office in Blackwood. I mean, I'd walk into Mario's pizza, the local grocery stores, closest Marshalls, and T.J. Maxx, and everyone would call me by my first name. Here, no one really knows me yet. The fact that I live in a semi-rural area doesn't help either. I don't have many neighbors, and the closest wawa is 10 minutes away by car. Yes, we were so spoiled, but we are going to make the best of our time living here, and I'm going to put myself out there in volunteering at my kids schools. It seems that they rely a lot on us here for that. 

Other than Princeton School District, there is only one school district where we live, and the fact that there aren't any other schools that are combined into one high school, and middle school is very different for me. Down in the south you had like three middles schools going into one high school, and three elementary schools going into one middle school. I personally call it the "elite, mini ivy league of schools because of the way the curriculum is set up. Totally different dynamic here. Pressures seem greater, and the expectations a little higher compared to where we were before. For example, Lexie has freshmen kids taking AP Physics!! What the heck??? Apparently they started doing that last year, but still...who takes AP Physics as a freshman unless you want to graduate high school at 15! Anyway, I did get some comfort after going to the kids back to school night, and meeting all of the kids teachers. As a mom I ask a lot of questions, and want them to know that we are not from here! I mentioned that my girls are new to the school, and curriculum! They are really friendly, and I realized that the teachers here really do care about the kids, value their education, and want them to succeed and do well. 
Lexie admits being a little nervous attending her new school, but it doesn't surprise me that she is catching on and doing her very best to easily transition into a new school in her junior year with all the AP classes she's taking. It won't be easy, but I remind her that if she finds a balance in managing her time in between homework, tennis matches, practices, and any other extra curricular activities that her days will easily flow. They won't be perfect, but I know that by learning to balance a load with little sleep (thanks to homework, and attending early morning seminary) it can be done. She's a wonderful teen, and I really hope that she will achieve her goals for her junior year. 
When I heard that 4th grade was once a part of middle school in this area I was like what???? How is it possible that 4th grade is middle school! Well, today, fifth grade is part of Chelsea's middle school, and because Chelsea didn't take science in the school she came from had her all lost, and confused when they were reviewing Science. She felt a little inadequate when they started talking about atoms, and was grateful she was familiar with the periodic table of elements thanks to her older sisters having a huge copy of it, but luckily she's a quick learner, and is a very good listener when it comes to learning! I'm telling you, they really seem to push the kids here when it comes to their academics! Something I'm not used to coming from south jersey! Nonetheless she has one good friend who also goes to our church, and have one class together. That made Chelsea's whole year, and knows that because of that one friend she'll be fine! 
And here's Noah. Since school started he has been coming into our bed in the mornings to cuddle with me. This kid is going to be seven in two months, and still cuddles with me. Love it! I miss our half days together when we would go out on a quick errand, watch cartoons, or go for a walk before the bus picked him up at noon. Now that he's in school all day, that time is limited during the week. He comes home exhausted now. It has been an adjustment for him coming from a half day to full day. I know with time he will get into a routine. He loves the fact that there is an actual playground with a rock climbing wall, but isn't too pleased with all the food they give him during lunch. He didn't have lunch as a kindergartener so when I ask what they served him today he'll say, "mommy, they give me too much food that my tummy starts to hurt." He's certainly not one that is used to having a full lunch. He's satisfied with a bowl of oatmeal, or a ham sandwich. Other than that he has made some friends, and is learning to enjoy his new school. 

Really proud of these kids for doing a pretty good job in transitioning into a new grade in a new school making new friends. That's a lot to take in for some, but am so proud of them for their strong efforts in doing so!  

Here's hoping they have a wonderful year! 

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Few Photos & A Tiny Video From Our Summer.

Ahhh, what a summer! 

