Here's To F-I-V-E Years of Blogging!

So it’s been five years since my first! Sometimes it seems as if I just started this little blog yesterday. I love blogging, and sometimes I surprise myself that I've kept it going for this long. My family and I sure have come along way in our lives with all that we've accomplished, and endured since writing my very first post. I honestly think that if it wasn't for moving all the way to New Jersey, and then having this little guy a year later that I wouldn't have started a blog at all, but i did, and I'm so glad. 
It has helped me grow along the way, and has taken me to a level of comfort in writing all about the things I've gone through in life. It has provided me a release in which I can document not only for my posterity, but for myself as well. It truly is an outlet for me, and a space where I can post photos of the people, places, and things I love that have meaning in my life. 

Even at the age of 44 I have so much to learn, but I know this...having this blog keeps me sane, and helps me to see how wonderful life truly is. To know that there is one person out there reading this blog will make blogging worth it. 

I appreciate all who come to this small corner of the internet to read my blog, and thank you from the bottom of my heart. I made a little video, (and you can check it out on my you tube and vimeo channel) expressing my gratitude, and I hope that for those of you who make the time to come to my little corner of the internet that you will feel inspired. I appreciate the time you take to peek at it, and thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

Even if you don't comment! 

Here's to five years of A Harmonious Combination! 

Happy Weekend! 

Philadelphia Temple Opening In September!

When they first announced a temple being built in Philadelphia I couldn't' believe my ears. I was excited, and happy that the city I moved near to was finally going to have a temple nearby. I was so excited at the fact that I will have one closer to me where I'll be able to go at least once a week. The temple means a lot to me and my family, and we make it a goal to attend the temple as much as we can in D.C. Sure there are times when we are not able to attend as much as we'd like, but our hearts are in the right place, and when we do we take advantage of it, and will spend all day in D.C.

Last week the first presidency of our church announced the open house and dedication dates of the Philadelphia Temple, and September can't come soon enough. We've waited eight years for this to happen, and it's finally happening people!The fact that it'll be dedicated around my birthday is the best gift I can ever receive. And it'll only be 20 minutes away! 20 minutes away y'all! I'm still amazed, and thrilled at that fact!! 

And just look at how gorgeous this building is getting...
Having a temple so close will not only give us the opportunity to attend more, but will also give us the motivation, and that kick in the butt that some of us may need to gain that temple recommend, and go. What a blessing it is to have one so close to us to attend so that we can receive that spiritual nourishment, and gain blessings from attending all at the same time. I know that when I frequent the temple my testimony of Christ, His gospel, the temple, and love for the people that I cross paths with grows. I feel  strengthened, even more ready to commit, and I seriously feel like super woman! I love it, and my kids love it too. 
They love going to the temple with us, and when we come home our whole week, and family life is so much better. But that doesn't always last because the things of the world tend to get in the way of our happiness, so attending the temple as much as we can, and keeping that firm foundation of Christ structured in the home keeps the joy of living a gospel centered life. It also blocks out the negativity that falls onto our lap every so often, and helps us handle the things that are not spiritually uplifting. By going to the temple on a regular basis our thought process becomes clearer, and more focused on what's important. That's what helps keep the joy in being an eternal family long lasting. How grateful we are for that blessing. 
I'll tell ya...seeing that angle moroni at the atop the temple was a sight to see, and a sure sign that the work of the Lord will never cease.

I thank Heavenly Father for blessing the city of brotherly love with a beautiful temple, and it is my hope that we can all attend frequently so that we as brothers and sisters can become more united, and serve the people with love in our hearts for always! 

***Everyone can attend the temple during the open house so I encourage all those to attend. All are welcome, and it would be wonderful if y'all can make it! Open house dates are August 5th util September 3rd so come, and see what it's all about. I promise it'll be an uplifting experience to tour this beautiful building once it's complete! See ya then! 

Winter Storm Jonas '16.

I can't even begin to tell you how excited we all were this past weekend when we started feeling the snow falling on our faces as I was on my way out to pick up Jon from work. Jonas had arrived. Snow is something we have been waiting for long before Christmas, and boy did we get pounded with it. It's amazing to see how much snow we get in one lump sum! We woke up the next morning to sunshine, and about 15 inches of snow. It was a beautiful sight, and the kids had a blast playing in it! 

Because of all the snow we got in one shot Jon spent half the afternoon making a snowcave, and when he was done he called it a snow house! He hails from Utah so getting this much snow was a treat for him. Apparently Utah doesn't get this much snow all at once to be able to make a snow cave so he was all giddy! Lexie also attempted to make one, and she was proud of her little snow cave. 
As always I was capturing precious moments of my family as they were enjoying the snow, and made a little video of them playing in our street, and backyard.

