Goodbye South Jersey.

Well, after eight years of living in our little cape code home the time has come to say goodbye to Blackwood. I know some of you may be wondering why I'm making such a big deal about our move when it'll only be an hour away.'s a pretty big deal to me because south jersey is the longest area my family and I have ever lived in since being married so kudos to us for having some stability in an area longer than three years! 

Stability when it came to two of my children attending the same middle schools. One child finishing her entire elementary school years at the same school since pre-school, and one daughter accomplishing all four years of high school and becoming an official alumni! 

Stability when it came to living in the same house, having the same job, (until a lay off occurred and a new job came along), the same church congregation, so to us that's a very big deal! 

Change is good, and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. Relocating truly is what we needed at this time in our life. Heavenly Father knows what's best for our families and he allows opportunities to happen. Opportunities that will help us grow if we give it our all, and put our mind to it. More opportunity to make things happen if we look towards it with a positive attitude. Not only for us, but to whomever comes our way. We have moved so much throughout our married life, but the fact that this was the longest place we've lived in, and that we are doing this in our 40's as opposed to our 20's or 30's can be a bit overwhelming. 


Although I love change, it can be a bit nerve-wracking. Luckily I didn't accumulate too much stuff while living in our small cape cod home of eight years. I know some of us can accumulate things, and become hoarders of our favorite things, but that's so not me. I believe in simplicity, and just having the things that are the necessities of life. 

I love meeting new people, and the fact that we have an LDS church no matter where we've moved makes the transition so much easier, and because of that I'm forever grateful. I love making new friends, and looking forward to what's in store for me, and our family.  Luckily for me I like surprises, and that the love I have for individuals who are in need of a friend runs pretty deep. Because we can always use new friends. It truly is a small world when it comes to the church as I have met so many whom we have mutual friends with. It's crazy, but's happened. All the way from Jersey! It's pretty cool how that happens. Anyway, we are so looking forward to making our new house a home, and being in central jersey where we are surrounded by the arts in Princeton, and of course, even closer to New York City will give us a many opportunity to expand our knowledge towards the things we appreciate the most such as music, and the arts. 

And the fact that we'll be living in between two temples is a bonus. I love attending the Manhattan temple, but going to the Philadelphia temple once it's built will be a dream come true for all the mormons in south Jersey! 

So I say good-bye to Blackwood in south jersey. Although you gave us many challenges, we will never forget them. They only made us stronger, and for that we will forever be grateful! 

Oh, but the sweet memories too! Those are the ones that held us together through the hard times, and helped us find joy in this journey we call life! 

Making Memories with The Pena's.

While we were in North Carolina last week we were so fortunate to have been able to have visited James Pena who served as an LDS missionary here in Jersey nearly seven years ago! He has since married, and has a beautiful family! After two years of being Facebook friends with his wife Rose, we became good friends, (see, social media has its perks of positivity in developing friendships), and the fact that I was finally going to meet her and her daughter in person, along with seeing Elder Pena (James, can't help but to still think of him as an elder) was so exciting! 

And we are so glad we did!

After sending them a message to let them know that we'd be in North Carolina while Lexie was on a pioneer trek, they offered us a place to stay in their home. I took them up on their offer, and throughout those days, and nights of staying with them we were able to get reacquainted, and reminisce with James about his mission here in Jersey. We also had late night adult conversations, and that was such a treat especially when you're surrounded with kids all day long! I love this family so much, and am so pleased to see James so happy with this family. They truly are a rock in the eyes of their child who has special needs, and Rose rocks when it comes to mothering their little girl. Really impressed with how this beautiful young couple live their life, and how real it is. It's amazing to see how well we live our life in spite of the daily mundane, and the Pena's are indeed a family who strive in making all their days fun and beautiful with their sweet daughter. 

