Marriage Mondays: How I Met Your Father

I thought it would be fun to do some Marriage Monday’s flashbacks. That is, little snippets of the past!

Today I’m going to write about how I met Jose.

I met Jose through one of my best friend’s: Gabby. The first time I saw him was on a Third Friday event in Millville. To be honest, I didn’t think anything about him at all when I first met him.

I just thought, “Oh another new friend Gab made at her new school.” Then, we went to a football game and he was there. I remember thinking he was cute but that’s it. Jose back in his teen years was a hot mess. Always trying to fight people and a lot of drama! I thought of him as, “The friend of Gabby’s that I really need to pray for.” Gabby would always update me on his latest drama/saga.

Jose finally caught my eye at Gabby’s Sweet 16. He looked FINE!

It was the first time I ever saw him dressed up and he was handsome. He had a vest with a piano on it. Terrible fashion choice now, but I thought he had it going on. Still, he seemed like he had a lot of things going on so I made a mental note of his cuteness and didn’t think a lot about it.

Gabby started inviting him to church. He would come in with his baggy pants and baggy shirts. The more he came to church, the more I started noticing him, but I didn’t think we had much in common. It wasn’t the way he dressed, it just seemed like we both were completely different people. That all changed when one day, Jose went up for prayer, and asked God to change His life.  That’s when I started to pay a little more attention!

After that, we all went over to Gabby’s house. We started talking about our lives, interests, and hobbies. Jose and I seemed to have some things in common. My heart was skipping a beat. Fast forward a few days later and I hear my brother talking to him on the phone: my brother’s room was downstairs in the basement and I was above his room, which meant that if I listened through the vent I could hear everything he was saying.

You can bet I eavesdropped! I wanted to know what they were talking about. Soon, I realized I wanted to be the one talking to Jose on the phone so I called him to “check up on his salvation.” Jose gets a kick out of retelling this part of the story. I didn’t really know what good reason I had to call him so I told him I wanted to follow up to see how he was doing after Sunday and after his prayer! From there, I started asking him silly questions. If you know me, you know I get a thrill out of asking silly questions and listening to what people say. The more I talked to him, the more I liked him.

From that point on, I was SMITTEN. The funny thing is, I wasn’t the type to pursue someone or to pick up the phone and just call a guy. I was more old-fashioned and introverted. Nonetheless, I had to talk to this boy! So we started to talk on the phone regularly and through AIM. Guys, this was during the day of no cell phones. We had to talk to each other the “old fashioned way.”

Give it a few weeks later and we were on our first “date.” Valentine’s dinner at Adelphia’s. His gift to me was a stuffed animal and an origami rose. What can I say? We were broke! Not even sure how we paid for Adelphia’s. He wore this HIDEOUSLY UGLY shiny shirt that had Coqui Frogs and Puerto Rican flags. I remember thinking it was the ugliest shirt I ever saw, but it was too soon to tell him. It was a wrap. I was in L-O-V-E.

To be continued…

 

The Power of Community

It’s the night before church. As I’m sitting here thinking about how exciting it is to attend church and be encouraged with people who love Jesus, I am reminded of how many times I’ve heard the phrase: “I don’t need to go to church. I can have church on my own in my living room.” Yes, we are the church and the body of Christ. You can connect with the Lord anywhere, but biblically speaking it’s so essential to gather with other people who love Jesus and connect. I thought it would be great to write a post that focuses on the WHY when it comes to church and in general, the power in community.

No man is an island. At least, no man should be an island. As humans, we are wired to be people of connection and intimacy. Yet, do you know how many times in my life I’ve heard people say they don’t need anyone or don’t like to be close to anyone? Heck, when I am down in the dumps and going through something, my first fleshly tendency is to isolate myself from others. In the instances I’ve done that, I’ve NEVER thrived or done well. Do you wonder why that is? Read on.

Right from the opening scene in the Bible, the Lord recognizes that it’s not good for man to be alone and on His own. He sees this and decides to make a companion for Adam. Hi there Eve!

Then the Lord God said, “I see that it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make the companion he needs, one just right for him.” Genesis 2:18
In the New Testament, we see multiple examples of community and how much power there was when people got together. It’s ALL OVER ACTS!
“And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity —” Acts  2:44-46 
There are so many examples of how important it was to be with other people, to encourage, to uplift, to share with one another.

Reasons why Community is so important:

1. it’s good for you.

The two verse above tell you how important God thought it was and still is: connecting with others is good for us!  So good that God gave Adam someone because He knew it wasn’t good for him to be a lone ranger. So good for us that in Acts, it’s all we see. People together, spurring each other on. They didn’t just throw around the phrase, “let’s do life together.” They actually did life together! What does that look like today? It means connecting with someone outside of Sunday services and it may feel awkward or strange, uncomfortable. It might mean putting yourself out there, not sure what you will get in return. If you are a person who is used to flying solo, I encourage you to step out of the comfort zone and try to connect with someone who will inspire you to be better.

2. it helps you avoid doing stupid things because it gives you accountability.

Accountability. What does that mean? It means someone can call you out on the carpet for how much of a mess you’re being and vice versa. I think this is good to have even outside of your spouse. Yes, I call my husband out all the time and he does the same for me when I need it! Outside of each other, we have pastors and Godly leadership who will let us know about ourselves. This makes us better people and helps us avoid stupid mistakes!

Proverbs 18:1 One who has isolated himself seeks his own desires; he rejects all sound judgment.

People who cut themselves off from others are looking after what they want and don’t want to listen to other people. In easy terms, it means you’re being selfish. I have found myself in this trap at times! It’s that phrase “I’m gonna do me! I’m pursuing what I want and forget about everyone else…pursuing my dreams…” you’ll basically hear a lot of me me me and my my my with something missing. That something missing is: What does God actually want from you? When you are tempted to say, “FORGET YOU WORLD!” be reminded of Proverbs. It’ll reel you back in.

3. it helps you slay life.

The verse that Jose and I used at our wedding was this one:

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9,12 

Having people behind you will strengthen you and help you succeed! If you’re trying to do everything on you’re own, you become really vulnerable to attacks: spiritually, emotionally, and in so many ways.

4. it’s encouraging.

