A be-lated Birthday note, and a Testimony

I just had to share this letter with the world. I love the brightness in color, and that it's handwritten, the beautiful words, and the person who wrote it. One of my favorite sister missionaries who served in our ward for a short time sent this to me a few days after my 40th birthday. I was lucky enough to have had her and her companion over for Thanksgiving dinner last year. Sister Moeai is someone whom you once immediately fall in love with her, and her personality. We are like sisters. We probably even look like we can be related. She is from Hawaii. Every single person that I have met from Hawaii becomes a friend for life. I thank my Heavenly Father for putting her in our path, and for continuing to have missionaries serve in our ward.
The kiddos, Sister Moeai, and me~Thanksgiving 2010
I am grateful for the testimony that I have for missionary work and the restored gospel. We as members are responsible in helping the missionaries share the gospel with our fellow man. They are here for a purpose...a divine purpose that can fulfill the life of any family or individual soul. They certainly fulfilled my life nineteen years ago when I converted to a life of Christ. They hold the truth in the palm of their hand (or backpack) to share with the world, and it's called The Book of Mormon. I love that book. I know that it is a true testament of our Father in Heaven. I know that it testifies of Christ. I know that because of prayer, and after reading it in its entirety...I believe that it is true. It has blessed my life in so many ways. I know that the Book of Mormon was restored by Joseph Smith who is a prophet of God. I know that the Bible is the word of God as long as it is translated correctly. I am grateful to have a firm testimony of the gospel and the truth that it holds. I know that we have a living prophet today who guides and leads us into trying to live a path like Jesus Christ, and to avoid destruction that life brings today. I look forward to hearing President Thomas S. Monson, and his counselors at General Conference this weekend. Conference is coming at the right time for me, and so did this letter from a wonderful sister and friend. 

If any of you are interested in a Book of Mormon, e-mail me, or contact the LDS missionaries in your area to request one. The best part is that it's given to you FREE without any obligation. I did it, and it truly changed my life for the better.

Keep Your Standards High

Libby, Sierra, & Amber. Thanks for coming to see us on Standards night!
Every year the youth of our church coordinate an evening called Standards Night. This entails speaking from the pamphlet titled For the Strength of Youth about how to keep morally clean, and how the youth today can fulfill these duties if they strive hard to live a life of purity. This past week all of our young men and women put together skits, and prepared talks of how the youth today should strive to live high standards, and keep morally clean.

In this video Boyd K. Packer is counseling the youth on how they can find happiness through family, thrift, education, purity, good friends, and faith in Jesus Christ.

Amen to his counsel!

This program is something that I wasn't raised with. There are times when I wish I was raised with it, and times that I'm glad I didn't. It makes me extremely grateful to have experienced all the rebellion, and to know of the things to teach my teenager, and her siblings all about how to keep morally clean while at the same time having a strong love for the gospel, and having clean fun. All of these standards are true, and I just wanted to share some of my thoughts and give counsel to my children as well as all the youth who are reading this as to why it's so important to live a life with high standards:

Agency and Accountability:
Although you have your free agency...we hope and pray that you will continue to make the right choices that are pleasing not only to your parents, but to your Father in heaven as well. 

So often we forget to say thank you for even the smallest things. Sometimes its even hard to express it. It's so important to cultivate and live a life of gratitude. 

I know that every single youth out there, no matter who you are, have the potential to do something big in this life. Do your best in finishing high school and college. So many of us didn't have the opportunity. 

Family and Friends:
Always honor your parents, and no matter what, love your siblings. If you have the right attitude, and pure love of Christ, the family bonding will begin, and never end! Without judging anyone in your life, do your best to have friends who respect, and believe in your standards. Those who don't respect and believe in who you are...are not good friends.

