Monday, September 17, 2012

Our Family Theme for the School Year

I confess I am a better blog follower than I am a blog writer. An idea that I picked up from a couple of my favourite blogs was to select a family theme as an incentive and inspiration at the start of a new school year. I love this idea and although I only have two of my five children still living at home I decided it was not too late to start a new tradition. Before the beginning of school recedes too far into the past I want to share the theme that we introduced to our children at our Family Night a few weeks ago.

I chose this verse of scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants, which is a book primarily containing revelations received from God through Joseph Smith, who we, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recognize as a prophet.

Doctrine and Covenants 88:119 - "Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God."

I chose this as our theme because, most importantly, we want our home to be a place where God is remembered, honoured, obeyed, and glorified. We try to begin and end each day with a family prayer. We recognize the power that comes when prayer is coupled with fasting and so our goal is to harness and exercise this power on a regular basis both to bless our family and others.

We also know that we can accomplish so much more when we are organized and prepared and we all have room for improvement in this department. As parents we have always tried to promote learning and we recognize that it is a lifelong process.

I was happy to see that our children were very receptive to this idea and excited to adopt this as our family theme for the coming year. We are sure that as we continue to be motivated and inspired by this scripture we can accomplish great things and our lives will be richer and happier.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Salute To Summer

As my youngest two children head back to school this week, I find myself wondering, "Where did the summer go?" It was wonderful but whizzed by way too fast this year. If you have been wondering where I have been lately, the answer is ... on Instagram (Username: dianess). I have been loving this quick, visual avenue of sharing my life. So along the same theme (but not using the same photographs) here are some highlights of my summer in photo format:
Hiking in gorgeous Minnekhada with my friend, Alison and our families
Sunday afternoon walks along the blackberry laden trail behind our home
Rocky Point Park - a visit here is never complete without stopping to buy ice-cream
A hike with my daughter and the youth from our church to Jug Island
Evening picnic at Buntzen Lake
Numerous bike rides along the PoCo Trail
Hanging out with my children at the Coquitlam River
Santa Monica Beach with my married son and daughter-in-law
A spin in the tea cups at Disneyland
A windy afternoon at Huntington Beach, California
Waiting to get splashed on Grizzly River Run at Disney's California Adventure Park
Santa Monica Pier

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My First Half Marathon Experience

Seattle dished up cloudy skies but no rain on Saturday morning - perfect conditions for a marathon and half marathon! We had booked a hotel close to Seattle Center where the race started and finished so it was a short walk to the start area and we didn't have to deal with traffic. I didn't experience any more nerves, only excitement, as we got ready to run. The runners had been assigned into numbered corrals for the start of the race, according to our estimated finishing times. I think there were around 47 corrals. Unfortunately I wasn't in the same corral as my friends, but as I waited to start the race I made a friend. My husband told me I was turning into my mother because he saw me chatting in the line up for the porta-potties as well! It's easy to start up a conversation when you have a common interest as I already did with all the race participants.

Lining up to start the race
Twenty five minutes after the elite runners took off it was my turn. It was an incredible feeling to run through downtown Seattle surrounded by hundreds of other runners, with cheering spectators lining the streets, and bands playing. The course was varied and interesting. We ran on downtown streets, and highway, through two long tunnels, a park bordering the sea, residential areas, past Safeco field and back towards the Space Needle. The number of hills made it a challenging course but also forced me to set an easy pace and not stress about my time. The water stations were plentiful and I was so grateful for all the volunteers that helped make our race experience so great! When I got within 3K of the finish I was tired, my hip hurt and I knew I was sporting a big blister on my right big toe but I knew I could do it and I looked forward to crossing the finish line. I didn't see my family among all the crowds but I put on a smile and a burst of speed and I felt the most wonderful sense of achievement! It touched my heart when at our Family Night on Monday both Emlyn and Asher said their highlight of the week was watching me cross the finish line. Knowing that my children were proud made it doubly worth it! I forgot to stop my Garmin so I didn't know my exact time until I went to have my finisher's medal engraved after the race. I was very satisfied with my 2:09:43 time!

After the race with my finisher's medal

My experience wasn't over because I was still waiting for my friends to finish the full marathon. Having just completed a half, I knew exactly what determination, endurance and physical and mental strength it took to run a full. I was so immensely proud and emotional as I watched them finish strong!

The champions!

I am so grateful for my amazing, supportive friends and especially my wonderful husband who is so encouraging and helpful, and always ready to be our official race photographer! It wouldn't have been as special without them!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Seattle Rock n' Roll Half Marathon

Saturday is a BIG day for me! After months of training I am finally going to run my first half marathon, the Seattle Rock n' Roll half marathon. Last year I registered but had to pull out because of an injury. Thankfully I have been running injury free for almost eleven months now and I am nervous and excited to put myself to the test. I know I can go the distance. I have run 2K over the 21.1K distance twice in the last month so why am I nervous? I think perhaps because there is somewhat of a debate going on inside my head. The mellow, rational side of me wants to run at an easy pace and just enjoy the experience. The competitive side of me wants to run the best time possible, which realistically speaking is as close to 2 hours as I can get. The problem is that I know if I run too fast during the first half I will struggle to make it across the finish line. My two youngest children and my husband will be watching and waiting for me and I want to sprint across that finish line! This is where experience counts and I am obviously lacking in experience. I also don't know the course and can't correctly interpret an elevation chart so I don't know how the uphill sections of the course will affect my race, hence the butterflies in my stomach. Most of all I am excited to meet this challenge and to participate alongside thousands of others who love to run. I have three friends who are doing the full marathon this year! I am in absolute awe of them and will be there to cheer them across the finish line! Rain is in the forecast. I pray it is more of a West coast drizzle than a downpour, but either way I will be up with the birds and ready to run. Wish me luck and any last minute advice from veteran runners would be appreciated!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Back to Africa

