Christmas at the Mott’s!

(Hey…so I know its July, but I thought I’d get to posting this much earlier than right now!)

Christmas!!! OH MY GOODNESS!!! Christmas used to be my mom’s favorite holiday. She would go all out and decorate our house so much. Since this is the second year without her, it’s become my job to decorate in her stead. I am not at all good at decorating. I have ideas of how I want things to look but since I did not inherit the artistic gene from my mom, I try to make do with what I can do. 🙂

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One of the things I regret is not helping Mom more each Christmas with decorating. I took it for granted that she’d always be around to do it so even though she always asked me to help her, I generally didn’t because I thought I wasn’t any good at it, so why mess up her perfect décor? I so wish I had helped her now. But, I am grateful that I can keep her decorating traditions alive.

Mom loved decorating our dinning room table. It’s always where the adults would sit during our family Christmas party. I love the woodsy, Scandinavian theme so that is what I picked for this Christmas. The reds, greens, and golds are so beautiful and, I believe, peaceful.

IMG_0972Mom was a huge fan of the word “joy”. She always exemplified it in her life. She had made this decoration before her death but we hadn’t used it in a few years. When I found it, I knew I wanted to use it in our family’s Christmas decoration. I think it blended well with all the colors from the dining room.

Another reason I loved this particular decoration is because joy is what Christmas is all about. Joy because of the Savior’s birth, joy in giving to one another, and joy because we are loved by the one true King.

This is what our living room looked like. I especially love the fireplace and the tree. When the main lights are turned off, the lights on the tree and fireplace would sparkle and shimmer in the darkness. It reminds me symbolically of how Christ is the light in the darkness. When all is dark around us, Christ is the shining hope in the darkness.

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Christmas is beautiful. Its a time for hope, joy, and family. Even though it is so hard to celebrate with Mom being gone, it is always nice to see her legacy living on through us. We keep her traditions alive and through that, it is easier to celebrate the season.

My favorite tradition with Mom that I’ll miss the most, is on Christmas Eve she and I would take out her fine china and lay it out on our kitchen table so we could eat off it on Christmas morning. We would then cook the family’s favorite breakfast casserole and some form of sweet breakfast treat. I’ll always treasure those quiet moments with her before the craziness of Christmas morning came around.

I look forward to being able to continue her traditions throughout the years. Someday, when I have my own family, I want to be able to incorporate some of Mom’s traditions. Singing carols around the piano, crazy white elephant exchanges, setting the table with my daughters, decorating the tree with my husband and kids, tucking the littles into bed with promises of Santa’s coming, and then wrapping up the last minute gifts with my hubby while sneaking kisses under the mistletoe. Those are the memories I look forward to making, but for now, I’m so thankful for the wonderful memories I have of my parents and brothers from Christmas pasts.

Merry Christmas (in July)!

*8/4/17 Update: as I’m editing this post, on my Spotify I have a Christian artists radio station going, and what do they play? Christmas Shoes by Newsong. I cannot believe it. This song made me cry even before my mom died. But now though…I can relate so much deeper to the little boy in the song. Hang on while I go bawl my eyes out…*

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Part 5 – New York City

I think this was Samuel’s favorite part of the trip. We headed out and caught the Greyhound to NYC early that morning. We got to see the sun rise over the Delaware River as we drove across it.

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We arrived at the Port Authority Bus Terminal and caught the subway over to the 9/11 World Trade Center park.

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Samuel loved the subway but I got a little claustrophobic and was a bit paranoid that everyone was so close together.

Standing at the side of both the North and South towers and looking at the craters where they once stood made chills run up and down my spine. All around the crater are the names of those where were lost when the towers fell. I was only 6 years old when the towers fell but I remember watching it happen and seeing my mom cry. So to be standing at those spots where the course of American, even world history, was changed was absolutely incredible. Everyone around the tower craters were extremely aware of where they stood and the atmosphere was filled with reverent awe.

