So Says Beebs

Apr 30, 2014

Beebs is so much fun right now. She has been saying some of the funniest and sweetest things lately and I need them recorded. I don't want to ever forget!

The other day we were driving somewhere, who knows where at this point! Beebs was sitting in the very back with her friend Carden. I was up front, not paying much attention to what they were saying, until I heard Beebs say this about her swim lessons...

Beebs: Sometimes, I have to go potty really bad and I don't even tell my teacher. I just go in the pool.

I about DIED! She was so matter of fact about it. I started to laugh and she says "Did you hear me mom!?", shocked that I knew what she had said. It was so funny.

A few months ago, one of Beebs favourite toys was lost and we had searched almost everywhere looking for it. I had the flash of inspiration that we needed to use this as a teaching moment for Beebs so I asked the entire family to come together and we knelt down to pray. I told Beebs that she needed to ask Heavenly Father to help us find her toy and then when she was done praying, that we would all go to work searching and that Heavenly Father would guide us. She prayed and within 3 minutes of us all splitting up to search, I had found the toy. I teared up, realizing what a beautiful moment Heavenly Father had blessed us with- a great teaching opportunity, with very fast results which I hoped would help Beebs to understand the importance of prayer, faith, and doing our part.

Fast forward to tonight- Beebs had lost one of her Little People. She had only spent a few minutes searching for it but she decided she was fed up of looking. I told her I'd help in a minute and she told me no, that we needed to say a special prayer so Heavenly Father would help her. She insisted that the entire family come together and kneel on the kitchen floor, where she offered up a simple prayer asking for help to find her toy. And just like last time, within minutes of the prayer ending, she and Bruce had found the toy and she was beyond excited, reminding us that she knew Heavenly Father would help her. It is so neat to watch these small, faith promoting experience in her life because I know that they will eventually lead to much larger experiences that will be the basis of her testimony.

See Claire Run

Apr 28, 2014

This is a boring post. I'm just telling you that right now. But I know that at some point in the future, I'm going to need to look back and remind myself of how hard this journey has been, but how incredibly empowering the results have been. Don't feel like you have to read this post. Seriously. Ü I won't be offended.

March 21st- My "Before"

One month ago, I decided to throw away all my excuses and get serious about getting in shape. I'd been trying to shed a few pounds and be more active since the beginning of the year, but I wasn't seeing the results I wanted, so I knew I had to do something different. Not to mention that Bruce and I have been asked to serve as leaders on our church's youth Pioneer Trek this summer, and I need to be in much better shape in order to meet the physical demands of this adventure.

I should back up a little further for just one moment... up until one month ago, the farthest I had run EVER was when Bruce and I did the Disneyland 5k back in September of 2011. In January Bruce decided he wanted the two of us to run a half marathon together and promised me diamond earrings when we were done, so I decided to start running. The first time I went out, I could run for 2-3 minutes, then I would have to walk for 2 minutes. I did this for one mile and it about killed me. I continued to run for no more than 4 minutes at a time and then walk to recover for a month before I was able to run an entire mile non-stop. It took me another two months to work my way up to a 2 mile non-stop run. It was a very, very slow process and I started to panic about the 4 mile Trek Fun Run that I needed to complete on April 12th in order to show that I was physically ready to go on the Trek. The 4 miles had to be completed in 1 hour...

On March 21st, I handed Bruce my phone and told him to snap a picture. I wanted something to mark this new beginning. I also started to track the calories of everything I ate using My Fitness Pal. I liked this alternative better than what I had been doing, which was avoiding sugar. I am still careful about the amount of sugar I eat, but at least with counting calories, I can have a small treat on occasion.

On March 22nd, I started a new running schedule that my best friend suggested. Basically, it involves three runs a week- two shorter runs followed by the week's long run. The total distance covered during the two short runs equal the distance covered during the long run and the idea is to up the long run by half a mile each week. I set my first long run goal at 4 miles, just so I could gauge how far I had to go in order to be ready for the Fun Run. I figured I would be lucky to make it 3 miles that first attempt at a long run, but I planned my short runs as if I were going to do a full 4.