One of our neighbors who has lived here since he was a boy told us that they would block off the street so that he, and his friends can go sledding down the street. So old school! It was epic, and a lot better than going to a hill where it's crowded with people sliding down all over the place! We had the whole street to ourselves, and in between building the snow cave, and shoveling Jon would push the kids down the street on their sled. It was so much fun, and I even had a turn. 
 This boy was all smiles! He wasn't too fond of the snow when he was a baby, but now...he can spend all day in it! 
// and this one can be making snow angels all day long! //
// Since church was canceled on Sunday, the first thing these kids wanted to do was go outside, and play in their snow cave that pa built. These two could literally live in it, and even wanted to spend the night inside, but temps got low in the teens so we opted no! They were getting cold anyway. Maybe next time! //
Love these kiddos! How fun it is to be a kid, and to not have a care in the world! They all had such a wonderful time, and really appreciated mother nature (a.k.a. Jonas) bringing them all this snow. We don't get this much snow too often so they truly took advantage, and enjoyed every moment! 

And so did I! 

Peace & Love: It All Starts In The Home.

It's amazing to see the different personalities in each of my daughters, and Noah. Although they are all different they have so many similarities. One similarity is that they all have the capacity to be filled with love, joy, and compassion. And for the most part they are. I hope that I have been the best example I can be, for them to continue to strive to keep those attributes because in this day and age its so important to live it. 

Last Sunday in Relief Society we were taught about what it means to be at peace. How to feel it, and how to look for it. I know that living a gospel centered life focused on Christ has helped me through my darkest moments. I see the happiness that lies in my children's eyes when they turn to God for support, and guidance. I find that when they are amidst some kind of difficulty they will seek Him. Of course there are times when they'll call, or come to us to vent for support, but for the most part they realize that turning to God for guidance is never a failure, because He is always there to listen. And if they know that, they will feel it, develop a strong testimony of it, and always use that tool as a solace. In spite of all the turmoil that life throws at us I always find ways to feel at peace, and to center myself around goodness. Teaching my children true principles of the gospel, and how Christ taught us about "peace" saves me an extra lesson on teaching my kids "how not to be." Yet, I still advise them how to behave around others, and how to treat each others whether it's family or friends. Even strangers. Being kind, finding peace, and being "peaceful" truly is a choice, and we are the ones to decide if we want to be peaceful, or miserable. 

This year we are studying the life of Howard W. Hunter, and in one of his lessons he said...

"The world in which we live, whether close to home or far away, needs he gospel of Jesus Christ. It provides the only way the world will ever know peace. We need a more peaceful world, growing out of more peaceful families, neighborhoods and communities to secure, and cultivate peace, "we must love others, even our enemies, as well as our friends." We need to extend the hand of friendship. We need to be kinder, more gentle, more forgiving, and slower to anger." 

As much as these kids will bicker, pick, disagree, annoy, they always find a way to make amends, and to be at peace with each other as siblings. If they've ever disagreed with friends, they try really hard to not involve contention. One thing I notice about my girls is that they don't like to be drawn to drama, nor do they enjoy it. It's something that they try to stay away from. For the most part they have been pretty lucky in finding ways to escape the petty world of drama, and surviving the conflicts that they've experienced with friends. And always find ways to make amends. I know that they are guided by a loving Heavenly Father, and so far my two oldest daughters "get it." They always, always make the choice to find time to put God in their lives, and when they are at peace with themselves, and with each other, their days look like this...
And it makes me so happy! Sure am going to miss these moments, and once Sierra comes home from her mission there will be more memories to make! 

And so I'll end this post with a scripture...

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27

I hope that we can all find peace among the calamities of life, and that we will pass this on to our children. What a wonderful guide we have to find that peace. We find it in the scriptures, and kneeling in prayer. May we all someday reach that level of of peace, so that others can feel of our genuine love at heart. 

Have a wonderful weekend! 

MLK | A Day Of Service | 1.18.16

"This is not a "random" three day weekend— a break from your hell beaten jobs. It's a day to observe and recognize and ultimately, if we are just a tad willing, help change the world a little bit. I get so mad at the Internet for its surface conversations at times. If you're willing, I ask that you dig deeper, hold longer more interesting conversations, jump from the shadows of the screen. Hug someone. Just do something! Anything out of love and the confining area that is your privilege, will do. We need more. We need equality. Thank you Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For the path and life you gave for others, myself, my children, and the generations that will come after us. Eternally." 