After leaving the 9/11 park, we walked over to the Staten Island Ferry area and caught a Statue of Liberty tour. It was such a beautiful day for it! We got on the boat and the tour started out under the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges.

As we sailed, we could see the outlines of Manhattan on our right and Brooklyn on our left. We also could see the One World Trade Center from the boat.

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We could also see Ellis Island and Governors Island. As we got closer to the Statue of Liberty, I got more excited. We were about to see one of the most iconic American symbols ever. I was so surprised at how huge it was! I had no idea it was so tall. It definitely looks smaller in the photos than it did in real life. 🙂

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The picture is grainy because of the dirty windows on the boat, but Ellis Island was so neat to see. I can’t even imagine how it must’ve felt as an immigrant to come through those gates. The fear and longing to start a new life… they were so courageous! The backbone of America is built by hardworking immigrants who give up everything they have to start a new life by chasing the American Dream. I have such respect for them.

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On the way back from circling the Statue of Liberty, we had a clear view of the New Jersey and New York shoreline. Coming from where I live in Texas, we have to drive 3 hours to get to Oklahoma, 4 hours to Louisiana and Arkansas, about 7-8 hours to New Mexico, and depending on if you’re going to south Texas, you could be looking at about a 4-8 hour drive! So the fact that you could see New Jersey from the shore of New York, it  blows my mind!

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The next NYC stop we made was to the Empire State Building. By this time of the trip, we all realized we didn’t have much money left over so we just enjoyed going inside to the ground floor of the Empire State Building. It was beautiful and decorated for Christmas!

After the Empire State Building, we hit up the subway again and hightailed it to Times Square. This is the one stop Samuel absolutely wanted to see. We got there right at dusk so it was awesome to see the lights be just as bright as the daylight!

My favorite thing in Times Square was the M&M and Disney stores. The M&M store was three stories tall and just wall to wall M&M candies and all sorts of paraphilia. I was absolutely in heaven since M&Ms are my favorite candy. The Disney store was equally amazing. On the walls going up the escalator it is painted in a tangled theme but with other Disney characters’ silhouettes woven into the theme as well. It was super cool! The were a large castle on the second floor that was filled floor to ceiling with little girl princess dresses and costume jewelry.

After that, we headed to grab some NYC pizza. We ate at Sbarro and while it wasn’t a mom and pop type shop, it was still good. 🙂

With dinner out of the way, we headed back onto the Square and just sat and looked around. There is always something going on. People are everywhere!

Since we had some time to kill before our bus left, we decided to catch the subway up to Grand Central Station. The brothers and I had seen it in countless movies so we thought it’d be cool to see it in person.

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It. Was. Awesome. We walked into the terminal and it was just like the movies. It was so busy. Now I have personal experience with the saying “its like Grand Central Station in here”! The ceiling was spectacular (see picture of the green starlike painting)! Even though we went late at night, it was slammed with people going to and from. It was so cool to be able to hang out in a place so iconic.

Since that was our last stop, we headed back to Port Authority Bus Terminal and hung out until our bus left. Our feet were killing us, so when we got back to our apartment in Philadelphia, we decided to not go back to NYC the next day (which was a good thing because it poured down rain the next day).

The next day my brothers and I decided that we didn’t like NYC as much as we loved Philadelphia. We didn’t like it for several reasons: 1) we were absolutely spoiled by how easy Philadelphia was to navigate whereas NYC was a nightmare, 2) the hustlers were awful, and 3) it had an unfriendly, big city feel whereas Philly is a big city with a small town, friendly atmosphere.

Here are a few extra NY pictures that I just couldn’t help but include:

Our last day in Philly was spent sleeping in, watching movies, and just hanging out with one another. We flew home the next day and while we loved being in Philadelphia, we were so glad to be back on Texas soil. 🙂

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Philadelphia Part 4.5

Here’s to Part 4.5!!! My most favorite place we toured while in Philly was the Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP). It was ah-mazing! My major used to be Criminal Justice and I learned about this prison during the semesters I studied CrimJ.

