Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Longwood Gardens

If you have a love for flowers, french grandeur, and just want to relax and pretend you are in a different country... clear your schedule for the day, put on your tennis shoes, and take a drive to Longwood Gardens. This place is breathtaking! It has 1077 acres of unparalleled beauty. I couldn't believe the array of flowers that were planted throughout this enormous garden. We pretty much spent the whole day here!

We took notice of all the natural beauty that we were surrounded with, and we took our time viewing every attraction. The grounds are well maintained. It's amazing how Pennsylvania has such great soil and the perfect climate for tulips, bulbs, daffodils and all kinds of flowers to flourish without a flaw.
We went through a topiary garden that consisted of evergreen yews which are meticulously clipped into whimsical shapes. Since I LOVE anything with birds...I had to get a picture with it.

This Scottie dog yew reminds me of little Noah!

There were also birdhouse tree houses that looked like an actual tree house! These tree houses seemed big enough to live inside. It would be so nice if we had one of these in our backyard! The kids can play in this all day long.

Sierra running up the stairs
all the girls looking down below
 There is a chimes tower with a beautiful waterfall nearby. The sound of the water falling was so relaxing. It was a pretty warm day and we were tempted to jump in, but we didn't. 



On the steps that lead up to the chimes tower

Three times a day the bells chime to let us know that it's time for the main fountain show. It was pretty cool. Not as cool as the fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, but it was fun for the kids to see.    
fountain show

They also have a conservatory which housed many different flowers. My husband and I took so many photos. I wish I could put them all on this blog post, but there are just too many. I've added a few of my favorite flowers...





Hydrangeas..my favorite flower
Jon found this cool Bonsai tree
and I found this cool banana tree
Chelsea endured the endless walking and was such a good sport

I can't believe we walked every acre of this garden and it only took us about five hours to do it. This has now become on of our favorite attractions in Pennsylvania, and it is a place for us to go to relax and learn about horticulture, garden design, and art.

*Ever been to Longwood Gardens?
*Did you know that it can take years for the topiaries to develop in their desired forms? (poor bird!)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Margate Beach


While living in North Carolina my girlfriend Maggie sent me a postcard that had a picture of Lucy the Elephant. When we moved to New Jersey three years ago I stumbled upon my box of postcards and found Lucy. Margate is only an hour away from where we live and I told Jon that we just had to visit her. This is our third time visiting Lucy since moving here and she still stands strong. She was under renovation for awhile. I would say she needed a little makeover being 130 years old! She's the world's largest elephant and the only one you can enter inside. At first we thought it was a hotel for beach guests but it only serves as a summer home, tavern, hotel and tourist attraction. Lucy has staircases in her legs that lead to rooms inside which looked really cool!
Lucy looms  65 feet over the Margate beach (no we didn't count the steps we read it in the brochure.)

After visiting Lucy we all played at the beach for a while. It was a gorgeous day, but still too cold to get in the water. We LOVE the shore and are so fortunate to live so close to it. It sure beats driving three hours when we used to live in North Carolina! A one hour drive here in Jersey is fine with me!



For some reason Noah does not like the sand dry... or wet! Every time we put him down he'd start to cry. He'd take a few steps and then raise his hands so we can pick him up. I felt so bad, and although Jon would tell me not to pick him up right away, I couldn't help it. I give in too easily... so Lexie and I held him most of the time. When the girls were his age they loved the water. I'm sure this is just a phase and that he'll eventually get used to the water, and sand!
                                                                                 


 ^^^ Atlantic City skyline in the background. ^^^

 I am loving the fact that Jon has this whole week off, and that we are spending time as a family during the girl's spring break. The weather has been perfect and I hope it'll stay that way for the remainder of the week. We have much to be grateful for, and for the fact that we were able to have spent the day in one of God's beautiful creations. 

*Have you ever seen Lucy the Elephant?
*Do you have a child who is afraid to stand on wet sand?

Monday, April 25, 2011

At The End of the Day... on Easter

"In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured."
~Gordon B. Hinckley

We spent Easter Sunday with just us...our family of six. (Jon is obviously taking the picture.)

And. We. Had. Fun!

While dinner was cooking in the oven we decided to have a little Easter egg hunt in our little back yard. Sierra was hiding the plastic eggs for the little ones, and while doing so I secretly grabbed the cascarones Chelsea and Noah helped make to crack one on her head...