It was also pretty cool knowing that they currently attend our old church congregation, and how nice it was to have seen so many familiar faces when we went with them. Fayetteville is a military town, and I knew that there would be some families who have relocated since we moved, but the ones that retired there were a sight for sore eyes to see. Since it was vacation time for some, I only got to see a few sisters, but oh how nice it was to feel the warmth of the members in the south, and to have received lots, and lots of hugs, and to hear Rose, Rose, Rose, so nice to see you again!! 
These sisters I will never forget. I was one of their visiting teachers, and for them to remember me after only being in their ward for one year was very humbling. Friendships mean a lot to me, and to know that after being gone for nine years that these lovely ladies treasured mine warms my heart. It was so nice to have gone back to familiar territory, and to see one of my many old chapels. What a blessing it is to know that no matter where you go to visit that there is an LDS chapel nearby, but to attend one where you are familiar with the people is a huge bonus! 
// I think I captured this moment perfectly! // 

We will forever be grateful to the Pena's for their hospitality, and for their example in service, and love that they always seem to render to others. Friends like that are hard to come by, and we will never forget them.
And Lexie will indeed miss their little girl. She loves children, and even told me that i needed to have another baby. I was like, "umm, that time has passed my dear. You gotta wait until you become an auntie, or have one of your own!" 
So grateful for Rose, and to have gotten to know her better not only as James wife, but as my newest, and dearest friend! She's a couple of years older than Sierra, so she could totally be my kid! She's so lovely, and fun to be with. I swear these young girls, including my own daughterss keep me young at heart! 
So pleased to see how beautiful James life is with his family. He was an excellent missionary who wanted nothing, but to share the work of the Lord without being noticed. He was noticed as an awesome missionary by being himself, and by expressing his genuine love for the gospel, and putting people first who wanted to hear His message. He truly has been blessed with the life that he lives, and we are so proud of him. 

There are so many missionaries out there today who are serving the way James did, and so many waiting to hear that special message. If you are interested to know more just click on this link! 

It'll totally bring you happiness just as it does to my family's life, as well as James & Rose's life! 

Have a beautiful day folks! 

Noah-isms // Summer Edition.

Not sure how much longer I'm going to keep up jotting down Noah's musings, but luckily I have his sisters to fill me in on what he says when I'm not around. 

Noah's favorite saying so far has been "just kidding." 

Mommy, I need to go potty. Just kidding!" 

After eating a full course meal..."Mommy, I'm still hungry. Just kidding!"

"Chelsea's ugly. Just kidding!" 

So Noah has invented a "poop" song, and while he's in the bathroom he'll sing it. Like all the time! He's sung it so much that I started to sing it, and when he heard me singing it in the bathroom (so not classy I know) He says through the door, "Mom, stop being like me!"

As I was walking Noah to the bus stop on his last day of school we saw one of our neighbors whom we rarely see because of their age. Noah saw "Mr. Smith" and as we passed him coming out of the house he says to me, "mom, that man is almost old. He's old like my piano teacher...they're almost old, and are going to die!" My response, "No papa they're not going to die, and yes they are old, but they're not dying anytime soon!" I sure hope not! 

At our yearly church bbq in which we just had Noah out of the blue said, "jade smells." Jade is a friend of Lexie's, and when Jade overheard what he said, he immediately went up to her, gave her a hug, and kissed her on the cheek...on his own. He also said, "just kidding!"

Every time we see a bunny, especially when we see one close up he'll say, "look mom a bunny, and he looks like a small deer." 

On his last day of school, and with a heavy heart Noah says, "I'm going to miss my friends." Me: "You"ll make new friends." Noah: "How? Are we still in Jersey?" I said, "yes, so that'll be easier to make new ones." He said, "okay." Resilient kids are a blessing! 

So we had a little bit of help from our church congregation in our new area, and while Lexie, and this other boy were moving stuff into our new place Noah asked Lexie, "are you going to marry that guy?" Lexie was like, "noooooo!" 

It's very rare that we nap on Sunday but because we moved the day before were super exhausted. Everyone took a nap except Noah, and when I awoke I asked him why he didn't take one. He said, "napping is for nighttime mommy, not daytime." His days of napping are pretty much over. Sigh....