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A little history on the ESP: it was founded by the Quakers who were appalled by the conditions of the prisons during the 1800s. So a group of Quakers, including Benjamin Franklin, banded together and formed The Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons and commissioned the ESP to be built. The purpose of the prison was to isolate the prisoners in solitary confinement because the belief was if a prisoner was isolated, there would be no bad outside influences to corrupt them. ESP was built like a fortress; it was built on a hill overlooking Philadelphia so the citizens could look up, see the prison, and be physically reminded when tempted to commit crimes that they would end up there. The stone walls rise high above the ground with no chance of escape with the guard towers are even taller than the walls.

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In the cells there was one bed, one toilet, a sky light, and a tiny, walled private courtyard. The skylight was called the Eye of God. The Quakers believed the prisoners would look up to see the sliver of light and think God was looking down on them (it was supposed to inspire repentance). During the early years of the prison, there was a prisoner who was sentenced to ESP for two years for the crime of stealing his neighbor’s horse. Since ESP was specifically built to be a solitary confinement prison, the prisoner’s days consisted of 22 hours of solitary confinement, 1 hour of visual contact with the prison guards (they were not allowed to speak to the guards), and 1 hour of sunshine in the private courtyard. If a prisoner spoke, another year was added onto their sentences.

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It was one of the first prisons to have multiple levels and it was designed like a wheel with spokes. The whole purpose of the design was so a guard could stand in the center of the “wheel”, do a 360, and see down every single cell block.

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As the years passed, the people realized that solitary confinement and the “no talking” rule wasn’t working. So they changed it to where you could talk but it was still one prisoner per cell.

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Memorial to the prisoners who served in WWII. Their numbers are on the plaque instead of their names.

One cell that was super cool in particular housed Al Capone for one year. He was sentenced to ESP after being busted for carrying a concealed, unlicensed .38 caliber revolver.

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Below are some more pictures that I took at ESP. I loved how dark and solemn the atmosphere felt.

These were some photos along the wall of actual pictures of the prisoners. We were given a headset when we entered the prison and the last picture on the bottom right was of all the voices on the headset. Many of them were of prisoners and guards who were sentenced/worked there over the years ESP was operational.

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They still hold reunions for the prisoners each year. 🙂

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These mirrors swing back and forth, able to adjust as the guards needed. They allowed guards to be able to stand at any vantage point and see down the hallway.

All in all, the Eastern State Penitentiary was my all-time favorite place we visited in Philadelphia. I could have easily spent all day exploring all the corridors we didn’t go down. If you ever have a free afternoon in Philly, definitely go here!

After leaving there, we caught the Bus and hopped off at the Vietnam Veterans memorial. Joshua really wanted to pay tribute to his fellow veteran.

We ended the day by walking from the Vietnam Memorial to Sonny’s (another great Philly cheesesteak place). We passed by where William Penn’s house used to sit. While the house is no longer standing, the land is now converted into what’s called Welcome Park.

That ended our touring of Philadelphia. I cannot say how much I love that city. ❤

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Philadelphia – Part 4

Day 4 was so much fun! Once we got home that morning, we packed up our gear (aka super warm jackets, hats, and gloves!) and headed out for an afternoon jammed packed of touristy things!

We started off by purchasing tickets to what is called the Big Bus tours. I loved this so much! The tickets are reasonably priced and the neat thing about the tours is they have 27 stops in Philadelphia and you can get on and off at whatever place you want for the whole day.

The boys and I totally digged being able to get on and off at whatever stop we wanted. We got to hit almost all the major sites of Philadelphia within a single afternoon. It was so fun!