Having a solid group of awesome people is encouraging because you are constantly inspiring one another to do better and be better. Look at what it says in Hebrews: DON’T STOP MEETING TOGETHER AND ENCOURAGING EACH OTHER! Keep at it! Atta girl! Or boy! In fact, let’s think about how we can motivate one another to love each other and to do great things. I can dig it!

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25 

5. you have someone else to carry your burdens.

This is probably my absolute favorite part when it comes to community: people who will not only walk alongside you when stuff hits the fan but will actually help you carry that heavy load. In times of my life when I felt like I was riding full force on the struggle bus and things in my life were hard, messy, and flat-out awful, I knew I could carry some of my burdens to dear friends who would not just say, “It’s going to be okay” but would actually bear that burden with me. They would cry with me. Sit with me in silence. Laugh with me. I could share it with them knowing that they would pray for me and help me. This has made all the difference in so many of my life circumstances.

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.” Galatians 6:2-3 

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Can you see the power in COMMUNITY?! Can you see why it’s important to get together with others and actually do life with them? Yes, the phrase can be cheesy but I think it’s important.

When people see me at this stage in my life, I hope they see someone who not only loves community but enjoys bringing others together. For me, this is so important, because I know what it was like to isolate myself when things weren’t going great in my life. It was easy to want to be around people when things were amazing! Who doesn’t want to share when life is fabulous? But when I was going through, my first instinct was to isolate myself and to revert to my introvert ways. I am actually a natural introvert. Ask my parents, look through my childhood pictures. Now though, I like talking and getting to know people. I will ask you questions others are probably afraid to ask.

There is so much amazingness in community and people and if you aren’t experiencing that in full force, pray about it and ask God to help you. Reach out to others. Give people lots of grace. Find a church. Plug in. Find your people. And connect.

 

 

Weekend Snapshot: Fall Fun!

I haven’t blogged in awhile! Mostly because I’m adjusting to the new rhythms of life with fall back in the swing of things! I thought it would be fun to do a weekend snapshot of what our weekend looked like and an update on the Lopez Twinsies and what’s been going on in our neck of the woods!

Lopez Twinsies:

  • Slaying preschool: Amazing teachers, new friends, learning so much – I LOVE PRESCHOOL. I will miss this school deeply when they have to move on to kindergarten. They’re learning to read which is awesome and I feel like my babes are so loved.
  • Fiercely Protective of Each Other: Mess with one twin, you are messing with the other. “Don’t do that to him! That’s my BRUDDER [brother]…” this is a line you can hear them saying often. I love how they have each other’s backs.
  • Extremely Entertaining: If you want to be entertained, listen in on a conversation between four-year-olds. In the morning, Micah stands over Josiah’s bed shouting “WAKE UP JOSIAH! WAKE UP! THE SUN IS OUT!” We have unplugged the light in their room, removed the lamp, done all we can to try to keep it dark (room darkening shades) and buy us more sleep time in the morning. They are still up at 7 am or earlier every day. Yes, I know some parents are up earlier but what we wouldn’t trade to sleep until 8 or later!!
  • Fighting/Whining is Super Real: You haven’t lived if you haven’t listened to toddlers fight and whine for 48390284 in a row. This part of this age is not too fun! We have been working on how not to be a whiny baby all day long. They are still works in progress.
  • Snugglefests Going Strong: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it a thousand times. One of the things I love most about this age is the unrestrained, uninhibited love, snuggling, and just affection these boys shower me with. It hasn’t stopped at four (as it shouldn’t!) and hopefully it never stops. Love being a mommy to these two!!

 Weekend Snapshot: 

This weekend was really nice because it consisted of a lot of family time! Hubs and I can have a schedule that can be opposites at times, so it’s a really fabulous thing when we can be at the same place at the same time and dedicate time to some solid uninterrupted family time!

Friday night we decided to carve the pumpkin we got from on the boys’ field trip this week to a farm, which was a blast!

Friday Night:

Spent time carving the pumpkin, as mentioned before. The boys were super excited, even though daddy obviously did most of the carving. It was fun and a nice tradition that we started last year and plan to continue with them.

After pumpkin carving, towards their bed time, mommy got to catch up with one of her besties and have a night out which included in typical mommy fashion: Panera Bread and Target. AND I’M NOT MAD ABOUT IT. Praise Him y’all.

Saturday:

The boys and I spent some time meeting up with a friend and her daughter at a local park! They had the chance to walk through trails and explore which they love to do. This also gave Dad some time to do some things for work and around the house without having us all follow him all the time (which is honestly what we all do haha).

Sunday: 

Favorite day of the week for so many reasons! First off, it’s the day we have our church service. I love Jesus and love my church! Sundays are a huge highlight for my family. Today I had the opportunity lead worship, which is always a blessing! My highlight for this weekend though, was heading down to the shore with my babies. We told them that we had a surprise for them and were taking them to a “surprise.” After church finished and we got in the car and told them where we were going, THEY WERE SO EXCITED. Like their mom, the beach is one of their absolute favorite spots to go to and I knew this was probably going to be the last hurrah as the weather starts to cool down. I’ve written about it before but it is our fave!

We wanted to grab a bite at our favorite pizza spot, but we couldn’t get to it because it looked like the boardwalk had been torn up and it was blocked off around that area! Because we were starving, we went to Manco and Manco’s instead (which is our second favorite spot for pizza) and made do.

Manco and

After that, we went to grab some ice cream!

The boys decided they wanted to walk around on the beach. They insisted on being able to run into the water, which meant drenched jeans and rolled up pants, but they had a blast! It was such a breath of fresh air being able to take some time as a family and go to our favorite place. Especially before we dive into a really hectic week!

 

As the boys were playing in the sand and I was watching them play together, all I could do was just be GRATEFUL. Grateful to have a happy, healthy family. I’m a blessed woman.

Hoping to get back on the blogging bandwagon regularly again soon! Until next time!

Our trip to Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, PA

Every year my husband and I take a three-day trip somewhere just the two of us. We have the blessing and good fortune of having my mom watch our boys for us each year so we can do this. We try to go away for our anniversary and this year we chose Pittsburgh, PA!

Why Pittsburgh?

  1. We’ve never been to Pittsburgh.
  2. It was within driving distance.
  3. I’ve always wanted to go to the “Steel City.”
  4. It’s one of the top cycling cities in the country.
  5. It’s known for being a unique city.