Dress, appearance, music, dancing, and the MEDIA:
Whether its homecoming or prom, your dress should be fully modest! Just because all the other girls are wearing strapless dresses doesn't mean you have to also. The way kids dance today is so offensive and unnecessary. Keep yourself clean in the way you move your body. I love music too, but remember what you listen to can describe who you are. Movies today, and even prime time television is becoming immoral. Choose what you watch wisely, and that is conducive to the spirit. Just imagine Jesus knocking at your door...would you answer it immediately? Or would you wait to turn off the TV or take off the earplugs because of what was being played in your home was immoral? Something to think about.

Dating and Sexual Purity:
I sure did learn my lesson when I had a boyfriend at a very young age. Save yourself for the perfect mate. Don't date until you're at least 16, and go on group dates. I know it's hard with the way the world is today, and what it's teaching y'all. Just because everyone is doing the things that are low...stand tall and believe in your standards. Just because people are gay doesn't mean they are a bad person. Love the person, not the sin. Be strong, and endure to the end. Following these standards will truly keep you on the right path and help you become a happier person.

Just ask my daughter.
"Wait until marriage and play it safe. Yeah, wait until marriage and exercise faith. If you do this, then I for surely know, to the celestial kingdom you might surely go!"
~Jordan Jones (Purity rap song)

Click HERE to listen to the Purity rap song. (Sung by Sierra & Jordan) 
(Lyrics by Jordan Jones & filmed in the comforts of home.)

My Children's Bookshelf

Every week Chelsea brings home a new book to read from the school library. This week she brought home The Apple Pie Tree. Its a story about two sisters who have an apple tree in their backyard and witness robins building a nest, laying their eggs, and as their birds grow so do the apples on the apple tree. Such a sweet story with illuminating color illustrations and it even has an apple pie recipe inside. As soon as we read it I had to buy it. It is a storybook that will never age, and a perfect read for Autumn.

Chelsea just informed me that Fall is her favorite season and she wanted to choose a book that related to the season we are in. Excellent choice I'd say. Her reading skills are getting better. She absolutely loves books. She always gets excited when she finishes a short story on her own. She literally jumps up and down like a cheerleader. She loves to make her own little books and carry them around in her bag. She loves it when her teacher makes these little books allowing the kids to color inside them.
 Chelsea is such a bright girl, and looks forward to when she can read the big thick chapter books like her older sisters do. I enjoy this time as a mother when I can read with my two smallest children. They are growing up way too quickly, and I am taking advantage of every moment spent with them in reading to them. There is something so heavenly about reading aloud to your posterity. I don't ever want that to end...even when the time comes when I have grandchildren. Which will be a long time from now!!

"Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs is good for him."
~Maya Angelou

Forget not...

"Sisters, there is something inspiring and sublime of the little forget-me-not flower. I hope it will be a symbol of the little things that make your lives joyful and sweet. Please never forget that you must be patient and compassionate with yourselves, that some sacrifices are better than others, that you need not wait for a golden ticket to be happy. Please never forget that the "why" of the gospel of Jesus Christ will inspire and uplift you. And never forget that your Heavenly Father knows, loves, and cherishes you."
~President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

One of the best things about the internet is that if you miss an important event that pertains to the church you can instantly watch it the next day online in the comforts of your own home. That is what I had to do since the General Relief Society Broadcast was held on the same night as my 40th birthday. I was sad that I didn't get to sit with my sisters in the chapel to watch this glorious event, but I am extremely grateful for the time I took in viewing it over the weekend.

Every year I look forward to the broadcast. I know that as sisters in the gospel listening to the words of the General Relief Society Presidency uplifts our soul and helps us to want to be a better sister to others. Relief society is a vital part of the Kingdom of God and I am grateful to have a firm testimony of relief society and to have that be a major part of my life in the church. Julie B. Beck talked about how we can be a better sister of discipleship. "Although we all have different difficulties, we as sisters should unite together and strengthen each other. We should never wait to be a visiting teacher. We need to just do it!"

Sylvia H. Allred mentioned that if we lack charity that we should have the desire to have it and pray for it. I know that by reading the scriptures helps us to become more like Christ and that will also help us develop charity.