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We started out the day by catching the bus at The Hyatt at the Bellevue (Stop 18). It has a gorgeous view of City Hall. The Big Bus Tours was one of the best ideas we had while in Philadelphia. The Big Bus Tours are double decker buses with tour guys who point out lots of historical buildings and facts as you pass by. Even though we saw and visited most of the major attractions, there are too many historical facts we learned and I took way too many pictures to put them all in one blog post. So I’m just going to show the highlights of the tour. You’ll just have to go yourself and see everything for yourself. J

So after the Hyatt at the Bellevue, we rode the Bus around and stopped at Christ Church. Just a little background on Christ Church, it was established in Philadelphia in 1695. Not only did Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross, and John Adams attend this church, but so did George Washington and his family. It is so beautiful inside. The neat thing is that it is not only a historical landmark but it is still a working church. We actually missed the last service of the day by about an hour. I would have loved to have been able to sit and listen to a sermon in the same place as our founding fathers.

As we walked around inside, I noticed that there were some plaques on some of the pews. So I went into one of the pews to get a closer look at the plaque. When I looked closer, I was blown away by what was on the plaque.

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I was sitting in President George Washington’s pew. I was so in awe. As I sat there, I couldn’t help but think of how he must have poured his heart out to the Lord, begging for wisdom as he lead this fledging country in a war for freedom and independence. I sat where he and his family prayed to the Almighty to guide him as he lead the world’s first experiment for a democratic republic. I can’t lie when I say that chills raced up and down my spine to be in the same pew as the man who had one of the most profound influences on how our country was run. “It is impossible to govern the world without God or the Bible.” – George Washington

The next stop we made was to Betsy Ross’ house. We didn’t go into the museum part but we walked around her courtyard and saw the outside of her home.

We hit up Elfreth’s Alley next. I love this little alley because it is the oldest residential alley in America and it dates back to 1702. Two times a year the residents of Elfreth’s Alley open up their residences and allow visitors to tour their historic homes. The next time this event took place was a week after we went home and I was so devastated to miss it by a week! I loved Elfreth’s Alley because no two homes were the same. There is one house for sale and it’s starting price is a mere $800,000. So if anyone wants to donate towards my house fund, I won’t say no! 😛

Elreth’s Alley was amazing!

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The next thing we hit up was The Rodin Museum. It was so beautiful and ironically, contains only Rodin pieces. Rodin’s most famous piece would have to be The Thinker. The brothers were super excited to the “I’m thinking” skit from Night at the Museum.

The details on these gate doors below is absolutely insane. I loved seeing the intricate details that Rodin painstakingly carved into the metal. It took him 37 years to work on the original doors for an arts museum in Paris. The inspiration behind The Gates of Hell came from Dante’s Inferno. (For more information on the Rodin Museum or any of his sculptures, click here)

That’s all for part 4 (part 1)!

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Philadelphia – Part 3

Okie-dokie here is part 3. There wasn’t much touring done that day because we jumped on the Amtrak early so we could head out to Lancaster County for the wedding. I have never been on an Amtrak before and it was awesome. Although, I just had deja vu to The Woman on the Train movie. 🙂

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Watching the industrial Philadelphia roll into the countryside with sweeping farmlands, huge silos, and lazy cows in the pasture was beyond beautiful. Once we arrived in Lancaster County, we hit up our trusty Lyft drivers and headed over to our hotel in Mount Pleasant.

The four of us have been best friends for almost 2 decades. We are more siblings than friends. We have shared laughs, practical jokes, tears, divorce, death, and so much more together and come out the other side like champs. We do life together. We love each other fiercely and we have the kind of friendship that makes us fly across the country to be with one of them for the best day of their life.

We added two more people to our crew this year. It has been an honor and an absolute joy to get to know each of our best friend’s new husband/wife. These people…I just love them so much. I am so excited to be able to journey with these peeps for years to come! 🙂

It was so fun to celebrate these fine folks in Pennsylvania…and I’d just like to add that Pennsylvanians know how to throw a serious party! 🙂

After crashing at the hotel late that night, we were up early the next morning to catch the Amtrak back to Philly!