On March 29th, I did my first official long run. My goal was 4 miles and I made it 4 full miles without stopping, in just shy of 47 minutes. I could not believe that I had just run 4 miles without stopping. I kind of felt invincible. Not really, but at least I knew I was ready for the Fun Run.

On April 5th, I ran my next long run. I decided to see if I could up my mileage by a mile each long run, instead of by just half a mile. I ran a total of 5.56 miles during the week and was (relatively) easily able to run 5 miles on April 5th in 56 minutes.

On April 12th, Bruce and I participated in the 4 Mile Fun Run for Trek. Bruce was coming straight from work and was anxious to get it over with so he could get home and go to bed. He ran the 4 miles in 34 minutes. It took me 42 minutes, but that still shaved 5 minutes off my initial 4 mile run time.

Running the Fun Run set me back slightly on my training schedule since I had basically missed my 6 mile run week. I debated between going back up to 5 for the next long run and then moving on, but I decided that I would just shoot for 6 miles. I had some really great short runs last week- 4 miles and 3 miles, plus a good brisk walk with my girls one morning. I made a 6 mile run route on my phone and set out first thing Saturday morning to make it happen. I hit the 6 mile mark and was still feeling great, but I wasn't quite home. I decided to keep going and thought to myself how great it would be to hit 6.55 miles, which would be half of my half marathon goal. I got to 6.55 and still felt great, so I kept going and before I knew it, I was home and had run 7 full miles. I was slow... just under a 12 minute mile pace but I could not believe it. 7 full miles, just under 1 month since I got serious about running.

April 19th after finishing my 7 mile run

Over the course of 1 month, I went from having only run 2 miles at a time to now running 4 miles as my "short" run, with 7 miles being my current record. I'm pushing for 8 this Saturday. I've also lost 7.8 pounds in the last month and 2 inches each around my waist and hips. I feel fantastic and have way more energy than ever before.

We still hope to have another baby in the future, which means eventually, all this hard work will be "undone" so to speak. I wanted to record just what I am capable of, so when I am starting again from scratch, I will remember exactly why it is worth it to do it all over.

I NEVER saw myself turning into a runner. I am still hesitant to use that word, but for crying out loud! I ran 7 miles on Saturday. Non-runners don't do that! I even set my alarm and get up super early to fit my runs in. I actually look forward to my runs each week as they give me some quiet, uninterrupted time to work on being a better me, spiritually, physically and mentally. What is happening to me!?! There is something totally empowering about running long (for me) distances. I can't wait to get back out there and try to run even farther. And I'm willing to run without someone chasing me. This is huge, people!

Now that one month has passed, I feel like running and eating in a normal calorie range have become habit, which means its time to add in more! This morning I sat down and set up a workout calendar that includes not only my runs, but now some strength training in hopes that I can tone myself up. This morning was arms and I'm still feeling the burn. I can't wait to see what this addition will do to helping me get in shape and be a healthier me.

Side by side... I know it's a slightly different angle, but you get the idea. My waist and hips have both shed a few inches and my face has lost some roundness. I'm loving the results I am seeing and I can't wait to see what the next month brings.

Because of Him | Happy Easter

Apr 20, 2014

Bruce and I are speaking in church today. Talk about pressure! I love going to church on Easter Sunday, and listening to a wonderful message about our Saviour and the Atonement. Today I will be the one attempting to deliver that message and I feel bad for all those in attendance because I know I won't do the topic justice. I'm just praying the Spirit will make up what I lack!

As I've prepared my talk over the past week, I've watched this video numerous times... even this morning, as I showed it to my girls, watching it for probably the 10th time myself, I got goosebumps and felt my heart swell with the Spirit.

On that Easter morning, centuries ago, the tomb was empty. The Lord had risen. He lives. And because of Him, I live. Because of Him, I am able to repent of my sins and try each day to be a better person. I am able to one day be reunited with loves ones who have passed from this life. I am able to send my husband off to work each night with the peace that all will be well and that regardless of what this life brings, we can be together forever with our precious children. Because of Him, my life has purpose and joy.

Happy Easter to all!