I have to say that this summer has been of our best summers yet. Although we had a busy one with relocating to a new town, and moving into a new home nothing beats the stresses of life by venturing out to the places we love! Sure there were unforgettable moments that helped us grow into becoming a better person because when you relocate as much as we have that's usually what happens to us as a family. We choose to see things in a different perspective, and as we look back at the places where we once used to live we'll sigh, and say, "we were there for a reason, and now we are here for one too." 
I'm so grateful for Jon who is the hardest worker I know! To know that he drives all day in the city delivering packages and making time to finally go to the beach with us is so awesome on his part. I have savored each and every piece of summer fun that we fit into our schedule this past year. Extending our love to our friends, and going places together was the icing of our summer. Although we love doing things as a family, it's nice to invite others who we love to join in on our fun! 

I'm extremely grateful for my kids. 
Their laughter, smiles, hugs, inside jokes, and every effort they make in behaving themselves helps brighten all the days of my life. But most of all their unconditional love they expressed to me in the midst of moving, even though I yelled a lot is what always keeps me going through this precious thing called motherhood. 

I love, love time spent with my family, and only wish Sierra could've joined in on the fun with us this summer, but luckily for me we text, sometimes talk while she's waiting for the train to go to school, and snapchat every now and then. 
It's the little things, and the small bits of summer fun that mean the most, and there is no one or no where else I'd rather spend it with than my family, friends at the beach! 

I hope you're summer was just as adventurous, and fun as ours was. 

With the cooler temperatures we've been having lately I think fall is on its way, and we are pretty much ready for you to arrive! 
See ya summer, and have a great weekend folks! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Our Day at the U.S. Open.

I remember my mom being glued to the television set every time the US open came on. Every year since I was six until my late teens she'd be watching it! She'd sit in and watch her favorites Jimmy Conners, John McEnroe, Billie Jean King, Chris Everett, Bjorn Borg all play. She got me hooked on watching tennis since I was like six! I wish I would have taken lessons as a child, but we couldn't afford it. And today I count my blessings for having a husband, and four kids who enjoying playing, and that they all have a passion to play. I'm so grateful that my mother's example in watching something on television that was uplifting, and fun stayed with me as I got older to the point where I was able to afford my own racket, and tennis balls! Yeah...I taught myself, and then married Jon, and he taught me more! Blessings for sure! 

This past weekend as an early birthday gift Jon took me to a place that I've been wanting to experience for a looooooong time. 

And he did. 
My dream of going to the US open finally came true. It was such a surreal moment for me to be sitting inside the Arthur Ashe stadium watching a live match where people play to win big!

The first time Jon took me to a tennis match was five years ago. I was so excited that I got to see my mom's favorite tennis player against mine! Connors, Courier, Sampras, and Agassi, although retired all played for charity. That will always be a date to remember! 

I couldn't believe we were there all day! This date started early in the morning, and lasted well into late in the evening, and man was it awesome! I don't think we mentioned our kids once except when I told Jon that we should definitely bring them next year so they can see a live match! And how great this would benefit Lexie since she is the most passionate about this sport! 
The grounds inside are absolutely beautiful. There's a huge jumbo tron in which you can sit in front of the fountains watching the game while doing a bit of shopping. There are quite a few stores where you can buy everything us open! And a number of food places where you can grab some grub, and believe me being there all day made me hungry, and so we bought some yummy food! 
  If Noah was here he would go crazy over this pretzel braid! 
 Like I said, we stayed waaaaay late until Stan Wawrinka won his last match agains Kei Nishikori which was close to 10pm so these pictures were obviously taken on our way out! I didn't take too many photos during the matches because hello, I wanted to enjoy the games! 
On our way out we saw my mom's favorite on the championship wall. 
And one of mine from my generation...
And the first one to win the us open who was an amazing example to all, and pretty much started it all! 
I absolutely had an amazing time, and didn't want to leave! I wanted them to keep on playing, and wish I had tickets to have seen the finals! Wawrinka ended up winning his last match agains Kei Nishikori. Kind of felt bad for Kei not winning. I could tell he was exhausted towards the end of the match, but Stan's playing wowed the heck out of me, and he really deserved to win. He also ended up winning the finals this past Sunday taking home 3.5 million dollars! As much as I enjoy Novak, Stan played a great game and deserved to win! 

We definitely look forward to coming next year as a family, and hope that one day we will make it to Wimbledon! 

Now that would be ideal! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Fellowshipping When It Comes To The Mormon Religion.