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Philadelphia – Part 2

Picking up where I left off…

Once Joshua left for his buddy’s rehearsal dinner, Samuel and I decided to hit the town on our own. I had read about this really neat place called Magic Gardens on Pintrest. I had been really wanting to visit this place from everything I had read about it. I can honestly say I was not disappointed. It was AMAZING and blew my expectations out of the water!

I was given a pamphlet with information about the Magic Gardens when I walked in the gate. What we learned was that Isaiah Zagar, who is an award winning mosaic mural artist, created these installations on half a block of Philly’s famous South Street. He has his work on more than 200 public buildings around the world. He uses nontraditional materials like folk art statues, random objects, wheels from bicycles, and so many beautiful colored glass bottles in his mosaics. There are even hand-made tiles and seemingly endless glass mirrors imbedded in the walls, ceiling, and floors of the indoor and outdoor museum. Zagar used these to give a visual representation of anecdotes and personal narratives on his life, family and community. What follows are some of the pictures of one of the coolest museums I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit!

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I am entirely too thrilled to be in this place at the moment. 🙂 I think my face says it all.

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Samuel’s famous smoulder…

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You can see the hand-made tiles and fragmented mirrors behind us.

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Zagar uses wire to create images as well.

There were multiple levels to this installation.

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I loved how Zagar used everyday objects to build the walls, floors, ceilings of his art museum. Its the complex mixture of the different materials that make is absolutely breathtaking and unique. In one of the photos, you can see how Zagar uses bowls and bicycle wheels to add to the beauty of this place. You could stand looking at one spot for hours and continuously see something new each time you looked. It is especially beautiful when the sun is setting. There are so many things I could say about this incredible space. I didn’t even get any pictures of the inside of the museum! This was only the outer corridor that I snapped photos of!

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10/10 I would definitely recommend you stop here! I could have added so many more pictures from this amazing place but these are just a few of my favorites!

Next, Samuel and I hit up the famous steps at the Museum of Art. These are the steps that the fictitious Rocky Balboa ran up. Samuel ran them but I slightly jogged up them (there are 72 steps, in case anyone was curious!).

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After this, we were exhausted from running up and down the steps and walking around the fountains up at the top. Samuel and I sat at the bottom of the steps and enjoyed watching the tourists run up the steps as well. The laughter and memories people make at the steps is so awesome to see! You can even get a picture with the Rocky statue around the corner.

Once we caught our Lyft back to our apartment, we crashed so hard! So that concludes our second day in Philadelphia! On to day 3…

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Philadelphia – Part 1 (of many!)

I know its been a while since I’ve posted anything. But I was able to go stay one of the most amazing cities I have ever had the pleasure to visit. Just as a catch-up, my brothers and I went to a wedding in Pennsylvania of one of our closest friends. Our friends now wife lived there and thus thats where the wedding took place. I’m going to break the trip up into several different parts because my brothers and I packed it so full of touristy things that it’d be too much to do in one post. So here goes on day 1!

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It had been 6 months since we had last seen Joshua (pictured in the middle). It was so good to turn the corner of the TSA checkpoint and see him sitting there waiting for us.

We left DFW for our layover in Chicago on Thanksgiving day. It was such a smooth plane ride and once we connected to our flight in Philadelphia, we were on the last stretch! It was smooth flying all the way to Philly.

When I was planning this trip out, I looked into AirBnB and found a great deal on a studio apartment off 23rd and Walnut in Philadelphia. It was in such a great location. From our place in the Roosevelt Apartments, we had an easy 25-30 minute walk into the old Center City.

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The picture above is the Roosevelt Apartments where we stayed. The 6th floor windows on the far left was where we stayed.

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Our hostess was awesome and extremely helpful. She was able to be reached by both phone and the AirBnB app. If anyone is looking to stay somewhere without paying hotel prices, I highly recommend using AirBnB.