While on a drive on a gorgeous sunny day, "why does the sun keep following us? The moon follows us at nighttime too." 

This boy continues to liven up our days, and we are so glad he's part of our family. 

He definitely completes it! 

OH...and watermelon is his fave!! He always has to have all summer long!

Happy Monday! 

Strawberry Picking & A Little Video!

Strawberry picking has indeed become one our favorite traditions in the summertime! As soon as they're in season the kids and I will go to one of our favorite orchards and go to town picking! This year we practically had the whole orchard to ourselves!! It was so nice capturing moments without extra bodies in the background. This was also Lexie's first time pickin strawberries with us as she has always had a commitment when we'd go. This year she was determined to finally pick strawberries with us, and she had fun picking with her sibs.
Lexie found it very relaxing, and recalled going cherry picking with us for the first time last year! She was like, "yeah...I'm coming strawberry picking with you guys because y'all always do fun things without me!"

She helped Noah pick some pretty good ones while Chelsea and I picked some on our own. Such a beautiful day that we could have spent the entire afternoon here! I even made a little video in which you can view here
The kids did a good job in picking. Lexie was like the energizer bunny. She wanted to pick more because she loves her smoothies. There's nothing like a homemade smoothie with fresh strawberries! 
The best part of going to this orchard is the fact that they have a playground where the kids can let out all their wiggles after some serious picking! 
We absolutely love summertime, and all the fun things that come with it especially when it comes to the outdoors. Being outside is our favorite place to be when it comes to summer, and we look forward for more adventures! 

Happy Saturday! 

What I'll Miss About South Jersey: Part Four

Heavenly Father puts people on our path for many reasons, and if your lucky you'll meet a few who share the same attributes, likes, dislikes, loves, thoughts, but the most important thing I've learned from each individual while living in south jersey, and attending this specific congregation is having a christlike love in your heart. 

And that's all that matters.

No matter the challenges I faced when it came to my life here those lessons only taught me to become stronger, and to learn from them. They have done nothing but strengthened my testimony in the love I have for the Lord, the belief i have for the gospel, and the love i have for my fellow man. It has increased my compassion towards others in need, helped me to be fearless in sharing my beliefs, and boosted my energy to be able to tolerate any unfortunate negativity that comes my way. The unconditional love I have for my sisters, and brothers in this world is an amazing feeling to have, and I'm so grateful that I was able to humble myself even more throughout my eight years of living here. 

Although my faith was tested many times I have seen miracles happen while living here. God is amazing when it comes to answering prayers, and I know that when we go to Him, and simply "ask" He will provide ways to lead us to unimaginable happiness, and fulfillment. Especially in times of stress! 

My life here amongst the trials we've endured have been blessed over and over again. Thanks to a few of my sisters who have been there for me when the going got rough. But especially for being there when it came to simple, and sincere friend-shipping. 

There are those sisters whom I've know the entire time I've lived here who always thought of our family when it came to concerts, and events happening all over Philly! Thanks Mary!
Mila, whose example of meekness, and benevolence rubbed off on me in many ways! Such a sweet, and beautiful Christ like attribute to have! 
 Rosa, Rosa, Rosa. I love her. Love her sense of fashion, and one thing I learned from her is learning. She is an amazing woman raising three daughters on her own, and the strength she has when it comes to having the desire to learn, and grow more in the gospel is astounding! 
These two sisters are awesome when it comes to endurance. I love how they just have a smile on their face, and come to church to listen, and be taught. Charlene (left) and I had some great visits in my home. 
I love the comments Trish gives during Sunday school, and in our Relief Society lessons. I sure learn a lot from her!
This woman deserves her own post, and I'll do that at a later date, but this woman is amazing when it comes to patience, and unconditional love in her calling as the Young Women President! Love her! 
This is Diane who is as sweet as can be. She is someone who has the desire to learn, and tries really hard to strive for the greater good as we all should. 