He Loves Us | An Easter Testimony

Apr 17, 2014

After Bruce's mom passed away, three and a half years ago, Easter took on new meaning for me. It has become a very special and sacred time of year that I look forward to celebrating, but not in the typical eggs and jelly beans sort of way. Last year, I decided to take on a new Easter tradition of celebrating the Holy Week. Starting on Palm Sunday, we have a short Easter devotional each night, leading up to Easter Sunday. One of the nights we attend Jesus the Christ, the Mesa Temple Easter Pageant, but other than that, the devotionals are short and sweet. We read a few verses of scripture or watch a short video clip each night to teach us about a different part of Christ's life, death and resurrection.

Tonight started out quite hectic. Swim lessons followed by Bruce and I each going for a run, followed by a thrown together dinner, followed by us trying to hurry the children into the living room for our nightly devotional. I had every intention of keeping it short so we could get the kiddos to bed and Bruce and I could enjoy a few moments to ourselves, but things did not go as planned. Our devotional was much more incredible than I could ever have imagined.

On the agenda for tonight was finishing the Finding Faith in Christ video that we had started to watch last night. Last night's clip was the miracles and parables of Christ's life, which meant tonight would cover Him suffering in the garden, being beaten, hung on the cross and ultimately, resurrected. The girls sat on the couch, watching the video intently. Bruce and I, on the other hand, were a little bit distracted and tried to hurry things along. When the video ended, I closed with a few quick remarks and asked  Beebs to say our family prayer. When she finished praying, her voice was shaky and she was a little bit teary. She climbed into Bruce's lap and started asking questions about the video. She started off wanting to know about the adulterous woman who was brought before Christ and He told her to "Go". Beebs was confused, thinking He had sent her out of his presence. We took the opportunity to explain that everyone makes mistakes and that Christ can forgive us and help us be better and that when He told the woman to "Go", He was telling her to go and live a better life, not go away because He didn't want her to be near Him.

It was a good little conversation and a great teaching moment, but then it got even better. Beebs started asking about the marks on Christ's hands and feet. She told us she wanted to see them so we talked about the Second Coming and that eventually, she will get to see them and she started to get teary. She told us she wanted to see Jesus now, and that she wants Him to bless her. I used this opportunity to explain the beauty of the Priesthood and that when Bruce gives her a blessing, it comes from Heavenly Father, but that wasn't what she wanted to hear. She kept going on about wanting to see the marks on Jesus's hands and feet, so I asked her why. She said she wanted to see them so she would know it was Jesus. I asked if she would know Him without seeing the marks and she said she didn't think so, so we asked her to close her eyes and imagine He was standing with her.

We asked her to describe Him...

Is He short or tall (tall)
Long hair or short (short)
Beard or no beard (beard)
What colour hair (brown)
What is He wearing (a white blessing dress)
Would He be frowning or smiling (smiling)
How would He make her feel (happy and she would feel the spirit)

Then we asked her what she would say to Him... she said she didn't know. So we asked what He would say to her, and without missing a beat, she said that Jesus would tell her "I love you". By this point, my tears were flowing freely. Then Beebs told us, she would tell Him that she loves Him too.

We finished by talking about how much He loves each of us, and that He would probably call her Beebs instead of by her given name, since that's what she is called by those who love her most. It truly was the sweetest, most tender conversation and even as I type it up, I can't help but tear up.

These are the moments, the ones that make motherhood 100% worth the heartache and tears, the rough times and bad days. There is truly no greater joy than sharing a spiritual moment with a young child. I am sure Beebs learned a little bit tonight, but I know I learned much more than she did.

The love I felt for Beebs as we engaged in this conversation about made my heart burst, and that is just a fraction of the love our Father in Heaven and our Saviour Jesus Christ feel for us. Jesus Christ did extraordinary things out of love. I absolutely believe with all my heart that when Beebs and Christ meet face to face, the very first thing He will do is tell her how much He loves her, and I am sure that is what He would tell each and every one of us. All that He did was done out of love... the miracles He performed, the parables He taught, His willingness to suffer for our sins, to be beaten and humiliated, to be crucified and ultimately to break the bands of death and be resurrected... all of this was done out of pure and unconditional love, for God the Father, and for us.