 

Our little kitchen was great!

 

I took these pictures on our last day actually which is why the room looks crazy. We were in the midst of packing up to go home. And Joshua is just being himself. 😉 The studio apartment only had one bed so because of that, Samuel and I took turns sleeping on the floor. Even though the sleeping situation wasn’t enough for the 3 of us, we weren’t there for most of time so it was just fine.

Once we got settled in and hung out in the apartment for a couple of hours, our friends who were getting married picked us up and we drove to Downingtown, PA to eat dinner with both of their families. Even though it wasn’t until almost 11 pm when we sat down, it was so nice to be with not only our long time friends but also new friends and celebrate Thanksgiving together.

The next day was our first full day of touring. We woke up super early and packed on our jackets, hats, scarves, and gloves! For a Texas gal, it was such a weather shock to actually have to wear a jacket!

We ate breakfast at an awesome little donut shop called Federal Donuts. I had seen a short promo video of it on Facebook and wanted to try it. It was awesome cause it was only a short 15 minute walk for us from the apartment.

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If you’re ever in Philadelphia and in the mood for outrageously delicious donuts, I would highly recommend you hit up this shop (its on Samson St). Not only are the donuts a variety of flavors but they are also super affordable. The cool thing about Federal Donuts is that at 11 o’clock sharp, they start serving up fried chicken. Unfortunately for us, we were on a super tight schedule and couldn’t stick around to taste their delicious chicken.

After finishing off that delicious goodness, we burned off the calories by walking the remainder of the way to Center City. In Center City, we were able to tour so many of the buildings that up until that point I had only read about in history class.

Since we had obviously never been to Philadelphia before, we were not familiar with the streets so we were a tad confused as to where everything was. Joshua was looking around and he asked me where Independence Hall was. I tapped him on the should and he turned around and saw this for the first time.

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As a history nerd, I was blown away with the beauty of this building. I stood there in awe, probably with my jaw hanging open, and was just blown away by the fact America was born in this building. We got to tour the building but since it was such an amazing experience that I’ll write a whole entire post dedicated just to Independence Hall.

There is a square that faces Independence Hall and on the left of it is the Liberty Bell. It is housed in a long building just off the green.

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The Liberty Bell is so much bigger in person than I could ever have imagined. It is beautiful and so historic. My little inner nerdy history geek pretty much freaked out the entire trip. I know it doesn’t look huge in the picture but trust me, it is.

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The next stop on our tour was Jim’s on South St. South St is known in Philly is the hip part of town. Its full of hipster joints, swanky restaurants, art shops, etc. Before heading to Philly, I did some research on which was the best Philly cheesesteak place but once we got to Philly we started asking our Lyft drivers which one they preferred and several of them recommended Jim’s.

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It was super good! Tip: if you want to order like a true Philadelphian, you order it wit wiz. You won’t regret it! The guys loved Jim’s as well. 🙂

After a satisfactory lunch, we walked back up to Independence Hall and were greeted by this beautiful site.

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We then went up to the Liberty Square where Joshua was picked up by our friends who whisked him away to the rehearsal dinner.

This is just half of the first day! And since it has already been a long post, I’m going to stop here for now and I’ll try to post more later. Hope you enjoyed some of the pictures!

-N

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As the holidays approach…

The holidays are quickly approaching and it’s just another reminder that something is missing.

Mom loved the holidays. Actually, she loved anything that gave her an excuse to decorate. The holidays were just a huge extravaganza of decorations, baking, gift shopping, and family traditions. 

I’ll be the first to admit I have no talent in the decorating department. I used to joke with her that I was her muscle and Samuel, my younger brother, was her co-decorator (you’d think it’d be switched). He inherited her artistic eye and talent for decorating. 

