Monday, September 30, 2013

a fulfilled moment.

So many thoughts popped into my head as I was listening to the talks from the General Relief Society Presidency this past Saturday. Each and every sister said something so significant that in one sense or another resonated with me. Attending this broadcast is a rejuvenator for me, and most of the time these talks hit close to home. I often see it in the lives of my fellow sisters as well, and I pray that we all benefited from the words of the Presidency this past weekend. 

As a sister in the gospel life shouldn't be hard. It should be pretty easy, but unfortunately we live in this mortal world where life sometimes doesn't make sense. We often wonder why bad things happen to good people...especially those who strive to live worthily. Knowing that we have the gospel of Jesus Christ to uplift us gives us a better understanding as to why we feel this way, and the confidence to know that we can do better. 

On this evening I truly felt the love by my fellow sisters. Sisters from surrounding wards in the south Jersey area all showed up and we had a lovely dinner before the broadcast. Inviting my friend Maryann who is not a member of the church brought such great joy that evening and it was nice to see others fellowship her. It's so nice to come to a gathering where we see old friends, and meet new ones. What a blessing it is to have that in our lives. 

This was Sierra's first time attending a General Relief society broadcast with me, and it was surreal. I can't believe that this little girl of mine is now a grown, beautiful young woman, and is beginning to feel the effects of what the Relief Society can do for us. She realizes the importance of this worldwide sisterhood, and doesn't "freak out" anymore when I tear up during a talk or bear testimony. It is so nice to have my daughter finally understand why Relief Society is so important to have in our lives, and how she in return will have so much to offer to her fellow sisters at her singles ward. 

Attending this broadcast is a fulfilling moment for me as a mother, and I certainly hope that I never forget the words of these great ladies, and our beloved prophet Thomas S. Monson. He inspires me in ways that are profound, and like the Savior he has a deep love for all of us. 

One of my favorite talks was by Linda S. Reeves. She was so heartfelt, and sincere in telling us how important the Savior is in our life. She told us a story about a young woman who had been baptized, and how she gave up her old life, broke her drug addiction, and quit her Sunday job. That doesn't surprise me when one joins the church, and is baptized. Those are the miracles of each individual that decided to change their life in having a new life with the help of the Savior. 

During this talk (and what a great talk it was) I was reminded of my my own conversion, and how at the age of 20 made a choice to leave a life that was filled with unhappiness. I gave my heart to committing a life of Christ, and knowing that I have a place to go every week to renew my covenants is a tremendous blessing. A blessing to know that I can always be forgiven if my heart is in the right place with God. Having to think of the things I may have done that wasn't conducive to the spirit that week humbles me, and each week as I partake of the sacrament with a sometimes "rowdy" three year old I make an effort to have a "still moment" to ponder, partake, and renew. 

Each week for the past 21 years sacrament meeting has gotten much better for me. I think it's the fact that I'm getting "spiritually mature", getting older, or now that I have a daughter who is on the same boat as me being in Relief Society I want my example to reflect on her, and I believe it has. Especially when she mentions how awesome her visiting teachers are! Whatever the reason may be I want to be a better disciple of Christ for me, and for our Savior. 

I am in no way a perfect person, but know that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me, and will never leave my side in helping me to live each day to the fullest in a way that is pleasing to Him, and to my fellow man. 


Your Heavenly Father 
Loves You, each of you...
that love never changes. 
~President Thomas S. Monson
General Relief Society Meeting, Fall 2013

**You can listen to all of the talks here

Friday, September 27, 2013

the best week ever in September.

This past week my life consisted of late nights, road tripping, and celebrating birthday after birthday with various friends. I haven't had any real sleep for days, and so far I'm not complaining or being ornery...yet. 

September is indeed my perfect, busy month. It's perfected with numerous friends who have the same birthday as me, and/or within days of me. It is also the beginning of beautiful fall weather, and everything that has to do with autumn. 

Due to having company, and constant get togethers with others I've neglected decorating my house with fall decor. After driving past farmers markets I finally bought some mums, and placed them outside my small porch. Buying pumpkins are going to have to wait because each year I take the kids to a pumpkin patch to pick out a pumpkin. It's tradition, and we never mess with tradition. 