And guys, it didn’t disappoint! We had SO MUCH FUN. I’ve written before about the importance of dating your spouse. For my husband and I, getting time away together without interruptions or distractions is so essential for us. We get to unwind, spend solid uninterrupted quality time together, and continue to appreciate why we love each other so much. It’s also so cool to reflect on all that’s unfolded in our lives up to this point. And did I mention that it’s just plain fun? It’s a great experience to discover new places and new things with your spouse.
Here’s the breakdown of how we spent our time and what we did.

Day 1:

It took us a little over five hours to get there. Jose and I LOVE road trips. Particularly without the kids (we love you Micah and Josiah but overly long trips in the car are not fun for any of us) because we listen to new music and have good conversation. In this instance, we downloaded a bunch of new albums, listened to some amazing sermons, and asked silly/random questions!

We checked into our hotel and decided to head down to this spot called The Strip. We weren’t sure if we would Uber there or drive there but we found out that the hotel had a free shuttle where you could call and get a ride within a few miles of the hotel. Um, you had me at free. Waiting for the shuttle took forever and it was the only time we decided to use it! Nonetheless, we headed over to The Strip District and walked around! It was really cool and had a bunch of cool little shops. We had lunch at Bella Notte, a bar that happens to serve really yummy Italian food. After that, we perused some of the shops and headed back to the hotel.

Cambria Hotel and Suites, Pittsburgh, PA

Waiting for our ride to The Strip.

After we relaxed at the hotel a bit, we decided to check out downtown Pittsburgh. We headed over to Point State Park, which is an amazing park located next to the Allegheny River with a great view of the PNC Stadium and downtown. Guys, downtown Pittsburgh was so pretty and clean. What I loved so much about it was that it wasn’t super crowded and crazy. I love cities but HATE CROWDS. Downtown was really relaxing and stunning during the evening.

Point State Park view into Downtown Pittsburgh.

My favorite shot of downtown.

You could walk around the River and look at the stadiums. Loved walking this area while holding hands with my man! Reminded me of the dating days!

Cool fountains at Point State Park.

 

We hung out here at night and then headed back to the hotel. It was a great start to our three-day trip.

Day 2:

Day 2 we decided we wanted to some activities that included us being active. We started our day off with a delicious breakfast at legendary Pamela’s Diner, which came up time and time again when I looked at what the MUST EAT places were. Pamela’s came up every time. Pamela’s was located on The Strip so we had the chance to check it out again in the AM.

The Strip District Pittsburgh, PA

The Strip had a pretty cool vibe.

Parking here isn’t a hassle during the week, but I can see where it would get tricky during the weekends. Anyway, Pamela’s Diner didn’t disappoint! The food was AMAZINGLY GOOD. And I’ll be super honest, I normally hate diner food. The vibe here is retro and you feel like you’re stepping foot in a 1950s diner with tons of original pictures of the owners and all things Pittsburgh.

Pamela's Diner in Pittsburgh, PA

Crepe Style pancakes were to die for!

Pamela's Diner in Pittsburgh, PA

Such a fun, delicious diner!

Pamela's Diner in Pittsburgh, PA

Fueling up in order to be ready to take on the day!

After we had a delicious breakfast here, we headed downtown because we wanted to rent some bikes. We looked into different rental options but decided to go with the City Bikes. They were cheap and got the job done! We wanted to explore Point State Park during the day and ride along the river. We parked easily, rented our bikes, and were on our way!

Riding along the river was a blast! You can rent mountain bikes at an actual bike shop too if you’d like, but we wanted to stay close to downtown so we opted for the city bikes.

Wind in my hair, sunshine on my face, a perfect summer day! Fun fact: it was 70s the whole time we stayed and the weather was extraordinary!

What’s bike riding without a few obnoxious pics right?!

We did this for quite awhile! Afterwards, we headed downtown. They had a cool Irish Festival going on so we hung out there for a bit. After that, we and then went over to the other side of the river to try our hand at Kayaking. Once you cross over the river, you hit the museums such as The Andy Warhol Museum, The Children’s Museum, and more. PNC Park is located right next to the Kayak rentals as well, and we toyed with the idea of catching a game at night but decided not to. Maybe next time!

Anyway, Jose wanted to go kayaking. I’m not a huge fan of the water because I’m not the most amazing swimmer in the world. That being said, I wanted to compromise and do things he wanted to do and it did seem relaxing, so off we went. Parking on this side of town wasn’t too bad either. Off we went!

Love is all about the compromise!

Smiling because Jose just promised me he wouldn’t let me drown. Hooray!

I’m not going to lie. The first few minutes I was panicky. If you know me, you know one of my weaknesses is assuming the worst. What if a giant boat hit us?! They gave us tips and pointers and Jose was surprisingly good at kayaking like he’d done it a bunch of times before or something! So we stayed safe and soon it was relaxing.

Where you kayak, I will follow *to the tune of Gilmore Girls*

Once we got the hang of it, I pretty much wanted to stay in the water. We did this for about an hour! It was a fun experience! We had some amazing views of downtown.

View from being on the river.

Once we were finished, we walked past PNC park to get to our car. Pittsburgh fans are passionate! There was a certain festiveness in the air. Next time, I think we’ll catch a game.

Outside of PNC park.

We went to Target to grab some things and then came back downtown to have some lunch. We ate at a burger joint called BRGR, a burger chain specific to Pittsburgh,  and had some delicious milkshakes.

Yes please.

At this point, we were tired and ready to head back to the hotel. Once we got to the hotel, we took advantage of the swimming pool. Felt so good! It was time to call it a day.

Day 3:

Sleep in time! Day 2 wore us out. We had to check out by 11 and still wanted to check out the Duquesne Incline. We took our time packing up and headed out to the last place we wanted to see in Pittsburgh. When we were biking downtown and hanging out at Point State Park, we kept seeing people go up the incline in this cable car type of deal. We wanted to try to this before we left. It’s basically a super old cable car that pulls you up to the top of the incline.

Guys, WE WERE SO SCARED being pulled up! This thing is super old and when you get close to the top it starts to slow down and it gets slower and slower until you’re sure it’s about to snap and send you crashing down. When we finally got to the top I urgently whispered to Jose, “GET OUT!” and practically shoved him at the door. I may have kissed the floor.