Barbara Thompson talked about how the temple is the source of the covenants and how our covenants sustain us in good times and through hard times. Temple blessings is a great goal for every LDS woman to have. I hope and pray that all my daughters continue to have the desire to enter the temple and to cleave unto the covenants they make. She also mentioned how her grandmother was a devout member, and did a lot of temple work in the House of the Lord. I hope that I leave enough evidence of spiritual experiences and doing temple work so that my posterity can one day share it with others.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf has a strong love for the sisterhood, and I always appreciate his loving words of wisdom. He always brings a unique, inspiring, and meaningful talk to all of us. He mentioned his favorite flower being the forget me not flower, and how each of the pedals have a significant meaning. There are five pedals on the flower, and these are the five crucial things he mentioned we should never forget:

Forget not to be patient with yourself
Forget not the difference between a good sacrifice and a foolish sacrifice
Forget not to be happy now
Forget not the "WHY" of the gospel
Forget not that the Lord loves you

With the daily mundane that goes on in our life, these five things can be easily forgotten. I am so grateful for the reminder. It will truly help me to increase my spirituality and to know that the gospel is the pathway to Jesus Christ. 

May we all never forget all of these talks ! I can watch them over and over again!

An Evening with Legacies

"Tennis has stuck with me after more than a decade; it's in your blood. You don't know how much you miss it until you don't play, its amazing and tennis is my life."
~Jimmy Connors (September 24, 2011) 

For my 40th birthday Jon surprised me with two tickets to the Champions shootout game, and took me to Philly to see two of my favorite tennis players that I followed back in the 90's play against each other. I have never sat in on a tennis match before (except for my daughter's), and it was definitely a night to remember. 

As you can see it wasn't a full house, but there were enough fans to make this evening memorable for these tennis legends as they all entered the court to cheer them on.

There were three matches. Andre Agassi and Jim Courier were the first ones to play against each other. It was so fun watching these two play. Andre showed off his power swings and Courier played with finesse. They both played well and Agassi ended up winning the match.

The second match was Pete Sampras (my fave) and Jimmy Connors  (my mother's fave!) This part was surreal. I couldn't believe I was actually watching Connors play. This is a man after my mother's heart, and as I watched him I had flashbacks of when I was a little girl watching him on T.V. I wish my mom could have witnessed this moment. I couldn't believe how well Connors played at his age. He is 59 years old and played so well with his huffing and puffing and all. After the first set was done Connors said, "Is it over yet?" Everyone chuckled. He was out of breath, but was a great sport. I could tell he still has a strong love for the game.
Can I just say how much I love the outfit Jimmy sported on this evening. I love his chartreuse green sweater vest (so preppy), and check out his vintage Nike's. At the end of the game the MC asked him where he found his vintage Nike's and Connors said in his closet. He's old school, and apparently he dug in his closet and grabbed his 20 year old racket and 20 year old Nike's. They are both in excellent shape (including him.) I think Connor's looks good at 59! He's always been a bit of a show man and he still has it!

Pete Sampras showed off his tricky flutters. He is so good with the racket and ended up winning against Connors, hence having Sampras and Agassi play against each other in the end. They both put on a big show. It was like this: Deuce, advantage Sampras, Deuce advantage Agassi. I mean they were really keeping the game going. Sampras hit a few aces, and hit the net a couple of times, but the ball went over. It was a great evening, and I really didn't want it to end. 
I wish I could afford to attend every game in person (including Wimbledon). I look forward to the U.S. Open next year and hope to attend with our oldest daughter. My mother will be here, and she just may have the opportunity to finally sit it on a tennis match...besides her granddaughter's.

I am 40

I was six months old in this photo. I wish I can say I had more baby pictures of me, but I don't. I wish I had more tangible photos of my youth, but unfortunately my mother wasn't a scrapbooker, and she only managed to save a few. I only have two pictures of me when I was in elementary school. 

Oh that hair! What happened to the cute wavy hair I was born with? It sure turned into a bushy do!
 I don't have any pictures of me in high school except a group photo of me when I was in Drill Team.
  To be honest, my mother never wanted to spend the money on school pictures. She said they were too expensive so these will have to suffice...