~Latonya Yvette

I came upon this quote on this fellow bloggers instagram, and when I read it I was agreeing wholeheartedly while nodding my head. She worded it so perfectly, and her thoughts totally coincided with mine. This is exactly why I have taught my kids why Martin Luther King Jr. was such an icon. Someone who died way too soon. And why we observe him by waking up early in the morning to help others, and do service for our fellowman. The fact that two of my girls were born on the same day as Dr. King gives more meaning to their special birthday. Especially on the day we observe him. I am so grateful for people like Dr. King who was fearless, and never gave up on his dream of uniting people of color together. For his strength, his candor, and perseverance in always believing the good in others. For his bravery, and courage in facing adversity even when it endangered his life. What an amazing human being! 

For the past 21 years our community has come together to observe this day for Martin Luther King by serving others. I've lived here now for seven years, and I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful it feels to be engaged in something you honor and believe in that has a purpose. People from all over South Jersey came together to help what is needed in our community. It was so nice to see so many willing to serve, and honor this day not only for Dr. King, but to build ourselves up. 

Especially our children who are the future. 
There was so much to do on this day, and there were all kinds of service projects accomplished. From quilting baby blankets to making toys for the animal shelter. Visiting senior homes, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and we even had a group rake leaves, and do some yard work in 23 degree weather! To see the faces of those around me getting to work without murmuring uplifted me in every aspect. It was so nice to see everyone working in unison with smiles on their faces. 

And that put a smile on my daughters face too! 

We volunteered to help make 400 peanut butter, and jelly sandwiches and mission was accomplished! The leader of this group said were were the fastest group he's ever seen in making sandwiches in a short time! We were going to town spreading that jam, and butter on the bread. We had such a great time, and in all honesty we wanted to do more when we were done. We didn't want to leave the building. We just kept wanting to help so Chelsea stayed for a bit to make a few cards for the soldiers who are serving. 

Here are a few photos from that day...
// Making sandwiches for the homeless was so humbling. Just to think that they'll be eating a sandwich with just jam, and peanut butter on it will  be gratifying to them. I'm sure they don't care where it comes from as long as they don't starve, and have food in their stomach! //
I have to tell ya... I was amazed at these group of kids. They were all so willing and helping to serve. Their aunt whom I just met for the first time was such a kind person, and a great role model to these kids. I could tell just by observing her how loving, and helpful she was TO EVERYONE! We totally hit it off, and I'm so glad that I sat next to her group. Chelsea and I were going to sit somewhere else, but my heart guided me to a much more rowdier table. Rowdier in a good way because everyone was working together. Laughing, and making sure we had enough bread for all the jam, and butter we had. We were a team, and that's how it should be when it comes to serving. Loving one another no matter who we are, where we come from, or what color we are. It was such an amazing day, and to meet this woman and her family was indeed a blessing! 
Enjoy the rest of your week everyone! 

Vocal Resolution | 2015-2016.

The day after the girls birthdays we all went to Cherry Hill East High School to attend Lexie's first annual A Capella competition which included 10 high schools all around the mid-atlantic region. They competed against nine other A cappella groups, and oh my gosh...I felt like i was watching pitch perfect live except without the unnecessary drama. Everyone was so amazing. All the groups sang different renditions of modern songs of today, and some were a bit old school. One of the schools had an all girl a cappella group called Tickled Pink. They were so cute sporting their pink pumps, and leather jackets. Everyone looked so great out there and their performances were pretty phenomenal. What an amazing talent among young men and women! I was so impressed with all the groups, and unfortunately Highland didn't win this year, but in my eyes everyone is a winner because everyone was so amazing! 

A friend of Lexie's from another school whose group is called Stay Tuned placed second, and another friend of ours whose brother is in the TestosterTones from Princeton High placed third. Again...everyone did such an amazing job, and everyone was a winner! 

Vocal Resolution is truly an amazing group with a lot of talented kids, and I'm sure they'll step it up even more next year! Especially now since they know what to expect. The fact that they went on stage is proof enough that their talent is good enough to make it to the ICHSA competition. Overall everyone was amazing, and I'm just so impressed with everyone's talent. 

I'm so glad that Sierra was able to witness their performance live while she was visiting. She was in Vocal Resolution when it was first established back in 2013 so she is a veteran through and through. She enjoyed everyone's performance, and had such a great evening. It was such a fun time for all of us. 

We do look forward to next years competition as this is something new for us. Such an exciting time for Vocal Resolution I'm sure, and I'm excited for them. 

*Since we were sitting in the way back I didn't get to record their entire performance, but did manage to get a short 10 second recording of part of their performance, and you can catch a glimpse of it here. 