These sisters I have known within the past year or so, and they are just beautiful! I love them so much, and hope they know how much I appreciate their friendship! 
All of my sisters in my congregation are amazing, and I will never forget them. We each have stories to tell, and experiences to share. There are so many more I would like to mention on here such as Tweara who is by far the strongest person I know when it comes to hardships. And Wanda who goes with the flow, and has a tender heart underneath her boldness. These sisters are the perfect example of love, and kindness, and I will forever be grateful to Heavenly Father for putting them on my path. 

These are the ties that bind to true friend-shipping, and even though they tell me that I inspired them in many ways, sometimes it's the totally opposite for me. They have enlightened me as well. 

I will miss my dear sisters, and will do my best to see them, but at best we can plan temple dates, and I will write my heart out, and enclose silent hugs via snail mail. 

Love you guys so much!! Stay strong in the gospel, and with the guidance of Heavenly Father, and never ever give up on yourself when times get rough. Remember that you are worthy of God's love no matter what!! Live the gospel, and stay high in your standards no matter how old we get! I promise that if we all do that our cup will runneth over. 

Have a great weekend everyone ! 

North Carolina ZOO.

While in North Carolina we decided to venture out to North Carolina Zoo. We are a lover of all zoos, and because we have a boy who loves lions, and tigers, and bears we knew we just had to go take the kids. We've only been here once before, and and in all honesty can't remember all that we saw. All I remembered was how hot it was, and how ginormous this zoo was. Maybe that's why they call it the world's largest natural habitat zoo, because there literally is every animal in the book here! You have to literally enter at 9am to see everything by 5pm. One nice thing they do here is that if you arrive late in the day, and didn't get to see everything they will stamp your receipt, and give you the opportunity to come the next day and see the rest of the zoo. Nice huh?

Luckily we arrived at a decent time, and because our legs moved faster than lightening were able to see pretty much everything. They have two sections. The North America section, and the Africa section. We started off in North America because it's easier, and everything is down hill from there. It's a hilly zoo so if you plan on coming be prepared to walk up hills. Other than that it is a beautiful zoo with a lot of scenery, and so many animals to see. 
I was amazed at how wide of a space these animals had. Then again these large animals need a lot of space to move around in, and I think that's why zoo's in the city such as Philly and New York don't have too many animals becuase it's the city, and these animals need a lot of room to maneuver around in. 
 Noah wanted to see the animals closer and so we put some quarters in this large view finder, and he was so happy to see them through the looking glass. He only wished he could pet them! 
Alligators are cool, and all but after hearing about that incident in Orlando made me a bit nervous so I made sure Noah steered clear behind the plexi glass! Although it was secure the nervous mom comes out in me especially when I hear devastating zoo stories!
We continued to walk around, and take in all the sights. I tried to capture a few photos of every animal, but to no avail. I wanted to enjoy my time walking, and talking with my family as to what to see next, and just relax like all these animals were. 
Such a beautiful, but hot and humid day it was. I was so tempted to jump cross that fence, and into that fountain! 
 These lily pads are so pretty! 
 Noah really enjoyed watching the sea lions underwater. Look how relaxed he is!

These were planted all around the zoo. So beautiful! 
 Entering the Magnum desert had me feeling as if I was in Texas! I love cactus's! There were many kinds, and I had to get Noah away from it. He wanted to feel how pokey it was. Such a jersey boy! 
 Mandatory picture with my southern girl, because we are the only ones born in Texas! 
Because walking around makes you hungry! Noah saw pretzels, and immediately asked if he could have one. Sure son, they're only 4 bucks! Priceless! 
 No matter where we go if they give you a map he wants to lead, and help us find where to go next. He loves maps! 
 Papa's shoulders are a blessing when it comes to meandering in a large zoo! 
And when papa gets tired, Chelsea comes to the rescue to give him a piggy back ride. 
North Carolina is the perfect place for a zoo in a rural area, and we are so glad we made the time to come! Making new memories while reliving old ones is bittersweet, and we are so glad we were able to come out here, and explore more of this vast, extensive wide open space we call the world!