I'm definitely saving these for my posterity!

These pictures were taken when I was 22 years old. I moved to Salt Lake City after I joined the LDS church and as I walked inside American Express for my interview, the lady who was about to interview me told me that I should be modeling and not working for any company. She gave me the address to McCarty Agency and I immediately drove over there. I must have been confident because as soon as she handed me their business card I drove straight over, and boy were they pretty excited when I walked in there! They immediately chose a photographer for me, and put me to work. It was so much fun and I truly had the time of my life. I was so humbled that I had the opportunity to do some modeling in my lifetime. I didn't pursue modeling because I got married and had I felt I was too short. Face it, there was no America's Top Model 20 years ago, and even if there was I probably wouldn't have gone for it. I was humbled and grateful that I was able to have fun with it even if it was for a couple of years. I loved all the clothes I was able to keep, and it was surreal to see myself in a magazine for Bridgewater Commons which is a mall in North Jersey. It's so ironic that I live here now! It was an enjoyable part of my life and I'll never forget it.

Me today...
On my 40th birthday (my husband's the photographer)

I give thanks to my Heavenly Father who has given me 40 years to live, and for my family who makes life worth living.

Happy Autumn

"Delicious Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns!"
~George Eliot
Today is officially autumn and I am loving the rain that is coming down at the moment. The leaves are beginning to transition into the colors of autumn. My heart is filled with so much gratitude today. I feel so blessed to have great kids who are enjoying school and are not complaining about homework...yet. My mailbox is getting filled with good mail. I've been talking to my mom over the phone almost every day and she is counting the days until she comes up. She is willing to come to church with us to see what we are all about! Can you say missionary moment?? It'll be exciting for her to finally make it to the east coast and see all the sites this part of the country has to offer. Not to mention that she is coming up at the right time of the year...FALL, MY FAVORITE!! 

September birthdays are the best! I have many friends who have birthdays this month and if you are reading this I want to wish you all a fabulous birthday! I am looking forward to mine tomorrow! 

The BIG 40!

Jon is off on my special day, and we have plans to watch tennis legends Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jimmy Connors, and Jim Courier play at the Champions shootout match in Philly. I've never had the opportunity to watch any of them play live, and tomorrow I'm going to have my moment! Looking forward to a fantastic weekend! 

Hope y'all do the same! 


Signs that Define Us

In my home I have many signs that consist of subway art which is considered everyday inspiration for me and my family.

Every September in our church we have what you call a 'Super Saturday' and all the sisters get together to do arts & crafts. This was my third year attending and I really enjoyed it. I always look forward to making something inspirational and meaningful that we can display in our home, or give to family and friends as a gift. I hope and feel that all of these signs define us!

 I especially love this one that I made the first year I moved to New Jersey...
President Gordon B. Hinckley was the one and only prophet for me. For 15 years he was the prophet that I looked up to, who made me laugh, and was an amazing example to me. He endured to the end and that is how I want to be. (I do love President Thomas S. Monson too!)

One of my dear friends from church made this sign for me last year for my birthday...
She said to me that this exhibits my personality and that I should have a sign in my home so others can see that we should all 'Scatter Kindness'.

When I was living in Salt Lake City I saw this sign at my in laws house and wanted to get one. I think everyone should have a sign like this in their home. It is a reminder to me that no matter what, living a simple life makes me feel less stressed when I focus on the priorities in our life.

This is my favorite little sign of all:
I bought this a few years ago at The Art Garden which is one of my favorite stores in Salt Lake City. I love it because we just became sealed as an eternal family, and I bought this as gift for myself. This truly defines my family because my kids hardly cause me any stress. They, including my better half all put my heart at ease. I always look forward to them coming home from a long day at work and school.
^^^ they all had a very mess hair day ^^^
I feel so fortunate to have them as a forever family! 

