Thursday, May 25, 2017

4 sunshiney years

It is so hard for me to believe that we've already been in Arizona for FOUR years. Four bright, adventurous, sunshiney years.
When G and I were first married, we both had a feeling we'd end up in Arizona someday. We really didn't put much weight into it, but I remember multiple conversations about possibly raising our family here. And then two days before Garrett received his acceptance letter into the BYU masters program, he got a job offer from an amazing office in Phoenix. I remember that he got the call on a Monday, and we needed to give them our answer by Friday. As we talked about it Monday night, we said, "There's NO way we'll take this job, but we might as well pray about it just to be sure." And then slowly, our hearts were changed. On Friday morning we woke up, looked at each other, and said, "We would be stupid not to take this job, huh? We HAVE to do it." So we packed up everything we owned, strapped Rae in her little carseat with her blanket and panda bear in hand, and moved to Arizona. For us, it was absolutely 100% the best decision. 

If we were to move away tomorrow, and leave Arizona forever, four years would seem like such a small amount of time to have lived here. I can imagine, in 20 years, saying to someone, "Oh yeah, we lived in Arizona for a few years right out of college." And it wouldn't seem like much. Like, a blink. Because 4 years really isn't very long. But oh-my-lanta, so many formative things have happened here. This is where G and I learned how to be grown-ups. For real.
This is where Rae and John learned to walk. 
Where I learned to cook (good food, not just "sorry, it's a little ____" food).
Where Johnny was born, 
and Belle too!
I've potty trained 2 kids here.
And painted 29 walls.
I've held 4 church callings and worked with over a hundred youth.
Garrett has served as ward mission assistant, Elders Quorum president, and now bishopric. And we have learned so much from our sweet little ward.
We bought a house and made it ours. 
We've spent countless days scootering and sliding and sprinkling and swimming and splashing in our backyard. And it has become one of my favorite places in the world. 
We've visited museums, butterfly habitats, zoo's, funky restaurants, gorgeous hikes, and stunning lakes. 
We've spent our time and money on cars, landscaping, broken A/C units, furniture, and hospital bills....and that made us feel like such adults. 
We've laughed and grown and cried and struggled. 
We've made some of our happiest memories here, and also some of our toughest.
And gratefully, we've met so many of the most wonderful people. I'm not sure you'll find a group of more genuine, kind, generous, fun, adventurous, hilarious people anywhere else. 

I could go on and on, but I just love Arizona, and I'm so so glad we are here. 

Every May, we go on a little lunch date to celebrate another year in sunshiney Arizona. Yesterday Garrett took us to the funnest little beachy restaurant near his work. He forgot that it was outdoor seating only, and it was nearing 104 outside. 4 years ago, we would have aborted, but yesterday, we proved ourselves as true Arizonains as we shrugged our shoulders and made sure to order an extra lemonade slushy. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Let It Go (part 3)

I spent all of 2016 trying my best to LET GO of the things that don't really matter in life, and instead spend my time and energy on the things that are most important. My main goal was to come closer to my best self.
At the beginning of the year I envisioned myself tiptoeing towards my potential, maybe even dancing in small circles, two-steps-forward, one-step-backward style. That's what I had been doing for a while, years even, and I was ready for more. I wanted to leap and jump towards my potential. I wanted to run full speed ahead to find the best version of myself.
If you look at social media, the general consensus was that 2016 was a bummer of a year, but for me, it will always be remembered as one of my most formative years, in the best way. Nearly every morning I woke up and made a mental list of the things I wanted to let go of of that day. My biggest struggles seemed to circle around impatience, self-criticism, and forgiveness. 
I am 100% confident that I was a better version of myself by December of 2016. Noticeably, even. And the pride and confidence that came from working as hard as I could to grow and learn and just BE BETTER felt amazing. Seeing results felt even better.
I have to admit though, I don't know that there were any 'leaps' forward in 2016. Instead, my growth seemed to come in small steps, consistently going forward. Or rather, mostly consistent. My pace of progression was something I could be proud of though, and so baby steps was acceptable to me (it was better than tiptoeing, at least). 

Then 2017 hit. And unbeknownst to me, I was in for quite a leap of growth. Possibly my biggest jump yet. And I don't fully understand why this was so huge for me; but truly, I will never be the same. 

I cursed my 'let it go' mantra many times during my pregnancy...trying to let go of how I wanted pregnancy to be might have been my biggest test of patience and strength to date. My goal was to smile though the pain, to keep my chin up as I hobbled from my handicapped parking spot to the motorized wheel-chair at the font of each store, and to refuse to bring my family down with a bad attitude about how miserable I was. 
And I have to say, I experienced the power of gratitude during this time. My goodness, I'm not sure there are many things more powerful than gratitude. This pregnancy may have been my hardest one yet, physically. But mentally, it was my best. Choosing to smile with the hand I was dealt, instead of complain about the hand I wanted was a major obstacle for me. And I wasn't perfect, but I tried my best and saw results. 
(And I have to say, isn't that something we all experience over and over again....being dealt a different hand than we expected or wanted. For real, it's a tough one for me. But I'm practicing.)