As I think about the upcoming holidays, I can’t help but feel this year will be different than last year. I don’t mean different easier but I also don’t be different harder. There’s no doubt, I think the first Christmas without mom will always be the hardest holiday. I just mean that so many things have changed this year that everything feels, for lack of a better word, different. My brothers and I are going on a trip over Thanksgiving so we won’t be home and then my dad, Samuel, and I are going back to New Mexico for Christmas. So we won’t be home for the last two major holidays in 2016.

I know this Christmas will be different because my dad invited his girlfriend to come with us to New Mexico. And even though I really like her and at the moment I am fine with her coming, I’m not sure how I will feel when that time comes. Mom’s favorite holiday was Christmas and she and I had a couple of traditions that just she and I would do. We’d pull out her fine china, set the table and start the preparations for Christmas morning breakfast. I didn’t get to do that last year so for me, after everyone had gone to sleep, I cried by myself for hours on Christmas Eve because I missed her so much. 

So when my dad asked me if I would mind if his girlfriend came, I told him that I didn’t have a problem with it at the moment, but I was also unsure how I’d feel come Christmas time. He was ok with me being unsure. But I don’t know if I’m ok with me being unsure…
I wonder how it will be for me that week we are gone. It will give me a look at what the future could potentially be like if she and my Dad got married. It would be a glimpse of all future holidays. It’s almost like this unique opportunity to preview what the future could hold and I’m nervious to see how I will react. Am I ready for another woman to step into the place my mom always occupied? No, probably not. But that doesn’t mean it won’t turn out to be a good thing. 

Yesterday marked 1.5 years since she passed away but I can still vividly remember the last day she was with us and the weeks that followed. It’s hard for me to reconcile sometimes that life moves on even when your world comes crashing down. And while I know that change is good sometimes, it still makes things like holidays hard.

If you’re going through a loss and are dreading the upcoming holidays, I’ve been where you are and I know what you’re going through. It’s not fun nor easy and I don’t really have any great words of wisdom; all I have to offer is that even after a year and a half, I still cry myself to sleep sometimes and there are days or events where I wish I could turn around and my Mom would still be standing there. But I think it will get easier. Some of us more on more quickly than others and that’s ok.

I’ll be praying for you, friend, and that as we move into full on holiday season that you’ll be reminded of all the good memories and laughter you shared with your loved one(s).

That’s all my thoughts for today…blessings friends!

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Flashbacks

The other day at work I looked up from where I was sitting at my desk and through the glass windows, I saw a small lady sitting in the front seat of a big suburban with her hair pulled through a ball cap. I sat there and just stared at this lady for several minutes. I’m pretty sure my eyes teared up. I had so many flashbacks in that one moment to my mom in the exact same position. She’d wear a ball cap when she complained her hair looked a mess or was greasy (it rarely was though). 

She was a small woman, only 5′ 1″ at the most. She had the most beautiful long brown hair you’d ever seen. She loved her long hair and so did Dad. He loved to brush her hair and play with it…

I remember when we had to shave her head because the chemo was making patches of it fall out. She sat on a kitchen chair in the middle of my parents bathroom, her bird like frame seemed small against the stark whiteness of the room. Dad stood on her right and turned on the razor, took a deep breath and started to shave her head. I’ll never forget standing there watching as my mom sat in that chair, her eyes closed, as silent tears ran down her face. I looked up to see the same sorrow running down my Dad’s face as well. Even our dog at the time sensed the palpable sadness and walked over to Mom and rested her head in Mom’s lap.

After her head was shaved, Mom would get really cold so I started to crochet her some hats… I wanted her to still feel pretty even though her hair was gone. So I made the hats really crazy colorful…I told her they would match all her pajamas. I used to tease her in hopes of bringing a smile to her face by rubbing her head and telling her it felt so fuzzy. 

My mom was a physically gorgeous woman, and though she knew that, she was never once prideful about it. But as a woman, it’s sometimes hard to fight feeling proud of something thing you actually like about yourself. So while my Mom never boasted about her beauty, I think she felt like the last bit of it had been stripped from her when her head had to be shaved. 