Moving right along, the view was worth it. From this point, you can see all of Pittsburgh and it’s just plain BEAUTIFUL.

Duquesne Incline, Pittsburgh, PA

Goals: I would like to survive this.

Duquesne Incline, Pittsburgh, PA

Okay, I suppose it was worth it.

This is also located on the South Side of Pittsburgh. The South Side has a very unique feel to it. It reminds me of Philly a bit, without the traffic. Very quaint, cute area and insanely steep hills.

After this, we were ready to head home. We always get the third-day itch, where by the third day we are missing our boys so much and are ready for the comfort of our own home.

We had such a good time! The next time we visit Pittsburgh I want to check out the Andy Warhol museum and the P&G zoo. The next time we go, we definitely want to bring the boys! Overall, Pittsburgh exceeded my expectations and hit the mark when it came to being a place where we could relax and enjoy the city without the stressors of a city.

What I loved about Pittsburgh, PA:

  1. City feel without the drama of a city.
  2. City in the mountains, which made for gorgeous scenic views.
  3. It has a very relaxing feel to it.
  4. Tons of biking opportunities.
  5. Inexpensive city to stay in.

We will definitely be back!

Marriage Mondays: Growing Together

Tonight I thought I would write about the importance of growing together as a couple. When people divorce, you often hear the phrase, “We grew apart.” How does that happen? I think it probably starts subtly. It likely creeps in and before you know it, you feel like you don’t recognize the person you’re married to. I strongly believe any good marriage takes work. When I look at couples I admire who have amazing longstanding relationships and are still in love, I hear the same thing! What you put into it, you’ll get out of it.

But back to my point, how do you fight against the whole growing apart? I think you learn to grow together! This is something my husband and I try to work on daily, weekly, and just make part of our relationship. We don’t always get it right but we constantly are evaluating what we can do to do better, be better, and love each other better.

Here’s the thing: there are so many times we fail! We snap at each other, attitudes get the best of us, we want to be right so pride kicks in, and the list goes on. I can probably write several books on our imperfections and shortcomings. But I want to be married to this man for forever because I love him. This means I will do everything I can to continue to strengthen and build our relationship.

What I’m sharing here is what we’ve done in the past and what we are currently doing. Please share what you and your spouse do, would love to hear it!

Ways You Can Grow Together: 

1. Pray together and keep a prayer journal together.


This is simple and if you think you don’t have the time, I promise you it’s not some long drawn out process. Also, there are times where we miss some nights. Give yourself grace, don’t be hard on yourself, and get back on the horse. Anyway, we sit down together and we come up with a list of things we want to pray about. Topics are sometimes broad but usually super specific. The more specific the better. We write these down and take turns praying for each one. This isn’t longer than ten minutes. I really like doing this because I feel like I get to hear about what’s on my husband’s heart, different parts of his day, and what he feels a particular burden for. Then I can share with him what’s on my heart and we can share that together and pray about it together. We’ve seen God do some amazing miracles in our lives in direct correlation to what we’ve prayed about together during our sessions.

2. Find hobbies or interests you enjoy together.


My husband and I are really similar but we’re also complete opposites in a lot of ways. The things I like and the things he likes to do vary on a really wide scale. In the past, I’ve focused more on just what I liked (because God is still working out the selfishness in me – don’t judge me y’all) but recognizing that marriage is about compromise. The things we enjoy doing together are reading a book together out loud and talking about what we’ve read, watching comedic shows, riding bikes, and singing/playing music together.

3. Take a genuine interest in each other’s life.

I live for pillow talk!

Ask questions! Don’t get so comfortable that you forget the wonder of each other and the wonder of marriage. Be interested and engaged in what’s happening in your spouse’s life. If you know me, you know I love to ask about 101 questions. Sometimes I drive Jose crazy because  I will ask about everything. He’s a realtor so when he gets home I’ll ask him about the houses he showed, the clients, his day, anything else, and it may drive him nuts sometimes but I am genuinely interested in what’s going on in his life! This is because I am highly interested in HIM! Never stop asking questions, never stop caring, don’t just ask mundane questions but be specific. Can you tell I’m all about the detail?

4. Challenge each other.

Challenge each other to be better and do better each day. ENCOURAGE. Push. Build one another up. Don’t do it in the form of nagging. It’s really easy to slip into the nagging mode, which I know pretty well! Ha! Don’t be afraid to call each other out on the carpet. My husband calls me out and I call him out. I don’t mean to publicly shame your spouse. I mean that when you’re on your own time, don’t be afraid to call them out/call them up to all who they are as needed.

5. Hold each other accountable.

Earlier this year I asked my husband to write down a list of his goals: specifically what he wanted to accomplish this year. I asked him to share those goals with me and then we talked about it. I shared my goals with him. Because we both have an idea of what we are aiming for individually and as a family, it’s easier to hold each other accountable. For example, I know of my husband’s goals is to cycle more. It’s a hobby of his and he enjoys it. Because I know this, when I see life getting hectic I’ll ask him if he’s cycled this week. If the answer is no, we’ll look for a way to pencil that in so he can do that. It may seem silly/simple but it was something on his goals list. One of my personal goal’s was to work more on a story that I’ve been writing. I enjoy writing. When there is down time, my husband will say, “Hey, how are you doing with your story?” or “Why don’t you take some of this time to write?” In this way, I feel like he’s holding me accountable to my goals. This kind of goes with #4 and it’s important that we don’t nag, but it’s nice to know that I have someone who will hold me accountable and push me forward.

6. Serve together.

This is probably the most important! Grow together by thinking outside of yourselves and thinking of others. So much of a healthy marriage is about living a life of selflessness.

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  1 Peter 4:10

For Jose and I, this looks like serving in ministry together! We both serve in our local church. We have always served in whatever church we have attended together because it’s important to us. Find a place or a way you can both serve together.

These are just a few things that we do that work for us and that, in my opinion, help us grow together. What are some things that you and your spouse do to grow together? Would love to hear your thoughts below! Thanks for

When It’s Time to End a Friendship

I am grateful for friendships. I believe that powerful, healthy friendships can inspire, breathe life, and encourage you in the valleys of life. These friendships will challenge you, correct you, and push you to do better and be better. When God places this kind of friend in your life, you hold on tight. I’ve written about that before about two of my closest friends.