Our devotional tonight has lit a fire under me, and given me the desire to "Go" and be better, to be a more righteous daughter of God, a more loving wife and mother, a better follower of Christ, because I know that He loves me. And I love Him.

Date Night | Chihuly In The Desert

Apr 10, 2014

Fact: Bruce and I never really dated.

One day I'll have to type out our love story, but the short version is, we met when he was on his mission. When he got home from his mission, we got in touch and eventually started talking on the phone a LOT. After a few months of talking on the phone for hours each night, he decided to fly up to Utah and visit me. By the end of the five day visit, we were engaged, two weeks later I moved down to Arizona to be near him and 2 months later we were married in the Mesa Arizona temple. And {almost} nine years later, we are still going strong. Despite our lack of dating. 

After we got married, we never really made dating each other a priority. Sure, we'd do things together, but actual dates were few and far between. Last Valentine's Day, I decided that had to change. I felt inspired by the dating posts of a favourite blogger and I put together a year of date nights for Bruce. 12 envelopes with a handwritten note and a preplanned date inside each one. We had so much fun working our way through the envelopes and for the first time ever, actually dating each other. The gift was such a success that I repeated it again this year.

This month, our envelope held two tickets to the Chihuly in the Desert exhibit at our local botanical garden. Neither of us had ever visited the garden, and neither of us really knew what Chihuly meant. Now we are "experts" on both.

The botanical garden itself is absolutely lovely. I am going to have to look up their photography policy because I would LOVE to do my girls birthday photo sessions there at some point. It really is amazing how beautiful the desert can be.

Then there was the addition of the Chihuly exhibit. Oh. My. Goodness. Going in, I had no idea just what Chihuly meant, so in case you are like me, I'll explain! Dale Chihuly is an American artist who specializes in HUGE blown glass sculptures and installations. They are bright, vivid colours and did I mention they are huge!? Bruce and I enjoyed looking at each of the Chihuly pieces and picking our own favourites as well as deciding which ones we thought each of the children would have liked best. It was a beautiful exhibit and we both walked away saying we'd love to go again sometime, and take the wee ones with us.

My favourite piece... it was absolutely magnificent and the colours really popped against the blue sky and green foliage

We decided this would have been Man Cub's favourite... not because he'd care for the piece necessarily, he'd just be all about the water!

This piece was incredible... each piece was moving independent of the others. I can't imagine they were floating, so I'm not quite sure how they were moving around. It was so calming to watch

Bruce's favourite... the pictures just don't do it justice. This piece was gigantic

Our top pick for Beebs... she loves purple, and she loved this picture when we showed it to her

Bruce really wanted to get a picture of me with "blue hair", so I obliged Ü

We picked this one for Sunshine... and we were right! After showing her all the different pictures, she decided this was her favourite.

And a couple of iPhone photos, to prove we were there together Ü

We ended our date with a stop at our favourite deli for hot pastrami sandwiches, followed by stops at two different Paradise Bakeries looking for chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Then it was back home so I could relieve our babysitters and Bruce could head to work. But the final consensus- Chihuly in the Desert makes for a great date night.

A Supercalifragilisticespialidocious Seventh Birthday Celebration

Apr 5, 2014

Sunshine's actual birthday was almost two weeks ago, but we only just had her birthday party last night. It was hard to find a time that worked well for us and for the friends she wanted to invite! But we finally got her party scheduled and it was wonderful. I think everyone had a great time. Sunshine decided she wanted to base her seventh birthday celebration around her most favourite movie of all time- Mary Poppins. This turned out to be a rather difficult theme for me to work with, but eventually things fell into place and I think it turned out practically perfect!