20 years of True Friendship

"My friends remind me, by their very steadfastness, that truth, beauty, and goodness exist in the world, and that no matter what, there are and always will be people loving people through thick and thin."
"My friends remind me, by their very steadfastness, that truth, beauty, and goodness exist in the world, and that no matter what, there are and always will be people loving people through thick and thin."

This is one of my best friends that lives in New Jersey, and she has been there for me since the day I moved here. She and I joined the church two months apart back in the summer of 1992 in Texas. The same LDS sister missionaries taught us the gospel. We both have our September birthdays a day apart and we both are very much alike when it comes to serving each other in friendships.

Today was one of my best afternoons ever spent. It makes me very grateful to have known someone before I moved to New Jersey. We are in different wards, but always make the time to see each other...especially on our birthdays. This year we are both celebrating the 'BIG 40' over the weekend so she made today very special for me. I honestly think that she made this day more special for me than I did for her.

We got caught up on the lives of our children, and reminisced about our days in Texas and how far along we have both grown in the gospel. We are both first generation members and have a strong passion in sharing the gospel. We both express our love and compassion to others in different ways. I love Maggie because she is honest, strong willed, and real. I have known this lovely woman for 20 years, and fellowshipped her as she was investigating the church. I joined two months before she did.
I feel that it is so important in keeping in contact with friends no matter how far the distance. Some of us too often forget the friendships we make once they move away, and lose touch. I knew Maggie for a whole year before we went our separate ways in 1993, and we still managed to keep in touch. Just one year! She married before I did, and moved to New Jersey. I moved to Salt Lake and married a year after living there. We continued corresponding for 16 years! I count my blessings that we never lost touch. Facebook wasn't around in the '90's so I am extremely grateful that we both had a love for handwritten letters (still do), and that is what kept our friendship active.

Just a note:

I thank you Maggie for 19 years of laughter and for the times you have been there, and still are for me. I thank you for your example in continued strength as we both know how life in New Jersey can be. Thank you for being who you are, and for staying strong in the gospel no matter how hard life seems to get. Life is so much easier when true friendships come from the heart, and act from it. I thank our Heavenly Father each day for putting you in my path once again.  I know that we are here for each other for reasons that are beyond our comprehension. Keep confident and don't ever change, and I promise I will do the same!

Thank you for making today very special for us! 
You uplift my soul!
Happy Early 40th!!

I Am Grateful

"What matters in life 
is to be grateful 
for what you've got"
I am having a better week than I did last week. My mother seems to be doing better also. She has made a great mormon friend in Texas who has been helping her get things situated before her big move up here. They pretty much met over the phone. I looked up my old ward in Texas and luckily this family's phone number was still active and still living in Corpus Christi. I am so grateful for the gospel that brings those who are willing to serve 'the spirit of charity'. My mother isn't a member and Sister Grande knew that. The members in Texas are awesome! I know my mom is in good hands for the next two weeks until she comes up here, and I am extremely grateful for that!

I am so grateful that the Lord has blessed me with such confidence that I can explore the outdoors with my better half, and sweet son and take in all the nature of Autumn without feeling guilty because of the passing of my mother's better half.  I am so grateful to have a wonderful husband who spoils me and will do anything to make me feel better. I am grateful to have the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life which gives me the strength to overcome any adversity. I am grateful to have loving children who don't cause me stress, and a great husband who uplifts me in the most natural way. I am grateful that I don't have to take any happy pills to make me feel happy. I am grateful for the friends I have made in New Jersey for the past three years. I am grateful for those friends I have known since grade school who think of me often via Facebook. I am especially grateful for church members who have the pure love of Christ, and are willing to fellowship those without any obligation. Especially if they are non-members (like my mother.) I am grateful for my family, and for the life that I'm living.

But for today...
I am grateful that the Lord gave me another day to live. 
I am grateful that my husband has the day off,
for the drizzle that came down earlier this morning.
So far this day has been perfect. 
Perfect to go for a walk in the woods. birthday week is looking good!

I love, love this time of the season.