Yet, I wanted to tackle this subject from the other side. What happens when a friendship is no longer life giving and instead seems to choke the life out of you? When instead of feeling challenged you feel defeated and instead of pushing you to your best, this friendship brings out all the ugly sides of you? What happens when a friendship is no longer very positive and produces no good fruit in your life? What do you do?

The Bible does say after all, “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” – ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭17:17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

But what happens when a friendship turns toxic? What choices do you have? In my opinion, a pretty simple one. You end it and love from a distance. What I’m NOT saying: drop your friends at the drop of a hat anytime they’re struggling. Nope. I’m talking about a “friend” that consistently and continuously drains all the life out of you and more. Keep reading.

How do you know when and if you should do that?

1. The friendship is no longer life giving for either of you.

If friendship is supposed to be refreshing for the soul and it no longer happens to be, then it’s time to move on. A friend should not feel like a burden. When I spend time with good friends, I leave feeling happy and encouraged. The Bible says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17. If the only thing that’s sharp about this friendship is the attitude given both ways, re-examine. 

2. You are constantly pouring in with very little return.

Have you ever had a friendship where you’ve given your all only to receive nothing in return? Yes, it’s better to give than to receive, but a friendship where you’re always giving with very little reciprocated will suck all of the life out of you. These are the “friends” that you never hear from unless they are in crisis. Then you are supposed to drop your life to tend to theirs and if you can’t, you aren’t a good friend. No. Just no.

3. It’s always all about them with little interest in your life.

I love to talk, but even more so I like to listen [but don’t get me wrong, I can talk too].  I like to ask questions and learn more about a person. There’s a 90% chance I’ll ask something that’s personal or that most people might not dare to ask. I know this because my husband tells me all the time to relax on that end, but I can’t because I genuinely like learning about people. However, there are people who will demand that your entire world revolves around them without a simple, “HOW ARE YOU THOUGH?!” This isn’t cool. If very little interest is given to what’s going on in your life then it may be time to reevaluate.

4. It brings out the worst side of you.

If your friends bring out the worst aspects of your personality, it’s time to say #byefelicia. I won’t even elaborate on this one because I feel like it’s pretty self-explanatory.

5. It’s full of drama and they are petty as all get out.

I HATE DRAMA. There are people who thrive on drama and would love nothing better than to eat, sleep, and breathe it. Drama with a side of crisis please. No thanks! Save the drama for your mama. High school was more than ten years ago and I have zero interest in going back! People who will get mad over petty things (LIKE OMG, CAN YOU BELIEVE SHE DIDN’T SAY HI TO ME OR INVITE ME TO HER PARTY! *Insert Hair Toss Here*) have no place at my table. I’m a middle school teacher who deals with pettiness all day long (SO AND SO TOOK MY FIDGET SPINNER!) and will be over a petty drama filled person in two seconds flat. Ain’t. Nobody. Got. Time. For. That.

Questions You Might Have:

  • But what if we’ve been friends forever? He’s my childhood friend!

Just because something has been going on for a long time doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a good thing. It may be a friendship of comfort or convenience. In my opinion, that is not enough of a good reason to maintain that kind of friendship if it looks like the reasons that I listed above.

  • What if my mission is to help them? After all, I really want to help them.

If you feel you have been specifically called by God to do that, then, by all means, go forth and do so. But so many times we try to save something or someone that we have no business saving.  There comes a certain point when helping someone begins to hurt them instead of helping them. You will wear yourself thin trying to constantly help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.

Real Talk: I didn’t write this post because I have always been the epitome of a perfect friend. There have been a lot of times where I’ve failed and times where even now, I still get it wrong! But as I get older, I want to surround myself with people who will build me up, encourage me, challenge me, and put me in my place when I need to be put in my place. In the same regard, I want to be that person for others!

So here is my final thought: take a close look at some of the friendships in your life. Take a close look at yourself. Evaluate.

 

And then they were…FOUR?!

I blinked and my babies became toddlers who became small children. Weren’t they just born? Didn’t I just celebrate their first birthday? Didn’t I just write an open letter to them after their first year? WHAT IS HAPPENING.

Mommies and Daddies: Hold on to every single second. Cherish every moment. Document less. Just be. Soak in every moment. Hold their hands, kiss their boo-boos, snuggle with them every day. You blink and they’ve moved on to the next age.

Here are some fun facts about my boys:

micah:

1. He Is such a dreamer and has such a powerful imagination.

I love to quietly observe him. My Micah gets completely lost in his world of superheroes and toys. He goes on wild adventures, his imagination is seriously astounding. You can give him a box and he’ll turn it into an imaginary castle for all of his toys. He will envision a world. The TV stand becomes a cliff for the Justice League to jump off to save the day. He inspires me to imagine and dream on a daily basis. He is such a kid in the best way.

2. He takes an eternity to like anyone.

Micah is the kind of kid who won’t hand out his love for free. If you want him to be in your corner you have to earn his affection. He doesn’t smile for strangers or talk to them. If you want an in when it comes to his heart you better get to know him and be entertaining. Otherwise, expect stares and scowls. The best part is that once he DOES like you, you’re in for good. He’ll give out his million dollar smirks like they’re free candy. It just might take you a year to earn it.

3. He lives for the tease and likes to prank people.

I know I probably shouldn’t love this, but it’s actually funny sometimes. He likes to play jokes on people and trick them. I see it as someone who’s creative and clever. He does it to Josiah the most and Josiah HATES it the majority of the time, but he gets a kick out of driving people nuts at times and mostly Josiah.

JOSIAH

1. HE’S OBSESSED WITH MUSIC LIKE HIS PARENTS. AND HE’S REALLY GOOD AT IT.

Josiah loves the drums and is actually quite good at playing them for a toddler. He has his own kid set upstairs and will play hours on end and when he doesn’t want to go upstairs, he will play on the couch. My favorite Josiah moments are when I hear him humming loudly the songs that we’ve sung in church. On Sundays, he says, “Mommy are you singing today? I like when you sing” and my heart pretty much melts right into the floor.