The Invitations

The Menu

Figuring out food was the HARDEST part of this party for me! And try searching Pinterest for ideas! Sugar, sugar, and more sugar. Am I the only person who likes to serve real food at birthday parties!?  After struggling with the menu for several weeks, I was chatting with a friend who asked about the party plans... when I mentioned the difficulty of figuring out a meal for the girls she said "Make British food". DUH! I make British food all the time, why not serve that for a Mary Poppins birthday party. Sunshine and I sat down one day after school and listed off some of our favourite British meals. She quickly decided on Shepherd's Pie and a Victoria Sandwich Cake for dessert, though we strayed from the traditional jam and whipped cream filling and instead used strawberry mousse. It was divine. I also served tea when the girls arrived at 4. They each had a few Digestive biscuits (one chocolate and one plain biscuit each) with lemonade or apple juice to drink. We served tea on china teacups and saucers, which the girls got a real kick out of using. For all the hassle of trying to figure out a menu, it turned out great in the end.

The Decorations

I kept the decorations simple... one garland made of umbrella die cuts with a Mary Poppins silhouette in the center. Then, I printed up a "Let's Go Fly A Kite" printable from Tatertots and Jello and paired it with a pinwheel I was given when Man Cub was born. Scattered a few more umbrella die cuts on the table, and that's about as fancy as we got! I do like to think that my collection of mismatched china added to the decor as well. I love my Goodwill china set. Ü

The Cake

As I already mentioned, the cake was a Victoria Sandwich cake with strawberry mousse filling. It was super tasty and pretty in a "I didn't have to pipe frosting" kind of way Ü

The Birthday Girl Attire

Sunshine really wanted to dress up like Mary Poppins in the Jolly Holiday scene of the movie... but since that wasn't happening she opted to wear the dress she got for her birthday from my friend Amanda. Amanda has a real gift for picking out dresses. It has become her tradition to get my girls each a new dress for their birthdays and she always picks the most perfect dresses. They both look forward to their yearly "Amanda dress" and as always, Sunshine's dress this year is absolutely stunning. A great choice for her birthday party.

The Guests

Almost all of Sunshine's closest friends were able to attend her birthday party this year. Only one couldn't make it and she was missed! It was a fun mix of church, school and "little house" friends, from before we moved 3.5 years ago. Many of the girls came dressed up which I thought was so cute, and all of them were super excited to be celebrating Sunshine.

The Activities

We started out by serving tea on the patio when the girls arrived, then they headed inside to watch Mary Poppins. While watching Mary Poppins, Sunshine dragged out crayons and paper so everyone could draw pictures, most of which ended up being pictures of kite flying. We opened presents (and 90% of the gifts she received were "make your own" kits... in the coming weeks, I'll be helping to make a lamp, a doll, decorate a jewelery box, put together room decor and make headbands and a scrapbook. Her friends know her well!) After presents we ate dinner, played a very lively game of Red Rover (which I joined in on and boy oh boy was it fun!!!) then had dessert. After dessert, the party came to an end! I was worried that three hours was going to be too long, but it ended up being just right. We filled the full three hours.

The Favours

The favours are my absolute favourite part of the whole party. We toyed with several ideas, including sidewalk chalk (in honour of Burt) or dollar store kites, but I settled on a "Feed the Birds" theme for the favours. I got little kraft envelopes and printed a picture of a pigeon with the caption "Feed the Birds" on each bag. Then I filled them with bird seed and closed the envelope with bakers twine. Each girl went home with their own bag of bird seed as well as two "tuppence", also known as chocolate coins. I know my girls are excited to go outside in the coming days and feed the birds... I hope all of Sunshine's friends are excited too.

The Letter

The highlight of the party for Sunshine occurred during the gift opening. I should back up for just a moment... Sunshine's one wish for the party was that Mary Poppins herself would make an appearance. She even wrote Mary Poppins a letter, pleading with her to stop by, and Sunshine addressed it to "The Clouds In England". Well, unfortunately, Mary Poppins was unable to attend the party, but she did send Sunshine a very lovely letter explaining why she couldn't be there. This was for sure a highlight of the entire day for Sunshine. She has talked about the letter non-stop and she has asked numerous times to hold it and read it. And, she is insisting that it go in her special things box so she can keep it forever.

For as hard as this party was to plan, I think it turned out wonderful! I loved watching Sunshine and her friends run around, having a great time and they were all so good at including Beebs and Man Cub in their play. It was a truly delightful way to spend a Friday evening... a practically perfect party in every way!
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