Too bad we didn't get to pick apples or go to a pumpkin patch while Ceyda was here. She truly is a gem in my life and to be honest having her here for eight days really strengthened me in many ways. Just her overall example of how committed she is to God, and raising her daughter the best she can reminds me a little bit of me when I was her age. I love her, and miss her terribly but know that she will be back again to visit. 
Our kids loved waking up each morning to greet each other, have breakfast, and play with the train track. Celeste loves trains, and would rather play with that than dolls. These two were so sweet together throughout the whole week, and at times would both play hard to get. They had their moments but for the most part got along, and hugs, and "I'm sorry's" were always being exchanged. 
So glad that I was able to take her to her "dream cities",  and the beach. Saying goodbye is always hard, but know that we will see her again. Chelsea grew especially close to Celeste, and I think deep down she longs for a baby sister. 
 This truly was the best visit ever! 

*****

Maggie and I celebrated our birthdays by treating ourselves to the Pop Shop. Luckily for me I had a coupon for a free birthday meal, and believe me those come in handy when you purchase a nine dollar grilled cheese sandwich that has a name (Frazer)!
Maggie had never been, and she loved it! She was especially excited to have met the owner Stink Fisher. Aside from running this fabulous shop he's also an actor. 
When I was told by our waiter that he played alongside actor Mark Wahlberg in the Lovely Bones that caught our attention and we wanted to take a picture with him. Since Maggie is a theatre major they both discussed the factors of acting, and became acquainted with one another. 

I love Maggie and spending time with her always energizes me. I'm so lucky to have friends in my life who blow up my phone with texts from afar. I truly am blessed beyond measure with the greatest friends who come down from the corners of the universe to spend time with me. This birthday week has been extremely special. 

Now...I await to watch the General Relief Society Broadcast tomorrow night with more of my sisters! So excited to watch, and listen!   

Have a wonderful weekend, and let's see if I can catch up on my sleep too! I highly doubt it! 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

a simple birthday.

My birthday this year was low key...very low key. There were no extravagant trips taken on this day, no eating out at a five star restaurant. Just simplicity and love with a lot of cake and sweets to fill my home until Halloween! Having taken Ceyda to explore my corner of the world for the past few days was fun, and exhausting at the same time that I decided to keep it simple on my birthday.  

It was just me, three of my children, Jon, and my dear friend Ceyda from Utah who has been visiting me since last week. It was a very special day being that I spent it with family- minus Sierra. She did call to wish me a happy birthday though, and posted the sweetest sentiment on my facebook wall yesterday. Hearing her voice always makes me smile, and then when I hung up I silently cried for awhile. I sure do miss her presence. 

Jon decided to make this yen and yang cake for me and I had no idea how it turned out until it was time for me to blow out the candles. It was tasty, and we all had more than one piece. 

These kids are the greatest, and they all hovered around me to sing me the birthday song. Jon was our photographer, and even vined six seconds of my little posse singing.

I can't believe another year has come and gone. At my age, and having these kids growing up as fast as they do makes the years pass even faster. Makes me a little sad sometimes, but it sure is fun watching them grow up, and seeing them change. 

I am looking forward to what 42 has in store for me, and I hope that it's going to be a great year! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

NYC & D.C. (our beloved cities)

New York city. 

I'm sure many of us develop a love/hate relationship when one visits for the first time, but for the most part it truly is a magical city in which loathing it would be impossible (at least for me). If you hate it...you'll end up loving it even more after you leave. Trust me.

Visiting the city for the first time thirteen years ago was a dream come true for me. I thanked my brother in law for living in Connecticut so that we could have an excuse to visit so that we can come to the city! Although I was a bit overwhelmed by the tall buildings, mumbling voices, construction noises echoing off the street, and endless honking I fell in love with it. We loved it so much that we took the express train to Grand Central from Connecticut to the city three days in a row. 