So. With the start of 2017 came the end of my pregnancy. And I was more than ready to hold my baby girl in my arms instead of in my broken hips. I got to the hospital 100% convinced that it would be smooth sailing from here on out. And then Belle was breach. Which we didn't know until the last second. And it was too late to really try anything to flip her. And I have to say, being raced to the O.R. with nurses buzzing around, and doctors calling for 'emergency teams' to come is definitely not the hand I was hoping for. Without re-writing all the details of Belle's birth story, I'll just say that we were scared for her life, and also mine. 
And I wonder if, without a year of practice under my belt, would I have been able to find patience and gratitude and perspective in the moment of chaos? At the risk of sounding braggy, I can't deny that I found strength that I didn't know I was capable of. I found the patience that I had been working for. And I found perspective that truly calmed all the fear and doubt and anxiety that filled my body. 
And Belle's birth turned out to be one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I can't honestly say that I loved every second of the hand I was dealt, but at the risk of sounding braggy again, I don't think I could have handled it any better. 
And I came away from that experience knowing that I was closer to who I was meant to be. That Heavenly Father prepared me for this pitch. And practicing for a year might have turned the fast-ball into a slow-lob mid-throw. 

And in the most humble tone I can muster, I was/am really really really proud of myself. I knocked it out of the park. And I will never be the same. 
I feel like I've been working to become who I'm meant to be, and Belle's birth gave me a glimpse of what that girl looks like. And now that I've seen a little more of her, I'm more determined than ever to become her. Because she's really really cool. And happy. And strong. And patient. And grateful. And loving. And selfless. And she lives her life whole-hearted. And I will happily work for every tiny step (or big leap) towards becoming that girl. 

One of my fears after having a somewhat life-changing experience, was that it might fade out and become a fond memory. And that my growth would fade as well. 10-steps-forward, 10-steps-back style. Thankfully, that hasn't happened. And I feel consistent growth still happening. One of the biggest things that has facilitated that continual growth is this: I made a list of all the things I wanted to BE, instead of a list of all the things I wanted to DO
I'm a really big list person. And there are so many many things I want to do in this life (including but not limited to: traveling the globe, giving my children unforgettable life-experiences, reading a million books, living in a beautiful home, getting my masters degree, and changing the world). And while I love my list of what I want to do, I saw instantly that my list of who I wanted to BE was 100 times more heart-felt and vulnerable and impactful and emotional for me. My soul has clung to that list. And I've felt my heart pulling towards it every single day. 
-When I'm on my phone and Rae asks me to color with her for the 3rd time that morning, I remember that scrolling insta literally doesn't bring me a single bit closer to being anything on my list. 
-When I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, I remember that I want to BE confident and happy and self-accepting, and I try to talk nicely to myself.
-When Johnny destroys another toy, I want to remember that I want to BE patient and loving. And that somethings everything is more important than broken toys. 
-When Garrett has yet another church meeting, I hope to remember that I want to be service-oriented, and selfless, and generous, and positive. I try to remember that at the tippy top of my priorities list, second only to my family, is helping people. And I remember that I WANT to serve as much as I can. 
-When so-and-so does this-or-that, and I just want to tell the world, "How dare she?!" I TRY remember that I want to be forgiving and loving and encouraging and empathetic and understanding. Because I need people to be all of those things to me when I do stupid things. 

My list goes on and on, from adventurous to intentional to dependable to informed. And grateful. Always, always grateful. And I've found it to be so much more encouraging than my 'to do' list, which tends to leave me defeated and wanting.

I know this life is hard, but it is also the most beautiful. And if we are willing to put forth the WORK in all things, then the rewards are oh so sweet. 
I feel very confident that one of our greatest purposes on this earth is to become the very best versions of ourselves. And that takes work. Never.Ending.Work. All day long, year after year. 
And truly, it doesn't matter where we start. So don't let anyone or anything make you feel defeated or not good enough to start. BECAUSE it really only matters THAT WE START.

I'm very very very veeeeeerrrrry early on in this process, but I already love every ounce of change and growth I see in myself. 

So here's to the rest of 2017, and continuing to kick some serious booty. And also, not giving one single crap what anyone thinks, because when you know for a fact that you're doing your very very best, you shouldn't feel anything but proud and completely in love with yourself. 