On Taking a Loved one In

"We may not have it all together, but together we can have it all."
~Author Unknown
Today is my birthday week and to be honest...I've been a little bit overwhelmed. There have been too many things going on in my life since September 10. Don't get me wrong, I love my life and turning 40 this weekend is a pretty big deal. As a matter of fact it's a great big deal. The fact that my mother is coming to live with us is exciting, and I'm nervous. Nervous because I want to make my mothers living arrangements as comfortable for her as possible. I have a feeling she's not going to be too fond of the winters here, but we'll deal with that when Jersey turns into an icebox. We'll just have to buy her a coat.

The past two weeks have been pretty emotional for me. One with my stepfather passing away, hence my mother living with me, and then attending the groundbreaking ceremony for the Philadelphia temple. A sad event occurred one weekend, and was followed with a joyful one the week after. It surprises me that I still do the things I need to do in order to keep my life, and family in order.

I am trying to do my best in my calling as secretary, and I hope that my Relief Society President knows that.  I am trying to be a good neighbor in my community, and I hope that my neighbors can see that. I am trying not to neglect my friends messages, and I hope that they will understand if I don't respond right away. I am trying to be a good wife and mother, and I hope that my husband and children can understand why they have to sometimes make their own meals. I'm not lazy. It's just that sometimes my husband comes home at 9:30, and because my oldest comes home at 5:00 everyday, I haven't felt like cooking huge meals. I know that my kids are grateful for what we have to eat at home. I'm sure once my mom arrives that'll all change, and great dinners will be served. We enjoy having dinner together as a family, and that is something that is important in our home.

I consider myself a generous, kind, and loving person. My heart is filled with compassion and service. The talk given at church yesterday was on service, and how we should be prepared on giving it. Listening to Brother Bergin's talk gave me more confidence that things will be okay. I felt that my prayer was answered. I feel more prepared now in taking my mother in than I was two years ago. My step father wasn't doing well then and she had mentioned wanting to live with us. It broke my heart to tell  her I couldn't do it. I was pregnant with Noah and times were tight. She offered to pay us rent, but I didn't want to take her money. Luckily Joe pulled through then, and he gave my mother another year of his life to spend with him.

I do feel more prepared now to take my mother in than I did two years ago. I'm not going to put any of my loved ones out on the streets no matter how hard their situation is. We are family, and isn't' that what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about? Helping and serving others without feeling the need to be compensated? Some of us give tough love...I don't. You can have tough love, but make sure it comes with tact.

I don't expect anything from my mother. I know she'll help out the kids with the necessities they need and that will be so helpful, and a huge blessing! Especially when you have three girls. They all love playing piano and only one plays the violin & piano. They all want to continue with their lessons. Sometimes my husband and I have made sacrifices in order for that to happen. I know that they will all go further in their musical talent. Luckily I have a great mother-in-law who helps pay for one of their lessons.

Overall, I feel very blessed to feel so much love for my mother, and for others. I'm grateful that compassion, and unconditional love is not my weakness. Sometimes we forget what life is all about and get too caught up with the mundane. We may not have all the fancy things this world has to offer, but what's most important is family, and that is something that I want to take with me to the eternities.

A Temple in the City of Brotherly Love

 "No building is more sacred than a dedicated temple of God; only in them can the precious bonds of family- immortality be extended for all eternity."
~President Henry B. Eyring (September 17, 2011) 
I remember as if it was yesterday when my family and I heard back in October of 2008 that a temple in Philadelphia would be built. We had just moved to New Jersey two months prior to the announcement. I was excited and shocked. Shocked because I never thought Philadelphia would have a temple this soon. Shocked because we had just moved here and mentioned how much I missed being ten minutes away from the temples. In the year 2013...all that will change. 