When the temple was first announced I made it a goal that when it was finally built to be open to the public that I would bring at least one soul to come and feel what I feel when I enter inside. And to get an idea of what temples are all about. 

And I did. 

Words cannot express how great it feels to share the love I have for the Lord, the temples, and His gospel. It is something that I have learned to do in a subtle, kind, tactful, and fearless way. I love the euphoric feeling I get after I've shared my conversion story, and testimony of the Savior, and the Book of Mormon. I have such a passion for sharing, and I'm so grateful that my lovely friend Cherie accepted my invitation in coming with me. She loved every part of the tour, the fact that families can be together forever. She loves the whole purpose of what temples are all about, and even though she had a few questions that were a tad bit hard for me to answer it's nice to know that I can turn to the scriptures to give her a more accurate one! 
A week before I brought Cherie I drove and picked up my dear friend, and her girls, and we all toured the temple together. It's so nice to also bring someone who has been a member less that six years, and no matter what trials they may face they know that the church is true, and that they had the desire to attend the open house in hopes to become a better person. This is my hope for me too! This is exactly why I love going to the temple! So that we can spiritually grow, and do better. 
I have learned that no matter what religion others may be, and what struggles someone may be going through which causes us not to attend church more often that love, communication, and reaching out in being a friend, having a genuine love, and understanding in what they're going through will help uplift them, and give them the extra strength they need to help keep them going. We all need friends like that in our lives who will help build us up in wanting to do more for ourselves so that we can be able to serve others. 
I love that Chelsea has such a strong love for the temple at such a young age, and she's not even 12 yet! Once she turns 12 she has already decided which temple she'd like to go to with her little recommend to do work in, and that is the Hartford Temple! How fortunate we are to be having another temple built in the east coast! 
Love, love that we have so many temples close to us, and when I read the numbers of how many people attended the open house for the Philly temple blew me away! Over 140,000! What a wonderful blessing for our area to see much fruit! It is my hope that we can all make the time to attend this temple now that some of us live less than an hour away! 

The Philadelphia temple is now closed to the public, but if you are willing to drive a few hours to attend the open house for the temple in Connecticut it begins on September 22nd through October 30th. I implore you to please make the time to go! We've already had a glimpse of it from the corner grounds, and look forward to touring inside it! 

Monday, September 12, 2016

A New Team, & On Winning Her First Tennis Match.

I love this time of year when the weather starts cooling down where I can sit and watch my girl play tennis. When I went to Lexie's first official tennis match last week I noticed her rocking her school colors. They just got their tennis uniforms and I think red and black suits her. If you notice her tennis shoes they are the same as her school colors. I bought them back in April and little did we know we'd be moving to a school with those same exact colors! When I noticed that I said to Lexie, "this school is meant to be!"

I missed the first part of her game due to Noah's bus coming home so late. The first week of school tends to be a little chaotic with buses arriving, and dropping off late. Her match began at 4:30, and because we had to drive 15 minutes to her location arrived close to 5pm causing us to miss the first part of her game. Luckily I caught a glimpse of her backhand, and she and her new partner killed it! Score was 6-2.
Abi is her new tennis partner, and in some cool way reminds me of her tennis partner back at highland. I've met most of the girls on the team and these group of girls for the most part are polite, and sweet. It makes me feel good seeing that Lexie has meshed in real well with the team. Here, in this part of Jersey kids and coaches take tennis seriously. Tennis is a lifestyle, and not just a sport, and that's what Lexie likes about it. There are girls on the team who have been taking lessons since they were six, and play really well. Lexie has a genuine love for the game, and tries her best to practice so she can play her best. Her coaches are really kind, and easy to talk to and I can see that they work really well with these girls. 

Lexie's goal is to become good enough to play in college, and I know she can do it. If she practices hard enough she can do it! 

I'm happy that she feels confident, and comfortable on her new tennis team, and that she has fun playing the game! And from what I have been seeing during her practices throughout the summer, and her first game she  already is!
I think it also helps knowing that she has a cute little brother who likes to photobomb pictures! The girls think he is the cutest thing alive! 

Have a great season Lexie!