She almost got away. It seems that the older our kids get, the more crazy-fun they become. They all just secretly tried cracking cascarones on each others heads.





Noah didn't seem too interested in the hunt for eggs. He was too busy laughing at his sisters who were running around like wild chickens; cracking these cascarones on each other's heads. I went ahead and gave him one to see if he knew what to do with it... and he did! He didn't have the strength to fully crack it on my head, and so I helped him crack it on his sister's head.


As we heard the thunder approaching and felt drops of rain on our skin, we decided to go inside and take a look at what was put inside their plastic eggs.

I started this tradition called "The Story of Jesus Christ" which I found in the Friend magazine almost five years ago. Instead of filling the eggs with candy I fill them with pieces of paper that tell the Story of Christ. It has been another fun tradition we have had ever since I discovered it. The pieces of paper are numbered and so the girls put it in order to tell the story. Since doing it for five years it never becomes repetitious, and it is a reminder to us of the Lord's sacrifice. I LOVE the look on the girls faces as they read the story. They never get disappointed if there is no candy inside. (o.k... so I put a few pieces of chocolate inside some of the eggs...just in case!) 






We are a family that likes to have crazy-fun. We are a family that likes to make cascarones every year to crack on each others heads. But at the end of the day we realize, and don't forget what is important in our lives on Easter Sunday, and our purpose of being here; and that is trying to live a life as our Savior.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blessed Easter


Although we had a nice weekend filled with fun family time, and temple worship...today we focus on the Savior and the sacrifice He made for us.

Because of Him I was able to capture these beautiful photos of my children He helped create.


Let us always remember the Savior's atonement and sacrifice he made for us to be able to live on this beautiful world he calls earth. 
He did His Father's will.
~ Mark 14:36 

He Lives.

Wishing everyone a happy and blessed Easter!

Watch a special Easter Message here.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Temple Day on Good Friday

"I know your lives are busy. I know that you have much to do. But I make you a promise that if you go to the house of the Lord, you will be blessed; life will be better for you."~Gordon B. Hinckley

What a blessing it was to be able to attend the temple before Easter on Good Friday. It had been a while since we've been to the temple. It's not as easy to go as when we lived in Utah. When I received my endowment back in 2003, Jon and I made it a priority to attend the temple once a week...and we did.  For three years before moving to North Carolina we went every single week! I was so spoiled in all the blessings I was receiving and became hooked on serving in the temple that I began to go twice a week! Once with my husband, and then I would go with a couple of my girlfriends. It was great and so convenient to live ten minutes from the Salt Lake Temple. I sure do miss those days of attending biweekly. I realized since moving to North Carolina back in 2006 that we would have to plan and make it an even bigger priority because the temple there was 75 minutes away from where we lived. I attempted to go once a month with sisters from my church. Now that we live in New Jersey, it's been a bit harder because my husband works more and it's not easy going during the school year when you have a two and a half hour commute. Still, we make an effort to attend as much as we can. We have two temples close by, one in Manhattan and one in Washington D.C. We love them both, but attend the one in D.C. more.

The temple has truly brought so much joy into my life. It rejuvenates my spirit, and it is a place where I can receive revelation for myself as well as bringing peace to my soul. It is a motivator for me to be a better person not only in the Lord's eyes, but in my children's and husbands as well. Sometimes I never want to leave. I want to bring my children in and dwell inside forever. Away from "the world". The temple isn't something I was raised with or taught about...so I really appreciate it and never take it for granted. I see a difference in my attitude when I haven't been for awhile. There are many reasons why one attends the temple. Mine is to be strengthened and to keep my family and marriage going strong.

The temple is also a sanctuary of service...where I know I am serving those who have passed on. I remember our first temple trip to D.C. back in 2007 when the girls were younger. I can't believe how fast time flies, and before you know it you have a teenager who is doing baptisms for the dead.
Washington D.C. Temple-2007

Washington D.C. Temple-2011

All my girls LOVE it when we attend the temple. They each have a goal of entering it one day to receive the full blessings it has to offer. It truly defines us as a family; for our goal is to be an eternal one and return back to our Heavenly Father's presence. How grateful I am to have a temple close by...no matter the distance. 

*How far do you have to travel to get to an LDS temple?
*Are you curious as to what temples are all about? 
*If so, click here.

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