2. HE WAKES UP HAPPY.

I’m not a morning person at all. Early bird catches the worm? Forget the worm. I don’t care about it if it means I can sleep for a few extra hours. That being said, Josiah wakes up with a grin whether it’s in the morning or it’s after his nap. He’s one of those kids that wakes up with a bounce in his step. He’s ALWAYS been a happy little guy even when he was a baby! It’s funny how they say that you can see the personalities of kids as babies because for my boys it was mostly true!

3. HE IS A MOMMA’S BOY AND LIVES FOR THE SNUGGLE.

My Josiah is a shameless snuggler. He will snuggle with me all day long without any apologies or cares. If he’s watching a TV show, he loves it when I sit close to him and hold him. He’s a momma’s boy through and through and I love it so much! Whereas Micah needs his space, Josiah is usually good with me being in his space and welcomes it. He also has a harder time when I go anywhere: “Mommy, don’t go to work! Stay with me!”

Guys, I LOVE THIS AGE SO MUCH. I don’t care what anyone says, for me, each age gets better and better. This stage is probably my absolute favorite. 

Here’s a glimpse of three through the year!

fraternal twins

First day of preschool was approached with mixed feelings by the boys.

They started to find their place in Sunday School and grew to love it! They love going to church and learning about Jesus.

 

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My babies started off as little shorties with their pants rolled up. By the end of the year, the same pants were high waters.

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One of their favorite activities is to play at the park together!

 

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Micah the model. I like this picture because he’s starting to look like a little boy instead of a baby. God help me!

 

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Dress up for school!

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For a school assignment, they had to dress up like old men! Another day in the books for preschool.

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New tradition – tree cutting for Christmas!

 

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This year they became more cuddly with each other. They’re super protective of one another and yell at anyone who goes against a brother. They have each other’s backs.

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Just another hard day in the life of a toddler.

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Micah became quite the little photo lover this year. This is his favorite facial expressions for taking pictures.

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Oh boy – you can read more about Christmas pictures gone wrong [spot the jelly beans?] in one of my previous posts!

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Snuggle king Josiah doing what he does.

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Most kids like their cider in a cup…not my kid.

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Love this picture that captures the dynamic of their relationship so well!

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By the spring, they were preschool pros and came to love school SO MUCH!

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A mommy surrounded by her handsome sons! My babes!

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Birthday party fun for one of our faves!

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They like to unwind with a cup of “coffee” and night time chats.

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Their first pair of Jordans courtesy of our dear friend Sabrina! They felt so cool and love their ‘basketball shoes for basketball!’ they remind me.

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Zoo hangs are our favorite!

fraternal twins Easter outfit

Probably my favorite Easter outfit they’ve ever worn!

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Good Friday they had to look sharp too of course!

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Long park walks and explorations became a really fun way to hang out for us!

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Probably one of my favorite pictures ever – Micah’s face says it all when it comes down to how much he loves his brother.

Prep's Pizza Ocean City, NJ

Pizza and glasses at our favorite pizza place.

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ZOO FUN!

 

Ocean City, NJ

Favorite family spot and the home of our vacation – Ocean City, NJ. This was after school when we all decided we needed some time at the boardwalk!

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Most happy by the sea.

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You’ve got a friend in me.

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I love how tan my boys get every summer! They are my little cookies!

 

Ocean City, NJ

Beach Vacation 2017.

Smithville, NJ

Riding through life together one mile at a time.

 

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The best I can get with toddlers. After all, they’re only…four!

 

Marriage Mondays: Don’t Get Married for the Wrong Reasons

As you probably know about me at this point, I think marriage is awesome. You can check out past Marriage Monday posts and see that I find great value in marriage [to the right person]. That being said, so many people get married for the wrong reasons. They think that marriage is a magical fix-it band-aid that will make everything better.

Newsflash.

That is not what marriage is.

Marriage is a commitment to love someone until your dying day and demonstrate that love by standing by them through the ups and downs of life. Staying with them when you’re swimming in money. Staying with them when you don’t have two nickels to rub together. Being with someone during sickness, health, and everything in-between. Marriage is REAL y’all! It’s supposed to be for forever.

That being said, so many people get married for the wrong reasons. If you’re single, in a relationship, engaged, or whatever the case may be, check your heart and make sure you’re not about to get married for the wrong reason.

5 wrong reasons to get married to someone:

  1. You want a fancy wedding.

Maybe you’re reading that and scoffing at it. Yeah right, who would get married for a nice wedding?  We all know that girl who has been planning their wedding day since they could talk and walk. Some people even have Pinterest boards that have their whole dream wedding documented and they’re not in a relationship yet – I’m not throwing shade, I promise – but some people get so caught up in a beautiful wedding they forget that after the wedding there is an actual marriage to tend to. I think that if people put the effort, time, and energy into their marriages that they put into their actual wedding day, you would see an abundance of relationships thrive. The point I’m making is this: your wedding day is one single day. Your marriage is supposed to be the rest of your life. Invest!

2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend sucks, but if you marry them all of their suckiness will go away.

NOT TRUE! NOT TRUE! NOT TRUE! Can you tell I’m screaming this virtually from my use of caps? The number one mistake I see is that a person marries someone thinking that they can change them. IF YOU WON’T MARRY THEM EXACTLY AS THEY, ARE DON’T MARRY THEM. If they are a terrible person beforehand, don’t think that solely because you have put a ring on their finger they will suddenly be magical. Marriage doesn’t magically make a terrible person a better one. Don’t marry someone for this reason.

3. You hate being alone.

Marrying someone because you hate being alone is just not enough of a good reason to marry someone. Do you hate being alone? Join a book club. Find a church. Go to a paint party. Yes, companionship is wonderful and marriage is beautiful in that you have a friend and a partner to walk through life with. However, marrying someone on the basis of not being alone is just not enough. Know yourself. Spend time alone. Learn to be content independently. I firmly believe you’ll be a better spouse!

4. It’s part of your 5 year, 10 year, ___ year life plan.

Perhaps you are one of those life planner people. For example, it goes like this: By 25 I want to be in a serious committed relationship on the way to engagement. By 26, I want to be engaged. By 27,  I want to be married. By 28 I want to have my first kid because I CAN’T HAVE KIDS IN MY 30S OMG WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I HAVE A CHILD IN MY 30S.  Calm down. There’s nothing wrong with having a plan! But here’s what I’ve learned: life plans are funny. Most of the time we plan away and there are certain things you can’t control. Don’t settle for someone who isn’t the right person for you so you can check it off your life plan.  A lifetime is too long to be with someone just because it fell into your five-year plan.