It's over three weeks since I returned from an amazing three week holiday in South Africa and I think I am finally back into the rhythm of everyday life in Canada. The visit took me back into the arms of my native land, and into the warm embrace of extended family that I have grown accustomed to being without. I now see how much richness, joy and comfort these family bonds can bring to our lives and I feel a little impoverished without them. Thanks to facebook and email I can stay in touch but it is a poor imitation of that face to face interaction.

The first part of our holiday was spent in the Johannesburg, Gauteng area visiting family and in Hazyview, Mpumalanga in search the quintessential African experience. I don't remember loving the African bush when I lived there but on this return trip my time in the sun soaked African savannah with it's acacia trees, long grasses and low scrub made me feel deeply happy and contented.

We experienced some amazing encounters with animals including interaction with elephants at Elephant Whispers, a rhino that effectively blocked our scheduled departure from Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, a lion that walked straight towards our open land-rover in the Sabie Sands Game Reserve and excellent views of the hippos in and out of the water at our resort. Of course we experienced many other animal sightings, especially driving though the Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves in Africa. One nerve tingling experience was when our aforementioned land-rover got a flat tire at night in the middle of the game park and our ranger asked us to climb out of the vehicle while he and the tracker attempted to change the tire. Just after we climbed back in, three hyenas sauntered across the dirt track not far from where we had been standing.

Jade and Emlyn get ready to go on a guided safari at Sabie Sands

Hippos at the Sabie River Sun

We almost drove right past this African buffalo in the Kruger Park
 A striking leopard at Moholoholo

The ever trendy zebra in the Kruger Park.
Asher and I riding an elephant at Elephant Whispers in Hazyview

Roy, Jade and Emlyn hold on tight
Graceful giraffes in the Kruger Park

The rhino that prevented us returning to our car at Moholoholo.
 I have only touched on a few of the highlights of our fabulous holiday and I have had to choose from literally hundreds of photos but life marches on and sometimes I have to run to keep up . Stay tuned for the Cape Town portion for our holiday!

Friday, March 2, 2012


Today I completed a little project that had been lying around undone for way too long! There is great satisfaction to be found in finishing. Whether it is running a race, writing a blog post, sewing a dress, cooking a meal, or completing a degree, the starting is important, but there is a fine sense of fulfillment that can only been experienced when the goal is met!

My project was simply decorating a plain cushion cover to sit on my bed and make it look pretty! Let's face it, we can always use a little extra prettiness! I got the idea for these flowers, made from felt, beads, buttons and embroidery thread, from a blog that I stumbled upon but can no longer locate. My daughter and I had fun crafting our own version of these blooms and then I had the idea to put them on a pillow! I bought the plain white cover from IKEA and attached the flowers to the fabric with snaps so that they can easily be removed when the cover needs to be laundered. The fun thing about this is that the embellishments can then be moved around to create a new design!

Now perhaps I will be motivated to complete those other unfinished projects. I think first on the list is the half finished painting sitting on my easel of a scene from our holiday a year ago! Actually that may have to wait until we return from the holiday we are going on next week!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sunshine After Rain

Yesterday it rained ALL DAY LONG!!! I groaned audibly just before I opened the door of my car to go to the grocery store. Of course there was nobody to hear, but I had to express the way I felt. At the entrance to the store were buckets of colourful tulips and without any hesitation I grabbed two bunches of bright yellow ones. They were the perfect antidote to the gray skies and non-stop rain, and they really did help me to feel better. Here are a few photos of the artificial "sunshine" I placed around my home to brighten a dreary day and chase away the blues:

Yellow chrysanthemums on my hall table

A bowl of oranges in the kitchen

Yellow tulips in the living room

More yellow tulips in the dining area

Today is a gorgeous, gorgeous day! The sun is shining and the world is bright! We live with more than our fair share of rain in Vancouver but the minute the sun shines I feel that there is no other place in the world that I would rather be. The greens are vibrant, the sky is a beautiful blue, the snow capped and forested mountains look majestic, everything dazzles and it is in part because of the contrast to the dreary days that have gone before, but I love being dazzled and feeling in awe of my beautiful surroundings. I may get tired of the rain but I never get tired of the the way I feel when the sunshine transforms my world from something mundane to a thing of splendor!

There is a scripture that says: "And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet" (Doctrine and Covenants 29:39). Isn't that so true? Can we truly appreciate success if we have never experienced failure? Can we recognize joy if we have never known sorrow? Can we really appreciate the sun if we have never known a string of dreary rainy days? I suppose if I lived in a scorching desert I would treasure a cooler day of unremitting rain. I must learn to be as grateful for those rainy days as I am for the bright sunny ones!