New York City is so magical that in spite of the hustle and bustle, and endless noises you end up loving it after one leaves. The adrenaline builds up, and helps guide you as you step foot into the city. It truly is a different experience going for the first time, but if you have a love for crowds, broadway, lights, culture, variety, good food, and diversity then you'll have no problem taking in all of the action and energy this city has to offer. Some of us could possibly live here too, and some may never want to come back. That was their "once in a lifetime" "been there seen it" "never going to go back" "marked that off my bucket list" kind of attitude. I personally love it, and luckily for Ceyda...she thought it was pretty cool too!  

The crowds, and lights at Time Square were a bit overwhelming to her, but nonetheless we walked and walked all over the city with two kids in tow, and one riding in the stroller. Yeah...a stroller in Times Square where the streets are super crowded. Smart huh? Well...Noah was asleep, and holding him all night long was not an option so I had to use that stroller (luckily it was a small one). 

We had gone to a carnival over at Governors Island earlier, and being there all afternoon wore the kids out. Noah fell asleep, and because we only had one stroller, Jon gracefully took Celeste and put her on his shoulders, and I could tell she was mesmerized by all the lights. Made him miss the girls when they were little. 

Times Square never surprises me. You see all kinds of characters...weird, and not so weird. We always look forward to see what new "characters" we'll see. We searched for the cool ones and ran into these Disney characters, and one of my favorites...Madea (not a Disney character).
We grabbed some grub over at Bubba Gump, and watched Forrest Gump on the tube while eating. The food here was delicious. 

I was a bit disappointed though being that they didn't have Dr. Pepper as a beverage, but that was cool. You'd think they would being that Forrest Gump drank like 15 of them in the movie. 
We maxed our time out as always in the city, and headed back to Jersey to await Ceyda's next adventure on the east coast! For the most part...she loved New York City!

*****

Capitol Hill is one of the most classiest, and savviest places in the world to visit and live. I love D.C. and I couldn't let Ceyda go home without taking her to see some of the attractions here. Her main love was visiting the White House. 
and taking her to eat at one of the best authentic BBQ restaurants near the city.
This is the place to eat some tasty BBQ. Haven't had good brisket this good since Texas! Even Noah ate some, and this boy can be one picky eater. 

The past few days with Ceyda have truly been wonderful, and I'm so grateful that she came to see us. I know that I'll be catching up on a lot of zzzzzz's when she leaves, but seriously...I will miss her! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

42 will be special.

"Happy Birthday" were two words that Chelsea and Noah kept uttering for a whole week straight. My dear friend Ceyda came to visit me bearing all kinds of gifts from kitchen towels to bath and body products, making me and my house feeling loved.

For years I used to say that my birthday is just like any other day, but I refuse to feel that way anymore. I refuse to feel like each day is like any other day because each day is different, special and unique. I am the one that makes life my own, and if I want to do something or change something about myself that is going to help me become a lovelier, more "better me" then I'm going to be like Nike, and "Just do it!


These days my life seems to be flashing too quickly right before my eyes, and thinking that my birthday is like any other day is like saying you being born in this dispensation means nothing. It's a scary thought sometimes you know...getting older. Having wrinkles slowly creeping into the corners of your eyes knowing that your best friend will be the crows feet that you'll be seeing in the mirror every morning. Noticing the gray hairs that are visible from 5 feet away. Not being able to finish a snickers candy bar, or digest spicy food properly. Tums are always in stock at my house! Using that clarisonic so many times a day that the bristles are begging me to move to a much clearer face, and begging ladies at the makeup counters for samples of "all about eyes". It's a bit freaky, but knowing that I'm eight years away from turning the big "50" is a bit overwhelming to me. Then again...I have a daughter in college so why don't I feel that old.  

It's because I'm not. 

When I turned 40 I wasn't afraid...at all. I was actually looking forward to it, and so far these years have been treating me great. Stress, and living life worrying about every little thing is meaningless. It's not me, and I refuse to allow any of that get in the way of the life I'm living. I'm sorry, but I had enough of that in my earlier years. 