It was really hard to see her let go of the last physical reminder of her femininity. Even though she got some wigs later on and joked that she would like to try being blonde (trust me, she was not a blonde wig person!) I still think each time she put on her wigs that there was a part of her that wished for her own hair.

I know this might sound insignificant to some people. You might be like, “What’s the big deal? It’s just hair…it’ll grow back.” While I can’t speak for all women, I can speak for my mom and I. We love(d) our hair and it’s the small things in life that make you feel pretty…for her, it was her hair.

I don’t really have a point with this post. I guess I’m just reminiscing. It’s just the first time I’ve seen someone who looked like my mom. I actually thought for a split second that it was her. I know with startling clarity that I’ll never forget the moment I saw that lady in her big saburban. And even though I held it together pretty well at that moment, it’s a long journey to where I’ll be able to see someone in a crowd (or service drive) who looks like her without feeling like someone ripped out my heart all over again. While I’m slowly getting to a point where every memory of her doesn’t necessarily make me cry but that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t hurt.

Anyways…I guess I’ll close this post with a quote that kind of sums up everything this post means: “The only reason people hold on to memories so tight is because memories are the only things that don’t change when everything else does.”

~N

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Election Day 2016

Election Day. The day Americans have equally dreaded and hoped for. 

As I think about this years election, I can’t help but feel saddened by how things have turned out. The internal turmoil that has rocked America over the past couple of years has leaked into every aspect of American culture. 

There has been violence at the polling places, people have been beat up at rallies, and families and friendships have been split apart because of the strong feelings associated with the candidates.

Did I vote? Yes I did. Did I like my choices? No, not at all. I’ll be honest, I was not sure who I would vote for for the longest time. I asked so many of my friends and family who they were voting for. I really struggled with how Trump treated women, how he racially slurred immigrants, and how rude and crude he has been throughout his entire campaign. I also struggled with Hillary because she is a democrat and stands for everything I don’t and even though I would not consider myself a classic femenist, it would be groundbreaking to have a women for a president.

So how did I decide what to do? I had coffee with lifelong friend of mine one day and we got to talking about the election. I asked her what she was going to do. She said she’d be struggling to know what to do too. She told me she asked a wise woman of God from her church what her advise was. This lady told my friend that we as Christian’s have to vote for the candidate who supports the life of an unborn baby. 

That really clicked it for me.

Even though I didn’t like the choice that left me, I knew who I had to vote for. When I later watched one of the debates and the commentary that followed and discovered the fact that the next president gets to appoint 4 Supreme Court justices and that Trump would appoint 4 solid, conservative, and pro-life judges was just another confirming factor for me.

I will be honest. As a young, conservative Republican, Christian woman, as a person Trump’s treatment of women appalls me. And yet, it’s like what Dr. Robert Jefferies of First Baptist Dallas states in his article Why Christians Must Vote In This Election. We are not voting for personalities but policies. And yes, I’m aware that someone’s personality can effect how policy is played out but policy is ultimately much more important.

While I can’t tell you who to vote for or even to vote, I can encourage you to look at what you believe in and match that up to the candidate who best supports your beliefs. I firmly believe that it is better to vote than to stay at home and do nothing. God has richly blessed us by allowing us to live in a country where we have the ability and freedom to exercise our civic duty by choosing who we want to lead us. 

It’s a little terrifying to know that once we vote, we are held accountable to our choice of president so please be wise as you cast your ballot. You only get to cast your vote once so make sure it’s for the person you believe in. 

As the polls close tonight and the results come rolling in, we can be praying that God’s plan for America will continue to bring Him glory (no matter the results) and that if the candidate of our choice does not win, then there will be no violence towards the opposite party and that the losing side will be gracious. 

🇺🇸 God bless America. 🇺🇸

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