Thursday, May 04, 2017


The other night Garrett and I watched La La Land. I enjoyed it, but I felt like maybe my expectations were a little too high...there was a lot of hype. Regardless, it got me thinking. Ya know, about dreams and stuff. And what the heck we're all doing with our lives.
Anyways, I was laying in bed that night, still thinking about it all, when I rolled over to Garrett's side and asked him, "Babe, what's your dream?"
My intention was to find out if we're on the path to accomplishing it...and also, I wasn't quite sure what it was. I mean, I know his goals and his passions, but it's not like he's always dreamed of opening up his own jazz bar.
I knew he had always wanted to graduate from BYU (check), and be a civil engineer (check). I know he wants to go to Australia (working on that one), and he kinda wants to scuba dive around the world. But like....I wanted to know what his dreeeeeeaaaaaam was.
Now, prepare yourself, because this is cheesy.
And also true.
And also, it spun all my rambunctious thoughts into harmony and the whole world made sense.
(Literally though.)
So I said, "Babe, what's your dream?"
And he paused for maybe 1.5 seconds and said,

And I smiled. And kissed that little cove between his jaw and neck. And rolled back over to go to sleep.
Because, yes.
This is my dream too.
We are doing it.
And I am oh so grateful.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Flowers- Tuesday's Craft

I've been making more of an effort to plan our days (#intentionaproject), so we've found ourselves on more walks, baking more, studying letters, reading, and crafting.
When I first had Rae, and I felt like I was super on top of life, I started a little project called "Tuesday's Craft." I made an effort every Tuesday to be creative. I remember making molds of Rae's teeny hands and feet, sewing up a little banner for the nursery, and one time teaching Rae to 'finger paint' with different colored baby foods. It was super fun!
Since then, we've added about a million things to our daily 'to do' lists and life has become a bit more complicated in general. Finding time to be crafty every Tuesday hasn't been a priority for such a long time. But, with my new 'intentional' goals, I've decided to try to bring it back on a semi-regular basis.
So, this past Tuesday, we pulled out some cute little flower planters that I found in the Target dollar section. The kids had a blast adding water and soil to the cute little pots, and burying seeds beneath the surface. Rae also loved comparing the different seeds....she recently learned about seeds and the parts of a flower at preschool, so it all kind of worked out perfectly.
I snapped a couple quick videos while we planted, and then I put them together in a little video while feeding Belle that afternoon. It's super sloppy, and the kids fake laughs at the end kill me, but I still think I'll treasure these simple moments as the years pass.
Also, all of the seeds have sprouted and the it's pretty exciting for all of us to watch!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

the candy factory

My theme for this year is based completely around being more INTENTIONAL with my time, thoughts, mothering, marriage, testimony, learning, health...everything.
I want to make sure that life isn't passing me by.
I'm in charge here. 
And I demand that I approve of how I spend each moment of each day.

I intend to do a whole post about this, for my own records, but I gotta say real quick that the last 2.5 months since starting this endeavor have been so wonderful.

One of the biggest perks I've found is that we have done so many more fun activities as a family. Instead of letting the weekend pass by too quickly, leaving us wanting, we've found events to attend, or made up our own fun things to do, and it's been so satisfying. Walks and park trips and ice cream outings have been easy ways to get out of the house and have fun together. But we've also found some cool events in our own little valley that have added a bit of excitement to our days. 

One of our favorites so far was a tour of the local candy factory. First of all, who even knew we had a candy factory close by? Not me. But when I found out, you bet I booked a tour for like 4 hours later. Garrett was off work early that day (thank you, Fridays), so he was able to come too (insert praise-hands emoji here). 

It was literally the "sweetest" little family-owned warehouse, full of chocolates and taffy and all kinds of goodies. The kids' eyes got wider and wider as we walked past each station. We were all enamored with the machines spinning caramel, the peanut brittle hardening on the conveyer, and seeing the bright-colored taffy being whipped right before our eyes. 

Our favorite had to be the marshmallow-pop station, where we watched each mallow get loaded on a stick, then run under a waterfall of white chocolate, and finally get covered in bright rainbow sprinkles. Mr. C himself (the owner) gave Rae and Johnny their own pop, right off the conveyer belt, and it was kind of the coolest ever!!!

True story: Garrett and Johnny ditched the end of the tour and I found them loading up on chocolates, caramel, and taffy in the shop. Which, that was brilliant, because when everyone else finished the tour and went to buy goodies, we had already sauntered out with chocolatey fingers and paper bags full of sweets. We all came home with mild tummy-aches and took a family nap. 

The whole outing took less than 2.5 hours, but we haven't stopped talking about it (or eating the sweets) since.

^and this chick slept though the whole thing^

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