Yesterday my family and I witnessed the groundbreaking ceremony of the Philadelphia Temple via satellite from our stake center. It was my first groundbreaking ceremony to witness and my husband's second. My kiddos were all excited especially my eldest daughter to have witnessed this wonderful moment. As we were watching the groundbreaking ceremony my husband mentioned having flashbacks of when he attended the Jordan River ceremony in Utah... he was nine years old. 
It was so wonderful to see the Mayor, our Stake Presidency, Elder Jay E. Jensen from the Quorum of the Seventy take part of the ceremony, and to hear President Henry B. Eyring give the dedicatory prayer. It was a joyful moment in Philadelphia history in which a lot of the members have been waiting for.  It'll be so nice to drive 20 minutes to the Philadelphia temple. Still...I don't think we'll stop attending the D.C. temple, Boston, or any other surrounding temples on the east coast. We love them too much, and we can't just attend one. 
The Philadelphia temple will accommodate a total of eight stakes surrounding the Pennsylvania, South Jersey, Delaware, and parts of Maryland areas. I'm sure most of the members won't miss the two and a half hour drive (or more) to attend the D.C. temple! This is truly a gift from God and a blessing for us all.
It is inside this building that I can be able to escape from the things of the world, and the hustle and bustle that occurs in my daily life. Inside this building, I will not feel rushed. Inside this building I will see peaceful and friendly faces. It'll be inside this temple where I will be able to feel the spirit of my Heavenly Father and thank Him for all the things that He has blessed me with. It'll be inside this building where I can pray for my family, my neighbors, my friends, and anyone that I know who is need of a prayer. Inside this temple I'll be reminded of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us in order for us to learn and grow spiritually here on this earth; and it is because of the temple that I know that as long as my family and I remain worthy and strive to live a Christ like family and I will be together forever and ever. 

It truly was a magical moment for our family, and this day will be etched in our minds forever. 

**Click HERE to learn more about temples.

Letting go of Summer

 I LOVE the owner of these little flip flops. Every time I open the closet in my bedroom he points up to the shoe holder and knows what he wants me to get. He says to me, "Shoos". He'll even wear them in the house wearing his white onesie (or just a diaper). He is too cute and I wish he wouldn't outgrow these ever! I know once summer is over these flip flops will no longer occupy his feet. They'll be passed over to someone else (maybe his future posterity.) It'll be nice to reflect back on this picture looking at those small piggy toes, and his little curved hand. 

Autumn is definitely peeking in with a cooler change in the weather with dry heat. I felt a few sprinkles of rain earlier. I'm also going to miss having these sheer curtains hanging up in my living room. I change them in the spring and in the fall. I'll miss the days when there's a breeze blowing through the window which allows the curtains to flow. I sometimes pretend I live near the ocean when this happens. (Don't laugh.)

I obviously haven't taken down the pom pom decorations from the baby shower. I think they add color to our living room!
This photo was taken before the pom pom decorations were up...
Although we look forward to fall there are many things I'll miss about this summer. We have enjoyed turning the A/C off and having the windows open all day and night. We sure won't miss those high electric bills! We are taking advantage of the nice, cooler weather, going to the park, and having last minute cookout's. Mother Nature changes its course four times a year and my spirit is renewed with each season. I'm grateful for those moments because with each season comes change, and I'm always ready for change!

The thing I'll miss the most out of this summer are Noah's flip flops. They are his first and only pair he had all summer. 
 I can always put the curtains back up next spring, have cookout's, go to the beach, but those flip flops will no longer fit him.
 I know he'll always enjoy standing behind the curtains as the wind blows. He does that even when it doesn't. I don't think he'll outgrow that. He'll still be a little boy next year, and that is something I have to look forward to... I'll just have to buy him new flip flops.

*What things will you miss about this summer?

Unselfish Service

I count my blessings every single day for having such wonderful daughters. They have witnessed firsthand how exhausting dealing with a death from a distance can be. They have been making dinner for me for the past two nights. Who cares if it's spaghetti! That is the most comforting food ever made! Having my mom's wonderful companion pass away this past weekend, and not being able to do anything from afar has been tough, and at times I feel helpless. I try to lose myself in serving others, and not allow any kind of stress to creep into my soul. I am grateful to know that Joe's kids took care of his funeral arrangements and that I have contacts from the church to help my mother in dealing with his death (she's not a member...yet.). She was the one that wanted me to call the LDS missionaries or a sister in the church to pray with her and just be a friend. I told my mom that it's okay to be frightened. It's natural to be scared after you've buried two companions. It's comforting to know that my mom is not alone in dealing with grief, and that no matter where you live...The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is always there to serve in times of need.