**Photo source: Vocal Resolution Facebook page! 

Scenes Of A Birthday In A Video.

This past weekend we celebrated two very special birthdays. This year Lexie turned 16, and Chelsea turned eleven. It's hard to fathom that these two young girls are growing up faster than lightening, and that it shows in their faces! As I was reflecting back on this post (which seems like I wrote yesterday) puts me in denial that my two youngest daughters are indeed blossoming into two beautiful young women...and I couldn't be more happier. 

Simplicity is always key in our family, and just like Sierra's sweet 16th birthday party there was no major chaos, or huge celebration. Just a few presents, a cake, some chicken caesar salad, and good company! 

Having the same birthday as Martin Luther King Jr. gives me so much hope that these girls are going to do something great in their lives. The fact that Chelsea was ONE day overdue which caused her to be born on Lexie's birthday, (Lexie was five days early), and of course MLK Jr. tells me that Chelsea is a girl that will not let anyone or anything get in the way of being who she is, and her future successes. She''s a spitfire through, and through, but oh such a smart, and wonderful girl. 

Lexie is the same way. Strong willed personality, determined to accomplish all the tasks, and goals that she has set, and at such a young age has already managed to do so much. We are so proud of our two young girls, and wish them the best year ever. 

Happy Birthday girls! 

Here's a little video I made on my phone with the cinematic app. I was just testing this app out so hopefully y'all enjoy! 

Hope everyone has a nice holiday by observing Dr. King! 

Happy Monday! 

Temple Day With Sierra!

Yesterday I totally balled like a baby when I saw my daughter in her temple dress getting ready to go through for the first time. I hugged her so tight, and cried so hard. It was a surreal moment for me, and something that I still can't believe has happened. Not because she wasn't ready, but because she was indeed ready, and in my eyes she'll always be my baby girl. If I cried this much while she went through the temple for her mission, I can't even imagine how I'm going to react when the time comes for her to get married! I'm sure it'll be easier as each kid grows up, and although I see all my kids as special individuals this one has come along way in all that she has done, and prepared to get to this spiritual point in her life. 

And I hope she'll never forget it! 

Here are a few photos from our special day! 
 // Even in the middle of winter, attending the temple is a beautiful place. The weather was perfect. No freezing temps, and good enough to snap a few shots without our coats on! //
 // Okay...some random lady snapped this shot of us in a hurry, and it's the only one she took. Not the best quality, but in my eyes it's picture perfect! Thanks to sierra's editing expertise! ///
// After the temple we at ate 2 Amys which is literally the best pizza in the District! //
 // A very nice man offered to take our photo as Jon was pulling the car closer to the visitors center. It was such a sunny day, and I think he captured this shot perfectly! //
// Proud papa. //

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "The temple is a point of intersection between heaven and earth. In this sacred place, holy work will be performed through selfless service, and love. The temple reminds me of all that is good, and beautiful in this world." 

I'm so grateful for the temples that are built upon this earth that strengthens, and binds us together as eternal families. Sierra is going to experience a lot as she departs to the Philippines to share the joy that comes from the Lord, the goodness that's inside of her, and the reason behind what helps her stand firm. The gospel of Jesus Christ is what helps us hang on to the modern chaos that occurs in the world, and as President Hinckley stated... going to the temple is one thing that helps us to remember that life is beautiful. 

For spiritual inspiration read this

Here's to a great weekend! 

One Last Hurrah Before Her Mission.

I tell ya, no matter what life throws at us January just keeps getting better and better. I love how this year has begun with Sierra getting her mission call, and in spite of our van breaking down recently we are extremely grateful for generous friends to be lending us their car until we fix ours. 

With Sierra leaving in February, and since we won't be able to fly out to Utah to see her off at the MTC in Provo we decided she'd fly out to Jersey for one last hurrah. Not only to spend quality time with us, but to receive her endowments at the temple as well. 

She arrived yesterday, and the first thing she wanted to do was grab some grub at Waffle House. Just the two of us! We didn't get to take her on her last visit, and being the cool mom that I am drove out to the closest one which is in Maryland, and granted her request. 

Her siblings are always happy to see her, and in all honesty it feels as if she was just here yesterday. There are days when I feel she is still living here. The fact that she still has some of her stuff here reminds me that she is. We love her presence, and the spirit that she brings into our home. Oh the people in the Philippines are going to adore her! 

With her leaving next month there is so much for her to do with so little time, but pretty much has accomplished a few things since quitting her job, and before flying out to see us. One thing I'm excited for her is the opportunity she'll have to finally enter the temple with us, and for her to be here for both of her sisters birthdays. It is going to be a busy weekend for us, but are going to make this one last visit with her count before she is off for 18 months! 