No...so far this year has been a great challenge. Even though Jon lost his job this summer I managed to have my first article  published in the Deseret News, have one of my dear friends from Utah visiting for my birthday, a new calling in the church that'll help me grow spiritually, and kids that are healthy, happy, love school, and are pretty wonderful. 

So in my 42nd year I am blessed more than words can say in making each day wonderful, and celebrating my birthday is not like any other day. 

It is special. 

Happy birthday to me! 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fete Paradiso

This past weekend we experienced the cutest little vintage french carnival on Governors Island. It was so fun seeing everyone dressed as if we were in Paris, and I think I could have fit right in had I been wearing a scarf, and beret! 


There were so many vintage games, carousels, and attractions that were old! There was even a carousel in which Abraham Lincoln rode in 1865! This was indeed a legit carnival in which all the rides were in fact from the 18th and early 19th centuries.
 I think the kids favorite rides were the vintage cars they rode.

A carnival is not complete without the cotton candy, and we all ended up buying more than one! For a moment Noah was playing with it as if it was a balloon, and after awhile took like one bite. He doesn't have much of a sweet tooth which is probably a good thing, but still...it was delicious! 
There was even a band playing french music. I could have sat here all day eating good food, and listening to them all afternoon!
Jon and I had a blast with Noah & Chelsea, and we got on a few rides with them. Jon vined Chelsea and I on the roller coaster here, and the kids loved the swing ride! It was the happiest moment for all of us being that Ceyda and Celeste were with us. These kids all had the time of their life, and being there for most of the day felt like an hour. Time just flew!

Riding the ferry to and from Governors Island was Noah's favorite & boy was he enjoying the sucker that was given to him by a "french" worker at the carnival. 
This is the first time Fete Paradiso has ever come to the United States. They are a traveling carnival, and because it's seasonal the weekend of the 29th will be their last time here. I highly recommend going if you live anywhere near New York. 
They travel around various cities, and hopefully they will come to your neck of the woods. So glad we had the opportunity to venture out to experience this quaint, vintage, french style carnival. We loved every minute of our time here, and definitely will be returning next time they're in the city! 

Bye for now! 



Saturday, September 21, 2013

ceyda & celeste.


When I received a message from Ceyda in mid August about planning to visit me for my birthday I was  so excited. I hadn't seen her since I left Utah in 2008. Seven years isn't too long when you keep in touch via facebook and talking on the phone every now and then, but still...seven years is still a long time when you're longing to see a familiar face. 

I would love to go back to visit Utah someday, but these days it's almost impossible for a family of six to fly across the country. I have been blessed beyond measure with friends who take the time out of their busy schedule to make me and my family a priority in their lives. I hope to go back to visit all of my wonderful friends that I left behind. 

Since Ceyda's arrival we've talked, laughed, and cried happy tears throughout our conversations. We mostly talk about our children, and their well being as well as how we see them (or how we'd like to see them) in their future. 

We see our little ones growing up way too quickly in a world that is different when we were their age. They are speaking in clearer sentences, talking among each other like small adults in a language that is their own, and playing with iPhones as if they've been using them their entire lives. It's pretty scary yet exciting at the same to think what they will be exposed to next when they are in their teens. Every day they learn something new, and their intelligence continues to enhance. 

Being that Ceyda is from Honduras and having moved to Utah when she was 18 has never had the privilege of venturing out to the east coast, and so far she loves it!

She loved Ocean City & the boardwalk...
Eating good food (and boy did we do a lot of that today), Shake Shack burgers, polish water ice, and having a Philly cheese steak sandwich at Johnny Rockets was among her favorites. 

The fact that we're together brings us a solace that we have been longing for seven years! Seeing our children meeting for the first time and warming up to each other right away with hugs and smiles was a breath of fresh air. Makes me wonder why we as adults can't be like that with other adults when small children do it instantly without regard. 

They are a reminder to me that life is beautiful, and what a blessing it is to witness it through their innocent eyes. 

Every friend that has visited me from afar is my solace and I'm so grateful to have kept them for all these years!
These are the joys of life in friendships, and no matter where they live... they are the precious gems to my everyday living.  

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