5. you’re tired of dating. 

I once heard someone say, “This is the last relationship I plan on being in because I’m tired of dating and just want to get married.” They didn’t mention being in love, whether the person they were dating had the qualities they wanted or anything along those lines.  All I could think to myself was, “Well, that’s some love story to tell one day.” They just wanted to be done with what they felt like was the grueling process of dating. From what I can see from the outside looking in [people not wanting to be committed and living in more of a hook-up type of generation] I can only imagine how exhausting the whole dating process must be now.  Especially when so many people play games. However, it’s not a good reason to settle. Forever is too long. If you’re tired of dating, take a break from it for awhile. Don’t settle for some Joe Schmo who you don’t really care about. It’s a waste for you and that person and will cost you both in the end.

All of this to say, marriage is awesome and if you are going to get married to someone, don’t do it for the wrong reasons. Xo!

 

8 Years Married: 8 Lessons I’ve Learned

Jose and I are celebrating 8 years of marriage! I am kind of in awe of that. I’m not surprised that we’re still married, but I can’t believe it’s been 8 years already.


It feels like just yesterday I was floating down the aisle towards my high school sweetheart, a bundle of nerves in my stomach but so sure in my heart. Eight years later, I am still so sure and so in love. In a culture that minimizes the importance of marriage and practically scoffs at commitment, where divorce runs rampant and marriages apparently face some kind of ‘7-year itch’ I can shout from the rooftops that MARRIAGE IS BEAUTIFUL. I still love it!

8 Lessons I’ve learned in 8 years of marriage:

1. Teamwork really does make the dream work.

I think part of what has helped our relationship flourish so much is the fact that we are a team. We team up on pretty much every single thing in life. His dreams are my dreams. My goals are his goals. We do what we can to support one another. I found that this is especially critical when it comes to parenting. We have always parented and continue to parent as a team. There is nothing that is deemed something that only mom does or dad does [okay, except maybe wrestling but I’m just not a wrestler!] We support each other. If he’s had a busy day with clients and has been out all day, I know I may have to step up when it comes to cooking, cleaning, or getting school things together for the boys. If I’ve had a challenging day and his day is slow, it’s nothing for him to cook dinner, do laundry, and pick up the kids from school. He is always willing to help me and vice versa. This is so integral to any relationship, in my opinion.

2. You reap what you sow.

You have heard this a thousand times. Why is that? BECAUSE IT’S TRUE. You will get out of a marriage what you put into it. If you treat your marriage like a piece of garbage, that’s what your marriage will eventually become. If you don’t prioritize your relationship or each other, it will reflect, I can promise that. Something that’s big for us is quality time. We can live in the same household and be two ships passing in the night if we don’t prioritize spending time together and having conversation. Because this is essential for the both of us, we make sure we pour a lot of that into our relationship, even if it means turning down other engagements [sorry family and friends – I still love you!]. I always want to sow into my relationship so that we can see the benefits of that.

3. for better or for worse truly means for better or for worse.

Life isn’t a fairytale and sometimes crap hits the fan. Life gets SUPER REAL all of a sudden. For Jose and I, three years into our marriage we faced the challenge of infertility. When our boys were born, they faced quite a few medical issues. The first year of their lives was SO hard! After that, one of the boys had a medical diagnosis that presented more challenges. And the list goes on and on. The point I’m making is that for all of the mountaintops we had, we had a ton of valleys. Our vows were tested repeatedly. Don’t go into marriage with the false assumption that you will ride off into the sunset and it will always be a fairytale. Yet, know that when you hit the hard times, these challenges will be a catalyst for growth if you allow them to be.

4. There’s no room for selfishness.

Marriage for me was a reality check that the entire world didn’t revolve around me. Growing up as a middle child but the only girl out of two brothers meant that I was the apple of my family’s eyes, especially on my dad’s side. I usually got what I wanted. I scoffed at the idea of cooking and cleaning because it wasn’t “fun” and I “didn’t like it.” I stood firm all the way up to the wedding day that I wouldn’t cook or clean and I shouldn’t have to because it was a gender stereotype that I was supposed to. A whole lot of words to sum up me being selfishness. Guess what? When I got back from the honeymoon and realized my new husband and I had to eat food, I learned to cook pretty quickly.

5. The Words you speak to each other matter.

I wrote a post already about this one, so I won’t repeat myself too much except to say this: you can’t take back words. Words have the power to bring life to your spouse or to destroy their spirit. Choose wisely and recognize that many marriages are destroyed over words.

6. romance and intimacy are important.

Sometimes couples get really comfortable and start to think this doesn’t matter or start treating their spouse like more of a live-in roommate. Don’t fall into that trap! Go on dates. Get creative. Try new adventures together. Protect your marriage and recognize that a little romance goes a long way! If you haven’t read the 5 Love Languages, I recommend that for any married couple. Find out your spouse’s love language and start speaking it. For me, whenever Jose gives me a handwritten card my heart just melts into a giant sappy puddle on the floor. Written words from him always make me cry for some reason. He can get me an amazing gift, but the card and his note to me is what always gets to me! It’s the little things!

 

7. The Two C’s: Compromising and Communication

Being married to my husband has taught me a lot about compromise! We have completely opposite tastes in a lot of areas. We enjoy doing different things. We don’t like the same kinds of movies. We have varying tastes in music. BUT the fun part is compromising with each other and as a result, stepping out of our comfort zones and tastes to do what the other loves! Communication is an obvious one, but it’s essential! I’m not a mind reader and neither is my husband. We have to communicate our struggles, desires, dreams, the bad days, good days, and everything inbetween. Also, just to talk. Unplug. Put phones away and have solid conversation.

8. No marriage should be an island.

Support and community matter. For our relationship, the wisdom of people we respect and admire has strengthened us during the hard times of life. There’s something powerful about knowing that people have your back and that you have people you can trust and talk to. I especially love talking to people who have a marriage I admire, have been married a long time, and are filled with wisdom and experience! They’ve been there! They get it! Go find those people, talk to them, hang out with them.