I am so thankful for this time we get to spend with her, and look forward to her adventures once she departs, and begins her mission. 

Hope 2016 continues to be a great one, and if it has started off with sadness, bad news, or any kind of negativity remember to always think positive, and keep going! We are all in this together! 

Happy Wednesday! 

The American Girl Place in NYC.

With a new year beginning I have decided to do a little "remodeling" on my blog, and as I was trying to figure out which website to choose to redo my outline, or look, or whatever you want to call it I was going through my iPhoto and found a few hidden gems back when my girls were little. I decided that I wanted to write a throwback post of the first time we visited the American Girl Place in New York. This was such a monumental time in their life, because,'s the American girl store on fifth avenue! 

Before i started my blog, I have always scrapbooked my kids lives. I decided to start a blog a couple of years after Noah was born. I don't know why I hesitated to start a blog, but I'm glad I started it when I did. I began blogging back in 2011 in late January after Lexie and Chelsea turned five, and ten! I can't believe how quickly these years are passing by, and seeing my two younger girls growing up is surreal. Time sure flies when you're having fun, and on this day they had a lot of it! 

Oh my gosh...look how young they are! 
We had never been inside an American Girl store until we moved to Jersey. I wanted to mark this moment in our history because it was our first time, and...we all love dolls!I  have to say that these are the best dolls ever created, and I'm so glad that we gifted them to the girls for their birthdays. I didn't grow up with very much, and this particular American girl doll reminded me of the one I had when I was about six. Her name was Tracy, and I remember always playing with her. Till this day I have always preferred my girls playing with dolls rather than Barbie dolls. 

American girl dolls is the doll to have and I'm just so grateful that we were able to gift them each one. Being that Chelsea was five she opted for a Bitty Baby instead, and we ended up getting her one. Josefina came later.  

I wanted to post a few photos of that special day we spent in New York, and going to the American girl store for the first time. I have to say it was a bit overwhelming, but oh so fun to see all that they had. It was crazy. They practically have everything under the sun. From clothing for your child to match their doll's outfits, furniture, and they even have a salon where you can take your doll to get groomed in case her hair gets tangled, or dried out! It's pretty interesting to have seen this four story doll store! 
We decided to have lunch at the American girl cafe which was so quaint, and cozy. I loved how they decorated the room The only thing I wasn't too pleased about was the fact that I felt as if I didn't get enough to eat for what we paid! We were still hungry afterwards. I still wanted more cookies, and finger sandwiches! Overall, it was great, and what matters is that the girls were pleased, and that they had an amazing time. Such a fun place to take your little girl. 
They were so excited to be holding their dolls while walking around the city. Perks of having a five year old walking around in the middle of winter was that she'd get tired of holding her bitty baby after a while. She eventually got over her orneriness. As a parent you just have to laugh when our kids react this way. She is, has, and will always be my sassy drama queen! 
I will also remember this day because it was the time when the new Alice in Wonderland movie came out. I remember seeing a big advertisement of Johnny Depp as the mad hatter in times square. Here is my family making funny faces, and Jon wearing a mad hatter hat! 
 and this big Johnny Depp we saw in times square! 
We went to the FAO Schwartz and they had a blast on the big piano. I'm pretty bummed that they closed the store last summer, but hopefully something will be replaced in that corner of the city that'll be fun for tourists. Luckily we took advantage of spending endless hours at that store every time we'd visit the city! FAO soldier will be missed! 
Here we are at Rockefeller center. It's so fun watching the skaters, and the girls were wanting to ice skate, but it was getting late, and had to head back. So much to do in this magical city! If you're wondering where Noah was, he was sound asleep pretty much the entire time! Such a good baby he was. I wish I would have gotten him out at the time he was awake to capture a few shots with him on this particular day, but oh well. 

It's just so hard to believe that these pics were taken five years ago! I love the fact that Chelsea still loves to play with her dolls. Lexie has Ruthie in her closet, and every now and then will take her out to make sure she's well preserved. She took really good care of her, and will sometimes let Chelsea play with her. It's so sweet to watch Chelsea play with her dolls. Noah will hover sometimes, and pretend to be the big brother to the bitty baby. He's so sweet, and treats the dolls like princesses, but then after a while will grow weary of girl drama, and go back to playing with his legos, transformers, and his star wars figurines. 

These memories are so precious to me, and I'm so happy that I have always taken the time to think of my girls. They don't ask for a lot, and are always thankful for the gifts they receive. 
Sure do miss their youth sometimes, but I'm so excited to watch them grow up, and prosper. Learn to discover, explore, and experience more in this world!