I have to admit that this is the first death in which my heart aches. It's been at least 20 years since I actually really cried over anyone dying. I think it's harder because I'm even further away from my loved ones. That might change in a couple of weeks. It looks like my mother is willing to tough out the Nor'easters and everything that comes with living on the east coast to live with us. It'll be nice for the girls to have their abuela here. It'll also be nice to have another adult to talk to. So if I don't blog as much you'll know the reason why. I don't think I'll neglect blogging because I love to write (I definitely won't neglect my mom either!)

After all...this is all being written for my posterity.

P.S. Watching THIS VIDEO really brought tears to my eyes, and it really hits close to home. I hope y'all take the time to watch. XO

In memory of a Loved one

"A daughter needs a living, available, predictable father or father figure who can be counted on."
~Victoria Secunda

Twelve years ago my mom had finally met the man of her dreams...and mine. He was a man of faith, courage, and integrity. He never yelled, raised his fist, or verbally abused my mom. He truly was one of a kind. I could talk to him about anything, and no matter the distance...he was always there for us in times of need. He was the type of person that would take his shirt off his back for anyone! He was the father figure I never had. It's sad to say that this loving, caring, and most amazing man passed away right in front of my mother's eyes this past Saturday morning.

I loved Joe and so did my family. My daughters were crazy about him. He always made us laugh and was so full of energy. He treated my mother like a queen and gave her everything she desired. He and my husband got along so well. I think it's because they were both with women who had the same qualities, (I am my mother's daughter!) I wish we could have had one last chance to see him, but my mom told me he wasn't himself, and that I wouldn't recognize him if I had. He was frail, fragile, and lost so much weight due to his diabetes. He had a weak heart and it never got fixed. His heart just stopped as he took his last breath that morning...he was only 62.

We will always remember the good times we spent with Grandpa Joe. We hold memories that will last a lifetime, and we will always cherish them...especially our girls. 
^^ Grandpa Joe with Chelsea~ four months old ^^
^^ Crossroads mall in Salt Lake City~ 2000 ^^
 ^^ Dairy Queen was his favorite place to go for ice cream. He spoiled the girls with this. ^^
^^ Chelsea sharing her ice cream with her Grandpa Joe. ^^
 ^^ Corpus Christ, Texas~2002 ^^
^^ Sierra sure loved her grandpa Joe! ^^
One memory Sierra will always hold dear to her heart about her Grandpa Joe is the nickname he came up with for her...Cinderella. Sierra was into the princess phase at the age of five and he knew how much she loved being a princess. He always called her Cinderella up until the day he passed, and even though she's now 16... she will always miss that.
^^ The Alamo~San Antonio, Texas ^^
My daughters and I realized that we should never take our family for granted. Joe's death was a total shock for everyone, and we didn't think he would pass away this soon. We both waited too late to make arrangements for all of us to see each other again so that he could see the girls, and finally meet Noah. They were planning on coming to visit us in the Spring. You never know when you'll see your loved ones again. It's so important to keep in constant contact with the ones you love. We definitely learned the hard way, but we don't dwell on the "what if's" and the "if only's". 

 We know that he's in a better place, and that he's no longer suffering. It's still hard and sad though that he's gone. I know that we will have the opportunity to see him again, and hope that he will be a part of our eternal family. Although he wasn't a member of the church we have the chance to do his work in the temple. Death is devastating, but knowing that families have the chance to be together forever through the gospel of Jesus Christ, accepting it, and being us great hope that he will join our eternal family.

We'll miss you Joe...and try to keep an eye on us from above!