In eight years, I can still say marriage is beautiful. It’s what you make it. We aren’t perfect people. Far from it! Yet I’m so happy I married this guy and am looking forward to spending the rest of my life with him. Here’s to growing old together.

  

Our Ocean City, NJ Vacation and Why You Should Visit

Ocean City, NJ Vacation

This year for vacation we went to a local spot and one of my favorite places: Ocean City, NJ. This is my absolute favorite beach! We stayed here once before when the boys were around one and it was a fun experience! When I was thinking of places to vacation I wanted to stay local and have a stress free vacation. Ocean City, NJ for us was a no-brainer. We are only about 45 minutes away and yet it feels like a world away. We rented the same beach house we stayed at before and it was AWESOME.

What’s the point of vacation, after all? For my family, it’s pure relaxation. We are the kind of family that likes to breathe and not run from one place to another. You know how some people like to hit every attraction? Yeah, not us. We are lazy vacationers at best, but I’d have it no other way and this year was no exception.

From the time I was a preteen, Ocean City, NJ has held a really special place in my heart! I used to vacation here with my best friend and her family during my preteen into teen years. I have so many warm fuzzy memories. Long walks around Ocean City, the bay area, beautiful neighborhoods with a Vanilla Pepsi in hand talking about our hopes, dreams, and crushes. When I think back to my teen years, my OC vacations with my best friend and her family are a clear highlight. We always said we wanted our children to love the beach and Ocean City as much as we did and we succeeded.

See, when your life feels like it’s going about a million miles a minute regularly it’s so beautiful to take a week where all of that is on pause. My husband and I literally said we aren’t going to talk work, business, church…anything. We aren’t going to stress or worry. We are going to relax. That’s pretty much what we did as much as possible, except for hubs doing some real estate work (which I have found is practically unavoidable – since he’s become a realtor we’ve never had a trip where he didn’t have to work a little). It was fantastic and we are likely going to do at least one beach vacay a year we are thinking.

If you’re not from the South Jersey Area and aren’t familiar with Ocean City, I’m going to give you some reasons why you should consider an Ocean City, NJ vacation.

Reasons you should consider an ocean city, nj vacation:

  1. It’s family friendly.

    Ocean City - Gillian's Pier

Where we vacationed, the people below us were parents of triplet girls. If you go to the boardwalk or to the beach, you’ll see families galore. There are tons of things to do including Gillians Wonderland Pier, mini golfing, bike riding on the boardwalk, and more. Also, Ocean City is a dry town and smoking is prohibited on the boardwalk.  It’s just so family oriented and you feel it!

2. It’s a Close walk to the beach.

Ocean City, NJ Boardwalk

Ocean City has a fantastic boardwalk that’s really close to its beach. You can walk right off the boardwalk and the next thing you know, you’re on the beach and don’t have to go far to find yourself in the water.  I don’t want to feel like I’m trekking across the great unknown to have my feet touch the water. I love the fact that everything is in close proximity. Let’s face it, the boardwalk food is 95% of the reason I even go to the beach, who am I kidding?

3. It has an Awesome boardwalk with tons to do.


Mini-Golf, Escape Rooms, Rides, Bumper Carts and all of your essential boardwalk activities are available. I never get tired of walking the boardwalk because there’s always something new to do or something new to see. During the summer on Thursday nights, they have ‘Family Night’ where there is tons of live music and a lively atmosphere. My favorite nights of the summer!

4. it’s Budget Friendly.


Some people might scoff at that, but an Ocean City vacation can be quite affordable actually. Here are a few tips: go in with another family or another person on a beach house. When you do that, you can split the cost. So if a beach house will cost you $1250 for the week, divide that by two and you get the idea. What we did was we ate breakfast at the house, usually grabbed lunch on the boardwalk, ate dinner at the beach house and went to the boardwalk for desserts or any snacks we wanted. If you hit the grocery stores and cook half of your meals, you’ll save a fortune. When it comes to the rides, Gillians Wonderland  Pier offers different specials throughout the week. If you hit the rides during the three ticket ride days/hours, you will get more bang for your book. This helped me as a mom of multiples! We bought one book of 150 tickets for $100 and that was enough to last us throughout the entire week with a few tickets left over.

5. fantastic places to eat.

My absolute favorite part of the boardwalk is the food. I don’t care what anyone tells me, it’s the best part of the boardwalk! I’ve had friends try to convince me to go to other beaches and the first question I have is: are there good places to eat? If the answer is no, I’m not interested. I’m not talking about high-end places if you want that go to Atlantic City. I’m talking about simple food that just tastes good in my belly. I have favorites and you can check them out below.

 My Favorite Places to Eat In Ocean City:

  1. Brown’s Donuts. [Expect a line but it’s worth it!]Brown's Donuts - Ocean City, NJ
  2. Prep’s Pizza. [Just as good as Manco and Manco’s but with better seating and they give the kids dough to play with.]Prep's Pizza in Ocean City, NJ
  3. Piccini’s Wood Fire Pizza. [Fab Italian food!]
  4. The Hula Grill. [Probably my favorite! Hawaiin food – yum!]The Hula Grill in Ocean City, NJ
  5. OC Surf Cafe [New spot for me, great for breakfast or brunch!]

My Favorite Boardwalk Food:

  1. Polish Water Ice.
  2. Shriver’s Gelato – THE CREPES ARE LIFE CHANGING.
  3. Monkey Bread.
  4. George’s Ice Cream.
  5. Johnson’s Popcorn.

6. Insanely relaxing.


Have you ever been on a vacation that was so jam packed you needed a vacation after it to decompress? I feel like beach vacations are so relaxing and a vacation in Ocean City, NJ  is no exception. As mentioned for us, we would wake up, head to the beach for a bit, come back to the beach house for a nap, and then head to the boardwalk for the evening if we felt like it. We also incorporated date nights, courtesy of having my mom with us, movie nights, and mini golf nights. No pressure, no time constraints, and a go at your own pace vibe. The epitome of relaxation.

Overall, an Ocean City, NJ vacation was the perfect vacation for us! We had an amazing time, as evidenced by the smiles!

What are your favorite family friendly vacation spots? Share below! We are always looking for new places to visit!